Imani Randolph Measures Strength, Success & Size With New Standards

Model and Communications Assistant at Ganni, Imani Randolph reflects on the consequences of sizing standards, her optimism about a changing industry, and the way that knowing her true size lets her know her true self better.
Imani Randolph Measures Strength, Success & Size With New Standards

“When you go to shop online, most websites show this straight size model – and if you’re larger than that, you have to imagine what those clothes might look like on your body type. Which is crazy societal conditioning.” 

IMANI WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLACK AND THE HIGHWAIST IN BLACK

“The other day, I asked myself, what if it were someone like me modeling those clothes? For a split second, my reaction was, ‘Oh, that would be so hard to imagine for someone who is skinnier than me.’ But no one talks about the other way around being difficult, which is totally insane. You are so used to not being the norm, not being the standard, that you assume you need to take on that work and that burden. Imagining it the other way around almost feels wrong, at first. But I want to see that change and to be part of that change.”

Imani Randolph wears a lot of different hats – and looks great in all of them. She is modeling, writing, and the Communications Assistant at Ganni. She introduces herself as a content creator, which refers to her Instagram content and personal writing, but also the modeling she does for brands. Size diversity in these campaigns is influential content she is proud to be part of.

“Obviously there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but I do feel very fortunate to be in the industry at this time. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t be welcome. And I’m very much welcomed as I am. I don’t feel the pressure to change anything about myself.”

IMANI WEARS THE BALC IN BLUSH AND THE BIKINI IN BLUSH

“That’s, of course, where it gets tricky. I don’t feel any pressure to look different, because I’m booking work quite easily. I wonder if I would feel differently if I wasn’t booking things as often. Would I feel more pressure to go to the gym or try to get a flatter stomach or rounder butt? Am I truly satisfied with myself or am I validated by making money, booking jobs and getting positive feedback from my audience?”

How do we measure progress when ‘standards of measurement’ are the problem itself? Imani recognizes that some brands are exploiting size diversity, or pushing out campaigns with women whose sizes that company doesn’t cater to. She, however, is choosing to celebrate progress and hope that size diversity comes more and more naturally.

“Recently, I saw Emma Sanders talking about a campaign she did for a brand, where there was no explicit communication that the campaign was a plus-size campaign. They just let her be the main model, even though they sell clothes that are smaller than her size and larger than her size. I thought that was really impactful because that’s when you know it’s authentic – when you no longer think of straight size as the standard.”

IMANI WEARS THE BALC IN BLUSH AND THE BIKINI IN BLUSH

The modeling industry has historically pressured women to confine to standards outside their natural shape, but Imani offers a refreshing perspective: the camera lens offers her a chance to get to know her true size and true self better – from countless new angles.

“Like I said, I’ve been really privileged to not feel pressure to change the way I look. For me, modeling has also helped me meditate on a lot of misconceptions I have about myself; the discomforts I have with myself. Being in front of a camera, you see so many parts of yourself that you don’t usually get to see. Seeing images of myself at all these different angles can disprove a lot of these negative feelings. Or at least let me know myself better. It’s nice getting to know your body – and the way your body changes.”

“I just don’t have a butt. That’s something I’ve come to terms with while modeling. It drives me insane that some people have asked me to wear padding. My thing is, while I too wish I had a larger butt, if you wanted a model with a larger butt, you could have found one.”

“Funny enough, I might say that my feet are [my favorite body part.] I’m not really a foot person. I don’t like seeing other people’s feet and mine aren’t even that great looking – but I do feel like they are a big part of my story. Quite literally ‘big.’ I’m a size eleven or twelve. So is my mom, which is really nice because we are able to share. Many times, we have said to each other, wouldn’t it be nice to be a size 7? To go to any store and know that they’re going to have your shoe size?

IMANI WEARS THE BALC IN LEOPARD AND THE BIKINI IN BLACK

“But I have a great collection of shoes that fit me – and every time I do find a pair, it’s rewarding. Plus, I just like my feet – they take me everywhere! They are big. And that’s me. It just makes sense that I’m big and so are my feet. Coming to terms with that has been really cool.”

“I was a lot smaller than I am now in high school. I got to the size I am today during my four years in college. Before I came into my body and learned to love myself at a different size, [buying new bras] was a really, really frustrating experience. It was one of the moments I would realize I was bigger. There are all these societal norms that say you should be a certain ratio. This is a good letter and this a bad one. This is a good number and this is a bad one.”

“I was definitely surprised by my CUUP size – a smaller band and bigger cup. For me, it was really delightful to find out that there is greater specificity in bra sizing. It felt like getting closer to knowing my true size, which in turn, is knowing yourself.”

There is power in knowing your true size, but there is an even greater power in knowing the parts of you that can’t be measured. Strength, stamina, limits, and boundaries are a few worth naming.

IMANI WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLACK

“There is always this assumption that if you are skinnier, you are healthier and have greater stamina. That is simply not the case. I was working with Nike on a running job and they legitimately had us running. Me and a straight sized model would be doing things side by side and she would get tired before I would – or vice versa. You can’t make that assumption. Size does not equal fitness.”

“I wish I had more time to go on hikes and get upstate. For me, gyms and exercise classes can be really stressful, which I think is the opposite of what they are supposed to be. You should be creating endorphins, enjoying yourself and fueling your body. A lot of times, for me, [those classes] end up in a lot of comparison or being pushed to limits that were set by someone other than yourself. Everyone has their own pace and their own abilities.”

Pacing yourself is important, far beyond the gym. As Imani balances so many projects – in a city that is always on – she is learning to draw limits where they bring maximum restoration.

IMANI WEARS THE BALC IN BLUSH AND THE BIKINI IN BLUSH

“I’ve been thinking a lot about taking more time for myself between modeling and freelancing. My family is so close, so it’s easy for them to visit. I went to school in New York, so a lot of my college friends are here. Friends I’ve made through work are here. A lot of friends from high school and other parts of my life are always coming in and out of the city – because it’s New York. I’m learning to put on the brakes. I’m learning to say no. I’m learning that the worry of disappointing someone, because I would rather be at home doing my laundry, should not fall on me.”

“You spend so much energy being really friendly or worrying about how you will be perceived. You care so much about making other people comfortable, that it can be exhausting for yourself. Learning to reclaim time for yourself means cutting out the things that are uncomfortable for you and doing things that feel good for you. I’m learning this more each day.”

IMANI WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLACK AND THE HIGHWAIST IN BLACK

Interview by Kate Mack. Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam

Tags: bodytalk , Self

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