Plus Size Model Jennie Runk: “Don’t Let Anyone Tell You To Change!”

Jennie Runk

The name may not be house-hold familiar just yet, but Jennie Runk has become somewhat of a media darling in many female and fashion circles. She was the divine plus size model featured in an H&M campaign which made waves because they featured her shoot on the homepage of the fashion’s site.

All of a sudden everyone wanted to know who she was, and it turns out she is a down-to-earth American beauty who is passionate about using her voice and influence to promote healthy body image amongst young girls. Now there’s a girl using her new-found celeb status as beneficial currency!

Earlier this year, she signed to Jag Models, the first modeling agency in New York dedicated to women of ALL sizes, not just 0-4.  This agency will hopefully change the way the fashion industry views models because they are offering professional models who know how to #werk but have the advantage of representing more of the American female population that most agencies.

Jennie spoke to Vitamin W about how at the start of her modeling career in high school, she made the conscious decision to enter the plus-size arena rather than try to drastically lose weight to become a size 0. She talks about how she always knew she was curvy and didn’t fit into most clothes her high school friends were buying, but it never bothered her and that’s what made the decision easy for her. Embrace those curves ladies!

Her message to girls is simple and clear:

“Get to know yourself and your body. Don’t let anyone tell you to change who you are in a way you don’t think is right or healthy for you. Make your own health and well-being your biggest priority.No one is going to look out for you better than you can.”

She likes to tell aspiring models it is crucial to find their passion outside of the fashion industry. “If you let your whole life and world get consumed by this industry, you’ll become very one dimensional. Yes, you are gorgeous, but you are SO MUCH MORE than just a pretty face. Never let anyone, especially yourself, forget that.”

Wise words!

Jennie Runk H&M

The biggest problem she has with the notion of being a plus size model, is people’s reactions. The word “fat” gets thrown around in so many variations and she thinks it’s silly, especially when people react in an offended manner, as if she should be ashamed of being plus size!

“Sometimes it seems as if they’re trying to console me for being a victim of fashion industry bullying. I don’t feel fat, I don’t feel victimized. I couldn’t possibly be happier or more confident about my body, she’s my favorite body on this earth because she’s mine.”

Anyway, there are bigger concerns for Jennie, other than what her body, or anyone else’s body (for that matter) “should” look like according to a conformist perception.

“I think we need to be much more concerned about the examples we, as adults, set for younger generations in our way of thinking and tolerating people who are different from ourselves.”Growing up, she experienced people respecting her and treating her well not because of her physical appearance but because of who she is.

“I got used to people listening to what I was saying… rather than judging me by my looks. Physical appearance, for me, isn’t all that important, it never has been. I don’t care what anyone has to say about my body, good or bad, because I’m more focused on other things that are more important to me.”

Jennie Runk H&M

Megan Reback from Vitamin W echoes our sentiments when she says it annoys her how the fashion industry completely ignores the fact that the majority of American women who buy clothes fall into the plus size category, yet this isn’t reflected in their campaigns and runway shows. Jennie’s perspective is that these labels cater to their audience, and instead of being negative about it, its easier to find a store when you know you will find something for your body shape and size.

“The only problem is the social stigma attached to anything labeled “plus.” There shouldn’t be anything wrong with being plus sized. What needs to happen is an equal representation of as many different body types as possible, in every aspect of the media. This “thin is in” versus “real women have curves” argument is pointless. There has always been, and will always be a wide variety of body types living on this earth, and every women should be able to see someone who looks a little like her in every magazine.”

Don’t you wish there were more people like Jennie in the industry? We are glad she has the guts to speak up and be proud of who she is. She is helping so many young girls have the confidence to look at themselves in the mirror and be happy they don’t look like anyone else. Jennie thinks the notion of “normal” is just an illusion, and it’s confused a whole generation of girls who look to celebrities, models, fashion and advertising as their guides to life.

Thank goodness positive role models DO exist, who make it their mission to help change attitudes in a way that will empower women.

“I’ll never stop speaking up for what I believe in. I feel like I’m fighting a war against body hatred, and I intend to win.”

And the gold medal in the olympics of body image goes to…JENNI RUNK!

Jennie Runk


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