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Fresh Face – Jennie Runk

At 26 years old, Jennie Runk is an American plus-size model. She is best known for appearing in H&M’s summer 2013 beachwear campaign, which was featured on the front page of H&M’s United States website in late April 2013. It was such a success that Runk wrote an op-ed piece for BBC on size diversity in fashion and her experiences as a model in May 2013 which is helping to spin the fashion world around.

The way Runk was discovered is even telling of her ability to change the world. It was in 2003, when she was 13 years old, in a PetSmart in Chesterfield, Missouri, when Mary Clarke of Mother Model Management approached her while she was volunteering for the cat adoption department. At the time, she was a size 8, in between straight size and plus-size modelling. Clarke told her she needed to either lose weight or gain weight to model. She chose to gain between 10 and 20 lb (4.5 and 9.1 kg) to a size 10–12.

Runk started modelling full-time in 2011 after she moved to New York City. She initially signed with New York agency Wilhelmina Models in March 2004, and later switched to Ford Models. Her first major editorial was Body Language in US Vogue’s April 2005 Shape issue, which was photographed by Steven Meisel. In addition she appeared twice in Glamour, most notably (in November 2009) nude with six other plus-size models including Ashley Graham, Crystal Renn and Lizzie Miller. Other editorials include Cosmo Girl in February 2006, Marie Claire in October 2007, and several Seventeen editorials and other swimwear fashion campaigns.

Runk is also taking part in the straight/curve documentary, directed by Jenny McQuaile, which examines the way the fashion industry is changing. It features plus-size models as well as photographers, stylists, and magazine editors who are all interviewed for the film. In the UK Daily Mail Online, McQuaile explains that the documentary explores the way fashion dictates how we see ourselves day-to-day and how some bodies are seen as better than others, but how that is all changing now. McQuaile goes on to say that: “We want to empower women to love their bodies no matter what their shape or size, as long as they’re healthy”.

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