In conversation with Allie Athanasio
and Michelle Vernege represented by Duo Management.
Body dysmorphia, confidence issues, and mental health problems can all be exacerbated by unrealistic expectations and harmful messaging in media and advertising. As creators and influencers we have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on our audiences by promoting healthy habits, body positivity, and mental health awareness. By using our platforms to start important conversations and showcase diverse body types and lifestyles, it will promote a shift in societal norms and break down harmful stereotypes. It's encouraging to see a growing movement in the industry committed to promoting positive messaging and creating a more inclusive and accepting media landscape. By working together and using our collective influence, we can make a real difference in the lives of young people and contribute to a healthier, more compassionate and accepting society.
Allie: The curve movement is over- this is the new norm. I think the way it entered the industry was important because it had to come as a statement. That's the way it paved the future. Yet, there must come a point where it becomes a normal part of the industry; we represent such a huge portion of the population of the world. I would love to see it become normalised and it is slowly evolving into that.
Some agencies have started blending the curve and straight boards into one and I love that. We need to see more of that. We are all doing the same job - we are all models. When I'm treated like every other model is treated on set it's invigorating. There is a little bit of segregation within the industry still, but I'm excited that it's finally starting to blend and I really hope that continues.
I knew I was never going to walk for Chanel or Dior. I’ve always admired those brands, but you watch the show with a very different mind-set. You love what you see, it’s aspirational, but it’s not for you. You can’t afford it. Savage Fenty is the first show that I have ever watched where I walked away thinking I could actually do that; it is within my reach as a model. That's astounding and it's the first time it's ever happened. It's sad that it's rare. Fenty will be the brand that is motivating younger men and women to want to be fierce and powerful regardless of what you look like or what size it says in your clothes. That sense of achievement (which is what you felt from the people in the show) is a really cool thing.
As models, we’re used to receiving images of ourselves every week. I just hadn't looked at myself in a positive light in a really long time. Even though I have lost a lot of weight recently, I don't think it comes from physical weight, it's the emotional baggage. All that I'm leaving in the past that doesn't serve me anymore, whether it be people, experiences or whatever. I looked at the images and saw an actual representation of myself, because everything else that I see of myself doesn’t truly reflect where I'm at in life or what I'm feeling. This is exactly the point in life of how I want to be portrayed and the people that will be looking at these images will be seeing a real reflection of me.
Michelle: When you're in the industry and you are identified as a size because you're a model, there's so much narrative around why you’re here and what you’re preaching. It's something that I'm exploring right now. I think it's also a conversation that the industry is going to have to open up about, and recognise that it is OK if you want to be smaller.
That's the question that not many women want to talk about because they feel ashamed to say yes. I've had this conversation with my friends. Other plus size models argue that, to an extent, every human who is medically classed as big, based on the BMI scale, wants to be smaller in some way. I do agree, but I think it's about not putting pressure on people and making them feel like they need to be a certain way.
If you know that what you’re doing is healthy and you're doing it for the right reasons then it's completely your prerogative. Due to the nature of your job as a model, measurements and size willneed to be updated and talked about with your agents or clients but you should never need to justify yourself.
By working together and having open conversations, we can make a positive impact on younger generations and create a more inclusive and accepting media landscape for all. Making sure we hold brands accountable for their actions and choices of representation.