After learning to triumph over bullies, the confident 24-year-old from Uruguay scores a modeling contract and a wardrobe from Torrid

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Credit: Courtesy Torrid

Maria Gimena’s 2017 is off to a fantastic start: The 24-year-old just scored a modeling contract and fresh wardrobe to boot!

Though she says it took a bit of coaxing from her co-worker, the multilingual 24-year-old New Jersey resident entered and won the Face of Torrid 2017 contest, joining the ranks of 2016 winner and Torrid model Lyanna Lynette. After a long, personal struggle with weight, self-love and respect, Gimena says being the Face of Torrid has given her a body-positive platform.

As a kid taking dance and swimming lessons, “I was confident enough in my performance that I ignored the bullies and didn’t focus on the way I looked,” the health center office administrator, who was born in Uruguay, says. But in middle school, that changed.

“I began comparing myself to others and sadly the bullying got to me,” she says. “One of my classmates I had a crush on came up and told me I had such a pretty face but my body did not match it… That day I promised myself to work hard to obtain what I wanted and to not let other people’s perception of what I should be or do define me. Today, I stand proud in my body and skin, stretch marks and all!”

So who will inspire Gimena professionally as she stars in seasonal campaigns and appears across social media channels? None other than ANTM judge and Sports Illustrated cover girl Ashley Graham, who Gimena says “is proof that loving yourself is the greatest power of them all.”

Check out some of Maria’s favorite items below, perfect for day or night:

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

“I absolutely love halter tops, I find them so sultry!” Gimena shares.
Buy It!
Floral Mock Neck Top, $38.50;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

“This is a must have!! I love the scalloped detail at the bottom, which makes me feel so classy,” Gimena points out.
Buy It! Crepe Laser Cut Blouse, $42.50;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

Buy It! Floral Print Georgette Keyhole Top, $44.90;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

“I was always shy when it comes to the beach but this bikini makes me excited for summer, and the silhouette is super flattering for all body types!”
Buy It! Strappy Push-Up Balconette Bikini Top, $68.90;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

Buy It! Ankle Wrap Cropped Leggings, $28.90;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

“I’m not much of a skirt person because the ones I liked were always too short or way too long,” Gimena says, “but this one hugs your body in all the right places and completes a killer date night look.”
Buy It! Stretch Lace Pencil Skirt, $54.90;

Credit: Courtesy Torrid

Buy It! Slub Knit Hi-Lo Raglan Tee, $42.90;

Which piece is your favorite? Share below!