By: Jasmine White
It’s been a long time since I’ve been skinny. And when I was skinny, I wasn’t very concerned about it. But the moment I became “plus-size,” it was all I could think about. All throughout middle school and high school, I was obsessed with trying to find ways to change my body and hide my body. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and felt so unpretty all the time despite my friends and family telling me otherwise.
Surrounded by people thinner than me, I was constantly haunted by feelings of inferiority. And my desire to lose weight came from a very unhealthy place, which is why I think all of my crash diets failed so miserably. I was not doing it in order to be a better or healthier me. I was doing it to achieve the approval of others I thought I needed to be validated as beautiful.
And then one day, all that changed. I discovered Gabi Gregg, a plus size fashion blogger and designer. I scrolled through her site, in awe of her photos as she rocked all the trends I thought were “off-limits” to plus size girls: crop tops, skinny jeans, bikinis. She looked confident, sexy, and chic. These were all the things I wanted to feel but didn’t think I could because I was a size 12.
After I discovered Gabi, my style began to mold and with it so did my perception of self. I started shopping to accentuate my body instead of concealing it. I had flaws but I later realized that I had assets too. This put me in a totally different mindset and changed the way I interacted with others and presented myself. I was allowed to experiment with fashion in ways I had never thought possible and in turn I began to feel more familiar with myself.
There were some mornings my dad would look at my outfits before I left for school and give me a puzzled look, but he never told me to change. He never told me I looked bad because I was comfortable and so obviously happy.
In pop culture, there’s a lot of talk about representation and the need for it. I think the fashion world is no different. And it’s clear that a lot of people are starting to think that way, and many brands are recognizing it by developing plus-size lines.
But this is not enough. There must also be a recognition, when it comes to the creation of plus-size clothes, that our options are not limited to oversized moo moo’s designed to camouflage our bodies. This is why individuals like Gregg and so many others have been revolutionary in completely turning the industry on its head by not allowing certain fashions to be limited to those size 10 and under. Their non-conforming style shows that plus-size fashion too can be edgy and couture if it wants to be.
Just last month, Gregg released her sophomore swimsuit collection in a collaboration with the brand Swim Sexy. The collection, which includes a number of bikinis and one pieces, defies all expectations of a plus-size swimsuit line with its fun mix of soft florals and bold geometric prints.
Fashion blogger Nadia Aboulhosn has also made headlines, collaborating in design with brands like Boohoo, Addition Elle and Lord & Taylor. Aboulhosn, like Gregg, has also been featured in a number of magazines ranging from Seventeen to Vogue Italia.
Most recently, size-16 model Ashley Graham made news after her groundbreaking appearance as the first plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She also owns her own lingerie line and walked New York Fashion Week last fall.
I personally owe so much to role models like these. And I know many other girls and women feel the same. They’ve made me see potential in myself that I’d never known was there before. Fashion, of course, is only one aspect of the person. But it’s a big aspect. How we express ourselves and present ourselves through what we wear can say a lot about a person.
There’s a saying that clothes don’t make a person, but that a person makes the clothes. That statement may be true, but I’d argue that it’s a lot easier to do that if they are clothes you actually feel good in.