While Inked has been publishing photos of tattooed models for decades, its taken time for the mainstream fashion industry to catch up. Over the last several years, tattooed models have booked more campaigns and high profile spreads than ever before. This includes Portland based model and holistic nutritionist Teela LaRoux, who secured a coveted spread in the July 2019 issue of Playboy. We sat down with the tattooed Playmate to learn about her 16 years of experience in the fashion industry and how the world is changing its view of tattooed people, one model at a time.

Take us through your introduction into modeling and describe what the industry was like when your career began?

I was introduced to the modeling world around 12 years old. I was invited to attend an open call by a model who had recently visited my mom’s salon. At that time, I still had braces for another month, so I didn’t sign with my first agency until they were removed. I’ve watched the industry change drastically over the last 16 years. Honestly, the majority of these changes have been positive. New laws took effect regarding work ethics for underage models and mandatory nutrition advice to help educate models to be healthy in the industry.

How did 16 years in the fashion industry lead up to you becoming a Playmate?

I was very surprised to be contacted by Playboy asking me to be the July 2019’ playmate. With the new direction of the iconic brand, it fell in line with my mission and values. As well as being an incredible platform for me to discuss some important social issues.

What was your experience like shooting for Playboy and how does it feel to be part of this legacy?

I will start by saying I had never posed nude for any publications prior to Playboy. Leading up to and following the shoot, the team was overwhelming kind and supportive of me. My Playmate shoot was female led and completely collaborative. You can see the level of comfort and synergy in the beautiful images we produced. I’m so grateful to be a part of this family and would love to be more involved with them as a brand in the future.

How has the fashion industry changed its approach to models with tattoos?

When I started modeling, I didn’t have any tattoos. I was working internationally full time for some of the world's top brands. As a society, tattoos are becoming increasingly more tolerated and appreciated. Many models have small tattoos that are easy to cover up or out of site. That being said, most large commercial companies are still anti-visible tattoos on their models. There is work for tattoos absolutely, but it’s still considered a taboo within the industry.

What stories do you tattoos tell and which piece is most meaningful to you?

Most of my tattoos have a story behind them, with a few drunken mistakes in there. Whether it was a period of growth, loss, love or a funny memory with friends—all of them mean something to me. My most meaningful two are inspired by my grandmother. She was such a huge inspiration in my life. The rose on my arm was dedicated to her and my tattoo “gram’s girl” on my neck. A tattoo artist friend of mine actually traced her handwriting. It’s a super special tattoo.

What made you decide to pursue a career in health and wellness?

After struggling with anxiety and depression for years, I started looking toward proven, effective methods to tackle these issues. The most common underlying practical method that I kept finding was through health and wellness. Nutrition, physical exercise and mindful techniques are the foundation of living a happy, healthy, and productive life. After finding these to be helpful and constructive in my own life, I’ve become passionate about sharing these techniques with others.

Take us through your work as a holistic nutritionist and health coach.

What really inspired me to start health coaching was speaking with people daily via social media. (Hit me up @Teelalaroux). After being open about the challenges that I battled, I received hundreds of messages asking for advice. I was speaking with women and men of all ages from around the world about my own personal experiences, trying to help them with theirs. Over time, I found that the people I was speaking with would message me that they were actually feeling better and in a better state of mind, thanking me for being someone they could talk too. It was after this period of time that I knew what my calling was. It was helping people.

I truly believe in holistic nutrition and have seen profound improvements in myself and countless others. Introducing the body to a plant-based lifestyle can not only heal, but reverse many chronic diseases. Food itself can be medicine and I get so much joy in teaching people how much our lives can change for the better through holistic nutrition.

What defines you, both personally and professionally?

I’m a woman, raised by incredible women. I used to think that my power came from exuding a persona of being a badass (which I still am), but as I grow personally, it is now my focus to share love and happiness with others as much as I can.

What’s in the works and what does 2020 look like for you?

2020 is already so exciting. Although I can’t unveil too much information just yet, I can say that I’m working really hard on developing an amazing new line of products that we’re hoping to bring to market very soon. I cannot WAIT to share with you!