Scottish-born Sophie Turner quit her day job to pursue a career as a model in the Big Apple. She recently shared a candid behind-the-scenes photo that went viral because it showed off something that society teaches women is a flaw, and since then has been applauded for her body-positive attitude and hailed a role model for other women. We wanted to find out more...
How did you get into modelling?
I’ve always wanted to model but thought I was overweight. I discovered the body positive movement on Instagram where I learnt to accept myself and then my friend from New York said I should model there. So I quit my job and went for three months to build a portfolio and that’s how it started! I felt more accepted in America as they are big on diversity in modelling whereas in Scotland there are not really any plus size models.
Who are your role models?
My role models are Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence for the message they spread which is that we should all love ourselves and that we all have flaws so we need to accept them!
You recently shared an image on Instagram which you were initially not that happy with. Why did you decide to share it?
I wasn’t happy with it because I’ve always been told through social media, magazines and my family that cellulite isn’t good, it’s horrible and not nice. I am fed up of the media telling me what to change about my body and not showing what real women look like! Most women of all sizes have cellulite, get spots, have stretch marks, so although I didn’t like the picture I kept looking at it thinking well if this was seen more in magazines I wouldn’t be this disgusted by it! So why don’t I show it to my followers?
What sort of feedback have you had since then?
I got such amazing feedback from 90% of people but I have had hate comments which I expected. People are inspired by my confidence and see me as a role model, which is crazy, but fills my heart with so much happiness. I have received so many nice comments and emails from women thanking me and even men saying they are happy that I’m myself. I’ve also had comments saying I’m promoting obesity or an unhealthy diet or lifestyle, saying I’m fat and shouldn’t be doing this but I’m not promoting unhealthy eating and no exercise at all, they don’t even know my diet to comment on that. And if they’re so concerned about my health why aren’t they concerned about my mental health when writing nasty comments which can potentially really hurt someone? Luckily for me I’ve learnt to ignore or block them.
Your body positive attitude is really amazing! What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling with their own self-image?
I would let them know it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not always easy. You need to focus on the things that you love about yourself - even if it’s not physica. Then you can ask yourself why you hate certain parts of you. So for me I hated my thighs for years and the reason was because all my friends had slimmer thighs and I felt so chunky next to them. Also my mother always complained about hers so it made me self-conscious about my own. I learnt to see the good in everything I hated and had to remind myself every day. So I would think to myself that I might have chunky thighs but I’m proud that they carry my body, they allow me to walk and run and I love how strong my legs are! If it wasn’t for my amazing legs I wouldn’t have a big butt to match!! So I would encourage girls to see the good in the things they don’t like.
Has modelling changed the way you think about your body?
Modelling is a career where you’re constantly judged on your appearance. I tell photographers that I don’t want anything Photoshopped - not even my stretch marks or cellulite because that’s a part of being me! So no, modelling has only made me more determined to show my “flaws”
Do you think the perception of plus size women is changing in the media and fashion industry?
I think that the media and fashion industry is becoming more plus size friendly for sure, which is amazing! I think the whole body positive movement has really made brands think about the models they want and sizes they cater for, but it’s a slow process. I was over the moon to walk in NYFW as a plus size model because that’s a big step for the fashion industry.
What do you think of the term ‘plus size’?
The term plus size does annoy me a bit because I don’t think it helps women’s confidence being separated from “normal” sizes. And in modelling, plus sizes are a 10 and up which is crazy. It’s like sizes 0-8 are normal but they have to make a point and single out sizes 10 and up and make sure people know they’re “plus size”.
What are you doing when you’re not modelling?
When I’m not modelling I’m normally back home in Scotland with my family and friends. Every Sunday I spend with my family which is nice and we all have a big Sunday dinner.
Finally, where will we find you in ten years time?
In ten years times I hope to have my own clothing line specifically for jeans - they’re my biggest struggle to buy and I want to make it easier for curvy girls to get the perfect pair!
All images courtesy of Sophie Turner via Instagram @sophieeturner