Plus-size Benoni beauty set for New York catwalk

04 June 2017 - 02:00 By TANYA STEENKAMP
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Model and student Angelique Oates.
Model and student Angelique Oates.

Long after Angelique Oates had given up on her childhood dream of modelling, a chance encounter on the streets of New York reignited her passion for the runway.

Now the blonde from Benoni is set to walk the ramp for the Full Figured Fashion Week in New York next week.

"As a little girl I always dreamt of being a model and an actress, but growing up in South Africa it seemed out of reach. I also didn't fit the 'ideal' body type for a model. So I put those dreams on hold," said Oates, 25.

In 2015 she moved to the US to work as an au pair. What was supposed to be a short stint turned into an extended stay and last year she was approached on the streets of New York by a publicist.

"She asked if I was a model and when I said no she said she was a publicist and often involved in castings.

"She said I was beautiful and tall and would make an ideal plus-size model."

She gave Oates a list of agencies to contact and advice about how to go about it.

"To most people that would have been just a compliment, but because I always had that dream I started looking into it.

"One agency told me they liked my look but my piercings were an issue and prevented them from signing me.

"After speaking to a few people I started doing photo shoots and realised I don't need an agency to be a model. That's a complete myth. So I started modelling and being my own agent."

Not only will she walk the ramp at Full Figured Fashion Week, which kicks off next week, but she is also booked for the New York Summer Fashion Explosion on June 24.

Now in its eighth year, Full Figured Fashion Week hosts more than 20 events and runway shows featuring fashion from top retailers, boutiques and independent designers worn by 50 runway models.

This week, Full Figured Fashion Week organiser Gwen DeVoe publicly welcomed Oates to the 2017 team with a message on Facebook.

Oates aspires to be a body-positive icon like one of her idols, US model Ashley Graham.

"I want to help people understand that body positivity is about acceptance of the body you have and embracing your flaws.

"Confidence comes from within and if I can help people find that hidden confidence and beauty by standing up for them in the media, then that's a small step towards becoming the icon I want to be."

Oates, who admits she's struggled with low self-esteem before, said: "I am continuously digging deep within to find my confidence and the maturity to handle situations."

She denied that being a plus-size model was easier than being a traditional model.

The biggest myth is that plus-size models can eat whatever they want and never have to work out, she said.

"We are put to standard and judged just as other models. We may be bigger in size but we are expected to be healthy, toned and have good skin and hair."

She also dispelled the myth that models have nothing going for them but their looks. She has a tourism management degree from Unisa and is studying a global business course though Westchester Community College in New York.

"Once my studies are finished I will pursue modelling full time," said Oates.

"My studies are very important to me and often I have had to put them first, but being in Full Figured Fashion Week has definitely pushed me to take that step."

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