Cover story: Robyn Lawley
If Robyn Lawley could travel back and give advice to her 15-year-old self, she’d be an inspirational mentor. The confident Aussie model – whose traffic-stopping curves have rocked the covers of Vogue Italia and French Elle – would tell the insecure teenager to quit hiding her body under baggy clothing and resist the urge to starve herself in an unhealthy bid to break into modelling.
“I had a beautiful body at that age but I would put myself down so much,” she tells madison. “It’s so sad to see girls so down on themselves. Now I would tell myself [at 15] to be thinking about changing the world, instead of just changing my body.”
Fast forward seven years and Lawley really is changing the world. The 182cm Amazonian beauty, who grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, is regularly beating her so-called “straight-size” counterparts to the most coveted and prestigious jobs in the notoriously weight obsessed fashion industry. As a healthy size 14 to 16, she’s officially a plus-size model. But she increasingly transcends the limitations of this category. Statistically, after all, she is a normal size.
Indeed, Lawley believes her current proportions are an important factor in her meteoric rise from an unknown 16-year-old to highly sought-after model. “I don’t think I’d be as successful if I stayed straight size,” she says. “My body looks better as it is because that’s the size I’m supposed to be, with curves. It’s my natural body shape.”
It’s not always easy to have thighs, breasts and a bum in a sea of coat-hanger frames, but she’s pleased at the recent shift in attitudes. “Sometimes I’m treated differently but lately I haven’t been, which is nice. I asked a photographer about it the other day; he replied he was just so excited to shoot me because my body is different.”
Further reinforcing her confidence is her US law student boyfriend of six months, Everest Schmidt. “He really is my biggest fan,” she says. “I have down times when I’m not happy with my body but he always compliments me and says, ‘Babe, don’t ever change.’”
Lawley takes her role as an ambassador for healthy body image seriously. “Some days I don’t want to have everyone staring at my body but I’ve realised this is bigger than me – it’s going to help other women realise you don’t have to be skinny or small to be beautiful,” she says.
Lawley says she would love to showcase Australian designer labels overseas. But there’s a hitch: some of them still don’t make clothes that fit her.
“It’s infuriating,” she says, exasperated. “When I come home, I go to Paddington [in Sydney] and into all the little shops because I want to support Australian designers. The fact that some don’t go up to my size – and it’s the national average – is a slap in the face. And if they do, it sells out quickly. I think there’s a lot of fashion snobbery. It feels like they don’t want a size 14 or above wearing their clothes.”
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