The difficulties facing plus-size models range from being consistently told to discuss their bodies to being constantly posed naked to having designers rebuff even the idea of hiring them (well, the issue is designers declining to even design clothing for women over a size 8, really). For Elly Mayday, however, these challenges–and many more–are certainly not insurmountable.
Mayday, 25, has been battling a rare form of ovarian cancer that is “usually only seen in post-menopausal women.” As a result, she is a bald and has surgery scars–two things that contradict the airbrushed image of long-haired Victoria’s Secret Angels, but appear in many “average” women. (I, for one, have a lot of random scars, some of which have stories and others that just spontaneously appeared because my body could only handle walking into walls so many times before there were consequences.) However, her modeling career began before she ever found out about the cancer:
The daughter of a Saskatchewan farmer, she moved to Vancouver to work as a flight attendant for Sun Wing, a charter airline, before becoming a model. Just as she was ready to be signed with modeling agencies in New York and Los Angeles in 2013, she was diagnosed with cancer.
On top of refusing to let her condition dictate her career, Mayday also won’t let the body standard police keep her down. Calling herself “the curvy Canadian” with measurements of 34-29-44, Mayday represents the figure that many women have but rarely get to see in advertisements, on television or in magazines. That, in addition to her very obviously beautiful self, make it all the more rad that Mayday has been working with Forever Yours Lingerie, a Vancouver company which sells undergarments and other cute pieces (in bra sizes B to K, which is awesome).
Forever Yours Lingerie’s founder Sonya Jenkins hired Mayday for a shoot last Valentine’s Day, which evolved into a lovely partnership. Of Mayday, Jenkins says only nice things:
“Elly is awesome and fun and bubbly and light-hearted and doesn’t take anything super seriously. And she is an incredibly hard worker.
“At the time, she was a size 14 and had a nice bust and a small waist and big, full hips and behind. We wanted to represent that look.”
Not only does Forever Yours show products on plus-size models, it also features thin models, too. Imagine that: a company wanting to represent the look of many of the women who buy their products! It only makes sense as to why they would want to hire a model like Mayday: people like seeing what clothing looks like on figures like their own.
During the summer of 2013, though, Mayday began getting ill:
“I was told it was a cyst so many times, and I just knew deep down in my heart that there was something else wrong. It was kind of a point of realization, either, ‘Do I stop now, or do I keep on going and be the person that I was raised to be and the person that I know I am?'”
Still, Mayday continued modeling. But she realizes, of course, that not everyone in the fashion industry is willing to change their minds about who they want to wear their clothes:
“Not everyone in the industry is going to want to work with a person that’s scarred, that has a scarred stomach. But I have a good story, and I’m trying to start something.”
And we think that is fantastic. Apparently, so do the 80,000 people who have liked Elly Mayday’s page on Facebook (including me as of 10 seconds ago). It’s not only wonderful that Elly is happy with herself and continues to pursue her career, it is also good news for the millions of people who suffer from cancer, alopecia, trichotillomania and numerous other conditions that can leave you sans-hair, as well as any person who’s ever felt ashamed of her scars and body. Having women of all shapes, sizes and appearances in print, on billboards and all up in the entertainment industry can only do good.