We’re obsessed with Charli Howard’s industry secrets and her Instagram.
If you’re one of the 100,000+ people who follow Charli Howard on Instagram, you’ve seen that she, unlike most models—and most people in general—frequently posts unretouched photos of herself, with stretch marks and cellulite proudly on display. That, in a nutshell, might just be this model’s best-kept beauty secret. “It’s been very therapeutic for me,” explains the improbably stunning Pat McGrath muse when we mention a particular image that went viral last year. “It’s more like a diary of how I’ve progressed as a person. I love seeing all these women who are just embracing their bodies. It’s been so inspiring. I was like, ‘Why am I so scared to do it myself?’” Her body-positive message is the result of her early years in the modeling industry, when she felt intense pressure to look more similar to the waiflike women around her. And we’re so glad she’s bringing it. Even while she’s expertly balancing Black Tap milkshakes in each hand in order to nail the shot (see below), we’re still more mesmerized by her unorthodox career trajectory than her modeling skills.
Howard ended up drafting a Facebook post to vent her frustrations about being let go from her agency, which quickly went viral (again). “The more you force us to lose weight and be small, the more designers have to make clothes to fit our sizes,” she wrote, “and the more young girls are being made ill. It’s no longer an image I choose to represent.” After experiencing a surge of support from other young women both inside and outside the modeling world, she founded the All Woman Project with fellow curve model Clémentine Desseaux. “We create these unretouched photos of women and collaborate with a lot of brands,” she explains. “We’re trying to prove that you can do sportswear and look [however] you do. You can do a beauty brand, and your skin doesn’t have to be cellulite-free.”
With New York Fashion Week wrapping up tomorrow, we inquire whether she thinks designers are finally hearing the call for healthier models and more inclusive casting. “I worry [that] some of the fashion industry is jumping on the bandwagon of body positivity,” says Howard before she runs out to another shoot. “I want it to stay; I want diversity to stay. I think you should use inspirational women who are not aesthetically perfect.” And even as her star continues to rise, and more editorials and campaigns come her way, you’ll still catch Howard posting behind-the-scenes looks at her life without the glamorous filter. “I think social media [has] really taught people that personality is the most important, not what you look like. I don’t think you can just be a model anymore. I think you have to have a voice.”
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