Charli Howard: ‘We need to stop categorising women – you can be career-minded, intelligent and treat yourself to sexy lingerie'

GLAMOUR caught up exclusively with the model, author and entrepreneur.

10/28/2021 4:26:00 PM

.TheCharliHoward: ‘We need to stop categorising women – you can be career-minded, intelligent and treat yourself to sexy lingerie'

GLAMOUR caught up exclusively with the model, author and entrepreneur.

You've been controversially been described as a plus-size model in the past, although you’re only a size 10-12 and you've never personally affiliated with that label. What kind of words would you use to describe your relationship with your own body?

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When I first moved to New York, I suffered from bulimia and anorexia. I’d been ill for a long time: I used to count calories, make myself sick, and I was physically exhausted. It was always about numbers, and being a certain size, and if I ever went over it would ruin my day. I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore. When I went into recovery, I started to embrace the size I’m at naturally. Yet, when I got into the curve movement, I’d go to castings and they’d be like, what are you doing here? I wasn’t thin – but I wasn’t plus-size either. There wasn’t a market for me. Even plus-size models used to say to me, “Why are you trying to take our jobs?” And I was like, “I’m really not – I’ve just been put into this category”.

Now, I prefer the term body neutrality. Because, as much as I lovebody positivity, and what it stands for, I still find that it very much focuses on the physical appearance. Whereas body neutrality is about accepting that, some days you're going to feel bad. Some days you're going to feel thin and then you're going to feel bigger. And that's just fine. Your weight doesn't have to define how you fit on the inside.

You represent a body type which doesn’t fall into one extreme or another, and particularly by modelling industry standards you’ve defied categorisation and labels. Do you think it’s important to represent this middle ground?Absolutely. My natural body type isn’t plus-sized – but it isn’t going to be super thin either. I think there’s a lot of women like me who are going to still have squishy tummies and cellulite and thighs and stuff like that. It’s about representing them as how they are. I think it’s important that we allow everyone to be represented. It’s about embracing everyone. We put women in categories so much: you have the sexy women, the smart women, the business women. But I think you can be all those things – and we need to all support and empower each other to do that. On a wider level, part of my mission is to demonstrate that women are multifaceted – that you don’t need to put yourself in a category. You can treat yourself to lingerie and be sexy while also being intelligent, and having a career, and you can be fun. You can still be a mother, a daughter, a sister, and an amazing girlfriend – and own your sexuality.

According to the press release, this range is about ‘lingerie that not only feels good but does good for the wider world’. Can you tell me more about why that feels important right now?I do a podcast with the BBC around sustainability [Fashion Fix, available on BBC Sounds] and just about how ravaging the fashion industry is upon the world. I’ve never designed clothes before, this is the first time, and I wanted it to be a sustainable collection. I’m not a believer in fast fashion at all – I’d rather save up for something more expensive that will last longer.

You almost left modelling in 2015 after being told you were ‘too big’ to model. What would you tell that 2015 Charli now, looking back?That everything happens for a reason; the world is a big place, and you shouldn’t let anyone bully you. That just because someone has an opinion of you, doesn’t mean that’s right. And, sometimes, breaking the mould and doing your own thing can change your life. I’d go back and say, “Don’t be afraid to take chances and stand up for what you believe in.”

The Squish X Playful Promises collection is available to buy from the Playful Promiseswebsite () from the 26 October, with prices ranging from £18-£35. Read more: British GLAMOUR »

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