Plus Sized Fashion Advice from Curvy Fashionista Blogger, Marie Denee
Abiola: Marie, what a fantastic, comprehensive style guide. I really appreciate you writing it. Tell us about your book, “Keeping it Curvy.Confident.Chic.” and why you decided to create it.
Marie: Thank you so much for reading it and enjoying it! I am really grateful and excited. So, my book is like a precursor to shopping, kind of like a guide before the shopping guide. I did it because I noticed that there was still quite a few questions, assumptions, and misconceptions about plus size fashion from the articles, questions, frustrations out there. I wanted to address this in a positive and fun read.
On Body Image & Self Esteem
Abiola: Have you always been curvy, Marie? And if so, have you always been so wonderfully sexy and proud or have you experienced body image issues? How did you find confidence and self love?
Marie: Oh… For as long as I can remember. I think my fondest memory was when I was 13. I was 5’6” and 150+ pounds. I had boobs and these womanly curves. I think growing up, I had a number of positive influences. My mother always focused on eating healthily and staying active, I was a cheerleader from the fourth grade.
My grandmother though was the curvy one. As a deaconess, she was always dressed to the nines, she was smart, confident, and unapologetic about her curves. As the oldest grandchild, I spent quite a lot of time wither and adopted some of those same principles. I, like any other woman have my moments of low self esteem, but quite often I kick myself out of my funk and do something to change it.
Abiola: You dedicate the book to your mom, sister, Nana and sister-friends. Your blog is clearly a community. Tell us what this community building means to you?
Marie: THANK YOU. Girl… Honestly, I would NOT BE WHERE I AM, without support, love, encouragement, and oftentimes a swift kick in the tail. To me, community means thinking outside of you. We all play a role in whichever community we belong to- whether we acknowledge it or not.
I believe it is important to recognize those who have paved the path and who are there for you, pay forward the guidance and support, and help lift up one another in order to foster and encourage positive change and growth beyond you. Funny you mention this, as my nickname amongst those close to me is “KumBahYah.”
On Men & Relationships
Abiola: I love it! There was a University of Texas study last year stating that men prefer curvy women for casual relationships. As a woman of color, I have no idea who they sampled or interviewed in this study, certainly not African American men. I do date across the spectrum, though. Have you noticed any trends or effect on your love life due to the size of your body?
Marie: Interestingly enough, I have usually been one of the first curvier women that the men I have dated, have been with. It never really occurred to me for a while that my size had anything to do with it. I think what gets in the way of me dating more, though is me. Making time and making myself available.
I never saw being a plus size woman as a damper on having love- especially as some of my plus size girlfriends have men fawning over them like crazy! I think it’s the confidence and the way you carry yourself… and hey, to each their own. I prefer a bit of a husky man myself…
On Health & Fitness
Marie: This is a tricky question and one which I address from a personal aspect on my blog. I do not stress weight loss; I share my journey to live healthier, but more from a mental and internal health perspective. Like I share my journey with taking multivitamins, especially as I have turned 30. I want to do Yoga, as Pilates killed me. So I will share my experiences there.
I can say that it infuriates me as being plus size is one of those physical discriminations and stereotypes that we are constantly battling. From the news to the magazines to the blogs, plus size women are often categorized as being lazy, depressed, and unmotivated… part of the reason why I have “Confident” in my tagline is to show other curvy fashionistas and others the fashionable, fabulous, and fierce life from a plus perspective.
Abiola: Pilates kicked my booty too, girl. (laughs) Do you believe that curvy women of other ethnicities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez represent you as a Curvy Fashionista as well?
Marie: No. While they have curves and for some, aspirational physiques, they are not plus size and I cannot identify with them.
On Fashion & Designers
Abiola: You throw a jab back at Karl Lagerfeld in the book. The designer is notorious in his unfortunate repeatedly hateful comments about women and body size. Beyond Lane Bryant and As
hley Stewart, who are your favorite designers than cater to plus sized style?
Marie: Hahaha! Got to love Mr. Lagerfeld. Some of my favorite designers? Mannnn… Let’s see, there is Rachel Pally, Jibri, Monif C, CarmaKoma, Gisela Ramirez, Queen Grace, and those are the few.
Abiola: I love your stance on skinny jeans and the saying “a closed mouth won’t get dressed.” Tell us more.
Marie: Well, for the longest time, plus size women did not have a voice in fashion. I honestly feel that social media and the advent of Live Journal, Blogs, Twitter and Facebook gave plus size women the chance to speak up and speak out on the things we wanted. Our voice has become loud enough to ask for those things that we need and want in our fashionable life.
Fashion is no longer dictated to us; it now caters to us. By giving feedback, utilizing our platforms we are now able to affect change and receive what we ask for. It is quite empowering.
Abiola: What are some of the fashion dos and don’ts that curvy women need to be aware of?
Marie: Hmm, I do not like to focus on the don’ts but more on the do’s as we have forever been told what we are “supposed” to wear. What I often preach and stress is to experiment and step our of your own mental box when it comes to fashion, as there is still so much newness to explore and play with. I also encourage plus size women to find one rule and break it. Seriously. I think beyond giving a do and don’t, I say: Never let your curves define your style, but let your style define your curves.
Abiola: Your motto, Marie, is “curvy, confident and chic.” My upcoming book is named “The Official Bombshell Handbook.” What does BYOB, be your own bombshell mean to you? As a passionate living expert I have to ask, what makes you feel sexy?
Marie: I think Be Your Own Bombshell is synonymous to Curvy.Confident.Chic. I have ample curves, I own my curves, and I put my best foot forward to show off those curves. Sexy; I felt like this last night. Haha! What was so special about last night? I was in my element. I felt good, I looked good, and I was having a blast. When you embrace yourself completely, being sexy is an added element of who you are.
Abiola: Marie, congrats! This was fun. Great guide. Where can people buy your book and find you online?
Marie: You can get my book from Amazon here. You can visit me and my ramblings on my blog, The Curvy Fashionista. You can tweet me on Twitter at @mariedenee and engage in some playful conversation on my Curvy Fashionista Facebook Page.