Leila Dee Thomas talks the life of a model influencer

From naked frolics in the ocean to mountain escapes with friends, Leila Dee Thomas’ Insti account @Leidee is a wanderlust journey of (mis)adventure – and one that we’d kill to be a part of. But while we thought it might be a little intrusive to invite ourselves on her latest expedition, we did decide to track her down to find out a little more about her background.

Fresh from a trip to Australia for an incredibly cute campaign with Zoe Cross for Cotton On Body, we chat to Leila about what life’s really like for this island girl.

Image: Cotton On Body

First off, we’re such big fans of your Insti account! Can you tell us a bit about the person behind that insane feed of yours?
That is really, really kind. Instagram is hard for me because if it wasn’t intertwined with my career, I would be posting things like trees, friends, beach, bad photos of my dad! I’m from Hawaii, but am based in Los Angeles now. I miss the islands.

How would you describe yourself?
I think it’s important to mention the good and the bad here. The good would be independent, grateful, and compassionate. On a cloudy day, I’ve been known to be dramatic, untimely and a little messy.

What are your favourite past times when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I spend a lot of time with friends and family. I have to travel so much with work and the schedule is so full on that anytime I have off I want to invest in the people I love. I’m also very, very active. I need to be outside in fresh air moving and grooving.

Image: @leideee

What does a usual day in your life look like?
A day not working would depend where I am. In LA I do a lot of hiking because the water is too cold for me. If I’m home in Hawaii, I’m in the water everyday almost all day.

Would we catch you working most days?
I feel super lucky to be busy. Whether you’re in an office or on the road living the artist life, we’re all lucky to be hustling. But in the past year I think I’ve found a good balance between work life and private life.

What does “work” involve for you?
Being at a photo shoot. Sometimes the crew is so cool, the day goes by so fast.

You seem to be on the move a lot. Do you like travelling?
Traveling is a huge passion of mine. I’m not attached to anything like clothes or my car or anything I could miss other than friends, so getting up and going is a huge thrill for me. I love being spontaneous and traveling without any plan. That’s when you really find the good stuff.

Image: @leideee

What are your favourite travel destinations?
Croatia, Madeira, the UK, anywhere tropical where I can surf and be barefoot.

Is it hard to stick to a health and food regime when you’re constantly on the move?
It is. But I like vegetables, so if a big veggie platter is on the menu, that’s what I’m having! But if you’re in Rome, eat as the Romans do. Just make sure you’re walking and moving that body.

What is the secret to that incredible body?
Eat healthy. I swear everyone says it, but it’s true. You are what you eat. If you’re eating junk, you will feel junky. Just focus on eating fruit and veggies and your body will transform.

You appear to be very comfortable with your body. Is this the truth?!
Yes! To be a good model, you have to have no shame. It takes being comfortable changing in front of people and being photographed from every angle. That takes being happy in your own skin.

Image: Cotton On Body

How do you like to best keep fit?
Moving. Seriously anything that gets the blood pumping. Stand up and do twenty minutes of stretching every day. Drop into a Zumba or do a YouTube at home – it’s honestly all the same, just get moving.

I love the recent Cotton On Body campaign you did with Zoe. Are you two good friends in real life?
That was my first time meeting that little angel! She is a cutie pie. She and I got a long real good. We’re both Leo’s. It was immediately sparks and luv.

What’s it like being on a shoot with a friend?
So fun! It’s like a play date at work. You can play off each other’s energy and it’s more real. I think the best photos come out when everything is authentic.

Can you talk me through your fave hair, skin and beauty products?
The easiest and cheapest way to good skin and hair is eating mostly fruits and veggies, getting a good sweat going, and managing any stress. If you’re doing that, then you won’t need to remedy your skin with a bunch of products. But here’s what I turn to for basic hygiene:

  • Unite leave in spray conditioner keeps hair silky
  • Coconut oil for everything. Bathe yourself in it then rinse it off
  • AimHi is my aunt’s skincare line from Hawaii that she makes at home with all of her own organic ingredients
  • Moisturiser and pawpaw is the only makeup a lady needs

Where can we expect to see you in five year’s time?
My partner and I are dedicated to building an off-the-grid house. My greatest desires are to live a life with friends and family, learn the piano and harmonica, have a banana farm, maybe lead a Girl Scout troop, and dedicate the remainder of my life to aiding the environment. I think they’re all really doable and I’m SO excited for it.

Image: @leideee

Click here to check out the Cotton On Body range.

Main image: @leideee

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