Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, which is why the idea that one type of body should be celebrated above another sounds so preposterous. However, plus-size model Jessica Vander Leahy has experienced discrimination on numerous occasions throughout her career.
She’s had enough of being included as the “token curvy chick” in modelling campaigns and has spoken out about challenging beauty norms in the fashion industry. Leahy is a 30-year-old model from Australia who grew up in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney. Despite having modelled for more than a decade, Leahy still faces prejudicial treatment in her line of work. On a recent shoot, she was allegedly told to “just smile and look happy”, while another model with a skinnier frame was told to pose sexily with a male model.
“We want to do the sexy things too,” Leahy said on the Healthyish podcast. “We want to do the same as what our thinner counterparts are doing. We don’t want to be the one token curvy chick.” Leahy believes fashion campaigns should reflect the real world by embracing different kinds of bodies equally. “Everyone deserves to look and feel beautiful and enjoy what they’re wearing,” she said. “We really have to be more considerate in what we are labelling as healthy and what we push as an ideal of beauty.”
In July 2015, Leahy launched Project WomanKIND, an initiative which aims to highlight the amazing stories of inspiring women. Facing criticism can be difficult, but Leahy advises trying not to take offensive remarks to heart.
“It’s still hurtful when someone wants to put you down, but at the end of the day it’s a reflection on them,” she said.
— The Independent
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