Before baring nearly all at some of the most exotic beaches in the world, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hannah Ferguson spent her days in a humble Texas farm, where her parents – both U.S. Marines – forbade her from wearing spaghetti straps outside.
Those days may be long gone, but the 26-year-old has never forgotten her Southern roots. In fact, she credits her strict upbringing for being the secret behind her no-nonsense work ethic as a sought-after pinup.
Ferguson is giving audiences a sneak peek of what’s it really like to survive the fashion industry in E!’s reality TV series “Model Squad.”
Ferguson spoke to Fox News about how her folks responded to her racy snaps, what she misses the most about Texas and why she can’t wait to strut her stuff for Victoria’s Secret.
Fox News: What was it like growing up in Texas?
Hannah Ferguson: I grew up on a farm so we were always working and feeding the animals. We didn’t have much money, so we would always get jeans that were a size or two too big — that way we can grow into them and they would last longer. There was a lot of structure and rules in our upbringing, but it shaped us to be hard workers. I definitely admire the way they raised us.
Fox News: What do you miss the most about Texas?
Ferguson: The people *laughs*. They’re so kind and friendly down there. That’s definitely something I miss the most. ... The people in Texas are just so friendly and very humble. I miss that Southern hospitality.
Fox News: Both of your parents were Marines. Did their discipline or work ethic impact you over the years?
Ferguson: It definitely did. They raised us to be hard workers, to be diligent, and to always strive for what you want. They taught us that nothing comes easy. It was challenging at times, but nevertheless I will always appreciate how I was raised. It made me a lot stronger as a person, especially for this particular industry that I’m trying to conquer.
Fox News: How does your family feel about your modeling career?
Ferguson: What’s funny is that when I first told my mom that I was thinking about becoming a model, I asked her how she felt and whether it would be bad if I wanted to shoot for Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated. I always watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show every year, so I guess she knew that I admired every woman that walked through that runway. They were beautiful and I just wanted to be like them.
And growing up, I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts that were shorter than two inches above my knee. I wasn’t allowed to wear spaghetti strap tank tops outside of the house. We were very conservative. Coverage was very important. So when I had that conversation with her, she was actually very supportive and understood what my goals were. As far as my dad? He’s supportive as well, but he chooses not to look at some images for obvious reasons. *laughs*.
Fox News: In light of the #MeToo movement, how do you set boundaries on the job, especially when it comes to photographers?
Ferguson: I have a great manager who’s been hands-on in my career. There always need to be a discussion of what the shoot is going to be like and what are your boundaries. You can then decide what’s acceptable and what’s not. You should never go into a shoot feeling uncomfortable or not knowing what’s going to happen. You have a voice in your own career.
Fox News: It’s been said you also need a thick skin to survive the modeling industry. How so?
Ferguson: You’re constantly being judged about your appearance, your personality. For women especially, it’s something that can wear you down. It can certainly be challenging mentally. I think it’s really important to be able to decide how much you’re going to listen to that person.
You just have to be the best version of yourself and know that there’s always going to be clients that like you and don’t like you. And if they don’t like you, that’s fine. … And things always change. One client could like you this year and then the next they’re looking for something completely different. You can’t take things too personally.
Fox News: How much did being rejected as a model impact you over the years?
Ferguson: When I initially started modeling, I didn’t even think I was going to make it successfully. I just wanted to give it a shot. But it ended up working out. So I think from the get-go, I had it in my mind that it probably wasn’t going to work.
So for me, getting turned down really didn’t bother me that much because I already had it in my head that there were other girls that were better than me and you can’t really please every client. I guess I mentally prepared myself for being denied. You can’t really let rejection affect you. Otherwise, it’s just going to bring you down. It’s a tough industry. You have to be strong and keep pushing.
Fox News: Everyone recognizes you from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, but it looks like your next goal is Victoria’s Secret.
Ferguson: I think it’s a lot of girls’ dreams to walk for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It’s such an iconic event to be a part of. And it could really launch a girl’s career.
It’s something every model wants to cross off their list and say, ‘I did that.’ So for me, it’s all about stepping stones and making my way to the top. It’s a job I would absolutely love to book. I want to be able to say, ‘I walked it,’ at least once in my life.