Reflecting on 2013

I can’t believe that it’s nearly the 19th of December already! Where has the year gone?! Looking back, this year has been the most successful for me in terms of my campaign. I’ve achieved things this year that I’ve been dreaming about doing for QUITE a while. And I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.

In February it all kicked off with a feature in the Daily Record, a Scottish newspaper. Myself and two other Plus Size Models were interviewed and photographed for the publication in their headquarters in Glasgow. The article’s all about being plus size and being proud of it as The British Plus Size Fashion Weekend was just around the corner at the time of publication. During my interview I talk about the bullying I experienced growing up and my own determination to overcome it.

“I want to show people you don’t have to be skinny to be a model. We’re all different shapes and sizes, and different shapes of models should represent that.” – Leyah Shanks

You can see the photographs and read the full article here:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion-beauty/kate-moss-competition-plus-size-1568378

The next thing that happened – which I am still SO grateful for – was a small feature in Bizarre Magazine as one of their ”UltraVixens New Faves”. They source their models through the UltraVixens website and often cast cover girls through it. There’s no online link for this but you can find a screenshot of the feature on my Facebook page. Bizarre is the world’s best selling alternative magazine so I was and still am absolutely honoured to have been featured. It proved not to be the last that they would be seeing of me in 2013…

Next came a double page spread in the July issue of Curvaceous Inc, an online fashion magazine which celebrates women of ALL sizes. The title of the article reads; ”Inspirational Woman”. In it, I talk about The Body Confidence Revolution and body image.

‘It’s about getting people to realise that whatever body shape you have, it is absolutely fantastic!” – Leyah Shanks

”Next time you are feeling low, and hating on your body, head over to bodyconfidencerevolution.tumblr.com and let Leyah help you fall in love with yourself all over again!” – Curvaceous Inc

You can download the July issue here:

http://www.curvaceousinc.com/#!july-2013/c15ap (You will find my spread on page 55)

Next came a front cover story on Edinburgh Now in July, a supplement newspaper that comes free inside the Daily Record and is also distributed widely across the city. This article focuses on The Body Confidence Revolution. I talk about what motivated me to create it and what its message is.

“It would be great to give some solace to people who feel like I did when I was younger. I want people to realise that whether you are size six or 16, you are perfect the way you are.” – Leyah Shanks

You can read the full article here:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/model-launches-website-campaign-tackling-2106203

Next came a full page story in the Edinburgh Evening News, a Scottish newspaper, in August.

“It is alarming that people can have such a negative opinion of themselves and that is something I
really want to change. That’s the main focus of everything that I do.

“People need to be celebrated for who they are. There needs to be a bigger range of shapes and sizes in the media, and we need more disabled models, too. The aim is to make people aware that diversity can be celebrated.

“It is loads of different women of all ages, shapes and sizes just un-airbrushed, 
untouched.” – Leyah Shanks

This is a newspaper that I have always wanted to see myself in so to have a FULL PAGE dedicated to what I’m trying to do was like a dream come true.

The full article can be found here:

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/model-leyah-shanks-aims-to-help-public-self-esteem-1-3053715

In November, I was invited to Ms Curvaceous UK – a pageant-like show for aspiring plus size models. The winner got their hands on a contract with Hughes Models, a spread in Evolve Magazine and workshop with Curve Project London (along with SO much more) so it’s a pretty big deal for all of the finalists! Like I said, I was first invited, but only a couple of days before the event, I was asked to be a judge. Which was… inexplicable. The other judges on the panel were Rianne Ward – Editor of Evolve Magazine; one of the UK’s biggest online magazines for curvy women. Saffi Karina – a hugely successful plus size model and creator of Curve Project London; a plus size model workshop and body confidence master class. Beth from Hughes Models – one of Europe’s leading model agencies. And Yvie from Miss Universe. To be sat next to these ladies was truly an honour as I have looked up to what they do for quite some time. The event itself was fabulous. There was a delicious array of heights, ages, ethnicities, body shapes and sizes. All of the finalists did a marvellous job and I was so privileged to have one of the best seats in the house!

You can find out more about Ms Curvaceous UK here:

http://www.mscurvaceousuk.com/

You can also watch a video from the night in my wordpress gallery including an interview with all of the judges (including myself.)

Finally, came a SECOND feature in Bizarre Magazine. This time, a FULL PAGE. I had known that this was going to be going on sale for over a month so when it finally went on sale on December 17th I breathed a massive sigh of anticipation-relief and excitement at the same time! I have waited so long and worked pretty damn hard for a feature and exposure like this. You can purchase the physical copy at most newsagents or the digital version can be downloaded here (you’ll find me on page 44):

http://gb.zinio.com/www/browse/product.jsp?rf=sch&productId=500603442

Not to blow my own trumpet here, but none of these publications and events would have happened for me without my own tenacity and determination. I hope that what I have achieved this year actively SHOWS you how much I care about this and how much I care that everyone feels comfortable in their own skin.

Bring on 2014.

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About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

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