Real Life

Miss Curved Nerd is calling all calendar girls!

If you're plus-sized and beautiful, Miss Curved Nerd creator Rachael Levy has a project for you .
Miss Curved Nerd

When Rachael Levy thinks back to her school years, it’s not her first kiss, the end-of-year dance or winning a school prize that she remembers most – it’s the feeling of isolation she suffered while being bullied by her peers.

“My classmates were never friendly towards me because I was taller and bigger than they were,” begins Rachael. “Then after my first boyfriend moved on to another girl in my class, we went away to school camp and I spent the entire time on my own. The kids alienated me because I was a so-called ‘loser’. I sat in my tent at night wishing I could sneak off and walk home. To this day, I don’t know what I had done to deserve that.”

It’s one of many moments in a lifetime of verbal abuse she has endured. Monday mornings, she says, brought about a feeling of dread and she lived in constant fear of being bullied. Now a confident 24-year-old, the Cantabrian is using those difficult years as motivation to make sure other women don’t feel the same way she did.

Rachael was severely bullied as a high school student, leading her to dread Monday mornings.

Rachael, who is a photographer, has set up a website dedicated to rebuilding the self-esteem of plus-sized women called Miss Curved Nerd, which is a title she uses to describe herself. It’s an online community designed to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes, and to boost confidence in those who, like Rachael, have been made to feel insecure for the way they look.

“When I first set it up, I ran a competition on Facebook called Embrace Your Flaws, where women could send in photos of themselves, along with something they considered to be a flaw. Then members would comment with some positive feedback.”

Rachael now hopes to put out a 2016 calendar featuring women who are size 18-plus. But not everyone has been supportive of this venture. Her mum Anne (64) was concerned about the risks that come with social media and the negative comments her daughter has attracted on her page. “She wanted me to stop running it at one point, but I don’t want to give it up.”

Anne has sacrificed a lot for her girl, including moving the family from the South Island’s West Coast to Christchurch for a fresh start when Rachael was eight.

Mum Anne tried to boost Rachael’s confidence as a schoolgirl when she was bullied by her peers.

“We were forever at the school dealing with the bullying,” says Anne. “My husband Ross and I tried so hard to build up Rachael’s confidence only to have it knocked down by her peers.”

Fortunately, Rachael has finally been able to break the cycle of suffering. Working alongside other curvy ambassadors, she has selected nine women to appear in the calendar. “I found those submitting their entries have, like myself, been told they will never be beautiful,” says Rachael. “Everyone is unique and should be celebrated. We weren’t put on this earth to judge someone on their looks.”

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