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How Irena Drezi went from direct provision to being one of Ireland's most in demand plus-sized models

“Nothing good comes easy.”

CW: This article contains references to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

IRENA DREZI IS a name you’ll want to be familiarising yourself with.

A scan across her IG feed with throw up campaigns from Suzanne Jackson’s tanning brand Dripping Gold (not something to be sniffed at, given how little representation plus size models get in the world of fake tan.)

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New campaign for @drippinggoldtan_ ✨

A post shared by IRENA DRÉZI (@irenadrezi) on

She’s also currently working on influencer campaigns with the likes of Boohoo and Fashion Nova.

Originally from the Czech Republic, Drezi left the country with her parents when she was four years old, in search of a new life. From landing in Dublin Airport, Drézi remembers her family being questioned for hours before being placed in a refugee centre.

She and her family were left waiting with no confirmation of where they were going to live permanently.

“I was young and didn’t quite understand what was going on but now I’m grateful for everything,” she told Goss.ie. ”I slept for most of [the questioning] but remember my parents worrying that we’re gonna be sent back straight away.”

Luckily, her father’s fluency in English prompted the immigration officers to try and assist the family. (Some families who could not explain their story without the assistance of a interpreter were subsequently deported.)

Drezi and the rest of her family were placed in a refugee centre in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Speaking about her experience on Twitter, Drezi said: “I lived here for two years, we had a curfew and couldn’t work. We got free food and a roof over our heads but we had no freedom. I was four.”

The camp literally looked like a concentration camp when you drove in. The fences, the caravans and the dull grey atmosphere,” she told The Irish Post in an interview.

Curfew at the centre was 8:30pm, and with no one in the centre allowed to work, Drezi remembers security trawling the halls to prevent people from leaving the camp. 

During her time at the centre (and despite not speaking English upon arrival), Drezi now knows six languages from befriending children of all nationalities. 

Having initially signed with Irish agency NotAnother Agency, Drezi is now represented in the UK by IMM Curve.

On being a plus-sized model, Drezi credits the experience with helping her heal from an eating disorder and body dysmorphia.

“When I was growing u there was no plus size models,” she told Nine Crows. “Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were everywhere, don’t get me wrong, I think they’re both really beautiful, but seeing that at a young age made me think that I had to look like that. 

I learned to accept myself. That’s really important. It’s not easy to do when you’re sixteen and have an eating disorder though. I fought my battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and I won.”

And speaking of wins, Drezi has been celebrating them on her Instagram Story this week.

“It took my six years to be able to model full time,” she wrote. “Nothing good comes easy, you’ll get told you’ll never make it, get laughed at and lose hope, but never give up on something you want.”

Remeber the name ‘Irena Drezi’ – this is only the beginning.

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