What does it take to be a true icon? A trailblazer? First, this person has to have a passion for finding their life’s purpose. An icon lives beyond the day to day; they live for a legacy. Secondly, once an icon finds their life’s purpose, they’ve got to live everyday to fulfill that purpose and devote their time and energy into harvesting said purpose. A trailblazer starts a revolution everyday. And finally, once that icon lives their purpose daily, people start to take notice. An icon can never be ignored. Being an icon is a big pair of shoes to not only fill, but walk gracefully in and it seems that Catherine Schuller has got it down to a science.
“I don’t think about being an icon so much as I am an example. I was in New York at the right time and there’s always things happening here. I was able to align myself with it and go towards it,” Catherine recalls of her initial move to New York.
Usually people trek to the proverbial city of dreams to make their dreams a reality, but Catherine was more about making her then boyfriend’s dream happen. They drove to New York where Catherine’s passion for her man’s music led him to be the drummer in Blondie. It was by his success that Catherine learned one of her biggest life lessons that she still carries with her.
“When you help someone fulfill their mission on their dream, it becomes yours and you get an answer to what it is that you need to do,” Catherine explains of her “aha” moment that led to her chasing her dreams. Everyone around Catherine told her she needed to model, so she gave it a shot. “Straight sizes wouldn’t have me. I tried! [laughs] I tried to diet myself down, wear black, suck it in, go to auditions and give face and hope they didn’t see the rest of my body,” Catherine recalls of trying to “fit in” with an industry that was extremely sizist. She even went through a bout with eating disorders because she was willing to go to extremes in order to be a part of an industry that was determined to shut her out.
It didn’t take Catherine long to wisen up. Instead of letting the fashion industry’s standards to cookie cut her, Catherine decided to make her own mold. She started doing theater and brainstorming ways to get herself out there. “I got into doing stand-up. I started to realize that I had a voice and I could make people laugh, touch them, inspire them or motivate them. I built on that.” This woman built an entire empire! After becoming a model, despite her naysayers, she realized that she could eat, be healthy and still model. Plus size models were starting to be in demand in the late 80’s/early 90’s and Catherine took full advantage. Plus modeling saved her life and sanity from eating disorders and body image issues. “I was the token plus size model in certain shows Saks would have or [any] runway show. When I would go out on the runway, everybody would stand up and cheer. All the straight size models would peek from backstage,” Catherine giggled when she recalled her early modeling days.
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