Monday 19 March 2018

Vicki Mooney

Vicki wears Jasper Conran dress, Debenhams, jewellery, Monsoon, belt and shoes, Penneys
Vicki wears Jasper Conran dress, Debenhams, jewellery, Monsoon, belt and shoes, Penneys

ALison O'Riordan


I'm a very curvy size 18. I never used to believe in myself because at one stage I was a size 32, weighing 28 stone. But I lost half my body weight and found enough confidence in my size-18 frame to enter a Miss Curvy Competition in 2010.

I came second behind Karen Forde, another stunning plus-size model. I was thrilled with coming second, but to receive calls from modelling agencies in the month that followed gave me the real boost I needed to embrace my body and curves even more.

I'm just like every other woman when it comes to the weighing scales: terrified if it's up and excited if I'm down a pound. Once I can stay healthy, active and fit into what's in my wardrobe, I'm happy.

I'd imagine being overweight is more unhealthy than being underweight due to the increased health risks that extra weight carries. However, in a perfect world we would all be the ideal BMI. It's far from a perfect world, though, and I believe being healthy in diet, as active as possible and having a positive mindset is a great place to be.

Unfortunately, with my extra lumps and bumps, a lot of the 'skinnier' stores don't cater above a size 14/16, so I do dress slightly different to the slimmer models. I wouldn't show off my tummy or the waistband of my trousers as I carry most of my weight there, but I can still dress as chic as the next chick.

As a fleshier model, I feel like an exception within the industry. I'm the largest model in Ireland, yet I represent a massive amount of women. However, I always feel as though there's a huge emphasis on 'plus models', be it on a catwalk or for a television slot. It's as though we're unique, when in fact we represent the average girl rocking the streets of Ireland.

Naturally, when you're stripping down to your underwear besides a naturally slender beauty like Holly Carpenter, it can be a little terrifying. My body isn't picture-perfect and I'm aware that I'm the biggest girl in the room, but that's just my own insecurities – other models pay no attention.

In the beginning, I was filled with fear at the thought of standing beside two perfect size-eight models, but it wasn't until one stunning, slimmer model told me she felt intimidated by me – by my presence, my hair, how I came across on television – that the fear subsided and I realised, beneath it all, women of all shapes and sizes have their own insecurities.

I definitely do not feel I am booked for as many fashion shows and photoshoots as skinnier models. I blame the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and his crude and negative comments about plus-size models for the lack of demand and not being taken as seriously.

I only know of approximately 20 plus models in Ireland compared with the hundreds of skinnies. One would imagine there's a lot more work for us, but between retailers favouring slimmer models and stylists who really cannot style a plus-size model, it's an uphill battle.

Two years ago, I felt there wasn't enough awareness among curvier ladies regarding which stores stock which sizes and where to find a belt for a larger waist. I found that there wasn't enough information for the curvier girl to find out how to dress for her shape or size.

So along with my curvy BFF, Anna Carroll-Browne, we wrote a book on fashion and styling for ladies of a size 14 plus. We used 15 different women ranging in sizes 14-26 and we styled them, photographed them and talked about how we did it in our book. It's called 'Curve-a-licious' and it's available in all good bookstores.

Irish Independent

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