- #QUEENDOM: The Fabulous Journey of Philomena Kwao
Natural beauty, grace, and authenticity are a magical and powerful combination. Philomena Kwao is a woman who exemplifies these qualities and so much more. The British-Ghanian model is very vocal about her passion for body positivity and is making serious waves in the modeling industry.
It’s no secret that the traditional image of beauty and what a professional model should look like is now changing. Although the changes may be slow, there has been a move towards an awareness of the importance of a healthy and more realistic image of how models are portrayed. Italy, Israel, and Spain have all at some point had legislation on models that were too thin, and the British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America are also attempting to promote positive body awareness through educational workshops. Plus, there are women all over the world standing together to promote the importance of the need for authentic beauty to be accepted by the mainstream fashion and beauty world just like Philomena. We got the opportunity to chat with this busy Queen about her journey, her overnight success, and how social media played an integral role in her career.
TXTURE: My first introduction to you was your Torrid campaign, and that’s when we became obsessed with you (laughs). Since getting started in 2012 and since joining the fashion world do you see any improvement or more inclusion in shape diversity for models?
Philomena: Most definitely, when I first started there were plus models, but there weren’t many of us, and now there are lots of plus models. Almost every agency has a plus division, and the clients are really starting to recognize that you need to have more than one size in your campaign. I think high fashion has been a little bit slow and the beauty industry has been a little bit slow but in commercial fashion, there are so many plus sized brands and that has been a noted improvement since I first started.
Sometimes I do get disappointed when a brand that is notoriously known for doing straight sizes decides to venture into a plus-sized line and instead of giving the plus-sized line all of the offerings that they do the straight sized women, they release a small collection and the collection often always isn’t as great as the straight sizes. It’s like why can’t they just make the straight sized clothes only available in bigger sizes. I am still not a big fan of the separation that goes on.
TXTURE: Why do you think that is?
Philomena: I think the plus-sized woman is really misunderstood. A lot of brands don’t understand that plus-sized women actually want to be fashionable and want options. We live in a diet culture and in a diet culture, everything is pushing for you to be small. It’s like it’s ok for you to be slightly happy at your bigger size but at the end of the day a lot of fashion companies still see the plus size as a temporary state and a journey towards a smaller goal so they’re not making permanent clothes for a bigger size because they genuinely don’t believe that women can be happy at a bigger size. And that’s why I think they don’t extend their main lines because they still see women that are bigger in a temporary state of happiness and as a disposable customer and there is a massive disconnect. It isn’t fair that you have a very diverse and inclusive campaign and then only a fraction of your clothes are available in plus-size….
Photography by: Islandboi
*Makeup & Headpiece by: Moshoodat
*Wardrobe by: Steffany Allen