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Full Figured Fashion Week: Sonsi’s Recap

Sonsi Full Figured Fashion Week

Here’s a link to a fun recap of the 2013 Full Figured Fashion Week by Sarah Sapora at Sonsi. Not only did I love the recap, but the story is full of great pictures of beautiful curvy girls strutting their fashion stuff.

Just makes me happy! (And makes me want to spend money.)

June 28, 2013   No Comments

Be Careful! Curves Ahead. Vogue Italia June 2011: “Plus-Size” Edition

Published: June 2011 Steven Meisel - Photographer

Friend of the Curvy Life, and blogger extraordinaire, Atiya King, of the blog Secrets, Lies and Margaritas, sent me these great shots from the current issue of Vogue Italia, and hipped me to a website that I hadn’t heard about: Vogue Curvy. I asked her to share her take on these images and the Vogue Curvy site.

Atiya writes:

Let’s face it. The fashion industry has no idea what sexy is. They seem to be under the impression that sexy is young, 6 feet tall, blondes, with bodies like teen boys. I know. I know. It takes them awhile to catch up to those of us in the real world. See, in the real world, we know that sexy is more than that. Sexy is quirky. Sexy is smart. Sexy is ambitious, and sometimes, sexy is a whole lotta woman!

Published: June 2011 Steven Meisel - Photographer

Vogue Italia has stepped up their game. Their glossy, black and white, June 2011 cover features sexy, plus-size models Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley. This is what most women look like. Soft, voluptuous and hot! We need to see more of this. Actually, we want to see more of this.

Published: June 2011 Steven Meisel - Photographer


A curvaceous beauty hasn’t graced the cover of Vogue since Sophie Dahl’s spread in April 2000. Clearly, it’s been too long. So, I’d like to thank Vogue Itlaia’s editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani for having the courage to put these beautiful, buxom women on the cover. Hopefully, one day, this will not be such a novelty issue.

Until then, check out Vogue Curvy for more pictures of this sexy issue.

June 27, 2011   1 Comment

My Curvy Take on Sex and The City or, Why I Care About the Lives of Rich, Skinny, Privileged White Women who own $100,000 Worth of Shoes

When I was waxing poetic to my 30-year-old sister about how I loved the Sex And The City and can’t wait for the new movie ( I went to see the first movie two days in row), she made the statement in the title:

I just don’t get why you would care about the lives of rich, skinny, privileged white women who would spend $100,000 on shoes.

This is why I didn’t invite her to see the movie with me; in fact, both times I saw the first SATC movie, I went by myself.  I am not the “typical” SATC fan (if there is such a thing): I was late coming to the show in its original HBO run—I didn’t start watching it until several seasons into the show. I don’t have a gaggle of girlfriends with whom I gathered to gawk and gab about the show (a straight male friend of mind convinced me to give the show a try.) In fact, for many years I felt guilty for enjoying the show—doesn’t this just promote a doubly impossible beauty standard for women of never too thin, never too rich?

Can a curvy girl feel empowered by SATC? This curvy girl was.  I was so taken by the first film that I had to go straight out and have a cosmo and collect my thoughts on the entire experience.  Not only did I enjoy the movie, but I left the film feeling extremely empowered, feeling fabulous and capable of doing anything my heart desired. Why?

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May 5, 2010   2 Comments

Thankful for Beth Ditto (and Love Magazine)


Thank you, Beth Ditto, and Love Magazine, for:

1. Showing that beauty comes in all sizes (Love Magazine chose to feature Beth Ditto as a fashion icon on the cover of it’s first issue, even though the magazine is not a plus-size magazine–just a fashion mag)

2. Photoshopping this photo to actually make Beth look bigger–when does that ever happen?

In a previous post we commented on whether images of plus-size models make plus-size women feel better about themselves. Beth Ditto is truly “plus-size,” and she is photographed beautifully. This definitely makes me feel better about my own beauty.

November 29, 2009   13 Comments

Plus-size hierarchy, or Is there a big girl caste system?

The show More To Love (which clearly I am regularly watching) has me thinking about the notion of a plus-size hierarchy, or even a caste system. The show has touched on this before, but tonight, one of the women eliminated from the show, who appears to be on the lower end of plus size,  made this comment:

I think I’m kind of prettier than some of the girls in the house. I wonder what Luke could possibly see in Mel B (one of the larger women in the house), this is, like, a total blow to my ego. I’ve never lost a guy to a girl bigger than me, or not as attractive.

[I have to interject here: now that I’ve uploaded their pictures, there doesn’t appear to be that great a size difference between them. Amanda is taller than Mel B, for sure. Just goes to show that the size difference doesn’t have to be that great.)

To me, this comment illustrates the plus size hierarchy, the Missy vs. Plus divide,  having a 1 in front of your weight vs. a 2, and ultimately, regardless of how big, the ability to say: I may be big, but at least I’m not as big as her (pointing to the biggest girl in the room).

(And really, this is a sub-genre of the overarching hierarchy of size: can you shop in a boutique (0-10), traditional retail (add 12, 14), a few traditional retailers with extended sizes (16,18), or plus size.)

So you have women who are on the lower end of plus size (I had one commenter on this blog say: it’s OK for big women to show skin as long as there aren’t rolls), the one’s who hear: “You may be big, but you’re not fat….” , then those who are squarely plus size. And if you’ve ever crossed the divide–gaining, losing weight–you know what I mean. There will be a shift in the dynamic.

In the hierarchy game, a woman walks into a room, gauges her size against the sizes of all the other women, and places herself and the others, somewhere in the size hierarchy. So, the size 14, in a room of size 2s, feels like she is low in the hierarchy. Put her in a room of women in size 2s, she now is at the top tier. In the room with the size 2s, she feels bad. In the room with the 22s, she feels great. Lose the guy to the size 2– oh, well. Lose the guy to the size 22–ego blow, and ‘what’s wrong with him?’

This kills me–the lack of solidarity among women in issues of beauty and body image. Someone on Twitter tonight said, “Don’t you just wish all the girls would bond more and go out and pick up guys together?”


Do we need to tear down our sister to feel better about ourselves?


Would love to hear your take on the plus-size hierarchy.

August 11, 2009   10 Comments

Jennifer Weiner — Engaging, Empowering, Entertaining

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is currently on a 10-city book tour promoting her latest novel, Best Friends Forever. We had a chance to see her at her Atlanta signing, and it was an absolute treat. She was gregarious, entertaining, engaging, and hilarious. The signing was held in the middle of a Borders, and as she spoke, a crowd gathered around the perimeter of the seating area, many unaware of who she was, just to enjoy the show.

There was a gentleman in line behind us with a couple of books in hand, and someone asked if he was a fan. He replied, “Never heard of her. But listening to her now, I’ve decided to get books for my wife and daughter.” No doubt he was influenced by her positive energy and wanted to share that with the women in his life.

If you are in any of the following cities, I highly recommend that you check her out.

Saturday, July 18th: St. Louis, The Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road 8 PM

Sunday, July 19: Framingham, MA: Barnes & Noble, 1 Worcester Road, 3 p.m.

Monday, July 20: Lincolnshire, IL, Stevenson High School, 1 Stevenson Drive, 7 p.m. (The event is free, but you have to register for tickets ahead of time, which you can do by clicking here).

Tuesday, July 21: El Cerrito, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, (El Cerrito Plaza), 7:00 pm

Wednesday, July 22: San Francisco, Book Passage Bookstore in the San Francisco Ferry Building (1 Ferry Building, #42), 8:00 pm

July 18, 2009   4 Comments

Project Runway: Drag Queens v. Big Girls

I love Project Runway, and in fine Project Runway fashion, this week’s challenge of styling drag queens is supposed to be the “difficult” body challenge of the season. In the past, this challenge included styling family members of the designers, thus dealing with “real” bodies, and designing for women who had lost a lot of weight.

In past episodes, I was always annoyed with the way the designers whined about having to deal with big, female bodies. You’re fashion designers, for God’s sake! Design! You can make a dress out of corn husks but you can’t make a big girl look good?

So, this week you’ve got a runway full of big girls, and I didn’t hear one whiny complaint about being stuck with the big body. They talk about being “way out of my comfort zone,” but no one is being a whiny baby (as I’ve seen in the past). Of course, Korto, the designer who is most comfortable with size diversity, was responsible for the biggest body, so she didn’t act like styling “Sweetie” was the end of the world. And, she got raves from the judges on the design.

So, it’s easier for designers to style for “faux” big girls than it is for them to style for “real” big girls. I remain baffled.

August 21, 2008   5 Comments

An ode to hips

I love fashion, but I hate fashion magazines. Studies have shown that the pictures in fashion magazines have a more negative impact on our body image and self-esteem than any other images. That being said, I do read some fashion mags (Figure Magazine just isn’t broad enough for me). One mainstream magazine that I subscribe to is Glamour. I noticed about a year ago that Glamour was making an effort to be more inclusive (in comparison with others) in portraying plus sizes. What that translates to is two or three mentions of plus-size clothes. Their “Dress Your Body” segment always includes a plus size model, and this month they address fashionable plus-size labels. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

That being said, I read one of the most amazing tributes to the female form in this month’s (June 2008) issue of Glamour, in the article “What Keeps a Guy Hooked on You For Life.” This is one of those male-perspective articles on what men love about their women. This article is not posted at, so I’m going to post the highlights of one man’s tribute to his wife’s hips–From: “Her Hips,” by Will Robinson, 29, in love for 15 years.

… But if you asked me what I couldn’t live without, what I need above all else, what I’ve worshipped since the very first day we met, I would tell you with a smile: her hips.

Round and sensual, those hips are what transform my wife from simply beautiful to incredibly sexy. They take a hard turn from her waist and then softly curve down to her thighs, a perfect combination of forcefulness and femininity….

… I wish I could convince her that though I’ll love her forever no matter what shape she’s in, having those extra-voluptuous hips to grab onto makes life together all the sweeter.

That may be the hottest thing I’ve ever read. Female hips as the “perfect combination of forcefulness and femininity”–that is a powerful testimony.

May 8, 2008   No Comments

Curvy women photographed like thin models

There are many beautiful, sexy plus-size women; however, if we never see ourselves reflected in the mirror of media as sexy, we begin to feel invisible. This is the ongoing dilema for the curvy girl: to be at once a visual spectacle, told she’s “too large” thus “too visible,” yet to simultaneously feel invisible in the domain of beauty and sexuality.

The has a fabulous, in-depth interview with grad student/photographer Kristin “Lou” Herout who replicated high-fashion magazine ads with “real” women as part of a study of the way the image of the ideal woman has changed in modern times–“he women progressively changed from large boned, round-faced, beautiful women to bone-protruding, thin women.

I’ve included an excerpt here regarding the treatment of plus-size women in media and advertising that for many years caused me much distress–the portrayal of larger women as anything BUT sexy:

It is extremely rare for any plus-size woman to be seen as a sexual being unless it is being portrayed as a joke. As stated in my paper, there is a “Wingman Training Manual” that is published by Maxim magazine that tells men how to keep their buddies from hooking up with a big woman when he gets drunk.

In my scholarly paper, I discuss the phenomenon of the plus-size bride; the bridal industry must represent plus-size women in some ads because the plus-size woman accounts for a large chunk of the market, but in an ad, the plus-size woman is treated very differently than her thinner counterpart. She is given a simpler dress, simpler background and loses the sexy mysteriousness that is common in haute-couture models. The plus-size girl wears a huge toothy smile, therefore there are different expectations for a woman of larger stature compared to a thinner model.

I think that campaigns such as the “Dove True Beauty Campaign” are commonly more hurtful than helpful. If this campaign, women are shown as being proud of who they are, great! But these women are average-size women; plus-size women are left out in the cold in this campaign. Also, these women still aren’t given the same attention as thin women: they aren’t shown as really sexy, they’re shown as being confident, despite their curves. They should be presented as being beautiful, sexy and proud, just as thin models are. Otherwise we are still making an exception for average-size women, instead of making them the norm.

April 28, 2008   15 Comments

Clinton Kelly at Macy’s ATL

Clinton Kelly (cohost of TLC’s What Not to Wear) is Macy’s ambassador of Special Sizes–Plus and Petite. Clinton was in Atlanta today at Macy’s Lenox Square to host a fashion show featuring Spring trends as available in Macy’s Plus Size department. I used the opportunity to Twitter. (If you aren’t familiar with Twitter, it’s a type of IM/blog. You can see my Twitter text in the far right sidebar.)

There were several hundred curvy women in the audience, all anxious to see Clinton Kelly and his suggestions for Spring. He hit the stage like a rock star–his presence and energy were impressive. He spoke frankly and honestly about What Not to Wear and about the state of plus size fashion. Here are a few highlights of his presentation. I’ll save my take on the clothes for another post.

Behind the Scenes at What Not to Wear

“Looking good is not easy.”

  1. It takes one hour of filming to produce one minute of the show. He and Stacy usually spend 30 minutes per mannequin just explaining the rules.
  2. The featured contributor spends 2 full days trying on clothes. S/he will try on hundreds of garments to get 7 outfits. Sheer volume creates successful outfits.
  3. Every woman gets a bra fitting. Clinton’s suggestion: if you have maintained your weight, a bra fitting once every 5 years should suffice; however, for every 5 pounds gained or lost, a new bra may be needed.
  4. The secret of the participants’ success? shapewear and tailoring.
  5. Regarding tailoring–no one can expect clothes to fit off the rack. And (painfully for most of us), you may need to go up a size to fit your largest part and have the rest of the garment downsized. (And though I know size is arbitrary and should mean nothing–it does.)


  1. Color, texture, pattern, shine–try to combine these in every outfit, which includes accessories and shoes.
  2. Any given season there are numerous trends–there are currently 20 trends in fashion right not. If you want to follow trends, choose one (or a few) and pair them with classics.
  3. Jacket tailoring tip: if you have broad shoulders, have the sleeves of jackets narrowed from the elbows to the wrists to create a sleeker look.
  4. Clinton described plus sizes as “marginalized” and said directly, “If you are on the ends of marginalized sizes, your SOL, if you know what that means.” [Yes, Clinton, we do.]


Clinton shared his own experience as feeling like a gawky teen–tall and skinny. He became interested in clothes because “clothes are the great equalizer.” He encouraged the audience: “quit comparing yourself to other people,” because, “you are perfect in your imperfections.” Lovely sentiment that is good for everyone.

April 20, 2008   2 Comments

Glamour Mag – Why men crave real (not perfect) bodies

Oh, Gabriel Olds, where art thou? Gabriel has a great article in the March 2008 issue of Glamour Magazine. He writes:

But as much as we lust after images of hyper-real beauty in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or even in the apartments or cubicles next door, we don’t quite know how to react when those unreal bodies actually belong to the woman in our lives.

Gabriel found it very difficult to maintain relationships with women who had had plastic surgery. His reasons why and his final conclusions are quite interesting.

The article is available online by clicking here.

March 17, 2008   1 Comment

Love Your Body Month – Tip#9 – Watch “How to Look Good Naked”

Love Your Body Month Tip #9:

Look at images of real women.

Not only are the majority of the images that we see in the media photoshopped beyond recognition, the women in these images represent a very rare body type. Our eye becomes accustomed to just one look–tall, skinny, smooth, and shiny. And if that is not your body type, it is easy to become convinced that your body is flawed and unappealing.

So, where do we find images of “real” women? A great place to start is the Lifetime Television show “How to Look Good Naked” (Fridays 9 & 9:30pm, Saturdays 11 & 11:30 pm, or watch full episodes online). Women of all shapes and sizes strip down to bra and panties, and look awesome while doing it. Never before on television have I seen such a wide variety of female body types placed side-by-side and treated in such a positive manner. (Of course, they feature a commercial at the beginning of this clip with a tall, skinny, smooth, and please note, shiny woman.)

Plus Model Magazine (online) and Figure Magazine (print) feature women anywhere from size 10-18 (Yes, Virginia, size 10 is plus-size in the fantastical world of modeling). For some curvier models, check out the girls on B& There are other sources as well; check our links for many more.

It is a slow process, but we can re-train our eye to accept a broader, more inclusive definition of a beautiful body.

Check back tomorrow for Tip #10.

February 9, 2008   2 Comments

Did you see “How to Look Good Naked?”

If you saw the show, let me know what you think. I was moved to tears by the journey to self-acceptance experienced by the first woman featured on the show.

If you haven’t seen the show, look for it on the Lifetime channel. It is replaying throughout the week. Or, if you don’t have Lifetime (or you just can’t wait), you can see the entire episode online at The show website has some interesting features–click here to view these. I particularly like the feature Where Do I Fit In? featuring the full spectrum of beautiful body types.

Check out my previous post for more on the program and for tips on how to feel good naked.

January 4, 2008   No Comments

Feel good naked in 2008

This is my New Year’s wish to everyone, and I’d like to thank Lifetime Television for helping make this wish come true. On Friday, January 4, (9pm ET), Lifetime premiers the new makeover show How To Look Good Naked.

The entire first episode of the series is available on the Lifetime website (click here for the link). I enjoyed the episode, but I was particularly impressed by the abundance of nearly-naked curvy girls on the show. Here’s a great opportunity to see “real” female bodies portrayed in a positive way on television.

The show is the American version of a successful UK show of the same title. The BBC version of the show has an extensive site, with lots of great curvy women and their stories. I love the article “The Six Stages of How to Look Good Naked.”

So, while the list refers to looking good naked, I say: be good to yourself this year, love who you are, and feel good naked!

The Six Stages of How To Look Good Naked

Stage 1: Face Your Fears
Take your clothes off in front of a mirror and have a long hard look at yourself
For many of our ladies, taking their clothes off in front of anyone had became a massive ordeal. Stripping off in front of a mirror and taking a good hard look at yourself in the first step to facing your fears and building up your confidence.

Stage 2: Change Your Self-Perception
You’re not as big as you think you are
The media bombard us all with unrealistic airbrushed images of women every day. These images of the stick thin, surgically enhanced women aren’t very realistic but these images portray women as beautiful and successful so it’s hard for normal women not to want to be like them. However, most normal women do not look like them so these pictures enforce feelings of negativity and encourage low self esteem.

So, the second stage of looking good naked is to start waking up to the way the media works and stop comparing these images to the way you look. Wake up to the fact that you actually look pretty OK, that you aren’t as big as you think you are AND look at all the women around you – I bet most of them are the same as you.

Stage 3: See Yourself As Others See You
Learn to take compliments and focus on the positive rather than the negative
The third stage is to start focusing on the positive rather than the negative aspects of your body. Do not dismiss compliments. Hold on to all the nice things people say and ignore anything negative that might come your way.

Stage 4: Work Your Body
Wear clothes that make you look and feel good
Your clothes can have a big impact on the way you feel about yourself. Wearing clothes that flatter your shape and emphasize the best bits of your body is the best way to feel and look good. Underwear is also key. Old grey underwear can only make you feel old and grey. Structured underwear will give you more shape with your clothes on. Sexy underwear will give you a boost when your clothes have to come off.

Stage 5: Respect Yourself
Look after yourself
Your lifestyle does matter and it does effect the way your look and feel about yourself. A good healthy lifestyle will pay dividends. You will feel better but the pay off is that you will look better too.

Stage 6: Beauty Cheats
Looking good naked
What ever your size and shape feeling confident is key to looking good – whether your clothes are on or off. So now you are feeling on top of the world it’s time to start taking advantage of all the beauty treatments and products out there. Follow these rules on a weekly basis and we guarantee you will look good in the buff:

January 1, 2008   1 Comment

“If the pants don’t stop at your station, it’s not your train”

So says Stacey London, in What Not To Wear, “Triple Thread.” The show features triplet sisters in need of style makeovers. As Stacey and Clinton watch the footage of these sisters discouraged and broken-down by the fit of clothes, Stacey declares:

“When will women learn to quit blaming their bodies and realize that the problem is in how the clothes are made? Clothes are like trains—if they don’t stop at your station, they’re not your train.”

Amen, Stacey ! Gloria Steinem put it yet another way;

“If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”

Our bodies aren’t the problem. Clothing manufacturers should be altering clothes to fit women’s bodies rather than women altering their bodies to fit clothes. However, the fashion industry doesn’t seem to care at all about fit and size as it relates to real women. There no such thing as a standard size, sizes vary within the same clothing line, and there is little allowance for shape and proportion differences.

This sad fact of modern fashion is the reason why the women featured on What Not To Wear, regardless of size, often find themselves frustrated in the quest to spend $5000 on a new wardrobe. Big or small, finding clothes that compliment their bodies takes may hours trying on clothes at many stores.

I cease to be amazed by the short-sightedness and downright arrogance of an industry that ignores the basic needs of its customers, leaving women feeling dissatisfied and demoralized by the shopping experience.

As fashion consumers, first, we must learn to disconnect from the power of the size tag and to value fit over size. Second, we must continue to voice our complaints over the failure of the fashion industry to serve the vast majority of us.

To see this episode of What Not To Wear, “Triple Thread”, click here and select “Full Episodes.”


December 18, 2007   No Comments