BY FARAH JADRAN | PHOTOS BY TAMMY SWALES
What does it mean to be a “super model”? It means all eyes are on you.
Also, it means you’ve been given the power to influence change. What you decide to do with that power is up to each individual. There couldn’t be a better way to describe Emme Aronson’s accepted mission. She truly is a super model with super powers. Countless women (and some men) have told her that her words, her passion and even her presence in a room, have changed their lives.
A Super (Model) Hero is Born
Born Melissa Aronson, she spent the first years of her childhood in New York City, but then moved with her family to Saudi Arabia so her mother could pursue a career in the oil industry. Emme returned to the United States with her family when she was a teenager and attended the prestigious Kent School in Connecticut. Her Syracuse invasion began when she accepted a full scholarship to the Orange Nation for a spot on the Syracuse University crew team. She excelled both academically and athletically while rowing the waters of the Salt City.
Her athletic accolades didn’t stop at SU. Emme was invited to the US Olympic Team trials, as well as several US National Team trials. She was later inducted into the Syracuse University Orange Plus Hall of Fame. In 2008, she was honored as a Letter Winner of Distinction for her significant contribution to women’s athletics and to the sport of rowing.
Accepting a Super (Model) Hero’s Duty
Emme’s passion to promote positive body image for all women has been an unstoppable mission from the start. “We live in a society that promotes a desire for thinness at any cost in the quest for the attainment of unrealistic beauty,” says Emme. “I want women to know their self-esteem is not contingent upon their dress size and good health is attainable by more than just one body type.” Emme became the first full figured model ever to land a spokesperson’s contract with a cosmetics company when she signed with Revlon.
And of course, what superhero’s destiny would be complete without an “action figure” to show for her hard work? World renowned doll creator and designer, Robert Tonner, created the “Emme” doll, making Emme the first full-figured model to have a high fashion collectable doll sculpted in her likeness. According to the New York Post, it was the “hottest product launched” at the American International Toy Fair in 2002. This was a doll creation that left Emme nearly speechless.
Bruce Wayne might have his civic ties with Gotham’s mayor and police chief, but Emme took being a super (hero) model to an exceptional level on her own merit. In 1994, Emme was the first model to speak to these issues before Congressional Sub-committee in Washington, D.C. She continues to lobby in the nation’s capitol on body image issues, continual funding of the arts in schools and the need for healthy media images for women and youth.
When did she know that being “super” was in her destiny? “It wasn’t just one moment or something that hits you in the head,” she said with a genuine laugh. “Every experience, every conversation that you’re a part of…gets you to that place.”
Once Emme realized that her battle to achieve self-acceptance was a shared one, she was armed with her super hero cape and ready to conquer the evils of a negative society. “A: I was not alone, B: I had nothing to be insecure about, C: Something going on.” Emme says she’s always been a “curious kid” and this marvel attitude grew even as she entered adulthood, and the fashion industry, too. She loves talking to people, listening to their stories and finding a common ground. “I want to understand someone else’s journey,” she said. Some of Emme’s learning happened after numerous fashion shows across the globe in places like Sweden and Germany. She would have the opportunity to have “individual time” with fellow runway women, and she would learn about their struggles and their triumphs. Some stories were in likeness to hers, while others enlightened her intellect. “Why do we have to feel so disconnected?” She would ask herself this very question every time she came across a soul that was battling him or herself internally.
“Why is a woman’s right in life defined by her body?”
That’s a good question and it’s one that I know I have been asking since I realized the double standard women face as opposed to the average everyday man. Emme says the media, in addition to our society, has a major responsibility for this body definition competition. As a former member of the media and a regular on talk television, Emme has assumed this responsibility as well. After she graduated from SU, Emme spent two years in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she was a reporter and morning anchor for the NBC affiliate KNAZ-TV. “The time has come for all media to take responsibility in the creative reflection of women and girls.”
A Super (Model) Hero’s Attire
Modern, clean, fresh and a little flirty. Not the typical Poison Ivy or Wonder Woman look, but Emme’s got a striking figure and all the pizzazz and charisma to back it up.
Emme loves white, and she loves fresh, clean looks that reflect the simple, but beautiful lines of cotton. And she loves to wear white so much, she will even wear it after Labor Day.
Also, you might find you have something in common with Emme — she loves shoes. Who doesn’t? Her affinity was not one to be reckoned with while in the ‘Cuse for her Syracuse Woman Magazine fashion shoot for the August cover. One of her glamorous ensembles inspired her to purchase the shoes she modeled from the new Saks Off 5th at Destiny USA.
Without asking her if she enjoyed wearing the color of her alma mater, she beamed and said she loves orange. One of her favorite pieces in her closet right now is an orange sheer poncho. “It’s light, flowy, athletic and casual.” She loves sheer materials like that of her go-to poncho. “[Sheers] are quite lovely, hip and chic.”
Knowing full well what it’s like to shop for herself, Emme knows the average woman most likely faces a challenge when it comes to shopping. “Most stores don’t do well with supply and demand,” she said. Clothing in sizes at 14 and up tends to be lacking in most department stores, which in turn could harshly discourage a full-figured woman from enjoying some retail therapy.
Responding to the “Emme Signal” (Move over, Batman!) she has seen at her post at the top of the world, the unstoppable super (model) hero is in the process of creating two clothing lines to rescue women from this dearth of supply. “I want to give fashion forward clothing to women.” Also, she wants to ensure that all women have the opportunity to shop in an actual store and not just rely on the Web if they require some hard-to-find items.
Super Emme’s Destiny
Emme serves in more ways than one. She is the current past Chair of the Ambassador’s Council of The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and is on the advisory boards of Ophelia’s Place in Syracuse, and Hearts of Gold (serving New York City’s underprivileged women and children). A fearless and tireless advocate, Emme has received numerous accolades and awards for her impact in the lives of women and their daughters in the non-profit world.
What’s next for Emme? Currently, Emme is the creative director of her national tour series: EmmeNation Whole You National Tour, EmmeNation Girlfriend Get Away Weekends and the EmmeNation Whole You Cruise. Also, she’s the Brand Ambassador for Amoena Mia’s Intimate Apparel and a member of the Healthy Media Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls. Emme’s newest business venture, www.EmmeNation.com, is the women’s community where one’s body, mind and spirit connection is the goal. “If I feel passionate about helping women.” Whether it’s through shopping, styling, helping clean out a closet or offering advice, she’s sharing. “It comes back to me in a beautiful, abundant way.”
For now, Emme says she will continue to work, keep making mistakes and enjoy how life has become a “mish-mash of trying”.
“If I was filled with all this knowledge, and didn’t share it, my life would be very boring.” And as far as we can see, her super woman caliber persona, is anything but boring. I await what her next move unveils and am confident it will carry on her mission to help make all of us feel whole.
In the words of Emme, “cheers”.