There isn’t an introduction that I could craft worthy enough of expressing how necessary Marcy Cruz is to the betterment of plus size women. When I first saw the Style Beyond Size 22 lookbook, I said to myself “the person spearheading this project is brilliant.” Then I found out the person at the helm of it is Marcy Cruz, and I wasn’t surprised. Between the valuable work she does with her blog Fearlessly Just Me, and as the Blog Editor of Plus Model Magazine, Marcy continues to give a voice to those underrepresented and often overlooked. The Style Beyond Size 22 project is no different.
Keep reading as Marcy shares details about the lookbook.
You recently launched a lookbook featuring plus size women who wear over a size 22. Why was the project necessary?
For me, as a size 26/28 woman, I grew tired of not seeing more size representation not only in the fashion industry but in the media on a whole. Weight loss tends to be celebrated and it is often confused with body positivity. However, there are plenty of women who are above a size 22 who are happy and thriving. They shop and like to dress. They have incredible style. Some of these women are bloggers who work extremely hard to send that very message to the masses. But still, we are largely ignored and passed over when it comes to being seen front and center. If we are talking to body diversity, there should never be a limit on who is seen and represented and that includes women above a certain size. The look book was a way to talk to that and prove that style knows no size.
Why do you think plus size women who wear larger than a size 22 are underrepresented? How can we change that?
The masses cry for more size diversity and showing more visibly plus women but when a woman above a certain size is shown, it is not received well.
Take Tess Holliday, for instance. She made history by being the first size-22 model signed to an agency and was on the cover of People freaking Magazine. Yet the masses have hated on her and said the most disgusting things to her on social media simply because she is not afraid to show her body, imperfections and all. I also don’t see her in as many prominent fashion campaigns as other models smaller than her.
However, Ashley Graham has become a superstar overnight. Nothing against Graham, but my body does not look like hers and I want to see more body sizes and shapes. Why can’t we see both Holliday and Graham in a campaign?
I love that Lane Bryant used Gabourey Sidibe in their latest campaign. But even now, that is being overshadowed by media talk of her weight loss.
What we seem to forget at times is that brands and retailers are watching and listening. They look at numbers and their businesses. If they feel that seeing larger bodies is something we DON’T want to see, then they will use that as their reasoning as to why they only show one body type and size.
They will continue to show the “safe” big girl who has a small waist and large hips with a flat tummy. Some retailers will show a back roll here and there but for the most part, images are photoshopped to erase cellulite, lumps and bumps.
Let’s be honest — the majority of plus women are not hourglass shaped. We all carry our weight in different places. Where is the representation for the apple shaped girls? The petite girls? Women out there need to see someone they can relate to, not someone they should aspire to be. Promoting self-love and body positive messaging is about loving yourself NOW and not 4 sizes from now. There is no perfect body type or weight.
But when that premise is pushed, people say we are promoting obesity. It seems like we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. It can be challenging and defeating.
To change the mindset of the masses, it has to come from within our own community first. We have to stand up for all plus women and support.
Support with our voices and with our wallets. Social media gives us all a platform to use our voices but many choose to use that platform in a negative manner. Let’s support the brands we love and who support us like Avenue, Eloquii, SWAK Designs and so many indie designers who are not afraid to show a woman in all her natural beauty, flaws and all. They’re also not afraid to design for all sizes, too! Ashley Nell Tipton is a prime example of that.
We cannot expect the masses outside of our community to embrace us, if we can’t embrace ourselves first. We have to speak life into each other and have each other’s back because at the end of the day, it’s not just us fighting for ourselves to be seen but for all of us to be seen.
In the lookbook, several plus size bloggers were selected. How were they selected and what was the criteria for being featured?
There were a few I have been following for years that I consider veterans in the blogging game but I feel have not gotten the recognition they deserve. Emily of Authentically Emmie, Amanda Allison of Fashion, Love & Martinis, Amanda W. of Bella Moxie and Rebecca of The Plus Side of Me are amazing in their own right and have paved the way for the newcomers on the scene.
Speaking of newcomers, I wanted to also include those bloggers who were making major moves in the blogger world within a short time like Lisa of MustangSallyTwo and ShaKera of The Real Sample Size. The others just fell into perfect place.
There’s a few who are very well known in the body positive community such as Corissa from Fat Girl Flow and Meagan of This is Meagan Kerr. Ashley of My Simple Curvy Life represents the younger set of plus women and talks to the issues faced by those who are apple-shaped.
Meshel from The Muffin Queen’s Closet won my heart this year with her fun and unique style plus she’s in her 40s like me and not afraid to wear what she wants, breaking all sorts of fashion rules. Lastly, Amanda K. brings that industry knowledge to the table, being that not only is she a size 26/28 but she is also an indie plus fashion designer.
I wanted a diverse set of women who represented style, confidence and inspiration. The images show the bloggers in their natural environments.
Did they receive any instructions on which type of photos to submit? If so, what type of guidance did you give?
I basically told them to wear what they loved and depicted their style 100%. I did tell them, no swimwear or lingerie images. That was the only restriction. Often times, women use their nudity to promote body positivity and give that middle finger to society. I’m not knocking that but I also wanted to show that women don’t have to be scantily clad to be considered confident, body positive or inspiring. They can use their style as a voice to let the masses know that despite their struggles with finding clothing in their size, nothing will stop them from dressing how they want and looking fabulous.
What’s next? Do you plan on doing more look books like this one?
Initially, I was so done after this lookbook was completed because it was very involved. I didn’t plan a second one. However, after seeing the positive response to it and learning so much more about myself through getting to know these incredible women, I am inspired now to keep going. So yes, there will be another lookbook in a few months and this is going to spearhead bigger projects in the works, all geared to size diversity and more representation in the media for all bodies.
I’ll be honest — I am so passionate about women size 22+ because when I look at them, I see my own reflection. So my efforts and works have largely been focused on them. However, now I am seeing there are other groups within the community that need support and another voice to speak for them too. Therefore, I am thinking about ways I can create opportunities for myself and others to educate the masses on issues such as weight loss, being body positive at any size, loving yourself and just being accepting of all bodies. I don’t know where this journey is taking me but I am excited to embark on it. It’s so unexpected but feels right.
I’m hoping to partner up with others in the community who already have platforms in place because there is strength and power in numbers. Again, it’s about supporting each other versus feeling like we have to compete against one another. At the end of the day, we are fighting the same fight and just need to combine our efforts. Once the community comes together, I believe we can make a huge difference in body diversity and representation for everyone.
To join Marcy Cruz on her size diversity journey follow her on her blog FearlesslyJustMe.com. Don’t forget to check out the Style Beyond Size 22 Lookbook. This very necessary project features the following plus size bloggers:
- Amanda W. of Bella Moxie
- ShaKera of The Real Sample Size
- Lisa of MustangSallyTwo
- Corissa of Fat Girl Flow
- Ashley of My Simple Curvy Life
- Meagan of This is Meagan Kerr
- Meshel of The Muffin Queen’s Closet
- Amanda A. of Fashion, Love & Martinis
- Rebecca of The Plus Side of Me
- Amanda K. of The Koker Chronicles
- Marcy C. of Fearlessly Just Me