Abigail Ratchford has quite the fanbase – with 8.3m followers on Instagram and being handpicked by Kim and Kanye West to model in YEEZY’s Season 6 campaign, the social media megastar has really made a name for herself. Aside from modeling and acting, the 26-year old is now coming out with her very own skin care and hair accessory line, and is launching a social initiative to share what she has with people in need. Within the scope of her #ARInstagiveProject, Abigail picks a different cause to support every month: from paying a family’s medical bills, paying someone’s rent and helping abandoned animals, to smaller things like taking care of someone’s gym membership or giving them a makeover for prom. Abigail shares with us how she deals with fame, haters, and what she is currently working on to give back to us.
You have an impressive 8.3m followers on Instagram. How do you deal with that kind of pressure?
I’ve gotten used to it by now, but in the beginning it was a HUGE adjustment. I went from a small town in Pennsylvania to LA, and would be leaving places with my friends and TMZ would come up to me to film me, or stop me at LAX when I’d be dressed like a total slob (laughs). Now, I think I’ve accepted that I need to be on point a lot more in public, and just watch what I say and do in general much more now.
You went from being a bartender, paralegal and secretary to one of social media’s biggest influencers. How has your life changed since you’ve been in the spotlight?
It’s night and day. I never could have imagined living this life I have now. I dealt with so many setbacks on the way, and I knew that even those setbacks were all part of a greater plan. I’m living my dream life now. I do what I love, get to create my own schedule, get to meet amazing and creative people, and am fortunate enough to have such a loyal and supportive fan base who purchases my merchandise. Between that and paid promotions, I’m able to not only support my own lifestyle, but I also help my family and send money back home. That’s always been my number one priority.
Model Shaming is, unfortunately, still very common. How do you react to hateful comments?
I’m so used to it by now that it doesn’t even faze me. I’ve been called literally every name in the book. When I was 15 lbs. heavier, I was called a “fat slob, pig, beached whale, hot mess etc.” and then when I lost a lot of weight people commented “you’re nothing without your curves, say goodbye to your popularity etc”. Now I’m somewhere in the middle and am the happiest I’ve ever been because I realized that no matter what, people will always have nasty stuff to say, and the only thing that matters is how I feel about myself. And I’m feeling pretty damn good lately.
You are currently working on your own skin care and hair accessory line. Can you tell us more about it?
I have so many projects in the works right now that I had to put a few on the back burner and prioritize because there were certain details that needed to be perfected, and I don’t want to ever put my name on something that is not 100 % perfect. But what I will say is that this year, you will be seeing a ton of new things from me between my Instagive project, YouTube channel, beauty and skincare, more fashion type photoshoots, and just showing people all the different sides of me that I’ve never really showed until now.
Aside from modeling, acting and being a major social media star, you are also trying to expand your philanthropic work. What is your biggest goal?
I just feel like I’ve been extremely blessed to be where I am in life at my age, and sometimes have to take a step back and take it in and really just thank god for everything I have. It’s my duty to give back to others who don’t have the same privileges I’ve been awarded.
I hope to help as many people as I can through my Instagive project and to also inspire others to help. I want to create a chain reaction, like the movie “Pay it Forward”.
Is an acting career something you would like to pursue more in the future?
Definitely! I feel like I’m pretty good at impressions and can be super theatrical at times, so I’d love to take some acting classes for fun and see what happens. I think regardless that it’s a good skill to have!
You are used to being camera ready all the time. What is your personal must have beauty item?
Lip Liner! Mac in Whirl, Soar, or Spice are my favs.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty is happiness, beauty is confidence no matter your shape or size, beauty is taking what you have and OWNING it, beauty is a glow from within because you know EXACTLY who you are, and what you want in life.
Find out more about Abigail and all of her amazing projects on her website www.officialabigailratchford.com and give her some love on Instagram @abigailratchford!
Photos by Yasmine Kateb