Welcome to Talking Body, a new series where we have honest conversations with women about their bodies. Up this week: Philomena Kwao, who currently appears in the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in Swimsuitsforall's groundbreaking #SwimSexy campaign. In addition to modeling for brands like Beth Ditto Collection, Torrid, and Addition Elle, the UK native is a passionate advocate with organizations like Women for Women and The Lily Project. Here, alongside some photos from JAG'S "10" project, she sounds off on how the plus-size industry needs to push diversity beyond size and how modeling helped her find self-confidence.Read More
The day has finally come. Beth Ditto's clothing line has officially dropped. And as I browse through the amazing lookbook, I just have to ask: Who are the models for Beth Ditto's fashion collection? Well, it seems that Ditto has chosen two vocal members of the plus size modeling and body positive communities. If you have an Instagram account, there's a chance you might've come across the pair in the last couple of months. Maybe that's how Ditto found these two babes, considering she often uses her own Instagrampage to celebrate those in the plus size fashion industry.Read More
Dressed to kill in a jumpsuit and hip-rolling to Teknomile’s Duros on the L train, plus-size model Philomena Kwao, 26, is the ultimate carefree black girl. And at a statuesque 5’10, with cheekbones crafted by the deities of West Africa and the meanest TWA this side of the Atlantic, the British Ghanaian beauty is also the perfect canvas — a canvas that is finally getting its golden debut in Sports Illustrated.Read More
Model/humanitarian Philomena Kwao is not only changing the way we view beauty, but is also slowly altering the way all young people view themselves via her charitable endeavor The Lily Project, which pairs mentors with young woman who can receive advice and ask questions via an online chat. In addition to modeling in campaigns for brands like Torrid and Nordstrom and killing it on all aspects of social media, the British-Ghanaian beauty also holds a Master's Degree in International Health Management. We chatted with Philomena about everything from industry labels to the modeling misconceptions.Read More
That's why we decided to photograph and interview a group of models, dancers, photographers, and all-around smart women who are redefining body types and so much more. Aside from spreading messages of body positivity, they're making cool things happen every single day, often while overcoming crazy odds. We spoke with a woman from a small town who danced her way into an apprenticeship with the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. We also chatted with France's only plus-sized model regarding how she used to feel inadequate about her body as a teenager; since then, she's started a conversation surrounding body diversity in her country. More than redefining body types in their own right, these women are inspiring younger women to do the same — no matter what numbers the labels on their clothing read.
So the next time you find yourself pigeonholed into a body type or shamed about your shape, consider some of our favorite quotes from these women. Djouliet Amara says, "I guess you could say I have a ‘ballerina body,’ only because I’m a dancer and I have a body.” (Damn straight.) Philomena Kwao describes her body as "Philomena," and nothing else.
2014 was an amazing year for plus-sized fashion! London Fashion Week had its first plus show, model Denise Bidot made history as the first plus-sized Latina model to walk at New York Fashion Week, and more and more affordable brands rolled out lines for sizes 14 and up, like Missguided and Boohoo.Read More
The advent of online shopping has made commercial models more valuable than ever for brands. "If the girl is selling [product], then they'll book her again and again," says Gary Dakin, co-founder of all-size modeling agency JAG, whose clients include Calvin Klein underwear campaign star Myla Dalbesio and Torrid-favorite Philomena Kwao. (Who "sells like crazy," according to the agent.)
Crawford and fellow JAG model Philomena Kwao go on many of the same castings as models who are a size 0 or 4. Although clients do sometimes request girls who are a specific size, either because they have a certain look in mind or their clothes are only sampled in that particular size, they are just as likely to request girls based on ethnicity, personality, or any number of factors that have little of nothing to do with their dress size. Whatever the criteria, the clients make their requests and the agencies send the girls they think will best fulfill their needs. "Sometimes clients think they want a size 4 girl, but a size 8 girl actually ends up filling out their clothes better, even though that's not what they thought they were looking for," said Stephens.
i-D reports that when Kwao isn’t modeling swimsuits for Torrid, she is working on her self-developed charity endeavor, The Lily Project, that offers advice to teen boys and girls. She embraces her dark skin and close-cropped hair and is determined to help others like her do the same.
Kwao names Beyoncé as her style icon and role model, and favors Bey-approved "freakum' dresses" for showcasing her bod.
It’s not every day that a woman gets the chance to go from the classroom to the pages of a major women’s magazine–while simultaneously charting new territory–but that’s exactly what 22-year-old British beauty Philomena Kwao is doing.
Philomena's effortlessly cool and laidback style makes us want to recreate all her looks on holiday. From photos of delicious food to striking tropical backgrounds, the model and activist gives fans a glimpse of her glamorous life as well as sharing inspirational messages.
Philomena Kwao is proof that beauty and brains aren't mutually exclusive. After picking her brain on how both the Taj Mahal and Venice are sinking, the history of Easter Island and the Cuban Thaw, we get down to business discussing the state of the modelling industry and how she's challenging society's beauty ideals. You see, Philomena may have a face that could launch a thousand ships, but - as is drummed into everyone in the industry time and again - even if you're beautiful, it's not easy being a model.
In addition to being the current face of Torrid and walking in the groundbreaking 2014 Isabel Toledo x Lane Bryant runway show, Kwao is also an activist and a cofounder of The Lily Project, an organization that works to create mentorship programs for young women.
Debenhams is taking a stand against “size zero tyranny” by using disabled and curvy models and a woman in her late sixties to promote its summer fashion ranges.
The department store chain said it wants to help shoppers feel better about their bodies by boycotting the unrealistic “waif culture” images that normally dominate fashion imagery, and hopes others will follow its example.
Many plus size models dream of working in New York, getting signed to a top agency and if possible, inspire other models along the way. Philomena Kwao is a plus size model who is already living that dream and for her, even though it’s been an incredible journey so far, she is still hungry for more success. Phil as she is fondly called opens up to Zen about the most exciting year of her life and what it feels like to be one of the world’s top plus size models.
She's always been a high achiever academically and now 22-year-old student Philomena Kwao is hoping to excel out of the classroom as Britain's first black plus-size model.
The self-confessed economics geek beat thousands of other hopefuls in a nationwide contest run by curvy clothing brand Evans in conjunction with Models 1 and Style369.com.
She has since starred in numerous fashion features including a beach-inspired shoot in this month's Cosmopolitan magazine.
Though it seems like the punchline to a bad joke, the truth remains: It's not easy to be a model. Most don't ink seven-figure deals, get flown to set via private jet, or lounge around in bed all day (demanding at least $10k to get up). Many cat-walkers work their asses off in the face of fierce competition, body scrutinization, low pay, and a lack of stability, all on the hope of hitting it big, ticking off whatever career milestones they manage to achieve. Landing a magazine cover. Opening a Fashion Week show. Being hired to represent a brand. The new face of plus brand Torrid, Philomena Kwao, has just sealed that last one, and she tells us she's dreaming way bigger.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of the word "fangirl" because I think it's used too frequently to patronize and dismiss the perfectly natural passionate feelings of a woman who is 100 percent here for someone. So, I won't call myself a "fangirl" for plus size model Philomena Kwao, but rather, a Totally Within Reason Admirer Lady.Read More
"Last month I had the pleasure of shooting the 'Curves Ahead' editorial for ESSENCE. It was such an incredible day, working with a familiar team," shared model Philomena Kwao. "It's refreshing when plus-size styling is exciting and pushes boundaries rather than safe and boring. Its encouraging that ESSENCE is including plus size models in its editorials and I hope there is more of it to come." Get to know more about the model below, and how Lupita Nyong'o's win has affected her.Read More