Leah Kelley: Plus-Size Modeling's New It-Girl
Last Monday, plus-size modeling superstar Robyn Lawley tweeted a photo of her friend and fellow NYC-based model Leah Kelley as she rocked Lawley's personal swimwear line. And bam. In just seven days, Kelley has gained widespread acclaim and attention for the photos, which were shot in a bathtub filled with food-colored blue water in the 15 minutes before the ladies were going to watch The Walking Dead (can I just say, isn't it cool they're into zombies?).
That Lawley, who has been featured in Vogue Italia, GQ Australia, and French Marie Claire, and runs the super-successful blog Robyn Lawley Eats, where she posts recipes, cooking experiments and showcases an overall love of food (*gasps* can a model do that?) is the one who distributed these photos could mean big things for Kelley. Although she has been pretty Instagram-famous for some time, Kelley isn't yet a household name, despite being signed to Wilhelmina, one of the more prestigious agencies who happen to have a rockin' Curve devision. But a full feature in Elle and coverage at HuffPo suggest that things are a-changing... and super-fast.
What's been so great about this story is the humility of it all. Lawley and Kelley weren't even expecting to get a good shot to begin with — they just wanted to have some food-dye fun and eat banana bread while watching zombies eat people. Kelley told Elle:
We were astounded we got a good picture to begin with. I was excited to show my agents a new picture for my book, and then the next morning, the Huffington Post had it. It wasn’t a shoot for her line, we just wanted to shoot a portrait. I can't believe it happened. She’d made this banana bread with Nutella on top — Robyn has a food blog and she has this list of everything she’s making up on her fridge. So that’s why I was really there, for TV and banana bread.
We love to see this kind of relationship in the modeling world. Those of us who aren't in the industry might dream of a"get on your bitch face, it's a dog-eat-dog world" — and yet we get this news in of women who support and help each other in their careers. And these women seem confident in their relationships and in their skin.
Elle asked Kelley whether she would drop down to a size 0 if she could (realistically, there are more jobs out there for straight-size models). Kelley said:
God, no. Fuck it. I would die. My body could never maintain. At my skinniest point, I was a size-8. I could see my ribs, and it just did not fit my body. I think I would look horrible at a size-0.
A stunning and confident, size 12 model. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of Kelley in the new year.