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Published On: Fri, Sep 7th, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: How one Navajo Women is grappling to the Top of the Modeling World

Sept 7 | By: [email protected]

“Indian War” Deanne Jean VanWinkle, Photo taken by Kyle Carrillo.

Throughout the years, the Nation has seen many modeling agency’s spur up throughout the Navajo reservation and surrounding border towns and the photographers are not afraid to show casing their talent of young Native American women showing their inner beauty of the soul.

That holds true for Deanne Jean VanWinkle, she is a member of the Navajo Nation and the granddaughter of Ed Lee Natay. Ms. Vanwinkle introduced herself in Navajo, which is a very traditional teaching from Navajo elders, she said my “My clans are touchiinii, todachiinii, deezchiinii, honaganii born on the Navajo reservation in Fort Defiance Arizona and my family is from Chinle Arizona also on the Navajo reservation.” said VanWinkle.

VanWinkle is a single mother raising a old 6 year boy named kian le, she is 29 years old and attending a beauty school at the Academy of Hair Design in Las Vegas Nevada. She said “I’m a freelance Makeup Artist as well and will be Graduating as an Estheticians the first week of October of 2012.”

How it all Started

Modeling agencies have created a circle of competition by beating each other to the punch, looking for the most talented girls to feature on their calendars or magazines, Vanwinkle said, “My journey as a model began 2 years ago on the reservation.” adding, “I entered a contest to be featured as the 2011 sexiest Native, I beat 64 contestants across the US, Canada, and Alaska and won the title of sexiest Native of 2011.”

VanWinkle said she still strives to be a model and was recently signed to an agent, KL models from Las Vegas, “I also just got involved with a charity called Cultural Arts Training Foundation; my role will be a fundraising consultant raising awareness for this foundation. The foundation provides self defense training for at risk teens and woman.”

Vanwinkle said she believes that being in the fashion modeling world is a part of her career and how she carries herself. “Fashion isn’t right or wrong; it’s expressing you on the outside on a day to day life, or in my case a model.”

She also emphasized the funny side, she said when she was a teen she was a rough in tough tom boy, “I was rocking my Chicago Bulls hat wearing tennis shoes every day, playing on basketball teams throughout school. I would always say no way, I’m never going to wear makeup or wear dresses!”

Vanwinkle said as she grew up, she started to get into the fashion of dresses, jewels, makeup, and earrings. “So I wasn’t always what you see in my modeling today. I think of fashion as fun, exciting, getting to dress a certain way depending on your mood or how you feel that day. I can throw on my yoga pants a tank top and be super comfy going to Wal-mart or even the movies. Theirs days i want wear a dress, throw on some fancy makeup, curl my hair, spray some hairspray on just to feel cute and sexy for whatever it is I’m doing.”

Deanne Jean VanWinkle, Photo taken by Larry Price

Vanwinkle, said one day someone asked her, how does being a Native American with the fashion world come together?  She said, “I believe that I can wear a traditional dress, throw on some moccasins, wearing my squash blossom, and do photo shoots. I can also throw on a fancy dress, some diamonds, or a Armani suite for a photo shoot.” Adding” The difference between the two is that the traditional shoot would mean more to me being i would stand proud knowing that this is my traditional outfit being a beautiful Native American woman in front of that camera with pride, knowing that my grandchildren will see these pictures when I’m a grandma. Leading them and showing them that they can be proud to wear their traditional clothing and look amazing while standing proud for what they really are. As for the fashion shoot well it’s a different kind of feeling, it’s good but doesn’t mean as much to me as the traditional.”

Vanwinkle, said her tip to everyone is, if you worry about what everyone thinks of what you wear, you might as well live in a box. “If you be yourself, you will be more confident and content knowing your being your own person expressing yourself through fashion.”

Deanne will have a booth in Nakai Hall during the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock.

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EXCLUSIVE: How one Navajo Women is grappling to the Top of the Modeling World