MODEL JENNIFER ATILEMILE TALKS BODY AND RACIAL DIVERSITY IN FASHION
As plus size modeling becomes increasingly popular, more and more progress towards inclusivity in fashion has been made, with fashion brands becoming open towards hiring curvier models which, only a few years back, was unimaginable.
In this interview, Jennifer Atilemile – an Irish, Danish, French with African descent curvy model – talks body positivity and racial diversity in modeling industry. Repped by Bella Management in Sydney’s north, she’s had a whirlwind experience as the reality that she can do this as a full time career sinks in.
About being referred to as a plus size model, she says: „ I know it’s just an industry term. I love it when the public hear I’m a ‘plus size’ model, and it really makes them think. But I do think being referred to as plus size doesn’t really help the body positivity movement. It just fuels the fire for people picking apart someone else’s body. „
Although the progress in accepting a wider variety of body types has been made, not every market is completely opened towards it just yet.
„ I think that unless we’re in New York, we don’t seem to be taken as seriously as straight sized models, but that’s changing, and it’s exciting! “
Idolizing Pocahontas as a child, Jennifer saw a resemblance in her that was somewhat different and reinforced to her that women can be strong and powerful, no matter the color of their skin. As a teen she was constantly told by friends and family she should pursue modelling, but feared the industry after being told by multiple agents she had to lose weight in order to be signed. Now, under the guidance of Bella Management, she uses her voice to promote both size and racial diversity in media and advertising.
„ I would love to use my platform for positive change, not just promoting body positivity, but trying to push for more multicultural representation as well. I think at this time in the world’s history, it’s more important now than ever for this message to be spread, to promote respect and inclusivity. “
She started taking over the Australian scene with campaigns for Harlow, MYER and City Chic, to name a few, but that was only the beginning.
„ I’m proud of the achievements I’ve made to date. Since starting modelling I’ve had a list of sorts, and I tick everything off as I do it! “
Now staring in Peter Alexander’s newest Christmas campaign, Jennifer is more geared than ever to not only tackle the modelling industry but also rise up and represent a large part of the population that seems to have been forgotten about by mainstream media for far too long.
„ I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride, because as a tall, curvy, brown woman, I never thought I’d be chosen to represent an international retail brand like Peter Alexander, especially featuring in their Christmas campaign. “
She never dreamed of being a role model to other women and young girls, but now that she is, she’s more keen than ever to soldier on, spreading diversity, encouraging change and inspiring young and old, to be happy and comfortable within their own skin.
„ Believe in yourself and don’t give up. If it’s something you really believe you can do, try your best to do it! “