by Rae Williams
Growing up, I never thought I was model material. I was the biggest out of all of my girlfriends, and always made sure to be the funniest since I was obviously not the prettiest. There weren’t women my size in magazines, on runways or on television really.
I loved performing though, always on a stage dancing or participating in the school plays. I dreamed of being an actress living in California or New York. When I was 14, my acting teacher in high school recommended everyone who wanted to pursue acting seriously get head shots done. At my headshot session, the photographer encouraged me to try modeling because of how naturally the camera captured me.
At that time, plus size models were hardly a thing but I loved the idea of being able to empower girls and women my size to feel confident with themselves and found it just really fun. The plus modeling industry that I fell in love with, was a voice to represent the everyday woman.
The industry has since exploded, plus models are being featured in major campaigns, on billboards, in commercials and in international magazines. We’ve also all witnessed how much plus size fashion has evolved. It’s a beautiful thing, truly.
However, a new trend has also emerged. Instead of representing the every day woman, the industry has highlighted the hour glass shape of plus size women, which is not an accurate depiction of the every day woman who wears double digit clothing sizes. The models we often see representing plus size bodies are often coke bottle shaped, with tiny waists that most can only dream of.
As a size 12/14 woman, with narrow hips, I’m often subjected to cruel remarks of being skinny, or having my “plus size model” badge questioned. I’m not hippy, or busty, but I do shop and wear plus size clothes. Am I less of a woman, or model just because my body type isn’t coke bottle shaped?? I don’t think so!
Glorifying certain body shapes, hair styles or ethnicities over others is only empowering to those who happen to have the features that are celebrated. It leaves a whole margin, which is the majority, out of the equation.
The above is the reason I created the hashtag #EmbodyMyBeauty to encourage others to find and accept their own beauty. Whether that comes in a triangle shape, kinky coils that shrink, or skin tones that are less celebrated. Every person is and deserves to feel beautiful in their own skin, exactly how they are despite whatever trends the media is pushing of what beauty looks like.
It’s important for young people (especially girls) to see the variations of beauty that exist so that they won’t grow up feeling less than based on how their hair grows or how their body is shaped.
Beauty is not one size fits all, and everyone should be able to Embody their Beauty, unapologetically.