If there’s one singular segment of the blogging community that is most frequently (and unfortunately) overlooked, it’s the plus-size bloggers. While we at Who What Wear continue to make efforts to include them in our coverage of the best blogger looks to date, you’d be strapped to find significant mainstream coverage of ladies like Gabi Fresh, Nicolette Mason, and Tanesha Awasthia (of Girl With Curves) that doesn’t exclusively call them out as plus-size. But all that’s changing.
We sat down with all three of these ladies—who, by the way, have a collective Instagram following of more than 180,000—to pick their brains about the state of the plus-size blogging world, how plus-sizing is evolving in the fashion world at large, and more.
Scroll down for 6 questions with Gabi, Nicolette, and Tanesha, plus shop their favourite brands!
How has the plus-size blogging world changed since you started out?
Gabi: Honestly, it’s just grown and blown up. We’re more visible in mainstream America than we ever were, and we’ve gotten more and more recognition from the outside fashion world. The internet is really what gave us that voice and the opportunity to show plus-size women are interested in fashion; before that, it was all mainstream media assuming that plus-size women just wanted to hide our bodies. But that’s just not true.
Nicolette: I think it’s not so much just the blogging space, though it certainly feeds into blogging, but the industry in general has changed so much and so dramatically. The number of brands that existed four years ago versus now—it’s just astounding how many more are truly fashionable and have very inventive style. There’s a lot more space for fashionable women who are demonstrating their own personal style in a way that’s inspiring.
Tanesha: I think the curvy confidence movement has also grown significantly in the past two years and I'm happy to be part of it! Another change is the fact that some of us have audiences that aren't strictly plus-size. I have readers that range from size 0 through 32. I think the appeal is in the fact that I identify with being curvy—the shape, as opposed to a particular size, and I wear clothes from straight and plus brands.
So how is plus-size fashion viewed by the fashion world at large?
Tanesha: I think the plus-size fashion industry has always been a far step behind the fashion world at large in terms of style in general, but it's also never been thought of as a true part of the fashion world at large, due to it being thought of as a separate industry. Luckily though, that's starting to change, with the emergence of bloggers and plus-size style icons who are proving style goes beyond size. I also think the fact that the average woman is a size 14 is starting to resonate with people, and those average-sized women are starting to notice they can’t relate to the images they see in mainstream media and in fashion, because there's a very singular form of beauty being shown.
Nico?lette: Right—it’s two-thirds of American women that we’re speaking to! Two-thirds of women wear a size 14 or higher in America, and the vast number of things available on the market end at size 10 or 12. We [bloggers] all have a common goal and a shared vision of wanting style to be accessible to everyone, and really promoting body diversity through fashion.
Gabi: Retailers have been very scared to make trendy items in plus sizes; they didn’t think we would buy them, because of this whole myth about plus-size women not wanting to wear anything but mumus. But at a certain point, you can no longer avoid that there are consumers out there above a size 12. With high fashion—a curvy model might walk the runway one season, but that’s kind of the extent of it. I’d like to believe their minds are really changing a little bit, but you can’t really tell when it’s just these one-off things. But it’s still great either way to see plus-size models on the runway; the problem is we’d like to see it every season and with every designer, but it’s not like that. I don’t see the high-fashion world changing anytime soon. I don’t think it’s on their agenda. We have a long way to go.
In that vein, what do you think is the most common misconception about plus-size women?
Nicolette: From the design side, they think that we must be self-hating of our bodies and appearance, and therefore we want to hide. That’s one of the biggest problems—this misconception that plus-size people want to be invisible. There are a lot of women who want to participate in fashion and want to be seen and want to have a personal style that commands attention.
Gabi: That we don’t care about ourselves, or care about our appearance. Some of us, actually a lot of us, actually like our bodies—and we want to participate in fashion and beauty. That goes for women who are trying to lose weight, and those who aren’t. The main misconception is that we don’t want to participate in fashion until we reach a certain size.
Tanesha: I think the biggest one is that we really want to be thin and we aren't happy with our bodies. More and more plus-size women are coming to terms with accepting themselves, by seeing other women they can relate to in the media—whether it be bloggers, celebrities, actresses, singers, etc. We're starting to be ok and even happy with our size! It's important to acknowledge that most women, no matter what size, have experienced the same body issues many plus-size women have—wanting to be thin or thinner, to achieve the beauty standard we typically see in the media.
And why do you think these misconceptions exist?
Gabi: Unfortunately, our society as a whole is still very fat-phobic. You don’t want to be associated with this idea that women are ugly or aren’t taking care of themselves—but we don’t think just because we’re plus-size, we’re ugly or unfashionable. These are obviously stereotypes we are trying to break every day. We try to show women that they can be happy and beautiful at any size.
Nicolette: I don’t think there’s any one reason why. Part of the problem is that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for fashion placement for credit, and the two-thirds of American women [who are above size 14] aren’t necessarily tuned into blogs—so there isn’t a lot of access to information about new brands. It then becomes very difficult for people to find out about them. A big piece of the puzzle is just making sure that the brands are out there in the public eye.
Tanesha: It's sad to see big name designers tap into the multi-billion dollar plus market, but refuse to advertise their extended size offerings, in fear of losing their straight-size customer. While it's a harsh reality, I'm happy to see more labels extending their size ranges, because women beyond size 12 want amazing fashion as much as our straight-size friends do.
So what would you like the next plus-size innovation to be?
Tanesha: I find it frustrating that anyone who appears larger than the average straight-size blogger is automatically called a "plus-size blogger" and not just a blogger. One day I hope the blogging community at large will recognise fashion bloggers as bloggers and not lump us into size categories.
Nicolette: I personally just want to see more options—as much as it’s growing, there should be more. Just more options serving the average woman and satisfying a price point that’s accessible.
Gabi: I’d love to see more media get on-board in terms of including us in all fashion stories, not just the special size issue of a magazine.
On that note, do you have any favourite brands for plus-size options?
Nicolette: ASOS is the best. And Eloquii is doing really well right now. Their clothes are definitely trend-focused and fairly well-made. And of course ModCloth, with whom I’ve just announced a capsule collection, which comes out October 6th.
Tanesha: I tend to favour brands that have a wider size range and carry both straight and plus, because their plus lines tend to fit my body better. Mynt 1792 and Marina Rinaldi, on the higher end, are plus brands that always have great offerings. Gwynnie Bee is a "Netflix for clothes" service where you can borrow clothing from several brands without the commitment of buying—genius!
Scroll down to shop 13 über-stylish designs with plus-size options!
ASOS Curve T-Shirt Dress In Botanical Floral Print ($59)
If you don't already have a great shirtdress in your closet, here you go.