Australian model Valentina Ruby Sykes has charmed the public with her piercing blue eyes and her distinct personality. She entered the industry with viridity - she is only sixteen years young - and yet her dedication to her profession is commendable. As a homeschooled student, Valentina battled narcolepsy from a young age, but still enjoys her individualism by educating herself about nutrition and health. And when she isn't on the runway or gracing the pages of magazines like Yen, she can be found blasting Die Antwoord or bending her body into complex yogic poses that seem nearly impossible. Despite her immediate success upon signing with Chic Management, she remains humble and shares her journey of becoming a fashion model.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Valentina, I'm a 16 year old girl from Sydney, Australia. I model and sometimes work at a health food shop/ cafe. How did I get here? I'm not too sure, maybe I did something amazing in a past life to deserve such good fortune in this one.
What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
Beauty is everything, not in a shallow way. I mean everything is beautiful. Imperfection is beauty, perfection is beauty. It is everywhere if you open your eyes and look.
How did you get discovered as a model?
My beautiful mother was working on a shoot with a photographer and she showed him a photo of me, then we were in contact with Chic and it all seemed to happen really fast after that.
You’re very young – only sixteen – but you’ve already decided to pursue modeling as a full time career. Was modeling always something you dreamt of doing as a child?
Sort of, it wasn't my main dream as a child. But I was always tall and people were always putting the idea in my head, so I guess I knew it could be an option.
What career path would you pursue if you weren’t modeling?
There are lots of things that I would pursue! I'm doing a yoga teaching course next year, so that's one thing I am passionate about. I'd also love to study naturopathy and other various things in that field.
What do you like and dislike about modeling?
I get the opportunity to work with so many amazing people, and it's so lovely when you get to work outside a studio in nature. It's perfect. I have also met some of the loveliest people ever, when I work with them, it doesn't feel like work. It feels like I'm doing something I love! And everyone should love their job. What do I not like? Nothing, I'd feel like a brat if I complained. I am very lucky. The only thing I could possibly complain about is how sore my scalp got at fashion week!
As a model exposed to the fashion industry, how has your perception of beauty evolved?
Sometimes I'll see a pretty face and think yes, they're pretty. But perhaps before modelling I would have found that face to be stunning. I am surrounded by pretty faces all the time. Now it's the stranger faces that stick out to me, that is what I find the most beautiful now.
What photographers and designers do you hope to work with in the near future?
I am not fussy, honestly if someone books me, that is enough of an honour. I've already worked with some of the most amazing people. Zachary Handley, Elle Packham, Ryan Kenny (photographer) and stylist Anastasia Pathis are all people I have worked with and hope to work with again! And working for the jewellery label Billy Bride was my favourite shoot day ever.
Please share an anecdote from a photoshoot or runway show you’ve done.
Turtle Girl knows who she is.
I know that you have some strong opinions about education and school. Are you currently home schooled? Why or why not?
I am home schooled, when I was 14 I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy. I was medicated and told it would be permanent, and if anything the dosage would only go up. But main stream schooling was pointless for me as I was asleep in every class, it was a very bad time for me. I was always getting in trouble for falling asleep before I knew what was wrong with me. So as soon as I got my diagnosis I applied for home schooling. It was really helpful for me while my narcolepsy was bad. But these days I'm feeling healthier than ever, and I'm constantly forgetting I have narcolepsy. Not to mention I've been off medication for more than a year. All through eating healthily and practicing yoga and meditation. Next I’m starting a yoga teaching course!
Who and what inspire you daily?
Nature, my friends and people who have reached true happiness.
As a model, you will eventually come to the point where nudity comes into question during photoshoots. Do you think the human body is most beautiful clothed or bare?
What I love about clothes is the story you can tell or the mood you can create using them. And who doesn't love clothes! But I am 100% for nudity, and it has never made sense to me why it offends SO many people. It's just like… we were born naked and then you grow up and society says it's not okay for people to see you naked! That your body is wrong! The beautiful and unique body you were born with must be covered up. Relax. If you don't like nudity don't get naked.
One thing you are very passionate about is health. Why did you personally become vegan and why do you believe it is so important?
Originally, I became vegan on a search for health when I wanted to come off my medication. It wasn't the first diet I tried, I tried the blood type diet which told me I needed to eat red meat. I'd never eaten red meat before except for when my Grandma would hide sausages in my food when I was younger. I tried to eat red meat, I really did give it a go even though to me it felt wrong, it tasted awful and made me feel sick. So I gave up on that, and then came across the raw food diet. Sometimes you hear about diets being called a fad diet. But it's more of a lifestyle and from the second I started reading about it I felt that it resonated with me. It just made sense. So many people are getting sick from the processed foods they eat, and they have no idea. And then what's next? They go to the doctor and the doctor will prescribe a medication that will make your symptoms go away, but damage your body in some other form. From eating living foods, full of vitamins, I feel amazing. I have all this energy I never had. While I came to veganism for health am I also vegan for ethical reasons now. If you can be even healthier without killing animals and without supporting animal cruelty why would you eat meat and other animal products? Because you like the taste? Because being vegan seems controversial? I try not to sound preachy, but when asked about it you'll get honesty!
What songs are on your personal playlist?
This Is Why I'm Hot / Die Antwoord
So What / Die Antwoord
Animal / Filthy Creatures
Goldie / A$AP Rocky
I'm God / Clams Casino
Belispeak (W0LCNUM Remix) / Purity Ring
Sir Psycho Sexy / Red Hot Chili Peppers
and everything by RHCP!
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
1. I come off as quiet and shy most of the time but in reality I'm a bit crazy.
2. I can dream while I'm half awake.
3. I can put my legs over my shoulders and walk on my hands.
"there's no design, your flaws are fine"
Oyster Beauty Daily March 2013 - Bondi Blues
Photography: GAVRIEL MAYNARD
Fashion: HAYLEY MORGAN and INGRID KESA
Hair: LUKE REYNOLDS of Luke Reynolds Hairdressing for KMS California
Makeup: NAOMI MCFADDEN
Assistant: AMELIA SMITH
Models: OLLIE HENDERSON and VALENTINA SYKES @ Chic
"Beautiful things have a momentum all their own" -- Lover
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