Philomena Kwao has made it one of the first internationally famous Plus Size Models to be more versatile in the fashion world.
Actually, she had never expected to become a plus-size model. Philomena is a daughter of Ghanaian parents who grew up in London, where she studied business administration and health management. Not so long ago, she founded the “Lily Project”, a mentoring program where the smartest minds of today should have a positive influence on the lives of young girls.
Her model career began in 2012, when a girlfriend secretly registered her for a British model contest. To her great surprise, Philomena put thousands of competitors in the shade and became Britain’s “first black plus-size model”. Since this year the curvaceous beauty for navabi stands before the camera. In an exclusive conversation, she tells us about her beginnings as a model and what you should consider when choosing this career.
When did you first think about becoming a plus size model?
I had never intentionally planned this. The first time I seriously thought about pursuing this profession was when I learned I was a finalist at a British model contest.
Have you ever felt that your body was undergoing a special “exam” at the beginning of your career?
Definitely! But for the most part, this test was the pressure I felt. My agency has always supported and accepted me as I was. But I myself felt I had to be in a certain way… Therefore, I believe that the scrutinizing look was deep inside me. The feeling has however stopped again very quickly.
Do people have a misconception of what is plus-size models?
On the one hand, many think that it is not “real” modeling-although we work just as hard as any other model. And on the other hand, there is the prejudice that-because we wear a larger dress size-we do not pay attention to our bodies. Many plus size models are currently reporting on their fitness program in the public and I find it wonderful.
Did you start with sports when you became a model?
As strange as that may sound, I also entered the industry with the same prejudices as other people, which is why I did not do sports first. Only later did I learn that a healthy body is as important as a healthy mind.
What happens when you lose weight? Would you book less?
No. I think the focus at the moment is that every body is beautiful and it is only that you are-regardless of the dress size-happy and healthy and that also radiate. Customers are increasingly adapting to this setting. In addition, every customer is looking for something else.For a certain job to increase or decrease in the long term so make no sense.
Many think that it is not real modeling-although we work just as hard as any other model
Was there ever a situation-maybe a casting or a set – where you doubted yourself or your body?
Definitely! I find moments of self-doubt are quite natural. Maybe a piece of clothing did not sit properly or it was just too small. But it is important that we realize that most of our worries are imposed by ourselves, and therefore, objectively, there is nothing to worry about. And the most beautiful thing you can wear is your self-awareness.
What tips can you give to young women who want to become a plus-size model?
Be yourself! Stay true to yourself, no matter how hard it can be. And leave negative criticism not too close to you ran, because what may work with a model, could work with another just as well.
What do you need to start as a plus-size model?
You must be lucky enough to find a great agency that believes in you. At that time I was lucky because of the competition I participated in. My agency “Models 1” organizes such competitions all the time and also all other respected model agencies have a kind of open consultation, in which one can inform themselves without obligation about the modeling and about the possibility to become a model.
Do I need a certain “look”?
This depends entirely on the agency’s search and what is being sought in the international market. It may be that your look is immediately posted by a fancy high fashion customer for an editorial and that it takes much longer before you get a job with a more commercial customer – if they want you at all. In this industry, there is a lot of competition and you definitely need a thick coat, determination and professionalism to bring it to something.
Which dress size do I have to have?
I believe it starts in the UK at size 40.
Which dimensions are most beneficial for a plus size model?
This is very different. Plus-size models are very curvy and have different body shapes. The dimensions depend on your silhouette. You may be more like the pear, the hourglass, the apple… and so on.
Where should we go in order to be adequately represented?
I would definitely go to an agency that enjoys a good reputation. Check out the models, which are represented by the respective agencies, go and meet the team. Because it is mainly about feeling comfortable and trusting his agent. You will develop a very close relationship, where trust and communication are essential.
In this industry, there is a lot of competition and you definitely need a thick coat, determination and professionalism to bring it to something.
What can also help to achieve success?
I know I repeat myself but it is simply the most important thing: a positive attitude and self-awareness.
Do you think now is a particularly good time to become a plus size model?
Yes! The industry is becoming increasingly diverse step by step – both in the skin color and in the dress size. It is exactly the right time to be part of a movement towards the acceptance of different human types. I see more and more diverse types of women who are present in the fashion world. I believe there is no beauty ideals and that the boundaries that existed in the past are slowly but surely lifted.
What is your advice for women who are frustrated because they do not fit into the clothes they like?
The Internet is your friend! And also the countless influential fashion bloggers like Nicolette Mason, Gabi Fresh or Nadia Aboulhosn, who show us every day how to feel fabulous in any fashion.