I was shamed as too fat to model — now I’m the face of big-name brands

Lifestyle /

Take that, haters.

A woman who was once told she was “too fat to model” is proving the trolls wrong by appearing in advertisements for Kim Kardashian’s Skims, Khloé Kardashian’s Good American, Sephora, H&M and more.

Sarah Clawson, 26, fought negative self-esteem and faced cruel comments about her weight growing up as haters tried to convince her she’d never make it as a model.

But in 2019, determined to prove herself, she dropped out of college and was signed to the modeling agency BTWN a year later.

“I decided to stop hating myself and love the body I am in, not just exist in it. There’s no point hating something I can’t fully change,” she told Newsweek.

Sharon Clawson
Clawson always dreamed of becoming a model, despite strangers and family members attempting to discourage her.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson

Her dad’s side of the family has “big builds,” which she inherited, she said. The successful model can even recall a time when a sixth-grade teacher told her she had a “pretty face,” but advised her to not “let your body ruin it.” The impressionable youth “fed off validation from others,” letting the comments get to her.

She used to frequent the gym “for all the wrong reasons,” chasing an unattainable number on the scale and attempting to squeeze into ill-fitting clothes. But she’s realized that her curves don’t mean she’s unhealthy — and even visits the gym six times a week just to feel good.

Sharon Clawson
For most of her life, she never dared sport a bikini, she admitted.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson

She works out with the “mindset of feeling empowered” and “feeding my soul.” Her healthier mindset even makes her more comfortable and confident in her body — enough to pose in next-to-nothing adverts seen by millions.

Clawson weighs 200 pounds and regularly flaunts her curves in a bikini, despite rejecting the skin-baring swimwear for most of her life. She’s racked up more than 38,000 Instagram followers and another 40,000 on TikTok, where she aspires to be a role model for young girls just like her.

While the video-sharing app can be “brutal,” she added, many of the negative comments come from men who feel entitled to sharing their nasty opinions about her looks. She believes they’re just “projecting their anger and insecurities onto others.”

“Anyone doubting their ambitions, there is space for you in the creative world. You shouldn’t let anyone project their fears or hate onto you,” she advised.

Sharon Clawson and Ashley Graham
Seen here with Ashley Graham, Clawson (left) now models for some of the biggest brands in the business.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson
Sharon Clawson
The 26-year-old, who dropped out of college to pursue her now-lucrative career, has even appeared on posters in stores.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson

Her route to fame and fortune was “scary” for her family, who told her that success was “unlikely to happen” in her pursuit of modeling, but she was hell-bent on being the diversity in the industry young girls everywhere need to see.

The plus-size beauty queen “thanks the people who doubted her.” Instead of deterring her, their negativity “motivated her more than ever.”

Sharon Clawson
Strangers online post negative comments on her images, but she just uses them as motivation to be successful.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson

Curvier bodies have been in vogue in recent years, which has been attributed to a rise in plus-size models. In fact, studies have shown that curvier body types similar to the Kardashians are more sought after than stick-thin frames.

In October, Boston University researchers found that plus-size models are making bigger impacts with online audiences. Their results were determined by analyzing social media engagement markers. While hegemonically attractive women — think: thin, lanky, Victoria’s Secret-esque — garnered millions more followers, both they and curvier models had the same amount of likes, comments and views per post.

“While the American standard of beauty appears to idolize extreme thinness as seen in Victoria Secret models and their diminishing body sizes, we sought to explore the impact of plus-size models by reviewing their body size metrics and social media presence to better understand their emerging role in the current standards of beauty,” Neelam Vashi, the study’s co-author, said in a statement.

Curvier models are driving up the demand for trendy garments for larger bodies, according to Future Market Insights, which valued the plus-size clothing industry at $601.7 billion in 2022.

Sharon Clawson
Clawson hopes she can be a good role model for young girls.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson
Sharon Clawson
Curvy models are gaining in popularity online, studies show.
Instagram/Sharon Clawson

In fact, curvy body types are the inspiration behind some of the biggest plastic surgery trends, including the famed Brazilian butt lifts and classic breast augmentations.

Although the skinny minis still reign supreme in terms of visibility, curvy models are beginning to balance out the scales. Forget Kate Moss, the internet is fawning over women like Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence.

“With the changing societal body image in America, plus-size models have gained in popularity and positively impacted a body-inclusive model of beauty,” the authors wrote.

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