Jesinta Franklin: ‘I’ve just got to be real’

For model Jesinta Franklin, diversity on the catwalk is an overdue shift in the right direction.

Watching the closing show at Sydney’s Australian Fashion Week in May, Jesinta Franklin found herself on the brink of tears.

There to support Indigenous designers, whose clothing could be seen on First Nations models of all shapes, sizes and ages, it struck the mother of two how powerful the moment was for her own family.

Jesinta shares Tullulah, 2, and Rocky, 1, with her Sydney Swans star husband, Lance “Buddy” Franklin, who is of Indigenous descent.

“If I took my daughter Tullulah to a fashion show 10 years ago, she would not have been able to look at anyone on that runway and see herself up there,” Jesinta says.

“But now she can go to a show and see a multitude of people that look like her in the industry.

“That’s the way it should be — representing people so they feel included and reflecting society, because society isn’t all six-foot, size-six, blonde-haired, blue-eyed people. 

“Being represented in fashion — and that includes everything from age to gender — is very, very powerful.”

The changing face of modelling

Jesinta, who grew up on the Gold Coast, has had a front-row seat to the fashion industry for years. 

A model and influencer, she was crowned Miss Universe Australia in 2010 at the age of 18.

In the Miss Universe world competition that year, she came second runner-up and was also awarded Miss Congeniality.

She notes there has been a tangible shift in the fashion industry since she began modelling.

“When I started, there was literally a measurement that you had to fit for your bust, your hips and your waist, and there was a height requirement,” she recalls. 

“And if you did not fit those, you just didn’t work. That was it. There was no other avenue.”

The value of authenticity

Thankfully, Jesinta has always believed “beauty comes from within”.

For her that means a number of things. 

First, she prides herself on being authentic about everything she does, both professionally and personally. 

She’s also mindful about what she puts in her body and the effect it has on her appearance and wellbeing.

Given that, she explains it was a “no-brainer” to become a Swisse ambassador, appearing in a recent Swisse Wellness campaign alongside husband, Lance.

Jesinta explains that she is aligned to the Swisse ethos of approaching health in an integrated way — balancing elements of movement, mindfulness and nutrition for optimal health and happiness.

“The health and wellness industry can be very elitist,” she says.

“For me, it’s really important to promote things that are accessible to everyone, and Swisse makes high-quality products that I genuinely trust.”

Dinner with the Franklins

Through Swisse, Jesinta has learned more about the health benefits of botanical ingredients, particularly Australian natives.

A passionate cook, she tries to incorporate what she has discovered about the healing properties of plants into family meals.

“I love making curries. They’re really great in winter as well because you can use lots of spices that have great anti-inflammatory qualities in them like turmeric, coriander and fennel, which is really great for digestion,” she explains. 

“I love that they help keep your immunity up through winter and are warming and you can put lots of vegies into them. 

“And the kids love a good curry, too, which I’m really grateful about.”

Jesinta makes a concerted effort to get the whole family eating the same meals so dinners can be their special time together.

“There are definitely days where they turn their nose up at something I have cooked, though,” she says with a laugh. 

“I am not going to sit here and pretend that they eat absolutely everything that I put in front of them because that’s not reality.”

The true meaning of happy and healthy

Jesinta has never been one to cultivate the perception her life is perfect. 

“As mums we always just want to be the most perfect mum we can be for our children,” she says.

“But sometimes you need to accept the flaws and go, ‘You know what? I’ve just got to be real, and I’ve got to be real for my kids.’ 

“And that means showing that sometimes mums have a bad day, and talking about our emotions.”

Since becoming a mother, Jesinta says self-care and the amount of time she and Lance spend as a couple can take a backseat to the kids’ needs.

She has learnt to be flexible about how and when she exercises and has accepted that facials will be few and far between.

However, she believes she’s far healthier today than she was when she was younger.

“I thought I was looking after myself but I was actually probably running on empty a lot of the time,” she shares.

“Especially in my younger days, I just was so dedicated to my work that I thought working out twice a day was healthy and I thought that not indulging was healthy.

“But what I’ve realised as I’ve matured and experienced more of life is that there is so much more to health than going to the gym or just eating healthily. 

“You really need to foster your mental health. 

“You really need to foster self-care. 

“You have to nurture yourself in gentle ways.”

Written by Siobhan Duck.