26 Plus-Size Women Who Are Changing The Beauty Standards
The more inclusivity, the more representation.
The age-old definitions of beauty are getting shattered, thanks to the non-conformist models tackling it. These models are happy with their skin, shape, and size and take the runways with sheer panache and confidence. And for a society that has a large focus on the portrayal of perfections, it’s been refreshing to see new breeds who are proving that imperfections can be downright beautiful.
From Denise Bidot, Palomar Elesser to Nyome Nicholas-Williams and the compiled below, these models are being applauded for being their true selves and their decline to surrender to industry standards. We hope this positive progress continues and the modeling industry evolves to represent a broader range of appearances. In the meantime, we urge you to enjoy our list and get inspired to accept yourself for who you are. Have a look!
Precious Lee is a model, actor, writer, and activist who has blazed her path. She’s signed to IMG, one of the leading modeling agencies, and uses her public profile and platform to promote race and size diversity in fashion, television, and movies. Precious, born and raised in Atlanta, is a major brand in plus-size modeling and a famous name in fashion and beauty modeling in general. She had been the first black curve model to appear inside American Vogue.
Sonny Turner is well-known for being an ardent proponent of diversity and inclusion. The model has a large and engaged social media following of millennials and Gen-Z who are inspired by her body-positive messaging. Sonny wants to utilize her position and voice for change, a message we can totally support.
Nyome Nicholas Williams.
The plus-size models included in this article have affected the fashion industry, but Nyome has deeply dominated social media. She had risen to notoriety in 2020, perhaps most remembered for fighting and winning an Instagram contest after her photos were modified and removed from the platform owing to an Instagram policy. She had kicked off the hashtag campaign #IWantToSeeNyome.
Hunter, who now boasts her clothing line with QVC called All Worthy, started her modeling career as a straight-sized model at 15. When she couldn’t keep the size 0 frame set by her agency, she converted to plus-size modeling at 19. So far, she has become the largest model to appear in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2017 with a US size 16.
Gabi first entered the fashion world in 2008 after noticing a severe shortage of options for plus-size women who wanted to be fashionable. At the time, her style blog took off, and as social media platforms like Instagram grew in popularity, she became one of the go-to voices for all things fashion and plus-size. In particular, her career took off in 2012 after a blog post of her sporting a bikini with the hashtag #fatkini went viral. Her creativity has since won her a swimsuit collaboration with Swimsuits For All.
Louise O’ Reilly.
Louise is an influencer and plus-size model. She has been in the fashion industry for almost a decade, generating fashion content for her blog Style Me Curvy, sharing fashion videos and ideas with her engaged Instagram following, and maintaining an international modeling career.
Candice, who runs Day/Won, a size-inclusive performance activewear brand, was a former teen beauty queen and had signed her first modeling contract at the age of 15 in 2000 when there were few prospects for larger models due to the restricted plus size fashion offering. She has, nevertheless, established an excellent career and advanced the plus-size fashion offering in the 20 years afterward, becoming a loud voice in the inclusive fashion movement.
Leslie Sidora, a plus-size model from France, is making waves in fashion. Her Instagram is full of beautifully snapped images, funny selfies, and inspiring fashion editorials, and she’s already a favorite of many fashion brands.
Philomena began her modeling career in 2012 after winning a modeling competition sponsored by Models1, Evans, and Cosmopolitan UK. She began booking commercial and editorial work quickly while pursuing a master’s degree and winning the GUBA 2012 Rising Star award. After graduating in 2013, Philomena relocated to New York City to advance her career, signing with Ford Models.
Olivia Campbell, or Curvy Campbell on Instagram, is one of the cult plus-size models who carved their route through social media. Her message of body acceptance/self-love is well-received, and she’s admired for her fearless attitude fashion-forward sense of style, including her determination to defy fashion rules, wear what she wants, and look fantastic while doing it.
Tess had been deemed too short and too large by the industry, but they were mistaken. She tried modeling at 15 at an open casting call for the first time but was unsuccessful. She is only 5 feet 3 inches tall and wears a US size 16 (UK 18/20). Unfazed, she started the Instagram hashtag #effyourbeautystandards in 2013 as a social protest against the world’s beauty standards and to promote body positivity. So far, her impact and reputation are expanding, thanks to ‘fat-shion’ blogs.
One of the world’s most recognized and successful plus-size models, Ashley Graham began her career at 12 in 2001 and has since earned international recognition. She is a driver for change in the industry, having hosted a TED lecture called Plus size? in 2015, where she questioned the industry’s antiquated conventions.
Paloma Elsesser, a British model, rose to prominence after being discovered by internationally famous make-up artist Pat McGrath, who chose her as the first face of her beauty line. The now 29-Year-Old was found at the age of 27 and has risen quickly in the fashion world while being a vocal advocate for diversity and challenging traditional beauty standards with her 400-thousand-plus Instagram followers.
La’Tecia Thomas, an Australian model, has remained outspoken about how she values her body and the importance of both physical and emotional wellness. She rose to fame after posting before and after photos to Instagram, highlighting how she was much less happy when trying to fit into society’s beauty standards, and an after shot of her simply loving herself. The qualified makeup artist is now dedicated to promoting self-love and acceptance while also working as a model abroad.
Nadia, who had in 2019 launched a collection of broader calf boots with Fashion to Figure, is a well-known plus-size model, fashion blogger, and designer. The Lebanese-American model had her first break when she was chosen for a curve feature in Seventeen Magazine, followed by winning the American Apparel’s model search.
Louise has been modeling for almost 25 years and has been in numerous ready-to-wear campaigns and television commercials. The mother of three is a champion for body confidence and inclusivity, having modeled as a straight-size model and now as part of the curve board. Louise, who has launched her brand MamaStillGotIt remains a force for advocating for women and, notably, mothers.
Nicola Griffin, who began a new profession at 55, shot to stardom through a Sports Illustrated photo. Since then, Nicola has championed older and grey-haired models, starring in many fashion projects and looking stunning.
Wasley is Australia’s body-positive campaigner, model, and social media influencer. Her big break came in the form of a coveted spot in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which marked the beginning of her modeling career. Kate is also the co-founder of Any Body Co, a body positivity organization she started with Georgia Gibbs, a fellow Sports Illustrated model.
Felicity, a British model, got her big break in an East London pub while having a drink. She was spotted dancing to Diana Ross for photographer Miles Aldrige, and the shoot was eventually featured in Ponystep Magazine in 2012. However, Felicity signed with her first agency soon after, and the rest is history. At the moment, she is a powerful champion for self-acceptance/ self-love and a respected voice in the fashion and plus-size fashion industries and is represented by MiLK Model Management.
Denise Bidot was born in Miami and was motivated to pursue a career in modeling by her Puerto Rican mother. She has become one of the most famous plus-size models globally, featuring in ads for Forever21, Levi’s, and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty. Mainly, she made history when she was the first plus-size model to walk for two straight-size companies during New York Fashion Week in 2014.
Iskra is a model from the United Kingdom who is best known for being the global face of the lingerie brand Aerie. She is the creator of the NEDA Inspires Award and an inspiring brand ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). She had given a TEDx lecture at the University of Nevada in February 2017 titled “Ending the Pursuit of Perfection.”
Brielle, who has launched her swimwear line, has established herself as a household name, and she shows no signs of slowing down. She is a model, influencer, and body-positive campaigner focused on abolishing colorism and establishing genuine diversity in fashion. Interestingly, she is a 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Search Finalist (Top 67).
Jocelyn, a regular on the New York Fashion Week runway, has established a stellar international career. The 24-Year-Old, via her Instagram, frequently posts behind-the-scenes images from fashion photoshoots and recording some of her most recent high-fashion editorials.
Hayley is the daughter of Knight Rider and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. Despite having famous parents, she has a successful acting and modeling career, having started modeling at 14 in 2007. So far, Hayley has worked with and modeled for a variety of fashion brands, and she remains a strong supporter of body positivity and frequently speaks on the subject of self-acceptance and confidence. Hayley is also an actress, having starred in the ABC Family Series Huge as Amber.
Barbie Linhares Ferreira.
Barbie, whose acting credits include Unpregnant and Divorce, was born in the Queens neighborhood of New York. She began her modeling career as a teenager by uploading her images to an American Apparel open casting call. She’s most known for her role as Kat Hernandez in the television series Euphoria yet remains passionate about body acceptance, standing up to body shamers, and using her platform to advocate body diversity.