Karyn Inder: From Newfoundland to Vogue

When Karyn Inder was a little girl growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor, she and her friends would run around the town pretending they were glamorous models. Since 2014, Inder has been living out her childhood dream every day. 

Inder hails from St. John’s, but moved with her family to Grand Falls-Windsor at an early age. It was there where her interest in modeling began. 

‘I loved modeling’

“My mother entered us in a fashion show in the local hockey arena where I realized that I loved modeling,” said Inder. “I thought, this is it, this is what I want to do.”

In school Inder says she was smart, but the social aspect was a struggle for her.  “I was a great volleyball player but I found it hard to keep friends and would often eat lunch by myself,” she confessed. “I felt awkward because my body developed quicker than others. I wore ridiculous things because I desperately wanted to look like the models in magazines.”

She returned to St. John’s after high school and enrolled in a business program at Memorial University. Here she began modeling for local boutiques like Model Citizens and students of the Anna Templeton Center. “Everything I did, I did it with all of my heart,” said Inder. “But I wanted more and bigger – whatever that meant.”

She transferred to Grenfell campus to continue her business degree. While there, she became president and a co-founder of the SIFE Grenfell Team. Inder says she developed her strong entrepreneurial spirit from her father, who was a successful business owner and lawyer. After earning her business degree, Inder had a newfound sense of determination – she decided in order to become a successful model she would have to move to Toronto. However, her dream was cut short. She had lived with anxiety all her life, but was clinically diagnosed at age 14.

“My mental health had finally taken over and everything I dreamt about for over a decade was taken from me,” she said. “I ended up in hospital where I received the care and treatment that I needed. I could not stop thinking about modeling. I decided that while there may be many reasons modelling wouldn’t work out, mental health won’t be one of them.” 

Chasing Her Dream

Inder spent two years focusing on her health and in 2014, a year after being signed by B&M Models, she finally made the move to Toronto. “I told my mother I was going to Toronto for modelling and she said ‘Karyn, how many more times are you going to put yourself through this?’”

Inder promised her mother it would be her final attempt at a modelling career. “So I gave it everything I had,” she said. Inder recalls sitting in the waiting room of B&M Models in Toronto, feeling as though she didn’t belong. “I was a size 12/14 and looked like I was going hiking at Cape Spear,” she said. 

Inder is referred to as a curvy/plus size model within the industry. She participated in a body positive photo shoot for Tia Duffy, the model and activist behind the #BeBodyAware campaign. The shoot, which was submitted for publication, was published by Vogue Italia online. 

“My heart dropped when I saw my face with the red VOGUE letters above it,” she said. “This is what it is all about. Women supporting women and pushing change through diversity.”

Inder is an advocate for a healthy body image and encourages others to re-evaluate their self-worth. “I encourage my audience to be gentle with themselves and to fill their social media with role models that they feel represent them,” she said. “I am part of a movement that encourages beauty at every size, race, ethnicity, age, skin tone, gender.”

Inder is also an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness and says that she feels a sense of responsibility to share her story. “I want others to know that a life with mental health is still a life worth living,” she said.  

Inder started a YouTube Channel to show others another version of what existing mental illness looks like. She says to keep your eyes out for a big campaign in May.

Proud of Home

Despite her life of travel, Inder insists she’s forever proud of her home. 

“Newfoundland is all I talk about. I can tell you that Newfoundlanders are well loved all around,” she exclaims. “In my free time, you’ll find me along the waterfront or hanging out in the beaches. My favourites are Signal Hill and Middle Cove Beach. I miss the ocean air!” 

Inder says that whenever she starts to feel homesick, she asks her parents to send souveniers.“Our condo in Toronto is a little Newfoundland salt box,” she said. “I’ve got mummers and cast-iron moose and a framed Newfoundland dog. I love the by’s who film The Outhouse videos, they make me feel a little less homesick.” 

“I know my dad and stepmom are reading this article, I feel like I should include a list for Santa – dear Santa: More mummers!”

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