Model and Activist Charli Howard Talks Positive Body Image, Health, and More

Model and Activist Charli Howard Talks Positive Body Image, Health, and More

Model and Activist Charli Howard Talks Positive Body Image, Health, and More

After launching her All Women campaign, Charli Howard is one busy woman. The model and activist makes time to take a trip around the West Village to talk body acceptance, how she stays healthy, and more.

After launching her All Women campaign, Charli Howard is one busy woman. The model and activist makes time to take a trip around the West Village to talk body acceptance, how she stays healthy, and more.

Photography: Adair Smith

Text: Emma Blanchard

Can you tell us a little bit about the All Woman Project?

It all started because I moved to New York and when I went into the agency for the first time, I saw the curve board. I was like, “what is this?” We don’t have the same thing in England, really. I saw that then I met this girl on the board called Clem who was also a plus sized model. We both had this idea that we wanted to make an editorial with pictures of women with all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We wanted to make it really high end. We started doing that, and then it kept leading to bigger and bigger things. We started a campaign that got pretty big— Vogue and other magazines featured it. The objective of the All Woman project is to encourage girls of all different shapes, sizes, and colors to support each other and also embrace themselves. I think it’s really important that we represent girls of all colors and sizes. Every woman deserves to see themselves represented in a campaign picture. I also think there is this idea that you can't be fashionable or look high end, I really wanted to create images that were inspirational so girls can look up to it.

So you were inspired to start this project because of your experience at the agency? Were there other experiences that prompted you to pursue this project and this advocacy for body acceptance?

All I ever saw was skinny women everywhere. There was a phase where all the models and celebrities were size 0. I didn’t see anyone who was my size. Because of that, I really wanted to loose weight. I think there’s this idea as well that if you have cellulite or stretch marks or anything womanly, it’s always got to be airbrushed out. Women have this really warped idea of what is meant to be normal and what’s meant to be pretty and that kind of thing. I think it’s important to bring those problems to the forefront and make it to a beautiful thing. Showing everyone that cellulite is not ugly! I’m not saying you have to shout on the rooftops “I’ve got cellulite,” but seeing a bit of it in a picture is really not going to ruin someone’s life or make fashion any less inspirational.

There was a specific photo of your backside on Instagram gained a lot of attention online. Sadly, not many women have the confidence to put images that authentic of themselves out there. Where do you find the confidence to be so open?

I’ve had cellulite since I was 13. I had it before all my classmates had it as well. I went to boarding school so I would see girls getting changed all the time and they were always so petite, I always felt like an oddity. Obviously, girls get cellulite as you get older but even then, you still feel like the odd one out if you have it. I took that photo in a particularly unflattering light but I think that it’s important you showcase your real self. Social media doesn’t always have to be this perfected, artificial life. It can be real. People really respond to that. The more real I am, the more I think it resonates with people.

What’s the best advice you can offer young girls who may be struggling with body image?

That’s a tough one because it’s different for everyone. I do honestly think that you have to surround yourself with good people. If you surround yourself with photoshopped magazines, and airbrushed stuff all the time its really not going to help you.When it comes down to social media, you can decide whom you want to follow and who you want to look up to. You don’t have to go for these super tiny, athletic women. Aim to be healthy and the best version of yourself. If that means going to the gym, workout because it makes you feel good not because you want to lose loads of weight. I made that mistake; I never did it for enjoyment. You have to do things that make you happy.

How do you deal with negativity?

When I first got negative stuff, I found it really difficult to handle. It really did upset me. It’s always some random stranger on a private account who thinks they can talk to you. A lot of the time now I actually answer them back. This one guy recently messaged me and was like “you’re so fat and ugly,” I messaged him and I was like “does it honestly make you feel good? And he messaged me back and was like “oh I’m so sorry I honestly didn’t think you would read it.” Sometimes you just have to face the negativity and stand up for yourself. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself.

What’s the most meaningful change you’ve made in someone’s life? Whether it was through the All Woman project or through promoting body positivity?

I get loads of messages in my DM’s from girls all over the world. The biggest thing for me is when a girl messages me and tells me she’s recovering from her eating disorder and is inspired by the pictures I post. For me, it’s not event the biggest deal to post pictures that are untouched and that show little stretch marks. For some reason, it's really impacting other girls. If helps them, it really makes me feel good.

What’s your favorite aspect of yourself?

I’m starting to regain my confidence to regain that childlike “you can't mess with me” mentality is really powerful Physically, I really like my hips. It’s the one thing I was really obsessed with trying to slim down. When I went to Paris and London or anywhere, they always told me that they were too big. Now that I’ve got a bit more meat on them, I’m like “yeah!” 

What do you do to stay healthy?

I work out. I don’t do it excessively like I was saying; I used to do it to the point where I couldn’t walk or where my legs would be shaking or I’d feel really faint. That’s really not the right way to do it. Now I do it to feel healthy, I walk everywhere and eat a really balanced diet. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t have all the healthiest food in the world… the world is not going to end. I try to have a healthy, happy approach to life.

What does your typical beauty routine entail?

I’m obsessed with Glossier. I’m really into the natural, dewy look. I’ve got sensitive skin so I use a very simple moisturizer.

What’s an average day like for you?

I wake up every day and have two cups of tea…if I don’t have two cups of tea, I freak out. It gives me loads of energy! I also spend an hour of my day replying to people on email or Instagram, I know it takes guts to message someone out of the blue. In general, I just try to be happy, and do things that make me feel good! My ideal afternoon is going for brunch with a friend and writing.

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