Ashley Graham may be the number one plus-size model in the business right now, but 24-year-old Maria Gimena won’t be lagging too far behind. The Uruguayan beauty, who is based in New Jersey, is entering the plus-size fashion industry by becoming the face of Torrid. She beat out 10,000 other hopefuls to become the brand’s newest ambassador.
Maria Gimena: Torrid Model Search Winner 2017
Maria Gimena responded to Torrid’s open casting call back in May 2016. She was working as a health office administrator in her hometown when she was urged by a fellow employee to try it out. At first, Gimena was a bit hesitant as she felt she was not good enough. She admitted in an interview with Bustle:
“It was not that entering was a difficult decision to make, but rather me not thinking that I was good enough,” she tells Bustle. “Growing up I never saw anyone that looked like me in the fashion industry, so I never felt that I was tall enough or skinny enough to be a model.”
Gimena later gathered the courage to head to the live casting, which was held at Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York. Seeing a large number of beautiful women around her made Gimena even more reluctant to push through with the audition.
But Gimena’s fighting spirit won over her pessimistic thoughts, and she was eventually selected as one of the top 10 finalists nationwide. She traveled all the way to Los Angeles for a test photo shoot and later competed in the final four. Gimena won the final round after getting the most online votes.
Torrid Continues to Open Opportunites for Plus-Size Models
The 2017 model search is the second contest organized by popular retail brand Torrid. Last year, Texan native Lyana Lynette emerged as the winner. She continues to be featured in the brand’s various campaigns today, and her success and popularity were the key factors that prompted Torrid to continue their model search for another year.
Winning the competition allows Maria Gimena to walk alongside Ashley Graham, Philomena Kwao, and Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson who happens to have a clothing line with Torrid.
So what it is like to compete in Torrid’s Model Search? According to Gimena, there was nothing but camaraderie and love between the girls.
“Meeting the Top 10 was also an epic experience despite our differences and the fact that we were technically competing against one another. We all totally clicked and supported one another, which was genuinely beautiful.”