From 80 Calories A Day & An Eating Disorder, To Plus-Size Model Success

Nina Blakemore

There are far too many sad stories of wannabe models, HEALTHY models, being told they need to lose weight to be high fashion or even become remotely successful.

Comments such as “she just needs to lose a bit of weight” or “her thighs aren’t slim enough” are real things that ignorant people say in the fashion industry, who have no idea of the gravitas those words hold over a girl’s self esteem. It’s sickening that people in the industry are slow to take responsibility. Thankfully there are strong individuals who are willing to take a stand and make a change.

H&M’s male CEO has vowed to use healthy models in all their campaigns. Debenhams are forcing consumers and advertisers to think outside the box by using men and women of all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities in their new campaign. Even Project Runway judge Nina Garcia has complained about the lack of diversity when it comes to skinny models on the runway! And the trend needs to continue. The people making a difference need to be given more media coverage, so as to inspire and empower many girls who think beauty is a narrow definition which the media keeps shoving down their throats.

One of those women who is speaking up about her experience is British model Nina Blakemore. The 35 year old from Wolverhampton is a successful plus size model, working all over the world. But things weren’t always going great for her like they are now. When she started out, she like countless other girls thought she had to lose excessive weight just to fit in. She did this because she was once told by a modeling agency she was “too big to model”.

She went extreme and ate only 80 calories a day, basically an apple. To put it in perspective, the Mayo Clinic recommends healthy adult females eat a minimum of 1200 calories a day. Of course this number fluctuates a little depending on your body mass index. But you get the idea of how extreme Nina’s diet was all because of a comment!

“I wanted to become a model so desperately that I thought starving myself was the only option. I lived off an apple a day and would exercise vigorously.” Nina said to the Daily Mail “My hair was falling out and I looked awful as my health started deteriorating. My mood swings were horrendous – I was so unhappy.”

This became a year long battle, which also saw her seeing a therapist after her mom saw there was a problem with her daughter.
“My mum could see how skinny I’d become and she witnessed first-hand the effects an eating disorder were having on my body.”


Slowly during her recovery, Nina allowed herself to put on weight, and with that she gained all the confidence she was missing. Her love of modeling didn’t die with her unhealthy habits though, and she decided on a different approach.

Nina signed with Ford Models’ plus size division in the US and has seen a huge difference in her success than when she was trying to reach an unrealistic standard. That’s an important message right there girls, instead of killing yourself (yes, eating disorders can literally kill you) to be like someone else, its important to be your happiest healthiest self, and that is where you will see more success than anywhere else.After tasting success she didn’t before, Nina now refuses to ever lose weight again, and has picked up modeling jobs in New York, India and worked on campaigns for Marks and Spencer, Harrods, Debehams, Walmart and more. Now that she is a busy working model, Nina says she is “embracing who I am and have no time for negativity surrounding plus size models.”Here here! If Vogue Italia, THE most prestigious fashion publication in the world can put three gorgeous plus size models on their cover, then who is anyone to look down on the plus size market saying it’s never going to be as big as other markets?”I’m just trying to show people that you don’t need to be size zero to be a model. I’m now a size 18 and use my time to help others who suffer from anorexia to face their battles with food. I eat healthy food and exercise in moderation – I no longer restrict myself and eat foods I enjoy,” Says Nina of the reason she speaks about her battle.

Nina Blakemore
But she wants to make it clear it’s not about promoting obesity either, its about health, and confidence for each individual woman according to their own body, not an industry ideal, or media image.”Women shouldn’t feel forced to be thin – we should just be happy with our natural shape. There need to be more curvy girls modelling on our high street who represent natural women.”Director of Hughes Models, the modeling agency Nina is signed to in the UK had this to say about models: “Our Models are healthy, fit, beautifully proportioned …what more could society need for realistic role models? For me they prove that every woman can be healthy and attractive irrespective of size. However, health and fitness are paramount. An unfit size zero is as unacceptable as an unfit 14, 16, 18 etc.” said Cheryl Hughes.Like Nina says on the homepage of her website: “You don’t have to be size a size zero to be gorgeous.” Be who you are, love who you are at whatever size. Aim for health goals, not skinny unrealistic ones. We hope Nina’s story will inspire girls to celebrate their unique bodies and find confidence in themselves, not the outside world. Thanks for spreading an important message and being willing to share your journey with the world Nina, you rock!

Nina Blakemore


  1. Pingback: Model Sheds Anxiety, Adds Weight, & Redefines Beauty Along The Way

  2. I completely agree with you Nina. The Ford Model Agency doesn’t know how to think rational, and are nothing but very judgmental. You don’t just have to just be skinny to be a beautiful woman. I’ve heard plenty of times from a lot of men out here in this world that they didn’t even believe the Ford Models were good looking. They believed that they looked sick w/ no meat on their bodies. Men believe it would be smart to have average sized woman as well, since they have have plus size and skinny…It would smart to include women from every category.

  3. You can definitely be a successful model who is plus-sized or average-sized. Not all men just like skinny. That’s nothing but common sense, and I guess the people who claim to be pro’s and pick out the models don’t have any…

  4. I wear a size 16, and I don’t trust Ford. I am going to look for any agencies that is looking for face models…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.