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Philomena Kwao is used to turning heads. The 22-year-old Bristol University grad and self-confessed “economics geek” beat out fierce competition to win a High Street fashion model contest run by plus-size design house Evans and Style369.c0m, and has since been spotted in clothing ads and on the pages of Cosmo.

The Dartford, Kent native of Ghanaian descent says she wants to be a role model for girls and prove they can be smart and beautiful–no matter their size.

“I hope to use this as a platform by which I can hopefully empower girls and young women like myself. I also want to be a figurehead for young girls today who sometimes may become disillusioned by ‘the glamorous lifestyle. I want to show them that you can really do it all if you try; that is to pursue your dreams, whatever they maybe and get an education. Your education doesn’t have to suffer! I also want to help spread the message that there is beauty in everything: every shape, colour, size, and height … whatever. We are all beautiful.”

Apparently, the modeling world has taken notice. Lately there has been a push to embrace “curvier women” and Shelly Vella, fashion director of Cosmopolitan UK, thinks Kwao will be at the forefront of these latest wave of “curvy” models.

“She has an incredible face and body, not to mention a professional and driven personality,” Vella said. “She will excel, whatever she decides to do.  Personally I would love to see her front a beauty campaign”

Despite the trend in including “plus-size” models, is the fashion world really ready to embrace women with curvier frames? Vella thinks so.

“The industry is definitely progressing its attitude to curvier girls, she insisted. “Healthier body attitudes and a backlash against REALLY skinny models have led a fair few designers to rethink the models they send down catwalks, and magazines to appraise their approach to their fashion pages.”

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