Alright, let me be honest here, I’m not entirely comfortable with the term “plus-size models.” To me, it seems like we’re still indirectly discriminating based on body size, however it’s now a widely accepted term everywhere in most articles and even in the bio of many influencers. I’m not a fan, but let’s press on—perhaps you don’t share my sentiment.
One undeniable fact is that, in the past, plus-size women were largely excluded from the fashion industry. Today, however, strengthened by positive messaging from social media, an increasing number of brands are expanding their size ranges. The presence of plus-size models in their campaigns has also become more noticeable.
The swimwear industry is no exception.
From Ashley Graham to Kate Wasley and Barbie Ferreira, there are numerous stimulating examples of women who openly display their bodies with confidence and refuse to be persuaded by society’s sometimes narrow notion of beauty.
Whether walking on the runway, posing for a magazine cover, featuring in a swimwear campaign, or sharing snippets of their life on Instagram or TikTok, these women are inspiring others to love and accept their bodies as they are.
One last clarification: this article is not intended to be a ranking or a selection of the most famous influencers or curvy models. There are countless examples of courageous women who fight against discriminatory beauty standards every day, and dedicating an entire website to them wouldn't be enough. The twenty names we suggest are just the tip of an iceberg that, fortunately, is increasingly emerging.
Ashley Graham is undoubtedly one of the world's most recognized plus-size bikini models. She made history by becoming the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2016. With over 21 million followers on Instagram, she uses her platform to promote self-acceptance and body positivity. Ashley has worked with major brands such as Swimsuits For All and designs her own size-inclusive lingerie.
Parisxhk, a gamer, model, and content creator from the UK, may not be as well-known as Ashley Graham, but she certainly has an impressive presence online, boasting over 258K followers on Instagram. Her profile really intrigued me. She skillfully blends her roles as a fashion influencer and online gamer, exuding a remarkable level of enthusiasm while proudly showcasing her body. Her potent combination of style and self-confidence is truly inspiring.
Raeann Langas is a positivity influencer, co-founder of The Confident Collective, and host of the podcast with the same name.
Raeann and Kristina Zias have recently launched The Confident Collective, a community and podcast that encourages individuals to embrace their confidence. With a focus on various topics like body positivity, skincare, and lifestyle habits, they aim to inspire and empower their audience. Raeann, who has a strong Instagram following of over 220K, frequently shares her love for travel and fashion with her followers.
Denise Marie Bidot
Presenting Denise Bidot is straightforward: she made history as the first plus-size model to grace the runway for two regular-size brands at New York Fashion Week in 2014.
She recently admitted to Yahoo, "I'm curvy. I'm petite and I'm Latina. I never envisioned myself as a model", yet she persists in challenging our conventional beauty standards, even in 2023.
She noted, "That's why I do what I do. And I continue to talk about it. Because we're in 2023, and we're still fighting this narrative that people have given us of this 'one thing' is what's beautiful".
Bidot has appeared in numerous renowned magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, and Elle.
In 2015 she confidently went unedited in a video campaign for Swimsuits for All, proudly displaying her cellulite and stretch marks.
As a passionate advocate for body positivity, I am truly grateful for Marie Bidot's message and her uncompromising dedication to spreading this message. She leaves no stone unturned in her efforts to promote self-acceptance, and I am deeply inspired by her commitment to making a difference. Bidot's work serves as a constant reminder of the importance of embracing our unique selves and valuing our bodies just as they are.
Another influential and well-known personality in the body positivity movement is Iskra Lawrence (more than 5 million followers on Instagram!). As a plus-size model and advocate for self-love, she emphasizes the importance of embracing imperfections and recognizing one's worth beyond physical appearance. Iskra actively rejects retouching in her photoshoots to promote authentic representation of women.
Candice Huffine, a model and dedicated activist for body positivity, has made a profound mark in the fashion industry. In 2011, she achieved a groundbreaking milestone alongside Tara Lynn and Robin Lawley (more about her below...) when they graced the cover of Vogue Italia, captured by the iconic Steven Meisel.
With an Instagram following of over 260K, Candice is renowned for her unwavering advocacy for body positivity and size inclusivity within the fashion world. Beyond her stunning looks, Candice's stubborn determination has opened doors for greater diversity and inclusion. In addition to her accomplishments in the industry, she is also an enthusiastic runner who has conquered several marathons, showcasing her strength and resilience both on and off the runway.
I am greatly drawn to Fluvia Lacerda, whether it is because of her Brazilian heritage, her vibrant and colorful fashion sense, or the lively and inspiring lifestyle that she portrays through her posts. Honestly, I'm not quite sure why, but her Instagram feed captivates and inspires me.
She has gained a significant following on social media, with 372K followers on Instagram. Fluvia is known for her fashion sense and has been featured in various high-profile fashion campaigns.
She is also an author and has written a book titled "Gorda Não é Palavrão" (Fat is Not a Bad Word), which aims to promote body positivity and self-love.
Marquita Pring is a model and body positivity activist from New York. Marquita has been featured in various high-profile fashion campaigns and has walked the runway for designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier. She has also been featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue multiple times, including the current 2023 issue.
Marquita is known for her advocacy for body positivity and size inclusivity in the fashion industry. She has spoken on various platforms about the importance of embracing one's body and promoting inclusivity in the fashion industry.
Robyn Lawley, like Graham, is a well-established name in the plus-size modeling industry. As we have already seen, she gained significant recognition for being part of the historic Vogue Italia cover shoot in 2011, alongside fellow curvy models Tara Lynn and Candice Huffine.
Also, Lawley also made history as Ralph Lauren's first-ever plus-size model. Her accomplishments didn't stop there, as she made her debut as a rookie in the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (yes! ... one year before Ashley Graham's cover). Her groundbreaking achievements undoubtedly deserve recognition for breaking barriers and promoting inclusivity in the fashion industry.
Jennie (Jade) Runk is an American plus-size model who gained recognition after appearing in H&M's Summer 2013 beachwear campaign. She is known for her advocacy for body positivity and her support for the LGBTQIA+ community.
A few months ago, Jennie shared a post that I found quite amusing. As you may know, we have an entire article dedicated to "The Art of Tying Your Triangle Bikini Top," which offers even more inspiration for creating your own unique style.
Alessandra Garcia Lorido
"I know! I know! Just let me live! 🙈" was the caption for this beautiful post a couple of years ago.
Alessandra Garcia Lorido, the daughter of Andy Garcia, grew up in a world that for a long time created and perpetuated beauty standards tied to predefined norms. I really enjoyed this post, although honestly, I'm not sure if my interpretation of connecting it to a shout for freedom against body shaming was Alessandra's intention. What I do know is that her feed is an ongoing discovery, and I invite you to follow her.
Alessandra Garcia Lorido is a model, actress, and body positivity advocate. In addition to her modeling and acting career, Alessandra is passionate about cooking and has expressed that cooking is an expression of body positivity for her.
When considering black women who have fearlessly battled against racism and discrimination in the context of beauty standards, notable examples like Lizzo, Kali Uchis, and Paloma Elsesser instantly come to mind. While all of these remarkable women deserve recognition in this brief blog, I have chosen to focus on Precious Lee and her exceptional fashion style, as well as the powerful personal message she conveys.
Precious Lee is a model, actress, writer, and advocate for race and size diversity across fashion. She has made history as the first Black plus-size model to appear in Vogue and in Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue.
About two years ago, in an interview with W magazine responding to a question: "What’s the one question you’re tired of answering?" she said:
“‘How did you become so confident?‘ To me, that question is like... wait a minute, how are you so happy and going for it? You’re not worried about people judging you?... It feels like you’re saying it was so impossible to think of it happening. I think that question is loaded. Another one is: ‘How do you feel about being called plus?‘ I don’t really like answering that, but I continue to answer it because I know we’re in a pioneering situation; it’s new."
Honestly, before embarking on research for this post, I was not familiar with Chloe Marshall. A friend of mine recommended her, and I'm glad that I discovered her. Her Instagram feed is truly remarkable, especially when it comes to her choices in swimwear. I admire her captivating style, which has a certain understated elegance, a complete contrast to Precious Lee's bold style that we just saw.
Beary Becca is a Dominican-Cuban plus and mid-size fashion and lifestyle agent, as well as a curve model. Beary Becca's YouTube channel features a variety of videos, including curvy girl fashion, vlogs, and sit-down talks about self-love and fitness. She has a significant following on social media, with 211K subscribers on her YouTube channel and 400K on her Instagram account.
Bree Kish is a 21-year-old plus-size model, actress, and social media influencer from Orange County. She discovered her passion for modeling at the age of 14 and has since made a name for herself in the industry.
Bree has modeled for various brands, including Frankies Bikini, and has appeared in high-profile fashion campaigns. She is also an actress and has appeared in the TV show "Euphoria".
Tess Holliday is certainly one of the most recognized figures in the body positivity movement.
With her motto, "Eff Your Beauty Standards," Tess Holliday has become an influential figure in the body positivity movement. She believes that beauty is not confined to a specific size and challenges societal norms through her empowering Instagram account, where she shares unapologetic images of her body and spreads messages of self-love.
Over 2.5 million people follow her on Instagram, and you?
Barbie Ferreira is an American model, actress, and social media influencer known for her advocacy for body positivity and self-love. Barbie has a significant following on social media, with 5.6 million followers on Instagram.
She is best known for her role as Kat Hernandez in the HBO series Euphoria, where she played the best friend of Maddie and Cassie.
She is known for her complicated relationship with body positivity and has spoken on various platforms about the importance of embracing one's body and promoting inclusivity in the fashion industry.
Sarah Nicole Landry
Sarah Nicole Landry advocates for body positivity as a mother of four. Through her personal journey, she demonstrates that embracing a positive body image is an ongoing process. Landry invites her followers to join her as she shares her own journey of self-love, even after giving birth to four children.
She often showcases her stretch marks and encourages women and fellow mothers to dismiss negative comments, especially those that originate from within their own minds.
Ali Tate Cutler is a Texas-based plus-size model, podcast host, and health coach. She has modeled for various brands, including Victoria's Secret (the first ever plus-size model), and has been featured in high-profile fashion campaigns.
She has recently launched "unf*ckwithable", a mental coaching service aimed at helping individuals release and let go of negative elements that are no longer beneficial or helpful in their lives.
Dana (Isabella) Patterson is a plus-size influencer who has gained attention for her advocacy work in the fashion and beauty industry.
Dana is known for her body positivity and encourages her followers to embrace their curves. She has a strong social media presence and uses her platform to promote inclusive fashion and beauty brands.
Her posts feature positive messages and bikini pics all curvy girls can look up to.
I enjoyed writing this article, and I must say that in the past 10 years, something has truly changed in the swimwear world. While there is still much work to be done, thanks to the contributions of these women, the notion of beauty is no longer confined to predefined standards.
The point is now clear: beauty comes from within you and how your unique personality chooses to express itself outwardly.
However, I don't want to bore you further with my reflections on this matter, so I'll leave you with four posts from another incredible personality in this field, Kate Wasley.
See you soon.