Horror stories of models starving themselves sick to reach lower weights to stay employed are unfortunate norms in the fashion industry.
Leah Kelley represents an inverse of this reality.
The model began her career nearly a decade ago at the age of 19.
Kelley was a size 8 and knew her body would not stand to be starved down to a size 0, so she aimed for a career as a plus-size model.
Kelley told PEOPLE,
I knew losing weight was not an option for my body shape. But if I gained weight, I was told I could travel the world – and I did.
At 25 years old and 200 pounds, the size 16 model was booking gigs with Calvin Klein and Vogue Germany, but her routine was far from sustainable.
I discovered penne alla vodka and I would eat that almost every single day. Then I would end every single night with a Häagen-Dazs quart to myself.
In addition to her excessive diet, Kelley avoided the gym to maintain her jet-setting lifestyle.
The 5'11” model claimed,
I wanted to not be winded when I went up the subway stairs and feel like I was going to pass out. Even sitting up was hard. I didn't want to sacrifice my health anymore for the chance to travel the world and make money.
Kelley changed her lifestyle completely, finding her way back to a size 8 and starting a fashion and fitness blog, Thick and Toned, to keep herself and others inspired.
Now, I enjoy it and I stop when I've had enough. I know that there's a certain balance in everything.