A teen model who struggled with poor self-image and disordered eating is now a body-positive advocate — not to mention a work of art.
A portrait of Miami-based plus-size model Natalia Lorenzo was featured on a five-foot-tall canvas in the Art Basel fair’s Dec. 10 show, The Art of Beauty. It’s an experience Lorenzo could never have imagined, even one year ago, before she signed her first modeling contract.
Lorenzo, 19, shared her excitement in a Monday tweet that was shared more than 47,000 times and liked almost 185,000 times: “At a young age I developed self-imagery issues about my body. It later lead to depression and anxiety which I suffered from for years. Recently I finally broke out of my shell & my face and my body is on a canvas at Art Basel this year. I couldn’t be any more proud of myself.”
At a young age I developed self imagery issues about my body. It later lead to depression and anxiety which I suffered from for years. Recently I finally broke out of my shell & my face and my body is on a canvas at Art Basel this year. I couldn’t be any more proud of myself pic.twitter.com/UbBdsmUkHw
— Lordenzö (@oknatt_) December 11, 2017
The model, who was born in Colombia, became uncomfortable in her skin shortly after moving to the United States at the age of 7. “I started gaining weight and I was very shy, so kids would throw books at me and call me fat,” Lorenzo tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Around seventh grade, I started binge eating and throwing up, which went on for two years.”
As Lorenzo neared high school, she avoided scenarios that required her to wear a bathing suit. “My friends would say, ‘Let’s go to the beach’ and I’d wear a swimsuit but feel anxiety. So I’d hide in the bathroom or wear a T-shirt. I didn’t want to engage with anyone, all because of my body.”
Last year, when Lorenzo turned 18, she got fed up. “I thought, ‘I’m turning 19 — there’s no way in hell I’ll keep doing this,’” she says. “I was sad for so long and let my body hold me back. Sometimes, I felt so disgusting, I didn’t want to leave my bedroom. I missed so many good times.”
Recently, Lorenzo discovered social media and the pleasure of taking photos, which helped her view her body in a whole new way. She also started opening up about her experiences on Instagram, where she highlights her cellulite and reveals the camera angles and poses employed by models to look their best.
About a month-and-a-half ago, after only a few local modeling jobs under her belt, Lorenzo signed with a new agency, DAS Model Management and landed a major gig: Art Basel. For the show, Lorenzo is featured in the portrait wearing a bra and underwear, and there’s a recorded bit of audio in which she discusses why she loves her body.
Lorenzo plans to use modeling as a conduit for body positivity. “I want to be the person I wish I had in fifth grade,” she says. “I have cellulite, tummy rolls, and stretch marks, but that’s normal and I’ll keep putting it out there, no matter what people say.”
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