The xoJane Interview: Nancy Upton, Plus Size Model and AA Contest Saboteur

We talk to The American Apparel Anti-sweetheart about life after her hilarious and amazingly wonderful contest "loss."
Publish date:
September 19, 2011
stereotypes, American Apparel, nancy upton, stickin it to the man

Last week, Lesley wrote a piece about the awesome Nancy Upton and how she turned a call for "plus size models" by American Apparel into a cheeky dialogue about size, stereotypes and how companies like American Apparel insult the very market they are attempting to gain customers from. I caught up with the darling Nancy via email and asked her a few questions.

I saw you referenced Claudine Ko's piece on Dov for Jane she wrote in June of 2004. Can you explain how you found it or read about it?

I read the article when I was at NYU and writing a paper on advertising, and chose to focus on American Apparel's campaigns. What struck me was what struck everybody else -- this man was masturbating in front of his employees (as well as journalists) like it was no big deal. Not only that -- his employees were TOTALLY fine with it.

I know you say you didn't want to land a modeling gig or cause trouble but to start a dialogue about size and beauty. But PLEASE tell me you have gotten a million job offers because of this.

Hahaha! Not a MILLION, but definitely a few. I'm going to do some select projects for some designers and companies that I support and believe in, but so far, no attempts to get an agent or make a bajillion dollars.

You're 24 years old and less than a month ago you were just a college student and now you are suddenly on Wolf Blitzer. What is THAT like?

It's so surreal. My friends are all being very supportive but also teasing me, because now I'm constantly running late, showing up in their Yahoo news feed and telling ridiculous stories about talking to TV producers and literary agents. They're like, "Oh, I'm Nancy Upton, DON'T YOU READ MY BLOG?"

The story has received zero news coverage in Dallas (save one blurb on a small blog) so I'm not walking out of the house and being spotted or approached. If any SMU kids recognize me, they're definitely steering clear.

I had to ask two of my professors if I could miss class next week to take my LA trip to American Apparel, and they were both extremely supportive. One of them was like, "I'm going to Google it and read about your story!" and I was all, "That's great!" but in the back of my head, I was yelling, "DON'T DO IT, YOU'LL SEE MY BUTT!"

What has been your parent's reaction, besides "You ate chicken in the swimming pool?"

My Mom has been SO cool about it (except for the pie picture, she HATES the pie picture). She's been posting links on her Facebook and telling everyone about it. She recorded the CNN segment and when I called her to ask how I sounded (I don't have cable), she responded, "OH MY GOD YOU LOOKED ADORABLE!" So there's definitely a Mom bias at play.

You are just stunning. A lot of our readers now have raving girl crushes on you. What are your top three must have beauty items (besides ranch dressing baths) ?

Oh my goodness, thank you! Perfume (Tocca's Cleopatra), Tokyo Milk Bar Soap and I can't stop buying nail polish. Conservative estimate? I own 50 bottles of nail polish.

Shannon Skloss is also amazingly talented , did she have any idea when she was photographing you what a big deal her photos would end up being?

I don't think so. She's been pretty shocked by all of it, but also SO supportive and cool. She's an incredible photographer, and I know that if someone else had taken the photos, they wouldn't have gotten the attention that they have. I'm very excited that we'll be going out to L.A. together, she's extremely fun to hang out with.

In Iris Alonzo's bizarro response letter, one of the things I found most offensive was that she said, "Bootylicious was too much for you to handle." How did you not just reply with "I don't think American Apparel is ready for this jelly?"

Oh, the temptation was great. I actually never responded to that particular email, and I never will. People that know me know how much I love Beyonce. I'm actually going to be Pregnant Beyonce in the Singles Ladies outfit for Halloween this year.

What's next for you?

I'm working on a book with Shannon that I am incredibly excited about. Otherwise, trying to catch up in school, working with Nextwave Performing Arts in Plano, Texas and...I dunno, maybe some dates? It's been awhile since I've had a really nice date.

I really don't think Nancy will have an issue getting dates. She closed the conversation by saying the "girlcrush is totally mutual." For more on Nancy, check out her Tumblr at Extra Wiggle Room.