At the early stages of putting together our Body Positive campaign, we happened to hear an inspirational woman speaking on Today FM’s Dermot & Dave show. That woman was Leanne Hynes, plus size model and winner of Ireland’s Top Model, curvy category.

 

With a warm personality and an incredibly strong Body Image, we were keen to chat to Leanne a bit more, and as soon as she knew what our campaign was about, she was on board!

 

Growing up, were you body confident? 

Thankfully I was too busy being young and enjoying life to even have the concept of body confidence let alone allowing it to  occupy my mind. I appreciate times were a little different back then.

However, I was always involved in playing sports and competed both nationally and internationally in Athletics. I had a very active life in my younger years and always focused my thoughts and energy into positive things and hobbies I had an interest in. 

For me it is very important to surround yourself with the right people; those who support, encourage and allow you to feel that anything in life is possible. I feel this belief system has guided me well and has contributed greatly to shaping the person I am today.

 

What made you decide to start modelling?

I suppose I kind of fell into modelling after a bootcamp I attended. The only reason I went was to meet new people but there were also ladies there who wanted to build up their confidence. Modelling was a huge bonus. It’s funny, sometimes in life the things you don’t go looking for seem to find you if it is meant for you.

As my Mam always says ‘What’s for you won’t pass you!‘ I think that’s a favourite saying of Irish mammys, but I have to say they are right!

 

You’ve spoken about the modelling industry slowly becoming more accepting of plus sized models, but who do you think is shaping the industry? The designers or the consumers?

I need to reiterate SLOWLY. It is definitely an ongoing issue in the industry. I think it’s a little bit of both. However, when I was over in London I was speaking to a fashion designer who told me that she had designed “plus size” clothing for her finals at college. I thought, ‘Fantastic! This is a massive shift in the industry, brilliant…’

But then she went on to tell me that she had to find and pay for her own models, and for their hair and makeup, because only “normal models” were available to the students. Needless to say I was not only appalled but disgusted by this story.

I literally couldn’t believe this was the attitude of a college which places itself at the origin, foundation and beginning of designer’s careers. If this is the attitude at that early stage sure what hope do we have in moving forward?

How do you feel about the label “plus size”?

don’t think any labels should exist in this industry because it lends itself to exclusion. Why should anyone in this day and age have a label, irrespective of size? Look at the world we are living in and all the diversity that we have embraced.

How can a person be defined by a label and have that label limit their dreams and passions? It is toxic… 

My life is defined by my experiences and my journey, not by labels. 

 

What do you think about clothes sizing now? Does it reflect true measurements or does that matter?

It doesn’t matter. If the tag at the back of your trousers or dress says 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, sure who is going to know? As long as it looks good and you feel great!

 

What’s the one important message you would like to get across to people?

When you have those days where you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, you need to say to yourself  ‘Thank God I am normal‘.  Every person in this world is overcome by some insecurity or another. I myself have never met Perfect; I don’t know who he/she is.

I look at myself and I build upon the things that I have in life – the things that I am happy with. We all have days when we look or feel bad, and we all have days that we look and feel great.  

It’s about having a mindset of not fixating on the negative aspects in our lives, because if we do it’s very hard to see any good in the world, let alone see good in yourself. 

Again it goes back to the power and influence of our own minds. For me it’s about working towards accepting who and what you are. If you take this approach the world will look like a very different place and reward you with a life that knows no bounds.

It’s a constant journey and my advice; try not get too lost along the way. Stick to the roads with signpost, directions and guidance and you will get there.

 

You can follow Leanne’s journey over on Instagram