When Filipina model Kat Gumabao auditioned for the "Face of Torrid 2018", she knew here chances were slim. There were over 15,000 applicants hoping to represent the clothing retailer and only 10 would make the cut.
A month later however, Gumabao found herself sashaying down one of fashion's trendiest runways as one of the models of Torrid.
"NYFW was amazing! It was exhilarating. I pray it won't be my last," she told GMA News Online of her experience in an interview via email.
It's time to put the #Philippines on the map when it comes to plus size fashion ?? World, I'm coming for you. Lord, THIS IS ALL FOR YOU. @torridfashion I'm gonna say it again and again and again, THANK YOU for choosing me to be part of the #TORRIDMODELTOP10 it was an honor to be included in such a selection that truly embraces diversity. Thank you for empowering women around the world. THANK YOU TO @flypal for getting me to the other side of the world safe and sound. Thank you to @mic and @frazerkh for this awesome photo. Read the full article ???????? https://m.mic.com/articles/184394/torrid-debuts-at-nyfw-with-a-diverse-size-inclusive-show-that-felt-anything-but-ordinary#.uOD59uuT0 #TorridModelTopTen #TheseCurves #NeverGiveUpOnYourDreams #CurveModel #BeautyAtAnySize #PlusSizeModel #SexyIsNotASize #BeautyBeyondSize #PlusModel #EmpoweredWomenEmpowerPeople #FirstTimeForEverything #InspiredToInspire #FlyPAL #PinoyPride #NYFW #NewYorkFashionWeek #FashionWeek #PusongPinoy #EverythingHappensForAReason
Torrid made a historic debut at the New York Fashion Week in September 2017. The brand carries sizes 10 to 30, catering to the overlooked needs of bigger women in the US.
“Over 60 percent of the women in America are plus size (or) considered plus size,” said Elizabeth Munoz, head of product and design for Torrid, told Reuters. “The fashion industry can keep passing and keep saying I'm not going to acknowledge that but there's going to be a point where we can't ignore the fact that most of the available population to sell to is a size that they don't make.”
Torrid's participation made headlines, with a publications welcoming the diversity they brought to the runway.
Below, Gumabao tells us how things fell into place:
Can you tell us about joining Face of Torrid and being in NYFW?
I just prayed a lot that if it really is God's will in my life, then it will happen. There were interviews and background checks that we needed to clear before being a finalist.
[I was in the Philippines] when I finally got the confirmation that I was part of the top 10, the only obstacle was getting to the US in time. And I'm just so thankful that PAL was generous and gracious enough to help me. They believed in what I was doing and they really showed their support by sending me to where I needed to be. It was amazing. Everything was so last minute that I got my tickets on the day of my flight!
Was modeling something you dreamt of as a child?
Growing up in the Philippines as a bigger woman — modeling will never be a dream of yours, or at least not something you'll say out loud.
But when I started doing it more openly, I realized that I represent a major community. And getting support and messages from people around the world that they are inspired by what I am doing just affirmed that I am where I need to be.
What pushed you to pursue a career in fashion?
I am doing this not just for me, but for all the men and women out there who have been told that size is all that matters. I'm here in this industry to help change the definition of fashion and beauty.
I'm here for the people who find it hard to love who they are because of their size. I'm here for the people who have been told to limit their dreams because of their body. I'm here for the people who have been judged and mocked and deprived of so many wonderful life experiences because of their weight.
I'm here to try and change all that. I cannot do it on my own, there are others who fight along side me as well. But I promise I will never stop trying to do what I know in my heart is right. I will keep fighting for diversity and inclusivity when it comes to all aspects of life. Not just beauty and fashion.
How do you deal with people who claim that they're making disparaging remarks about larger people's weight for "health reasons"?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I respect whatever it is they have to say. But always remember, make sure your comments are made out of compassion for others, not to shame them. Also, back your remarks with legitimate facts — do your research, also about the person whom you are talking about.
Because your words/judgments of other people are not a reflection of them, they are a reflection of you. Make sure you are not projecting your own insecurities onto other people.
Which myths about having a certain body shape gets on your nerve the most?
Fat people are unhealthy, thin people are healthy.
Your body type is not a measure of your health. If you want to know where you stand on the spectrum of health, get checked by professionals. Don't assume that just because you look a certain way you are or aren't healthy.
What's your position on the terms people use to describe larger body shapes? Some people don't like the term "plus size", others prefer straight up "fat" instead of euphemisms.
I honestly don't mind what anyone wants to use. I do mind how people use it.
A person who has good intentions will never come off as offensive no matter what terms they decide to use. But a person who wants to shame you will do so even when using the kindest terms possible to the human vocabulary.
Could you share some tips on accepting your body with our readers?
There is no cutting corners on this one. It's either you do or you don't. BUT it's definitely not an overnight thing. It takes time...especially since we've been told that only a certain body type is acceptable...so don't take it too hard on yourself.
Shower yourself with compliments, with affirmation, and with love. Look at yourself in the mirror and just encourage yourself. Do whatever works for you.
What would you say to a young Filipina girl out there being bombarded by advertisements encouraging her to lose weight and to be a size XS?
Change your body not because hate it, but because you love it. Treat your body with love and respect, putting health as your goal.
You don't need to be an XS to be beautiful. You already are. You just have to find that beauty within you and let it out.
People will always have something to say... it's your choice whether to allow it to affect you or not.
First, I have faith. Then I prepare.?? Lord, I know you are working. Miracles are coming. I believe. ???? ??Side note?? People think just because I'm a plus size model means I advocate an unhealthy lifestyle. SO. NOT. TRUE. ? I try my best to workout 4-5 times a week, 6 if I really have the time. I always try to balance my diet with the right amount of carbs, fat and protein and of course sugarrrrrrr???? I work on my health because I want to prepare myself for the work and the challenges God has in store for me. I love my body regardless of its shape, size and weight. And I will still love my body if it starts to change and adapt to my healthy lifestyle. Body positivity and body love is not just about loving yourself now, it's about loving yourself everyday. Loving yourself enough to treat your body the right way for YOU. #LoveYourselfFirst #CurveModel #BeautyAtAnySize #ILoveMyBody #PlusSizeModel #SexyIsNotASize #EffYourBeautyStandards #BeautyBeyondSize #Love #PlusModel #HealthOverWeight
— LA, GMA News
The Final Four for the "Face of Torrid 2018" competition will be announced on October 23rd. The official "Face of Torrid 2018" will be revealed on February 2018.