By Rebecca Drew
MEET the gorgeous British plus-size woman who hopes to be an inspiration to all women, regardless of body shape after overcoming two sexual assaults that she refuses to be defined by.
Growing up, model and healthcare assistant, Gbemi Nadi (22) from London, United Kingdom was always told that she should be a model but she never believed that she could because she didn’t think she was slim or pretty enough to succeed in the industry. At school, she found herself developing quicker than her classmates which left her feeling insecure of her size 16 body. Gbemi would hide behind black clothes and her peers would make fun of her and didn’t invite her to parties.
At 19, Gbemi was sexually assaulted by a man she believed was her ‘boyfriend’ and went through another sexual assault three years later by two men. After the first assault, Gbemi locked herself away for two months but her dad helped her to see her worth again. After the second assault, she was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and with that went through a period of self-hate which she has now managed to overcome after finding an inner strength and God.
Gbemi, who is a UK size 20-22, entered her first Ms Curvaceous competition in 2015 after her friend encouraged her to take part and has loved her body ever since. For Gbemi, body positivity isn’t just for plus size women, it’s for everybody, regardless or weight, gender, weight or height.
“I remember when I was first sexually assaulted, I stayed in my room for about two months, I didn’t leave, I wasn’t looking after myself. My father was the one who got me out of the depression. My father paid for me to get new clothes, make up, paid for me to go to the hairdressers,” said Gbemi.
“This is really when my anxiety, especially social anxiety started but I had to push through. Started working again, hanging out with close friends slowly but surely.
“At 22 the situation was a lot worse. This is when I got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Something I live with on a daily basis. But I have always said that I won’t let it define me. I went through a stage of self-hate not valuing myself because that would be me letting them win but I say I am not a survivor, I am an overcomer.
“Growing up people used to always tell me I should be a model. I never took much notice of it. I never thought I was pretty enough, slim enough, photogenic enough so I did nothing about it.
“Ever since I can remember, I recall thinking that I was different. I started puberty early, so my body developed quickly compared to my class mates and this made me feel really insecure. I didn’t understand why my body was different to everyone else.
“School kids aren’t the nicest. Hanging around with pretty size eight to ten girls and there I was size sixteen, it was traumatic. They would all be invited to parties and I wouldn’t. People would make fun of what I wore. Because I was depressed I used to always wear black.
“I didn’t really take care of myself because I felt worthless because I wasn’t like everyone else. I used to feel that I was the ugliest person on this planet. I never thought I would have a normal life. If you told me then about that I would be doing this today, I would have laughed in total disbelief.
“At my first competition, I met some of the most amazing women who were so inspiring. They all had a story to tell but there was a common denominator to all that brought us together. We didn’t feel accepted by society.
“Society was telling us that our bodies are not right. This hurt my heart and when I got my audition photos through. I really thought I could do this. This is when my mission started.”
Stunning pictures of Gbemi today taken at a special shoot at DOLLHOUSE Photography in Birmingham show how her confidence has skyrocketed and how she is working towards breaking society’s perception of what beauty is. Gbemi has recently been signed by MerriMaid Models.
“The most empowering photoshoot I have had was at the famous DOLLHOUSE Photography – the ladies there were so attentive and enthusiastic, they love all shapes and sizes on their makeover shoots, and the whole atmosphere just buzzed with positivity,” added Gbemi.
“Doing my DOLLHOUSE shoot was the ultimate confidence booster. Apart from the supportive female staff who are so encouraging and proficient at directing the poses, the wardrobe choice is just out of this world.
“They have beautiful clothes up to a UK size 26, the fact that they stock clothing up to this size shows how many plus size ladies are having these sorts of shoots now.
“I was given advice on styles and colours as to what would suit me and when I made my final choice, I felt so attractive and glamorous – and just look at the results of the photos – I was walking on air.
“Personally, I tell myself every day I am beautiful, I’m sexy and no one can tell me otherwise. I make an effort of wearing what I want to wear, not what society is telling me to wear. People always praise my confidence on my clothes but I wear what I feel makes me feel good.
“I use my photos to inspire others. For me body positivity isn’t just for plus women. There is a misconception there because body positivity is for anybody. Everybody is beautiful no matter the height, weight, gender or race.”
Gbemi posts her body positive pictures on Instagram and now receives messages from people saying how her confidence has inspired them.
“At first, I did have people saying I should cover up and I don’t think people who knew me personally took me seriously. But now I get such a positive response,” she added.
“From my Instagram followers to my friends and work colleagues. People will message me to tell me that I inspire them and they wish they had confidence like me. It’s overwhelming at times.
“No matter what you go through in life, take care of yourself. Look after your heart and soul. Regardless of your size, embrace yourself, tell yourself you are beautiful, you are unique and you are you. Self-love is the best love because it allows you to love others.
“I want to be an inspiration to all women. Not just plus girls. Of course, I’m waving the flag for plus girls. But I want to inspire everyone, so we can get rid of labels and accept each other for who we actually are not whether we are tall, short, big or small.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/nadified641