Curvy model Candice Manuel. (Photography by DeeSquared)

The plus-size modelling industry is booming and curvy models around the world are taking centre stage on runway shows and magazine covers. Fierce model Candice Manuel shares her journey with us.

Can you tell us about your experience so far  as a model in South Africa?  

One incident jumps out. Ten  of us, plus-sizes  models were  booked for a huge fashion show. Upon arrival we noticed that fitting rooms were segregated and labelled as “Models” and next to it “Plus Size Ladies”. We were called in at different sessions and groups for Hair and Make-up, and we were only allowed to wear one designer's outfits which didn't  include swimwear even though we model swimwear as well. 
 
Yes, designers are incorporating curves into their shows, as let's face it, its trending and if you don't do it, you're behind the game. But I feel that it's still not as openly accepted and we are still not seen as models, merely “Plus Size Ladies” bearing in mind that we all get paid the same rates. 

Curvy model Candice Manuel walking for Ruff Tung at African Fashion International Fashion Week Cape Town (AFICTFW) . Pictures by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

 
How you handle and confront body-shaming ? 

Head on! I’m a proud coloured woman with lots to tell. Of course, I get the “oh you are plastering you fat a** over social media for attention” but there are so many “Thank you for inspiring me and making me feel so much more comfortable to love myself”  comments surpass the shade. I don't succumb to cyber bullying as I simply remember  why I started. 

Were you ever told you were ‘too fat’ to model? 

Yes, when faced with labels such as “fat”  at a young age, it's very difficult to understand self-worth or self-acceptance. This took its toll on my dream of wanting to be a model. As with age we get wiser. I started posting pictures on social media and realised that publicly I was been accepted and seen as beautiful, even though I had thought differently. 
 

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Selfi-sh ❤

A post shared by Candice Manuel (@candashian_cpt) on

Please tell us a little about your Embrace Your Curves movement?  

Embrace Your curves has blown up over the social media and has made a huge impact on how women feel about themselves. We aim to empower women by promoting body positivity regardless of shape or size. We've created something to break all barriers. As women, aside from societal expectations, it is also our own fears that get in our way of reaching our full capabilities. We need to step out of our own way and realise that we deserve and can achieve what we desire and more.

  We host quarterly charity drives where we do things such as  a sanitary towel drive with Girls With Wings foundation. And we have a weekly #WCW Women Crush Wednesday where we get someone to share her story to uplift and inspire other women.  

How would you inspire those around you to feel confident within themselves no matter their size, shape or colour?  

I do this by just living my life. I also do motivational talks at women’s events and schools and I post frequently on social media, showing that with my success in this industry and regardless of my size, weight or social economic background, I've prevailed and achieved so much. 
I always try to step out and prove that the size of my jeans will never define my happiness, my place in this world or my profession as a model. 
 
* Follow Candice on Instagram @candashian_cpt