Finalists in a plus-size model contest have hit out after a slimmer entrant was roped in at the last minute and won.
Sixteen women who wear dress sizes up to 26 made it to the final of the search for a new curvy icon like US pin-up Ashley Graham and Brit Sophie Dahl. They told stories about their weight and mental issues to try to win a one-year model contract.
But they were beaten by pro dancer and actress Elena Forrest – a size 16 – who was added to the New Icon Model Search after the closing date.
Finalist Daisy Hopkinson, 21, a size 18, said: “She’s absolutely stunning but skinny compared to the rest of us – a 14 to 16. The organisers got us all to open up emotionally and then cheated us by choosing a normal-sized winner with a professional background.
“Rules stipulated we could not have been represented by a model agent. Elena is signed to an agency or have had professional work. It was a really cruel thing to do and many of the girls left in tears. I couldn’t leave my house for days afterwards because I was so upset.”
The contest was hosted by “size inclusive” fashion brand Simply Be, body-positivity guru Felicity Hayward and model firm Milk.
Another finalist, IT worker Lily Ward, 23, of Nottingham, added: “I’m a size 18 and was probably one of the slimmer finalists. One contestant was around a size 14 but the majority were 20 to 22 and one was a size 26.”
Winner Elena, 25, is on Northbridge Talent’s books and is to appear in Netflix film Eurovision with Will Ferrell, according to casting site Spotlight. The 5ft 11in Londoner performed with Dua Lipa at the 2018 Brits as well as in a music video.
Its blog says: “Over half the female population are a size 16 or above but our feeds are filled with the same supermodels and the same old story. We’re on a mission to change that.”
The firm said: “We believe in celebrating all women, irrespective of size or shape. We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to work with women who are helping us build a truly inclusive curve community.”
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