Quannah Chasinghorse has secured spots on the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle and her last one with Allure. But the Indigenous model, 20, explained that it’s been a long journey to be recognized that she currently feels underrepresented for so long.
“I definitely struggled a lot growing up with my looks,” she told the beauty publication. “I never thought I was desirable or desirable or beautiful or anything like that because of very stereotypical standards of beauty.”
While she has always been interested in fashion and the modeling industry, Chasinghorse didn’t seem to have a place in it according to what she saw in the media. Her Native ancestry is both Hän Gwich’in of Eagle Village, Alaska, and Sicangu-Oglala Lakota of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which inspired her early activism while living in Fairbanks, Alaska. But feeling invisible to the world also made her feel unheard when it came to the message she hoped to share with the world.
Ultimately, it was her authenticity that would lead her to find both confidence and success.
“I just stopped caring [about other beauty ideals],” she said of her rise to the mainstream. “I’ve realized that I’ll never be like them, and to be truly happy, I just have to learn to love myself and not try to change myself so that other people will love me more.”
Additionally, she put the things she truly cares about at the forefront of her identity.
“What really made me feel beautiful was my voice. When I found my voice, I found confidence,” she said. “When I found my voice, I felt strong, and that’s where I found my strength… People will listen if you have something to say.”
While one senior in her community pointed out that Chasinghorse’s beauty should also be used to her “best advantage,” the model has certainly carved a unique path for herself by using her platform to promote important causes. One of her big moments was when she appeared in a Calvin Klein ad in 2020 that touched on the importance of voting. In recent years, she has used the opportunities she has been given as ways to educate others about her native identity.
“I don’t want people to be embarrassed or anything, because it’s not their fault that they don’t know. It’s the school system, it’s society. We [Native people] they’re so deleted that people don’t even know we’re still here. I see all over TikTok and Instagram other people talking about Native Americans in the past tense like we’re not here anymore. That’s what I’m trying to change,” he said. “I carry myself in a way that I really try to live up to my values and the way they were raised.”
Chasinghorse has even found that she feels more confident when she presents herself in a way that aligns with her culture that she feels “more visible” and “more powerful” when she wears indigenous jewelry. More importantly, he has recognized that the industry is beginning to show respect for these choices.
“The industry is moving, growing, and doing better than it has been. Of course, there is more room for growth, but it’s definitely in a very good place where I feel respected. My ways, my life, my values, the how I present myself, how I work and everything is really very respected in the fashion world right now,” she said. “We have to prove ourselves more than anyone else because of the harmful stereotypes that exist of our people. To be able to be someone who changes that narrative within those spaces is a very honored feeling. It really is a trail-blazer for others behind me to have a clearer path. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Find out WHERE behind the hoo with the Yahoo Life newsletter. Register here.