Charli Howard has become a champion of change in the fashion industry. She was just 23 when she took to Facebook to vent her anger at being told by her agent she was "too big" (she was a size UK 6 at the time) to fit into a pair of trousers after returning from a shoot in Stockholm. That post went viral and her world was never the same again.
In the aftermath, she was approached by a new agency and moved to New York where she embraced a healthier way to live and a new side of herself and the industry. She wrote a memoir, Misfit, aimed at young adults and began booking jobs, including British Vogue. As of the incredible "queens" to star in our latest Originals underwear campaign, we caught up with the British model to hear all about her journey from ashamed model to body-positive activist and all-round babe.
When did you decide you wanted to be a model and what was it about modelling that first appealed to you?
I wanted to be a model from about the age of fourteen. It looked so glamorous to me and an escape from my every day life.
What propelled you to publish that now infamous Facebook post and why do you think it hit such a nerve?
I got dropped by my agency for allegedly being too big at a UK 6/US 2, despite going to the gym all the time and starving myself. So I had enough and wrote it as an exit out. Little did I know, it would be an entry into something much better!
What did it feel like to go viral and what happened afterwards?
It wasn’t very nice to have your photo plastered everywhere and was actually quite scary. I remember turning on BBC News the next day and a politics show was discussing it with my Facebook photos in the background. It was all quite bizarre and felt a bit intrusive. But it really helped propel me further.
How has your attitude to the fashion industry evolved since then?
I no longer take it as seriously as I once did. The world doesn’t revolve around fashion. I believe that as a woman, it should cater to me.
Do you feel a responsibility as a model to present an authentic representation of the female body?
I do. I don’t want girls to look at their body shapes and think they’re abnormal for having a bit of a tummy or stretch marks. You can still shoot things in a high-end way and use models of all different shapes and sizes.
What would you like to see change in the industry moving forward?
I want diversity to stay and for more girls of my size to be represented!
What kinds of things to you like to do to show yourself some self-love?
I’ve discovered a place in New York recently called FaceLove, which is a head massage and acupuncture all in one. It’s really relaxing if I get anxious or stressed about something. But cooking myself a nourishing meal or running a bubble bath also help.
What inspired you to write your book, Misfit?
I realised that there were no books for teens or younger people about eating disorders - especially not from the person themselves. I thought it’d be great to write a book that educated people on the illness but which could also help people who are struggling.
How do you think social media has helped women find their voice?
For a while, we let the media and fashion brands dictate to us what ‘beautiful’ meant. Now, girls have intelligent women to look up to in a variety of body shapes and ethnicities. That’s really important!
What do you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self now if you could?
Get out there and enjoy yourself as much as you can before you have a world of responsibilities!
What did you enjoy most about shooting with Bonds?
I loved going into the outback and having a snake man there with us! He kept hitting trees and rustling bushes to get snakes to come out haha!
What undie shape is your favourite?
Personally, I love the higher waist shapes as I find them more flattering. Nothing beats a pair of Bridget Jones knickers!