Vicki Mooney: I lost 14 stone and opened Ireland's first plus size modelling agency
The first time Vicki Mooney was confronted with her weight, she was aged 17, in a nightclub.
“I had gone out dancing and a boy came over to me. I thought he was going to ask me out, but his friends had dared him”.
“Then he said ‘sorry love, but you’re the chubby one, we were just having a bit of craic’”.
Vicki was morbidly obese and a compulsive eater before she took control of her health, and has since gone on to establish Ireland’s first plus size modelling agency.
Having reached a size 32, she was given a lifeline by the Health Service Executive- a gastric bypass surgery, whereby her stomach was effectively stapled.
After the procedure, Vicki went on to lose an incredible 14 stone and pursued a career in styling and modelling thanks to her new found confidence and joie de vivre.
Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ’s 2FM today, Vicki talked about her lifelong battle with food and her body, and how she is on a mission to instill confidence in women of all shapes and sizes.
Research shows that over 40% of Irish women wear a size 14 or larger.
To ensure the female population was being adequately represented, Vicki made the decision to start her own modelling agency to promote curvaceous women:
“People want to see what their clothes are going to look like on them. We need models that are more realistic.”
V+ models has 24 models on their books, and will celebrate its official launch this Friday in the Mansion House, Dublin.
The models range from a size 12 upwards, and Vicki insists:
“Size 6, size 16 or 26; it doesn't make any difference, you're still a real woman.”
Vicki, who has also co-wrote the book Curve-A-Licious, spoke about the tribulations of ‘fat shaming’:
“The word obese is quite a harsh word. But we have to face the reality, which is that there is an epidemic with obesity in the world, and it has to be met head on”.
“Unfortunately the fashion industry dictates that if you're a size 12 or upwards-you are plus size”.
“It breaks my heart, we have girls on our books who are size 12 or 14 and they’ve the most amazing bodies-perfect BMIs.. and you wonder, what does that do to a mentality of a 12 or 13 year old girl who is that size”.
Due to HSE cuts, the operation that Vicki was able to avail of is no longer offered to morbidly obese patients.
The mum of three calls this a “death sentence”, as some people will not make it to next year without intervention:
“Food is definitely an addiction, and obesity has been recognised as a disease. There is a need within this country for the government to look after people who need help”.
Vicki is adamant that mental health played a big part in her chronic dependence on food growing up.
“Not knowing how to deal with a panic, I went straight for food”
“If you put on a pound a month, every month, every year, you go up a stone every year”
“One time, I ate seven Mars ice cream bars within 15 minutes because I was so upset.. it was my comfort blanket, it was my go-to, my fix”.
The first time she was told she was overweight, she was 17 years old in a nightclub.
After her life changing surgery in 2005, Vicki made it her goal to inspire as many people as possible.
The self-confessed chocoholic is determined to help every woman on their own journey to self-love and a healthy body image.
Tickets for The Role Model Show are €25 and are available from www.vplusmodels.com