Why I wish I saw more models like me growing up | Paige Pilgrim | Open Letter
February 8, 2023 • • Paige Pilgrim
Why I wish I saw more models like me growing up
An Open Letter by Paige Pilgrim
I’ve always been a sucker for fashion magazines, editorial campaigns and supermodel glamour and I idolised the supermodels and Victoria’s Secret Angels. Thin was all I saw. All each one of us saw.
Growing up in the Noughties around extreme photoshop, diet culture, heroin chic and ‘train like an angel’ was, let’s just say, a car crash for most teenage girls. All we saw was edited, thin beauty and we were told that was what we needed to aspire to.
For as long as I can remember I hated my body. My intrusive thoughts for most of any given day between the ages of 8 and 25 was how much I hated myself and what I would give to be able to alter it.
It’s no secret that the way women's bodies have been idolised and portrayed to us has caused no end of disordered eating issues for young women and men.
I was always pretty small, sporty and athletic as a child, but I remember the exact moment I first thought I was fat. I was 8 years old. 8.
Think about how this internal narrative would have been different if we had seen normal bodies, unedited bodies, bodies with natural curves on our magazine covers?
Looking back to how I felt as a teenager, 90% of the time I was thinking about my body, my weight, what I looked like, what I couldn’t and shouldn’t eat.
I had stick thin models plastered all over my walls, as my phone background, quotes from supermodels about food doesn’t taste as good as… we all know the one.
When I hit puberty and got boobs I felt like the world had ended. I had a small frame, a big chest and I spent the next 10 years of my life trying to hide them and wishing I’d never been blessed with a chest.
I remember thinking about how I never saw any women with bigger natural chests as models, even for brands that were specifically for a fuller bust. I remember thinking these companies should be showing women who actually use these products.
As a model, working in the fashion industry, seeing myself on the websites and advertisements of companies I’ve shopped at for years, I often have to have a ‘pinch me’ moment.
I know, younger me would have loved to see my body shape shown on a model, on the websites I regularly shopped on and in the shops I went into with my mum.
Seeing a model with a body similar to mine would have altered the way I thought about my curves.
It would have been a breakthrough moment of realisation that my body was normal; that all bodies are something to be celebrated and not to be hidden just because you didn’t fit the stereotype of stick thin.
It is a huge step forward in the fashion industry that models of all shapes and sizes are now beginning to be used by the bigger companies and the effect it's having on body positivity in younger women and the women of my generation is long overdue.
Working as a fuller bust model means everything to me. It’s been a long journey of body acceptance for me personally but I’ve found it. I’m doing it for the teenage me. I’m doing it for the girls who never saw themselves represented.
I’m doing it for the incredible women who message me and tell me they had the confidence to wear that top because they saw it on me and thought if she can wear it so can I.
We want to see all bodies, every body on display and made to feel like we are enough.
You can find out more about Paige and her work here