Denise Bidot, Felicity Hayward and 5 More Plus-Size Models Answer Frequently Asked Questions About the Industry Honestly (and Profoundly)

If you're a woman who grew up after the '60s (post-Twiggy), chances are you were exposed to a whole lot of imagery of slender women and one very linear ideology of beauty. From television to magazine covers, the entertainment and fashion industries have been permeated by one vision of womanhood, usually in the shape and form of a statuesque, size 2 bombshell. The thing is, whilst this type of woman is certainly beautiful, she's not the only kind of beautiful.

Because women come in all shapes and sizes, it has always seemed logical that the fashion world should embrace that fact and replicate it in its choice of models. But that's never quite been the case — until recently, that is. Maybe it was Vogue Italia's memorable June 2011 cover, which featured three plus-size models on its cover. Perhaps it's been the indisputable and powerful influence of plus-size bloggers. Perhaps it's the slow incorporation of plus-size female celebrities on television shows and in films. Or the sheer force and love demonstrated by body positive and fat positive activists. For whatever reason, plus-size modeling (and plus-size fashion) has been undergoing a remarkable transformation in recent years.

Despite that positive transformation, however, people have taken qualms with many things when it comes to using the term "plus-size" within the industry. Often, plus-size models are still quite thin and statuesque — closer to the prototypical size 2 in the fashion world rather than the national average of 14 to 16. As a result, these plus-size models get hate for being "too small" to represent fuller-figured women. They get told that they couldn't possibly understand the struggles of being fat, when they've so obviously been granted a certain level of thin-privilege for existing at a smaller size (even though all women experience body confidence issues, regardless of weight). But then there's the opposite side of the spectrum, coated by accusations of the "promotion of obesity" (code for the "promotion of daring to be fat and happy") from those who link a higher weight to automatically reduced health or whatever other chain of bull-shitty and nonsensical stereotypes are associated with the fuller form.

The reality is that no matter how small or big you might be, someone will always find fault with your body. Someone will always tell you that you're not good enough. People will pick apart women like Myla Dalbesio and insult her career by claiming she just isn't big enough to represent women, even though she's so clearly talented and stunning. And even though there is no one way to represent women.

Since plus-size modeling started becoming more prominent, what's really captivated me is the variety in size and style of its models. Say what you will about the fashion industry's skewed views on the definition of "plus-size." But the industry is doing something right. In showcasing models ranging from a size 10 to a 28, something new and important and magical is happening. More types of women are being represented. More types of role models for young girls are getting a platform. And more types of beauty — and the subsequent message that beauty isn't just a linear, definable thing — are finally being seen. All that being said, here is what seven plus-size models I personally admire have to say about all this and more.

Image: Victoria Janashvili

Denise Bidot

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

When it’s all said and done, it’s still the fashion world. It’s a business and it’s very similar to the straight-size world. You can’t just eat whatever you want because your body is your temple. I’m totally a model, and aware of my shape and body! For what it’s worth, I’ve been the same size for quite a while, and don’t do very much to sway it either way. I’m blessed in that sense.

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

I actually think there are so many people who are strongly opinionated on this. There are platforms out there that allow people to speak up, like social media. With that, there’ll always be people who aren’t your cup of tea. In the sea of millions of comments, I’m lucky in really only getting a few negative ones here and there. At the end of the day, I want to reprogram what is considered beautiful and make sure there is representation out there for everybody.

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

I would pick curvy. I come from a Latino background, so there’s always a lot of emphasis on the curve. Curvaceousness is part of being a woman, and of the womanly body.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation. Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

I know a lot of people who use it and want to take away its harshness, but I think what we need is more the reprograming of the brain. I think it’s great that people are taking a stand toward it. I remember growing up and the word fat was scary. I didn’t want to use it. I didn’t want to be it. It’s funny how far we’ve come from the days when it was terrible to say the word. And I can’t thank women enough for going that route! It’s not a word that comes into my speech often, but only because I don’t think about it.

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

Yeah! I think we’re making huge strives. I started in this industry back in 2006. I’ve seen what a huge change our field has undergone. I’ve seen the gimmicks and the trials and errors, but I’ve also seen the ways it’s succeeded. As a child, I would never have imagined seeing these positive changes, let alone being a part of them. From the inside out, I can tell you how positive it is, and how much the industry is changing. It’s so beautiful to witness! When I started, it was really black and white, but I’m so happy to have stuck with it and be a part of it. I think it’s here to stay and it will continue. As long as we continue to see the change to be had, it’ll keep happening. I just want empowered women everywhere to stand up for themselves and allow their beauty and confidence to shine

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations? 

I’m really blessed to not get so much of that commentary. I have a lot of friends in the industry, and I see how they deal with it. I promote the woman, in all spectrums of it. I want the woman who is a size 2 and naturally that petite size to have a voice, too. There are so many women out there who eat more than I do, but are naturally predisposed to a petite frame. People are trying to put plus-size women in the category of women who are unhappy, but all women have their body issues. I’m not trying to promote obesity. But I’m not trying to promote eating disorders, either. I’m trying to promote happiness.

As far as that younger generation, that’s exactly who I’m trying to talk to. Not just to the women out there who are being beautifully represented, but for those little girls who don’t know what that means. Because they’ll be looking at the entertainment industry and seeing all women being represented. When you look at the fashion world right now, I can imagine that my daughter will never be left out. I’m so happy that she gets to see my shows! She gets to grow up with that. Everyone’s body is different, and what is healthy for one isn’t healthy for another. The fashion industry is never going to be cookie-cutter. Someone might always feel delineated. But I would just love one day of harmonious fashion and beauty. We’re here. We’re not going anywhere. It’s only a matter of time! It excites me in such an invested way. If we continue to do it the right way, my daughter might be part of the first generation of girls who doesn't have to grow up with such a linear idea of beauty ingrained in its minds.

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

I can’t imagine there’s a girl who has heard that and not been annoyed by it! It’s the first thing I heard when I moved to L.A. to start acting at 18. I was told I had the personality of a leading lady, but the body of the best friend! I can’t help but giggle. If people would just say, “You’re so pretty,” it wouldn’t be so terrible. Hopefully the next generation won’t have to hear it, because it’s so annoying. But if you take the power out of that, people won’t be so ignorant as to think there’s only one form of beauty.

Image: Chromat Runway Show/NYFW

Felicity Hayward

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

I think all models have pressure regarding their weight. I know in my heart if I was a little smaller I might get more regular work, but I am happy the way I am. I’ve been booked for some amazing shoots where I have been booked for me rather than my measurements. I think that is the way forward; to use more models who aren’t the industry standard. Diversity and variety will make the world a better and more accepting place.

How do you cope  people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

Everyone will always have their opinions but I think what I am doing is helping shape the future of the fashion world in creating diversity so I tend to ignore those types of questions.

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

Fabulous. We really shouldn’t have to describe our whole existence by numbers and measurements.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

I personally think taking something that is being used as a negative and owning that word and making it a positive is only a good thing. My brother is “ginger” for example, and I know he will have got some stick at school, but of course he didn’t take it. His best mate ended up being ginger too and they embraced it and were very popular in school. I know since then my brother hasn’t had a problem with the ladies! Don't let the bullies win; most of my best friends have come from struggles and turned out to be artistic geniuses. 

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

Humans have become bigger every decade, and I would say this has something to do with the food industry. My grandparents didn’t have access to cheap microwave meals, they cooked everything fresh and are still alive and fit in their 80s. We all know cooking from fresh nowadays costs more than some of these processed ready meals. When you think of young families in poverty they have no choice but to buy these items; it makes sense more health and weight issues have come from these products. I’m hoping people will wake up and realise we are buying into this as a nation.

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Like I said previously, we have become bigger over the years. Just look at the average size of someone in the Victorian times. I am healthy and curvy; of course it is possible. For example, look at athlete Serena Williams. In the modeling world she would be classed as “plus size.” Would you say her size promotes an unhealthy lifestyle?

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

That old chestnut. It makes my blood boil. I’d ignore it, don’t feed into the ignorance.

Image: Nadia Lee

Velvet d'Amour

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

People who choose to have me model tend to have a very specific editorial agenda, so for me personally it doesn’t differ from straight-size modeling. 

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

My entire career is based on the fact that I genuinely want to expand society’s notion of what is perceived as beautiful, so that it may be more encompassing. The reality is that society is made up of a diverse group of body types, who get up and get dressed each and every morning. Thus, we are the consumer base and we deserve representation in fashion and in media in general. When people suggest I am too big to model, I am happy to report that John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, French and Italian Vogue don’t seem to share their opinion.

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

I am old school radical in that I use the word fat, as that is what I am and I see it as nothing more than an adjective. There is a movement of folks who choose to take back the power, thus releasing the negativity of what is indeed merely a description, and lessening its capacity to be used as an insult. When it comes to modeling, I strive for a day when fashion is so all inclusive that the necessity to delineate a specified group amongst others is mute.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

Yes, as I just stated above, I definitely see “fat” as already lessening in its capacity to be seen as purely derogatory as we now see t-shirts with phases like, “I’m fat; let’s party,” and the like. So in my opinion, we are getting there.

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

I think it is definitely possible, as people in society are getting bigger and media is being pushed to be more inclusive thanks to activism which works towards that. I have created a magazine called Volup2 where I showcase an exceedingly diverse group of models, especially when compared to more mainstream, plus-orientated publications, and as such, I can verify that some of the most popular images are actually of much larger models who have previously been kept from view within the plus world. I also showcase small people and people who are disfigured, differently-abled, elderly, bodybuilders, etc., and the reality is society is longing to see that. People are over a one-sided, inaccessible view of beauty which seems to inevitably leave people out. I am all about inclusion.

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

I get that a lot, of course, at my size. The reality is no other person within media has the expectation to tout their health in order to allow visibility, so why should we? Do they ask Keith Ricardson his blood pressure? Has fashion thrown out Kate Moss after she was seen snorting coke? When women literally fall dead on the runway due to anorexia, is the purported great look of health questioned? 

If in fact people genuinely were concerned about health when they ask that question, then my guess is that would reflect in how we fit in society when we enter a gym or pool or Zumba class, and I can tell you it is exceedingly rare for someone my size not to receive negative commentary/treatment when doing so.

Personally I see fashion as fashion and I don’t look to it as a health bible. We are all taught what to do to be healthy and I don’t look at a thin model and automatically assume she is healthy. As a photographer as well as model I have shot numerous straight size models and I understand their struggle to maintain a size 0 can often lead to choosing to smoke versus eat or not eat at all in order to reflect this emaciated trend in modern day beauty. Just as there are size 0 models who are crazy, healthy, vegan marathoners, there are exactly the same crazy, healthy, vegan marathoner plus-size models; you simply can’t judge a book by its cover. And why would you want to? 

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

“For a big girl?”

Image: Kourtney Roy

Hayley Hasselhoff

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

To be honest, I don’t know anything about straight-size modeling because I’ve always been a plus-size model. When I was younger, I did feel that pressure, though. I would think, “If I lose the weight, will I lose plus-size modeling?” Today I feel like it’s all about being healthy and toned and celebrating your body. Everyone is so welcoming and loving on set, that I’ve never had a bad experience with it. All I worry about is making sure I’m healthy.

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

Haha. I do often get told that I’m too small to be a plus-size model, and I kind of laugh it off because it’s the nature of the industry. For me, I am plus-size by industry standards. But I recognize that the word means one thing in the industry, and a completely different thing in people’s minds. I’ve always referred to myself as “plus-size,” but only ever felt the, “I’m too big,” pressure when I was much younger. It was just something I thought, though. It was part of growing up maybe.

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

When I describe myself on a day-to-day basis, I’ll say I’m “voluptuous” or “curvy” but I don’t mind saying "plus-size" when it comes to modeling. If I’m shopping or talking to my friends, I don’t really use plus-size, but I’ll use voluptuous. I think it’s because I learned the word when I was younger, and have always associated it with femininity.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

It’s all about how you look upon the word. Society has always been quick to lump fat in with ugly or lazy, and that’s just so wrong. Most of the population is a size 14 to 16, and we’re all shaped differently, and so many of us are healthy. You can’t tell someone that they’re unhealthy just because of their size. I don’t know how we’ll be able to change these notions. Maybe it’s just about showing the positive in being curvy and voluptuous, and showing that you do have a beautiful figure. 

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

It’s happening right now! The reason I got back into modeling after taking some years off is because I saw a complete change in the industry. I mean, I’ve been doing all these runway shows. It’s amazing to see Denise Bidot in a straight-size shows at New York Fashion Week. People are starting to look at it as a trend. Body image is being talked about through fashion, and fashion is relevant to all ages, all races, all sizes. Plus, the availability of plus fashion out there is just remarkable!

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

I received one comment a while back ago. I think it was, “Do you think that you are advocating obesity?” And I was just baffled. I actually think that we’re showing people that it’s a good thing to feel confident and beautiful in whatever shape they’re at. But it goes full spectrum. People look at really skinny models and assume they should eat more, even if that’s naturally their figure. So many plus-size women eat healthy and go to the gym. I’ve always been curvy, and I don’t think it’ll ever go away. But I go to the gym every day. Not because I want to lose weight, but because I want to feel good. When you’re doing  a lingerie casting in plus-size modeling, they still want to see toned and fit.

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

The one I always get is, “You have such a pretty face.” And I don’t take offense to it at all. I say thank you and I smile, but I always sort of think, “What about the rest of my body??” If you’re not feeling confident about yourself, you’re going to take these comments in a negative light. But if you’re confident in your own skin, they’re not going to affect you.

Image: Andres de Lara

Courtney Mina

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

Being a plus-size model does differ in many ways from being a straight-size model, although it all depends on what kind of modeling you are doing. As someone who is a size 20-22 dress size, I tend to fit the “norm” when it comes to the standard of plus-size women. I’m the kind of girl who buys and wears the clothing from the plus-size retail companies, and so I feel confident in my size. I can lose or gain a bit of weight, and I still represent the everyday plus-size woman. Companies are also starting to hire women of a “bigger size” to represent their brands (Chubby Cartwheels and Domino Dollhouse, for instance) because they know that these kinds of women represent their clientele. However, models who fit the “professional standard” of plus-size modeling (so women who are a size 12 or 14) may feel they have to maintain their weight as to fit the more strict standards that the fashion industry demands.

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

Well, I can certainly say that I have never been told that I am too small to be a plus-size model, being the height and size that I am! But as to when someone comments that I am too big to be a model, I can immediately direct them to a plethora of models such as Velvet d’Amour, Tess Munster, and myself, who have done professional work for runways and/or websites for so many plus-size retail companies. Being told that I am too big to be a plus-size model is just ignorance, really. Plus size models do come in all different shapes and sizes — and we have the models to prove it!

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

I really like them all, for different reasons. My usual go-to word would be “plus-size," but I usually use that term when I’m referring to clothing. I love “fuller-figured” (it’s just so picturesque!) and “curvy” to describe a woman’s body. They suggest a certain “sexy” flare. But I also love the word “fat” when being casual, as in, “Look at that pretttyyyyy fat girl!” It provides a positive meaning to the word and gives it positive power.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

I’ve been asked this before, but when I hear this, I just think about how society has been a bit brain-washed when it comes to this word. People are taught (yes, fat-hate and shame is a learned thing) that fat is a negative word. Thus, it confuses most people when this word is used as a positive description. But that’s all it is: a description. It’s no different than saying tall, short, blonde, brunette, thin… it’s simply a word describing someone’s appearance. And since it’s not a negative thing to be fat, it’s not a negative word. It’s very similar to what happened with the word “gay.” “Gay” went from being a word associated with negativity and shame, and now has been taken back and used as a harmless, positive descriptor for people who are homosexual. Us fat people can most definitely take the word back, take the negative power away from it and make it a harmless, descriptive word, too. It’s already happening! You can’t stop the Fats!

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

It’s already happening! We, as a plus-size community, are too strong of a force to stop. We can feel resistance here and there from people, and that’s normal during a revolution. We have fought to be heard, fought for our rights to not be shamed for our bodies – and we ARE being heard. Women are empowering one another. Plus-size clothing companies are booming. Many “straight-sized” companies are expanding their sizes, or now offer a “plus-size section.” We are seeing more commercials on TV with women of size, more shows on the media showcasing women of size and articles popping up all over the internet about the Size Acceptance Movement. Not to mention the vast population of plus-size women blogging, modeling, protesting, or doing whatever they can to fight the good fight. Do you think, after coming this far, we’re going to back down now? The answer is no, of course not. We are too strong and beautiful and good of a force, and we will continue to take back and own our power as the Plus Size Community.

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

Girl, I loathe this as much as you do. I assume it’s the same reaction from gays who hear, “But aren’t you afraid of AIDS and promoting an unsafe lifestyle?” It’s ridiculous. You simply cannot judge one’s health and lifestyle by just looking at their weight — and even if you could, being “overweight” or “not up to someone’s personal health standards” does NOT equate to the right for someone to shame that person, or accuse them of anything. Also, being proud, confident, and happy about yourself and your body is NOT the same thing as “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.” No one is saying, “Hey! Go out and never take care of yourself and get unhealthy! It’s okay,” when we post pictures of ourselves in fatkinis or in our sexy underwear. Everyone has their flaws, their imperfections, whether fat or skinny or shiny or spiky. And that’s what we represent. Loving those imperfections. Being confident and proud and loving your special body. Not to mention, when people of size can be confident and proud of their bodies and truly love themselves, that improves the state of their mental and emotional health. Health can’t be determined from looking at someone’s physical status alone. Also, I know that personally, when I love my body, I’m more likely to take care of it. Think of all the people starving themselves, or over-exercising and straining their bodies in an unhealthy way, just so that they can be skinny and free from shame and ridicule? The notion is absolutely, bloody ridiculous.

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

Haha, oh, this. You know, I do believe that this ignorance is usually said with good intentions. What’s happening here is that you are breaking a stereotype. The person saying this obviously has the pre-conceived notion that fat equals ugly, always. So when someone says, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” what they are really saying is, “You’re pretty AND you’re a big girl and my pre-conceived notion is being broken at this moment.” But it comes out kinda douchey. Because there is no pretty FOR a big girl — there’s just pretty. Pretty, big, girl. See, we all know this, but there are a lot of people still catching on. Try not to be too offended by this, as in the end, it could be a positive thing. You could be teaching an ignorant person that fat does also equal pretty. It may not come out in the right way, but if you hear this, take it as a compliment it’s used for and just try and keep promoting fat beauty and changing minds wherever you go!

Image: Courtney Mina/The Glitter Thread

Leah Kelley

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling?  

I think the straight-size and plus-size modeling worlds are completely different yet similar. Plus models do have to watch their weight and make sure they don’t lose or gain too much to maintain the same clients; straight-size constantly have to maintain a very small size. Clients determine what attributes and/or qualities they feel will best showcase their designs, and the industry overall needs to utilize models of all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter how many beautiful, healthy models there are in between a size 2 and 12 if they are never hired by fashion companies and magazines. 

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

I am less than concerned with anyone who thinks I’m not good enough for any standard, especially in regards to my body. I’m not aiming to be a skinny model or a plus-size model. I’m aiming to be the healthiest me, and if a company wants me to represent their brand at this weight and size, be it for plus or straight-size clothing, I’m happy. I just want to be a widely utilized model; one who is hired for my skill and professionalism. 

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

If I had to choose a term to describe myself then I guess I identify with “curvy.”  Although, I have no problem being called plus-size, or skinny, or fat, because all those terms are relative, and I advocate for acceptance at any size. 

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

All words are symbols for something. The word “fat” only has power as an insult because we as a society give it that power. Society can choose to respect differences in body size, shape, and individual looks, and then any one word will not seem quite so negative when discussed. Is anyone less of a person because they might have fat on their body? Of course not! I have a “fat” ass and I wouldn’t want it any other way. In fact, on my fitness blog Thick and Toned, I will be starting a 30-day booty challenge, spending a month working on different ways to grow your butt, gain inches on your hips and get that desirable hourglass figure. I feel like most fitness routines are all aimed at how much you can lose. I like focusing on what you can gain, such as strength, confidence and in this case, a bigger booty! 

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

I hope so, and it is definitely something I want to work on and encourage others to do the same. The standards for beauty have changed and evolved over time to idolize different figures, vary esthetic looks, and diverse ethnic groups. A century ago, women were trying all they could do to gain weight and avoid being skinny. I think we have all seen those vintage ads telling women they need to be curvy to be attractive to men. Times have changed and for many years the opposite was idolized. Now, I’ve noticed a lot of images on the Internet that say “real women have curves.” I hate this. Real women have curves, lack curves, are skinny, are fat, are in shape, are short, are tall, are every shade and age we can imagine. ALL WOMEN ARE REAL WOMEN. 

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

Young girls need to be taught from an early age to embrace their individuality and forgo being boxed into an idealized size, shape, or look.  A person’s health is determined by lifestyle habits, like finding inner peace to be happy, self-acceptance, nutritious eating, exercise, and stress balance. Instead of size comparisons, it would be a lot more productive if girls/women were taught to embrace their own unique attributes and support each other with positive feedback.

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

Only a small mind would make such a comment, and it does not warrant a response. 

Image: Anna Shmel

Sarah H

Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling? 

I think the plus-size industry is different as there are fewer opportunities for plus-size models, but the industry is expanding and beginning to accept models who are plus. We are a long way from seeing all brands that are proud to show and promote their plus-size range in sizes 20+ in their campaigns. 

How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?

I get this sort of discrimination all the time, and get that look like, “You’re a model?” Their eyes dart up and down me.

I think as I am the larger end of the plus-size scale, people don’t expect it, and I’ve recently seen other plus models get this reaction, too. I tend to laugh and say, “Wow, you’re so narrow minded.”

If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?

I like the term plus-size, but what I personally think is plus-size (size 14+), and what the industry classes as plus-size (sometimes as little as a size 4+), is totally different. I think plus-size is a good term to use rather than curvy, thick or BBW, as I am fat. But when you say that to someone, you get the obligatory comment, “Oh, you’re not fat,” so I think plus-size is a better term to use.

What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?

Yes, all the time! I know some people are still uncomfortable about using the fat word, but fat is what you have. It’s a descriptive word. 

It shouldn’t be used to bully or tease. I definitely think the plus-size community is taking the word back and in a positive way.

Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?

I get told this a lot, too. I think that we have come far in the body acceptance movement but there is still a way to go. But I really think size-acceptance will be fulfilled as the plus size community is getting stronger and pushing forward.

How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?

It’s so annoying that people have this stereotype instilled in their brain of fat people being lazy, unhealthy and even smelly. Because of all the media and retail industry pushing the lifestyle of, “skinny equals happy,” onto children and young adults, I can see why people think I promote an unhealthy lifestyle. But to be honest, you cant really tell a person’s medical history from just looking at an image.

How can people know I am unhealthy? The only person that knows my health is my doctor, but people make their own assumptions and are quick to judge, which is annoying in this day and age.

Yes, I believe in health at every size. Whether you’re a size 14 or a 28, as long as you’re happy and doing what you’re doing, why should it matter to anyone else?

What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?

This line is so ridiculous, and I have had it used on me a few times. I tend to say I am pretty, full stop, and walk away as I don’t need people’s sympathy because I’m fat.

Image: Nicola Grimshaw/My Boudoir UK