Plus-Size Model Wins Praise for Posting Unretouched Bikini Photo

Lilit Marcus, Shine Contributor
Photo: Robyn Lawley/Instagram
Photo: Robyn Lawley/Instagram

Australian model Robyn Lawley is no stranger to body talk. The 25-year-old chose health over mainstream success when she switched from straight-size to plus-size modeling. Since doing so, she has covered magazines including Vogue Italia, Elle France, and Cosmopolitan Australia and become the face of Mango's new plus-size line, Violeta.

Unhappy with the offerings in the plus-size swimwear department, the Wilhelmina-represented model launched her own collection, Robyn Lawley Swimwear, full of sexy suits beginning at size 10. To promote the line's latest offerings, Lawley posted a picture of herself modeling one of the bikinis on Instagram. The candid photo of Lawley in a pink two-piece was tagged #retouchandmakeupfree and has gotten more than 1,400 likes.

She looks gorgeous  and thin  in the pic, causing many to wonder why someone with a body like Lawley's would be considered "plus size" to begin with. "If this is plus sized then I hardly know any skinny people," one woman wrote in the comments on Lawley's Instagram. Another added "Plus size your a**, fashion industry!" 

And the comments echoed throughout social media. "This is a plus size model? No wonder eating disorders are on the rise," wrote one woman on Twitter. "Her body be bangin'!" commented another, sharing a different bikini pic of the model.

Lawley, a longtime body-image activist, has never been shy about talking about weight and health. Earlier this year, she and three other plus-size models created their own take on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue cover. The shoot was sponsored by the U.S.-based plus-size brand Swimsuits For All and was designed to challenge the notion of what a “swimsuit body” is supposed to look like. "I feel sexy in a swimsuit when it's fitting me correctly and it's beautiful to look at," Lawley said in a promotional video for the campaign. 

For Lawley, whose body is her living, every single photo becomes a point of scrutiny. In June, the model posted another Instagram pic – this time of herself in workout pants and a hoodie – with commenters immediately claiming that she had lost weight and was getting too thin. Lawley addressed the comments on her Facebook page, saying, “I don't ever starve myself or diet...I try to eat as healthy as I can day to day and always have.” She also said that she stays in shape by doing yoga and kickboxing. 

And what does Lawley do when she’s not busy being a body-image hero and supermodel? Updating her food blog, Robyn Lawley Eats, and working on the cookbook she’s due to publish next year. Models eating? In Lawley's world, it's no big deal.

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