This year’s London Marathon race was not business as usual as plus size Model Jada Sezer and curvy Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon brought a body positive buzz to the event. The curvaceous women elected to run the just concluded Marathon in nothing but their underwear causing a spark that’s swept across the UK. Jada who has modeled for Elomi Lingerie, Primark, Marks & Spencer, Isabel Toledo for Lane Bryant at New York Fashion Week, Swimsuit for all campaign and makeup brand L’Oreal gives an insight to what led to her participation in the race and her decision to run in underwear.
Taking excerpts from an article written by Bryony herself for the Herald Live, she talks about how she met Jada Sezer and the amazing connection that sparked the decision to run in bras and knickers.
“Last May, I was introduced to Jada Sezer, the plus-size model, over a table of sports bras in a LuluLemon shop.The brand had invited us both on a yoga weekend and I had just completed the London Marathon (did I mention I ran a marathon?) and was still a bit high from the experience.
Jada was intrigued as to how I, a woman officially classed as obese if you took BMI into consideration, had got on running 26.2 miles (42km). I told her the truth: that it had been one of the best days of my life, and that the training had completely transformed my outlook on things.
When I started my journey to the marathon in October 2016, I was almost 16½ stone (105kg) and couldn’t run for a bus. I didn’t think I would be able to do exercise without being laughed at – I thought only slim people were afforded that privilege. I didn’t know how to make the jump from sofa surfer to park runner and frankly, it seemed an impossible task. Then work sent me on a boot camp, and I realised I had no choice: my fitness journey began. It was transformative.Physically, I lost almost 3st (19kg) (though the BMI still classed me as obese, just). Mentally, I gained a lot more. I was telling Jada all of this as we walked to another yoga session that weekend, and she casually mentioned that she’d love to run a marathon, even though she’d never really run before.
“I’ll do it with you!” I said, jumping up and down on the spot. “I will pass on what I was lucky enough to learn!” So that was that. Except it wasn’t. Jada’s hectic modelling schedule (she has worked with brands including L’Oréal, Asos and Nike) meant she was often out of the country, so we only began training together properly in February. As we ran longer and longer distances, we got to know one another better. There is something very bonding about being forced out of your comfort zone with someone. Jada, I learnt, grew up in London and had started studying psychology after her father died of cancer. She was using her platform as a plus-size model to do some work in mental health, so it made sense that we ran for Heads Together, the charity I had run with last year that was set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
We were keen to show curvier girls the benefits of exercise on body confidence – to prove that you didn’t have to look like a gym bunny or a professional athlete to run. It was out on a 10-miler that we came up with the idea: what if we ran the marathon in our underwear? To show people that curvy girls could do it – even those classed as clinically “obese” or overweight? And to show, as plainly as possible, that exercise is for everyone, and all bodies look different.
“We could call ourselves the Gutsy Girls!” beamed Jada, rubbing her tummy. Heads Together and the Royal Foundation didn’t seem too upset by our idea – in fact, they seemed positively enthusiastic about it. Team Gutsy Girls was go.
We contacted a few sportswear brands and let them know about our plans: Runderwear, who make sweat-wicking knickers that promise not to chafe, and Elomi, who make seriously strong, high-impact sports bras for bigger busted women.
Then we bought a lot of Vaseline, and flew out to Ibiza to The Body Camp (the bootcamp that I first went to back at the beginning of my marathon journey), where the team there devised a 15-mile route for us to practise in our knickers and bra. We figured we needed a test run, and that it was probably safer to do it on the Balearic Isle where anything goes (and the weather is better), than back in freezing Britain, where we would probably be arrested.
We slathered on a whole lot of petroleum jelly, took a deep breath and walked outside, where our Bodycamp friends were ready to cheer us on our way. We hugged, and realised that hugging while covered in Vaseline is not a great idea. And then we went on our way.
It’s different, running in just your underwear. I didn’t realise quite how much leggings suck you in. But the sensation of my flab jigging jollily up and down actually became quite therapeutic: I was really working out my body. We ran past restaurants and along beaches. Nobody batted an eyelid. We even went through a building site, where the workmen seemed completely unbothered by our outfits.
Only one passing car beeped its horn at us – and that was to highlight the need for us to get the hell out of the road.
We applied more Vaseline every half-hour, as we took our isotonic gels and glugs of water.
Four hours later, we arrived back at the Bodycamp feeling completely free – of chafing, of sunburn (we were also covered in factor 50) and of inhibitions.”
The pair were invited on Good Morning Britain at Television Centre, London before the race began where they announced their intention to run the marathon in underwear. Jada said they wanted to prove that a runner’s body comes in all shapes and sizes as well as prove that exercise is for everyone, small, big, tall, short, size 8, size 18. The race was as much a body positive one as it was to race raise money for Heads Together, a campaign spearheaded by Britain’s royal family that works to promote conversations about mental health.
Jada Sezer reveals in a short expose with Cosmo how she’s got cellulite and is still running;
“Your day at the gym is so much bigger than everyone else’s opinion. Do what you need to do to get you there. Maybe that large fitness class might not be as appealing to you as you and your best friend going to a smaller class that’s more niche, or one that’s outside of your local area if you don’t feel comfortable. Find that stepping stone so you feel comfortable to take that first step through the door. That’s why I’m running the marathon in my underwear, to show that it doesn’t matter. I’m a size 16, I’ve got rolls, I’ve got cellulite and I’m still running.”
On running in underwear from Elomi Lingerie, Jada says: “Casually reminding the nation to love their body AND that we should all run this years marathon in our underwear “
If you are thinking of taking that bold step, here are some quick tips from Jada;
- Work out for the right reasons and do not be pressured by the world.
- Don’t overthink it!
- Ease out of your comfort zone.
- Stop the negative self narrative.