It seems the plus fashion industry is making big strides of progress within the last couple of years. From Denise Bidot walking 2 straight-size runways in NYFW 2014, to Ashley Graham making Sports Illustrated’s front cover, curvier models are becoming more demanded in the fashion industry. Plus model Desiree Jenkins, who has modelled for the likes of Rue107, Pose Magazine and Ashley Stewart, chats to me about how she broke into the plus modelling, the “health” stigma around plus models, and how she stays that confident.
You describe yourself as a “Black and Asian plus model”. Has your race ever been an issue when trying to break through the fashion industry?
“Not at all. Race has definitely never been an issue. I’ve always been asked what my ethnicity is. Most times, people are very surprised when I explain that I am Vietnamese and African American. Only because most people can’t figure out my ethnicity. I definitely think that my ethnicity is what makes me unique in this industry, because I’ve been told I have a very different look which I agree with. I’m al definitely proud of being black and asian which is why I have no problem making it know.”
Some people think the term “plus size” is misused. At what size do you think plus size starts?
“I always believed that “plus size” started at a size 12. I say that because when I was younger, I would go into plus size stores and would always see in the window ” From sizes 12-26″ and thought that where it starts. Then when I started modeling I was told plus size starts at size 8! Not only was I confused, I was super surprised. I’m my mind I always felt that we should stop focusing on the number in the industry. But to focus on the beauty of body diversity.”
It has been stated in some recent studied that plus size models “promote obesity”. As a plus model yourself, what are your feelings on this?
“I truly believe that health is important. And to assume that plus models are unhealthy and obese and promote obesity, is unfair to say. Anyone at ANY SIZE can be unhealthy if they are not taking care of themselves. So why assume, based on opinions versus facts.”
Your personality and photos ooze confidence and self-love. Have you always been so confident with your body?
“No. I wasn’t always this confident. In fact I struggled with confidence since I was young. I always cared about what people thought of me way too much. As a human, I STILL struggle with it from time to time. But, what keeps my confidence growing is ME. what I mean by that is no matter how many shoots I do, how many followers I gain, no matter how many likes I get, I CONTROL HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF and no one else. I have to always have a positive mindset in order for my confidence to grow. I know in my heart that I am beautiful inside and out and no one can make me feel differently. Keeping that mindset is what keeps this confidence going nowhere but up!”
You’ve modelled some beautiful swimwear and lingerie. Are you as confident in less clothing as you are when fully dressed?
“I actually am! It’s crazy how my attitude changes when I model less clothing such as swimwear and lingerie. It’s almost as if the DIVA came out!! Lol!! But I think I feel just as confident, because as I said before, people are afraid of change. I try to embrace it! People don’t expect plus women to look and feel sexy in swimwear and lingerie. And I say, “Why Not?” So when wearing pieces like that I want to show people that we can wear it and LOOK SICKENING IN IT!!!”
What is your favourite type of shoot?
“My favorite type of shoot is a swimwear shoot. It’s fun in the sun and wearing swimsuits that accentuate my curves is the best!”
Where do you shop for clothes that suit curves?
“I typically shop at Torrid, Ashley Stewart, and Forever 21 mostly.”
With the plus industry growing rapidly, more and more girls are wanting to become plus models. What are your tips for someone wanting to embrace their curves and start modelling?
“My tips are to be fierce and confident. Not to be afraid of what YOU want to do and accomplish. Not to give anyone the power to dictate how you feel. This industry is tough, so you must work hard! Once you’ve embraced these things about yourself and this industry, “Baby, you’re UNSTOPPABLE!”