Modelling with a purpose

Whether it’s advocating for mental health or body positivity, Karyn Inder is a plus-size model with a purpose.

Model Karyn Inder
Karyn Inder is signed to Anita Norris Models in Toronto and M4 Models in Germany. Submitted photo

Thandi O’Grady
Kicker

From dreaming of becoming a model in Grand Falls-Windsor to being featured in Vogue Italia, Karyn Inder is living out her dream as a model in Toronto.

Inder started modelling at the young age of nine. Her passion for modelling began the day her mom took her to see a fashion show that was held in a hockey stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor.

“I never really had a lot of friends,” Inder said. “So modelling for me was like something that just kept me sane and it was a hobby. I was very serious about it.”

Her success in the modelling industry happened because of her perseverance. From Grand Falls-Windsor to St. John’s and then to Toronto, Inder says her dream just kept getting bigger and bigger every time she reached the next step. Even in low moments of her life, she always wanted more.

“I was living in New Brunswick and I was definitely in a rock bottom of my life. I was scrambling to make money, I was working three jobs, I was in an abusive relationship, I was just out of treatment for mental health and I just thought, you know what, ‘If I’m not going to do it now when I’m ever going to do it?’ And so I booked a ticket to Toronto and that’s when I got signed.”

In 2013, Inder signed as a plus-size model at B&M Models in Toronto. A few years later in 2017, she was part of the campaign Be Body Aware, which was featured in Vogue Italia. She has also been signed by agencies such as Anita Norris Models in Toronto and M4 Models in Germany. 

The challenges of modelling

While modelling is often synonymous with glitz and glamour, Inder says it comes with its challenges. The rise in popularity of plus-size modelling is a recent one. Inder has experienced a lot of reluctant clients who didn’t want to work with her because of her size.

“It’s exciting to be in this new realm of the fashion industry,” Inder said. “It’s really exciting but it’s really hard. There’s definitely a lot of struggle just with your sense of self-worth and body confidence, especially being bigger.”

This struggle with self-worth and body confidence is the main reason why Ovo Jatto decided to start modelling. Because of her size, Jatto says she has always felt insecure about her body. To conquer this insecurity, she started to post photos of herself on Instagram to showcase that you don’t have to be of a certain body type to look fashionable.

“There are a lot of things I like but I’m not able to wear according to society’s standards – or maybe it’s myself that’s doing it,” Jatto said. So I was like, ‘You know, there are a lot of people like me out there that’ll benefit from me doing this and I’ll also help myself in the process.’ So, that’s why I started posting more and being more comfortable with myself.”

Model Ovo Jatto
Ovo Jatto is an advocate for body positivity. This has helped her break out of her shell and be more confident. Submitted photo

Aside from getting to dress up, Jatto says she loves how she is able to positively impact her friends and followers. She hopes to continue being an advocate for body positivity.

“When I started this, my friend messaged me and said, ‘Thank you so much for starting this’ because she also having this problem of where she wears things and she doesn’t like the way it looks. So I’m very very grateful. I’m sure there are other people who feel like that so I’m able to impact people’s lives in the little ways that I can.”

Currently, Jatto is in her fourth year of the engineering program at Memorial University. She hopes to continue to showcase how fashionable clothes are not just exclusive to one body type. 

Mental health advocacy

Karyn Inder uses her platform to create awareness for mental health issues. Submitted photo

Inder also uses her social media to show the importance of body positivity. More recently she has also been using it to advocate for mental health. Inder says she wasn’t always open about talking about mental health. 

She used to use anonymous accounts on Instagram as her way of advocating for mental health. However, it wasn’t until she heard a story of another mental advocate who committed suicide that she realized that there’s still a lot of progress to be made with mental health. 

“I did it because I felt like I was sitting on a story that could potentially help people and I felt a sense of responsibility to share it,” Inder said. “I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder at 14 and then later I was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety at 22. I’ve had multiple hospitalizations. I’ve survived, I’ve struggled, I’ve lived and I’ve overcome.” 

Through her advocacy on social media, her mental health coaching and her podcast, The Model Tongue, Inder plans to continue to empower those living with mental health disorders and body insecurities.

About Thandi O'Grady 16 Articles
I am a student journalist for CNA's news outlet, Kicker News. Stay tuned for new stories out every Thursday.

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