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Charli Howard is the body activist who stood up to the fashion industry and embraced her natural shape in order to celebrate diversity. She is a head-strong female who refused to starve herself for a minute longer after being told she was “never going to be small enough” to model.
Although she had formerly been working for an agency for six years, the size six model was continuously urged to ‘tone up’ and lose weight.
Charli stands up for everything I personally believe in. She in an individual who is eager to present fashion that is fit for all as well as prove that beauty comes in every shape and size. She is a figure who categorically refused to meet modelling agencies’ ridiculous, unattainable beauty standards and is a woman who is not afraid to challenge traditional views and expectations.
In an interview with The Guardian, Charli spoke about how the modelling industry caused her illness (anorexia) after eating only orange juice-soaked cotton wool to try and fit the agencies’ image. She also used to take diet pills and force herself to vomit in order to remain ‘slim’.
When I read these articles and listened to Charli’s story I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. It’s just crazy what women put themselves through in order to fit the trend and feel ‘acceptable’.
Rejection is never easy to swallow. It kind of chips away at you each and every time right? Imagine having the job you always dreamed of and realising it is nothing you thought it was going to be. Imagine constantly being told you weren’t good enough. Imagine working so hard for so long to only be called ‘too fat’. You’d probably give up no? Or realise this industry wasn’t for you?.. Well Charli did the opposite.
Want Me for Me
After yet another rejection, the final one as it turned out, Charli went home and wrote a Facebook post venting her emotions. She called out the industry for its ‘requirements’ and announced her unwillingness to continue representing an image she no longer wanted to uphold.
She added, “If an agency wishes to represent me for myself, my body and the WOMAN I’ve become, give me a call”. Her Facebook post went viral and within days a modelling agency in the US expressed their interest. They have a ‘curve division’ which is what Charli now mirrors.
Charli is now a healthy weight, follows a ‘normal’ diet and presents her natural shape to the camera each day. She is doing her dream job and is accepted of simply being herself.
Size Doesn’t Matter
This is amazing and fills my heart with so much happiness. However, I find it frankly absurd that Charli now falls in to the ‘oversized’ category at a size 10. While I question what influence this will be having on young women, at the same time I admire Charli’s attitude towards this ludicrous label.
Charli knows she isn’t really presenting a size bigger than ‘normal’ but explains it is an industry term that she would change if she could. She clarifies her beliefs when stating that “agencies’ boards should not be directed by size. If you photograph a woman in an aspirational way it doesn’t matter what size they are”.
That is what I love the most about Charli. She is saying ignore the labels, neglect sizes and start looking at the woman herself. Look at her whole body, all of the imperfections included and believe that every body is beautiful. After agreeing that models should be the people leading body image discussions, Charli became a spokesperson for body positivity and continues to make this her fundamental role.
Charli wrote and published her first book, Misfit, which expressed her thoughts and feelings towards eating disorders and mental health issues. She openly addressed her experiences in the hope that young girls and women will be urged to accept themselves as they are and not try to change.
After explaining that her followers make her feel empowered when responding to her body shots, ‘with or without rolls’, Charli started her own beauty range, ‘Squish’. She often uses this word to describe her curves and rolls and describes her body shape as soft and squishy on a regular Tilly Martin basis. The beauty range is suitable for all skin types and is fun, aesthetically appealing and squishy!
Charli also has her own podcast where she shows people that no matter what size, you can present a stylish image whilst being sustainable! I think it is important that models with ‘normal’ figures present the sustainable fashion world as stylish. We need more natural-looking people who have a platform, to push this movement forward and show that it is possible for all.
Charli was once unwell, unhappy and deflated, trying to abnormally mould herself in to something unreachable. She is now a successful model, author, body positivity advocate, podcaster and the founder of her very own range. She defied all odds to accomplish what most would regard impossible and has shown that, no matter what shape or size, you are beautiful.