A bundle of energy, positivity and fun, Georgina Horne has gone from working in a restaurant, to travelling the world as a plus-size model. Through her fullerfigurefullerbust social media platform, the 31-year-old has created an online community for the larger lady in a bid to promote body positivity.
Having faced fat-shamers throughout much of her life, she channelled her experiences into a support group helping women to embrace their curves, boost their confidence, and feel empowered.
However, it’s not always been a smooth catwalk for Georgina. Here, she tells Happiful about coping with trolls, her mental health, and why now – 27 years after her mother’s death – she has turned to therapy
It’s rather fitting to interview Georgina in a room full of half-dressed women. For, without her support, it seems possible that many of the 100 or so ladies here would have never dreamed of flashing their flesh in public. And by this I mean happily agreeing to be photographed at a lingerie shoot for Curvy Kate – a brand which uses its diverse range of customers as models, for which Georgina is fronting a campaign.
As we sit together in a corner of the studio, I feel instantly at ease with Georgina; so it seems does everyone else as they grab her for a hug and look on fondly as we chat. In fact, although I am the only woman in the room wearing a top and skirt, I feel somewhat underdressed beside Georgina, who is modelling a gorgeous lime-green, off-the-shoulder, tropical print set that features in a new collection she’s designed.
“Feeling comfortable in your own skin is so important,” Georgina tells me, and it’s clear she embraces this herself. The outfit hugs Georgina’s body in all the right places, and with her flawless skin and good looks she seems every inch the vintage pin-up. Glamour aside, Georgina has such a bubbly personality and warmth, which undoubtedly adds to her charm online, where she has amassed a huge following of more than 250,000 on Instagram.
A former waitress, Georgina’s world changed overnight seven years ago, when she started an online blog for plus-size ladies. It was a time before blogging had taken off, and Georgina believes the success she enjoyed was partly down to the fact that she was filling a niche before anyone else.
“I had entered a competition for Curvy Kate and came third, and although I didn’t win, the amount of support I got for putting myself out there in the first place was immense. For years I had put up with fat-shamers – including shopkeepers, neighbours and even former friends – who seemed disgusted by my size. From the support I received following the competition, I realised that larger-sized women needed a platform where they could come together.”
Growing up, Georgina developed what she described as “large breasts” and “a fat bottom” at secondary school, and found going through puberty a challenging time. “I used to get a lot of nasty remarks about my size, and bullying became the norm.”
But she refused to let the bullies get her down.
“I was always quite a cheeky and cocky child, which kind of gave me some inner confidence to cope,” she says. And alongside these traits, Georgina had a passion for writing, so it was no surprise that she took to blogging so easily.
“Blogging proved so therapeutic for me,” Georgina recalls. “I could write about things that bothered me, and realised that so many people could understand and relate to my situation. Being large is not easy; everything from finding the right bra shape, facing rude shop assistants, and even intimacy as a bigger woman, were things that only people like myself could understand.”
What started as “diary entries” soon became something much bigger, with brands reaching out to Georgina for lingerie and clothes collaborations, leading to jobs with international designers that soon saw Georgina flying to places such as Milan for modelling work.
“Being appreciated for my size, rather than revolted by it, gave me the belief that people were finally able to see past models of one size.
I’ve built a community where we encourage conversations, to ensure everyone has each other’s back
“I felt empowered to help women look and feel their best, whatever their size or shape. I think that through my blog I was able to spread a message of body positivity, being able to love oneself at any size.”
Having always been a fan of exercise, Georgina often posts pictures of herself at the gym or doing burpees, dismissing the myth that ‘fat girls can’t lead a healthy lifestyle’. She also hosts – alongside another popular plus-size blogger, Hayley Stewart – a very successful yoga retreat abroad, where women of all sizes come to switch off.
“Yes, of course I sweat buckets when I exercise; at times I am exhausted and gasping for a drink, but I’m normal. I’d much rather be large and happy, than thin and miserable, and I’m brilliant at yoga by the way – that’ll have the body-shaming trolls bending over backwards!”
With her huge grin and sparkly eyes, Georgina tells me that she always tries to smile at everyone to put them at ease. Her desire to embrace life is infectious – especially for someone who had such a difficult childhood. Georgina’s mother died from breast cancer when Georgina was just four years old – a tragedy she believes she never properly dealt with.
“Over the years, I always thought the deep sadness I felt at losing my mother would fade, but on the contrary, the grief got deeper. Every milestone in my life I wish my mum was here to see it. I am very conscious that in a few years I will be 34 – the same age she was when she died. I feel like I’ve kind of hit a brick wall.”
It was finally admitting that she needs professional help that encouraged Georgina to go into therapy.
“I’d had the worst childhood trauma, which often left me feeling anxious, tight-chested and, at times, deeply sad. I knew I had to address the issue, and although it has taken me decades to admit it, seeking therapy was exactly what I needed to do.”
Having started counselling, Georgina is adamant that it is the best way forward. “Getting things off my chest, as it were, may sound tongue-in-cheek, but talking through problems really does help.
“I get so many women messaging me about how grateful they are for my honest account of what it is like being plus-sized – it feels good that I’ve built a community where we encourage conversations, to ensure everyone has each other’s back.”
When it comes to mental health, Georgina knows only too well how soul-destroying it can be for people with weight issues to strive to be skinny. “It’s no surprise that some of the younger generation who have grown up with social media develop issues because they want to lead the ‘perfect Instagram life’.
“It makes me even more passionate about spreading the word about the importance of talking. Whether that means to a community like ours, your friends, or a therapist.
“With my own grief counselling, I have learnt coping mechanisms on how to start healing myself. Although I am proud of what I have achieved, I am constantly aware of just how fragile life can be.”
It goes without saying that if you are in the public eye there will always be trolls, and Georgina has had her fair share of them. From vulgar comments on her Instagram posts, to an outcry of “disgust” when she chose to lose some weight for her wedding, Georgina has learnt to turn a blind eye.
“Empowering women is my goal. Although brands are starting to look at making bigger-sized clothes for larger ladies, fatism is still as bad as it always was.
“Nobody likes to be the elephant in the room,” she adds, “whatever size or shape you are. I mean look at all these wonderful women in this studio not giving a toss – they are happy, healthy and embracing life. They may be friends I have made through my social channels, but they are the real deal – the best bosom buddies a girl can have.”