Go Big or Go Home: The Metamorphic Journey of a Girl Who Once Hated Her Body
Nice to meet you, my name is Hannah Hebron, I'm Brazilian and just moved to Tel Aviv, Israel. I’m a journalist and I have always been passionate about hearing and telling stories, but ironically I have always been afraid to tell mine. Perhaps, it’s because not a single day has gone past in the last 25, of my 27 years of existence, where my body, my weight and my health haven’t been acknowledged by somebody.
Growing up in a family of extremely beautiful and fashionable women, I dreamt of working in fashion. I would inhale fashion magazines wishing to one day wear all those creations, but being a model was never a possibility for a fat child who heard countless times "when puberty comes and she slims, she's going to look beautiful!". As a fat teenager (but already paranoid and in the process of losing weight and dieting) I heard in a sad and disappointed tone "such beautiful face ... it’s pity she is chubby. But she just needs some willpower and the weight will go!". I became a thin and sick teenager, and later a paranoid young adult freaked out by the idea of constantly disappointing myself and others because of the way I looked, what I ate, the list goes on. But as time flew by, something changed and today I am part of a modeling agency called Juicy by Sarit Lorens. Juicy specializes in just the curvy / plus size talent pool, and after a couple Israeli and Brazilian fashion campaigns, I walked in a Tel Aviv Fashion Week as a professional model.
I don’t think it’s a surprise I made it here, diversity and representation are the unexpected gifts of Tel Aviv and Israel. Many people do not even know that Israel has Fashion Week or that one of its fashion and design colleges, Shenkar College, has been named one of the 10 best fashion schools according to Business of Fashion. And much of it is thanks to Israeli producer Motty Reif (internationally known for the documentary "Brave Miss World" and responsible for TLVFW) and his hunger for representation. At this Tel Aviv Fashion Week- we saw diversity of age, sex, gender and size across it’s catwalks. Some such examples were Dror Kontento’s diverse couture sizing, and Rotem Levitan’s Retema’s debut runway collection, and the multiple occasions we saw model and entrepreneur Ray Segev, co-founder of Juicy Agency and star of campaigns such as giant H & M and American Eagle Israel, walk.
I can attest to seeing first hand that there is a real effort to bring about drastic changes in the TLV Fashion Week and in the fashion and entertainment industries as a whole. And these industries, holding a mirror to society and it’s cultural values, bring hope to a country as full of contrasts as Israel.
Somewhere through this journey, I realized the value of recognizing and loving myself in my own skin. Yes, the same Hannah, who never thought she would amount to be a model, who had always had an obsession with losing weight, who was continuously trying out new diets, and always wanted to be smaller, leaner and call less attention to herself. But, when I climbed into the Bananhot bikini and marched that catwalk it all rang false- all those desires, diets and tears. I wanted to be bigger, I wanted to fill all that space, I wanted people to look at my legs, belly, arms and see a real woman there, a real person.
I can assure you that the 17-year-old Hannah would never believe that just ten years later she would be walking for two brands (one of which was swimwear) at Tel Aviv Fashion Week. She would almost certainly ask of me anxiously, "so when does everything change?" To which I would answer "I do not know, but one day you will come to understand that the curse of 'being fat' does not exist, that being fat is who you are and there is a lot of beauty in just BEING."
Thinking about it, I do know the exact point when everything changed: when I started to see true representation. When I started to see women who are artists, entrepreneurs, who are beautiful, feel beautiful, are strong, intelligent, powerful and have diverse backgrounds. But today, I feel proud to be representing! This 27-year-old Hannah is showing to that insecure girl from the past and insecure girls everywhere that their bodies are not a setback in their lives. That their bodies are alive, and powerful and that their greatness lie in the fact that they are our best tool to achieve our dreams, because they are the vehicle by which we can achieve them.