25 Plus Size Women Of Color Who Paved The Way for Body Positivity & Plus Size Fashion

25 Plus Size Women Of Color Who Paved The Way for Body Positivity & Plus Size Fashion
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For those who haven’t rolled your eyes at a mainstream information retailers’ checklist of physique optimistic icons, then contemplate your self fortunate that you just missed the frustration of seeing certainly one of these tales come throughout your feed. 

Each few weeks it looks like one other one pops up and never solely are the vast majority of these icons above a dimension eight, however these lists normally embody only one girl of colour or generally none in any respect. I’m so in favor of drawing consideration to girls who’re difficult magnificence requirements however not if that checklist options girls who all look the identical.

All of it begs the query:

Is a listing like that really difficult magnificence requirements or is it merely persevering with to bolster them?

Within the press, the physique optimistic dialog is being dominated by smaller white voices. Why does Amy Schumer saying she’s not plus dimension get coated by virtually each information outlet whereas most remained silent on Gabby Sidibe’s intercourse scene on nationwide TV?

And when solely sure our bodies and voices are celebrated, this does an enormous disservice to the group of people who labored so onerous to get us right here.

empire-season-2 Gabby SIdibe Sex Scene


When Marie approached me to put in writing this piece, we each agreed checklist targeted particularly on girls of colour was crucial given the make-up of different such lists already printed.

And we additionally each agreed that this checklist wouldn’t simply embody the ladies that you could be know right this moment as leaders, but additionally deal with the accomplishments of the previous that actually paved the way in which.

“I’ll word, now that plus sizes is cool and on development, mainstream media has didn’t acknowledge loads of those that have been grinding and making waves in plus dimension style for it to be HERE right this moment.

Whereas we might have lacked entry to funds and to correctly commercialize (like some other scenario) our voices have turn out to be erased and minimized on this sport,” says Marie.

Marie and I formulated the checklist collectively and I additionally reached out to Plus Model Magazine Editor-in-Chief Madeline Figueroa-Jones and plus mannequin, host, and spokesperson Chenese Lewis for his or her enter as properly.

When requested in regards to the topic of an absence of inclusion, Figueroa-Jones known as for a extra unified and inclusive message.

Body positivity is a way of life and rather more than what you see on social media,” shares Figueroa-Jones. “There are numerous ways in which we may all promote a physique optimistic way of life for ourselves and people round us. I by no means need individuals to assume that they aren’t capable of take part just because they aren’t bloggers or have a platform.

The rationale why the motion has thrived is as a result of day-after-day ladies and men are supporting these of us which are placing ourselves on the market. We’ve been capable of create change due to the help from the group.

Unity is the important thing to furthering this motion!”

Isabel Toledo for Lane Bryant Appears from the Vogue Present

Chenese Lewis shares that this subject is unfortunately nothing new within the plus dimension style business.

“Each decade within the plus dimension style motion has had key influencers with defining moments and ladies of colour have all the time been within the forefront of the group.

Nevertheless, there are only a few (if any) girls of colour in prime management positions on the company degree with corporations whose manufacturers instantly have an effect on the plus dimension business, and that displays within the imagery celebrated in mainstream media.

I got here into the group in 2000 and so long as I can keep in mind lack of variety has been an on-going subject, however it’s reflective of our society as a complete as a result of girls of colour make up a 3rd of all working girls, however they’re scarce in company America.

For a lot of girls of colour which have excellent accomplishments within the physique optimistic, plus dimension style, or any business usually needed to go above and past what is predicted and generally nonetheless get missed for somebody extra privileged.

Regardless that plus dimension style is getting extra mainstream media consideration, the publicity is much less frequent for ladies of colour in comparison with their white counterparts.”

And within the useless of celebrating that greatness, that is our checklist of 25 girls of colour who paved the way in which for physique positivity and plus dimension style (in no explicit order).

25 Ladies Of Coloration Who Paved The Method for Physique Positivity & Plus Measurement Vogue

1. Mia Amber

Mia Amber

The late Mia Amber was a plus dimension mannequin who additionally appeared in 2000 movie Street Journey. She stood as much as Janice Dickinson on her actuality present and left a serious affect on the plus dimension group.

On the time of her sudden dying in 2011, Figueroa-Jones issued an announcement on behalf of PMM saying, “she was rather more than only a mannequin, however a job mannequin we may look as much as.


2. Jasmine Elder of Jibri

Jasmine Elder of Jibri

Again in 2009, TCF of Jasmine Elder and her modern plus dimension model Jibri and I had the chance to interview her only a 12 months in the past about her ongoing impact on the business.

When Elder began, she was not solely one of many few impartial plus dimension designers, however running a blog and social media had been simply of their infancy. She constructed her model from the ground-up on Etsy earlier than transferring to her personal platform.

Her designs have been worn by the likes of Jill Scott, Tasha Combs, and just lately received a showroom go to from Chrisette Michele.


three. Stephanie Penn

Stephanie Penn

Since 1998, Each day Venus Diva has been a web based useful resource for curvy girls and youths. On the helm, since 2009, is editor-in-chief and Detroit native Stephanie Penn. Residing as much as its title, Penn ensures that the location is bringing up-to-date content material affecting the plus dimension group.

Unapologetic, passionate, and daring, Stephanie delivers and addresses hotly debated matters and superstar information effortlessly via Each day Venus Diva.

A fast have a look at the journal’s cowl archive reveals how ceaselessly girls of colour, together with Liris Crosse, Christina Mendez, Erica Watson, are featured on the journal’s cowl. Even Marie was a featured cowl for the journal!

four. Jordan Tesfay

Jordan Tesfay

Jordan Tesfay received her begin via submitting to a MODE journal mannequin search and from 25,000 entries, she earned a contract with Wilhelmina. However she made historical past as the primary plus dimension mannequin to be featured in a CoverGirl marketing campaign.

“We shot the Queen assortment and we additionally shot the industrial which got here out in about 2008, 2009,” Tesfay shared with theFashionSpot. “No person actually talked about it, they sort of silently rolled it out. There wasn’t actually a lot dialogue. It was extra like ‘Oh, you’re the primary plus dimension to be featured by a big multinational, international cosmetics firm.”

Although the marketing campaign might not have obtained the dialogue it deserved, this accomplishment is actually no small feat.

5. Maiysha


Represented by companies Ford, Subsequent, Wilhelmina, and JAG, Maiysha has had a protracted profession as a plus dimension mannequin. Although plus dimension modeling is her day job, Maiysha can be a musician however doing each was not all the time simple.  

An article from ESSENCE shares a quote from Maiysha the place she mentioned, “No person wished to signal me and no person wished to purchase my album. I do know for a reality there have been offers I didn’t get as a result of I used to be plus.”

However in 2009, Maiysha was nominated for a Grammy Award for Greatest City/Various Efficiency proving that plus has a spot in style and music.

6. Nikki Gomez

Nikki Gomez

From in entrance of the digital camera to behind it, Nikki Gomez has been working within the plus dimension style business since 2004 when she first began working as a plus dimension mannequin. Her shopper checklist consists of Monif C, Latina Journal, Saks Fifth Avenue and lots of extra.

She additionally starred as one of many forged members of the 2011 TLC present, “Big Sexy.” However today, her actual ardour is behind the digital camera as a photographer.

She helped create Bicoastal MGMT’s plus dimension print division and recurrently helps to launch the careers of up-and-coming plus dimension fashions.

7. Chenese Lewis


Chenese Lewis has been an lively voice within the plus dimension group because the 12 months 2000 and he or she first made historical past in 2003 when she was the primary girl topped as Miss Plus America and he or she would break boundaries once more when she turned the primary dimension 22 girl to mannequin for the nationwide clothes model, Torrid.

For six years, she produced the Nationwide Group for Ladies’s “Love Your Physique Day” occasion in Hollywood which drew in celebrities and garnered worldwide press consideration.

All through her profession within the business, Lewis has all the time remained related and on the heart beat of what’s taking place. She continues to work as an occasion host across the nation and produces a weekly podcast known as The Chenese Lewis Show.

eight. Maggie Yumi Brown

Plus Size Model Maggie Brown

Representing for the Asian American plus dimension fashions, Maggie Yumi Brown gained “Tyra’s Thick and Horny Prime Mannequin Contest” on the Tyra Banks Present in 2006 which earned her a $1000 prize together with a contract with Wilhelmina Fashions.

She appeared on the quilt of Bombshell Journal and Plus Mannequin Journal following her win and was additionally named Igigi Mannequin of Month in 2007.

In 2008, Brown made common appearances as a mannequin on Carson Kressley’s present “How To Look Good Bare” on Lifetime. 

9. Ragini Nag Rao

Ragini Nag Rao

Ragini Nag Rao first began running a blog in 2009 and her present style weblog, A Curious Fancy, dates again to 2010. Her private type is whimsical and classic impressed and her phrases on physique positivity via her private essays are past inspiring.

Her weblog has been featured in Marie Claire India, The Guardian, The New York Occasions, Teen Vogue and extra.

Along with outfit running a blog, she additionally pens items for Rookie.

10. Pia Schiavo-Campo


Pia Schiavo-Campo describes herself as a fats feminist, creator and author and you’ll catch her difficult magnificence requirements over on her weblog, Chronicles of A Combined Fats Chick.

She recurrently writes about physique pictures and self acceptance and he or she has labored to battle for extra inclusive illustration for ladies of colour and ladies of dimension.

Her work has been printed in Individuals Journal, Ravishly, On a regular basis Feminism, Volup2 and The Huffington Publish.

11. Gwen DeVoe

Gwen DeVoe

Everyone knows FFFWeek, however have you learnt the founder, what began all of it, and why? Full Figured Fashion Week has been a staple of the plus dimension group and a vacation spot for plus dimension fashions, manufacturers and customers from throughout the nation and the girl chargeable for FFFWeek is Gwen DeVoe. 

No stranger to the group, modeling, or occasions, Gwen Devoe has all the time had her hand within the infrastructure of plus dimension style and modeling and has crafted a collection of occasions or applications to assist the trigger! 

In 1999, DeVoe based The Plus Academy which targeted particularly on coaching for plus dimension fashions. She would go onto produce occasions together with Full Figured and Fabulous, Harmful Curves: The Tour and Challenge Curves earlier than founding FFFWeek in 2009.

12. Madeline Figueroa-Jones

Madeline Figueroa-Jones

Simply wanting via the accomplishments of lots of the girls on this checklist, Plus Mannequin Journal was so usually listed on their resumes (even for Marie!) and Editor-in-Chief, Madeline Figueroa-Jones is the girl behind the journal.

Launched in 2006, PMM is a useful resource not just for aspiring plus fashions but additionally a plus dimension style useful resource.

In 2009, PMM launched a section called 18PLUS which was targeted on m illustration for fashions above a dimension 18 and was edited by Chenese Lewis. This part is actually groundbreaking contemplating that so many publications nonetheless refuse to acknowledge plus dimension above a 14.

Figueroa-Jones is named the plus dimension business’s Anna Wintour and has remodeled 200+ media appearances of the years advocating for plus dimension inclusion.

13. Monif Clarke

Plus size designer Monif C celebrates her five year anniversary

With so few impartial designers targeted particularly on plus dimension, the truth that Monif Clarke and her model, Monif C celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2015 isn’t any small feat.

Whereas some mainstream plus dimension manufacturers solely began making an attempt to include physique positivity, that is one thing that Clarke tells Bustle has been on the core of her model because it’s begin.

“For us, it’s ingrained in every thing that we do,” says Clarke in that very same interview.  “It’s not one thing we do for a time and a season: It’s simply who we’re.

Once we did our swimwear marketing campaign and we had fashions of three sizes and shades, individuals had been like, ‘This can be a unbelievable physique variety marketing campaign.’ As a lot as I agreed, I additionally simply actually wished to see a swimsuit on a dimension 22 girl.

That is what our buyer seems like, we worth our buyer, and because of this we make garments for her.”

Monif continues to push the envelope and proudly incorporates fashions of dimension AND colour into her campaigns, and we thank her for this.


14. Sharon Quinn

Sharon Quinn the “Original Runway Diva”

Plus mannequin Sharon Quinn received her began within the 80s and is named the “Unique Runway Diva” for that very motive. In 1995, she turned the primary plus dimension mannequin to win the Maybelline Shades of You Model of The Year competitors.

She signed to Wilhelmina in the identical 12 months and went onto to work with manufacturers like Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart and extra.

She competed on the primary season of Mo’Nique’s Fats Probability and continued working with the present within the seasons that adopted. As of late, she’s nonetheless on the runway because the casting director for FFFWeek, exhibiting aspiring fashions tips on how to rip the runway. 

Most just lately, Sharon Quinn launched her present, “Model Behavior with Sharon Quinn” an academic discuss present. Her purpose is to teach individuals who aspire to have a profession in style, be it as a mannequin or in manufacturing!


15. Gabi Gregg

12 Must Have Plus Size Bikinis on The Curvy Fashionista

Gabi Gregg of the weblog GabiFresh is certainly one of plus dimension style running a blog’s OGs getting her begin in 2008 after ending faculty with an curiosity in style journalism. In 2010, MTV topped Gregg as their first ever Twitter jockey and in 2012, she turned a contributor to InStyle Magazine.

There’s little question that Gregg’s voice in mainstream style and popular culture helped put plus dimension style on the map. And naturally, there’s her affect on the rise of the fatkini via each her personal weblog posts in two items and a viral put up she wrote for xoJane exhibiting girls dimension 12 and up carrying bikinis.

This all led to her creating her personal assortment of sexy swimwear for Swimsuitsforall and simply have a look at what number of retailers at the moment are carrying plus dimension bikinis and Gregg is actually one to thank for that.


16. Sonya Renee Taylor

Sonya Renee Taylor

In 2011, activist and efficiency poet Sonya Renee Taylor first shared an unapologetic selfie which might function the impetus for her to create a radical self love group, The Body Is Not An Apology. TBINAA takes an intersectional strategy to physique positivity that’s so crucial.

Along with producing written content material, the location additionally acts as a group discussion board and presents radical schooling workshops to additional their work of intersectional social justice. And with this international focus to advocacy, The Physique Is Not An Apology reaches greater than 250,000 weekly with web site views from greater than 140 totally different nations.

Taylor travels across the globe performing, educating and spreading her message of radical self love.


17. Lisa Scott

Lisa Scott

I knew Lisa Scott because the blogger behind TheShoppingSlayer however Lewis instructed me that Scott was one of many first junior plus fashions. She was the primary black mannequin to be featured in a Catherine’s catalog in addition to the primary plus dimension mannequin to be featured in Seventeen Journal.

Scott labored as a mannequin in every thing from catalogs to runways for manufacturers like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lane Bryant. She’s conquered the runways of BET’s Rip The Runway and FFFWeek.

You’ll be able to sustain along with her now on her weblog or on her Instagram the place she posts outfits and the occasional #tbt modeling pic that solely additional reveals simply how lengthy she’s been making her mark.


18. Suzanne Ujaque
Suzanne Ujaque

Figueroa-Jones refers to Suzanne Ujaque because the Maddy Jones of Puerto Rico which isn’t any small feat coming from the PMM chief herself. She has introduced the subject of plus dimension style and the necessity for acceptance to the island in a really huge means,” shares Figueroa-Jones of Ujaque.

“She has a radio spot, tv and newspaper spot each month.”

And looking out via Ujaque’s weblog, Su-Type which is a mixture of plus dimension information and private type posts, I can completely see why she’s reached this degree of affect within the Latin American plus dimension style group.


19. Qristyl Frazier

Qristyl Frazier for Lane Bryant

Whereas a plus dimension girl didn’t take the Challenge Runway Crown till Ashley Nell Tipton in 2015, Qristyl Frazier was the primary plus dimension targeted designer to compete on the present’s sixth season in 2009.

Frazier brings greater than 20+ years of design expertise and a star roster of shoppers that features Janet Jackson, Queen Latifah, Wendy Williams, Angie Stone, Mary-Mary, Shirley Strawberry, and Patrice Covington.

She goals to create designs which are daring and complex and put the horny again in plus. 


20. Liris Crosse

Liris Crosse

Liris Crosse is named “The Naomi Campbell Of Plus” and she will actually work a runway however she truly received her begin within the city market after her modeling company instructed her to maintain shedding weight. She knew that she may get work simply as she was and magazines like Essence, Honey, XXL, The Supply and Black Class had been fast to agree along with her on that.

She shortly crossed over into music movies showing alongside 98 Levels, Jennifer Lopez,  Jay Z. P. Diddy and extra. She made her mark on the large display with roles in “The Greatest Man” and “Child Boy.”

She’s at the moment signed to IPM and Dorothy Combs Fashions the place she’s works recurrently for manufacturers in each the US and the UK and he or she was one of many fashions chosen to stroll in Ashley Nell Tipton’s “Project Runway” finale show at New York Vogue Week. She makes use of her business experience to additionally give again via her Life Of A Working Mannequin Bootcamp.

21. Virgie Tovar

Virgie Tovar

Creator, lecturer, and activist Virgie Tovar is taking up eating regimen tradition and fats discrimination. She’s often called one of many nation’s main consultants on physique picture and the creator of #LoseHateNotWeight.

In 2012, she authored the fats optimistic anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls On Life, Love, & Fashion. She has written about plus dimension style for outlets like BuzzFeed and has a badass recommendation column known as “Expensive Virgie” for Put on Your Voice Journal the place she tackles troublesome questions going through the physique optimistic group.


22. Fluvia Lacerda

Plus Model Fluvia Lacerda

Fluvia Lacerda is a dimension 18 mannequin from Brazil who’s cited because the plusdimension Gisele Bündchen however Lacerda has loads of accomplishments of her personal with out comparability. She’s modeled for a number of the greatest plus dimension manufacturers on the earth and has been featured in Vogue Italia.

She was named FFFWeek’s Greatest Plus Mannequin Award in 2011 and most just lately, Fluvia has launched her personal lingerie line in Brazil!

She’s exhibiting no indicators of stopping her reign within the modeling world. 


23. Jennene (Gigi) Biggins

Jennene Biggins

Jennene is a revered chief within the effort to combine the plus-size girl into mainstream style and has been an advocate for the plus-size group since creating her style advertising and marketing agency/group – The Voluptuous Lady Firm® in 1997.

In 2005, Jennene created the primary Plus Measurement Tub Wrap (which has offered out and can relaunch Fall 2016).

Steadily the plus dimension enterprise entrepreneur, her successes embody: a Plus Measurement Public sale web site, PlusSizeBiz.com-an on-line listing of dimension pleasant companies and providers, and her most up-to-date venture that mobilized the usual mannequin comp card – MobileCompCards.com.

As a result of she is ever so revolutionary, this 12 months, Jennene launched The Plus Measurement Occasions App, the world’s first occasion and information primarily based cell software for the plus-size group.

As well as, the Plus Measurement Occasions App additionally gives up-to-the minute information in regards to the group, plus highlights organizations, health professionals, stylists, and different companies that present providers and merchandise for the plus-size buyer.


24. Susan Moses

Plus Size Celebrity Stylist Susan Moses

If there may be one one who has been pulling down doorways and blazing trails, it’s plus dimension superstar stylist, Susan Moses. Susan has been embraced and held excessive by Hip-Hop, Nashville, Hollywood, Neo Soul, Pop and R&B royalty.

Her styling expertise has been showcased on crimson carpets and levels from the Oscar’s to the Golden Globes, from the Grammy’s to the American Music Awards, and all of the alphabet occasions (BET, MTV, Vh1 and SAG), in print and tv promoting and on late-night and daytime discuss reveals.

Susan’s resume is certainly one of goals, having labored with plus dimension supermodel Emme, vocalist Chaka Khan, actor Kathy Bates, gospel duo Mary Mary, comedienne-turned-actor, Monique, nation music star Wynonna Judd, Hollywood newcomers Nikki Blonsky and Gabourey Sidibe, reality-documentary star, Ruby Gettinger, comic/actress and The View co-host Sherri Shepherd and singer/actress Jill Scott. And allow us to not neglect, Queen Latifah!

Most just lately, Susan Moses launched her e-book, The Art of Dressing Curves: The Best-Kept Secrets of a Fashion Stylist (Harper Collins). Her e-book is an “empowering and celebratory type e-book for curvy girls. It’s a modern information to getting dressed–from form put on to equipment—and constructing a traditional wardrobe closet!”

25. Marie Denee

Plus Size Wide Leg Crop Pants with The Curvy Fashionista

For those who’re studying this checklist on The Curvy Fashionista then you definitely most likely already know that Marie Denee is a complete boss. She first began the location in late 2008 whereas she was ending up her MBA in advertising and marketing.

On the time, there have been solely a handful of plus size fashion blogs. That is an business that Denee actually helped form and type into the group of trusted voices and influencers that it’s right this moment.

Over time, The Curvy Fashionista has turn out to be a digital plus dimension encyclopedia and a trusted useful resource for all issues associated to the plus dimension style group. Denee continues to create areas just like the The TCFStyleExpo and TCFStyle Brunch Series that enable plus dimension girls the chance to construct group in particular person.

These are solely 25 Ladies of Coloration who’ve positively impacted plus dimension style, and there are such a lot of extra!

A method through which this subject has been amplified in recent times is thru social media. Lewis calls consideration to social media’s affect on the voices. Those that are thought of to be most influential in mainstream physique positivity and plus dimension style.

“The most important change within the physique positivity and plus dimension style business has been the overwhelming significance of social media,” says Lewis. “This may also be problematic when a white blogger or social media influencer publicly posts racially insensitive issues with little or no consequence to their model and nonetheless receives mainstream alternatives, whereas a lady of colour is just not even thought of.

Regardless that there are girls of colour within the plus group which are immensely common, in lots of cases they don’t obtain equal alternatives or help. Regardless of all of this, there are girls of colour who by some means break via the hurdles and obtain greatness, whether or not its grassroots activism or mainstream success our contributions to the development of this motion are important.”

It’s unimaginable to actually do the 25 girls of colour justice and this checklist is in no way exhaustive. However, hopefully it’s a begin to a extra inclusive have a look at physique positivity and plus dimension style. Be a part of the dialog by sharing the ladies of colour which have made an affect in your personal physique optimistic journey.

Who has impressed you? Who’ve we missed? We wish to hear of those that have knocked down partitions and boundaries in plus dimension style! Hold forth! 

As The Curvy Fashionista editors, we write about stuff we love and we predict you may like too. The Curvy Fashionista usually has affiliate partnerships, so we might get a share of the income out of your buy.

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