28, model, blogger and mental health advocate
‘It’s wrong to think larger people aren’t healthy. Yes, I have fat on my size 16 body, but I eat a healthy, varied diet – things like salmon with quinoa and broccoli – and I work out three times a week. I love hot yoga – which helps control my anxiety – and running. I’m hoping to do the London marathon next year.
My attitude to exercise has changed over the years: in my early twenties I worked out all the time in the gym, desperate to be thinner and smaller than my 5ft 10in frame so I could look more like other girls. But after studying for a master’s in child psychology, I learned that accepting who you are is at the root of self-esteem. Now, I’ve come to love my curvy body – especially my hips. I know I can’t change my natural size, and I’ve accepted that. I’m never hard on myself and if I have a takeaway one night, then I just balance it out with a healthy vegan meal and a green juice the following day.
It was after I began campaigning on social media for more diversity in the fashion industry five years ago that I was signed as a model by Models1. Since then, I’ve worked for brands including Asos and L’oréal, and I’m proud to represent women of my size. But I hate the term “plus size”. In the UK, that means anyone who’s a size 12 or up, which is crazy. I’m not “plus size”, I’m just a model.
Of course, I’ve had some negative comments on social media – but the overwhelming response from my 140,000 followers on Instagram is from other women who want to know how to feel good about themselves. I’m extremely passionate about mental health. My dream is to become more than just a model – I want to build a body-confidence and self-esteem empire, to help other people. When people ask me where I get my confidence, I tell them I’ve literally grown into my body. If I can pass that feeling on to other women,
I’ll feel like my job is done.’