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Joan Smalls Poses for Porter Magazine in Native Puerto Rico

Joan Smalls Porter

Image: Porter

We expect Joan Smalls to look stunning no matter what she does and she is keeping in that tradition with her latest spread for Porter magazine. The Puerto Rican beauty nabbed herself a very special double cover for the magazine this month, going back to her roots for a shoot in her hometown of Hatillo. 

Inside the issue, we find a 20-page spread of the gorgeous Smalls, who poses on the cover in a furry coat (quite a contrast considering the warm climate she was photographed in) and an olive green cut-out swimsuit, with leafy vines curling around her. In the accompanying interview, Smalls talks about coming of age in Puerto Rico and her experiences with boys who didn’t seem to be all that into her despite her flawless countenance. “I didn’t hit puberty, I didn’t have boobs, I didn’t have a butt,” she said. “I had a pretty face and that was it, and that wasn’t enough for boys. But I owned my little skinny body.” 

And it is that same body that has made her one of the most in-demand models today, though it wasn’t easy getting there. Joan also recalls the struggles she faced as she was trying to make it in the modeling industry, struggles that she says “could have been” attributed to the racist undercurrent we tend to see in the modeling industry. “It was really easy for some girls to get booked automatically into an agency, but I had to go to appointment after appointment and a gazillion castings, and sometimes no one looked at me at all,” she explained. “I would cry out of frustration because I didn’t understand why. I didn’t want to quit. I’m determined. That’s the fuel for my fire. I’m like, ‘I’m going to show you. Sooner or later you’ll see what happens when you don’t believe in someone.’ I understand that not everybody’s going to like me, that this is not the look that they’re going for, because, of course, it’s fashion and they’re going for a certain aesthetic. I just didn’t get how you can walk into a place and somebody would not say, ‘Hello’, or ‘Have a nice day’, and actually acknowledge your presence.”

Smalls also touched on the lack of diversity in modeling, mentioning that part of the problem is the inconsistency with which models of color are cast for shows, campaigns, etc. “It’s not just a case of doing one season and then everything’s okay, because after that it can all just fall back to nothing,” she said. “It’s a conversation that needs to continue to happen so that people see it as the norm and not some kind of a chore. We have to do this to make people happy. Why not represent the rainbow that we live in? And then women can look at the runway and see themselves.”

Joan’s issue of Porter hits newsstands June 5.

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