Plus-Size Model Katie Willcox: ‘Healthy is the New Skinny’
October 26, 2015
Plus size model Katie Willcox was scrutinized for her 40 pound weight loss after adopting a healthy lifestyle. (Photo: Instagram)
Models are always being told to lose weight, but when Katie Wilcox did, it actually hurt her career. After dropping 40 pounds, the plus size model also experienced a significant decline in her bookings. At 5’9” and 200 pounds, Willcox was making $150k per year. After meeting Bradford Willcox, a personal trainer turned photographer and now her husband, Katie transformed her lifestyle, adopting a healthier one and consequently slimming down to a healthy 160 pounds, but losing work and making only $25k in a year. “Bradford loves curves, but he could tell I didn’t feel good,” Willcox told the New York Post. “Losing work because of my weight loss was definitely a fear, and I did lose clients,” says Willcox, but her decision to be healthy was resolute.
Her agency and clients encouraged her to gain the weight back or lose more inches from her hips and waist in order to regain success in her modeling career. She wore body padding in order to suit her clients but felt that her newly healthy body should be accepted rather than manipulated.
Unappeased by the idea of reversing the progress she’d made in her health, Willcox was in a rut. She tried to lose more weight, limiting her calorie intake to 1,200 exercising for 3 hours daily. “I started becoming a psycho”, Willcox says. “I was fighting my own body.” She dropped to 145 pounds and a size 6, but was told she was still too big for mainstream success.
Finding that there was no existing middle ground, Willcox was discouraged by the unhealthy extremes venerated in the modeling industry. “You get rewarded for being unhealthy. If you starve yourself and look an inch away from dying, you could be a supermodel,” says Willcox. “Or if you gain 50 pounds, you can make $300,000 a year as a top plus-size model.” Katie and Bradford then sought to close that gap and represent women who are healthy, not underweight or overweight, with a modeling agency featuring women sizes 8-16 and a new campaign called “Healthy is the New Skinny.” The idea was born when Willcox was able to change her mindset, “What if we made healthy the new skinny?” she thought. “If that became the standard?”
Katie Willcox is helping reshape unhealthy standards in the modeling industry. (Photo: Instagram)
The agency has proven successful, working with brands like H&M, Forever 21, Levi’s, Glamour Italia, and Teen Vogue and proving that the fashion industry and its consumers are beginning to demand representation of diverse body types. With successful models like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Ashley Graham, and Chrissy Teigen paving the way for athletic and healthy models to enter the industry, as well as designers like Lane Bryant representing women of all sizes, and Australian brand We are Handsome opting for athletes over models, there is room for health in fashion.