We admit it, we’ve always had a bit of a crush on “America’s Next Top Model” judge Nigel Barker (left, with previous “ANTM” winners Danielle Evans and Jaslene Gonzalez). What’s not to love? He’s dashing, he’s a brilliant photographer, he’s got that charming British accent — and now he’s written a compulsively readable new book, “Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation,” in which he shares his expert beauty and fashion tips. We chatted with Barker about everything from the importance of compassion to Queen Latifah’s hotness. ESSENCE.COM: Tell us what your book is about! NIGEL BARKER: It’s a take on beauty that you don’t often hear about. I get emails from women who feel like they can’t live up to that “model-esque” beauty standard — and I wanted to write about what beauty truly is. Which is who you are, the life you’ve led, your experiences. So I came up with a list of ten attributes that I consider to be beautiful, and they ended up being the chapters in the book. At the end of each one, I challenge the reader to take a self-portrait embodying the spirit of the chapter. ESSENCE.COM: What are the attributes that make a woman beautiful? BARKER: Some are confidence, honesty, charm, humor, and compassion, which is so key. I’ve sometimes had to say to myself… I’m successful, but am I making an impact on the world? Whether it’s working with a charity or just looking someone in the eye when their speaking, being compassionate can give you a more beautiful energy. ESSENCE.COM: What do you hope your readers take away from “Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation?” BARKER: I hope they get inspired to feel beautiful and make the world a more beautiful place. A tthe end of each chapter, I challenge the reader to take a self-portrait embodying the spirit of the chapter. And today, we’re launching the book’s website, www.beautyequation.com, which is an interactive forum where women can upload pics and videos, and talk about their beauty issues and experiences. ESSENCE.COM: Who is beautiful to you? BARKER: Queen Latifah! She doesn’t have classic model proportions, but she has charm, allure, and she’s enormously radiant. And she always knows how to pose in a way that flatters her figure. ESSENCE.COM: Agreed! Speaking of posing… as a photographer, do you have tips for our readers on how to look more beautiful in photographs? BARKER: To look slimmer, put one hand on your hip and let the other hang low, and put one foot in front of the other. And here’s a great exercise for tightening loose skin under your chin: before taking a picture, stick your chin up high in the air, and then push your neck out like a turtle. It’s like an instant face lift! Also, if you tend to freeze up in front of the camera, sing your favorite song in your head. Music is so relaxing. ESSENCE.COM: On September 8, “America’s Next Top Model” is kicking off its fifteenth season! Can you tell us anything about it? BARKER: It’s a very unusual season! Italian Vogue is our magazine sponsor, so we’re in Italy again. And for the first time, one of the prizes is the cover of Italian Vogue and two fashion spreads. So it’s very high-end! “Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation” hits bookstores and Amazon.com on September 1st.
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