As the year 2016 comes to a close, body positivity has continued to make major strides in gaining more visibility in the mainstream, but this growth in exposure has come with a serious void for women above a size 22+; in fact, they’re still virtually invisible from the movement they helped shape and create. News articles hail size 10 models as body positive pioneers and icons while those same women share their disdain for being labeled plus size. Mainstream body positivity has become a watered-down and more palatable version of fat acceptance and that all comes with a high cost to those visibly fat women who stand to benefit most from the stigma body positivity is supposed to be challenging.
One blogger, Marcy Cruz of Fearlessly Just Me, decided that if mainstream fashion wasn’t going to fill that void then she was going to do it herself. Cruz has been blogging since the year 2000 but as a size 26/28, she admits there’s still very few opportunities for someone her size.
“I noticed that there weren’t many bloggers or women, for that matter, that looked like me shown in campaigns,” says Cruz. “I kept seeing the same type of bodies and sometimes I would see women under a size 12 being promoted as plus size. While I have love and respect for all bodies, I wondered why women my size were not shown.”
Cruz says she noticed that even brands who carry extended plus sizes (clothing above a size 24) were still using models on the small side of plus to sell these garments. And as someone who believes firmly in creating your own opportunities she says she saw herself as having two options: complain or take action. She chose the latter and created a digital Fall lookbook featuring bloggers who were all a size 22+. From New Zealand and Canada to across the United States, this blogger shows that style has no size.
“I wanted to create a way for bloggers a size 22+ to have their own spotlight and defy those stereotypes that society has imposed on us; we’re taught that hourglass figures or pear shape figures where women have a small waist and no lumps or rolls, are ‘safe’ to show as plus size bodies. But that is not the norm,” says Cruz.
When Cruz thought about who she wanted to ask to participate in the lookbook, she had a few favorite fellow bloggers in mind. She says she thought it might be a challenge to find a big list since most plus size bloggers are between sizes 14 and 18 but she ended up being totally wrong about that. Though 12 bloggers were ultimately included in the lookbook, she had a list of 25 and she ended up picking women that represented differences in style, size, shape and location. The 12 bloggers include: ShaKera of The Real Sample Size, Amanda of Bella Moxie, Lisa of Mustangsallytwo, Corissa of Fat Girl Flow, Emily of Authentically Emmie, Meagan of This Is Meagan Kerr, Meshel of The Muffin Queen’s Closet, Amanda of Fashion, Love & Martini’s, Rebecca of The Plus Side of Me, Ashley of My Simply Curvy Life, Amanda of the Koker Chronicles and Marcy herself.
“Fashion is a way of expressing yourself and your confidence,” says Cruz. “ I wanted to show that you don’t have to be naked or scantily clad to be body positive and show your beauty. Just by being you, confident and happy, wearing what you want and breaking fashion rules, that alone shows love for yourself and others.”
The lookbook dedicates three full pages to each blogger. With this layout, each blogger is given the space to show their personal style through images and share some thoughts on fashion. In the lookbook, Corissa of Fat Girl Flow writes, “We’ve all been socialized to think there are certain things we can and cannot wear because of how others perceive us, and I want to know what my style will look like without that socialization. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of introspection, but it has been incredibly worth it and SO FUN!”
The bloggers also each share their favorite brands to wear which include retailers such as Society+, Melissa McCarthy Seven7 and SWAK among others. One of the brands named by almost every blogger was ELOQUII and Cruz credits their size 26/28 lookbooks for that.
“I love what ELOQUII has been doing in this aspect and it seems to me, we need to support their efforts more,” says Cruz. “We cry for more size diversity but when a brand delivers, there is not a word said. If we don’t support, the brands will think that’s not what we want. It makes me wonder if the masses are really ready to see larger bodies in campaigns. I know I am.”
A photo posted by Style Beyond a Size 22 (@stylebeyond22) on
It’s a challenge for size 22+ women to know how garments are going to fit if they are only shown on size 10 models. Cruz knows from experience how much of an impact this visibility can make because in addition to blogging, Cruz works as a First Fit Reviewer for Gwynnie Bee where she shows how garments fit on her frame. The feedback she has received from this has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Customers love seeing different body shapes and sizes,” shares Cruz. “I have gotten so many positive messages from women who said I inspire them to try new styles. This further proves that showing size diversity is not a bad thing.”
#Repost @fearlesslyjustme with @repostapp ・・・ Have you checked out the @stylebeyond22 look book yet? @mustangsallytwo is one of the 12 amazing women in it, proving style doesn’t stop at a size 22. They also share their thoughts on #confidence #bodyimage #shopping and #fit LINK IN BIO. Check it out and let us know what you think! #stylebeyond22 #stylebeyondsize #styleisntasize #styleissizeless #fashionisforeveryone #allbodiesaregoodbodies #bodydiversity #sizediversity #allbodiesaregoodbodies #beautyknowsnosize #beautycomesfromwithin #thisbody #plussizefashion #plussizestyle #celebratemysize #goldenconfidence #mystylishcurves #tcfstyle #effyourbeautystandards #daretowear #canadianblogger #the24plus
A photo posted by Style Beyond a Size 22 (@stylebeyond22) on
And while mainstream body positivity has helped make certain bodies more accepted, the stigma against size 22+ bodies persists because of a lack of visibility, access and praise for varying shapes and sizes. Cruz’s lookbook works to change that.
Want to see the full lookbook? Check out the Size 22+ Lookbook here!
“I’m passionate about championing for those women 22+ not only because I am her, but also because visibility for that woman means showing the world that plus size comes in many shapes and sizes,” asys Cruz. “There are women out there who don’t know that there is fashion in their size or they don’t feel confident enough to wear certain clothing. Visibility means showing that everyone is worthy and deserving of fashion.”
Want to Get Involved? See More Fashion Options? Join in on the Fun?
With the initial success of the lookbook, Cruz has plans to launch another one in a few months. She encourages bloggers to share their images with the tag #stylebeyond22 and follow the page at @stylebeyond22 to get involved!
Alysse Dalessandro Santiago is a plus size fashion blogger, writer, social influencer, designer, and professional speaker. After graduating with a double-major in Journalism and Gender Studies from Loyola University Chicago, this entrepreneur is best known as the owner/designer for body positive fashion brand and personal style blog Ready to Stare. Her brand has become a haven for those whom fashion has otherwise ignored. It's a space where individual style is celebrated and breaking the rules is encouraged.