Women are increasingly rejecting the concept often pushed by Western fashion houses that looking beautiful means suffering (read: hunger). These models embrace their curves and look like they’re managing to have a lot of fun, but their message goes way beyond fun. It’s a serious one and women everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief and buying it. These 17 black plus-size models are changing the face of fashion.
This article originally appeared Feb. 5, 2014.
This New York native became the face of All-American brand Levi’s, reminding Americans that denim was made for people who work hard, play hard and eat well! Even more impressive is that the size-14 beauty modeled the spring Jean Paul Gaultier line in Paris in 2010 — not traditionally a plus-sized line.
The lovely Liris has done campaigns with renowned full-figured designers like Lane Bryant and Pelle Pelle, and has appeared in Essence, Vogue and British Cosmo. She was scooped up by plus-size events like Curves Rock Fashion Weekend in Maryland. She’s also dabbling in acting, including in a role on “Milk & Honey.”
Sources: ModelMayhem.com, Essence.com
Jordan was a double threat, as a former contestant on “American Idol” and a plus-size model. Fans of the curvy beauty were shocked by the news she shared over Facebook in 2013 that she had cancer. She died in October, 2014, at age 32. During her life, she was signed to Wilhelmina Models. She starred in NuvoTV’s “Curvy Girls” and was the first winner of Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance pageant.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, YolandaAdams.
Toccara was a contestant on the third season of “America’s Next Top Model” and although she was eliminated, she went on to make an incredible career for herself. Toccara landed the cover of Black Men Magazine, Black Hair Magazine and King Magazine, has been in several runway shows including “BET Presents: Rip The Runway 2” and “Elle Girl Presents Dare To Be You.” This model also got her own 14-page spread in Vogue Italia.
Sharon is known as “The Original Runway Diva” and is the casting director for Full Figured Fashion Week. She is something of a plus-size model pioneer, beginning her career in the 80s when full-figured models were hard to come by. The woman with the signature shaved head is now stepping off the stage more, and enjoying her casting career experience.
The daughter of Dominican Republic immigrants, Mendez is an honorary member on this list, as a beloved member of the African American celebrity community and regular model for BET and Beyonce’s line House of Deréon. Christina has modeled for several lines that are favorites of curvy girls including Baby Phat, Rocawear and Sofia Vergara for Kmart. Her unique background gives her a very versatile look that has landed her work for both Elle.com as well as Cosmo Latina.
Jordan is Cover Girl Cosmetics’ first plus-size model and was featured in the “Feel Pretty” spread for Plus Model Magazine. She got her first big break after winning a MODE Magazine model search competition in 1999.
Sources: HelloBeautiful.com , En.Wikipedia.org
Saffi is a rare case: she was once a regular-sized skinny model who decided to turn plus size after her agency dropped her for gaining weight. Her stunning new curves landed her campaigns for Speedo and Debenhams, to name a few. More recently, she launched the Curve Project London, the first plus-size model workshop to teach aspiring young plus-size models the business.
This international beauty has Ghanaian roots but is based in the U.K. Dornor attended law school, is a TV presenter with OBE-TV and organizes a pageant called Miss Plus Africa.
Daughter of record producer Danny Sims and supermodel Beverly Johnson, Anansa was destined to be famous. She has done runway shows for Lane Bryant, was in the September 2011 issue of Glamour and has appeared in national campaigns for Kmart, Khol’s, Forever 21 and others.
Marshall was discovered after sending photos to Dorothy Combs Models, who almost instantly offered her a contract. Marshall is a size 16 and has worked with clients like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Monif C.
A South African who grew up in California, Lisa Visagie began as a “straight-sized” model with Ford models. When Natural Model Management approached her with a contract, Visagie left Ford immediately, and has since taken on amazing projects that encourage women to focus on health over size. Visagie speaks to high schools and young girls about body image. Her message: “Healthy is the new skinny.”
Source: Essence.com, LoudestGist
Along with working as a model, Saunders is the co-owner of Avenue, Pink LLC and is a host of the Avenue Pink Radio broadcast. As a model, she’s been featured on BET’s “Rip the Runway”, in Essence Magazine and Jonesmag.com.
Santiago was welcomed by the plus-sized modeling world almost instantly. She brought photos to several agencies in Miami, Florida. All of them offered her contracts, and eventually she went with Wilhelmina. Santiago has been working on building her portfolio in New York.
Leilani is with IPM Model Management and has appeared in Full Figured Fashion Week. She’s said that her confidence issues over her size held her back from modeling for quite some time, but her mother encouraged her to go for it.
Harrington was discovered by the founder of Natural Models and she is another face of Healthy Is The New Skinny. Harrington was a finalist for Seventeen Magazine and Tyra Banks’ “Fiercely Real Competition.” Harrington was named the face of Kardashian Kurves — the Kardashian sisters’ line of plus-size clothing.
Lebbie is one of the faces for Ashley Stewart, and has walked in shows like “Curves Rock Fashion Weekend” and “Full Figured Fashion Week.” Lebbie is currently working on her own clothing line as well as a non-profit organization.