She has appeared in countless editorial spreads in high-fashion magazines including, but certainly not limited to, Vogue and Glamour. She has been the face of ad campaigns for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Nine West and Gucci. And she has been named one of People Magazine’s most beautiful people. Even better: she’s done it all on her own terms.

Once what she calls a “skinny model,” Kate soon realized that the career she thought she would kill for was actually killing her.  After being told to lose an additional 20 pounds from her already rail-thin frame, the starved 5’ 11” stunner realized that she didn’t have to do this – that starvation was neither the requisite price of beauty nor success.  So, she turned her back on the runway.

Read about The Beauty Bean’s movement to expand the definition of beauty!

Only after retuning to NY to study, did Kate even consider modeling again, albeit on her own terms, as a “plus-sized”* model.

Now Kate is one of the most well known (plus-sized) models; but, more than that, she is a role model. She, like The Beauty Bean, hopes to show women that beauty not only comes in all shapes and sizes, but also is much more than your face or body. With a degree in international development from Harvard’s Kennedy School, Kate Dillon is changing the perception of what it means to be a model in more ways than one and, for this reason, is a Real Beauty.

We sat down with Kate Dillon and asked her to weigh in on real beauty.

What do you think makes someone beautiful?
A big, loud laugh, kindness and intelligence.

How do you deal with the pressure for body perfection in our culture?
When I was 21 years old I was walking down the beach worrying about my cellulite or something when I realized everyone else at the beach was also probably worrying about her cellulite (or something!).  I realized I didn’t want to waste my life trying to fit someone else’s physical ideal, and I also realized the impact I wanted to have on my friends, family, and the world had absolutely nothing to do with the way I look.  Pretty much since then body perfection has not been part of my happiness equation.

See how you can learn to love your body too!

If you could give your younger self advice about beauty, what would it be?
I do wish I could do this.  Hmm.  I would tell her that beauty, ultimately, is about what radiates from within – that nothing is more beautiful than a genuine smile and that nothing is sexier than a clever mind.  And I would thank her for always using sunblock!

What is your one, can’t-live-without-it beauty product?
Suki’s Pure Facial Nourishing Moisturizer.  Pretty much all Suki products are “can’t live without”!

Why you should throw away your scale!

* at The Beauty Bean we prefer not to qualify “model” with “plus-sized” because it implies that the emaciated women we’re accustomed to seeing are the norm when, in fact, “plus sized” is anything over a size 6, and that isn’t plus-anything in our book!