Here in Charleston we are famous for celebrating the past.Maybe as southerners, admittedly slow to change. As I prepare to attend another Charleston Fashion Week and struggle, like many women to find just the right outfit to walk into Marion Square ,I am reminded that on the issue of a lack of inclusion and diversity represented in the Charleston retail market,much less on the runway for women "of size" we are under represented or as far as the runway is concerned ,not represented at all.
In the early 2000's I was one of the only plus size models in Charleston , I worked teaching modeling and etiquette at Millie Lewis,helped produce fashion shows, was one of the Post and Couriers models of the year for 2002 I even turned down an offer from Wilhelmina Models NY.That being said, my love of fashion runs deep. I was reading WWD in study hall and eventually went on to study Fashion Merchandising.I worked for Macys in Atlanta and Burdines in West Palm Beach,also modeled for both.
I have loved seeing the shift over the years from dressing plus size women in mumus and polyester to designers like Marina Rinaldi,Ralph Lauren ,Micheal Kors,Christian Siriano,Rachel Roy and others designing beautiful clothes for ALL of us.The major fashion houses have caught on that we can beautifully represent the lines and not too mention we will pay quite handsomely to look good and feel more confident.
As I chose my outfit for tonights show under the tent in Marion Square I chose to have a voice a voice of inclusion,some who see me may think of my top as "snarky" that is not my intention.If I showed up nicely dressed and took my seat,their would be no possibility of dialogue.But showing up with my Fat Mermaids shirt on accompanied by the beautiful,young plus size influencer Jenna aka thecurvyrebel I/we hope to spark at least a conversation of inclusion.
I am in no way advocating an unhealthy lifestyle, trust me I work out regularly and in fact when I began modeling as a plus size I also became an AFFA certified aerobic instructor.But the fact is its long been stated that the average American woman wears a size 14 but she actually wears a 16/18 (Forbes 9/30/16) where is the representation in Charleston? Its happening in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and on the runway at NYFW.
Charleston is full of beautiful women of all sizes I hope that in my small way I have contributed to opening the dialoge on inclusion of more of us that take up a little more space.Make Space.