Model Sheds Anxiety, Adds Weight, & Redefines Beauty Along The Way

Velvet D'amour

We have shared a few stories of girls who tried to lose weight thinking that’s what needed to happen in order for them to become a successful model, only to find satisfaction and success by putting on weight to be healthier, happier versions of themselves.

Some notable names who have spoken publicly about how adding a few extra pounds increased their chances of a career in fashion, include H&M model Jennie Runk and Ralph Lauren model Robyn Lawley.

The reason why we think these stories need to be shared is not because we hate skinny people. On the contrary, we love them, and anyone else who is happy with the way their body looks. For a couple of decades now the “thin is in” mantra has been ostracizing any woman who doesn’t quite fit into a size zero (aka, the general population of the WORLD) so to place a fair bit of emphasis the other way, showing big is beautiful, we’re pretty sure we are only on the way to balancing out the scales, as opposed to completely tipping it the other way.

It’s horrible to hear stories of young girls who literally almost kill themselves to try to fit into such a narrow view of women that the fashion industry continues to force upon us in every magazine. When we mean killing themselves, we are talking about eating disorders, which in some extreme tragic cases have led to deaths. One woman who has experienced this, but has risen above the ugly emotional rollercoaster to speak out, is Velvet D’Amour, a plus size model based out of Paris.

Velvet D'Amour

When she was 21, starting out in the fashion biz in New York, she was devastated to be told that at 117 lbs, she was too “big” to model. Absurdity at its finest. It’s so unrealistic, we’re surprised these modeling agencies don’t tell their girls that Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster also exist…

Now she is 46, and is a much different person, and couldn’t be happier. She spoke to Bustle magazine about her journey to being a catwalk superstar, and the plus size magazine she created called Vol Up 2.

At a size 26, she is actually considered a super plus-size model, but for those thinking there is no room for those kind of killer curves in the industry, let us prove you wrong.

At 300 pounds she walked the runways for Jean Paul Gauliter and John Galliano in 2006. But what made her name known around the world, was this photo of her which went viral in 2007. Two Brazilian models and sisters starved themselves to death the same year, and Velvet wore this shirt out of solidarity to them and to raise awareness, not to hate on skinny chicks.

Velvet D'Amour

As for those who will be quick to accuse Velvet of promoting obesity, and bad health, she’s got that argument covered also.

“Everyone was saying I don’t belong on the runway because I promote obesity,” she says. “But I have no high blood pressure, no cholesterol. So the shirt was actually a personal dedication to the girls literally dying from eating disorders.”

On her personal blog she has even written to those harsh critics who only use health as a way to negate what she is doing for larger women.

“If there is any shred of sincerity in your feigned concern over a fat person’s health, then instead of mocking us when we do get to the gym, or track, or waddle our way into a pool, take a second to encourage someone to better health.”

After trying to be a model in New York where she grew up, going from 140 pounds to 117 and still being told she was too big, Velvet decided to discover more of her artistic passion in Europe, and studied photography.

She walked into a plus size agency in France showing them her photography to try and get work, but they took one look at her and told Velvet they wanted to sign her as a model instead.


In February 2012 she launched her magazine Vol Up 2, a quarterly publication which is an extension of her belief in size acceptance, and also a way to encourage women to embrace their imperfections and be proud of their bodies. She wanted to be part of a movement which shows beauty as inclusive, rather than exclusive.

“All the images that are out in the media were the same — the 16-year old white girl who is totally emaciated,” she says. “And [she’s] beautiful, but she’s not the only one.”

“Older women are excluded from fashion. Different ethnicities are never shown. I felt it would be cool to showcase the people that fashion left behind,” she says, while also including mainstream models too.

Velvet doesn’t just want to be part of a “fat acceptance” movement, but be a catalyst of change, while allowing people to still be entitled to their own opinion. In her mind, you can’t force change upon someone else, but you can control your own thoughts and actions. And if you choose to be happy no matter what your size, then she says who cares what anyone else thinks!

“What bothers me is when media only allows one sort of beauty to be perceived as acceptable in order to promote capitalism. Where do drug addiction, alcoholism and bulimia come from?” she says. “From hating yourself — and being told only one form of beauty is right doesn’t help that.”

D’Amour’s ultimate goal through Volup2 is to create diversity in fashion, and through that, to help women love themselves for who they are — not the image mainstream media tells them they should be.

“At the end of the day, the true beauty we will all be left with isn’t cloaked in Dior or Lanvin, it’s the simple acts of kindness which have made a difference in the lives of others, which no cellulite or wrinkle can ever erase.”

Hey Karl Lagerfeld, remember when you said “no one wants to see curvy models” because fashion is all about “dreams and illusions”? Well here’s a dose of some reality and reality (yes, he needs to be told twice): the world does want to see diversity and curves, and cellulite, and imperfections. Because the dreams and illusions you are peddling only end up in self-loathing and hatred. Who’s going to buy all your expensive clothes if we’re all dead from starving ourselves due to keeping up with your standards?

Every day life is much more satisfying, especially for those choose acceptance, rather than run away from who they are created to be. And hey, Velvet agrees too!

“The ‘average’ person is the most extraordinary.”

Velvet D'amour




  1. No No No! There’s other ways to pose with a thick body… Great read, great inspiration for lots of people.. but the pictures and poses are very tacky… Not beautiful at all.. Just saying…

    • G: Did you read the article at all, or just find the photos not fap-worthy enough for you and comment like an asshole?

    • i agree with the message, but the model was posed in a tacky way….we big girls can do plenty to look good without looking sleazy

  2. someone always has something negative to say. the pictures are fantastic, you beauty is that to be adored. Insecure people outnumber the confident ones.

  3. Pingback: 5 Models Who Inspired Us & Changed The Fashion Industry In 2013

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