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 okay 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.