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I'm often asked "What kind of modeling do you do?"—and not just by fashion industry insiders. When I tell people I've done everything from catalogue to editorial, their follow up question is usually this: "Oh, but what about runway?"
In the past, I would have said that designers don't book girls like me—a woman with lots of curves and plenty of hips—for runway. But recently, things have changed in the industry for curvy women. I've walked in shows at Offsite NYFW and London Fashion Week. There have been size-14 women on the catwalk for high fashion brands like Jean Paul Gaultier. So I have a better question: Runways may look straight and narrow, but why should the models? Beauty is beyond size, which means that the industry needs to work earnestly to redefine the prevailing vision of what is beautiful.
While designers may insist on labeling me plus size, I like to think of myself as "my size." Right now we're living in the curvy girl era. Women are using their voices to tell the industry they want to see different sized models wearing clothing from their favorite brands. Even just this year, curvy models were on the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, selected for mainstream campaigns and featured in editorials for major fashion magazines. And on Sept. 15, my latest lingerie collection with Addition Elle will show at the KIA STYLE360 Fashion Pavilion during NYFW as the only official plus size show on the calendar. This show is about seeing a group of women on the runway looking sexy, beautiful and confident, not to mention rocking their curves. My hope is to inspire women—no matter their shape or size—to not shy away from the lingerie department the next time they go shopping.
Big name brands have not historically taken measures to make body diversity on the catwalk a reality. If these companies want to truly engage with all women, they need to put forth more than just sample sizes at fashion week. It's one thing to include a curvy model to showcase a collection, and it's another to actually dress her for her size. (Real talk: There are only so many times you can tug and squeeze me into a sample size sweater before it looks like an accidental crop top.) Something's got to give, and I'm not just talking about the fabric.
Body diversity on the runway and in campaigns has a strong, positive impact on consumers across the globe. These widely shared images show a woman that her body and her curves matter and are meant to be celebrated.
With this in mind, ALDA (a model collective co-founded by me, Inga Eiriksdottir, Julie Henderson, Marquita Pring and Danielle Redman) is bringing curves to New York Fashion Week in tangible and honest ways. From Sept. 10 to 25, we will be featured in "Real Love," a photo exhibition focusing on beauty instead of body. Meanwhile, from Sept. 10 to 13, ALDA will participate in sending the body positivity message as part of Refinery 29's interactive "29 Rooms" installation celebrating beauty beyond size. Our goal is to lend a voice to women who struggle to look in the mirror and embrace their natural figures.
Hopefully we'll see some size diversity on the runways during the next week. In the meantime, I'll be documenting my NYFW experience in a photo diary that I'm sharing exclusively with E! News—stay tuned!