Jen Hunter came into the public eye when she participated in the TV series 'Make me a supermodel'. Jen who is a size 12-14, and classed as a plus size model, felt she received a lot of negative responses from those involved in the show and was determined to make her mark and prove them wrong.
She pledged to take something positive from the experience and began visiting schools to talk to pupils about her experience. “I think any teenager would prefer to listen to anybody other than their parents and teachers,” smiles Jen. “And when it’s someone who’s actually gone through it, then it holds a bit more merit.
“It’s a case of ‘this is where I’ve messed up, this is what’s gone right, take from it what you will’.
"The 26-year-old from Wigan admits that bucking the trend, especially in the fashion industry, isn’t always easy. But the level of criticism she received on Make Me A Supermodel only made her more resolute.
“I started to visit schools almost straight afterwards,” she says. “When I was on the show I felt as though I was being bullied a lot and the only time I’d ever felt that before was at school. So I thought, what I’ve done can be put to some use and so I spoke with my management team and we set about trying to find a way."
“One of my uncles works in a school and mentioned about going in to see pupils because a lot of them had got into this reality TV mentality. They’d started to think that they didn’t need a decent education; they could just go on Big Brother, or something like that, and earn their money that way. I was able to talk to them about how it really was."
“I love my job and I love the fact that because I had enough strength of character to hold my head high, it’s given me the opportunity to put some confidence into other children. That could be confidence in their work, in going into a particular industry, or just in themselves as people."
“Having that is important because there are times when you can’t just shout your mouth off – and then it comes back to how much respect you’ve got for yourself. You can’t let people make a fool of you."
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve never let anyone affect my career negatively or undermine my confidence.”
Jen was approached by the Make Your Mark initiative, an organisation which aims to inspire young people and encourage them to pursue their goals, when working with schools. As the Lverpool ambassador for the organisation, Jen modelled designs by one of the winners of a national Make Your Mark in Fashion competition at London Fashion Week.
“I’m very proud of being a north west girl so when you can put something back it’s important to give your support and your time,” she says. “I think the initiative is wonderful – plus I get to be on stage at LFW which I’ve not done before.“At a size 12-14 I might not look like most of the other models here but I’m a little bit too stubborn and set in my ways to change to anyone else’s ideals. I was a very slim model when I first started but I found that I was a lot happier being my natural size and shape and I’m not going to force myself to be something I’m not.
“In future, depending on my working schedule, I’ll help Mark Your Mark whenever I can. I’ve got a four-year-old daughter and if there’s any way I can affect young people in a positive way then I will.”