Lyanna Lynette is the official new face of Torrid. Plucked from more than 14,484 models who entered the search, she’s the bombshell who won. So she got to have her virgin fashion shoot in Malibu, and it was all as sexy and empowering as a fashion shoot should be.
Georgina Burke was in the mix to be her spirit guide, telling her to quit touching her hair and to just show how happy she was to have curves. As Lynette told us, “I think it was my comfort zone, and she said, ‘you know what? It’s not about your hair. It’s about embracing your body and showing how happy you are with your curves,’ so I took her advice. I started strutting it.”
Back before the pros were pushing the shutter button to capture all the hotness, she was a licensed cosmetologist beautifying people at a Texas salon. Once she made the top four models in this search, the spa owner gave her the axe. A small price to pay for the opportunity to talk body confidence with her new female fans. These days, Lynette, who lost 75 pounds, will be talking to women at store appearances about body confidence.
She spoke to RunwayRiot over the phone about her crush on Rebel Wilson, how brands should be tackling fit, and how she got soaked by a wave during the shoot.
How did you find out you won?
They revealed it to us –the three girls that were competing — when we walked into Torrid HQ and they had this huge banner. Lisa Harper, the CEO, gave a short speech and announced the winner and the banner was uncovered and balloons dropped, and everybody had champagne.
That’s legit. How did you feel?
It was amazing. I was speechless. I felt honored and blessed to be a part of such a great company. I felt like I was on top of the world. I had the whole Miss Universe crying moment, but it was all real. It was pretty intense. I felt everything at one time – butterflies, nervous and excited.
What was the competition like for you?
The live casting was a lot of fun. They had music and they made you feel like a part of their team. You can go to different castings, and you feel like it’s you versus everyone instead of everyone working together for the same thing.
And what are you working toward?
For beautiful women to embrace each other. There was so much love and kind words. I didn’t meet one negative person in line or even from the casting team that they had. I learned so much.
To just embrace my body more and to not care about what other people think…to have this new love for myself it’s like I fell in love with myself all over again.
Why do you think that is…that you have a newfound love?
When you go through an experience like this, you think about being judged or you think how you’re not good enough. When I entered this model search I went in with knowing that a lot of people are going to judge me and maybe they won’t like me. But I was so proud of myself that I took the chance to enter something like this.
You must have new women reaching out to you. How’s that going?
Well, I’m going through a weight loss journey. I’ve lost 75 pounds so far, and I have women messaging me daily about how inspired they have been to change their life for the better, not just necessarily that they want to lose weight to be a certain size because society says that, but the fact that they feel really good about themselves because they’re making a healthy lifestyle changes. I’m helping empower women not only to love themselves, but to know that you can still be plus-size and be healthy and be curvy. It doesn’t mean you need to lose 120 pounds. I want women to be whatever size they’re going to be and be healthy and have a longer life.
Talk to me about the shoot.
It was amazing. I’ve never been on set with a professional photographer and Georgina Burke was telling me how to move my body and what to do. It was kind of intimidating. I’ve never been on a beach in a swimsuit trying to look sexy and curvy. There were all these different aspects: the wind and the water and the sand. I learned to just love myself in a bathing suit on a beach in front of 50 people.
How did you feel on a beach before you modeled for this?
I used to go to the beach in a swimsuit and I would wear shorts and a cover-up. Through this journey that I’ve been through with my weight loss, the fact that Torrid had a shop and they showed all these beautifully designed clothes for plus-size women…it helps you have a higher confidence level when the clothes and bathing suits fit your body. Now in South Texas, I will throw on a one-piece and I will get in that water and lay in sand.
What did Georgina tell you to do?
I had a thing with touching my hair. I think it was my comfort zone, and she said, ‘you know what?’ It’s not about your hair. It’s about embracing your body and showing how happy you are with your curves so I took her advice. I started strutting it, and it started to come naturally to me, because you know when you go into something thinking, ‘I know nothing.’ They told me when I was shooting to be slow with your movements and your body…when you jump into a pose to feel the moment and feel the bathing suit and the atmosphere around you and be comfortable.
Anything funny happen?
When we shot in Malibu – they had just finished shooting everybody and we did—and the photographer, Santiago Bisso said, ‘you know what? you see that rock? get on it, and I was like ‘what?’ and I was like ‘ok.’ I climbed on top of the rock and Georgina was helping me. She said let’s get these couple shots and you could hear the water. I saw everybody’s light up and there was a huge wave that came and got me completely. I was cold and sandy and wet. I had to dry off my hair and I was the only one with super wet hair [laughing]. I have to get used to it.
Growing up, was there anyone you felt you could look to in the media?
Well my mom was always just a huge role model in my life, and it’s funny because before Rebel had come out with her Torrid line, I used to watch her, and she’s so funny and she’s a plus-size woman too, and when I found out she did this whole line with Torrid, it was one of the greatest things. Here’s a woman that is an actress trying to help women create their own style. I think that was really great because she’s not your average model and she’s on the shorter side. There’s all shapes and sizes when you’re “plus-size” as society likes to say, and she helped me realize that and that helps my confidence level get higher than it was.
What do you think is the most important thing that brands need to do?
I think it’s really important to fit the clothes on a live plus-size model and when you’re working with clothing, just because you fit mannequin, like I’m assuming some brands do it, that doesn’t mean every person that buys from that company is going to fit like the mannequin. Torrid fits their clothes on a live model and you wouldn’t even imagine the time and effort they take.
Photos by Torrid/Hunter and Gatti