Sophie Tweed-Simmons on Being ‘Plus Size’ in Hollywood

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Sophie Tweed-Simmons.
Sophie Tweed-Simmons. Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

A few years ago, we found seven reasons to love Sophie Tweed-Simmons, the daughter of KISS bassist Gene Simmons and Playboy model Shannon Tweed. Here’s another one to add to the list: her balanced and thoughtful take on wellness. In addition to being a musician, an actress, and a staunch body-image advocate, Tweed-Simmons is a designer who once named a crop top after Emily Dickinson. She talks to the Cut about allergies, fitness, and what she’s learned about dieting from her famous parents, and teaches us a confidence trick she picked up from Grey’s Anatomy.

How I start my mornings: I start my morning with a cup of black coffee. I read a book that says it boosts your metabolism and perpetuates weight loss. So I take my time and drink my black coffee for an hour because while you were sleeping, your body was digesting. When you wake up, your metabolism is just starting up again, and bombarding it with food slows it down. Then I go into sliced apples or half a banana because fruit is really easy for your body to digest. I try to get up around eight, or it will be around seven, if my dogs can’t help it. They have a doggy door, but sometimes they ignore it and want me to take them out.

I used to drink hot chocolate for breakfast. But then I went through some expensive allergy testing and found out I have eczema, and a couple of mild food allergies, which caused a rash and made me hold onto fat in weird places. It turns out I have allergies to chocolate, dairy, and yeast. And I was eating those every day! My breakfast alone was three of my allergies. These allergies were mild, about a level 3 individually, but the combination made them bad. I cut those out of my life completely for two years and have been slowly reintroducing them back into my diet.

At first, I felt really stressed out because we all know that carbs make you happy. But then I found alternatives and realized it’s a lifestyle. That’s not to say I don’t indulge in chocolate cake and then feel terrible after. I do. But it’s for the long term. I know my allergies are things people in Hollywood probably avoid naturally. But I was never into fad diets. I’ve always been like, I love cake, let’s eat cake. Now it’s more in moderation.

How I define wellness: Wellness is specific to each person. To me, it’s taking care of your body and having the long term in mind and not punishing yourself. The gym used to be a punishment for what I ate. That’s hard on your mental wellness, and people forget about the mental aspects of your health, but you can’t punish yourself for indulging.

For example, I was in Paris for a modeling job and they were selling crêpes under the Eiffel Tower. I decided I’m going to have a chocolate crêpe because I am going to remember this. I will be mad at myself when I’m 80 years old and didn’t have it.

How wellness has changed for me: When I was in high school, I thought wellness was being skinny and pretty. I think a lot of young people still think that. Wellness has many different shapes and sizes; you can’t just look at what your best friend is doing and do that. It should be what makes you feel best and what makes you happy.

When I was 14, I did my first runway show, walking for Kelly Nishimoto for L.A. Fashion Week, and this was before there was an age limit for runway. I did a fitting and loved it, but then I started thinking that if I really wanted to be a model, I should try to lose weight. When I went back for the show, I didn’t get to wear the big outfit because the dress didn’t fit me anymore because I lost weight. The designer took me aside and said, “You were the perfect shape. I had cut the dress to fit you.” I realized then that sometimes, fashion actually does care for you.

On being a “plus-size” model: I’m with 1.1 models in New York. I had met with other plus-size agencies and because I’m not exactly a straight size, people didn’t want to book me. My agency said, “We’re going to pitch you separately and find specific projects that work for you. It’s not a casting call, so we are going to find people that don’t want to change you.”

Models have to take it upon themselves to seek that out. Just because someone tells you to lose weight doesn’t mean you have to. Look for other agencies and see where they will take you as you are. Nowadays, it’s so great to see real women and no Photoshop.

How I sweat: I’ve gotten into Pilates recently because I’ve had trouble with my hips from years of volleyball. It’s great for strengthening. People think Pilates doesn’t have cardio, but they have the jump board. I try to go to the gym because working out is more fun when it’s not just you and your trainer, so I will do the stair machine at Equinox.

Running doesn’t work for me because it has so much impact on my knees. I can already feel it’s not going to be fun when I’m older. I tried spinning. I hated it. I had two massive bruises on my bum for so long. Whenever I do hot yoga, I just feel really dizzy and thirsty. There was a fad with trampoline training, but it was a ton of cardio and not much muscle toning.

Accepting I’m not exactly like my mom is a little tough. My mom has had a six-pack for two decades. She’s a freak of nature and has got those really long, thin legs, and a toned tummy. Although my mom has always been really fit, she didn’t start working out until after kids. Her agency would book her for workout clothing, and she would be like, I’ve never seen a gym! But then she had kids and started filming action movies, so she had to get in really good shape. Every day, she hikes five miles with her dog and then does Pilates with me. She is a beast. When she went on tour with my dad, she even went to the gym every day. She keeps up her wellness diets. She’s not 20 and as she also points out, she’s not dead.

My dad could care less about working out. He used to do Tae Bo and did Billy Blanks. But he’s an old-fashioned man’s man, he doesn’t like to be told what to do, and eats what he likes to eat. But he’s become more conscious over the years.

My wellness advice: You have to live your life just for you. Caitlyn Jenner knew every morning that it wasn’t how she was supposed to look. and now she’s living her true self. A lot of people feel pressure from magazines or boyfriends, but if you like what you see then you need to tell everyone else you’re okay with how you are. At the end of the day, it’s just you. It’s not our job to impress people, why are we trying to?

My wellness shortcut: I drink a ton of water when I know I’m going to be shooting. I’ll also wear the clothes that make me feel the most confident. It’s all about how you carry yourself. We’re constantly looking down at our phones and that’s not a naturally attractive way to approach someone. It says, “I don’t want to talk to you.” Look up and bring your shoulders back and you’ll be surprised at how much more confident you’ll feel.

Also, I saw this on Grey’s Anatomy so it’s true, of course: If you stand in the superhero pose for just five minutes, it releases endorphins and helps you feel more confident. It’s how Superman stands, with legs slightly far apart and hands in fists on your hips and in the air. Stand up really straight and proud. I do this if there’s something I’m really nervous about, like I’m going into a casting and I’m not the type they usually book. I can’t make myself thinner or prettier, but I can walk into the room with more confidence and personality.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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