Plus-Size Model Jennie Runk: “There’s no need to glamorise one body type and slam another”

At request, here’s plus-size beauty Jennie Runk, a size 14 beauty who models (in bikinis) for H&M – Jennie, who is 5’10” and measures 36D-31-44, recently wrote an essay that has been published on the BBC site where she shares her views on body image and promotes body acceptance and diversity. Unlike other celebrities, who seem to think that beauty only comes in one type of package, Jennie thinks that the hatred towards any body type needs to stop:

I had no idea that my H&M beachwear campaign would receive so much publicity. I’m the quiet type who reads books, plays video games, and might be a little too obsessed with her cat.

So, suddenly having a large amount of publicity was an awkward surprise at first. I found it strange that people made such a fuss about how my body looks in a bikini, since I don’t usually give it much thought.

When my Facebook fan page gained about 2,000 new likes in 24 hours, I decided to use the attention as an opportunity to make the world a little nicer by promoting confidence. I’ve since been receiving lots of messages from fans, expressing gratitude.

Some even told me that my confidence has inspired them to try on a bikini for the first time in years. This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to accomplish, showing women that it’s OK to be confident even if you’re not the popular notion of “perfect.”

This message is especially important for teenage girls. Being a teenage girl is incredibly difficult. They need all the help and support they can get.

When our bodies change and we all start to look totally different, we simultaneously begin feeling pressured to look exactly the same. This is an impossible goal to achieve and I wish I had known that when I was 13. At 5ft 9in and a US size eight (usually either a UK 10 or 12), I envied the girls whose boyfriends could pick them up and carry them on their shoulders.

Gym class was a nightmare. While the thin girls were wearing shorts, I was wearing sweat pants because my thighs were the size of their waists, and those pants were embarrassingly short because I was taller than the average adult, but still shopped at (pre-teen clothing store) Limited Too.

I also had thick, curly hair that only drew more attention to me, hiding behind my braces and beige, wire-rimmed glasses. On top of all this I’ve always been rather clumsy, so to say that my adolescence was awkward is an understatement.

Having finally survived it, I feel compelled to show girls who are going through the same thing that it’s acceptable to be different. You will grow out of this awkwardness fabulously. Just focus on being the best possible version of yourself and quit worrying about your thighs, there’s nothing wrong with them.

After all, I never thought of myself as model material but then I was discovered at a Petsmart, while volunteering in my too-short sweat pants no less.

I was given the option to lose weight and try to maintain a size four (a UK six or eight), or to gain a little – maintain a size 10 (a UK 12 or 14) – and start a career as a plus-size model. I knew my body was never meant to be a size four, so I went with plus.

People assume “plus” equates to fat, which in turn equates to ugly. This is completely absurd because many women who are considered plus-sized are actually in line with the American national average, or a US size 12/14 (somewhere between a UK size 14-18).

I can’t argue that some styles look better on one size than another.

While the idea of separating women into size categories seems stigmatising, clothing companies do this in order to offer their customers exactly what they’re looking for, making it easier for people of all sizes to find clothes that fit their bodies as well as their own unique stylistic expression.

The only problem is the negative connotations that remain stubbornly attached to the term “plus-size”. There shouldn’t be anything negative about being the same size as the average American woman, or even being a little bigger. Some women are perfectly healthy at a size 16 (a UK 18 or 20).

There are also negative connotations associated with thinness. Just as bigger women get called fat or chunky, thin women get called gangly or bony.

There’s no need to glamorise one body type and slam another. We need to stop this absurd hatred towards bodies for being different sizes. It doesn’t help anyone and it’s getting old.

What do you all think of Jennie’s message?


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53 thoughts on “Plus-Size Model Jennie Runk: “There’s no need to glamorise one body type and slam another””

  1. Meh, I’ll usually “slam” anyone that doesn’t appear to take good care of themselves, whether bony or flabby. Fit should always be “glamorized”.

    Preemptively rme at “you can be thin/fat and still fit” comments. Yes, but it’s short-lived and the other shoe will drop in your 30s or early 40s. nhft

    • Fit doesn’t always equal healthy. There are lots of people who aren’t perfectly fit but are perfectly healthy, unhealthy fit people, people who don’t like to work out and develop mental issues because of the pressure to work out and look fit, even people who work out regularly and eat healthy and still look soft. It’s true that regular and sufficient cardiovascular activity and a low fat moderate diet are associated with a healthy heart, but that’s all. I don’t think that a well balanced, slightly over or underweight organism is less healthy (and therefore, not deserving glamorization) than an fit one, only for the fact that it’s fit..

    • “Meh, I’ll usually “slam” anyone that doesn’t appear to take good care of themselves, whether bony or flabby.”

      But that’s the problem. It’s none of your business. Unless you are that person’s doctor its none of their business. If they want to look unkempt or unhealthy that’s their prerogative.

      • True that… It’s so unfortunate when people think it is their ‘right’ to comment on women’s bodies. Mind your own beeswax and frankly, maybe find some more to do in your own life, you will find you do not care what other people’s bodies look like (unless it is for concern for a close loved one).

      • Agree, but that does not apply to the woman above or models, whose whole career is based off their looks…not expecting people to critique them is ridiculous…

  2. when i first read this last week, it really bothered me that her options were to either gain or lose weight….what was wrong with the weight she was already at? smh

    anyway, her message is a good one but if you explore a bit you’ll start to notice that the people who do just that are usually those who are insecure with themselves. “she can’t look like that and be attractive because i look like this and people think i’m attractive” and so on. most confident people don’t feel the need to verbally flaunt themselves.

    a lot of bigger women like slogans like “only dogs like bones” etc to rag on thin women not because they legitimately think they are better than them, but because they think saying that will make them believe it’s true. then of course, there are those few people who really do need to get over themselves. just like thin women might say things like “thin is in” to defend themselves against speculation that they are too skinny. like i said, it’s a nice sentiment, and i do wish more people would behave accordingly, but there’s more to it than just “don’t do that–it’s not nice”.

    i’m gonna be a little bit cynical in saying i can’t wait to come back and read certain people’s comments expressing wholehearted agreement with Jennie’s comments when they do exactly that on this website on a regular basis.

    • Yes. I also don’t understand why the option is to either gain or lose. What’s wrong with being in between, and maybe even “average” or “normal”? I feel like the fashion and entertainment industry has created a false dichotomy between skinny and fat, as if there is nothing in between. it is so pervasive that I see it all the time in the comments section of this site (and others). Whenever a celeb does not fit the mold of skinny, they are immediately labeled as “fat”. In reality, most people are probably “naturally” in between skinny and fat, but these days it’s like you have to be one or the other.

  3. I think there’s a difference between preferring a body type and calling all other types ugly. Fashion designers prefer thin and tall models and so do I. I don’t see any issue with that. I hear people claim how thin models aren’t good for self esteem, but most those people don’t even follow fashion. High fashion models aren’t as famous or exposed as the celebs we see on this site who are mostly a normal weight. There seems to be this myth that Hollywood is projecting this ideal, but what about beyonce, jlo, Christina Hendricks, Vanessa hudgins, jennifer love, Christina aguilera, Adele, Kim k, etc etc. Most celebrities are NOT thin.

  4. ” I envied the girls whose boyfriends could pick them up and carry them on their shoulders.”

    lol, why is this a thing? I used to see it all over livejournal. Girls wanted to lose weight for summer so boys could throw them in the pool. YAY SPONTANEOUS DROWNING MEANS I’M HAWT

    • Hahahahaha.

      I guess its all about that weird thing about a girl being fragile and needy and a guy being all macho, big , dominating and protective. I have no clue xD

    • well in all honestly, what woman WOULDN’T want to be light enough to have a man throw them on their shoulders…not saying its something to loose sleep over, but I would be embarrassed if a guy couldn’t lift me up…

        • oh please, you are taking this comment to the extreme…what an ignorant thing to say…if you are ok with being fat and wouldn’t want your husband to carry you through the door on your honeymoon thats on you, but just because I find it sexy to have a big strong man be able to lift me up certainly DOES NOT mean i want to be raped or kidnapped.

          • Um…Obviously I wasn’t implying that a woman wanting her husband to be able to pick her up secretly wants to be kidnapped and raped. Noone would actually come to that conclusion? I thought the sarcasm in my response was clear.
            Not trying to change your fancy fantasies about being light as a feather, personally I’ve never bothered thinking a lot about this issue. I guess I’d be fairly surprised if a guy couldn’t pick me up, but I’m not too fond of the idea that I’m physically weaker than pretty much every male, despite exercising almost every day of the week. Don’t like to feel like a cute little kitten, waiting to be rescued, but that’s just me.

          • @Mara. No not ANYONE can conclude you were being sarcastic from the one tasteless sentence you typed…it is in very poor taste and low class to even mention something like rape or kidnapping (which is a horrendous experience for the victim) when I simply said I would want a man to be able to pick me up. i dont feel the need to be a “cute kitten” either, in fact if you every read any of my posts you would know that I am a gym rat and can squat over 180 pounds (not bad for a female who weights 115) I guarantee I’m stronger than you, but sure, imply that im a cute kitten. Ignorant.

          • I feel you’re taking this way to serious. A while back there were shirts reading “fat kids are harder to kidnap”. That’s where my sentence came from.
            Everyone is offended by different things, so I’ll just say, I think there are far more insensitive ways of bringing up rape in an argument and some of them are socially accepted. And don’t tell me about the pain of the victims without knowing my personal background.
            Also I didn’t imply you were a kitten. I was more generally mocking girls feeling the need to be light and fragile little things, which is evidently what many of the thinspo fans strive for (not saying it’s what YOU are striving for, though that was my first impression). This female obsession with physical inferiority bothers and confuses me. That’s all.

      • Why not be embarrassed *for* the guy who can’t pick you up?! Some men are small and can’t carry their bigger girlfriends! Some women can pick their men up easily – is that embarrassing?! 🙂
        It’s a nice fantasy I guess most women have to be carried up the stairs to bed or something, but it’s hardly a big deal if you’re either too heavy to be comfortably carried by most men, or your guy is not strong enough to carry you! It could be embarrassing both ways – or it could be way down the list of things to be embarrassed about!

        • lol well imo it would be equally embarrassing for the man if he was unable to pick up his woman…nothing at all embarrassing about a woman being able to pick up her man, that is very impressive. overall Its NOT a big deal, which is why I stated I wouldn’t lose sleep over it, and certainly doesn’t imply a woman needs to be stick thin or frail in order to be lifted up…that is just silly. I just find it so sexy when my man picks me up in one arm because I know how strong and protecting he is…much better than a weak loser who can’t defend me.

        • My boyfriend is the same weight as me and somehow manages to pick me up. I don’t get it!
          I also hate it and start hitting him until he puts me down hahaha. Feels unsafe!

    • Those girls always seem insecure and honestly stupid to me. Those thinspo blogs don’t so much strike me as worrying as they do immature and dumb. Being able to be picked up is a pretty stupid goal. Why is being weak and “fragile” a goal? That doesn’t sound like a healthy mindset to me.

    • Hahah! Thank you for this!! I have always secretly fretted that at 6 foot, even though not big, I am too much of a giant to pick up. So when dudes have tried, I freak out and will do anything to avoid it incase they fail miserably and I’m exposed as a beastly big beast woman, e.g. sit down, bite.

      Thanks for pointing out how COMPLETELY FRIGGING RIDICULOUS this obsession of mine has been! Seriously, why does it even matter?! Hahah. Excellent work.

  5. The girl is pretty, her body is nice, and doesn’t look unhealthy to me, seems more like she’s on the heaviest end of her body’s “healthy weight spectrum”.
    I agree with her last words, though its not just the weight shaming its “body shaming” in general that we should stop. Also i think that when it comes to weight issues what we should stress and talk about more is “health” rather than aesthetically pleasing and more socially liked “type of body”, cos the key thing is ur body is what carries you daily, its what gives you the ability to do so many things you need, want and love, so even if you hate the way it looks and can’t succeed at accepting it this way or changing anything about it at least always remember the above and express some respect and gratitude to “the vessel of your soul” that works so much and so hard for you….after all you get whatever you work for by the end of the day, is it knowledge or money or smth else, why not “paying ur body” for the work it does by treating it nicely.

  6. I think it is a really smart statement. And I totally agree with her. Preferring one body size over another does not mean we get to be mean or take others down.

  7. “There shouldn’t be anything negative about being the same size as the average American woman, or even being a little bigger. ” The average american woman is at an unhealthy weight, almost all doctors would agree on this. If the average woman from X-country was medically underweight would that no longer be a negative because it would be the most common?
    I’ve heard on this site the occasional crazy comment like “plus sized models shouldn’t be allowed because they;re supporting an unhealthy lifestyle” (paraphrasing here) which is ridiculous because women of every size still need to buy clothes :p That being said, she’s a good plus sized model, photogenic and good with posing, but I just didn’t like her comment very much.

  8. I agree with her. I don’t think it’s right to put others down in order to lift yourself help – that’s obviously not a healthy way to gain confidence. Having preferences is normal – everyone has a body type/size they typically idealise – but that shouldn’t equate to ‘hating’ other shapes/sizes.
    Most women are insecure at some point in their lives – many for a very long time – and that can manifest itself in creating mantras like: ‘Real women have curves’ and ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’. These are put downs to those that don’t share the same body type and only create animosity.

    I only wish she didn’t have to gain anything in order to model – she should be able to model at a size 8! That only reinforces the separation between plus size and straight size and leaves a sort of unspoken grey area (that is more likely than not healthy for most women). The health message is also rather lost when you tell models to deviate from what might be their natural weight.

    She looks good – she’s not my ideal, but I don’t think she looks very fat or anything. She has quite an average look to her – I guess that’s because she is average-size, really! I certainly see more women like her where I live than high fashion type models. There’s nothing wrong with having a plus size model working for companies that sell plus size clothes (I’d like to see more of them in companies that offer a range of sizes from straight to plus size – like VS, etc) – and I don’t think there’d be anything wrong with her becoming more well-known outside of that. If she can give some women confidence when they are heavier and feel insecure about it, then that’s a good thing. We definitely need more good feeling in this world!

  9. She is a very pretty woman with descent proportions, though too large for my taste. As for her quote, perhaps I am misinterpreting what she means, but I think its just as bad to gain weight as it is to loose weight to fit a certain “model” criteria. Of course in a perfect world we will not glamorize one body type and slam another, but this is modeling we are talking about…I think many of us can appreciate different sizes, but at the end of the day a thin, fit woman will mostly relate to someone her size and prefer that body type over someone bigger (and vise versa)

  10. yh i have to agree with earlier comments. It really bugs me that she wasnt just allowed to maintain her normal weight. To be honest i don’t think plus size modelling is any better than normal modelling as they both knock out the gap of sizes 10 -14 [uk] where i think most women lie. i mean the whole size thing is ridiculous anyway, you don’t need to be a certain size to look good modelling clothes.. so why do they act like there is some kind of elite?

    • Many people do think you need to be a certain size and will claim that clothes *always* look better on tall, thin frames! Just as there are people who will tell you fat unequivocally equals ugly. Some people just need absolutisms, I think!
      I agree about the sizing – cutting out the middle-ground is unfair and stupid and plus size modeling doesn’t help that any more than straight size does.

  11. I dont know why but I’ve always found plus size models to have the most stunning faces compared to runway models. Also I am pretty sure a US 4 is closer to a UK 8 to 10 but that just might be due to the clothes i’ve tried.

  12. In Swedish her lastname means jackin’ off… Anyway, we should be proud of our bodies but encourage people to take care of themselves. Eat healthy and exercise, have a little treat now and then.

  13. Hmm I’m not buying it…sounds like the usual stuff all the plus-size models say (just like the regular models say the same stuff about their bodies). She says she never gave her bikini body any thought, and yet she works as a bikini model? Lol

  14. The reason the fashion industry doesn’t use size 8 “normal sized” models is because they’re just that- too normal. Firstly, how would these models have the glamour that they’re selling? Extreme thinness, OR having fat distribution in the right places while at a high BMI (which is also very rare/difficult) are traits that most people don’t naturally achieve, and thus can be used in an aspirational way. The industry sells things based on an image, and people want to buy what they don’t have- not what anyone could have/look like. Secondly, average-sized models would not have that uniqueness, or edge, that fashion designers want. Rail-thin models are supposed to be clothing hangers who can pose. The simple fact is that while women of all sizes and shapes can look good in clothing that flatter their body, super thin women can pull off more things and their bodies don’t have the curves that distract from the clothing.
    “Plus sized” models don’t even resemble most women who are at their BMIs, and their gorgeous bone structures and perfect fat distribution is not very representative of most overweight women, so they also can project a more glamorized image for consumers to buy into.

    • The idea that people would aspire to be either skeletal or size 16 is ridiculous – I don’t know anyone who wants to fit in that extreme or admires it. The plus-size models are not really known for having fat distribution in “the right places” as you said. Most of them look like attractive women with good bone structure, who happen to be overweight. If they lost weight they would look even better. To be honest the fashion industry has become a bit of a joke in this regard. Models are no longer synonymous with beauty or glamor. That’s why many fashion magazines now use celebrities as models to sell products instead – they know the majority are attracted to slender but healthy frames. Commercial models with healthy frames are household names whereas high fashion models are only known to a tiny minority who cares about fashion and designers who want to be avant-garde and unique rather than attractive – like a freak show for the elite.

    • then how do you explain the size 6 “Glamazons” of the late 80s/early 90s, who were neither “rail thin” nor plus-sized, at a time where the “average” woman also wasn’t as big as she is now? flawed logic in attempt to explain elitism

      • But wasn’t a size 6 of the 80s/90s more like today’s size 4? I think models were only maybe a couple of inches bigger than they are now, i.e. 34-25-36 instead of like 32-23-34, although that couple of inches may well be the difference between being a low but healthy weight and being, say, 15lb underweight.

        • maybe so, but judging appearance-wise only, they’re definitely “fuller figured” than today’s models. Cindy had meat on her thighs, Christy had these curvaceous hips, Elle McPherson had a big atheltic frame, Tyra had a voluptuous t&a vase shape, Claudia had a “healthy” hourglassy figure, Naomi was strong and almost Amazonian, etc. even dainty proclaimed waif Kate Moss looked normal in comparison to the Anjas and Snejanas on today’s runways. their body-shapes varied, hips, thighs, and b❆❆bs weren’t the devil. whereas now, most high-fashion runway models are ruler-shaped, or so thin that their curves have disappeared on top of looking borderline emaciated. the Glamazons had a good 15-20 pounds on these new girls

  15. She seems articulate and intelligent and I agree with a lot of what she’s saying. I disagree with the part about the fashion industry wanting to provide the best styles for everyone, tho, since it’s either size 0/2 models or size >10. And from what I’ve read even size 10s are rare in the plus-size industry, it’s usually 14 and up. Show me some “in-between” models, stop with the unealthy extremes (I say this with full notion that many people are healthy at these sizes) and then we’ll talk.

    I actually like her body, especially her arms and legs. And she has a very pretty face. Her weak spot is obviously her stomach/mid-section and while I doubt she’s at a particular high risk for diseases I think she would look fantastic if she lost a bit and did some cardio, it would give her a more defined waist and a flatter tummy and she would look fantastic. She wouldn’t even need to lose much imo, maybe 10 lbs and a lot of toning.

    I can relate to being envious of girls that can be carried on their boyfriend’s shoulders. A friend of mine is 85lbs and everyone is always picking her up. And while I would never want to be that small (and would very probably literally die trying) sometimes I feel a little envious, I do. But there’s so much more to life than that and each size has its pros and cons. It really is about acceptance. But acceptance shouldn’t mean letting ourselves go. It’s great to love your body no matter what, but health should always come first, being healthy should never be worth less than looking good in a bandage dress, or stuffing your face with no self-control whatsoever every single day because it makes you feel good.

  16. Some of the comments here are so f”cking annoying I can’t even phrase a calm response and honestly wish humanity will not be a permanent thing on this planet -_- Maybe the body police should leave people alone and worry about more serious issues than “is this woman fit enough to be a model?”. Arguments like “Oh, she’s a model, she can’t expect people to not critisize her looks” make me sick. What is this supposed to be, common sense? Where I was raised, people were not encouraged to insult others, regardless of their profession and health status.

  17. In my own personal opinion, I do not find her body attractive at all. She has a pretty face but her stomach looks disgusting. While woman are designed to carry a little extra weight in the stomach region to help with pregnancies, it is unhealthy to have too much extra weigh there. I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of my post since this is just my opinion and I am not encouraging anyone to agree with me. But as an individual in the Health field I do not believe this body types should be celebrated. Just because something is the norm does not mean it is acceptable. With the rate obesity is climbing, soon that will be considered the new norm. And I’m sure most will agree with me that 9/10 obesity is not healthy. And for those of you who are going to bring up the age old EXCUSE of “It might be genetic”… Please don’t talk about things you know nothing about. Genes very rarely cause obesity; Here is an excerpt from a study done at The Harvard School of Public Health. “What’s increasingly clear from these early findings is that genetic factors identified so far make only a small contribution to obesity risk—and that our genes are not our destiny: Many people who carry these so-called “obesity genes” do not become overweight, and healthy lifestyles can counteract these genetic effects. This article briefly outlines the contributions of genes and gene–environment interactions to the development of obesity…Environmental changes that make it easier for people to overeat, and harder for people to get enough physical activity, have played a key role in triggering the recent surge of overweight and obesity….The evidence so far suggests that genetic predisposition is not destiny—many people who carry so-called “obesity genes” do not become overweight. Rather, it seems that eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise may counteract some of the gene-related obesity risk.”
    Link to full article:

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