What it Means to be a Woman: Re-writing Stereotypes │ Article

BRIDGE was born in objection to the idea that there is one single epitome of beauty we should all be reaching for, and our commitment lies in ensuring all body sizes, ethnicities, heritages, and backgrounds are seen in campaigns. Our aim is to continuously evolve to cater to more niche markets, and we are lucky enough to represent such a broad range of beauty through the progressive and exceptional models on our books. This International Women’s Day, we want to honour the inspirational women in the public-eye who are endorsing this message on a mass-scale, and using their platforms to promote a fairer representation of real people in mainstream media.

Bridge Model, Gayoung

The idea of what it means to be a woman has been ingrained in us from a young age, and with a significant weight on our physical appearance. We have been taught that to be feminine is to be soft and agreeable, and that our value is intrinsically linked to how we are perceived by others (i.e. how we look on the outside). We learn that the pinnacle of womanhood is to fit into the boxes patriarchy deems conventional and acceptable (young, slim, white etc.), and that we should be treated and exhibited according to how we rank on this desirability spectrum. These beliefs are both formed and mirrored back to us by the media… only those complying with the mould are fit to be appear on magazine covers and billboards, land leading roles in films, and be seen on our Instagram discovery page; a disservice to the depth and breadth of beauty in the real world. The pressure this creates for women (See: Barbie, Greta Gerwig) are unimaginable, and the effects can be evidenced all around us.

Although there is still work to be done to irradicate decades of these harmful messages, we are encouraged to see more and more women publicly advocating for continued positive change in this space, and using their own faces and bodies to challenge the narrative for future generations of women. By moving the goalpost of what it means to be beautiful, they are helping to carve out a space for faces and bodies of all types in fashion, and in the world at large.

Ashley Graham

Arguably one of the most iconic faces of plus-size fashion, Ashley Graham is known and loved across the world for her beautiful face, stunning curves, but mostly for her loud & proud confidence in all of the above. In 2016, she changed the name of the modelling game forever by becoming the first size 16 model to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated; a moment Glamour credits to “brining size acceptance into the mainstream”. The following year, she became the first plus-size model to cover American Vogue, and has been making noise for full-figured girls across the world ever since through TED Talks, book releases, lingerie lines, TV presenting, countless magazine covers and refreshing transparency on social media. She has moved mountains in her relentless advocacy of the body positivity and inclusion movement, and continues to use her own body as a tool to talk about taboo subjects, normalise stretch marks, cellulite and belly fat, and encourage women to “talk life into (their) body” with kind words of affirmation. What a woman!

Ashley Graham, Vogue Brasil

Pamela Anderson

Queen, legend, women of the moment. Over 30 years since her iconic debut as Baywatch Bombshell, Pamela Anderson still has the whole world talking. Our favourite 90’s ‘It’ girl is now 56, and reflects openly and candidly on her experience of life as a sex symbol, making reference to the “relief of getting older” in her recent documentary. Pamela uses her global platform to call out false capitalist claims, “anti-aging is a lie”, and took the media by a storm when she bit back with her bold decision to attend the Isabel Marant show make-up free at the latest Paris Fashion Week. This simple act made a powerful statement about the scrutiny women receive simply for having the audacity to get older in this world, and it’s a story that resonates with so many of us. Other celebrities going against the grain to embrace their evolving faces are Sarah Jessica Parker “What do you want me to do? Stop Ageing? Disappear?” and Julia Fox “ageing is in”. We approve this message.

Sophia Hadjipanteli

Greek Cypriot Model-turned-activist, anti-bullying ambassador, and mother of the #UnibrowMovement. When it comes to unconventional beauty, it doesn’t get more show-stopping than Sophia’s distinctive brow. Sophia initially gained public attention in 2017 and began appearing on the runway during London's Fashion week in 2020. Since then, she has featured in more than 50 publications worldwide including Vogue, Vanity Fair and Elle, inspiring generations of people across the world to celebrate who they are. Alongside modelling, Sophia has appeared on talk shows and has been involved in anti-bullying campaigns, sharing the inspirational story of how the subject of her bullying as a teenager lead to a booming career in her adult life. She is a role model to young girls across the world, and an example to us all of the doors that can open when we accept and embrace who we are, and learn to love what make us unique.

Precious Lee

Precious Lee, British Vogue

Precious Lee is an embodiment of what it means to be a proud black woman. Alongside her successful modelling career she acts, writes, and is a fierce advocate for race and size diversity across fashion. She is renowned for taking curve models from catalogue to the runway, and made history as the first plus-sized black women to appear in American Vogue in 2015 (a magazine she has since covered twice), walk for the Versace Spring Show of 2021, and work with longstanding fashion houses like Moschino and Fendi. In addition to magazines and catwalks, she has represented full-figured black women in music videos, TV shows and as a judge on project runway. She has dedicated her life to carving out a space for bodies of all types in high fashion, and has single-handedly changed the narrative of the industry for the better.

Florence Given

It’s Givennn… icon. Florence is a feminist social activist, self-love-sensation, podcast host, illustrator and record-breaking best-selling author of contemporary feminist book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (well said) and bisexual romantic fiction Girl Crush. She became a household name in the body positivity movement in 2018 when she launched a petition to cancel Netflix series Insatiable, which she accused of fat-shaming, and gained over 300,000 signatures of support. Since then, her bold attitude, infectious personality and relentless pursuit to advocate for body positivity, women’s mental health, racial inclusion, trans rights and queer identity has earned her multiple awards including Cosmopolitan's UK Influencer of the Year 2019, Her magazine’s Women of the year 2019 and Best Marketing Campaign at the 2022 British Podcast Awards. She dedicates her writing, social media platforms and hugely successful podcast ‘Exactly’ to spreading joy, positivity and self-love. She’s not shy of giving patriarchy the middle finger and in doing so offers a new perspective on how to view ourselves, those around us, and the world we live in.

These inspirational women are an example to all of us of the importance of embracing ourselves for everything we are. There is nothing more infectious or iconic than radical self-love, and this is especially true when the things we are celebrating are the very things the world has conditioned us to reject about ourselves. In our ongoing pursuit to be part of the continued change to promote diverse, healthy and positive role models for young girls, we hope to see continued change in the mainstream, too. The world needs more variety in the representations of beauty we are fed, and that starts with influential people and brands leading by example. It is our duty to revise the outdated and misogynistic messages that have been taught up until now, and fight for the future generation of women to grow up feeling like they belong in this world.

Bridge Models, Michelle and Bedi

Happy International Women’s Day to all the gorgeous, bold and authentic women out there. Your individuality is what makes the world a beautiful and interesting place to live.


Written by Rachel Pepper