FEATURE

Meet The Panache
Role Models

22.09.16

Last year, Panache debuted their first ‘Modelled by Role Models' campaign to celebrate inspirational women from around the world. The aim? To change the view that women today have few or no role models to look up to. For this year's campaign, women were invited to nominate their role model - someone they know that inspires them. With over 7000 votes, the judging panel shortlisted fourteen finalists. Panache customers and the general public were then asked to choose six of the shortlisted fourteen.

The six winners took part in a striking photoshoot with an empowering message - that every woman can feel supported and confident wearing lingerie by enhancing her own body shape and style.

Victoria Sargeson, Head of Marketing at Panache says:

"Panache are proud to be working alongside six inspirational women whose achievements exceed skin deep beauty. The six role models who were chosen by the public looked absolutely stunning in their Panache lingerie, we feel that the set of images really capture their beauty and personalities. We hope that the campaign inspires other women to have the confidence to achieve their dreams and to be happy and comfortable in their own skin."

We caught up with this year’s winners to hear all about their stories, the campaign and why they love Panache.

Anja Loven

Anja Lovén is a Danish aid worker who left her job in retail in 2011 to spend three months as a relief worker in Africa. She witnessed so much poverty and hunger that she decided to dedicate her life to supporting the world’s poorest children.

Three years ago, Anja sold everything she owned in Denmark to move to Nigeria and set up the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation. She and her husband David run a home for children in the southern state of Akwa Ibom, caring for children who have been abandoned by their families after being accused of superstitious beliefs. As well as rescuing children and restoring them to health, Anja and David provide education for Nigerian children. They believe that it is every child’s right to food, education and to live a dignified life.

Q: How does it feel to be such an important part of the ‘Modelled by Role Models’ campaign?

A: To be nominated a role model is really a tremendous honour. I really appreciate all the support I get from all over the world. I hope that my work will inspire even more women to follow their dreams. As women we need to work a little harder but with hard work, passion and determination anything is possible.

Elly Mayday

Elly is a Canadian born plus size model who promotes body positivity. After moving to Vancouver in her early 20s, she landed her dream job as a flight attendant, and started building her career as a plus size model. But after three years of pain that was dismissed as nothing serious by doctors, Elly was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Her prognosis wasn’t good, and it would have been very easy for Elly to give up her dreams.

Instead Elly continued her modelling career, refusing to hide her surgery scars and hair loss and showed the world how proud she was of her body. Elly did a photoshoot for Forever Yours lingerie that went viral around the world, and gave Elly the opportunity to talk about her cancer, and be part of a ground-breaking documentary “A Perfect 14”, which highlights the lack of diversity in the media for plus size models. Elly also speaks at schools to encourage body positive mentality, and shares her inspiring story of living and modelling through cancer.

Q: In your opinion, what makes a strong role model?

A: I think a strong role model is someone who sheds light on what matters, sharing his or her truths and vulnerabilities. The good and the bad, the darkness and the light. Not only do they share and educate others but they embody what they speak. A strong role model is like any other person, made up of bruises, mistakes and tears, the only thing that makes them different is that after they heal, they choose to teach others how to heal also. They embody that strength for the ones who need it most.

Eliza Rebeiro

Eliza is an anti-knife and gang crime campaigner who founded the Lives Not Knives organisation when she was just 14. Eliza recognised the impact that youth crime and gang culture was having on her home town of Croydon. She quickly progressed from slogan t-shirts to giving talks in House Of Commons with young offenders and people who understood gang and knife crime. Now Eliza's gang and knife crime roadshows are seen by 10,000 young people a year, and in the past two years LNK has helped 300 young people move from benefits into employment.

In 2013 Eliza was given the 'V-Inspired' Award for Bringing Communities Together and ‘Women of the Future' - Young Star award. She was asked to be an ambassador of the Queen's Young Leaders, and in 2014 was named one of the most inspiring women on the BBC 100 Women list. In 2015 Eliza received the 'Woman To Watch' award at Red Magazine's Women Of The Year awards, which is pretty incredible considering she's only 22!

Q: What's the key to feeling confident in your own body?

A: Personally it's confusing, do I have to eat less? Work out more? And why do I feel so much bigger when an item of clothing my size doesn't fit? Also why do we care so much about what we look like? Personally I think the key to love our body is to love ourselves so passionately that we create our own idea of perfection, not as in we see ourselves as perfect but we are confident enough to be able to question quick fads that are often used on social media etc. and able to work our own style, choosing outfits that work well with your body. I've never been tall and slim so the whole maxi dress thing doesn't work but I can kill a waisted jumpsuit!

Sylwia Blach

Sylwia is a blogger, author and software programmer, as well as an ambassador for disabled people in Poland. Despite suffering from spinal muscular atrophy and using a wheelchair from an early age, nothing has stopped her chasing her dreams and helping others to do the same. Her blog “Rozkosze umysłu” (Pleasures of the mind) shares her successes and frustrations, inspiring other wheelchair-bound women in Poland to follow their dreams and live an extraordinary life.

Sylwia is part of the One and Only Foundation which runs a modelling agency and organises the Miss Poland Wheelchair competition – they're planning for Miss Wheelchair World to take place in 2017. She has also worked with Butterfly Agency Models to enable women with or without disabilities to showcase their beauty regardless of body shape, illness or size.

Q: What do you love most about the 'Modelled by Role Models' campaign?

A: I love the women I've met! They do incredible things for themselves and for the world. Every role model is strong, powerful and a really positive female. I'm really honoured I could meet them. The second thing I love is the photoshoot I took part in. It was an unusual experience to see myself in a perfectly fitted bra on beautiful pictures! Especially, that I was wearing ill-fitted bra earlier and Panache showed me how amazing I could feel in a properly fitted bra!

Jayne Hurditch

Jayne is a truly inspirational mum, having experienced some of the toughest challenges a parent will ever face. In 1994, Jayne’s second daughter Molly was born with severe special needs. Jayne quickly discovered how limited the respite and after-school facilities were for children with special needs. Then in 1999 Molly’s big sister Amy passed away after contracting Meningococcal Meningitis, aged just 8.

In Amy’s memory, Jayne’s family set up the charity Amy’s House in 2003, offering a place for children like Molly to play with other special needs children outside of school, fundraising for carers so their parents could have respite on a Saturday. Just as Jayne was getting her life back on track, tragedy struck again in 2011 when Molly died aged 17.

Five years on, Jayne’s family have now launched Molly’s Mates as a sister charity (in every sense) to Amy’s House, offering activities and life skills training to teenagers with special needs. Inspired by the memory of her beautiful daughters, Jayne and her family have made an extraordinary difference in their community.

Q: Which Panache style do you feel best represents you?

A: I must say I love my Tango set. It's a great colour to wear under my white linen clothes this summer and sheer tops. Comfortable and stylish. I am going to buy some more balconette bras as I like the shape they give me and the uplift. I can't wait to get the catalogue!

Emily Findlay

20-year-old Emily lives in the Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland, and has a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. She was diagnosed in 2010, and over the past six years has undergone emergency spinal surgery, surgery to remove the bulk of the tumour, stem cell collection and return, and high dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This kind of cancer treatment is not available in Orkney, so Emily and her mum have travelled backwards and forwards to Aberdeen and Glasgow for years while her dad and little brother stayed behind in Orkney.

Emily is still not 100% clear of cancer and has been told she probably never will be, but this hasn’t stopped her using her experiences to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for cancer charities across the north of Scotland. Her surgeries have left her with many scars and stretch marks, and she’d like to help other women feel less self-conscious and more proud of their bodies, whatever journey they have been on. As Emily says, "No matter what life throws at you get up, dress up, show up!"

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

A: I don't think its advice I have ever been given but I love this piece of advice and live by it - Worry less, smile more. Don't regret, just learn and grow.

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Figleaves

Jessica Flexton

EDITOR

With a love for lingerie, an obsession with the beach and an eye for style, Figleaves Editor, Jessica Flexton, talks everything from the latest trends to new collections and exclusive features.