Camille Kostek is now famous for her curves and her “never not dancing” motto. But in the past, the Sports Illustrated (SI) swimsuit cover model and New England Patriots cheerleader received numerous rejections and criticisms.
Now, Kostek, 27, is using her platform to encourage healthy eating, body positivity, and self-acceptance among girls and young women.
“We cannot compare ourselves to other people,” Kostek said. “How boring would this world be if we all looked the same? Everybody is so unique in their own way, and truly loving every inch of you literally changes your life.”
Chasing her dream
Kostek grew up on the East Coast and dreamed of one day gracing the cover of SI. She grew up dancing and eventually graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in journalism, and struggled to get anyone to take her seriously when she told them about her goal.
“’Why don’t you talk about anything with a 401k?’” she recalled people asking her. “That’s not what my heart wanted — I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew what my sole purpose was.”
Next, she struggled to secure a modeling agent, as many told her she needed to be a certain size or weight to get a deal. She didn’t give up.
The former New England Patriots cheerleader landed her long-coveted spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition after getting the magazine’s attention on social media and beating out other aspiring models in an open competition.
These days, Kostek travels around the country giving lectures at universities about building self-love and chasing your dreams. She emphasizes how important it is to not let others’ negativity knock you down.
“What the internet says, and what bystanders say, and what coworkers say — that doesn’t define you,” she said. “There’s that saying, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ — words hurt … it hurts. Unfortunately, and I get chills saying this, but words are causing people to self-harm and take their lives.”
Kostek wants to help young girls and women persevere in the age of internet bullying and trolls — negativity she still faces.
Sometimes she finds herself dwelling on a hurtful comment on one of her Instagram photos. So she started practicing more self-love, and encourages other young women to do the same.
“We can’t control what other people say and think about us, but you can control what you say and think about yourself,” she said, explaining it’s OK to block critical people on the internet and in real life.
Despite the criticisms she sometimes receives, Kostek stays body positive. She feeds her body and soul with healthy living.
“I grew up eating pretty clean so I crave foods that are healthy most of the time,” she said, adding that she reads ingredients and chooses foods that grow naturally.
A self-proclaimed “hummus monster,” Kostek loves snacking on hummus with veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers with a dash of Himalayan salt. One of her favorite dishes is hummus on toast with a smashed avocado. She also loves mango, watermelon, and blueberries.
Kostek knows moderation and balance are important, so when she has a cheat day, she’ll reach for pizza and indulge her sweet tooth with mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Believe in yourself
Kostek continues to dream big. She hopes to start a size-inclusive athleisure and swimsuit line, host her own talk show, and potentially even appear on the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”
No matter what the future holds, she will always believe in herself.
“As soon as you stop comparing yourself to other people and you start believing in yourself, it will attract the best things in life around you,” she said. “If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?”
Melinda Carter, [email protected]