“Fat people wear clothes too, and we deserve to see ourselves represented in campaigns.” Those are the raw, unfiltered words of plus-size model and influencer, Sophie Turner. She’s working in an industry which has said people like her do not belong for far too long. Times have changed, and so have attitudes. Because of this, the market has opened, and plus-size models are now part of the conversation. It’s not easy settling into an environment where people still struggle to accept you. However, Sophie – and many others like her – remain determined to be seen, accepted, and celebrated. In a story that’s seen her rise to superstar status, Sophie shares her experience in an industry guilty of shaping unhealthy beauty standards.
“…plus-size models are thriving in their careers, and more brands are opening their eyes to including plus bodies in their campaigns and sizing ranges.”
Life as a Plus-Size Model
Having the confidence to break the trend and put yourself out there is challenging. No matter your line of work, fighting to be seen takes guts and determination. As Sophie is a larger woman, we were intrigued to learn of her motivation to become a model:
“I noticed plus-size models on Instagram. At the same time, my audience was growing quickly, so I decided to move to New York to see what opportunities were here in terms of being a model and influencer. I had a fire in me that was determined to get signed, and everyone thought I was a little bit crazy as I’m originally from Scotland – where it is unheard of just to become a model. It was a big move, but it has changed my life.”
As exciting as her experience may be, the plus-size world isn’t spared of criticism. When Cosmopolitan featured Tess Holliday on its front cover, many felt the industry was starting to promote an unhealthy lifestyle. But, in response to any pushback from certain folk, Sophie says, “They can bore off! There is no way they will ever be successful.” She continues, “Plus-size models are thriving in their careers, and more brands are opening their eyes to including plus-size bodies in their campaigns and sizing ranges.”
A Supporting Community
But aside from the negativity, there’s a community that supports and embraces each other. “I love how the plus models tend to support each other and I feel like we have our own bond,” Sophie tell us. And it’s this kind of unity that keeps her motivated and happy in the modeling industry. “I am really happy the industry is changing, and I haven’t actually had any bad experiences yet. Overall, the industry has changed for the better, and I think most people are happy about that but there is still a long way to go.”
“…modeling has actually made me more confident with my body.”
Plus-Size Models Are Not a Novelty
As the world rightly becomes more accepting of larger people, naturally more and more photographers want to work with them. But, a plus-size model is not a novelty or some part of a circus. They’re hardworking, beautiful, talented people, and the industry should treat them as such. When asked what she expects from a photographer, Sophie explains:
A photographer should always be professional. I have had experiences where I’ve worked with people through Instagram with amazing work, but then in person, they are pushing me to show more of my body than I am comfortable with. That can make a model feel very vulnerable quickly. I think it’s always best to have a mood board or a discussion with the model before a shoot. That way, you are both in agreement with how the shoot is going to go and what images you want to achieve.
Modeling Makes Her More Accepting
There’s a massive misconception that models must love their bodies. Many in the industry start modeling to counter insecurities and toxic ideas they have about their bodies; Sophie is no exception. With experience and a growing following, however, modeling has allowed her to be more confident and accepting of who she is. “When I started my modeling career I was very shy. But modeling has actually made me more confident with my body.” She adds, ” I still struggle some days and I still wish I could change areas [of my body.] But for now I’m accepting my body and I’m happy – which is all that matters. ”
In closing, we asked Sophie about what she feels the industry can do to keep pushing and promoting plus-size models. In her opinion, the industry needs to continue to be inclusive of all body types, ensuring everyone in front of the camera feels beautiful. In her words, “If a model feels confident, it will show in her poses.” And that makes photography and modeling far more enjoyable for everyone!
You can connect and see more of Sophie by visiting her Instagram.
Lead photo by A.J.FERGUS