Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
TW – This article talks about diet, exercise and eating disorders.
When it comes to truly body positive role models, it would seem that we are somewhat lacking. One of the people often hailed as a bopo role model is Iskra Lawrence and well… let’s talk about the problems with that, because there are A LOT. For those that don’t recognise her name, Iskra Lawrence is an English model known for her blonde hair and curves, her website states that she is a UK size 14, and that she is a ‘champion of body diversity’.
So, where to begin? Iskra isn’t a fan of being called plus size, ‘what upsets me is the fact that if you’ve categorized me, you’ve categorized all women my size and above in the real world. The term has a really negative connotation thanks to the fashion industry’ (shape.com) like many other models who work in the plus size industry. If someone doesn’t want to be called plus size (and whether or not a size 14 model should be called plus size is a whole other debate), why are they happy to take work from companies for plus size women and profit off of our part of the fashion industry? If you don’t want to be called plus size, stop taking work that proud plus size models could be doing instead. Rather than embrace the term that so many of us need to know where we can shop, she buys into its negative connotations. Like a petite section, or a maternity section, we need the label so that we can shop, at a size 14 however, Iskra doesn’t and her privilege blinds her to the need for the term.
✨😝I'm sorry I couldn't help myself…This is for anyone who has ever been called FAT. Thanks for the inspirational words on a recent pic @zseanzbrown 👇🏼 "Fat cow. It's only cus every F****r on this planet is obese that that's the norm… Plus-size models? give me a F*****g breaking. Everyone needs to stop eating McDonald's, the NHS is f****d because of people like her eating too many bags of crisps." Opinions are like arseholes – everyone's got one🙌 thanks to the dream team for making this happen at work today 📸 by @ricktphoto @mandywinrow @nickigillonstylist
Iskra regularly hits back at trolls who call her fat, famously she was photographed in a pile of crisps once, but when she responds unfortunately her focus tends to be on health, and that she is healthy, ‘Health comes in many shapes and sizes’ (Daily Mail). The problem with this is that it implies that only those who are healthy deserve self-love, and it is a very ableist statement. Not everyone can be healthy, and implying that her healthiness is a reason why she shouldn’t be called fat suggests that being fat is wrong, and that your lack of health is wrong too. I’m not here for her repeated ableism.
One of the brands Iskra is most vocal about working with is Aerie. Aerie pride themselves on not using Photoshop in their adverts which is awesome, however they’ve been caught up in their own bopo scandals. In 2016 they created what they called a ‘hoax’ advert for April Fool’s Day with the hashtag #AerieMan starring plus size blogger Notoriously Dapper. There was a lot of confusion around whether or not he even knew the campaign was a hoax when he agreed to take part. It featured male models in their underwear in bubble baths, yoga poses, dancing, and more, and Aerie later admitted the whole campaign was a joke after it had been heralded as bopo awesome. The campaign featured more diverse men than usually seen in underwear modelling and it had been great to see chest hair, bellies and unretouched male bodies, so to be told it was all a joke wasn’t cool. Iskra continues to work with them and promotes them as body positive, but their attitudes towards body positivity for men being used in an April Fool’s Day joke leave something to be desired.
Iskra is also a brand ambassador for NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association, and created the NEDA Inspire Awards through her work with them. Sadly however, on several occasions Iskra has been seen promoting diets and even diet replacement drinks. She’s very careful never to use the word diet, and instead substitutes it with ‘health’. Switch out the world health for diet and see how problematic her language really is.
‘My biggest health tip for travelers:
Prepare, and don’t use traveling as an excuse. Research healthy restaurants or food stores, and buy snacks—nuts, fruit, protein bars—so you don’t reach for junk. Even if you only do squats while you’re brushing your teeth or some ab exercises before bed, just do it! You will thank yourself for it.’
There are so many instances of her talking about what to eat and what to not eat, and yet she is an ambassador for an eating disorder charity. For me, they don’t go hand in hand and her constant food and exercise talk could be extremely damaging for someone suffering with an ED or disordered eating who might look to her as a body positive role model. More recently, Iskra has been working with Self magazine and controversially published a ‘New Year’ diet plan with them. Several people worked out the calorie counts for whole days of this diet plan and found some to be as little as 1500 calories, and some suggested it hinted at orthorexia (orthorexia is a condition that often includes obsessive behaviour in the pursuit of a healthy diet). Advocating any kind of set diet plan should be totally against her work with NEDA. Ultimately this article was pulled from the internet and she later apologised for potentially triggering her followers, but this isn’t the first time she has been seen promoting diets. It’s also worth noting that she hasn’t removed her promotions of this diet and workout routine with Self, they are still all on her Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, Iskra’s is a constant stream of gym selfies and talk of working out, and she’s done many interviews talking about her gruelling workout regimen to achieve her figure. Her YouTube channel also features workout and exercise videos, and over on Twitter at the time of writing in her last 12 tweets, 4 contained information about her workout regime.
💚💙 walk with me & @NEDA this Sunday @mallofamerica to help raise awareness & funds for those affected by Eating Disorders! (Take a look at all the pics for more details) I really hope to see you all there, it really is so important that we fight to help everyone affected by the most deadly of all mental illnesses. . For all of you who can't be there, I walk for you… we ALL walk for you & as one. NEDA is all of you. It's there to provide you all with the help, support & materials to not only aid recovery but also create an empowered positive community in which we can learn, love & thrive. I'm so proud & grateful of every single person who makes NEDA's work possible. 💚💙 . Straight after I will also be doing a meet & greet @aerie store so make sure you come to both!! Cannot wait to meet you all😘💚💙 #everyBODYisbeautiful #aeriereal
Some extra receipts: pic.twitter.com/g17ShBzIHw
— Kitty Underhill 🐯 (@KittyUnderhillx) March 28, 2017
Previously Iskra worked with Almased, a meal drink replacement, appearing as a bride who didn’t fit into her wedding dress. This is an older advert, but Almased uploaded it to their YouTube channel in January and continue to use it to promote their products. While she has since apologised for these adverts on her YouTube channel, the more recent diet plans she published with Self show that her version of body positivity is still incredibly problematic, and isn’t for all bodies. Her focus is on health and being healthy, in a relentless way. Encouraging diet plans can be incredibly triggering and as someone who considers themselves a bopo role model, it’s clear she needs to think more before she participates in diet culture.
More recently, Iskra is one of the stars of Simply Be’s newest campaign, ‘We Are Curves’. A quick peek at Simply Be’s Facebook page shows that this campaign has created a lot of outrage, because all of the models, including Iskra, are hourglass shaped, and seem to be right at the bottom of Simply Be’s size range, which starts at a UK 12. A quick google tells me that actually, all 3 women featured in the campaign are a size 14. For a plus size company to use only size 14 models, and to claim that this is a bopo campaign to celebrate curves is letting down the plus size community once again. We are consistently presented with Iskra as an example of a plus size woman who loves herself, but she has a lot of privilege as a white, toned, flat bellied, hourglass figured woman who is a size 14. She doesn’t represent those of us who are fat but don’t have curves, or anyone who is above a size 18, never mind a size 24+. As a plus size community we want to see clothes on bodies that looks like ours, and a lot of us feel that Iskra isn’t that model.
With Iskra’s constant focus on health and exercise, it feels like she believes in body positivity… but only on her terms. There are body positive role models out there who use their voice and privilege to raise up the voices of bigger fats, those who are disabled, the LGBTQIA* community, and people of colour who are so underrepresented in the media. Instead, Iskra seems more focused on her own voice, and her own body type, and her own brand of self-love that comes with terms and conditions. I’m not here for those terms and conditions. Loving yourself is a hard journey, and it doesn’t come with stipulations and rules. If you position yourself as a body positive role model you must be here for all bodies, not just those that fit your own ideals of health and acceptability.
We deserve better bopo icons than Iskra Lawrence, so please do comment and let me know who you feel really deserves that title!
The Problem With Plus Size Beauty Pageants
Last year, I was supposed to take part in a plus size beauty pageant. It wasn’t something I ever intended to be a part of, I stumbled into it accidentally at a plus size fashion event, but it seemed like a good idea at the time so I went for it. I’m not going to give specifics about the particular event I was going to take part in, but I am going to talk about plus size beauty pageants as a general event and my feelings on them.
When I applied I didn’t expect to get in, so I was incredibly shocked when I got an email telling me I had made it through. The email told me I needed to pick what region I wanted to represent, and gave a whole load of instructions on what to do next. At first I was excited, wow, someone thinks I’m pretty enough to be in a beauty pageant! I’ve never felt pretty enough, but here was someone validating me. Those thoughts alone show how problematic the events are.
One of the big things that immediately caused me concern was how much money I had to put forward to even take part in the event. They advise looking for sponsors, but finding sponsors who are willing to pay hundreds of pounds for you to take part in exchange for ‘exposure’, because that’s really all you can offer, is a hard one. Pageants are an expensive thing. They all have an initial outlay that allows you to take part, then there are the outfits for each round, the hair, the make up, they even offer pageant training! I was baffled by all the information but joined some Facebook groups about plus size beauty pageants to learn more.
The first thing I learnt is that there are a lot of plus size beauty pageants, and that they all seem to intermingle with each other. There are people who do the circuits and enter every pageant, who also offer training and tips on how to do well in them. None of these pageants are free to those participating in them. With hindsight, this really bugged me. Without the people entering the pageants, there isn’t a pageant, so why are those entering paying for the privilege? I understand that the event itself costs money to put on, event hire, staff, website hosting etc, but it seemed to cost a lot of money to be allowed to take part. There are a lot of pageants, and there is a lot of money within the pageant circuit.
The second thing I realised, is that just because these are plus size beauty pageants, doesn’t mean that they don’t have their own beauty standards that need to be adhered to. At first I was excited, thinking that these are fat bodies being celebrated, but then I began to think about it more, and the more I thought, the more uncomfortable I was with the whole concept. We absolutely should be celebrating plus size bodies and how beautiful and awesome they are, but a beauty pageant is still a beauty pageant, even if it includes a wider spectrum of sizes than the norm.
The more time I spent in the Facebook groups the more I realised that whilst these pageants celebrated plus size bodies, they celebrated particular types of plus size bodies more. Small fats size 14-20 were clearly favoured, hourglass figures were prominent, women who presented in a feminine way were also favoured. When I looked around these groups, I was the odd one out, still. They were far more diverse in terms of seeing women of colour being celebrated, but every body I saw did not look like mine. They were the acceptable fats we always see in the media, I was very much the exception to the rule.
The other thing I noticed in these groups was the weight loss chat. It was constant. Most of the pageants have a rule of a minimum of a dress size 14, and the amount of conversations I saw about how to get around this rule was incredible. It was incessant. I was genuinely surprised by this, but the ideal dress size in the groups was a size 14-18, and people were doing their utmost to be as small as possible by the time the pageant took place. These pageants might seem body positive on the surface, but the never ending diet talk and pressure to lose weight was everywhere.
I only saw evidence that these pageants were for cis-women, I have no idea if trans women would be allowed to enter or not, so I can’t speculate on that.
Charity work in your pageant sash was encouraged, and in fact, I suspect necessary to attempt to win the pageant. While at first glimpse these seems like something good to be encouraged, advertising yourself and your pageant seems very self serving and almost like taking advantage of charities and their causes. It didn’t sit right with me.
When I decided that I didn’t want to be part of the pageant any more there was no option for a refund, no mention of one ever actually, just a thanks and goodbye, join us again next year! Whilst I felt very iffy about the idea of the pageant, the reason I dropped out at the time was because I was unable to drive to the pageant for health reasons, but this did not matter to the organisers. On the subject of health, it was also in the rules that heels must be worn in certain rounds. Not all people can wear high heels, and not all people are able bodied, I don’t know if exceptions would be made, but when I mentioned not wearing heels, I was told I had to.
Looking back, certain things stick out to me about these pageants. The question of how ethical it is to charge an entrance fee to the people that you are relying upon to even have the pageant exist in the first place really bothered me. Pageants as a concept bug me. It is still about beauty and beauty standards, and adhering to those standards, not about pushing boundaries and celebrating what actually makes people unique and wonderful. There are winners and there are losers, and we are still placing a focus on beauty, even if it is a slightly bigger beauty than we are used to. We are still displaying bodies for the audience’s viewing pleasure, we are still being judged on our beauty, we are expected to conform and smile and pose, and I am just not OK with that.
There are plenty of plus size women who feel like beauty pageants have changed their world for the better, and that’s awesome. But I can’t help but feel like the world of beauty pageants is what needs to change, because being body positive and learning about self love is so much more than what a person looks like.
There are many different types of bodies that attract stigma in society, and as well as being plus size, I also happen to be relatively tall for a woman. I’m 5ft 11, not the tallest, but certainly well above average height for a woman. One of the biggest stigmas I’ve faced over the years has come from people who felt that any male partner I have had should be taller than me. I’ve never intentionally dated shorter men, but I’ve never let something as daft as being taller than a man stop me from pursuing a relationship with them if I liked them. In fact, my husband is shorter than me, and every serious boyfriend I’ve ever had has been shorter than me too. I’m going to talk about my experiences with this in a heteronormative context, because I’m a cis-woman who has only dated men, and cannot speak for any other experiences.
One of the common themes that crops up when people realise that I’m taller than my husband, is that this makes me unfeminine. Women are expected to be petite and dainty, discreet, and I am absolutely none of those things. I’m big in every sense, and I’m loud, but I’m also feminine. My tutus and dresses and pink hair will tell you that. Height does not dictate someone’s ability to be feminine. Being tall is not intrinsically masculine, much like being short is not intrinsically feminine. People are individuals and their height doesn’t determine where they fall on that scale.
I know I’m not the only tall woman who has dated men who have an issue with them being taller than them. Whether they’ll admit they have a problem or not is a different matter, it usually creeps out in little digs about ‘do you really have to wear those heels tonight?’, or sly comments about not always having to stand up so straight, about being condescending when you look down on him, which is not your fault! Your being tall is not the problem. The problem is that they are pushing their own insecurities onto you in an attempt to deflect. They are being emasculated by holding themselves to a gender construct entirely created by society. Rock those heels and hold your head up high, and if he can’t deal with you being tall and confident, use those long legs and kick him to the curb.
Photo by ClickClick Bang Photography
There is absolutely no physical reason that men should be taller than their female partner. There may have been some biological advantage way back when we lived in caves and hunted for our food, but we don’t any more. The only times my husband and I really notice our height difference is when I have to reach things down off the high shelves in our kitchen for him, or that I make the better big spoon than he does. Being the big spoon is kind of awesome by the way, try it sometime.
Whether you are 2 inches tall than your boyfriend, or 2 feet taller than your husband, it doesn’t matter, much like it wouldn’t matter if you were that much shorter than them either. The rule that women should be shorter than their male partners is a societal construct, much like blue being for boys, or skirts only being for girls. We here at She Might Be don’t allow society to tell us how we should live our lives, and being tall is just another thing that makes you unique.
It’s OK to be taller than your boyfriend. It’s OK to be over 6ft tall and wear 6 inch heels. It’s OK to be different from the norm. Your height is part of what makes you you, don’t let it interfere with your chance to find love. Love might be lurking round a shorter corner than you originally expected.
There are many trends and fashions that are hard to shop for when you’re a plus size babe, and the one closest to my heart is alternative fashion. I grew up as a pop punk kid with goth influences and plus size fashion can be a real let down when it comes to alt styles. I asked some of my favourite alternative plus size bloggers to share their favourite outfits for inspiration!
Ushshi is an absolute favourite of mine, and this outfit is casual, comfy goth chic at it’s best. This dress could be from almost any plus size store, but Ushshi makes it her own style with simple accessories and bad ass attitude.
Just a fat babe hanging with her belly out. #fatbabe #fatgirlforlife #plussize #plussizefashion #fatgirl #thunderthighs #effyourhealthstandards #effyourbeautystandards #effyourbodystandards #belly #vbo #mermaid #fatmermaid #redhead #redhairdontcare #metal #goth #alternativegirl #alternativecurves #girlswithplugs #girlswithtattoos #girlswithpiercings #fatredhead #hot
Katt looks like a punk rock mermaid with her red hair and her sequin skirt from River Island. She makes this look her own with a punked up denim waistcoat and a crop top. Mixing high street finds with more customised pieces is a popular way to try and stay true to your inner rocker.
@missguided #plus tshirt dress and @asos_loves_curve boots #psblogger I didn't wear ankle boots bc I was self conscious my calves are thick. WHO CARES?! Gr8 boots and gr8 legs 💃🏼🌳 #effyourbeautystandards #psfashion #andigetdressed #plussize #plussizestyle #fatbabe #bodypositive #bopo #selfie #plusisamust #psootd #plussizefashion #plussizeootd #thisisplus #biggirlsrock #plusisequal #curvesfordays #honourmycurves #honormycurves #fatshionista #fatshion #fatandfabulous #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #bigandblunt
I don’t know about you, but my inner goth loves a drapey oversized black dress. The straight size high street has them in droves, but for us plus size gals it can be slim pickings. I love this look from Diana, it’s simple and classic, and biker boots with dresses are always a win!
I have been having somewhat of a flare-up of my chronic illness, which is to say that I am always sick but I've been a bit sicker this last week or so. That means you get to see this look again for three reasons: 1) I have no content for you. 2) I am too wiped to make new content for you. 3) I look hot af in this @rebdolls Show Out mini skater dress. 😜 Harness from @unluckylingerie Shoes from @paylessshoesource Tutu from Amazon
An absolute fave of mine is the amazing Cailey Darling. Her social media is full of incredible make up looks and alternative stylings, she’s such a bad ass. She’s also disabled and legally blind, so talks about life as a spoonie too. This skater dress with a harness style is just incredible, that flash of colour in Cailey’s awe inspiring hair is all you need. Check out her insta feed for fire looks and serious makeup inspo for the bold and beautiful.
Natalie’s insta is total alt fashion goals. You can never go wrong with faux leather, and this mini skirt/leather jacket combo is everything. Faux leather is a classic for a reason. Go follow Natalie’s instagram, you won’t be disappointed! The fishnets and ankle boots rock too.
Missing long hair life, where my locks at! So tempted to colour my extensions lilac when I do my roots. Aww my chubby face💜☺️ #longhairornotlonghair #chubbycheeksforever #fatbabe #doublechinclub #noshameinmybody #bodypositivity #selflove #foxylocks #motd #fatandproud #nobodyshame #nobodyshamecampaign #effyourbodystandards #effyourbeautystandards #urbandecay #limecrimeredvelvet #redvelvet #whitehair #demiwhispies #ardell
Belle is from the same town as me, but we’ve never met, we really have to correct that! Her instagram feed is full of the sweetest pastel hair and pretty makeup. This Wednesday Addams inspired outfit is a goth classic for good reason. Belle is mermaid goals for sure.
Oh my goodness today is the 2nd last post of my fav 2016 looks! I can't go out of the year without posting this shoot I did with @cherry_velvety back in September! Someone on tumblr said I look like a "witch for hire" and I'm just all about that! That bag is really filled with hexes and potions! 😉🔮🌙 #alternativecurves #witchforhire #plussize #margotmeaniesbestof2016
When it comes to a list of alternative plus size bloggers, you just have to include Margot Meanie! If you don’t know who she is, you really have to check out her blog. She consistently shares awesome outfit inspiration like this adorable pinafore look that is what every goth plus size babe dreams of!
New Review – Feat. @bethdittofash – Link in Bio or http://lollylikesfatshion.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/damn-girl.html #bethdittofash #dittoxo #fat #fatshion #radfat #psfashion #psblogger #plussize #plussizefashion #glassesporn #fatglamlife #psstyle #psootd #alternativecurves #curvesreign #fatandhappy #stylebeyond22 #TBCR #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #celebratemysize #30plusblogs #allbodiesaregoodbodies #bopo #justmegorgeous #nobs #effyourbodystandards #bethdittocollection #effyourhealthstandards #antifatbullying
Black with pops of a single colour is an alt fashion classic. This outfit is effortlessly cool, Lolly pairs a Beth Ditto dress with matching red glasses, shoes and choker, and a black fascinator. Dresses like this can easily be worn in a casual way for day time or as Lolly has styled it, perfect for an event or night out.
Shawna is the genius behind Chubby Cartwheels. Chubby Cartwheels is the sort of inclusive alternative fashion brand plus size babes dream of. Not only does she run a dreamy brand, she also has style for days. This velvety dress is a great mix of goth and retro; Morticia Addams meets seventies hippy chic. She made this dress herself… love!
Crop tops and high-low skirts… two things I never thought I'd actually buy and find cute on me. 🙂👍 I have a big belly covered in stretch marks (you can't see them in this low-res photo), so just the thought of sporting a crop top was out of the question. But shit, I look great in them, so fuck it. Lol. As for high-low skirts, I just didn't like how they look. 😂 I honestly thought they looked stupid until I actually wore one. I should've taken a video twirling because they're so flowy. 😍 – Crop top: @jeanswarehouseguam Skirt: $3 on sale at Kmart by Jaclyn Smith #guam #effyourbeautystandards #alternativecurves #honormycurves #celebratemysize #tcfstyle #daretowear #andigetdressed #skorchmagazine #goldenconfidence #fashiontruth #fatgirlsbewinning #allbodiesaregoodbodies #lifethrowscurves #bodypositive #plusblogger #plussizeblogger #fashionforwardplus #psblogger #plussizefashion #plussizefashionblogger #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #plussizefashionista #curvyfashion #curvystyle #bbw #plussize #tattoos #inkedup #girlswithtattoos
Being sorta goth in the summer is so hard, it’s hot and wearing all black makes the heat even worse. This outfit on Liily is perfect summer goth. Based in black, with vampy black lipstick to boot, this crop top and hi-low skirt combo is cool, literally.
When you find your dream jacket thanks to @evansclothing 💜 view y final Pokémon evolution as Peak Kitty on my blog today, link in my bio! #review #alternativecurves #psblogger #plussize #plussizefashion #plussizestyle #plussizeblogger #effyourbeautystandards #malice #harness #evans #lace #mesh #fashion #fashionblogger #fblogger #ootd #psootd #outfitoftheday #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #justmegorgeous #plussizeootd #plussizefashionista #fatshion #fatshionista #asos #asoscurve #quayaustralia #alternativefashion #curvyfashionista
And lastly, a favourite outfit from me. This is about the most ‘me’ I have ever felt in an outfit, and it came from Evans and ASOS. Add a good harness and the mixture of lace and mesh takes high street brands from fashionable to gothic glam.
There are so many indy brands who do amazing alternative fashion, but sadly not many that cater to plus sizes in a truly inclusive way. Take inspiration from these plus size rock stars and use current trends to your advantage!
Here at She Might Be, we are big fans of GatsbyLady. They consistently make beautiful pieces inspired by vintage fashion, they are always inclusive, and their social media is a wonderful variety of the different sizes they sell. When they mentioned that they were introducing day dresses to their line I was so excited. Their flapper inspired dresses are incredible, but obviously aren’t your usual day to day fashion, but the day dresses… oh my!
They very kindly sent me the ‘Amy Bohemian Dress with Bell Sleeves‘ to try out, and it was love at first sight. The print is a wonderful mixture of animal prints and paisley inspired designs making it very striking and different from anything I’ve seen lately, and the bell sleeves are an absolute seventies dream!
Statement sleeves look to be a big trend this season and GatsbyLady are very on trend with this dress in an authentically vintage way that still fits their aesthetic wonderfully. The material is thick, without being too heavy, and softly stretchy in a way that makes it really comfortable.
I’m pretty tall, 5ft 11 bare foot, and this dress hits me a couple of inches above the knee which is just fine by me! It will be more knee length on those of a more average height, but I never mind flashing a bit of thigh. I decided I wanted to feel like Marianne Faithful and popped on my biker boots with a simple necklace and let the dress do all the talking.
I wore this out on my birthday and got so many compliments on it! So far GatsbyLady have two other day dresses, the ‘Farah’ which is a bodycon dress, and the ‘Faith’ which is a mesh and halterneck dress, both with a similar print to the dress I’m wearing. I cannot wait to see what they do next!
SmartGlamour is a brand I’ve had my eye on for a long time. Created by NYC based designer Mallorie Dunn, they sell their totally customisable handmade range in sizes XXS to 6XL, which is the equivalent of a 63 inch hip. Inclusive and fantastic to say the least! They’ve always used diverse models; I’ve seen blind babes, size 30s, plus size women with big bellies, plenty of women of colour, and all the ages you can imagine, but their newest campaign really caught my eye. It uses only non-binary, trans and gender-fluid models, whose bodies fall right across their size range. It made me love the brand even more and I had to get in touch with Mallorie to learn more about SmartGlamour.
Where did SmartGlamour start, and what was your inspiration for it?
SmartGlamour launched on February 22nd of 2014 – we are coming up on our 3rd birthday and 4th year of business. We started, and still are based, in Queens, NYC. I started the brand for a number of reasons. I’ve always been interested in fashion – I studied it in high school and then went on to get a fashion design degree from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in 2007. After getting a bachelors in Art + Design Education (as a back up plan – focused on teaching design) I went back into the fashion world and worked in corporate fashion design for a little over 2 years. I really disliked it – I was unsatisfied by the lack of creativity (everything is watered down copies of other designs), the ethics (everything is made as cheaply as possible overseas in China and India and we constantly accepted poorly made items because of the size of the order), and the high stress environment.
I spent a year freelancing after that – and had emotional and creative energy to think about how I could make my dream happen of starting my own company. Through many conversations with friends and loved ones – it was brought to my attention that I was super passionate about women + femme’s self esteem issues – and also the fit of clothing, and how that affects our self esteem. This is something I’ve always cared about – but when you are younger, it is more difficult to pin point your activism. In high school – I had to produce a collection, and unintentionally – I cast friends of mine who were all different shapes, sizes, and skin tones to model. Even before coming up with SmartGlamour – I knew I would never make clothing and only offer it to a small percentage of the population – what would be the point?
I didn’t know body positivity was a “thing”, a movement, a culture, a community – or about to become an even bigger “thing” – when I started the company. I actually didn’t even know the word for it. I just knew – we are being misrepresented, that leaves people out and leaves people feeling less than. On top of that – people don’t have access to well fitting clothing, and they place the blame on their bodies instead of the clothing. What if I aimed to fix those two main issues? So I crowd funded the very first collection and runway show and then took off running from there.
Can you tell us a little something about yourself and who you are?
I am a 29 year old, straight size, cis woman who lives in NYC. I’m married, have two dogs, and have been a feminist killjoy since my older sister taught me what feminism was. If I wasn’t a designer – I’d be a teacher. And I was voted Best Dressed and Most Likely to Succeed in 10th grade. I’ve been told that I am intimidating by boys and men my entire life – and I’ve learned to subvert that by this point. I believe in creating community and standing up for injustice – and I think we can use art (and fashion) as a great way to do so.
Did you start the brand knowing you wanted to showcase different body types, or did that come later?
Oops – kind of already went into that! That was from day one. Without the main concepts of body positivity – SmartGlamour would not exist at all.
Your most recent campaign, #AllMeansAll is so wonderful, how did you come to make the decision to exclusively use trans, non-binary and gender fluid models?
Since SmartGlamour is so, so much more than clothing – we release campaigns in between our collections that focus on specific aspects of our message. (#ImFlattered, #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies, #FitForEveryBody, #SameSizeDifferentEyes, etc) I knew that this year was going to be a tough one – politically – and therefore personally for a lot of people. I knew marginalized people were going to get the brunt of it – so I knew that I would need to be even louder this year in my support. We have always cast models of every sexual orientation as well as gender identity – but different from characteristics like size and skin color, your gender identity is very often not visible to the casual observer. And I never wanted anyone to feel as if they were being exploited for their differences so we never called attention to gender. However – as with size – the best way to show that your products or clothing are for all people – is by putting all people in your products. I decided it was important to discuss how clothing is not gendered – society has assigned gender to clothing – and anyone can wear whatever they like, regardless.
My assistant is non binary – so I ran the idea past her and she loved it. She cast the majority of the models, and I cast the rest with the help of a friend who worked at the Anti Violence Project. I had my assistant, Nikki Padula, look over everything I was putting out there to make sure I was truly representing the LGBTQ community accurately – as someone who is not a part of it personally – but is a strong ally.
How do you find your models? You’ve used so many different people, it’s truly inclusive which is so rare.
The majority of my models are found through social media castings. There are also a few that are my personal friends, and then also friends of friends. Unfortunately – because of our society and because of most brands not actually meaning All when they say All – it is still sometimes difficult to get older people, people above a size 24, people over 40 years old, people with disabilities, etc – to apply to the castings. I don’t blame them for being skeptical! So I sometimes have to seek those individuals out purposefully – whether that is through social media – or through friends. We just held casting for our Spring shoot and runway show which will be in February and I truly, truly hope that more and more diverse groups of people apply of their own accord in future castings!
What is body confidence to you?
Body confidence to me – is firstly – not the same as body positivity. You don’t need to be body confident all the time in order to be body positive. Body positivity, to me, is the idea that even as your body ebbs and flows, and your opinion of it does as well – it does not change your self confidence, worth, talents, knowledge, or personality. Our bodies are just our packaging – what is inside that counts. But I think that practicing body positivity leads to more and more body confidence. The more you learn to see the beauty in others, the easier it is to see in yourself. And the less importance you give it – the easier it will arrive.
Your anti-airbrushing and photoshop stance is something I’d love to see more of in the fashion industry, how have you found it has affected SmartGlamour? Often brands claim they have to photoshop, or use typical fashion models or else their sales suffer.
Our models, in general – and then their expressions, “un-airbrushed-ness”, glasses, and disabilities are the things we get emails complimenting us on the most. Second is our size range, third is our customizations, fourth is the ethical production model we stand by. People want to see someone they can relate to. And they want to see someone who is just glowing and radiating with true, honest confidence from within. I’d say about 75% of my models have not modeled for anyone before SmartGlamour, and most don’t model for anyone else after (but we always invite back models who are reliable, personable, and who love our message) – about 15% model for a few other indie brands, and about only 5-10% have modeling as any kind of profession of theirs.
As a huge fan of the bralette, I love the diversity of your models wearing them. Seeing plus size babes with large chests in bralettes is so refreshing! What made you decide to include them in your range?
Well – there just was never a question. Once I decided to make bralettes – I knew they had to be for everyone. There is this overwhelming idea in the fashion industry that women’s chests need to look a certain way – sit a certain way, not hang, be symmetrical etc! It is what drives us all to wear incredibly uncomfortable underwire bras everyday. And if you truly, honestly love your bra – that’s great. But a lot of women can’t wait to take them off – so why not be comfortable, and embrace the natural shape of your body as it is without molding. I truly think breast shape is one of the last bopo ideas to be tackled.
I am a straight size woman, with a large – but not very large – cup size (an E) – and I can’t find a bralette in my size. I can buy the largest one and make do – but my chest always ends up falling out of the cups – or the band is too big. So I set out to fix that. I also hear a lot of complaints from plus size babes with small cup sizes – that their size just isn’t even being created. And then always, always from babes with large cup sizes – that bralettes just stop existing past a certain point.
So SG bralettes from in band size 28-60, and cup size A-II. And then, as per usual, everything is customizable – so honestly anyone can order one, even if those band and cup sizes don’t fit yours. But remember! All size charts and sizes are created differently from brand to brand – so check size charts, and measure yourself!
You offer everything from skirts and dresses, to swim wear and even affordable wedding dresses, what’s your all time favourite design?
Ah! I don’t know if I have one favorite. I wear SmartGlamour everyday, and the pieces I wear most are: Jackie Pants, Rose Tops, Allison Pencil Skirts, Ashton Tees, Sylvia Tops, Stefanie Tops, Micah Dresses, Arianna Tops + Dresses. And I think my favorite dressy piece is my DeWitt Lace Dress – its dramatic and sexy but super comfortable!
Who would you love to see in your designs?
Everyone. Anyone. All people.
I love seeing body positive babes wearing SG – Jes Baker and Whitney Way Thore both own some. I’d love to see Virgie Tovar, Roxane Gay, Mary Lambert, and Substantia Jones in some as well!
And finally, what’s next for SmartGlamour?
We will be releasing our Spring collection on February 17th – which will be followed by either a campaign, or a mini collection (like Valentine’s Day, Loungewear, Bridal, etc). And hopefully we will be back on the road hosting pop ups again this Spring and into Summer!
Brands could really stand to learn a thing or two from SmartGlamour. Diversity isn’t about tokenism, but is about true inclusivity, which this indy brand shows is genuinely possible. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what comes next!
All Photos Copyright SmartGlamour
There are many challenges that plus size bodies face when it comes to fashion. The latest trends can seem just out of reach, and even the basics can be a problem when they all come with cold shoulders! One of the problems we can face daily is finding clothes we like (and that fit properly), that are suitable for work or office wear. In an ideal world, we could all wear whatever we want because clothes don’t affect your an ability to do your job, but sadly that isn’t so. If you’re anything like me, you want to feel chic but still maintain the level of professionalism that is expected in certain environments. I wanted to share some plus size bodies in work wear looks to hopefully send some inspiration your way!
Em puts cobalt blue and black together which is a fab way to bring colour into your work wear. Everyone looks good in cobalt blue! Pointy flats with black trousers make this look more on trend whilst still being great for work.
Stephanie shows that a cute tea dress and opaque tights is an easy way to be on trend but still fit that ‘office’ look. The ankle boots are such a good addition to this outfit.
Yesterday's post – link in bio . . . . . . . #psblogger #psfashion #psootd #plussizefashion #plussize #plus_isamust #plussizeblogger #justmegorgeous #goldenconfidence #tcfstyle #honourmycurves #celebratemysize #bbbg #bbbw #boldqueens #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #effyourbeautystandards #instafashion #instastyle #styleblogger
A pinafore dress with a crisp white shirt is such a classic look for a reason, Natalie gives her monochrome look a little something extra with brown ankle boots.
Fashion Status Update – 22/09/2016 🏊Day 778🏊 Outfit: black @dorothyperkins ballet pumps, black textured @georgeatasda midi skirt, burgundy off shoulder @asos tee and black longline @newlookfashion sleeveless jacket. Accessories: black Bauble by @specsavers frames, silver hoop earrings and @johnnylovesrosieofficial floral watch. Cosmetics: @barrymcosmetics Golden Sands nail polish. @muji_global eyeshadow in pale pink, violet, lilac and pearl, @cliniqueuk High Impactl Mascara in black, Wonder Honey coral blush and @benefitcosmeticsuk Benebalm tinted lip balm. Fragrance: @ritualscosmeticsuk The Ritual of Dao Shower Foam Hair: loose and straight. #psootd #ootd #wearethethey #effyourbodystandards #effyourbeautystandards #iamsimplybeautiful #plusisequal #plussizehottie #plussizefashion #wearepowerful #lovemybody #lovemyself #lovemycurves #hottie #bigandblunt #bebodyaware #bodypositive #selfiequeen #selfiesforselflove #blonde #girlswhowearglasses #stylehasnosize #keeptheplus #beautyisnotgeneric #prettyandplus #whatfatgirlsACTUALLYwear #wewearwhatwewant #celebratemysize #iamallwoman
A pencil skirt is a work wear classic for good reason. They always look great and can be worn so many different ways. Geri wears hers with flats and a cute sleeveless blazer. You hardly ever see flats with pencil skirts, but they are so much more comfortable than heels for a 9-5!
I can't explain how in love I am with this maxi shirt from @yoursclothinguk 🌴 read my full review and see more pics on the blog – just click the link in my profile! #plussize #plussizefashion #psblogger #psfashion #fatshion #plussizebeauty #fatbabe #plussizemodel #ukblogger #fblogger #andigetdressed
Summer brings with it the struggle to keep cool, whilst also sticking to a dress code. Nancy looks incredible in this maxi length shirt dress, the fit of it looks nice and airy for those hot days.
New #ontheblog, Autumn Falls w/ @simplybeuk: www.an-autumnsgrace.com (Link in bio) 🙂 xxx #psbloggers #psblogger #fbloggers #styleblogger #plussize #plussizefashion #plussizestyle #fatshion #streetstyle #wiwt #ootd #psootd #ootdplus #instastyle #instafashion #fashionista #all_shots #autumnfashion #dress #curvy #selflove #effyourbeautystandards #honormycurves #newpost #anautumnsgrace
A Peter Pan collar can make any outfit feel a bit fancier whilst also being good for work. I love this simple swing dress on Isha, without the collar it might not quite feel ‘officey’, but with it it definitely is. You can buy Peter Pan collars and necklaces these days too, in all kinds of fancy designs and materials, so you can add them to any outfit you like.
Obligatory work toilet selfie #fatbabe #psbloggers #plussize #fatshion #plussizefashion #psfashion #effyourbodystandards #effyourbeautystandards #honormycurves #psblogger #psootd #tcfstyle #pizzasisters4lyfe #styleissizeless #yoursneedsme #daretowear #celebratemysize #plusmodelmag #wearethethey #plussizeoutfit #plussizeootd #plussizeblogger #fatshionblogger #fashionforwardplus #dressprofesh #flightofthefatgirl #wearethethey #thisisplus #selfiesforselflove #girlswithbuzzcuts #justmegorgeous
Wrap over styles work for work in both shirts and dresses, it’s also an awesome way to bring brighter prints and funky colours into your wardrobe for work like Sharon does here.
#FBF to prancing about in the cape blazer of dreams! #psblogger#psfashion #effyourbeautystandards#loveyourself #loveyourbody#loveyourcurves #plussizestyle#plus_isamust #curvy #fullfigured#PLUSModelMag #tcfstyle#andigetdressed #volup2isdiversity#tcfstyle #garnerstyle #fullfiguredfashion#slinksquad #fashion #fashionblogger#style
Blazers have been having a real moment in plus size fashion, Charli shows off this androgynous look that is so sharp and contemporary.
& Thats a wrap! Shooting today's #colourpop story for #luxury #plussize #designer @annascholz 📷 #SebastianFuchs was simply a dream! So much fun & loved my H&MU 💄 by @melissaoldridge Thanks to this ultimate babe @mckayla & also to @fullerfigurefullerbust for the giggles! #greatday #monday #photoshoot
Work wear doesn’t have to be all blacks and dark colours, Chloe looks sublime in this super bright green and pink combo! Don’t be afraid to bring colour into your work wear if that’s what you love.
Amber looks so effortlessly fashionable in this sheer polka dot shirt, the blue bag and burgundy shoes are such a lush touch to brighten the outfit up!
While Stephanie might be wearing this jumpsuit with trainers here, she’s worn it without the belt and smarter heels for work too. A jumpsuit can be a really good option for work, and it’s easy to change it to a night time or more casual look with a few quick changes! Versatility in your wardrobe with pieces you can wear for work, and outside of work, make investing in more expensive pieces much more worthwhile and affordable.
Who doesn’t love a red head in green? Em shows that you can rock your curves at the office in a wiggle dress and still look like you’ve walked off the cat walk if that’s your thing.
Alternative office wear on the blog today! Link in my bio. Top and skirt are @newlookfashion leggings and bag are @asos_loves_curve @asos & sunglasses are @quayaustralia boots are no longer available 🙁 #plussizestyle #quayaustralia #pinkhairdontcare #plussizeblogger #plussizeootd #plussizefashion #plussizefashionista #plussize #psblogger #psfashion #fashion #fashionblogger #ootd #psootd #newlook #asos #asseenonme #asoscurve #pinkhajr #outfitoftheday #fatshion #whatfatgirlsactuallywear #effyourbeautystandards #alternativecurves #moreplusplease #justmegorgeous #honormycurves #curvyfashionista #tcfstyle #plusfashion
I love me some animal print and mesh, so this was my way of doing work wear in a way that still felt like ‘me’. It’s important to try and keep your identity if you can, even when bound by guidelines and restrictions. You better believe I really do wear my biker boots with everything!
In the plus size fashion world, it often feels like we are begging for trends to come over into our clothes that straight size brands are all over. We get them late, if we get them at all. Right now I’m hoping to see more pleated midi skirts in plus sizes, because they are adorable and seem readily available in straight sizes! However, there is a trend that plus size babes dread, a trend that needs to end, a trend so bizarre and inexplicable that it has caused me to utter expletives on many an occasion, a trend that has been around for years that seems to be infinite. That trend is… cold shoulders.
Cold shoulders seem to be almost exclusively a plus size trend. They make odd appearances in straight size fashion more recently, but usually in items it works with, like a dress with harness elements and other cut outs. If you don’t know what cold shoulders are, they are cut outs specifically on the shoulder area of an item. They seem to crop up in everything from dresses to shirts, and even jumpers and polo necks with long sleeves. Go to any plus size retailer and you are bound to be able to spy at least a good handful of cold shoulders. In fact, my Nanny and I play a ‘cold shoulder bingo’ game on certain retailer’s websites… because it’s so hard to find something without them in!
CALLING ALL PLUS SIZE RETAILERS – STOP with the cold bloody shoulders. THEY ARE NOT A THING AND WILL NEVER BE OKAY
— Cardifforniagurl (@mc_kaylag) January 11, 2017
I’m with Michaela, it’s like watching Gretchen Weiner try to make ‘fetch’ happen, and we’re all Regina George telling her no.
It’s so unusual for a trend to be a plus size specific trend, and to be so totally dominant across every retailer. However, the problem with this trend is that it has gone too far. It seems almost daily that I see plus size bloggers calling for an end to the cold shoulder trend, lamenting the distress at finding yet another cute dress that has weird missing shoulder sections. Spend 5 minutes on twitter following plus size babes and you’ll soon see how very over this trend we are. Yet we keeping getting more and more cold shoulders shoved onto us, and we just don’t get it!
It's a cute dress and then BAM, they cut the shoulders out ✂️ pic.twitter.com/ZN6MrbDqIx
— Georgina Horne (@FFigureFBust) January 10, 2017
Here at She Might Be we have a theory that somewhere along the way plus size retailers decided that a cold shoulder design was ‘flattering’ and made our shoulders look smaller. By suddenly chopping material out, interrupting patterns and lines in fabric, our shoulders will magically no longer exist and we’ll look thin, finally! Except that’s not how it works. We don’t give a damn about flattering at SMB, and instead we’d rather our shoulders be warm in the depths of winter, not left to shiver away in thick jumpers with cut out shoulders. Upper arms are an area many a plus size folk struggle to embrace, so it seems unusual that so many places want to accentuate them with cut outs. Maybe shoulders are an ‘acceptable’ area of flesh for fat people to flash, it’s not too sexy, it’s not figure hugging, so exposing our shoulders is something society decided is A-OK! Our shoulders can’t really be ‘fat’, so we’re allowed to get them out.
Maybe retailers are worried that we all have really warm shoulders and need to release all of our baffling shoulder heat through the missing sections of fabric as some sort of arm ventilation shaft. Or maybe as SBM fave Murderofgoths suggests, we all have spiky shoulders that need to be freed!
I have a theory on why so many plus size tops and dresses have cold shoulders. I think designers think that plus size women have some growing from their shoulders and so design cold shoulder tops to avoid tearing. It's very considerate of them 😉 #coldshoulder #plussize #plussizefashion #endthistrend
There are so many clothes I’d have bought recently, if only they didn’t have cold shoulders. There are lush dresses just ruined by missing shoulders, I’ve even seen work shirts with oddly shaped cut outs that really don’t fit the shape of the garment! I spent far too long trying to find jumpers and long sleeve t-shirts that didn’t have them so I could stay warm this winter. I don’t want literally cold shoulders, I want them to actually be warm in winter.
There’s a time and a place for shoulder cut outs, it can look lovely! Generally it works better when it’s more of a split, than a random cut out, because the unnatural cut out can make clothes lie funny. Take this LovedRobe dress, the split in the arms is a really lovely touch that doesn’t detract from the overall shape of the dress. It works great here! It just doesn’t need to be in every single thing.
So plus size retailers please, listen to your customers and calm it with the cold shoulders. It’s only a little bit of material, but we’d like it back please.