Laura Wells is one of Australia’s top models, but also has degrees in both Biology and Law, qualifications in Environmental Management Systems and a Diploma of Paramedical Science. She regularly campaigns on climate and environmental issues in between bikini shoots and loves to be active outdoors like so much of the Cocobella community. We were thrilled to have her on board as a summer ambassador and we caught up with her recently after her full house talk at Pedestrian’s Selfish Saturday in Melbourne. At her talk she had shared her AHA moment about how she could make a difference for the environment:
“There was a moment for me about seven years ago when I realized I was being a bit much about it all. I was walking along the street and I saw some balloons tied to a letterbox and I yelled down the driveway “Happy Birthday turtle killers”. (I must have been in a dark hole of environmental depression at the time – oops. Sorry kids 😱).
I really want to be able to help facilitate change in the world and I realized that if I’m negative then how can I hope to foster positive change in anyone else. So, I knew that I had to change my tune and look at all the good things and the bright things and what is going on and get people positive and pumped up. So, I literally flicked a switch and made a decision to change my mentality.”
Penny at Cocobella: So do you think you will go more towards modelling or science in the future?
Laura: I really enjoy the communication side of my career and that’s what I’m really looking to grow in the next few years. Helping people realise their power in this space. Providing solutions for the future and building my platform to influence for good.
I want to show people how amazing and intricate our world is and let them see that they have the power to keep it beautiful or make it better.
Penny: You like to promote a healthy lifestyle – not just physically and mentally, but socially and environmentally as well. What does that mean for you?
Laura: For me the three pillars of health are mental, physical and environmental. They are all so intertwined and reliant on each-other. Looking after myself mentally could mean spending time in nature or connecting with friends or meditating. Physically would be working out but this doesn’t have to mean the gym. It could be going for a hike or going for a snorkel. I love to intertwine the things that I really love (like nature and being outside) with physical activity. I might go camping and do a 10 or 20km hike and this brings me so much energy and joy. And environmentally for me means giving back. So not only looking after the little space that I occupy by composting and reducing plastic at home etc. but also outside to the places that I really enjoy going to. I might do a little beach cleanup or look at lowering my carbon footprint. It’s really important to be mindful of all of those parts and how they work together because if one of them is failing this will affect your health.
Penny: Millennials and Gen Z are famously the most anxious generations and this is sometimes put down to an overload of information and social and environmental issues that we are not 100% in a position to change. What would you say to someone who finds this all a bit overwhelming?
Laura: Don’t burden yourself with feeling like you have to do everything. Start small and start with the little things. Change the little things you do every day. Take your reusable cup to get your coffee or drink it in the café. Take your reusable bag and water bottle. Once those little things are a habit you can move onto some bigger things. And some of the bigger things you can do are actually also some of the easiest. Like changing who you bank with or your superfund. This takes a few minutes, but it makes a massive difference and if we all switched to ethical super funds, that is a lot of money being used for good rather than supporting the fossil fuel industry. And use your vote: so voting in elections, but also voting with your wallet by supporting brands and corporations that are doing the best things and staying away from the other ones that maybe aren’t.
Penny: You started modelling 13 years ago when curve models were just becoming a thing. Why do you think diversity is important in the fashion and beauty industries?
Laura: I’ve been privileged to see a huge shift in the last 13 years in diversity and the way beauty is represented in the media. We have a long way to go. There’s room to go a lot further but it’s so important because it makes people feel like they belong. When people can see themselves or a part of themselves in people that are in fashion campaigns or beauty campaigns, they feel represented and not outsiders. That’s what people want. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and have a community or a network. Despite what is considered stereo-typically beautiful, everyone is beautiful in their own way and they have so much more behind them than what they look like so let’s let everyone feel represented and part of a community that supports them for being more than their looks.
Penny: Do you think social media is making things better or worse?
Laura: Now things are way more accessible. Over the years the things that people have thought of as flaws (different sizes, colours, stretch marks, whatever) we now have all these people who showcase them and say: these aren’t flaws, this is just my body and what it looks like. That is giving so many people the chance to feel connected and like they have that community.
On the other side we have photoshop and people going out of their way to look like something that isn’t actually real, or people thinking that they need to look like that.
Instagram is not real life. It can be edited or fake and we need to remember that. And we don’t all need to be the same. It would be very boring if everyone was the same. We also need to remember not to compare ourselves. Appreciate social media and and step away knowing that you don’t have to be like a digital image.
Penny: Do you have any career advice for those who want to do something similar to you like environmental science?
Laura: For STEM careers in general, just go for it. Don’t look at the stereotypes or let people tell you that you can’t do it or that it is a bad career choice because honestly if it is something you are passionate about then you will make it you and you will make it amazing. We need more women in STEM. We need people who think in different ways. Men and women are so inherently different. Women think about things in a different way and can come up with these incredible solutions that wouldn’t necessarily have come from a man. Thinking about the world with empathy is something that women are good at and this is something we really need right now.
Follow Laura at @Iamlaurawells for nature pics, fashion and inspo on how to protect our natural world and have fun at the same time.