By Alyssa Goldman, EnStarz | Aug 20, 2012 03:43 PM EDT
The size 10 model has graced the cover of "Vogue Italia" last year, is one of Ralph Lauren's newest faces and has a lingerie campaign.
Her success might seem sudden, but her confidence did not come overnight.
"I had to go through my own self-love, self-hate to get to where I am," Lawley told People magazine. "It took me years to watch other plus-size models be so confident with themselves. But then I realized that I could use my voice to be a positive role model for girls. When I found plus-size modeling, it was such a relief to be just me."
Lawley began her career at 16 when she entered a modeling competition and signed with an agency at 19. She is now a Wilhemina model who globe trots to appear in ads for some of fashion's powerhouses.
In the beginning, Lawley's body size was not appreciated in the fashion world. "I was told I'd be a huge success," she said to People magazine. "I was told to eat less, exercise more. But the thing with my body is that I'm big-boned; I have broad shoulders, I'm really tall, have big hips - it's just not my body. And I love food! I don't want to give it up for something that would make me unhappy."
Linda Evangelista, a curvy model who hit it big in the late '80s/early '90s, inspired her to pursue a modeling career. She hopes to encourage young women to have greater self-esteem. "I do try to respond to comments I receive on Facebook," she said. "Some girls struggle with confidence, so it's nice to be able to talk to them."
She's honored to represent the "real woman". "When I signed on as a plus-size model my friends and family were shocked because I'm a normal girl," she said. "My friends are my size. They see their bodies in mine, so it gives them hope. They can see me in a lingerie ad and say, 'I want to buy that lingerie, I'll look amazing.' If people can relate to me, it's a good thing."
This 23-year-old has big plans: to alter the industry's standards. "I genuinely want companies to take notice and start being more realistic about who their customer really is," she added. "I hope to keep breaking down those barriers."
Copyright © 2013 ENSTARZ.COM All rights reserved.