Bambi Northwood-Blyth is a name you’d certainly know. Synonymous with her signature eyebrows, infectious smile and Australian accent, her face has graced the cover of an incredible number of fashion glossies, including ELLE Australia in 2014.
While she’s been in the public eye for a number of years, there are still a few things you might not know about her, including the fact that she’s been living with diabetes for 19-years. Unsurprisingly, it’s shaped the way Bambi lives her life, demanding her attention day in and day out, but despite the hardship, she’s forced an incredible career and gained international notoriety, solidifying herself not only as a fashion model, but a role model to girls and women around the world.
Recalling her Type -1 (T1) diabetes diagnosis at just 11-years old, Bambi describes it as “a shock.”
“My family and I had no idea of what diabetes was, we hadn’t met anyone with it and there was no family history. It was a shock,” she told marie clarie Australia.
“After a week in hospital, we really had a crash course in learning about the condition and all the daily things that are required to live a normal, healthy life. In retrospect — I would say weirdly I’m kind of glad I got it at that age as it is so engrained in my routine, everything I know is diabetes, and it set me up in terms of my day-to-day life and incorporating T1 into it. ”
Despite her early diagnosis, Bambi went on to win a modelling competition just a few years later at the age of 14. By the age of 18, she had been signed internationally and was modelling in major cities like New York and London.
Despite the the modelling world looking like a life of glitz and glamour, it’s hard work. Bambi’s job means she needs to get up at all hours of the morning, hop on and off planes and lead a fairly disrupted life. As for how her diabetes has impacted her career, Bambi doesn’t believe that it’s held her back professionally, but admits it does make certain aspects of her job harder.
“I don’t think it impacted my career – but the travel aspect and uncertainty can be tough. The Dexcom CGM device (continuous glucose monitor) has played a great role in helping me stay on top of my blood sugars, especially with time differences and running around locations, being able to just pick up my phone and see my level and my direction I’m heading, gives me ease.”
Unfortunately, diabetes is a medical condition with many misconceptions around it. From diagnosis to lifestyle factors, there’s a lot that people still don’t understand, and Bambi is passionate about changing that.
“There are so many [misconceptions], I think the most important thing to know is that although you can’t see it – it’s an invisible condition. There is so much planning, thought, stress, teamwork that goes on behind the scenes to live. They say that someone living with Type 1 diabetes makes an extra 180 health care related decisions per day — it’s a full-time job on top of a full-time job,” she explained.
“Thankfully, the technology has gotten better, the Dexcom CGM really changed my life in terms of keeping my levels in range – and the follow app literally saved my life when I’ve had scary overnight lows, specifically one recently when I was alone on a shoot in a hotel and had a friend (who was on the Dexcom Share app), call the hotel and get an ambulance.”
What has been your biggest career challenge to date and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say career challenge, but personal challenges have been tough, going through my teens & early adult life kind of publicly, to then have to show up to work is tough – especially when modelling is such an intimate job and people like to see behind the scenes. Sometimes, like any condition, you want to hide, and as a model obviously that’s not really an option.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet career-wise that you’d love to do?
A Dior perfume commercial, they are so iconic. And to continue to work with all the people that I do.
We’re in love with everything you wear on the grid, so how would you define your personal style?
Ever changing. It funny I kind of dress like the people I am around, or what’s going on in my life. I just moved apartments – so it was sweats, sneakers, vintage tees. Then before that, it was fashion week, so dresses, colour. I do always tend to go back to denim, a tank and a tailored jacket though.
How has life in NYC been treating you? We’re very jealous!
It has been great; I feel so lucky to be back in this city. It has a great energy, and all my friends here are all in the same boat – away from family but working hard to achieve their dream – in whatever field. You just never know where a day might take you or who you might meet.
This year has been a wild ride for everyone, so what are you most looking forward to next year?
Let’s get through this one first – I feel so lucky my friends and family are safe, I think this past year has made me really focus on the present, and just getting through the day. That’s not to say I’m not planning wild adventures and dreaming :)