Chantal Monaghan on how Girlfriend Model Search helped her embrace her curly hair
She shares her journey from bullied teen to top model
Powerful. Striking. Fierce AF. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when we see Chantal Monaghan.
So, it's hard to believe that the Aussie model—who now lives in NYC—hasn't always been super secure in her looks.
Chantal reveals that before being a finalist at age 14 in Girlfriend's 2010 Model Search, she had been badly bullied about her appearance.
Fast forward 10 years, and the Brissy girl is now one of our top modeling exports—straddling that rare line between high fashion and commercial beauty.
She's walked on catwalks all over the world, and worked with huge brands like Ralph Lauren and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Here, we catch up with Chantal about her Girlfriend Model Search experience, how it helped her embrace her curly hair and her incredible career so far.
What made you decide to apply for Girlfriend's Model Search?
When I did the Model Search, I was 14 years old. My mum found the ad in the paper and online and asked if I wanted to do it, so I thought "Wow , his is my dream YES I’ll do it.
How did you feel about the way you looked before you applied for Model Search?
I honestly never thought of my looks when I entered the competition. We didn't have much social media back then. But I was bullied 80% of my school life, from the ages of 6-13. Everyone who bullied me I do remember, and they all are very nice now but people don’t forget 7 years of bullying " It made me work harder, be much stronger as a person and a fighter in my career. I have been insecure about my curly hair and wore it straight as I wanted to fit in. . But I thought "let me go with my hair natural and curly and show the judges who I am." Now, I just embrace my curls and don’t worry about fitting in. I don’t want to fit in. It’s better to be who you are and stand out."
Did you make any lifelong friends through Model Search?
I met some amazing girls during this search and I do bump into sometimes in New York, they are all sweet and nice.
What are the biggest ways your life changed after Model Search?
The model search helped me realize I want to model and this is what I want to do.
Chantal, aged 14, in middle
What's the most amazing experience you've had as a model?
Appearin in 10 Jean Paul Gaultier shows and my latest campaign with the Maybelline team is a dream come true.
What kind of places has your modeling career taken you to? Do you have a favourite destination?
Paris is my favorite destination that my job has taken me to. It is so historic and romantic, I love being booked for jobs in Paris.
What's been your biggest career highlight so far?
Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier were the two designers that personally chose me for their shows in 2013. I will never forget the chance they gave me. It was one of those pinch-me moments!
What do you do for work now?
I just did a huge advertising campaign with Christy Turlington and Emily Didonato — it was a dream come true and one of the biggest job in modelling to secure. I’m so grateful and humble and I can’t wait for what’s next.
What does an average day look like for you?
I wake-up, wash my face and then call my agents to see what my schedule looks like. I go to work, as in a shoot in a studio or location. If I don’t shoot I go to the gym for an hour or two and then I go to meetings and castings.
What's the biggest piece of advice you'd give to girls thinking about entering Model Search?
I think the girls should always remember who they are and the reason why they want to be a model. Never change for anyone, be who you are. Work the hardest out of anyone in the room and you will get there in time with hard work.
Fancy yourself Australia's next big model or influencer? We’re back and looking for the next big superstar in Girlfriend’s 2020 Role Model Search! You can learn more about how to enter here!
Emma NorrisEmma is Deputy Editor at Girlfriend magazine. She's obsessed with being cozy at all times, eating cheese, binge-watching comedy shows and reading Facebook comments about anything and everything.