Model Rose Bertram walks down Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with her voluminous curly blonde hair commanding attention from passerby, making it clear that what the 21-year-old lacks in height, she posses in charisma and beauty. As we meet outside a juice bar, her warm personality greets us and a sense of joy radiates from deep inside; we immediately welcome her in return with huge smiles and hugs. Her personality even catches the seemingly annoyed cashier off guard and he suddenly cheers up as if he just took a shot of beetroot juice. Rose has this effect on people as a whole. She lights up a room and demands attention even without saying a word. But when she starts to speak, she tells us of her difficult journey to get to the place she is today—appearing in everything from the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to on the catwalk at shows, including Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief Charity Fashion Show. When transitioning from a child model to high fashion, however, “They told me I was too small and I couldn’t go further,” she says. Rose remembers many agencies turning her down while seeking representation, “So I decided to do my own thing,” she continues. Rose contacted photographers on her own, built her portfolio, and left her hometown in Belgium for London. One of her first jobs was with renowned photographer Juergen Teller and the resulting Jawbone campaign was a huge success. Her persistence and dedication paid off when an agency in London eventually signed her in 2013. Now with over 300,000 Instagram followers and constant Snapchat updates, Rose is creating a brand for herself, consistently proving that she’s more than just a curvy body. Having carved a space for herself in an industry dominated by the tall and skinny, Rose describes herself as a young woman with a strong mentality that is aggressive at times and very emotional. When asked what she sees when looking in the mirror, she simply states, “Me, myself, and I.” Seeing herself for who she truly is has helped her succeed, as the self-awareness led to an of air extreme confidence—but certainly not boastfulness.
Written by The BASTARD Child
Who or what inspires you?
Greatness. I look to the people that are the best at what he or she does. I want to know their knowledge about things. People who really go for their dreams and succeed at what they do inspire me.
Can you tell us about your experience with Sports Illustrated?
I knew there was something coming in my life, but I didn’t know it was Sports Illustrated, and then it happened. They sent me a camera so I would film everything, like me going to the airport, getting on the plane, and talking about what I’ve been through since I started travelling. They have a really different way of working, and as soon as I arrived in St. John, they were so warm and cool. It didn’t really feel like a job; it was just me on the beach in a bikini having fun. They made me feel like part of the SI family.
Now that you’ve gained this exposure and people know about you, what do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions they have?
That my road to success was easy. In actuality, it’s been really hard for me to have what I have today. I was too short. My boobs were too big. Since this industry is based on having the “right” measurements, I had a hard time finding a modeling agency that wanted to represent me.
“The work that I’m doing is one of the biggest insecurities, because they are always judging how you look, what you don’t have, and what you do have.”
The struggle must have made you face your insecurities. How did you overcome them?
The work that I’m doing is one of the biggest insecurities, because they are always judging how you look, what you don’t have, and what you do have. It took a long time for me to embrace that I have bigger boobs and a very tiny body. I always thought that I just wanted to get rid of it; I thought it would be nicer to have smaller boobs because its not as sexy, but after shooting for Sports Illustrated I felt more secure and more like a woman. In the beginning it was hard because my agents were still pushing me to do shows. I really felt insecure about my height. I would train on heels and go to show castings and the fact that I felt so insecure made me stress more. I overcame that by telling myself that the client asked me to come here for a reason and they know that I am smaller. I had to just go for it because if they saw that I was insecure they would be like, “This is not the girl we thought she was.”
What would you say to the people who said no to you in the past?
I would say that whatever they do or whatever position they are in, they are not good at it because if they were, they would have known that I’d be able to work. (laughs) When I went to this agency in London, when they told me no, I was like, “You know, I don’t even care because if you cannot see what I have inside of me…” The only reason they said no was because I wasn’t tall enough. For me that doesn’t make sense. A tall girl, she can be tall, but maybe I have something she doesn’t have.
“Don’t listen to people who say that you are too small or too thick or whatever. Just go for it.”
What would you say to girls who share the dream of being a model?
Don’t listen to people who say that you are too small or too thick or whatever. Just go for it. Before the whole social media thing the only girls we really saw were the fashion girls and it made some girls feel like it was impossible to do. Now I feel like it is possible but it’s also all about what you feel inside. Pursue modeling if you can handle it. It’s not an easy job. You are always away and you don’t have a stable life, but if you really want it then do it.
You give your fans a glimpse into your life through social media, but what’s something new you would like to say to fans reading this interview?
What I want them to know is that they shouldn’t judge me about what they see on my social media. I’m a human being, just like anyone else, and I make mistakes just like anyone else. I am a normal person that just loves what she does; I’m also really grateful. I can’t believe how many people are fans of my work or me. This is all so new for me, and every day I have more followers and people getting to know me. I want them to know that I am very open and I would answer any questions. People telling me that they love it and they think it’s beautiful, it’s an amazing thing for me to see. I wake up every day to positive energy, which is important.
What’s next for you?
I started acting classes, which is really cool. I would love to do comedy but I would also love to do action! Colombiana is one of my favorite action movies because the lead character is so inspiring. I love how she is a woman but she is tougher than the guys. I want to be that badass woman—not badass in a sensual way, but badass because I am doing crazy stuff while remaining sexy. It’s sexy to see a girl being badass like that.
“It’s all about timing and making the right decision.”
So is L.A. in your future?
Oh yeah. The plan is to maybe go live there in a couple of years. I know that there are more amazing opportunities that are going to happen in my life. It’s all about timing and making the right decision.
Rose Bertram is Being Accomplished at Selfless Tasks And Righteous Deeds by donating the proceeds from the sale of her fanzine to I AM THAT GIRL, which helps girls transform self-doubt into self-love by providing a safe space to connect and have honest conversations. By building a community for girls to be seen, be heard, and belong, IATG is giving young women something bigger than themselves to stand for and creating a healthier, more powerful world.