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Keke wears PRADA; TIFFANY PAPER FLOWERS diamond cluster drop earrings in platinum, $10,000 at TIFFANY & CO.

words by Yu Shing Ting

photographer MARK ARBEIT markarbeit.com
fashion editor KYLE KAGAMIDA kylekagamida.com

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Keke Lindgard is proof that beauty and brains can go together. But there’s more— this Victoria’s Secret model has become quite the angel by helping others live healthy, serving as an environmental advocate and raising awareness on bullying prevention.

For this country girl from Ka‘a‘awa, her walk to supermodel status all started with a chance to be on Hannah Montana nearly a decade ago. She never made it on the show, but rather was scouted for the modeling portion of the competition and soon found herself on the coveted runways of New York Fashion Week

“I was in eighth grade, on my way home on the school bus, and I heard something on the radio about being on Hannah Montana,” she recalls. “I was like, I want to be on Hannah Montana. So, I wrote down the number on my binder, got home and was like, Mom, you got to call this number. I want to be on Hannah Montana; this is going to be so fun!”

At the audition, Lindgard was encouraged to enter the modeling category instead and ended up winning. Next was a trip to L.A., where she was recruited by modeling agent Roman Young—still her manager to this day.

Now 24, her résumé includes being a regular model for Lilly Pulitzer, Target and Anthropologie, the face of Polo for Ralph Lauren and big ad campaigns for Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.

She’s also been in countless fashion shows, traveled the world and, in 2016, walked in Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Paris.

“Victoria’s Secret was the highlight of my career, for sure,” says Lindgard, who is Australian, English, Danish and French. “I had been wanting to do it for so long and looking forward to it, and just the feeling of, oh my gosh, I’m actually doing it right now.

“I was [walking] while Lady Gaga sang, and she was singing right there, and I was just like, is this real? It was such a surreal feeling, and it felt good because I worked real hard for it.”

Born and raised in Windward O‘ahu, Lindgard (whose real name is Katelin Elizabeth; she was given the nickname Keke from her younger sister) attended Ka‘a‘awa Elementary and Kahuku High School before leaving her sophomore year for modeling. She currently splits her time between New York and Hawai‘i, where she has a home on the North Shore, and takes online courses at University of Hawai‘i studying nutrition.

“I’m kind of dork,” she professes. “I love school and math and science. Nutrition is a lot of science, which kind of made me happy secretly deep down.”

Lindgard even won the state science fair in middle school, as well as awards from NOAA and Discovery Channel. She has her associate’s degree in nutrition science and is working towards her bachelor’s degree. Interestingly, she also has her student pilot license for flying and has 20 hours in the air so far.

Currently, she uses her Instagram page, where she has more than 75,000 followers, as a platform for sharing healthy eating tips.

“I do Macro Mondays and Thirsty Thursdays,” she explains. “So, every Monday I’ll choose a food and post all the nutritional benefits from it, and then I’ll post the macros, which are the fats, calories and carbs, and I’ll post how I like to integrate them into my diet. Thirsty Thursday is the same thing but with liquid content.”

Her diet consists of mainly whole foods versus things out of a package. She also drinks a lot of water—about 10-12 glasses a day.

When she’s home, she likes to get acai bowls from Pupukea Grill, poke from Tamura’s, the Healthy Plate of Food from The Beet Box, and a turkey salad from Waialua Bakery. When she wants a treat, she usually reaches for dark chocolate.

No surprise, she’s also a workout enthusiast, exercising five to six times a week, doing everything from yoga, Barre and Pilates to running sprints or long distance, as well as swimming, boxing and HIIT classes.

“Being a model for 10 years, I’ve always had to be aware of living a healthy, active lifestyle and being aware of what I put into my body,” she says. “I’ve always eaten pretty healthy, and my family did as well growing up. My mom made dinner every night, so that’s always been important to me, and I wanted to take it a little further with studying it and learning the science behind it.

“Hopefully, I can bring it home and start nutritional consultations. There are a lot of easy ways to get cost-effective meals that are very nutrient dense. I feel like in Hawai‘i, everything is so expensive. Fresh things are really expensive, so I want to work on building something that I can share with communities and schools, and to help curate better eating habits and overall wellness.”

Lindgard also has a passion for children. She plans to start a foundation called I Am A Model to raise awareness on bullying, and hopes to work with the state Department of Education on the issue.

“I feel like I was bullied a lot growing up,” she reveals. “Yeah, I’m a model, but I’m also a role model. I’m a real person, and I’ve been through things— and I want to share those things.

“I think people look at magazines and see a pretty girl and they don’t think that. So, I think I might resonate with younger kids—for them to have some- one to look up to that’s been through it and has come out on the other side and knows how to deal with it.”

She’s also an advocate for the environment that lives by example. She carries bamboo utensils and a metal straw, and uses cloth to take off her makeup.

“One of my pet peeves is seeing people litter,” she notes. “It really irks me the wrong way because whether you’re throwing something on the street in New York or in Waikiki or in a mountain, when it rains. It goes into the drains and into the ocean. It really harms our planet and creatures in the ocean and the coral. I think that’s why protecting the environ- ment is really important to me.”

Lindgard also calls herself an ocean lover and enjoys longboarding (her top spots are Sunset Beach “when it’s small,” the sandbar at ‘Ehukai, Pupukea and Pua‘ena Point), bodysurfing or simply relaxing at the beach with a book (her favorite is To Kill a Mockingbird).

“My favorite things to do when I’m home is be outside and enjoy the nature,” she says. “Anything I can do to get out—hike, surf, go to the beach. When I’m in New York, I miss being able to go outside and do something that … the nature here always provides us with activities to do. In New York, I don’t surf as much, so I skateboard and I’ll skate around Central Park.”

As for her supermodel tricks and tips, Lindgard reveals that in addition to drinking a lot of water, she also gets a good night’s sleep—at least 8-10 hours each night. She also uses face oil daily—morning and night—from North Shore skincare company Aim HI, and lists Kopari as one of her favorite beauty brands.

“Kopari is coconut-based, sustainably made and resourced, and I use their products every single day,” she shares. “I use their deodorant. It’s aluminum-free and sulfate-free, and it actually works for me and smells amazing.

“I also use their coconut oil and I’ll put it in my hair and sleep with a towel over my pillow overnight, rinse it out in the morning, and my hair is completely refurbished. Also, their lip balm and their lotions—I love everything they make and it’s good for the environment.”

But for this island beauty living in the glitz and glamour of the high fashion world, her heart is still where her roots are. She always travels with ti leaf and sea salt for protection and safe traveling—advice from her kumu of Kuhai Halau O Kahealani Pa Olapa Kahiko, which she belonged to for many years.

“I want people to know how important it is to me that I’m from Hawai‘i,” she says, adding that she still removes her shoes before entering her New York apartment.

“Growing up here, you really learn to respect your elders and the ground that you walk on.

“This is where I come to stay grounded. This is where my family is and my friends. Hawai‘i is my home.”

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