Born in Washington DC and raised in a Maryland suburb, Candice Huffine did a little bit of everything when she was growing up, from being captain of the cheerleading squad to taking her turn as a pageant queen.

“It was ‘typical’ in a Hallmark movie kind of way, I guess,” Huffine tells POPSUGAR. “These details are important to mention because they did influence my life path. I willingly put myself on a stage at every turn — and not always kind ones — to do the things I loved or to follow a dream I had.”

Huffine, 39, signed her first modeling contract in 2000. She was “determined” to be a model, despite the fashion industry being notoriously discriminatory toward plus-size people. Knowing the odds were stacked against her propelled Huffine even further toward realizing her dream.

“When I received a contract as a plus-size model, it unlocked a new mission in me: to not pursue modeling just for myself, but to push harder than ever to create change in a place that doesn’t easily open its doors.”

When she was 15, she went to New York City to visit “countless agencies,” looking to be signed and get straight to work, but the reality wasn’t quite what she had envisioned. “I was very naive and knew nothing about the industry and experienced a lot of rejection,” she recalls. “When I received a contract as a plus-size model, it unlocked a new mission in me: to not pursue modeling just for myself, but to push harder than ever to create change in a place that doesn’t easily open its doors. I wanted to prove I belonged.”

Now with a decades-long modeling career that’s still going strong, she has done just that. From gracing the cover of Elle in May 2017 to starring in Luvlette’s latest lingerie campaign, Huffine’s collection of accolades keeps growing.

Ahead, the model and newlywed — she eloped in Las Vegas on Aug. 25, 2023, marrying her partner Shelly Lynch-Sparks in a custom sheer lace Christian Siriano look — opens up about her trailblazing path, her personal style evolution, and what frustrates her the most about the resurgence of ’90s and ’00s trends.

POPSUGAR: What do you enjoy most about being a model?

Candice Huffine: Truly, I enjoy every single thing. Being a model is something I’ve dreamt of from a very young age. It’s the only thing I said when you asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. What I didn’t know at the time I proclaimed this, though, was how deeply important the job of a model could be. I learned early on that the power of an image could be greater than myself if I was able to be honest and free. I wanted young girls to grow up differently than I did. I wanted them to love what they saw and not be on fad diets in the lunchroom and feel empowered to conquer the world instead of an ideal dress size.

I learned that my work as a model — in an industry where I was the exception and not the norm — could make an impact and implement change in the representation we were all seeking in fashion and media. I love dressing up, posing, having glam hair and makeup, but let me tell you, making a difference is what I enjoy most. That’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to partner with an inclusive brand like Luvlette and shoot their campaign with an all-female, empowering team. The brand strives to make people feel confident to love and celebrate their individuality and pure beauty.

PS: What’s your personal style like now, and how has your personal style evolved over time?

CH: My personal style is classic and timeless with a bit of flair. While I joke about wearing an abundance of black, it does lend itself to being a perfect canvas to build upon time and time again. I add a pop of something special to a basic look, whether it’s a vintage jacket or a bright bag. The way this approach has evolved over time is I’ve gotten wiser about what I invest in and look for pieces that aren’t just a wild one-time use. This “do it for the picture” approach was not smart for my storage, wallet, or the planet. So, see, with time, my style has become wiser!

PS: What else can the fashion industry do in regards to plus-size representation?

CH: Not to be too brief here, but I want to see more. I would love to see more brands, like Luvlette, commit to representing and celebrating individuals of all sizes.

“Size does not equal health, and weight does not equal worth. You can be curvy and strong and healthy and loved and happy and successful.”

PS: Are there misconceptions about plus-size models that you want to dispel?

CH: I think it’s worth repeating, as I’ve worked very hard to express over the whole of my career, that size does not indicate health. Quite a lot of armchair experts and social media doctors seem worried about my well-being, and it makes me laugh. Size does not equal health, and weight does not equal worth. You can be curvy and strong and healthy and loved and happy and successful. Full stop.

PS: Tell me about a time in your life when you took a step back and felt like, “I’ve made it.”

CH: I actually do this quite often, especially if I’m on set for a brand, with a model or photographer I idolize, or I am shooting for a brand I used to work [for] in the retail store, or when a friend sends me a picture and their daughter is in front of my billboard. Those all feel like “I’ve made it” moments. I pinch myself often and pause to be grateful.

PS: Which fashion items are you loving lately, and why?

CH: I am LOVING loafers, wide-leg jeans, trousers, and sheer everything for day or night — or your wedding day, too. The Luvlette Strapless bra in black is the perfect foundation piece to show off under mesh and lace tops.

PS: What’s your perfect day off?

CS: The perfect day off would be a great cup of coffee (bonus points if it’s from my shop One Trick Pony), a long walk on the beach on a perfectly sunny and crisp day with my wife and our dogs, antiquing, oysters, a glass of wine at a vineyard, a home-cooked meal, and a game of cards by the fire.

PS: Which ’90s and ’00s fashion trends do you keep in rotation? How do you update them for 2024?

CH: I am a big fan of this ’90s and ’00s resurgence, but am so frustrated I have to buy it all again as most of the pieces I am wearing now, I had the exact copy of in high school. At least my signature style has remained consistent! Either way, I’m back in my Nike Dunks, baggy Calvin Klein Jeans, and, dare I say, crop tees. I try to elevate and update my throwback look and make it [contemporary] by adding luxe gold jewelry, a leather purse, and a nice jacket/layering piece. In the ’00s, I feel like I never wore jackets. Now it’s all about chic boxy blazers and trenches.

PS: What’s your self-care routine like?

CH: My self-care routine is very important both physically and mentally. It consists of regular fitness, something I have admittedly fallen out of routine until recently. I am excited to be starting over, doing things I love like running, and newly introducing Pilates. While it also consists of things like getting great sleep, or carving out time to do skin care, etc., another aspect is honoring my needs by learning to step back, say no, and slow down when necessary. Sheet masks and social battery recharging are equal partners in self-care.



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