One of the chief charms about models is that they simply seem to glow when the camera is on. For Anna Stomosis, this absolutely rings true. Sitting in a corner of her home in Vienna, Austria, with a messy bun atop her head, Anna smiles and waves as the videos connect for our Zoom meeting. The first thing that strikes me is her warmth and openness and, as we started talking, this early impression held steadfast.
Represented by Crumb Agency, Anna Stomosis is not only a plus-size tattoo model, but she’s also grown her Instagram profile to a large number of followers that look to her for inspiration on their own journey of self acceptance.
Speaking of the platform she’s built for fat acceptance, she mentions, “I really can feel that it helps people and I really can feel that it’s doing something.” Anna also acknowledges her responsibility as an influencer.
When she first started her Instagram page, she confesses she wasn’t being her most authentic self. “It was all about the fashion...everything was Photoshopped and Facetuned,” but this changed in 2019. “The content now has more impact...I’m putting stuff out there with a real message. The feedback I get [from followers]...it’s not empty anymore.”
Anna has been working on cultivating a more emotionally healthful journey for herself, which she shares on her platform, often with a heartfelt humor. When asked how she has come to truly love herself, she shares that it’s an ongoing journey. Even when it comes to dealing with mean comments.
“With my personal transformation, with the way I’m going and learning about myself and how valid I am, just in my body existing, the less impact those comments have. The more I’ve learned everything is perfect just the way I am, the less those voices get to me. There’s no truth to them and I can see them for what they are now.”
Many people, especially women, struggle with self-confidence, but have learned that tattoos give them that extra boost to embrace their body. The same held true for Anna, but there were even further dimensions to her choice to get tattooed.
“My first tattoo I got when I was 14 and I did it myself. And when I was 18, literally the second day after my 18th birthday, I went to a tattoo artist and got my chest done,” she laughs and continues, “I could’ve thought about that better....But the point is, in my mind, it was always like if I’m completely covered in tattoos, nobodies going to look at my body because the tattoos will be like a barrier. Cover your body in tattoos so that your size won’t be that important anymore.”
Of course, the beautiful thing about tattoos is that the joy they bring has many levels. A raise in self-confidence is part of it, as is celebrating the things we adore most in the world. Anna raises her hands up, “My favorite tattoos are for sure my Darth Vader and Darth Maul because I fucking love Star Wars. I also have a Hello Kitty Darth Vader in a Death Star hot air balloon on my arm!”
Both the modeling industries and the tattoo industries are well-known for their strict guidelines on beauty standards. And although it is slowly changing thanks to the work of people like Anna, thin and white still rules the roost. However, overall, Anna says her experience in both industries has been very positive and has hopes that it will continue in that way.
Anna’s personal growth is truly inspiring, and her advice to others who are trying to do the same sounds simple, but still involves a great deal of work. “In the beginning, it’s really like...look at yourself. Really look at yourself...I really started standing in front of the mirror naked. I was fucking cringing, but I stood there. And I stood there until I found something that day that wasn’t that bad...it’s really hard, but it really helped me...”
She shares that this was one of the things she did for years in order to nurture self-love. “We don’t see each other for what we actually look like. We’re not able to see our bodies in a neutral way. There were a lot of times that I just stood there [in front of the mirror] and started crying because I just hated what I saw so much. But I learned, I let those feelings come up...until I finally understood that this is not what I’m personally feeling about my body.”
Picked apart by cosmetic companies, fashion brands, and mainstream media in general, beauty standards are something that become inherent in how we view everything, usually to a detriment of our health.
Anna also mentioned that it’s important to diversify what you see when viewing media. Bombarded by daily images of slim catwalk-ready models will usually only support the habit of comparing oneself to an impossible standard. Instead, seek out people who inspire, empower, and support.
“Only when I started to add in accounts in my feed like super fats and infinifats, like I started to realize how much fat phobia is inside of me. Seeing different bodies, because we’re not used to seeing different bodies in posts, but there are as many different bodies as there are people on this planet.”
As industries change to embrace more diversity and inclusivity on their platforms, acceptance will have to be a built-in part of their foundation. This means acceptance of all, not a prescribed ideal of the “right” kind of human. But sometimes change starts small, at home, in order to create ripples of change throughout the world.
“Be kind to yourself. Try not to talk negative to yourself. These are very self-care, meme page sentences, but they are true!” Anna laughs and then smiles, “It's really fake it til you make it. In a society that tells us on every fucking street corner to change ourselves, and that we're not okay the way we are, fake it til you make it. [Now], I don't need to fake it anymore. I learned that it's okay to be me, just like this."