Helena Nacca, the inspirational woman who quit her day job to follow her passion for plus size clothing and modelling, talked to us about her journey to success. After overcoming confidence issues and career doubts, Helena is now in a place where she is happy with herself and her work and has modelled for some of the biggest brands in the plus size industry. We caught up with her to find out more about how she came this far.
"I am 37 years old and have been modelling for about 2 years now. Until a few months ago, I was also the manager of a retail store, but I decided to take a big step in my career and left my job to pursue my real passion. Being a model at my age means that I'm definitely not a conventional model - even in the plus size industry, especially since I am only 5'2”! I have also opened up an online plus size shop which I now run, so at the moment I'm incredibly busy trying to get everything together!
In my short modelling career I have worked with some amazing plus size brands. My highlights so far have been doing the Curvy Convention catwalk in June and modelling for Simply Be, Gemma Collins, Figure 8 and State of Mind Active. I have also been approached by several modelling agencies and events. People have even come to me for advice, asking me to to help them or their loved one with confidence levels. This tells me that my work is having a real impact.
I first considered modelling when I was about 32, after I was approached several times by plus size beauty pageants. I didn't think at the time that it was for me, being already in my thirties. Ironically, it wasn’t until I was older that I decided it was something that I really wanted to pursue. I wanted to get involved to show the world that being fat doesn't equate to being lazy; for example, I love having a demanding career and have worked my way through promotions since the age of 17. I also wanted to send the message that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s the person inside that shines through and makes you beautiful. I realised the world needs plus size models who aren't just a size 14 but also bigger sizes and different shapes so that the fashion industry becomes more inclusive and everyone can relate to latest styles and trends.
It wasn’t always easy and there were obstacles to overcome before I felt confident in my new career path. When I started out I was still working full time and struggled to make it to castings. I wasn’t reaching my true potential. And like every woman, I had days when I felt like a goddess and others when I felt like there was no point modelling as there are other younger, prettier models than me! But after putting in the time and commitment to really excel and focus on my goals, I overcame the issues holding me back.
What really motivated me to succeed was my desire to change our society's perception of big people, understanding that I am just one part of the important movement. I’ve met other plus size models and we definitely empower one another; having a support system of people who are on the same path as you helps you stay focused, confident and determined.
My proudest achievement though, is the fact that at 37, I am now at that point where I see myself as a woman like any other. I have learned that everyone has issues and insecurities - even the most stereotypically beautiful women. Being confident comes from within and I may still have ‘bad hair days’ or ‘fat days’ but I like myself and would not change who or what I am."
If you plan to go ahead and eXceL in anything in 2016, we'd love to hear from you. We're even giving the best submission one of our Organic T-shirts and a Performance T-shirt! Find out how to get involved here.
Chiara Aprea MUA & Photography