With a beauty nothing short of arresting, the self-proclaimed "introvert extrovert" radiates in front of the lens; soft hazel eyes, Brown skin and the most wonderful corkscrew curls that bound gloriously around her face. It's the kind of beauty that makes you jolt upright; intoxicating, indelible, otherworldly.
But it hasn't been without its challenges. In an industry historically homogenised by one overarching and painfully prejudiced beauty standard, it's a mould the model initially didn't fit.
"The fact that I can now work full-time as a shorter model, a model with hips wider than 34 inches, Afro hair, Brown skin - these were all factors that impaired me and many others only a couple of years ago," she tells Par Femme.
But Nat is one of the faces cultivating change in the industry, particularly here in Australia. "The industry is definitely changing. I don't think it really had a choice. Social media gave us voices loud enough to shake the top tiers of brands. We stopped believing the one dimensional image of ‘beauty’ we were being served."
Here, Par Femme bunks down with the articulate multi-hyphenate for a little pillow talk. Be it a Love Island binge before bed, attempting new culinary adventures in the kitchen, indulging an overly zealous skincare routine, or simply lighting a candle and luxuriating in a massage with her partner — these are the lovely quotidian joys that make Natty B tick...
What’s in your bedside drawer? Talk us through your products and why they’re your bedside essentials…
I love to keep a scented candle like Glasshouse by my bed. I used to think candles were a bit of a gimmick but I finally get why people like them. They smell good. Like really good. They can also relax you in 0.5 seconds. I admit I’m a skincare junkie and I don’t care who hears it. I’ve been loving Murad's Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum which has been amazing for lightening the little post-zit scars I’ve acquired from wearing masks (cheers, Rona). Medik8 Crystal Retinal is the next step-up from Retinol and my vain attempt to look young forever. I’ve been using Vida Glow for years and swear by it for good skin and faster growing hair. I keep them in my drawer along with my other supplements so I don't forget them. Lastly, my beloved Conrad boar brush from Evo. Oh, how he has got me through some pickles. When the 'fro says no, I can always rely on him to get me the sleekest bun in the shortest time.
Your hair is absolutely incredible. What does your haircare routine involve and do you have any tips when it comes to styling your hair?
Well, thank you. I’d be lying if I said some days I don’t want to have a complete Britney meltdown and shave it off, but for the most part I love my mane. I wash my hair once a week and use a deep conditioning mask every time. It’s essential I use a heat cap when doing this otherwise the moisture doesn't penetrate the strand. Once I realised my hair was low porosity, my hair health completely changed. I really recommend this to anyone struggling to understand their curls: find out your hair’s porosity. I follow with a leave-in conditioner, curl cream and curl gel, and set in a braid-out for easier maintenance. I’ve tried various shortcuts to this routine and the outcome is never good. I guess my Type 4 tip is just: surrender to wash day.
As a model who works within the beauty space, do you think the beauty industry has changed / is changing? And for better or worse?
The industry is definitely changing. I don't think it really had a choice. Social media gave us voices loud enough to shake the top tiers of brands. We stopped believing the one dimensional image of ‘beauty’ we were being served. The fact that I can now work full-time as a shorter model, a model with hips wider than 34 inches, afro hair, brown skin, these were all factors that impaired me and many others only a couple of years ago. We’re now seeing older women in major beauty campaigns which I consider essential in undoing the messaging that women cease being desirable and visible after 30. We’re quite literally not buying it anymore. We have a long way to go before the playing field feels fair. I’m very aware of my privilege. I see tokenism and performative inclusivity / activism everywhere. But overall it’s an exciting time to be a part of the shift.
Do you incorporate intimate wellness into your routine? And how?
Intimate wellness is so important and yet it’s sometimes the first to fall to the wayside when life gets hectic. My partner and I are really into massages and back tickles. Sometimes we light a scented candle and use massage oil, other times it can just be while watching TV. The important thing is that it connects us.
Do you practise “self-care” or “self-love”? And what rituals do you believe are important in self-care?
Definitely. I’m one of those people that has no qualms practicing self-care. I indulge. I have many rituals that keep me sane, a big one being Pilates. It really helps keep my mental health stable. When I don’t move my body, I can be prone to thinking negatively about myself so it’s a ritual I love and stick too. Anything that fills up your cup is self-love, no matter how trivial. Even reading, having tea and a choccie while watching crap TV, or switching your phone off can feel loving.
Can you share a bedtime secret?
Um…I dribble when I sleep?
What’s your nighttime / wind down routine or ritual?
I love my night time ritual of having a shower, getting into clean sheets and reading for an hour. Reading has proven so much better for my sleep than watching TV right before bed. It also admittedly keeps me off my phone! I appreciate doing my skin care slowly at night with a candle burning. It’s been my favourite time of the day lately.
Do you read in bed, if so what?
Yes, every night. I’ve been a ferocious bookworm ever since I could make sense of words. I usually gravitate towards fiction or memoirs. I just finished Dominicana by Angie Cruz and would highly recommend it.
What’s the last thing you do before bed / sleep? (Has this changed regarding use of technology, etc?)
The very last thing is probably taking a sip of water or putting my phone on charge. I think I consume most of my water in the middle of the night. Horrendous, I know.
What’s something you only do in bed, and nowhere else?
A Youtube binge is generally a bed affair.
What’s the last you think about before you go to sleep….
I try not to think about anything and quieten my mind. I’m fortunate to be able to fall asleep pretty easily.
Par Femme is all about pleasure, sensuality and empowerment. How has your relationship with these things changed over time? Why do you think these things have been taboo subjects, for women especially?
I think women have been raised to associate sex, heaven forbid enjoying sex, as unlady-like and shameful. Or just something not to really be talked about. I don’t remember discussing sex (in much detail) with family or friends, and never about self pleasure. I remember marvelling from a young age, the contradiction that if a woman enjoys multiple partners, she’s a ‘slut’, but if a man does it, he’s just ‘being a guy’. This double standard was so insidious, I can’t even identify if anyone specifically told me this or I just absorbed it like osmosis. I wish I had grown up in spaces where we could have talked about sensuality as something empowering. I think I would have had a more comfortable relationship with myself, with my body, with partners. It’s a relief to see women changing the narrative and owning their right to access pleasure.
What does sensuality mean to you?
It means power, vulnerability, defiance, softness, exploration. It means so many things.
What’s your approach to sexual wellness?
To make time for it. There's nothing worse than trying to rush intimacy.
Is self-pleasure important, and why?
How else will you know what you like and don't like? Knowing your boundaries is important and I think there is something attractive about a person who understands their own body.
What sex / love advice would you give your younger self?
Speak up. Sex, love, relationships, they are a two-way street where your opinion and preferences matter. I think I let a lot of situations and relationships steer me, instead of the other way round. I would tell younger Nat to find her voice.
How do you stay creative? And do you find there’s a link between sexual satisfaction and heightened creativity?
I stay inspired through books, having open and honest conversations with friends, journalling out my dreams. I think there is definitely a link between sexual satisfaction and creativity. Both help clear the mind and release endorphins. I think when I’m happy, I’m more excited to create.
Do you see the space beside your bed as sacred? And why?
Maybe not sacred but it’s definitely one of the few spaces in my apartment that is 100% mine. My partner has his own bedside table so it’s nice to be able to keep his mitts off my favorite products.
PJs or naked? Both.
Lights on or off? Off.
Late night snack or nothing? Late night snack.
Shower before bed or no? Yes,
SHOP NAT'S BEDSIDE DRAWER
Glasshouse MONTEGO BAY RHYTHM Candle. Shop Here
Evo Conrad Natural Bristle Paddle Brush. Shop Here
Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum. Shop Here
Medik8 Crystal Retinal. Shop Here
Vida Glow Marine Collagen. Shop Here
Par Femme Logo Embroidered Lounge T-Shirt. Shop Here
Par Femme High Briefs. Shop Here
Interview and story by Chrisanthi Kaliviotis.
Photography by Nat Buchanan.