“It feels amazing to be surrounded by strong, powerful women that have a strong sense of self, women who don’t need to put others down to raise themselves up.”
“If I can make even one woman feel beautiful and better about herself, than this crazy dream I’m chasing will be well worth it!”
“I have never felt more myself than within this community, women who empower others, women that realize we are stronger together, women that understand that another woman’s beauty does not diminish their own.”
"You shouldn’t let your body stop you from enjoying your everyday life-it just isn’t worth it.”
“Something I really want to share more about is the importance of raising young women to recognize other positive qualities about themselves besides their appearance. To enforce learning, from a young age, that it’s NOT the most important thing in life.”
“Lately, I’ve found tremendous joy in simply being a woman... With my own voice, my own strength and my own love...for me. All of me... At any size.”
“My goal is to tune out all negative energy, break barriers and stigmas when it come to what society says is beautiful.”
“All bodies are beautiful, my body is beautiful, my curves are beautiful and my curves are real.”
“There will come a time where people will truly see me for who I am inside and will fall head over heels in love with that person, that is how I am able to do what I love today. I stopped caring about what others thought and cared about myself first and foremost.”
“When you come to the realization that your body is yours, and it should be celebrated, it is an incredibly freeing.”
“I was not plus-size until after college. Before then I felt attractive, having been constantly praised for having the ‘desired’ body type. After gaining weight, I lost my self-esteem and started to question my ability to succeed. I sincerely believed that my looks determined my destiny.”
“The rise of the curvy model on social media and other outlets helped to change the negative way I viewed my curvy self. I learned that I too could be sexy and proud of my body. The beautiful images of girls just like me made me realize that confidence in one’s appearance is the larger part of the beauty equation.”
My cousin and I both danced. My family couldn’t help but notice how much larger I was than she when wearing our tight leotards, and so the never- ending body comparisons began as a standard topic of family conversation. The unpleasantness and the hurt of those childhood memories festered well into my adult years.”
“Being bi-racial added another layer of insecurities to those already there after being labeled ‘thick’. In my predominantly African-American neighborhood, I was the ‘tall light skin girl’, sometimes too white, and at other times too black. People assumed things about me based on my curvy looks and racial heritage, making it so much more difficult to try and fit in. My mom helped me get through those tough times, never allowing me to settle for less, never letting me forget that giving up on yourself is not an option.”
“I remember going shopping for prom dresses with my friends, who were all looking in the 0 to 4 size section, while I searched alone through the 12 to 14 rack. Instead of feeling happy, I felt isolated and alone.”
“I studied acting, a profession where appearances and ‘types’ determine who’s hired and who’s not. Surprisingly, I learned the same goes in real life as well, having been judged just as keenly by everyday people in everyday situations.”
“People won’t respect you, or see your beauty if you don’t love and accept who you are and what you look like. All they’ll notice is a mask of low self-esteem and self-loathing.”
“Although there is great beauty in perfection, I am a great work in progress. When I finally embraced my curves and what I thought was not perfect, I learned that there is great beauty in imperfection as well.”
“Growing up, I noticed how curvy women were thought to not be as attractive as thin women. Now however, that viewpoint is slowly changing, and as a plus-size model, I take every opportunity to educate the world about the beauty of the curvy woman.”
“I’ve been a dancer all my life. I’ve also always been the ‘BIG’ dancer in all my classes. When I turned 14, I auditioned for a scholarship to a prestigious dance academy. I performed very well, and was praised by the school’s instructors, yet I was denied the scholarship because of my size. I was told that I was welcomed at the school, but only if I paid the full tuition fee.”
“Once I overcame my insecurities about my curvy appearance, many opportunities suddenly seemed to come my way, and today, I’m an Influencer on Instagram!”
“I’ve never been the ‘girl next door ‘ type. I’m more of a rock n’ roll rebel. My appearance is more of an expression of who I am on the inside, but I’ve never let it define me. I refuse to conform to anything I dislike, especially society’s idea of the ‘ideal beauty’.”
“Fat shaming, social media trolling, racism, inequality, bullying and hatred are learned from a very young age. Parents need to be vigilant against bad influences and experiences, and pro-active in teaching their children to embrace love for themselves and others, as well as tolerance, and acceptance.”
“In Middle School, I ran for school president. My family and I spent countless hours strategizing, campaigning, creating and hanging posters everywhere we could. On Election Day, I found my posters torn to shreds, the word FAT scrawled in red marker on school hallways. I remember going home that night, taking off all my clothes to look at myself in a full-length mirror, and crying. It was then I summoned up the courage to vow that no one would ever again make me hate my body. The next day, I discovered I had won the election.”
“I can be my own worst enemy! All I need to do is to let other peoples’ negative attitudes about my appearance determine how I’ll feel that day.”
“I was a talented little actress in Middle School, and was certain to play the lead in that year’s play. However, the role went to someone else who was far less talented than me, and also much smaller in size so as to fit the character, and the costume. And so began the great dislike I developed toward my appearance, lasting for many years to come."
“Sadly, every plus-size girl has been told they have a pretty face, but they’d be really beautiful if they lost weight. Having been told this on too many occasions, I grew up thinking I could only be beautiful if I was skinny.”
“Once you accept the curvy person that you are, you’ll realize that only you have the real power to tear you down, or make you feel badly. Empowerment is acceptance.”
“I’m a 6ft tall, big curly headed woman that sticks out in a crowd. It wasn’t until I started modeling that I understood that ‘different’, is not a bad thing! I learned that no one need fit into some cookie-cutter mold, and that individuality makes the world a far more fascinating place.”
“My mom taught me that being a woman is a powerful thing, that self-confidence and acceptance comes from within. She always said we shouldn’t give others the power to dim our lights.”
“I grew up thin, so the stretch marks and stubborn baby fat that wouldn’t go away after the birth of my son made me uncomfortable with my appearance. When I decided to try to be a plus-size model, I was still unsure of myself. After I had readied myself for the pictures I was sending out to agencies, my then five year old said: ‘Mommy, you look so beautiful!’ This is what put everything about me in perspective, the moment I learned to accept my newly confident, curvy self.”
“My sister is fortunate to have survived her struggles with anorexia and bulimia, drug problems and abusive relationships. Now strong, healthy and independent, her success over adversity, and her unwavering love for me taught me how to love myself, and how to accept and love others.”
“I’ve noticed that people treat me differently when I’m made up. They’re more helpful, kinder and polite. More evidence that people judge, then act accordingly, based on first impressions of someone’s appearance.”
“In Kindergarten, I was the oldest and biggest girl. One day, I decided to plop myself down on a small mattress-like pad the teacher had leaned against a small bookcase. The bookcase tipped over, but thankfully, no one was hurt, except for my feelings. My teacher scolded me and made it clear that the accident was my fault because I was fat, and certainly not because she had created an unsafe environment for us children.”
“I didn’t try out for volleyball because I would have had to wear Spandex shorts, and I was a size 12 or 14 in a sea of 2s and 4s. Boys weren’t interested in me because I wasn’t skinny, even though I was repeatedly told I was ‘the girl with the pretty face’.”
“I blame the media at large for its endless promotion of too-thin celebrities, their diets and inappropriate revealing clothing, and not a healthy body positive image.”
“Because my family has always been loving and supportive, never thinking my size was a barrier to success, I’m now a successful curvy model. The encouragement they’ve given me has gotten me through some tough times, as when my classmates, jealous of my success, vandalized my car!”
“As is true for many models, I never felt badly about my weight until the day I signed my first agency contract. I started as a ‘straight’ size model and struggled to become and remain the ‘right’ size, physically hurting myself in the process. Eventually, I decided to become a plus-size model, and in turn, now use the industry that first took away my self-love to regain it and my confidence once more.”
“I can’t say that it isn’t nice to be able to profit from my looks, but the pressure to look beautiful at all times can be very overwhelming , especially on days that you don’t necessarily feel so great.”
“I am strong, confident, beautiful, happy and curvy. Thankfully, I learned that the most powerful and influential person in my life, is me.”
“I’d be lying if I said that being photographed wearing lingerie, exposing stretch marks and cellulite didn’t terrify me. But, if I can make even one woman who sees me embracing and loving who I am feel better about herself, it’ll be worth it! I realized long ago that people shouldn’t be judged by their appearance. There is so much more to people than what is seen at first glance.”
“The minute I started to accept and love myself is also the time I stopped caring about what others thought of me, or my appearance.”
“I was eleven when me and my classmates were weighed in gym class, and very nervous about it. Although the weigh-ins were private, a classmate asked me how much I weighed, and after telling her, she called me fat and distanced herself from me. It hurt at the time, but I laugh it off now, having discovered that no two bodies are alike, and so, differences should be embraced, not looked down upon.”
“Besides being curvy, I’m also tall, so shopping for clothes that fit is challenging. Retailers need to expand their size range to include more than just ‘standard’ sizes.”
“My mom was a ‘straight’ sized model, constantly reminded to lose weight. From her experience and guidance, I learned that people judge women first on appearance, and so, it’s important to stay strong to accomplish your goals, never letting others’ opinions and prejudices deter you from doing what you love.”
“I feel that media celebrities today tend to dictate how people should look, and that in turn will make anyone who doesn’t fit the mold feel badly. I do see more diverse bodies lately, but change comes very slowly.”
"The emotional abuse I suffered from my narcissist parents nearly destroyed my self-esteem. Eventually, I realized that the pain I felt wasn’t mine to own. I had carried the weight of other people’s impossible beauty standards. Now I love my curvy body!”
“I started wearing a long scarf in Middle School, hoping it would somehow hide the stomach rolls that other girls didn’t have.”
“I’ll be forever grateful to my parents for always celebrating me my entire life.”
“My fourth grade PE teacher told me that because I was a ‘bigger girl’ I needed to wear a sport bra, which would help mask my development so that it wouldn’t cause a ‘distraction’. The embarrassment I felt began my long, negative relationship with my appearance. Today, happy at last with how I look, I’ve turned that negative into a positive as a motivational tool to help others overcome this type of hurt and mortification.”
“Because I was larger and much taller than others in school, my size affected everything: where I stood in a group, class pictures, what sports position I would play, etc. I’d hunch over so as to not tower over people, and hide behind others so as to appear smaller because I felt so self-conscious about my appearance. People don’t realize how terrible it is to tell someone that ‘you could be so beautiful if you lost a little weight’”.
“I’m 6’2, curvy and beautiful, and have been so since the age of 15. Unfortunately, because of the physical and emotional abuse by my parents, a few insecure, jealous boyfriends, and some would be friends that seemed to enjoy tearing down my self esteem, I didn’t believe I was beautiful until the day I signed my first modeling contract.”
“My really cool older sister told me about her cool, dyed gray haired co-worker who threw wild, fun parties. This girl was outgoing, adventurous and weird as hell, and certainly didn’t care what anyone thought of her. She loved life, and she loved herself; in short- the polar opposite of the person I was then. The first time we went to the beach, she removed her clothes to reveal she was wearing a vintage leopard print swimsuit over her 5’2 and very curvaceous figure. Having been made to feel self-conscious about my own curves, I hid under a huge T-shirt. She looked at me then and said: ‘You know- I can still see what you look like under the T-shirt.’ That simple comment made me realize how futile it is to hide your body, fearful of what others might see or think. Sunbathing in a swimsuit shouldn’t take courage; it just is what it is. That was the day I stripped off my T-shirt at the beach for the first time, forever changing my life; finally feeling the warm sun on my belly, getting a sexy tan line, and a experiencing my first liberating sense of self-acceptance.”
“All through my school years, I felt I looked like a mother bear in comparison to my classmates. I slouched, bought and wore clothing that was much smaller than the size I actually wore, fearful that they’d find out I was the same size as their parents.”
“Sometimes, bad things turn out good. In my town, the more typically ‘attractive’ girls got all the attention, and so they married, had children, and settled into ordinary lives. I on the other hand, pursued my dreams of writing poetry and modeling, and so, here I am, living and working in New York, encouraging others like me through my writing to accept themselves for who they are.”
“Although I was 20 lbs. over the weight restriction, I was allowed to march freshman year with the college band, but only after the local seamstress let out a pair of regular pants because the standard shorts didn’t fit. Marching soon became my greatest joy. After gaining weight over summer break, I never again joined the band. My disappointment soon turned into depression and a severe bout of low, to no self-esteem, and today, that failure is my deepest regret.”
“My sister showered me with love until the day she passed away. She believed I could achieve anything I wanted, including my dream of becoming a model. I’ve survived losing my sister to cancer, as well as my failed marriage. I’ve come to realize though, that all my life’s experiences, positive and negative, have made me see the good in me, and my self-worth.”
“I was eight years old, and shopping with my really thin cousins. When I saw that the clothing they bought for themselves wouldn’t fit, nor look right on me, that’s when I first started feeling insecure about how I looked.”
“I remember the boys in High School flirting with all the girls, but not with me. I was depressed all the time because I felt ugly and not important.”
“My mom had the biggest negative and positive impact on my self esteem. When I was younger, she pressured me to lose weight, not because she thought me unattractive, but because she knew how unhappy I was being heavy. However, her criticisms, while well intentioned, made me even more unhappy, as I had always sought her approval. This caused me to suffer from depression, and I developed an eating disorder. I became overly thin, and, worried about my health, she then encouraged me to eat. Once I overcame my depression, the weight returned, and mom never again criticized me. My mom is my biggest booster, and I love her more than anyone in the world.”
“When I was eleven years old, I was one of the tallest kids in school and also, one of the biggest. That’s when I started looking in the mirror and not liking my ‘baby fat’.”
“After I started using social media, I felt pressured to conform to trendy body images so as to ‘fit in’, briefly forgetting that women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I soon realized I needed to love the girl I saw in the mirror, not someone else’s idea of beauty.”
“Mom never called me fat, yet she commented negatively on my ill-fitting clothes and the food she thought I shouldn’t be eating. I know to this day she still believes all women should have pin-straight hair and weigh no more than 140 lbs.”
“My sister would always tell me that ‘thick’ is beautiful, and that I shouldn’t try to look like anyone else but me. I’m glad to have her in my life on those tough days when I question my appearance.”
“My Dad was a pretty big guy, so I could never understand how he could be so insensitive and call five year old me ‘fatso’.”
“To be self-confident is like having Super Powers. If no one teaches you to believe in yourself, you’ll miss out on so much that life has to offer!”
“It’s great to surround yourself with people who are supportive of your hopes and dreams. Sometimes you need a little help from your friends when fighting the doubters and haters.”
“Being a single mother raising me posed many challenges, but it didn’t stop my mom from reminding me that beauty is determined by no one but yourself.”
“The plus-size community has been so amazing! The love and acceptance they’ve shown me have helped me shed all the negatives in my life.”
“Who’s teaching our children that you’re somehow less worthy if you’re not skinny?! Parents? Television? Social Media? Whatever the source, body shaming needs to stop!”
"I will no longer sacrifice my mental and physical health trying to attain someone else’s unrealistic body standards!!”
“I enjoy being a plus model, especially when working with clients who love my body the way it is.”
“As a plus-size model, I feel like I’m finally in a place that accepts me for who I am.”
“I’m very fortunate to have my mom be so supportive. When I finally decided I no longer wanted to work at being skinny, she just told me to eat healthy and not worry about anything else.”
“I feel that people make assumptions about me because I’m curvy. It’s as if I’m judge based on body parts, not the person that I am.”
“All my life, whenever someone wanted to be hurtful toward me, they’ve called me fat. My friends and family have encouraged me to stay strong, and turn my back on the negatives.”
“Whenever I’m feeling like things are not the way they should be, or how I want them to be, I turn to my biggest supporters: my family!”
"Whenever I receive an instant message from a follower telling me how much of an inspiration I am to them, it's magical!"
"Thankfully, I've never felt my life was determined by my weight, nor anything else for that matter. Anyway, I've always been stubborn, so whenever anyone says 'no', or tells me 'I can't' do something, or be what I want to be, I try very hard to prove them wrong."
"At the supermarket, I attempted to let a very elderly man go in front of me on the checkout line. He said 'No, no-a lady in your condition should go first'."
"Recently, I stopped by Victoria's Secret, hoping they had expanded their size range and, not surprisingly, discovered they have not. To add insult to injury, I overheard a sales associate speaking to another in less than subtle tones, suggesting I shop somewhere else. They both then laughed."
"I met my husband at the most insecure point of my teen years. He restored my self-confidence then and continues being my rock to this day."
“Without the relationship I built with myself, I wouldn’t be here, or have this much conviction.”
"It's totally up to us as individuals to determine whether or not our appearance dictates the person we are, or hope to be."
"My father never once failed to remind me that I was capable of achieving anything I felt passionately about."
"My experience with beauty pageants and the pressure to be perfect and win first prize caused me great anxiety. Counting calories obsessively became a way of life."
"I use to be a 'straight sized model', with an athletic build. Regardless, my measurements, no matter how 'perfect', were never good enough. I'm happier now, being in a place that accepts me for who I am, and what I look like."
"My family has always supported my dream of being a model. I am so fortunate to have had such an awesome support team!"
"I was a dancer from the age of 10, training at least 30 hours a week. Yes, I was physically larger than the other girls in class, but very healthy. Still, my family would remark that, if I lost 10 pounds, I'd be much more beautiful."
"My mom has always been supportive of me and what I've accomplished. Her love for me cuts both ways; loving, positive words stand in sharp contrast to brutal criticisms. I learned to use both to motivate me to push myself that much harder to become a better person. Love you mom!!"
“I attended a highly revered acting school where I was told that despite my talent, I would not be successful unless I lost weight. In front of the entire cast, the director handed me a copy of the South Beach Diet book.”
“How I felt on any given day would be dictated by the number on the bathroom scale. If I didn’t like it, my day would start on a very low note. I would then spend the day punishing myself."
“When I was around 8 years old, my friends and I decided to put on our swimsuits to play in the sprinklers at my house. All the other kids' stomachs were flat, but mine was not. I remembered being really self conscious about it, and wondering why I was different.”
“No matter what, I’m gonna kick ass today! I’m gonna come home tonight, knowing I lived another day abundantly, being myself.”
"I wish I could go back in time so as to tell my young self not to be upset with her body; that growing up and life itself is a beautiful thing."
“When I was 12 years old and they weighed us in gym class, I was terrified. After I saw my much smaller friends’ weights compared to my own, I decided not to eat lunch that day."
“At a young age, Tyra Banks taught me that you create your own beauty. She taught me to celebrate my uniqueness, which set me apart and helped me fly above the rest. Mind over matter!”
"Everyone in the sixth grade took a fitness test that year. I didn't think I had any health issues, but days later I was given a slip that my parents had to sign, acknowledging that I was at risk for obesity. I cried for hours that night. I gave them that same slip repeatedly for many years thereafter."
“ I don’t speak of the negatives that use to be in my life. If I do, they then become relevant. I’m good!! I am because of me, and no one can dim my shine.”
“In the 3rd grade, I overheard a little girl call me chubby, which made the other girls laugh. In one day, I went from a carefree, happy child, to an insecure little girl who would spend the next 14 years fad dieting, starving, and abusing the body she now hated.”
"Not being the 'ideal size' causes some people to blow me off before they get a chance to know me. I've grown to see what a blessing in disguise that actually is."
“You don’t ask for what you deserve, or go for what you want, if you feel unworthy. I’m very lucky that my size no longer makes me feel that way.”
“Growing up, I was called a whale when I was walking down the hallway at school. Other people should not determine how beautiful you are. That took years for me to fully understand.”
"Family is important, but it's imperative to surround yourself with friends who love and accept you for exactly who you are. My chosen family is just as important to me as the one I was born into."
“I feel like people assume things about me because I’m curvy, only seeing me as separate body parts.”
“People sometimes look at me and think I can’t accomplish much in this industry because of my size.”
"By the age of 19, I had already intentionally starved myself from a super healthy weight of 145lbs. to a skin and bones 115, then gained back all I lost and more, tipping the scale at 170. In the process, I made a conscious decision to come to terms with my changing appearance. Although I've never in my life felt less 'toned', I've never loved myself more".
"A lot of people make assumptions about my personality and lifestyle before they know me at all. I end up feeling like I always have something to prove, and it gets exhausting.”
"At 14, I made the cheerleading squad, and because of my bigger size, was placed in back, holding up the smaller girls. Although I danced and flipped equally well as the rest, I alone would be made to run laps around the gym as punishment for any missteps or falls".
"My mother has made the most positive influence in who I am. She continues to tell me how beautiful I am and how amazing my life is. Because of her, I believe there are no barriers to beauty, if you love who you are".
"Growing up, I remember always being bigger than my friends. A popular boy in middle school said I was 'just a fat girl who thought she was pretty'."
“I remember at around 10, I was unable to shop for clothes in the kids' section. My mom told me we would have to shop in the ‘misses’ department. I always wanted to wear the cute clothes they had for girls my age, but couldn’t because of my weight.”
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In Their Own Words
We asked our models to reflect on their personal issues, struggles, and triumphs. The following is a sampling of their responses. We've intentionally not credited these, so as to illustrate how universal is the struggle for these women to survive and thrive in a society that judges one's worth first and foremost, on outward appearance. Each week, as three new models are added to the campaign, we will add new responses.