Never has a last name been more appropriate.
Model Candice Huffine’s moniker is pronounced “huh-fine.” And in person, the 32-year-old is a stunner — tall, with curves in all the right places and a beaming smile. And she just broke the fashion weight ceiling by posing on the cover of the May issue of style bible Elle, which normally goes the more, ahem, bony route.
Suddenly, the insular fashion world has possibly become almost body inclusive.
“It doesn’t bother me to talk about my body as much as I do because it’s what’s implementing the change,” Huffine tells Yahoo Style. “If I can get you to look at me in a different way, instead of just seeing size and making the wrong assumption about what my body is, I’ll talk about it all the time.”
Huffine was featured in the 2015 Pirelli calendar. She’s fronted a campaign for Lane Bryant. She’s walked in Sophie Theallet and Prabal Gurung’s shows during New York Fashion Week; the Fall 2017 shows were particularly diverse, featuring Huffine, Ashley Graham, and Georgia Pratt, among others.
But all that’s bows and whistles compared with what Huffine views as her life’s work: to make women of every size, shape, and color love themselves and think anything is possible. To that end, she started Project Start, pushing women to pound the pavement.
That’s because Huffine is a runner. Fresh off the Boston Marathon, which she ran on April 17, she jokes that she wonders when it’s finally inappropriate to carry the medal around with her. Possibly never?
“I wanted to bring something active into my life. I was a short fuse. I was on edge. I was always tired and dragging. So you have a glass of wine instead. My husband does triathlons, and I watched him doing that for years. I never thought it was something for me. I just wrote it off. Can’t do it. Look at me, I can’t be a runner. I don’t look like them,” she says.
So her husband dared her to give it a shot. Huffine, never one to turn down a challenge, said yes. And here she is, bringing running shoes with her when she shoots in different cities so that she can exercise.
“Here we are now. Something about it took right away. It’s very hard. There was something that kept me going back for more. Looking back, it was the way I felt. It chilled me out. It gave me alone time. It just worked for me,” she says.
Before, Huffine says, she’d tried “all the things” — spinning, boxing, a personal trainer. But nothing stuck until she took up running, though she’s the first to admit that lacing up those kicks was no easy feat.
“You think you can’t. You shouldn’t. People look at you funny. Get over that hump and just start. You feel great. It makes you a happier person. You made a plan and stuck to it. You feel unstoppable. I started on a dare and I kept going,” she says.
That same gung-ho attitude applies to her modeling career. She wants women to understand that they come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and there’s no set standard for what’s perfect.
“Beauty is all things and not reserved for a certain size of person. If it’s unnatural for a girl to be a 2, she can rest easy and let her body change the way it should. It’s about everyone having a place. We’re going so far onward and upward. Maybe we’ll never have a conversation about my size again. That could happen sooner than you think,” she says.
So where did that confidence come from? Huffine gives full credit to her parents, who never once made the scale an issue. Her mom’s weight went up and down, as did Huffine’s. No one commented on it. If she wanted to do something, she went after it, whether it was cheerleading or competing in beauty pageants. When she went to her first model castings, she wore “appalling” tank tops and board shorts, with neon bra straps hanging out. She didn’t do her hair. She felt like being herself and relied on her own tenacity.
“I go back so many times and thank my 15-year-old self because she was really awesome. She just set me up for a really strong future,” she says.
“In some way, I had a message that I was committed to back then, that I would do what made me happy and I would not let my size hold me back from that.”
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
• ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Stars Get Real About Body Image: ‘I Decided to Be Honest’
•‘If It’s a Little Revealing, Whatever’ Is Ariel Winter’s Body-Positive Style Ethos
• Laura Linney’s No-Frills Beauty Secrets: Popcorn and Meditation
• ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Elisabeth Moss: ‘Saying You’re Not a Feminist Is Like Saying You’re Not a Human Being’