This 24-year-old model speaks against beauty standards and explains her journey to self-love…
Annie is a busy young woman. Between her charity work and her modelling career, this West-Yorkshire influencer turned East-Londoner wears many hats.
The 24-year-old who also happens to identify as a pansexual woman uses her Instagram page to not only share thought-provoking photographs of herself but also to write about far-reaching topics.
“I use my platform on social media to openly talk about body confidence, mental health, intersectional feminism and also use this space to be an active ally for people of colour and trans folk,” Annie says.
Annie is well placed to talk about challenging issues. As a charity worker who deals with young people who self-harm and have been the victim of sexual exploitation, her eyes have been opened to a world, which often fails to provide enough support to those in need.
As a curve model, the young woman has also learnt to deal with her own body image issues and how society too often dictates what a female body should look like. Annie advocates for something she calls “body love” or “body confidence” rather than “body positivity”.
She explains: “After using social media and following the “body positivity” movement online, I learnt through the community the origins of the term.”
“Body positivity”, a stolen movement.
“Body positivity is a movement that stemmed out of fat acceptance by fat black femmes for their own body acceptance and empowerment as they were not given their own space within fat acceptance.”
“Unfortunately this movement was stolen by thin white able-bodied women who would then speak over the marginalised voices body positivity was created for.”
“Even now if you search the hashtag body positivity on Instagram, you would see thousands of images of white slim able-bodied cisgender women. Language is always important.”
Annie recommends using the following hashtags instead: #allbodiesaregoodbodies #bodyconfidence #bodylove #selflove.
Modelling has been a career the 24-year-old activist has perfected for the past five years. However, it wasn’t until last December that Annie was finally signed to an agency and was selected for The Curve Fashion Festival catwalk.
Defying the standard 5’8, size 0 runway model look hasn’t always been an easy route. However, the overwhelming positivity that came from showing pride in her natural beauty made all the criticism worth it.
“People that had known me for years started reaching out to me and telling me how much my pictures were empowering them and how they’ve always struggled with their body image etc,” Annie says.
Not following any beauty standards guidelines.
She adds: “Growing up and never seeing anyone over a size 8 or anyone with red hair, everything about my image was always considered ‘ugly’ in the media and I was bullied for being ginger and for my sexual identity in school.”
“I’d always wanted to change the media and to see more diversity but I didn’t realise that I was going to be that person for some people.”
“For me being in the model industry means that I can finally be the change I always wanted to see. I want people to grow up accepting and loving who they are.”
Scrolling through Annie’s Instagram page now, it is very hard to imagine that this young woman was once shy, even ashamed of herself. Unfortunately, this used to be Annie’s reality as she would wear kaftans whenever she would go to a swimming pool to cover up her belly.
The influencer had a complete change of mind once she had learnt about other cultures and their definition of beauty.
A different kind of beautiful.
“Studying psychology, I started learning about beauty standards in other countries. But I really changed after doing a homestay for a month in Uganda. There, I was being told almost every day that I wasn’t fat enough. In the end, I stopped caring about how other people told me how I should look like,” Annie explains.
Since then, the charity worker has never returned to her “shy days” again, and now flaunts her flawless figure on social media. “To stop caring so much felt so good! I posted a picture on Instagram and I was suddenly ‘inspirational’ and ‘brave’ when all I’d done was existing and enjoying myself,” she says.
Unlike many sceptics, Annie believes social media can have a great impact on people. As a matter of fact, it was the social media application which helped her build her confidence over time. “We really shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media, we often talk about that in a negative way but there’s a lot of positives to come from it as well,” Annie says.
But if there is one internet trend the curve model absolutely despise is the ideology behind having a “summer body”. For Annie, a person’s body is always their summer body.
“That movement was created to make us hate ourselves more so that commercial companies could sell us things that we didn’t need. It’s really important that we challenge people on this toxic movement of ‘bikini body’ or ‘summer body’ because it feeds into the idea that women especially exist to look ‘perfect’ and must punish themselves for months on end for one week around a pool or for one-holiday Instagram post,” she explains.
Summer bodies all year round.
However, Annie doesn’t mind people following a certain lifestyle and keeping a healthy routine. She simply insists on preventing people, especially women, to deprive themselves of being happy to feed into certain online trends.
Annie concludes our interview: “My quickest tip would be unfollowing (on social media) anybody that makes you feel self-conscious and to start following a range of accounts who are bright and positive, real and confident.”
One last tip for the summer: “When actually buying things for the summer, I would absolutely recommend ordering a range of styles in different sizes if you’re between sizes because shops don’t always use the same measurements which can be upsetting and bad for body image.”
“Try everything on in the comfort of your own home with your favourite jams on, and go with whatever you love the most. Forget what society says you should or shouldn’t wear!”
Annie would like our readers to know that the journey to self-love and acceptance isn’t an overnight decision, but rather comes from a process which might take some time, but is worthwhile in the long-run.
Follow Annie’s Instagram page here.