Paloma Elsesser: The body-positive model challenging the fashion industry

International Women’s Day is meant to celebrate diversity and progress. The fashion industry has a notorious history of racism and discrimination. For years, those that are able to break through its competitiveness tend to fit the “standards” of beauty; tall, white, thin, and able-bodied.

There are many people challenging those standards and demanding a space at the table. One of those people is Paloma Elsesser, a 28-year-old British-American model who is rapidly establishing a name for herself and taking over the world of fashion as a plus-size model.

Photo from IMG Models

Paloma has graced the covers of Vogue, i-D, Porter Magazine, and dozens more. In an interview for Allure, she describes how, “it took a lot for [her] to be able to say that [she’s] a plus-size model or a model at all without feeling terror or this kind of panic because it was something so unplanned.”

Her entire life, she was surrounded by people who didn’t look like her, and she recalls not being able to partake in certain activities with her friends such as sharing clothes and going shopping together. Her experience as a Black and plus-sized woman has motivated her to also become an activist for reproductive health and the body-positive movement.

Photo from IMG Models

Paloma is a force to be reckoned with in a society that strictly dictates what is or isn’t beautiful. She’s breaking and redefining the rules. She is an ambassador for women across the world that feel like they’re not enough. We can collectively agree that seeing people who look like you on TV and in magazines is a small step towards true diversity and inclusion, but a step forward nonetheless.