Name: Natalie Gage
Hometown: Bromley, London
Occupation: Model with Fusion Models NYC
What inspired you to try out for SI Swim Search?
I’ve wanted this for so long -- I thought, let’s be proactive and make my dreams become a reality. 2020 made it even more apparent that we should just go for our dreams and not shrink ourselves. Growing up I never saw anyone that looked like me with natural hair and a bigger bust, so my main inspiration is that hopefully I can be that person I didn’t have and inspire people to be comfortable and unapologetic in themselves. For example, they shouldn’t feel apprehensive getting their boobs measured or nervous embracing any aspect of their authentic selves. My inspiration to try out for Swim Search was to inspire others to be like “hell, yeah, I want to love the hell out of myself, too.” I was also inspired by seeing all the previous Swim Search contestants, especially those who had no experience in modeling. Nothing is more empowering than seeing women stepping out of their comfort zones and going for their dreams.
What would it mean to you to win Swim Search?
Literally, I would have no words. I would be so proud, proud that I had the courage to follow my dreams, proud I have always stayed true to myself, proud for always listening to my instincts, and proud that I never gave up. I would be so so so thankful, I probably wouldn’t believe it.
What has been the best part about being a part of the Swim Search community?
Seeing everyone’s unique stories and watching everyone step out of their comfort zones, unapologetically putting themselves out there. I also loved that the platform was a safe collaborative environment where everyone is encouraged to be themselves.
What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?
Being from the UK I couldn’t go out and buy the magazine so the first time I got a copy was when I was in New York in 2018. Danielle Herrington’s cover is one of my favorites, so I had to buy it. Before that, I used to look up images online. The first time I came across the magazine was in 2009 when I saw Ariel Meredith shoot in Mexico, I fell in love with the magazine from that moment.
Who is your role model?
Leah Washington. I have never met her, but I follow her on Instagram, and I’m constantly blown away by how incredible she is. Her bravery and strength throughout recovering and rebuilding her life after a tragic accident just constantly blows me away. From learning to walk again to sharing her story to help others, I admire her perseverance, positive attitude and fearlessness. She is simply amazing, the true definition of a role model.
What would you tell your younger self?
One, enjoy the journey to whatever destination you’re working towards. The journey will be exciting, challenging, fun, frustrating, exhilarating, testing and at points very difficult but it will be worth every second and more importantly it’s where the greatest growth happens. Two, just go for it but don’t forget to laugh. And lastly, always be thankful.
How are you preparing for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?
I will spend the next few weeks trying to contain my excitement. I will also go over all my old vision boards to remind myself just how far I have come since 2009 when this was all just a dream. I’m very comfortable within myself so I don’t feel the need to change anything in preparation. I will continue to work out 4-5 times a week, drink lots of water and do my gratitude list every night. I will be shooting with my natural hair so I will also be doing some mirror work and affirmations in preparation, as shooting with my natural hair is a new experience.
Who was the first person you told the good news to?
My friends Jessica and Leah.