Jennifer Enujiugha is a 26 year-old plus-size model, choreographer and VJ/compere from Anambra State. The beautiful, dark-skinned graduate of crop production and protection from Abia State University is the current Miss Curvy Nigeria Top Model. In this interview with Juliet Ebirim, Jennifer who is also a creative consultant bares her mind on her plans, journey as a plus-size model, relationship and more. Excerpts…
What’s your take on plus-size modeling in Nigeria?
Plus-sized models are not appreciated as they ought to be, knowing fully well that almost all African women have the tendency to be plus-sized. Even if they were skinny before marriage,when they get married and after childbirth, they become plus-sized. We don’t appreciate them (curvy and plump models), we chase after skinny models but the truth is the westerners are beginning to accept the fact that there should be a place for the plus-sized in the fashion world. In the recently concluded New York Fashion Week, they had plus-sized models everywhere. Here in Nigeria, it’s difficult to see three plus-sized models on a runway show and that’s not nice. Most people who come to watch the shows are plump, but if they discover the outfits being showcased are for skinny people, they wouldn’t be motivated to go for them. A lot of people don’t know, but plus-sized modeling is a goldmine that’s yet to be harnessed in Nigeria.
How do you juggle modeling with other things you do?
Because I’m passionate about it, I don’t really see it as work. I enjoy doing it and besides, they’re all related, still the same industry – creative consultancy, VJ/compere, modeling, choreography – they’re all entertainment. It’s easy for me to combine them all. I was the logistics manager for last year’s ‘Dance with Peter’ reality TV show.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m the current Miss Curvy Nigeria Top Model, I’m yet to hand over though. I represent plump models in every fashion show. I’m working on a project for the plus-sized. I want to get plump ladies to appreciate the fact that they are beautiful. It doesn’t matter their skin color, size or shape. You may be plump and still beautiful. You just have to be confident. Confidence is the best make-up you can wear. The project is aimed at changing the way Nigerians see plus-size people. It will also reduce the rate of anorexia and suicidal thoughts. When some of these plump people are rejected by the people they like, they tend to think that it’s because of their size. No, the person rejecting you doesn’t know what he wants.
How were you able to conquer the rejection you faced as a plus-sized when you ventured into modeling?
I think everything I’ve been into has helped me in one way or the other. As a dancer, I got used to performing on stage and that helped me loosen up. I became comfortable dancing before large crowds because I used to be very shy. Choreography helped me out so when I got into modeling, I started doing runway shows. Most times, I’m the only plus-sized model on the runway or for a job. I usually fight the temptation to feel inferior because I’m the only plus-sized, instead I chose to take it as an advantage.
Can you name some of the commercials you’ve done?
I’ve worked with Honeywell, Glo, I just did something for societal family health and a couple of other jobs. Actually, I just started doing commercials, I’ve been doing mostly fashion.
Based on your experience, what do you think is the major challenge plus-sized models face?
The major challenge is that people do not want to accept them for who they are. It’s not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but the westerners are beginning to accept plus-size models. Ashley Graham is doing very well. Nigerians have not really started accepting plus-size models. Designers should have ready-to-wear outfits for plus-sized models to encourage them.
Do you think African men are drawn to plus-sized women?
Yes, they are, but they pretend they are not because of friends. They don’t want their friends to say ‘the guy babe na Orobo!’ I think African men are actually attracted to plus-sized women. They may not admit it, but they are. Being plus-sized, you automatically have the hips and curves and that’s what men like. Few slim women have that.
Any awkward or embarrassing moment?
The first day I climbed on stage, everyone started laughing at me. I went to perform somewhere as a dancer and people started laughing at me because of my size. There’s always an awkward moment for everybody. There are occasions when there are only skinny models around, you make a mistake and they all stare at you in a funny way. Sometimes, you go for fashion shows and a designer will tell you straight up, that he doesn’t make outfits for plus-sized. Every career has its challenges, but it’s being able to learn from it all that matters. Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It all boils down to passion.