Note From the Author: When I first got started in Pinup/Boudoir a friend of mine suggested that I start following Emily Doll; from the second I saw her page I fell in love with her work, and positivity around helping other’s build up their dreams. Now, fast-forward four or so years, I finally garnered enough courage to ask my role model if she would be willing to do an interview with me! I am so grateful that Emily said yes! I am so excited to share her story, and advice with you, my readers!
Following one’s hopes and dreams is not an easy path. There will always be up’s and down’s, trials and tribulations. However, it is from those lessons that we learn about our inner strength. That is how we find our inner goddess. Emily, and her story show that when the going get’s tough the tough get going! Her moxie, her strength is astounding, and her desire to stay true to herself is beautiful. I hope that her story inspires you to find your inner goddess!
1. You probably get asked this a lot, but how did you get into pinup/boudoir? What drew you into this world?
A- “I discovered pinup when I was 17 after I had discovered the Rockabilly world. It was probably the first thing I ever found after coming from a very sheltered homeschool life that really allowed me to express myself and feel like I wasn’t trying to fit into someone else’s ideas but something that allowed me to define myself. I started studying the Rockabilly culture after I was introduced to it and it was kind of like Alice going down the rabbit hole honestly, I just jumped in and wanted to learn everything I could. I discovered pinup in Hot Rod Deluxe Magazine. I use to go to 7-11 and get their magazine and an ICY lol. I fell so in love with what I saw so I started researching pinup history and it was another 4 years before I started getting involved myself. I didn’t want to just adobt a style I wanted to know everything about it, it’s history and where it came from. The women who started it to the women who were keeping it alive today. I had such a deep love for it that it didn’t make sense to me to just say I liked it, I wanted to bleed it. Rockabilly and pinup are huge defining characteristics of mine because they were the two things that helped me discover myself.”
2. When you first started how did you define yourself? What did you feel made you stand out from everyone else? What about now?
“Oh man I remember when I first started I thought I had to live in polka dots lol! My entire wardrobe was polka dots. I think we all go through that stage when we first discover pinup lol. I can’t really say what made me stand out. When I first started I was bullied by the group who introduced me to rockabilly so I didn’t really have anyone to share it with. They told me I was a poser and had no right to be involved. So I separated myself and continued on my own. No one in my family understood what was happening, or how I was changing and I just quietly continued to study what I loved on my own. I knew I wanted to dye my hair jet black finally after years of begging my parents lol, so I did and I cut my first Bettie bangs in. I was starting to define myself in what I loved and what inspired me. The starlets of old Hollywood and pinup’s like Bettie Page fueled my own styles and I just kept moving in the direction that pulled me. I was different everywhere I went, but thinking back now I always was anyways. My outward look was finally starting to reflect who I was inwardly and although others were confused by it I never felt more myself. I really cared what people thought about me back then and I worked really hard to exude this perfect rockabilly image that I thought I had to have to embrace the life style I loved, now after almost a decade I know that was the dumbest thing I did. Now I do what I love, embrace what I love, wear what I love. I don’t even consider what others might think or if I’m different. It doesn’t matter to me like it use to.”
3. How has your style changed over the years? What are you drawn to in fashion? Why?
“Style and fashion has always been my thing. My mom use to make a joke that even in my stroller I was coordinating outfits from a mile away lol. I use to obsess over fighting in to whatever was trendy but sadly my body type didn’t fit that mold lol. I’ve been naturally skinny my entire life! I’ve always been the one in the group that’s smaller, always told by strangers to eat more, mocked, called names. I wanted so desperately to have a pair of jeans that fit me like the other girls but no matter how small they were always too big for me and I ended up always having to use safety pins to hold them up. I was so self conscious all time. I just wanted tight fitting jeans like the other girls. It wasn’t until I started remodeling my entire look and self as I discovered rockabilly and pinup that I finally figured out my style and what made me feel amazing. I didn’t just discover the style I love most I discovered self confidence. I was 21 when I took the leap to embrace the life style that I had been studying for years. I just had my first baby, was in a toxic marriage with a man who told me I was selfish and trashy for trying to be a pinup model, no one understood or supported this new direction I had taken in my life. So how could I possibly have found self confidence right lol? Well it’s my destiny. This entire style allows me to be me and express myself. I express myself through outward style. It’s been years of me learning and growing and evolving into taking something a lot of women do and love but also making it my own. I’ve gone from safety pins in baggy jeans and always feeling ugly and self conscious and too skinny, to feeling like I can take on the world when I get dressed. Style can do that for some people. It’s meant to do that for some people. I’m one of those people and pinup, vintage, rockabilly, all of it just happened to be the style that helped me understand that”
4. Who, or what are some of your biggest inspirations? Why?
“I’m probably suppose to name old school models and designers right now to fit the bill but I’m not lol. Anyone brave enough to be who they are in this world. It’s so scary being yourself and you are torn down daily, I know. I have made so many contacts in what I do and I talk to so many people. Yea I totally have a newsfeed full of models, bloggers, YouTubers, designers who I all follow because they inspire me but it’s really daily people, it’s people who don’t even know they are inspiring me sometimes. I’ve been trying to focus more on telling those people that, telling them that they are a part of my reaching my dreams. I think it’s important. I think we feel like we are suppose to be inspired by generic things or choices that fit what we like but I’m trying to find a more genuine source in things around me and it’s been doing me well”
5. What are some of the biggest changes you have made in your everyday life to propel you forward with your photography?
“I always wanted to be a photographer first. I got a blue crayola crayon camera for my 8th birthday and it changed my life! Those were some awesome shots of my siblings and cousins riding bikes and playing let me tell you lol! I use to fill up disposable cameras like crazy of anything I could take photos of, now with smartphones it’s ten times easier lol. I use to be really propelled by what I saw others doing, what their work looked like. What photos or looks were suppose to look like. Now I focus mainly on the energy, what caught my attention to take the photo to begin with. I love editing so much!!! Not Photoshop but editing. Sometimes the idea I have doesn’t stop at the photo it has to also then be edited to put that energy back in that I saw in my head to begin with. I get asked all the time “What apps do you use to edit your photos” and I never have an answer because it isn’t that easy lol. It isn’t an app it’s adjusting contrast and structure but only right here because that’s what my brain saw, and it’s making sure the light is just right and the angle is on point. I can’t just tell you an app or a filter, it’s me, it’s my energy and style I put into my work and yours needs to reflect you not me.”
6. How do you define success?
“Happiness. If you are happy in what you are doing than you are more successful than most. A lot of people come to me with “How do I get as many likes as you?” And then I go into my speech on how likes mean nothing if you aren’t earning them or giving people a reason to be giving that attention to you. They don’t usually like that answer because it means years of their time and being confused and frustrated and lost lol. It isn’t easy. I define my success in the fact that I have built something that others see as so amazing that they also want to be involved. I’ve been able to be myself and share that and others want to them support me in continuing that journey and also investing their own names and brands into me. That’s huge. But I lost sight of that for a while. I stepped away from a lot of my work and passions because I wasn’t happy anymore and that wasn’t healthy for me. So I stopped to focus on getting mentally healthier. I had to learn that saying you don’t care what others say about you isn’t the same as actually not carrying. I had to learn what I was already preaching to others. I was allowing bullying and judgement from others to control my happiness and steal my passion. Now, I’m back and happier and stronger in my success than ever.”
7. What are the different ways you promote yourself? And what have you found to be the most successful way for you?
“In the begining I did a lot of the Facebook contests until I realized they were a huge waste of time. After learning you have women offering nude photos for votes and those in charge allowing it even though it’s in the rules that it’s not allowed, I mean why keep investing your time in things like that you know? If it isn’t positively building you and your brand but stealing valuable time you could be investing in things that do help you, stop wasting your time there. I started investing everything into my fans, learning about them and interacting. My fans are my family and I love them so much and it’s because of them that I’m able to do any of this. They are the sharing and the supporting that gets me seen and noticed. They are the clicks and likes that encourage me and other brands to work with me. Your fans are your promotion. Their time and love. Don’t take advantage of that”
8. How do you get sponsors?
“Provide them a reason to invest their time and money in you. So many girls create pages and think “ok I have a pinup name and a page and I won this contest so send me free shit!” Lol that’s not how it works. Sponsors are businesses and when they sponsor you or send you merchandise that’s their money, they are investing in you because they are relying on being paid back by working with you. Sponsoring is a business deal. If you want to be sponsored you need to work towards providing brands with a reason to want to send you their hard earned money. It’s like I say to everyone, if the exposure by working with you isn’t enough then they aren’t going to want to work with you because they shouldn’t. Harsh? No because this is a business and a job, it isn’t about making you feel awesome or confident it’s about doing your job. That’s the reality that a lot don’t want to hear. I’ve been building a platform for close to ten years y’all, I’ve worked day in and day out on building a brand that when clothing designers or beauty brands see they not only see who I am as a brand but also that I’m someone you can trust to work with and have a good end product. I care about the brands I work with, I have worked years on bettering my skills to be able to create content that’s honest and real and represents those brands and what they are selling in a real way that benefits them, me and most important the consumer we are marketing to. “But Emily is it really just about money? I thought being a pinup was about empowering, are you really just selling things?” Umm yes! Being a model is a job. Do we as models then also teach things like empowerment and other more important things? Yes but that’s part of us and our brand, it’s part of our package that we are selling to brands who want to work with us and part of why, but first and foremost modeling is a job. You can be a pinup without being a model, but being a model means work. That’s just fact”
9. How have you gotten comfortable in your own skin?
“Oh goodness I don’t know if I am really am fully. I still have days where I question myself but ultimately I had to make a choice. Hate myself or love myself because who I am is who I am. Sure you can fight it and be fake and constantly have to work to contain this bullshit image you have come up with to “fit in” but that is not how anyone is designed to live or be happy. I use to care a whole lot about what others thought and catered to that. I hear everyday how women want to be bold like me and dress how they want but they live somewhere that would stand out and draw attention that is negative because others don’t understand it. Well doesn’t that go back to the saying “Why blend in when you were born to stand out!” So why are you fighting the natural pull you are feeling to make others happy because they don’t get it? Who cares if they don’t get it, it isn’t their life. You really do have to make a conscious effort to stop caring how others see you or feel about you to really be comfortable in your own skin. It’s very hard in today’s world but it’s something that deserves that effort in my opinion because living free and loving yourself will get you way further in life way happier than trying to adjust to the rest of the world’s views. Let’s be honest they don’t even know half the time, they just judge out of their own unhappiness to begin with.”
10. Who is your inner goddess? What do you draw from her so that you can keep going no matter the challenges that are thrown your way?
“My inner goddess is a brave warrior. From childhood I’ve always been the meek shy hide in a corner type. Growing up my parents catered to that and it quickly became my defining characteristic. I lived my entire life mostly in fear of not being capable or even trying because that’s not what I thought I could do. I always allowed others to take the lead because this was never taken out of me but fed into instead leading me to never be dominant in anything but allowing others to control me as well. I landed in a very toxic and abusive relationship because of it. Then when my anxiety really triggered in 3rd grade and never being treated for it u never knew how to deal with it or cope or even avoid dangerous unhealthy things in life. It took me a very long time to learn I didn’t have to be that way and I got to choose who I was and how I handled things. This literally only changed four years ago and now I don’t even know the girl I use to be at this point. I made a choice to embrace being brave and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
11. How did you come up with your name? Do you feel that there is importance in a name?
“As a pinup model you are your own brand and the name you chose has a huge part in that. People hear it and everything you represent and are is behind that name. So I would say it’s very important. Mine started out as an email address. I had moved from California right before I turned 16 to Oklahoma and my email was caligirl247 lol! Well I no longer lived in California and I had recently discovered the entire world of vintage and rockabilly so I added the world Vintage to something I had always been called my entire life, DOLL, so the vintage doll was born. When I started my modeling carrier it just kind of made sense to me to use it. I came to a place where I felt like I needed something more name like but my name didn’t really rhyme with anything cool like DeVille or Tease so I tried using a nick name my aunt called me for a while as a second name but that was a horrible idea! Lol! The Vintage Doll has become a huge name in the industry and way bigger than I ever dreamed and she deserves the notoriety she’s come to have. Emily Doll is the name I use mostly because it’s my name and I couldn’t ever really escape being referred to as The Doll so why try to fight it ya know lol. It’s me.”
12. I understand that you create your own photo shoots, what is your process for creating the look and feel of your shoot, and tell the story continuously through?
“You know I remember the first brand who asked me to promote them and it was an amazing woman who followed my page already and she made the most amazing hair flowers!! I was in shock when she asked me. From that point on I have never stopped working on improving the content I put out for brands who trust me with their products and their own dreams in a sense. I use to over edit everything! I look back at my first promotional shoots and goodness I was like a 10 year old girl. Frames and stickers and way to many filters lol. I focused on learning from the photographers I worked with and learned so much about what really matters. Like shooting in my bathroom had to stop because that lighting is not your friend. I also do everything on my phone so I make sure when I’m picking phones that the only thing I really care about is the camera quality. Lighting is one of, if not the most important thing. I won’t shoot a product if the day isn’t sunny because that hurts the quality of my photo and resolution and ultimately leads to a less crisp professional photo. I’ve learned how to adjust things myself rather than use filters and that editing is meant to bring the energy you see mentally to the photo if you can’t pick it up in raw image. Learning to shoot jewelry and shoot it well has been one of the harder tasks. Making sure you get a good angle but the clarity and being able to capture the real beauty and detail took time. Each product I shoot usually takes several days. Say I’m shooting hair flowers. I do my hair to cater to the design of the flower depending on it’s placement and how it lays. Then my makeup is also done to coordinate and pull out the colors of the flower so it flows well. If I don’t have a top that matches I will use pretty much anything to make it look flawless. I used two upside down pettiecoats tucked into my bra and pulled around my shoulders to look like a gown for my fourth of July look. I just had my jeans on and looked totally silly in full length but I have been asked where I bought my dress for that shoot so clearly I fooled a few people lol. I always shoot in my bedroom window because it has the best light as well as white curtains that not only draw and reflect the light but I also pull them around me for a white backdrop. That helps showcase the products but also if I want to get creative with cover photos for tutorials it’s easier to cut myself out off a white background to then put into a new one. Shooting takes all day and I usually will edit while I have coffee the next day or later that night. It’s been a long road of trial and error but I am really proud of a lot of the photos I do because photography and styling and the creative aspect that goes into my shoots is really where my true passion is. Getting to be the model and being a good model is just another part of my job but it isn’t my most favorite. Creating is what I love most. Allowing my mind to create the looks that support the product I’m shooting and make it make sense to the people seeing it. I love that part.”
Here’s a bit more about Emily Doll:
“My name is Emily Doll or better known as pinup model The Vintage Doll. I’m 29 and I live in Texas with my boyfriend and our two little boys. I’ve been a professional pinup model going on 8 years now but I’m definitely not just a model. I spend my time blogging and sharing my love of style and beauty and showing others how it can be an amazing source of self expression. I don’t stop there though. I also am an advocate for things like body and self love, empowering young girls and women in their own bodies while breaking unrealistic beauty standards, as well as speaking openly on topics such as depression, anxiety and toxic relationships. Life is hard, being yourself is hard, chasing your dreams is hard, and I like using what I do to help people not only enjoy the style and beauty they love but to also enjoy themselves and who they are without trying to fit into molds they were never made for.”
Don’t forget to follow us! You can find Emily on facebook: Emily Doll-The Vintage Doll, Instagram: @emilydoll_tvd, and snapchat!