Louise O’Reilly – (Irish Independent)

no repro fee if Arnotts mentioned in caption at the launch of the Arnotts Autumn Winter 2014 Lingerie Collections in their Henry St Store-photo Kieran Harnett Louise O'Reilly at the Arnotts Autumn Winter 2014 Lingerie Collections in their Henry St Store. Picture: Kieran Harnett
no repro fee if Arnotts mentioned in caption at the launch of the Arnotts Autumn Winter 2014 Lingerie Collections in their Henry St Store-photo Kieran Harnett Louise O’Reilly at the Arnotts Autumn Winter 2014 Lingerie Collections in their Henry St Store. Picture: Kieran Harnett
Original article: http://www.independent.ie/life/louise-oreilly-30638445.html

Model, body activist blogger with stylemecurvy.blogspot.ie

When I look in the mirror, I see a girl hoping to show others it’s OK to be different, neither inner or outer beauty can ever be defined by a dress size or a scale. I’m 25 now and very happy with my body, but I wasn’t always. That journey has become the epicentre of my work in modelling and blogging about body-positivity.

I’m a size 14/16, a plus-size model. At first, my agency pushed me as a ‘normal’ model. They would send me to castings along with all the other models, and I would hear, ‘Sorry, you’re way too big for us.’ It felt very rejecting at first, but I found that the harder I worked, the more doors opened for me.

I really had to prove myself – show them that size doesn’t come into it. Photographers who have never worked with bigger models began to book me, including Julian Marshall, who shoots for Vogue.

They all said the same thing: ‘Oh my god, you model just like a real model . . .’

People are astonished that I go to the gym and eat really healthily, as if the fact that I’m a size 14/16 must mean that I’m an unhealthy slob.

I was a lot bigger when I was younger. At one point I was a size 22, and I struggled a lot during my teenage years.

Anyone who has been bullied as a child will know that the school yard is a horrible place. I felt really bad about myself, and never had a boyfriend, because I thought, ‘Why would anyone want to be with me? I’m fat, I’m horrible.’

What changed everything for me was getting chronic fatigue syndrome when I was in my mid-teens. All I could do was sit there and think about the things I couldn’t do because I didn’t have the energy. Once I got better, I decided to just go for it. Even so, I would never have thought I could make a career like this for myself.

When I turned 18 and 19, I lost weight and became happy with my size. Since then, working as a model has given me great confidence. I know it’s an industry that has the reputation for doing the exact opposite, but for me the experience has been wonderful.

I am against body-shaming in any form. It is not OK to slag someone for being too thin, any more than it is to slag them for being too fat. I get nasty comments, mostly online: ‘You’re promoting obesity. . .’

I also get a lot of emails from young girls with eating disorders, looking for help. The blog has become my life. I find it very hard to distance myself from the emails that come in.

Everybody has flaws, and you cannot live your life being obsessed with what you think is wrong about you. I would never be where I am if I had continued to sit at home and worry about how people saw me.

Last week I did a lingerie show and I was the only woman who wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret-type model, and I did think for a moment, ‘Oh god, my legs are going to jiggle when I walk,’ but then, I got out there, and it was wonderful.

Learning to be confident with the way you look is about finding your best qualities and embracing them. It won’t happen overnight, you really have to work at it – and doing that is not narcissism, it’s really important.

Sunday Independent

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