Rebel With a cause
In the age of the internet, it’s become impossible to escape the constant barrage of perfectly airbrushed images in ads, magazines, and billboards. As a woman, these often serve as a reminder that normative beauty standards frequently make us feel like we are not good enough. Not tall enough, sexy enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough, young enough, feminine enough, charming enough, sweet enough, and the list goes on. However, there’s power in nonconformity.
‘We all have insecurities…that’s how society makes us feel,’ says Charli Howard. The British model first made headlines about a year and a half ago, through an impassioned Facebook post calling out these unrealistic expectations.
Mission Magazine met with Charli to see where she is today and hear about her latest initiative, the All Women Project. ‘I never felt sexy,’ she says, recalling her earlier modeling days. Since that breaking point, Charli tells us she spent some time soul-searching, ditched London for New York, and found a new home at Muse Models. ‘So much has happened and there’s been so much change in the industry…complete change in diversity and so many models have spoken out about this.’
However, there is still a long road ahead when it comes to adding more diversity to the modeling and fashion industries. Charli thinks that part of this is a vestige from the Nineties, when the ‘heroin chic’ look was made famous by Kate Moss. Since then, agencies and some fashion houses are still chasing that look and compete to have ‘the most shocking girls on the catwalk’.
At the moment, Charli is between categories since at a US 6-8 she’s not quite a straight model and not quite a plus-sized model. However, she feels ‘positive’ about categories this and still working on many campaigns, because it means that the industry is becoming more accepting of different body types and multiple representations of beauty. Charli thinks that social media has played a big role in accelerating this shift. ‘People aren’t aware of how influential their opinion can be.’ She encourages young women to ‘speak up’ and use platforms like Twitter and Instagram to voice their thoughts on images being displayed in the media concerns when models look unhealthy, as well as approval when a campaign or brand gets it right.
On a more personal note, Charli shares that she looks up to models like Crystal Renn, who seamlessly have gone between the traditional modeling ‘categories’ and carved out their own niche. ‘She really inspired me to embrace my shape.’ Charli feels that in the fashion industry, there seems to be a separation between what is sexy versus what is edgy and cool. So in a way, non-traditional models can get pigeonholed. She adds, that ‘a major problem is that a lot of the images and campaigns coming from body positive brands look really DIY’. This is what eventually led Charli and Clementine Desseaux to start the All Woman Project. Through their most recent collaboration with Aerie, the campaign received over 350 million media impressions and included women of all ages, all sizes, all colors, and all body types. Charli proudly says, ‘It is possible to have diversity and make it [both] high-end and fashionable.’
White cotton shirt by Mr. Larkin