Augustina is a 192 cm tall, beautiful, professional basketball player and an aspiring fashion model. She is my new guest today, which starts a new series of interviews on my blog:
Interviews with tall fashion models
Hello Augustina, and thanks for agreeing to this interview. I will start with a blunt but logical question. As a beautiful, confident tall woman, I am sure you get lots of unwanted attention. How do you deal with it? Have you got any tips to offer to women who are bothered by this?
Being tall for me is a privilege from above, although my road to mature up to this understanding and coming to terms with it has not always been covered with roses. I was born and lived in Vilnius, Lithuania until the age of 18. From my early school days it was obvious that I would need to do something with this lanky body, so basketball it was (along with other extracurricular activities like music academy) imposed by my parents. I was doing what I loved most — basketball, and what I loved less — music academy; that was the deal.
At school I was known for being the sports girl winning all the competitions and representing school on a national level in every sport possible. I wasn’t noticeably taller than the rest of my peers until I started entering adolescence. Obviously at this stage you become more conscious of your body, compare yourself to others and notice the difference, especially when it comes to finding trendy clothes and shoes of your own size.
I did not really get picked on; for me it was more of an interior complex, wanting to be like the rest. There are always people around you who are very opinionated; now and then you will get a negative comment like ‘Oh look, she is so tall!’ (as if it were my choice to be tall…).
When I was young, being tall had its advantages. I felt like a chief of the clan. Everyone knew that with me they would get into places we were too young for. No one wanted to mess with us, as they were with a sporty girl. I just learnt to rise above the negativity, to zone out.
Even the positive comments slip by my ear sometimes (not out of arrogance; I am just used to people whispering behind my back).
The confidence that I have right now is totally thanks to my savior, basketball. It took me places, introduced me to great people and built me into the person I am right now. That’s where I felt ‘at home’. They wanted me to be the tallest, so all was good. When somebody asked how tall I was, I wouldn’t hesitate to add in a couple of centimeters, while nowadays most of the time I am the tallest thing that walks into a room. Maybe to rebel against some negative comments or just to assert my right to be a woman (even if too tall for the general public), I put my heels on. I will still take a group photo and crouch down to others’ level to make the photo as uniform as possible, but most of the time I stand tall. I really do not need to work hard to attract attention when entering a room, but then it is up to me to make this a positive or negative impression. Usually people forget how tall I am. 🙂
You live in France but are from Lithuania. Do you find Paris inspiring, as a capital of love and fashion?
Paris is so fascinating and inspiring! I see it in so many different ways, most of the time through the lens of my camera, as this is one of my other passions. This is how I fall in love with Paris again every minute. This is the place where eccentrics meets class and I appreciate every bit of it. It is also a great privilege but also a challenge to live here. Like in every big city, life turns at a faster pace, so everyone needs to find their mark here. People continue to be infatuated by it, even though it is not easy at times. I am conscious, though, that I have the chance to be here. Tourists from all over the world save money all of their lives to come see the Eifel tower, and here I am, driving from work to town to hang out with my friends at the cafe through famous streets where great historic events happened and intricate architecture makes you wonder, how in the world they built that!
As a basketball player, you are one of the few tall women I know who can answer the sarcastic question “Do you play basketball” with a positive “Yes, I do!” Do you get fed up with this question, or do you like being asked?
Well, weirdly enough, they will start by asking if I play volleyball or soccer, but usually I do not get fed up by people’s curiosity. Depends on the way they ask. It might get annoyed because it assumes that you play sports because you are not good for anything else, as in not very intelligent, but I think now people start to understand that to play sports not only you need to be intelligent, but have a very strict discipline, rigor, responsibility, accountability and sense of relation. These are qualities that regular people sometimes do not get the chance to fully develop in their professional environment. So I answer with pride that I am a basketball player, always reminding myself at the back of my mind of the work and sacrifices I had to endure, not forgetting to stay humble and remember where I come from. No one gives you a salary just because your height is impressive. I had to work three times harder to get my degree to prove the ones who did not believe in me what I was made of.
What does basketball give you as a person? What skills does it require, and what skills do you think sport helps you develop?
Basketball and being in a team are setting a great school of life. I would not have become the person I am right now had I not played sports. It becomes your second family. Right away I am surrounded by over 10 people and staff who share the same passion and hygiene of life. I am never alone, especially when I change countries and cities every year for different professional contracts. Obviously not everyone becomes your best buddy, but you learn to work towards a goal in tolerance and respect, and whatever else you draw out of it is a bonus. Me, I found some friends for life and determination to go forward no matter what. It’s a tough commitment to be the best you can as a team, but in life you never become successful alone. To succeed together is more powerful and rewarding than being successful on your own. In this hierarchy you have the opportunity to be a leader, a follower, an irreplaceable team element. You learn it all but it is up to you what role you want to have, and in real life this translates beautifully.
You are now entering a totally new industry (and hopefully a career) to you: fashion modelling. Are you excited about it, or nervous? What are your expectations and hopes?
This is the exciting project that I secretly dreamt about, but since I have always been involved in sports and professional activities, with all the commitments that I had, did not really have the time to develop. Sure, like anything else new, there is a lot of unknowns, but I have no particular fears. If it works out, that would be great. If not, I will not have the regrets by not trying. I do not have excessive hopes, this has to be a natural process. If this is meant to be, I will give it 110%. If not, I will work on developing other passions in hopes of discovering myself in where I am meant to be.
This is a very challenging field. Are you having any help to break through, or are you on your own?
It is true that on your own it is a difficult task to tap into this industry. Like in any other project, you are only strong when you’ve got people having your back, so I have big hopes working with my manager from Alta Belle – Moustafa Barakate.
Do you follow any particular diet?
I never strained my body with diets. My body type is tall and sporty so it is only normal to try to eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis to stay in shape. If you are happy the way you feel physically and mentally, you will radiate the confidence that naturally should be appreciated by others. Most importantly, if you are happy within yourself, then the rest will follow.
Do you struggle to find clothes that fit?
The only real struggle I have is finding shoes that fit, because I love them so much. What girl doesn’t!? But maybe it is a good thing I can’t find them in any random shoe store, because I would be broke by now! 🙂 For me shoes are the most important accessories in an outfit, especially heels. Here and there dresses or trousers will be a bit too short, but generally I find my happiness in regular stores. Sometimes I joke that if I don’t find the right outfit, I will just put on a potato bag and accessorise it, accompany it with nice make up and hairdo, a splash of good perfume, and of course a pair of heels (always has an effect), which will do the job! I spend a lot of time in basketball shoes and training gear, but try to never lose femininity, as deep inside I am a girly girl and, as French would say, I love to disguise myself into a woman.
What are your favourite places to shop for clothes?
My to-go-to store is H&M. Here I know I will find the style and size I need, and quality is not bad. Also, sometimes I will try my luck in New Look, Promod, Mango and Zara, but honestly nowadays the dresses they make are even too short for girls who are 1,70cm tall, so you really need to keep your critical eye opened not to end up like the easy girl on the side of the road.
What are your favourite designers? Preferred colours?
I do not really follow imposed fashion trends. The key is to wear what fits your body type. Not every designer outfit is made for every woman; what looks good on one person can look horrendous on another. I think the real designer for tall women with feminine forms has not been born yet, or has simply evaded my radar. In terms of colour, I always try to find a new black; at the moment it is a naive blue. Black is nice and classy, but I try to vary my wardrobe with more live colours, not to disappear in the greyish Parisian sky.
What is your personal style: sporty, formal, elegant? Do you go for jeans, skirts, dresses…?
I would define my style as elegant, but it also depends on which side of the bed I get up in the morning and how I am inspired. I really love dresses. You don’t need to scratch your head how to match the layers. Here, ‘hop’ into a little dress and you are good to go. I love jeans, too. They match with little tops, really not overthinking it. The less you overthink, the better, as long as it rests comfortably and feminine.
Do you agree that most fashion agencies have a standard height range, and being a tall model is a challenge?
I think most of the fashion agencies have their standards too standardised. Real women are not the ones brushed out in magazines. Real women come in different shapes and sizes, and this is not always embraced. I think if a girl has nice facial features, she can always be a potential ‘material’ to work with, depending on the product.
And, lastly, a question that many people on the tall Facebook groups debate every so often: should tall women wear heels?
They better do! It is a waste of a woman if she does not allow herself to wear heels because someone feels intimidated by it!