‘Posing in my underwear made me more confident than ever!’ Winner of Ultimo’s ‘real woman’ modelling contest says stripping off gave her a body boost
- Size 14 Sophie Linfield was scouted on a Virgin flight by Ultimo CEO MIchelle Mone
- Reluctantly entered competition – and was staggered to find a month later that she had won
- Sophie joins 11 other women in Ultimo’s real women modelling campaign
‘I got my brother’s girlfriend to take a photo of me in the garden, just wearing jeans and T-shirt,’ Sophie says.
‘But I didn’t hear anything back for a few weeks, so I just chalked it up as one of those crazy things that happen.
But then after a month, I had a call saying I’d won. I couldn’t believe it.’
Sophie, who has never modelled, says she had always felt lacking in confidence when it came to body image.
Beautiful: Lisa MacLachlan was picked to be in the top 12 along with Leah Morris
All natural: Finalist Dal Dosanjh was chosen for her shape next to Becky Davenport
‘I had never posed in underwear – I would never have considered doing anything like this. I was terrified ahead of the shoot, and I really didn’t enjoy posing. I felt awful, and I was so nervous.
‘Fortunately, all ten of us taking part in the shoot had been chatting all week on Facebook, so when it came to posing on the day, I felt like I was among friends.
‘The photographer was so nice, and Michelle came down on the day, which was lovely.’
Despite her nerves, Sophie says that posing in her underwear gave her a huge and unexpected confidence boost.
‘It made me realise that we are all different. Women come in all shapes and sizes,’ she said.
‘We can’t all have bodies like celebrities – we don’t have chefs and personal trainers. But everyone is beautiful in their own way.’
Such was the transformation that Sophie says she would now be happy to give her delighted fiance Nick, also 26, a treat ahead of their wedding next year.
‘I have never been one for nice underwear,’ she says. ‘I have a drawer of mismatched knickers and bras. But Ultimo gave us the lingerie we were wearing on the day, and a few other nice pieces, so my underwear drawer has been transformed.’
Now I wouldn’t think twice about posing for my boyfriend in lingerie and heels,’ she laughs.
Thousands of women entered the national contest, which is held annually to raise money for charity.
Enviable figures: Donna Evans (left) will star in the Real Women campaign along with Dawn Williams
Most enter online, but two secure their place through a charity auction – an event that has raised a total of £120,000 since its launch three years ago.
Michelle Mone whittled down the entries to the final 12 winners, who ranged in size from 8 to 18 and bust sizes from A to G.
The girls, who will join Helena Christensen, Luisana Lopilato and Rachel Hunter in the Ultimo Hall of Fame, are part of Ultimo’s goal to blur the boundaries of what lingerie models should look, and to show that women of all ages, sizes and shapes can be beautiful.
Fellow winner Dawn Williams said the only day that had come close to matching her experience on the lingerie shoot was her wedding day. ‘I felt as if I was dreaming,’ she said.
‘The best thing about being an Ultimo Real Women Winner is it has made me feel special, feminine and more confident. To sum up my experience is easy: life changing.’
Donna Evans said the experience had made her ‘proud’ of who she is. ‘The best part of being an Ultimo Real Woman is the confidence it’s given me.’
‘I never really believed in myself. But now I’m going to go out there and get what I want from life and love me for me.’
Michelle Mone OBE, said: ‘I love the Ultimo Real Women campaign. It gives us the opportunity to showcase some of the beautiful ladies out there who otherwise might not get the chance to model lingerie.
‘It’s incredible the feeling the ladies get after the shoot and the new found confidence it gives them.
‘I’ve posed in my lingerie and I can vouch that its not an easy thing to do. I want women to celebrate their bodies.
‘Since the campaign started we have raised an incredible £120,000 for charities including Breast Cancer Care, Cash for Kids and Children with Leukaemia.’
The twelve winners were taken to London for a big budget celebrity-style fashion shoot with the Ultimo ‘glam team’, including celebrity photographer Dan Kennedy, hair and make-up artists, stylist and lighting experts – the same team who worked with Ultimo babes Luisana Lopilato and Sarah Harding.
The winners will join Argentinian actress Luisana Lopilato in the brand’s Hall of Fame