Plus-size fashion model Jennie Runk isn’t just sitting pretty—she’s using her fame to promote positive body image in an essay she penned Wednesday for the BBC News. In the editorial, she urges women to stop worrying about their thighs and feel comfortable in their skin no matter what type of body they have, touching on her own awkward teenage years.
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Runk rose to prominence in early May when she was selected by clothing retailer H&M to model their new swimsuit line on the company homepage. For the campaign, the 24-year-old 5’10 beauty, who wears a dress size 14-16, traipsed on a beach wearing bikinis and one-piece swimsuits. The seemingly innocent photo series sent shockwaves around the Internet. First, H&M has a history of featuring toned models (Gisele is the company’s latest cover girl, replacing a bikini-clad Beyonce) so selecting Runk, of normal, healthy proportions, to model their new line was a refreshing departure. And second, unlike many companies who bury plus-size selections deep within their websites, H&M never once mentioned the word “plus-size” on the same page as the images of Runk (you have to click on the clothing samples to land in the plus-size section). The company message was clear: “Our model isn’t stick thin—so what?”