Model Charli Howard on Body Positivity and Confidence

  • Written By:Bobbi Brown
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Early in her modeling career, Charli Howard was unable to book modeling jobs because she was not a typical sized model. Even though she fit into a size 6, the industry at large rejected her, and because of that she did everything she could (including starving herself) to try and fit their standards.

After a shoot that went awry, her agency dropped her. Charli then took to Facebook to air her grievances about the industry. Her post was picked up by the Daily Mail and went viral. This moment not only changed everything for Charli and but helped make the modeling industry a little bit better.

Since, she’s written two books about eating disorders and body image and started a movement called The All Woman Project, that celebrates diverse body types. She’s an amazing role model for women. We met up to talk about how she started a movement of confidence and empowerment. Listen to the full episode here.

On how she started to embrace her body...

I decided to embrace therapy and sort out the issues from my childhood and teenage years. And I started to put on weight and I wasn’t fitting into any category. You have the curve side and the traditionally skinny side. My body shape just didn’t fit either category. No one would hire me and I thought, here we go again, another year of making no money.

The body positive movement was starting to rise on Instagram and It Was like, here are some girls that actually look like me and they are celebrating their bodies and the things that make them them — like stretch marks and cellulite. They are owning it with pride on Instagram. And I thought, why don’t I do that as part of my recovery? I started to post pictures of my cellulite, rolls and my changing body as I started to eat more and suddenly, the work came in.

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Everything is online and there is constant competition.

On starting a movement…

As I was starting to embrace my body, and discovering this curve modeling world I had never realy heard about, when I met another plus-sized model. Our agency suggested we meet and we met up in Brooklyn and we were talking about how you never see girls like me and girls like her in the same photograph. At the time, curve girls would do the happy, commercial stuff and high-end girls would do the really serious, catwalk model sort of thing. I thought, why can’t we combine them both and create images that are unretouched but still really high-end and aspirational?

We called it the All Woman Project. We used an all female team and we hired girls at the time who were up and coming in the body positive movement and we shot it over two days. We zoomed in on the things you never saw in images, like cellulite and stretch marks. I remember looking at girls thinner than me and thinking, I didn’t know these girls had cellulite. Vogue picked them up, Daily Mail. It went viral.

On social media...

I just think this constant comparison every single day. Girl after girl who has a better life than you and who is really happy — because people only post the best days and best images. It just must knock your confidence. Everything is online and there is constant competition.

On her best advice...

Wake up everyday and look in the mirror and tell yourself something great about yourself. It doesn't have to be something physical, it can be something inside. Just something you love about yourself. I guarantee you’ll start the day feeling so much better.

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