'You should aim to lose at least another 5 kilos'

“You definitely have potential to make it in modelling, but you should still aim to lose at least another 5kilograms.”

These were the words a renowned French photographer once told me — I was 16 years old and already on the verge of being underweight. That was eight years ago, and in this relatively short span of time we've seen huge progress in size diversity in fashion. I didn’t end up losing those 5kg, instead I slowly added about 20k kilograms! I was a teen who was still growing and developing. It took several years of knocking on doors and being rejected but eventually I was welcomed into the industry and now model full time.

Stefania Ferrario.

More and more women are demanding to see models that reflect their size. It's good to see brands are slowly taking note but there's still a long way to go. For example, there's still a lack of diversity regarding models of different ages. It's something that's seldom discussed – the inevitable ageing…

I was fortunate to be involved with Berlei’s latest campaign, a kick-ass underwear and sports bra campaign with a diverse array of women. One of my favourite aspects about the shoot was that the models were not only of varying sizes and skin colours, but also ages.

When I posted the first Berlei image to my Instagram, I received an overwhelming response—from men and women alike—who clearly felt empowered seeing the photo. “Wow a model showing her well-earned grey hair? Love it!! Thank you for posting!”, one woman wrote. “That’s a great deal of beauty all in one place, thank you”, another man wrote.

Society has had an unhealthy obsession with youth for a long time now. We need more brands to start taking the initiative to remedy this. The public is demanding it and they’re responding  positively to such campaigns.

Meanwhile in the fitness industry, they're seeing an increase in the number of personal trainers over the age of 50. These trainers are catering to a range of clients and a lot of them are older too. When I did my certificate in personal training, there was a student in her 70s. She already had a list of clients waiting to work with her purely because they wanted to be trained by someone near their age who reflected them as an individual.

Berlei campaign

I think modelling is no different, people want to see empowering images that remind them of themselves—they want to feel acknowledged and understood. No one enjoys looking at billboards that make them feel inadequate, I think we all know that feeling.

Recently I was having a conversation with a 19-year-old girl and we moved onto the topic of age. She just shook her head and uttered something along the lines of “I’m terrified of getting older, I don’t want to think about it!” This really hit home, and I remembered feeling like I would be a nobody after my twenties. I even bought books on how to stay “young and beautiful”. I have a distinct memory of sitting in the school yard covering my face with a jacket to avoid even a single sun ray because of the potential spot it may cause. I was 14 and convinced that by taking every ridiculous step at this age that I could stay young forever.

“Make sure you sleep on silk pillows and get a minimum of 12 to 14 hours of sleep, the beauty icons of our time swear on it,” my book read. Yes, I think looking after yourself is important but who has the time to sleep 12 to 14 hours? I know that even if I did, I would be lying awake. Our bodies know what they need if we just listen to them.

I’m proud to say that my mindset has definitely changed. I find that seeing older, confident women is such an empowering thing, and because of this I have no fear of ageing anymore. Although I still try to take care of my skin and I am sun smart, I’m not having heart palpitations if I feel the rays on my face now and again. I think everything in life should be enjoyed in moderation, and I don’t want to sacrifice the little things, for what exactly? I follow some extraordinary women on social media who are well into their 40s and 50s, they are sexy, proud, beautiful, stylish and smart, it’s their photos that brighten up my news feeds.

I look forward to growing older, the lessons of life only come from experience and nothing can replace that.

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