She’s always been a high achiever academically and now 22-year-old student Philomena Kwao is hoping to excel out of the classroom as Britain’s first black plus-size model.

The self-confessed economics geek beat thousands of other hopefuls in a nationwide contest run by curvy clothing brand Evans in conjunction with Models 1 and

She has since starred in numerous fashion features including a beach-inspired shoot in this month’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

Striking: Philomena wears multi coloured fluro Kaftan £29.50 available at   
Shot on the shores of Miami, size 16 Philomena who is from Dartford, Kent and of Ghanaian heritage showcases her striking looks in a range of bold beachwear.

In preparation for the assignment she looked to some of the most renowned plus-sized models including Crystal Renn, Tara Lynn and Candice Huffine studying the way they flaunted their curves.

She was one of five girls to make it through to the final of the modelling contest and is now signed with a new division of Models 1.

Over the years the model agency has represented the likes of Yasmin Le Bon, Linda Evangelista and Twiggy but last summer it launched a sister company called Excel-Models1 tapping into the trend for curvier women.

But it wasn’t Philomena’s first foray into fashion and in 2008 she was crowned Miss Ghana UK.

Commenting on her recent win she said: ‘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’.

Philomena in the May issue of Cosmopolitan wearing embellihed kimono top £55,   
‘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.’

Fiona Ross brand director from hopes that curvier representatives such as Philomena will help change attitude towards body size.

‘Whilst there are a lot of really beautiful plus models around, the vast majority of them are from the US.

‘As a British brand, we really wanted to find a beautiful healthy British girl, so we launched our UK model search in association with Models 1 and Cosmopolitan, who were also very excited about finding stunning UK talent.’

Since graduating from Bristol University with a first class degree in Economics Philomena is currently studying for an MSc in International Health Management at Imperial College, London which she is set to finish this September.

She added: ‘I know it sounds very cliché, but I didn’t even think I would win.

‘Since being announced as the winner I have been lucky enough to have such an incredible journey, from shooting in Miami with Cosmo to shooting for Style’

Shelly Vella, fashion director of Cosmopolitan UK said: ‘She has an incredible face and body, not to mention a professional and driven personality.

‘She will excel, whatever she decides to do. Personally I would love to see her front a beauty campaign.

‘The industry is definitely progressing its attitude to curvier girls.

‘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.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail

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