By Camile Rocha-Keys

A PLUS-SIZE model claims she has '99 problems, but being fat ain't one’

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Videographer / Director: Lauren Bridle
Producer: Camile Rocha-Keys, Ruby Coote
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux

Julianna Mazzei, AKA Jewelz, is confident, humorous and sassy, and has no shame when it comes to posing with little clothing and talking to her thousands of social media followers about ‘fat problems.’

The 25-year-old from Toronto, Canada told Barcroft TV: “I feel sexy in my body and I feel like everybody should.”

Although the body positive advocate is now confident in her size 22 clothes, Jewelz hasn’t always been proud to show off her physique in revealing clothing. 

Severely bullied over the years, Jewelz has been told 'skinny jeans are called that for a reason,' been sang nasty songs and name-called - and once had a boyfriend break up with her for being ‘unhealthy.’ 

Jewelz said: “I hated school. There were so many times where I skipped school, the bullying was so bad.

"I can give you probably a whole dictionary of names. Fatty, tub of lard, whale.

“The song was about fast food and it was like, ‘A pizza hut, a pizza hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken at a pizza hut.

“When people are making snarky comments about you behind your back or under their breath it’s harder to stand up for yourself and say what needs to be said, that’s one of the reasons why I got my ‘F Your Beauty Standards’ tattooed.

“My whole life people told me that I couldn’t wear pattern such as stripes or polka dots.

Jewelz’s mum, Catherine, added: “As a young Juliana she became more introvert, wanted to stay in the house more often with her brothers and sisters.

“I knew her weight was bothering her and I knew the kids at school were bothering her."
Two years ago Jewelz became tired of waking up everyday hating herself and wondering when will she ever be happy. 

At the time Jewelz's good friend Vicky had lost a lot of weight but instead of feeling positive about the weight loss Vicky had lost her confidence along with the kilograms. 

It made Jewelz realise that being thin and having the ‘perfect’ figure doesn’t automatically bring you happiness. Since that realisation, she has gone on to inspire many friends and followers to be happy within themselves. 

Jewelz explained: “Until I was 23 years old, I hated myself. Through finding inspiration online, and coming to terms with who I am and what I need to do, I knew I needed to start accepting who I was, I knew I was good in the inside but I felt who I was on the inside didn’t make up for what I looked on the outside.

“I got there and I found self love. And being confident is the greatest gift that I have been given.

“To be a bigger girl and then be thin and then be unhappy it was kind of a wake up call for me and I realised that being thin isn’t going to make me happy”

Jewelz friend, Vicky said “Losing weight in general doesn’t make people happier.

“I just feel very self-conscious all the time, even now.”

Catherine said: “Jewelz totally changed, it was an over night thing. There was this girl that used to walk around with three or four layers of clothing and then all of a sudden one day a couple of layers came off and I started to see skin.

“She was happy to be alive, she was smiling, she was going out.

“Then the butterfly emerged that we call Jewelz."

Now, Jewelz is stronger than ever, inspiring her social media fans on a daily basis and spreading the importance of body positivity and self-love through her online hashtags and modelling. 

Jewelz explained: “I started doing it so I could inspire people.

“I would definitely say that modelling is a career for me, I would definitely present myself more as a body activist.

“There is nothing like feeling beautiful but the main reason I do it is to remind women that they can feel beautiful to that you don’t always need to see one standard size in model modelling for lingerie or for cars.

“I definitely think that we have to reclaim the word ‘fat' as positive.

“As a negative word for so many years, it is about time we take it back, and realise that it is not a bad word, it is not a bad thing and it shouldn’t be shaded in a negative way.

“I realise that hash-tagging and coming up with word or phrase was super important, people would see it and they would catch on to it. It would give them hope to see somebody just living a positive life and being happy. That’s why hash tagging is important.

“My two biggest hashtags are #BigandBlunt and #IGot99ProblemsButMyFatAintOne."

In order to remain confident, Jewelz refuses to step on the scales and monitor her weight.

Jewelz also fiercely dispels claims that she is unhealthy, and says she leads a healthy, active lifestyle and is not putting her life at risk. 

She said: “Since I found body positivity I haven’t stepped on a scale.

“A scale doesn’t define who you are and it doesn’t define your health what so ever so.

“I definitely think that I live an active lifestyle and I think that that’s the term that people should definitely use.

“I’ve never had a doctor tell me to that I have to change my diet or that I need to lose weight. I’ve had a doctor tell me that I was fat for sure but they were never immediately like well you need to lose weight like your health is at risk.

“You’re not automatically unhealthy being a bigger person and you’re not automatically healthy being a thinner person and even if you were unhealthy you’re still entitled to self love and people need to remember that.”

While she receives many positive comments, her voluptuous body modelling bikinis and lingerie can also result in result negative and more sinister reactions. 

But Jewelz has developed a thick skin and is determined to promote body positivity, dreaming of one day travelling the country educating schools on the topic.  

Jewelz said: “I feel like it’s one of those things that need to be taught in the school like we take health classes. We do all these things to promote sex or to learn maths and I think that loving yourself is, is just as important as all those things. So, that’s what we need to do to promote body positivity.

“I encourage body positivity by putting myself out there, by showing other people that you can love yourself at any size and be positive is for everybody.”