My name is Ina Barić Požnjak. I was born in Zagreb. I was adopted when I was around 2 years old. Upon finishing elementary school, I fell ill and ended up in the neuropediatric department. This is where I first met patients suffering from bulimia and anorexia. That image stuck with me, and I promised myself if I would ever be in a position to help prevent girls from becoming anorexic or bulimic, I would do everything I can to do so.

I graduated high school specializing in science and mathematics and after that, I started the Faculty of Aeronautics, Air traffic control. In 2014 I survived a severe car accident and had to undergo 6 surgeries in 4 years. I also found my biological parents and found out I had 10 half-siblings during that time. The accident left me unable to pursue my career in traffic control. In 2019 I started studying civil aviation. My goal is to get a degree in management once the COVID pandemic is over.

I am a dancer. I have been dancing for 20 years, allowing me to travel the world. I’ve been to more than 30 countries. In 2018 I started modeling, and in 2019 I won the title Best model  of Croatia.

2018 was my turning point. I found myself. I founded a trading company. Although the COVID pandemic took a great toll on the business, I focused on the positive and I have learned a lot from that experience. My dreams, which I am working hard on accomplishing, are to influence young people through fashion, brand collaborations, public appearances, and social media. Besides that, my goal is to finish my degree and have a loving family.

I want to prove to the young girls out there that curvy girls can be a part of the modeling world too, and proudly wear the sash. I would also like to be the first woman with a disability to win the competition, take the crown home and encourage people with disabilities to step up and follow their dreams. This experience will enrich my life and make me try harder in being a role model. I love doing this and it makes me happy. I think if the work atmosphere is good, even a photoshoot at 5 °C in a castle isn’t a problem, which I had the opportunity to experience recently.

I would advise them to be themselves, and not to agree on anything that doesn’t make them comfortable. It is important to adjust to new situations and roles, but also to respect your boundaries. Keep your head high and be proud of yourselves!

5.  How are you preparing to face it in the best way?

Last year I dedicated turn myself to my health. I eat healthier and exercise regularly. After a long time searching for support, I found one in the ass. prof. Zoran Žgaljardić M.D., Ph.D. Doctor Žgaljardić is one of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world with over 30 years of experience in esthetic, reconstructive, and maxillofacial surgery. He resolved my breathing problem and my breast condition which bothered me for years. He is my hero, and there are no words that could thank him enough.

6.  Tell us about your future projects.

First of all, I would like to continue to grow my business. Secondly, I would like to found an organization that would help young people aged 18-19 who have to leave orphanages and have nowhere to go, as well as young people with disabilities, find jobs. When I was 18 years old, I found myself alone in the streets with nowhere to go. At the time I was studying and had a job, but only with the help of my friends did I find a place to stay and managed to get by. 

I would also like to help raise awareness of breast cancer prevention. I am one of many women with a high-risk family history, and I am currently waiting for BRCA gene testing.  A great help in achieving this goal is my high school friend who works in Mentor, a company that helps breast cancer organizations in counseling, patients’ rights education, and in providing free implants after mastectomy.