‘I’m now 33 and I can finally say that I accept and love myself,’ photographer and model Silvana Denker tells metro.co.uk.
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‘It took me many years to recognize I am more than a number on a scale or a size in my clothing.
‘I lost weight, I gained weight, I felt bad even when I was slim.
‘I had an eating disorder called binge eating. I hated myself. I lost myself and wished to be someone else.’
In 2010, Silvana’s perception of her body was transformed, by a modelling competition that made her realise being beautiful isn’t dependent on being tiny.
She didn’t win the competition, but by the end of it she’d managed to sign a contract with a major plus-size agency in Germany.
Silvana became a successful plus-size model, got involved in the body positive community, and discovered a passion for photography.
Now, she uses her artistic skills and the lessons she’s learned to widen our cultural definitions of beauty and empower plus-size women to feel brilliant about their bodies.
‘Now I know I am a good person,’ Silvana tells us. ‘There´s nothing wrong with me. I’m good the way I am.
‘When I was young gaining weight was one of the worst thing that could happen to me.
‘Today I say it was the best thing that happened to me. Without gaining weight all this wouldn’t have happened in my life and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the person I am today.’
She started by creating a calendar featuring curvy women, followed by the BodyLove campaign, a project against bullying and body-shaming
Her most recent project, Metallic Curves, is a glorious celebration of bodies that don’t fit the high-fashion norm.
Silvana asked women from her BodyLove campaign, as well as inviting new women, if they fancied getting painted gold and silver for a photoshoot.
She wanted to make the models look like sculptures, to show their elegance and beauty.
Silvana explains that the message of the resulting photos is simple – plus-size bodies are beautiful.
‘I hope people can see that there is not only the one perfect body, we are all different and that´s great,’ she says.
‘Curvy women look elegant, too, they can do acrobatic poses and look amazing.
‘The atmosphere was amazing. We had so much fun together.
‘The women painted each other and helped each other to clean their backs from the colour after the shoot.
‘Some of the women later said the shoot gave them so much self confidence. The best thing was and still is that we became a big group of women chatting every day and doing projects together.
‘We became friends and help each other, that’s amazing.
‘I can’t describe who blessed I feel I can do all this and have these amazing women in my life.
I’m happy they trust me and stand in front of my camera again and again no matter what idea I have.’
Of course, the project is just a small part of shifting the conversation and helping to promote self-love and body acceptance.
Silvana is hopeful that her work can add to the movement and keep it going.
‘I wish people or especially media would stop talking about the female body like it is something bad to have,’ she explains.
‘Stretch marks or cellulite, for example. It is something absolutely normal the nature gave us so we are able to get children.
‘There’s no wrong way to have a body and we should stop advertising that one body (and person) is better than the other.’