Penelope Benson is a successful Australian plus sized model and the new face of Playtex lingerie. She spoke to us about her career and her exciting role with the brand, and proves you don’t have to be stick thin to be beautiful:
How did you get started as a plus sized model?
Around four years ago I contacted Chelsea Bonner, Director of Bella Models after years of encouragement from my family and friends and signed with Bella on the spot, and as ‘they’ say the rest is history.
Is there much demand for plus sized models in Australia?
There is a huge demand for plus sized models in Australia, and the demand only continues to grow, so much so that it’s really hard for me to plan work trips overseas because of my work commitments here, but i can’t complain!
Bella itself has had to increase its model board this year to respond to this and there are now countless Aussie plus models who work full-time in the industry here in Australia as well as Europe and the US and who are extremely successful in their field.
Tell us about your role as the new face of Playtex…
It’s very exciting! It is something that has been in the works for a long time by first being cast as the face of Playtex, Australia and now being taken on as Playtex brand ambassador.
Since the beginning I’ve always wanted to be able to work exclusively and be a voice for a brand so when the opportunity came along to work alongside Playtex as they relaunched their campaign in Australia I knew that this was the perfect chance to work with a brand that I personally felt I could relate to and could as a result honestly promote its vision.
I am proud to be working for a brand that nurtures healthy ideals like being comfortable with the skin you’re in and that of course creates luxurious, supportive lingerie for fuller figured women.
Do you have a favourite Playtex piece that you would recommend to other women?
My favourite piece from the range is the Playtex Supersoft Hidden Underwire bra. I’ve heard from a lot of women too that this is their current favourite.
It feels exactly like it’s named – Supersoft, and super comfortable and supportive. The nude detail on the black fabric adds a bit of sophistication to a more youthful style bra.
Have you always been body confident?
Not always. I struggled a lot when I was younger so i think my body confidence has come with age, and becoming a plus model only helped me discover that i was OK and could be attractive and respected. I know that I’m on the right track because of the feedback I get from other women, even men about what a good thing i am onto, and the movement happening within the industry.
I knew I didn’t want to live my whole life hating myself and not enjoying being at the beach or even being proud of my work, I wanted to enjoy my life so i had to get over it. I discovered there isn’t just one beauty ideal, but many.
It’s important to step away from fashion magazines and what we see on TV and in the media to see that it’s not reality! It’s not real, it’s just pictures and it doesn’t matter. It’s one persons depiction of what’s what so we must figure out our own.
You have travelled the world, what has been your favourite destination so far?
Milan! It was my first trip away for work and it all happened really quickly. I was in London for two days before flying straight to Milan to prepare for the Elena Miro show. I had heard mixed feelings about Milan but it think it’s my kind of city – fashion and food, first stop Prada.
How did you feel walking at Milan Fashion Week for designer Elena Miro?
First of all it was really nerve racking. There were three full days of fittings before the show on the fourth day and you don’t really know if you’re walking until the day of the show, so I was stressed out that for some reason I would get dropped, but I didn’t!
I have to say that the experience felt really natural and I remember just taking it in my stride (literally) the day of the show and when I walked, I didn’t feel nervous I just was thinking this is hilarious, look where I am and what I’m doing.. so I just enjoyed it.
Looking back, I see just how cool it was, and the magnitude of it all, I feel like all my hard work over the years had been validated on one sunny Autumn morning in Milan.
What is something funny we wouldn’t know about you?
I love Glee! I don’t find it funny but other people seem to. I’m a proud Gleek.
What’s next for Penelope Benson?
I don’t know! I wish I knew. I’m just going to continue to work as hard as I can and do everything in my power to get to where I want to be. I’m excited to continue working alongside Playtex and keep travelling, hopefully branch into the US market…my dreams are way too big for this page!
Where can we purchase Playtex lingerie?
All major department stores ie Myer / David Jones / Harris Scarfe and in selected boutiques, you can call 1800 623 254 for your closest stockist.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman in 2011 in Australia means having endless possibilities. We were very lucky to be born women in this country so we must respect that! We can do anything we want to do, if we want it.
So we should try.. we should enjoy our lives, good food, our loved ones, our beaches and our freedom!