Chicago-born, New York-based Jazzelle Zanaughtti is a breath - no, blast - of fresh air. Perhaps better known by her Instagram moniker, Ugly Worldwide, the model has captured the hearts and minds of the fashion industry and beyond, thanks to her refreshingly honest opinions and offbeat beauty. Standing as the antithesis to the perfection pedalled by Instagram, 'imperfections' define Zanaughtti's beauty - or should we say anti-beauty?
From natural 'pits to glistening train track braces, bleached-out brows and blood-shot eyes, she's celebrated every kind of aesthetic that society tells us is wrong, and she's gained a 500k-strong audience in the process. With clients including Marc Jacobs, Puma, Fenty, Nike, and NARS (to name but a few), she's leading the way in redefining contemporary beauty, and having a hell of a good time along the way.
Partnering with Mercedes-Benz on its latest campaign How To, in which a cast of leading creatives from around the world will spend a day with experts learning a new skill, Zanaughtti finally fulfilled her dream to learn how to vogue with dancer Jay Jay Revlon. We caught up with the model to hear more about who she'd challenge to a dance-off, her biggest fashion learning (so far), and what she'd teach the young women looking to follow in her footsteps.
Why did you want to learn how to vogue? Is it something you've always been interested in?
I just really love and appreciate the culture, and over the past few years I’ve been surrounded by it! It’s gravity-defying and filled with attitude and confidence. I think it’s a personal type of dance and everyone does it their own way. Love that!
What was the workshop like?
So fun! And very physically demanding haha, I used and bruised muscles I didn’t even know I had! So worth it.
Are you a good dancer?
Technically? Probably not, but I got rhythm. I always have a good-ass time and I think that’s all that matters.
Who on your recent calls list would you challenge to a dance-off?
Me and my friend Dusty always do petty Step Up battles at the club when we see each other, haha, so I guess him.
What's a party trick you can teach me?
I can show you how to drink a glass of wine with your feet.
What else is on your list of things to learn?
I would love to learn how to use a sewing machine!
Social media perfection means we don't discuss failure enough. What's something you keep trying to learn and failing at?
I’ve been trying to do more realistic painting/drawing for years and can’t quite get the hang of it. I always end up painting over it and doing something more surreal. I don’t see it as failure though, I just see it as something that’s not for me! Others should think of 'failure' like that too. We are not all born to be able to do it all, and that’s okay.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned about modelling?
It’s much more than just having a pretty face.
And about the fashion industry?
What's been your biggest learning curve at work?
Learning to be more 'professional'. I’m quite a free spirit and working in such a creative fun industry it’s very easy for the lines between work and play to be blurred. I think I’ve got it figured out now - almost!
What's a lesson the world could learn right now?
Leave people the fuck alone, mind your own business, and show a little love!
Were you a good student in school?
Never failed a class, but loved to skip school. I dropped out of Kindergarten and then in high school I dropped out halfway through and finished at an alternative school after a six month break. I graduated at 17. I was (am) a smart kid, but the traditional set up of schools and all of that authority really didn’t work for me, so I rebelled against it at any chance. Also kids at my school were assholes so I tried to avoid that at all costs too.
What was your favourite class?
Art class, I took a ceramics and sculpting course and it was my favourite thing ever. Also I found Greek mythology and psychology very interesting.
Do you like to teach people a lesson when they've wronged you, or are you more of a 'live and let live' kind of woman?
My scissors are sharp, honey, and if you wrong me I won’t put up with it, you’ll be chopped from my life - I keep it moving!
What's the biggest lesson you've learned about love?
That it is fleeting but you will always find it again.
Do you have a mentor? What have they taught you?
My mom and dad are super hard workers and built themselves up from nothing. I always have admired that about them.
What's one thing you'd teach young girls who look up to you?
Never conform. You do not have to be what is expected of you - only what you expect of yourself. Society doesn’t make the rules, you do. It’s your body, it’s your life, so do what you want with it!