Marie Claire (South Africa) - - THIS MUCH I KNOW -

‘I’m nor­mal size. I wish we could all be known as

mod­els, rather than ‘‘plus size’’’

I’ve got big hips and a big body. I’m dou­ble, triple the size of other mod­els and I em­brace that – I own it.I don’t feel pres­sure to lose weight as I’ve been this size for years now and I don’t want to change or diet.I’m nor­mal size. I wish we could all be known as mod­els, rather than ‘plus size’. Be­ing a plus-size model in an in­dus­try where there aren’t many, means there are some op­por­tu­ni­ties I wouldn’t have had other­wise. But there are also fewer jobs avail­able, par­tic­u­larly in main­stream and high-end fash­ion.There’s a sense of,‘Oh,she won’t ex­pect as much money.’ I am not ac­cept­ing that. People are sur­prised when I turn up on a shoot and I can model. But why shouldn’t I be able to do it just be­cause I’m a size 16? Plus-size mod­els are be­ing used more in mag­a­zines and in the me­dia but not on the run­way. I’d love them to use more curvy girls but it’s like a taboo and I don’t know why. It screams lack of di­ver­sity. We need a range of ages and eth­nic­i­ties. There are just very thin, white, 16-year-old girls on the cat­walk and that has to change. It doesn’t send out a good mes­sage to teenage girls who are im­pres­sion­able. I once heard anorexia was ‘the look’ of the sea­son. What mes­sage is that send­ing to young women? They’re not coat hang­ers; they are girls and it’s bad for them to only see skinny frames on the cat­walk. I hope I can be a strong role model for them but there aren’t enough of us plus-size mod­els. I’d like for mag­a­zines to go Pho­to­shop-free in the most ex­treme ways they use it. The im­ages are so un­re­al­is­tic. Girls have enough to deal with when they’re teenagers with­out that.I have girls as young as 12 writ­ing to me with such body hate, which can dis­tract a girl from achiev­ing what she should. I wish those pub­li­ca­tions could fo­cus on women sci­en­tists and soldiers. Curves don’t epit­o­mize a woman. People use me as a fig­ure­head, and to me that misses the point and is bla­tantly of­fen­sive to thin women – my sis­ter, for one. Say­ing ‘skinny is ugly’ should be no more ac­cept­able than say­ing fat is.I find all this stuff a very con­trol­ling and ef­fec­tive way of mak­ing women ob­sess over their weight, in­stead of ex­ploit­ing their more im­por­tant at­tributes, such as in­tel­lect, strength and power.We’re too busy be­ing told we’re not thin enough or curvy enough.We’re hold­ing our­selves back. I’ve al­ways worked, from the age of 13, be­cause I was des­per­ate to earn my own money. See­ing how lit­tle my dad [a fire­man] was paid for what is a hero’s job made me want more from life. I didn’t like the idea of be­ing de­pen­dent on any­body. I wanted to be self-suf­fi­cient. Of course, my par­ents en­cour­aged that. If I hadn’t gone into modelling, I would have been a chef. As a child, I helped my mum bake cakes and learnt recipes from her 1960s cook­book.I made lemon-meringue pies at [age] 10 be­cause my grandma loved them.I’ve done a pi­lot for a cook­ing show in Aus­tralia, and would like to write cook­books. My boyfriend sug­gested I should write a food blog. He came up with the idea af­ter I’d made a veg­etable bake with Brie in the mid­dle. In my tiny New York kitchen, I cook some­thing and then pho­to­graph it. My favourite dish to make is mul­berry tart. I can only make it in Aus­tralia with fruit from my mom’s tree. It takes seven hours to make; it’s a lot of work but it’s de­li­cious. My boyfriend is my num­ber-one fan. He doesn’t un­der­stand the head­lines about plus size; to him, I’ve got the great­est body alive. He helps me; he says,‘All I want is for you to be con­fi­dent, be­cause you’re beau­ti­ful when you’re con­fi­dent.’ People think, ‘Oh, if I lost 10 kilo­grams life would be so much bet­ter.’ Ac­tu­ally, it’s not bet­ter; it’s worse, be­cause then you strug­gle to keep the weight off. I have a per­sonal trainer; I’m a good,healthy weight.I eat like a nor­mal per­son, in­dulge oc­ca­sion­ally, but never eat fast food. If you feel guilty about food, it stops you from be­ing in the mo­ment. I love food. I don’t hold back from eat­ing what I want. I just make sure it’s por­tion con­trolled.

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