WoC Spotlight – Tia Vanriel

Michelle Hopewell

Michelle Hopewell

Actor/Writer at Funemployment
Black British, faith filled, curvy actress with a love for food, great music, good movies, life changing literature and awkward moments.
Michelle Hopewell

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It’s been a moment since our last Woman of Colour Spotlight here at SMB and I thought what better way to kick things back off then with our own Black British beauty Tia Vanriel aka Splodge of Beauty!

This fashion, beauty and art lover is someone that should be on your radar! Both her blog and her platforms are as captivating as her. I love how honest she is with her journey and how interesting her content is!

We don’t have nearly enough plus size women of colour getting the opportunity to talk about themselves and their journey.

So without further ado, Tia:

Tell me a little bit about yourself! What’s your background and when did you start blogging? 
I am a 20 year old student from London, currently studying Criminal Psychology.
Both my parents are Jamaican, so i’ve got a decent balance between my Caribbean culture and the life I live as a brit.
I started blogging in June 2016 simply for the love of fashion and makeup and I wanted to share my finds with people. Specifically plus size black girls. Even though there were a few plus size black influencers, they were all significantly older than me or from the US which meant that most of the things they were showing, I couldn’t even get my hands on.

Blogging wasn’t my original plan; I wanted to be a Youtuber, but I lacked the confidence and was scared of what others would say, so I decided to stay hidden in a sense. Its not a regret of mine, as there is still time to be a Youtuber but I just feel like with so many plus size influencers, it can seem a bit repetitive and I want to be able to portray something different.

What is it like for you as a British plus woman of colour and blogger?

I love being a British woman of colour, however being a British woman of colour in the blogging industry can be very challenging and upsetting at times. Yes there are challenges that we face such as not getting the recognition or exposure as our peers, or not being offered the same partnerships and experiences, but I must say I am grateful for what I have achieved so far. I’m slowly but surely pushing boundaries not only for me but the hundreds of other women of colour who face these issues as bloggers.

Who are your favourite British plus WOC?

I absolutely love Grace Victory! She has been a heavy influence in my life in regards to fashion, mental health and my growing confidence. She is also one of the many reasons why I wanted to start a blog.

There are also the likes of Stephanie Yeboah, Chanel Boateng, Kayela Damaze, Enam Asiama and thats just a few off the top of my head. These women have such a presence in my life and honestly inspire me everyday.

Tia Vanriel Tia Vanriel

What can the plus community do to ally with you?

The plus community is very welcoming and family like with WOC, however it needs to extend past us. Some females can be very “fake” in regards to showing support or sharing your work. It will be that they like a few of your pictures, but never promote your latest blog or video . This doesn’t apply to all but there is so many straight size influencers who have kind of cliqued together and help boost one another and I think we need something similar, not necessarily cliques but ensuring were sharing and supporting wherever we can. Maybe its just that I haven’t found many women of my age group, but its definitely something i’m working on to boost the plus community.

What are the important topics we should know that British plus WOC are dealing with? 

-We deal with being fetishised a lot. There are males specifically that go out of their way to talk to bigger black girls, this isn’t a bad thing, the problem is they want us for amusement/ sexual fantasies and not for who we are- which are regular people!
-We also have to deal with name calling and harassment, whether that be online or in the streets . I’ve been lucky enough to have never received any negative comments or harassment of the sort but people feel like they have all right to criticise or comment just because we’re bigger/ viewed as not the “norm”.
– The topic of the word ‘flattering’ is always a problem we have to deal with. The fact that if we wear clothes that show our lumps and bumps or our stretch marks, that it doesn’t flatter us, or even when clothing can make us appear larger, all of a sudden its “that doesn’t flatter your body”. I feel like the term is just another way to say you don’t look slender or smooth in the outfit.
– Online shopping is always a challenge for us. WOC are rarely represented in Plus Model Industries in comparison to peers, so we never know what clothing truly looks like until you receive it. Colours and shades can look different depending on skin tone and as most of the items are modelled on non WOC we never actually know whether some items will suit us.

– Plus Models or Padded Models..  small breasts, flat stomached and wide hipped but as they’re over a size 16 they’re technically plus size. This is a common mistake brands make when advertising to bigger girls as not everyone is shaped as such. Models need to be more diverse in terms of shape and size so that we can try to get a better picture of what items actually look like on a bigger woman, not a photoshopped or “curvy” woman.

– Brand inclusiveness! There are so many brands that have that token black girls in their campaign and think that they are diverse all of a sudden.
– Being judged for wearing revealing clothing. Its seen as a fashion statement when a straight sized girl wear a thong to the beach but when a big girl does its classed as “too much” or “sexual”.
– People are using movements such as “body posi” as ways to grow their audience without actually knowing the true meaning behind this term. Yes body positivity is about embracing all bodies but it stemmed from the marginalised plus size community who are tired of being fat shamed and unaccepted by society.
What are your hopes for the plus community and for WOC in the plus community?
I hope that one day we’ll have more than just a handful of brands offering plus size clothing, and that they’re not just doing it to jump on the wagon, but actually have plus women in mind when designing/making the clothes.
There needs to be a boost in the amount of plus size WOC represented in the media and not just the token girls or the after thoughts. With that being said, the media needs to stop speaking on plus women as if we are breaking news. Bigger women have been around for ages yet they still mock us when discussing topics on health or food.
I also hope that there are more events and partnerships offered to us, not only for the revenue side but for people being able to meet like minded individuals who could possibly come together and start something great. There are so many people who want to make something of themselves and their brands but have all these blocks in their pathway mainly due to size and colour.

I also want more people to speak out on what it means to be plus size and topics we have to deal with. This doesn’t just help provide confidence, but educates and tells others what we have to go through on a daily basis.

How do you deal with insensitivity within the community?

Personally I don’t deal with insensitivity or have had to deal with it, I was quite lucky growing up and on social media- if anything insensitivity came from home and family in which our culture discusses weight and size quite often. They don’t tend to say things to offend you but don’t quite understand the impact it can have. To deal I remind myself that I am alive, I am happy and as long as I accept and love myself then that is all that matters. Insensitivity has taught me to be stronger and to stand up for myself.
How do you deal with targeted discrimination and racism, hate speech and prejudice within and outside of the community? 

As I said previously, I have been lucky to not have to deal with racism or discrimination aside from in my home LOL. Not to say lucky as if its a win but I haven’t had to deal with being treated differently really.

I’m your dream world what opportunities would you like to see plus WOC bloggers having?

In my dream world we’d have so many more companies owned by WOC that are both size and gender inclusive. I’d ensure plus WOC bloggers get to be taken on the same trips and excursions as our peers in the industry, with that being said i’d see that more opportunities are provided to the women with smaller audiences. I myself don’t have a huge following but the engagement and support I have is amazing! 

What tips can you give other plus WOC? What helps and encourages you?
-My favourite rule to live by is to do whatever makes you happy. 
-We have one life to live and shouldn’t have to live it in the shadows or in hiding. 
-Do not limit yourself or conform to what society wants you to feel and look like.
-Every morning, look in your mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful.
-When you’re having a bad day, remind yourself that the current feeling is only temporary and there are so many better days to come. 
Michelle Hopewell
Michelle Hopewell

Black British, faith filled, curvy actress with a love for food, great music, good movies, life changing literature and awkward moments.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram


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