Being a size 14 and hailing from the tiny town of Canaan, Maegan Bell-Stearns hadn’t often pictured herself walking down a runway clad in the latest designer creations.

But in early June, she found herself doing just that — in New York City, wearing the couture of Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart and Jill Alexander at an event known as Full Figured Fashion Week.

“It was just like the runways you see on TV, but for curvy people,” said Bell-Stearns, 25. “We’re curvy; we’re not fat. We’re the average woman.”

Bell-Stearns, who lives in New York, decided to enter the fast-growing field of plus-size modeling in January and has been devoting all of her energy to it.

She’s signed with a modeling agency and will appear today on an episode of the MTV show “MADE,” focusing on plus-size models.

It’s a small part, basically as an extra. The episode focuses on another young woman, who is trying to become a plus-size model with MTV’s help. The show focuses on helping young adults transform themselves by achieving dreams or starting careers.

Bell-Stearns figures she might be on the show for only about five minutes, but who knows where that exposure might lead?

The agency she signed with specializes in having models try on clothes by various makers to see whether they actually fit. Bell-Stearns gets a kick out of the fact that one brand she may soon try out for size is L.L. Bean.

“They fly people to Maine to do that, so I might get a trip home,” said Bell-Stearns, who models using the name Rae Lynn.

While growing up in Canaan, near Skowhegan, Bell-Stearns was always interested in fashion but didn’t have a lot of exposure to it.

“The Gap was my Gucci,” she said.

After graduating from Skowhegan Area High School, she went to college to study to be a teacher.

She spent a semester in London, and that convinced her to pursue a career in fashion. She ended up at LIM College in New York City, where she studied fashion merchandising.

She was prepared to pursue a behind-the-scenes fashion career when friends and acquaintances started telling her she should try plus-size modeling.

“I was a cheerleader and dancer, and once I did my first test shoot, I realized I’d love this,” Bell-Stearns said.

Also, she loves the fact that as a plus-size model, she might help other women feel good about themselves and worry less about the “toothpick” female image that’s pervasive in the media.

“I want women to embrace their bodies and their curves,” Bell-Stearns said. “A lot of the models people see have bodies like toothpicks. A toothpick isn’t real fashion.”


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