Charli Howard is a British model at the vanguard of the Body Positivity movement, who rose to prominence after her open letter – a powerful indictment of the modelling industry – went viral. She has been interviewed by the BBC, CNN and Channel 4; has featured in Vogue, Elle and Glamour magazines; has amassed a large Instagram following (@charlihoward); and stars in the forthcoming feature-length documentary, Straight/Curve.
Charli is the founder of the All Woman Project, and wishes to extend her message of positivity to children – to encourage them to love themselves exactly as they are. Modelling-wise, she has fronted campaigns for Maybelline, Mango, Desigual and Nike, among others. Her StyleLikeU video alone has clocked over 1 million views, and she receives messages of support and admiration from young girls every day.
Charli’s guide to mental health and body positivity for teens, Misfit, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s in February 2018.
In addition, her debut middle grade novel, Splash!, will be published by Nosy Crow in Summer 2018.
So, how did a slightly bonkers misfit with anorexia, bulimia and anxiety decide to solve their problems? I became a model. As you do.
Charli Howard had always wanted to be normal – but for some reason, she couldn’t quite find out how to do it. As a teenager, she felt like the only one who struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues when everyone around her seemed to fit in. So she tried to embrace standing out: by becoming a model. Believing it would make her happy and envied, she set out single-mindedly to make it – and she achieved her dream. But the reality wasn’t quite as glamorous as she’d hoped. The pressure on Charli to look a certain way took an extreme toll on her body and self-image, and no matter how thin she got, she was never thin enough.
When Charli, though medically underweight, was fired by her modelling agency for being too big, she decided she’d had enough. She used her platform for good and spoke out about the insane standards of the modelling industry, whose images influence young women and girls all over the world. Now, Charli is comfortable in her skin for the first time ever, working happily as a plus sized model in New York. Here, she shares her journey, from anorexic and bulimic teenager to happy, healthy twenty-something.