Love changes oversize model’s life

By Pham Nga   May 31, 2023 | 04:30 am PT
When she was younger, Quynh blamed everything on her weight. Whether her boyfriend broke up with her, or she lost her job, she would always say it was because she was too fat.

But that was 10 years ago, before she met Hoang Son in 2018. He helped her realize that "being oversized is a unique advantage," she said.

"I had probably been hurt too much, and Son came to compensate," the 30-year-old woman said of her now-boyfriend.

Quynh and Son at a cafe in HCMC, at the end of 2022. Photo courtesy of Quynh and Son

Quynh and Son at a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City in 2022. Photo courtesy of Quynh

Before meeting Son, Quynh believed that she had an "overweight" body.

Her height was 1.6 meters, while her weight was 58 kilograms, about 10 kilograms more than the average weight of her peers.

She was turned down for jobs many times because companies said she had an "underqualified appearance."

But what hurt Quynh most was when her boyfriend of eight years told her to lose weight.

"Everyone around me made me feel like I’m ugly. I tried to lose weight like my ex wanted me too, and I didn’t dare wear things he didn’t find eye-catching," she recalled.

She also skipped meals and over-exercised.

"Still, after all the effort I put in, we broke up."

After breaking up with that first boyfriend, Quynh believed that her measurements were even more "problematic" than she had before. She suffered from exhaustion from over exercising.

There was even a time when all she ingested was orange juice, which landed her in the hospital for asthenia. She then gave up on losing weight and went back to her old lifestyle. But she’d lost any modicum she’d ever had of inner peace.

In the four years following that breakup with her first boyfriend, Quynh became socially reserved with both friends, acquaintances and romantic interests. Her friends told her that she would have to lose weight if she wanted to find a new lover.

That was when she decided to get a tattoo, which became a decision that unwittingly changed her life.

It was 2018, and the tattoo artist who ran the studio she visited was Hoang Son.

"I have always liked chubby girls like Quynh, so we made friends right after our first encounter," Son said.

They added each other on social media and spoke frequently. The two felt comfortable around each other, like they had known each other for a long time.

Son told Quynh about his recently-ended relationship, and the difficulties he’d been facing since he quit being a teacher to become a tattoo artist.

Quynh also shared her recent heartbreak with Son and told him about the pressures of her job.

The conversations proved therapeutic and healing.

Two months after their first encounter at Son’s tattoo studio, the two decided to meet in person again.

"I didn’t have any intention of impressing him, so I put on whatever I found in my closet and didn’t wear makeup," Quynh said.

Son also appeared in a comfortable t-shirt and shorts. Quynh noticed that Son’s shirt had a hole in it, so she thought to herself that if they ever met again, she would give him two new shirts gifts.

The pair ended up impressing each other quite a bit during that first "date."

Son was touched when he saw Quynh give her food to a homeless man despite being hungry herself. He also thought it was moving the way she sobbed when she saw an injured cat.

A week later, Son confessed that he wanted Quynh to be his girlfriend, to which she accepted. On their second date, Quynh gave her new boyfriend two brand new shirts.

"I was even more sure about how kind and sensitive she was then," Son said.

And ever since then, for the past five years, Quynh has been in charge of Son’s outfits.

After the two officially started their relationship, Quynh wore heavy makeup and chose her clothes more carefully, hoping to make herself appear prettier and thinner on their dates.

Son noticed that and told her: "You don’t have to do that, you are beautiful even when you appear in your bare face."

He also encouraged her to wear clothes that made her most comfortable and confident, instead of caring about what others might think. He has never raised the topic of weight loss to Quynh. One of his favorite things to do is take her to eat their favorite foods, and then the couple often exercises together afterwards.

One day, Quynh told her boyfriend that she wanted to participate in a casting session for a famous designer’s fashion brand, but she didn't feel confident.

"If you go there, it will be good," Son told her. "Even if you fail, you will gain experience."

Son took Quynh to the casting session, in which over 2,000 people participated, and waited for her the entire day. Quynh was one of four oversize models chosen to walk the runway.

This experience led her to quit her office job and start working full-time as a free agent oversize model. She began learning to love and appreciate her own body more. She now treats it as a precious gift that could bring her a better life.

Since then, whenever Quynh has a modeling gig offer, Son joins her in calculating benefits and risks.

"I can read her feelings just based on her breath," he joked.

Another part of Quynh’s life that’s been changed by her relationship with Son is her relationship to her kitchen. Being in love has turned her into a woman who loves to cook. Before Son, she never enjoyed cooking and wasn’t any good at it. But seeing Son’s eagerness to eat her food inspired her and she found a new passion.

"It’s your way of showing how much you love me," Son tells Quynh every time she’s worried that a dish she’s prepared might not be tasty enough .

His support always encourages her.

"Dating Son makes me feel like I’m a child again."

Quynh was invited as a guest speaker at a conference at HCMC University of Economics and Finance in November, 2022. Photo courtesy of Quynh

Quynh was invited as a guest speaker at a conference at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics and Finance in November 2022. Photo courtesy of Quynh

Quyen, Quynh’s younger sister, said her sister had changed completely in so many good ways since she got together with Son.

She became more feminine, is better at listening to others, and is more optimistic, Quyen said.

"They are always positive," the younger sister said about the couple. "They can laugh and talk with each other all day."

Son is still pursuing his passion as a tattoo artist. Quynh has become more well-known as an oversize model. They are planning to surprise their relatives and friends at the end of this year, which is also their one-year anniversary.

Quynh said she’s now confident that she can spread her positive attitude to others, especially those who are worried about their measurements.

"Your true love will encourage you to be yourself, help you to lead a better life and be happier," she said, "instead of forcing you to change just to satisfy themselves."

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