With all eyes currently on Sydney for Australian Fashion Week 2023, one of Australia’s most in-demand models led the first of the shows on the runway on opening night.
Top curve model Bell Campbell opened for popular label Youkhana in their debut show. “Designer Nathan Youkhana is exceptionally talented who creates the most stunning pieces that are size inclusive,” says Bell. “From sketch to production, it’s clear he has a vision for all body types.”
At six foot tall, a curvy size 14-16 and sporting a blonde buzz cut, the 25-year-old who’s appeared in top campaigns for Bonds and Stax might not seem your typical model. However, the former costume design student, has been setting the industry alight since she started modelling two years ago and has now walked for 18 designers – more than any other curve model at her agency Bella Management.
We spoke to Bell about her incredible rise in one of the world’s most competitive industries.
How did you get into modelling?
I sort of fell into the industry with no real prior knowledge. I was discovered over Instagram and was signed to an agency within one week.
You are very in demand as a curve model – what do you put that down to?
For me, my shaved head and curves bring a new taste to the old market. However, you need to be prepared to get knocked down and get back up again. I had to learn that a no actually means a maybe (because they actually considered you for a second) and a maybe means a yes (because the possibility is there, and they are building a job around your look).
What was it like growing up in your body?
I was a tall curvy girl, always having to stand at the back of school photos. You can imagine, that didn’t exactly make me feel unseen in the world of adolescence.
I could never share clothes with my other school friends, impromptu sleepovers were embarrassing given I sometimes had to wear their mums’ clothes, and borrowing swimmers were always out of the question.
Having a supportive mother, these things I was able to learn to deal with, but you can imagine after years of observing negative dialogue in media about women’s bodies – accepting my own body image was a challenge for me.
It’s with time and maturity you realise how different we all are, and embracing all my curves and edges made me feel confident.
Do you think there’s been a definite change in the industry being more size-inclusive, or is there still more that can be done?
When I first entered the industry, I believed the fight for size inclusivity had been fought. There were and are amazing models who have paved the way for me and opened doors to work with clients I never would have considered.
Unfortunately, having now gained more experience, I believe there is more work to be done. There have been times backstage at a show, where I have been the only curvy girl. I’m a size 14, which in the eyes of Australia equates to the average-sized woman.
It is in these real-world environments where I get asked to wear tummy-tucking underwear to help ‘smooth out’ my figure. Not only this, I also experienced a runway where their team avoided behind-the-scenes stills of the curve models. From these observations, it’s very clear that some designers and brands are simply ticking a box in the name of inclusivity.
Whilst I agree that we are heading in the right direction, I still feel we are mountains away from the future we all deserve.
What is your advice to someone who’s curvy who would like to be a model, but isn’t sure they have what it takes?
What have you got to lose? If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Stay consistent, be confident, and remember grit and resilience will go a long way. The industry is ever-changing and you might just have the right look.
Australian Fashion Week is on from May 15- 19.