We Chat To H&M's New Plus Size Supermodel Jennie Runk

22 May 2013

Jennie Runk for H&M

Jennie Runk for H&M

First Crystal Renn smouldered into the modelling world, then along came Kate Upton came to sex it up, but it's been a while since a new curvy poster girl hit town. Enter H&M model Jennie Runk to tell us why we need to give our “plus-size” labels a rest.

Grazia Daily: How do you feel about the plus size industry?

Jennie Runk: There are a lot of really negative connotations surrounding the words plus size, but I think it should be as offensive to describe someone as plus size as it would be to call them brunette. When I first heard the words plus size about my body I was shocked and a little bit offended, but I soon learned there was nothing negative about being bigger than a size 4.

Grazia Daily: Do you consider yourself plus size?

Jennie Runk: I a little bit bigger than some women and a bit smaller than others. I don't label myself because it's not good for you. You can spend far too much time worrying about labels.

 Jennie Runk for H&M

Jennie Runk for H&M

Grazia Daily: Have you always wanted to be a model?

Jennie Runk: Not at all! I didn't even think it was an option. I wanted to be a writer. But when I was thirteen I was discovered volunteering in a PetSmart in small town Missouri.

Grazia Daily: How did you get into plus size?

Jennie Runk: When I first started modelling I was asked to make the choice between losing a lot of weight and going down to a US size 4 or gaining a 1 pound 5 ounces and becoming a plus size model.

Grazia Daily: What made you decide to upsize?

Jennie Runk: I realised if I went down to a size four I would have to make lots of sacrifices. My body isn't meant to be that small. I come from a family of robust, muscular farmers, so even thinking about being that thin seemed impossible. I intuitively knew it wouldn't be healthy for me. Plus, I was a teenager and someone said 'Hey, you can make a lot of money if you just eat a bit more' – that was the dream scenario.

Grazia Daily: How did you gain in body confidence?

Jennie Runk: The plus size girls I met early on had a huge impact on my confidence. They taught be how to relax in front of the camera and be at ease with my body and I thought they were all gorgeous.

 Jennie Runk for H&M

Jennie Runk for H&M

Grazia Daily: Since the H&M campaign you have become a real role model. What's that like?

Jennie Runk: The amount of comments and messages I get is incredible. Lots of them are from women who tell me they haven't worn a bikini in years and having seen my campaign they are going to try one on. Even if I am just making a difference in a handful of people's lives that is something. It feels so, so great to show women, kids, men it's ok to be who you are if you don't fit the societal norm for 'perfect.' You are who you are and you should be proud.

Grazia Daily: Have you ever experienced any abuse?

Jennie Runk: I have had a few unpleasant comments on Facebook, but I don't read them because they can get nasty. My Mum reads them for me and she'll call me in a rage about something someone has said, but the positivity far outweighs any negativity.

Grazia Daily: H&M haven't dubbed you a plus size model. Do you think that's progress in the size zero debate?

Jennie Runk: We're seeing things women like me in the mainstream more and more often. This campaign really feels like one of those milestone moments in life where you will remember there being a before and an after and I am so proud to be a part of that.

Interview by Lucy Hancock



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