Philomena Kwao: It’s Lonely Being A Black Plus-Size Model

If, from the outside looking in, women of color and women of a certain size feel neglected, dismissed, and ignored by the fashion industry, imagine how difficult it must be to actually be a part of that industry, but not really. To be a token of sorts, one of the few who was let in to the secret society, that’s the experience Black plus-size model Philomena Kwao discusses in a new EPIX documentary, Straight/Curve.

As the name might suggest, Straight/Curve explores the unrealistic beauty standards that have come to define the fashion industry and the damaging effects they have on women and girls.

“Ninety percent of young women and girls say they do not feel represented in the fashion industry or in media, and that the imagery they consume on a daily basis makes them feel ‘disgusting’ and ‘less than,’” a press release notes. “Straight/Curve examines the industries and obstacles responsible for this body image crisis and showcases the dynamic leaders fighting for more diversity of size, race and age.”

Those leaders include household name Tim Gunn and several models, from Emme, Denise Bidot, Tess Holliday, Iskra Lawrence, and Charlie Howard, to Jennie Runk, Sabina Kanson, Nathalia Novaes, Robyn Lawley, Sasha Exeter, Nicola Griffin, Erica Kraeter and, of course, Kwao.

In the clip below, Kwao talks about being narrowly defined by her skin color and her size, and how being one of a few plus-size models of color is quite a lonely experience. Check out the sneak peek of the documentary in the video below which airs on EPIX at 8 pm ET Wednesday, June 21.