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Bringing curves to the catwalk

Bringing curves to the catwalk: TOCCARA

MODEL, TV personality and activist Toccara Jones is bringing curves to the catwalk and fighting for all women who are plus-size.

On a recent trip to the UK, the US personality and former America’s Next Top Model contestant spared time for a chat with here!, hours before she was due to hit the runway in the international fashion show, Curves in Couture.

Chatty and outspoken, Jones, complete with large breasts and a curvaceous figure, is definitely not your conventional catwalk queen.

But following her participation in US TV show Celebrity Fit Club in 2008, through which she lost over two stone, the 30-year-old has faced a wave of criticism from people who insist she can no longer consider herself plus-size. Jones rubbishes the criticism.

“Yes I’ve lost weight, but I’m still a plus-size model, no matter what people’s opinions may be,” she insists. “I’ve never tried to be a straight size model; I always wanted to be curvy and healthy – not a number. "

“Some people don’t really understand what being a plus-size model is. They say things out of ignorance and I would say they can kiss my curvy, round voluptuous a**!”

Frustrated by the stigma that larger women get, not just in the fashion industry but in society as a whole, the cover girl believes it is her duty to represent women of all shapes and sizes.

“I fight for this all the time. I don’t understand how the word ‘plus’ in the fashion world gets a negative connotation, when plus, by definition is positive. That’s why I feel like I have to educate people on what it is to be a model like me. Sometimes I feel like I have to scream to make people understand."

“When people think plus-size, they assume it means overweight, fat or unattractive, but I’ve met so many different models of different sizes – beautiful women."

“As for me, I am P-L-U-S,” she said, before laughing: “I’m big, black, beautiful and love it!”

Having shot to fame in 2004 via model Tyra Banks’ hit TV show America’s Next Top Model, Jones credits the show for all of her subsequent success.

“America’s Next Top Model was definitely life changing. I always wanted to be a model; always wanted the chance and the opportunity and Tyra Banks gave it to me. What was so remarkable about the show was that they cast all shapes and sizes. Tyra did a great thing in breaking the mold.”

The Ohio-born model was voted off before the final, but she made enough of an impression to be signed by one of the biggest agencies in the US, Wilhelmina Models.

“Ever since America’s Next Top Model, everything has been amazing. I have gone on to have a really great career in the modelling industry and I’ve done remarkable work as a plus-size model. I feel like I’m an advocate for larger models.”

In addition, Jones made fashion magazine history by featuring in Italian Vogue’s historic all black issue in 2008.

Being featured alongside world-renowned models including Naomi Campbell, Iman and Tyra Banks, Jones’s appearance marked the first time a plus-size model was featured in a high-end fashion magazine.

“I have accomplished some of my dreams, but my career highlight was being the first plus-size model to feature in Italian Vogue. Every time I think about it I blush from ear to ear.”

Dreaming of being a model since the age of nine, Jones, who appeared in US sitcom Girlfriends and has graced the covers of magazines including King and Be, began taking modeling classes at the age of 13 and visited New York every summer in the hope of being signed to an agency.

“I always knew New York was where I wanted to be. It’s the Mecca of fashion and if you have something you are passionate about, you go to the Mecca. I have been very determined. My career didn’t happen over night and it wasn’t easy. I worked hard to get to where I am.”

Today, she admits that she is more comfortable in front of a camera, as opposed to walking down the catwalk. But with taking over the fashion world in mind, Jones will overcome all obstacles.

“I want to get into more runway modelling and shake up the catwalk world; I want the plus-size modeling industry to be just as big as the straight size.”

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