Q&A with Model Kitty Underhill

Kitty’s reflections on, hopes for and words to her body. And her message to you. 

By Ellen Downes
Sunday 21 November 2021

Earlier this week I caught up with model and activist Kitty. She campaigns for better education and awareness around Tubular Breast Syndrome which she found out she has at the age of 25.

In the summer I asked her if she’d be up for having her body cast in gold and sharing her story. She said yes! She came to my studio in Bristol. I cast her body and created a gorgeous golden piece of art from it.

Her cast was part of the Every Body’s Story exhibition, and her powerful story is published in the book I put together with 30 other incredible women – now on sale

And now she is the first guest for this series of Q&As which I am so excited to share with you each week.

3 words to describe your body:

Sumptuous, divine, beautiful.

What do you love about your body?

At times I’ve found it quite difficult to accept my body. As a model I’m very aware that it doesn’t quite ‘fit’ a body category. I’m not quite plus-size, I don’t have a typical hourglass figure. I don’t have many other models to compare myself to but I love its individuality, I love that my body is different!

What do I love? I love my thighs. I’m really appreciating my thighs and hips at the moment. I mean I could go on and list all the parts of my body I love. I love that I have reached a point in my journey when I can just reel off the things I appreciate about my body.

What would you like to love about your body?

Honestly, nothing particularly comes to mind. Which is actually really nice because I know that a couple of years ago I would have answered with a whole list of body parts I wished were thinner and slimmer.

Yeah, I’m really lucky to be in a place now when I don’t feel I have any areas for ‘improvement’. It’s something that we’ve all been taught, that our bodies need to be improved, that they’re a work in progress. But actually our bodies are beautiful and just fine, as they are.

We’re all on a journey with our bodies. Maybe I’ll answer slightly differently in a couple of weeks, who knows. We’re ever-shifting. I do think though, that if anyone can get to a point of accepting their body, for however long… well, that’s a victory.

What would you say to your 10 years younger self?

Oh my god I was 18 10 years ago. I’d just started uni and I was having regular panic attacks. I remember people warning me about the ‘fresher’s 15’ (the 15lb you might put on during freshers’ week). At the time I was terrified of gaining weight. I wasn’t accepting of my body weight or shape changing in any way.

I would love to tell my 18 year old self; It may feel dark right now, but things are going to get better. You’re not going to think of your body as a battleground forever.

What are your hopes for your relationship with your body in 10 years’ time?

I hope I’ll just consider my body image less. Of course it’s amazing that there’s so much messaging and campaigning around online about loving and celebrating our bodies. But true acceptance comes from not even having to cross our minds.

As someone who’s suffered from disordered eating in the past, I hope that by the time I’m 38 those thought spirals don’t even pop into my head anymore. I want to be celebrating my body, and not taking it for granted. I would love just to live in it and know its worth is never doubted.

What message would you like to give to anyone reading your words?

Challenge the places where we learn to direct negative feelings towards our bodies. And remember that learnt behaviour can be unlearnt.

Your body is a blessing. You are a blessing, and should be treated as such. Celebrate yourself! You’re worth it!

Every Body's Story Book

The golden body casts of 30 women and the powerful stories they hold.

Every Wednesday I ask an inspiring creative 5 questions. I ask them to reflect upon their relationship with their body and they share their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt with us.

This series is all about us sharing our stories and learning to LOVE and appreciate our bodies more.

You can watch the Q&A LIVE via the Every Body’s Story Instagram every Wednesday at 5:30PM. And sign up to the newsletter here – where I’ll be sharing the programme of guests for each month, and more blog posts like these.

Next powerhouse guest: Dancer Kaajel Patel