How motherhood inspired a Kiwi model to follow her dreams

Shauni Wallace and her daughter
The mother of one said it was only when she gave birth to Blake Selwyn (pictured) did she feel confident with her body. Photo credit: Supplied

New Zealand Fashion Week is almost upon us - a time when fresh-faced young models vie for their chance to walk on one of the country's most glamorous runways. 

But for one young mum, even getting the confidence to walk into casting was years in the making.

This year marks the first Fashion Week for 25-year-old plus-size model Shauni Wallace. The hospitality worker and cafe manager is mother to Blake Selwyn, almost two.

How motherhood inspired a Kiwi model to follow her dreams
Photo credit: Supplied.

You probably wouldn't hear that of many of the models walking the runway - but for Wallace, it's what inspired her to be there.

"I have struggled with being overweight, underweight and content with my weight for many years," Wallace told Newshub.

"I think why I've held back from modelling for so long in the past is because I felt as though I wasn't the 'model fit'. I am on the larger side, always have been."

Wallace says that prior to becoming a mother, she was constantly hard on herself.

"Self-love and self-respect was something I'd struggled with for many years," she says.

"Being able to carry my healthy baby girl made me appreciate my bod. I could no longer judge myself as it was my baby's home for nine months.

"Blake has taught me so much without even knowing it; self-love and self-respect. Two massive things I'll forever be grateful for."

How motherhood inspired a Kiwi model to follow her dreams
Photo credit: Supplied.

So Wallace went along to her first ever casting for New Zealand Fashion Week last weekend, which she said "was absolutely amazing".

"It was so nerve-racking - I seriously felt so shaky leading up to it. My legs legit almost turned into jelly," she says.

"I'm so pleased I went and gave it my best shot. I think it was one of those things that you dread but once you are actually there you love it.

"I met some lovely people, learnt new things and the overall experience was incredible."

Wallace also thinks the public perception is changing.

"I feel like plus-size models are becoming more popular in today's society. I think we are all after a more realistic view of all body shapes and sizes," she said.

"But what made me decide to give modelling a go is that I now have the confidence in myself. I love myself, I'm proud of my body, and I don't feel the need or want to change anything about myself.

"We are all different colours, shapes and sizes - that's the beauty of life. I'm now obsessed with becoming a woman who's comfortable in her own skin. Body positivity is on the rise and loving yourself is so empowering."

Shauni Wallace is represented by Monarch modelling agency. New Zealand Fashion Week runs from August 27 until September 2.