Philomena Kwao

Bold, informed, active. Philomena Kwao is an accomplished model, an advocate for maternal health and women’s rights, and a fierce role model for positive body image and self-love.

Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Philomena moved to New York City in 2013 and was quickly named the brand ambassador for Torrid, a major US plus-size retailer. Soon after Nordstrom, Lane Bryant, and Evans called on her to better represent their clientele. Her infectious smile and unique look have now  graced the pages of the New York Times, editorials for Essence, Cosmopolitan UK, and Pride magazine, as well as Sports Illustrated- becoming one of the first black plus-sized models to do so.

Philomena has many philanthropic interests, but has a special focus on maternal health, women’s rights, and the issue of diversity in the beauty industry. Working with Women for Women International, Philomena has highlighted, through her own social media channels and published articles on the Huffington post, the need for open dialogue and real inclusivity in the movement towards equal rights for women everywhere. In her powerful piece, “Is My Black Not Beautiful,” she emphasized the need for change in the portrayal of beauty, especially in the cosmetics industry, where women of color, more specifically women of darker skin tones are often left behind.

This passion and her background in Economics and International Health Management studies, led her to find a perfect fit as an Ambassador with Women for Women International. She has just returned from a trip to Nigeria where she experienced our program and met with our participants first hand. We are grateful that she recorded many of our sisters stories there and that she continues to raise awareness by sharing those stories with the world.