By Mary Alice Stephenson and Lindsey Coco for GLAM4GOOD
Why can’t having a healthy body be enough?
Katie Willcox asked that question after being both fat shamed and skinny shamed. The lowest point in the former plus size model’s career in the fashion industry was when she decided to get healthy. Willcox went from a being a very successful full figure, size-14 model to an out-of-work model at size 8.
Although Willcox was regularly working, she felt overweight and did not feel healthy. “I decided to get my body to a place where I did feel comfortable and healthy,” she explains. “It was a really difficult time because I have modeled professionally since I was 17 years old, and I worked hard to become a really good model — and all of a sudden I was now dismissed, which made me feel sad, useless and not good enough.”
Willcox created Healthy Is The New Skinny to show girls and women how to have a more realistic and balanced approach to fashion and beauty. She is on a mission to break the industry’s reliance on the unnatural, and often unhealthy, requirements for being a fashion model. In addition, Willcox hopes to empower people to see the beauty in all shapes and sizes. She strongly believes “the most valuable thing we have in life is our health, and that should be our focus. Health and happiness are the key to beauty and keeping the mind, body and soul in balance.” Healthy Is The New Skinny was born from Willcox’s negatives experiences in the modeling business and her belief that the media defines women and beauty in a very narrow way, which contributes to women being dissatisfied with their bodies and themselves. It is all fake, and that’s why I now try to show girls what real beauty is versus manufactured perfection.
Willcox says the worst part about working in the fashion industry is the competitive nature of models and agents.
Willcox also created Natural Model Management and says it’s “for models like me! We represent models of all sizes and most importantly the models must be kind, like-minded, positive people aside from being beautiful. We hope to see the industry move toward that mentality as well.”
GLAM4GOOD asked Willcox how she would like to see the fashion and beauty industry change: “I would love to see all types of models being used — all colors, sizes and ages. In life there is beauty all around us, but we teach people to only think that beauty is thin, tall and young. Sure that is beautiful as well, but so limiting.” Willcox thinks people in fashion are afraid to seem ordinary, and that is why they don’t like more realistic female bodies. “What they don’t understand is that healthy body shapes are not ordinary, they are inspiring,” she says. “When they figure that out, I think the public response will speak for itself.”