Philomena Kwao struggled with liking herself while being raised in Britain. She grew up in a mostly Black community where everyone was well loved and respected, but when she looked at the television, often times that love was conflicted with the images she saw. Light complexion, long hair and tiny waists were what she figured was “acceptable” and beautiful when compare to her darker skin and curvy figure. That’s why she was surprised when she landed a modeling gig with Cosmopolitan after a friend of hers sent Philomena’s pictures to an agency, she was surprised. Since that time, she’s taken the world of curviness by storm.
JAG Models – New York
Models 1 – London
Claim to Fame: Philomena was discovered in a model search after her friend sent pictures to the agency Models 1. They called her in immediately and wanted to work with her – much to her surprise!
Since coming on board in 2012, she has won Essence Magazine’s Curvy Model of the Month, worked the runways in numerous fashion shows and landed editorials with global magazines such as Cosmopolitan. With all of this success, it’s hard to believe the Ghanaian-British beauty once struggled with accepting her own beauty. In an interview with AboveWhispers, she reflects going to the extreme just to look like certain celebrities on television.
“Growing up, I had body confidence issues not really so much because of size, but my skin color. I had trouble recognizing that the depth of my skin tone is really beautiful because whenever people referred to a beautiful black-skinned woman, you’d see Beyoncé and Rihanna,’ she said, ‘So, you’d do harmful things to try and get to that color, like skin bleaching. I once tried those whitening soaps.”
Philomena feels her modeling career has made her more accepting of herself and her beauty. Even though she’s making a name for curvy-bronzed models, she admits she doesn’t care too much for the labels “plus” or “curvy” because it can bring unwanted attention. She’s in place where she’s extremely happy with herself, no matter if she’s feeling bloated, fat, tired, she keeps it going and feels good about herself at the end of the day.