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Above All- THANK YOU!

Divas and Fashionista’s, how exciting was last week not only for the plus-size community, but for women as a whole. After 14 seasons of the hit show Project Runway, Ashley Tipton was their first contestant to win who is both a plus-size designer, designing for plus-size women. Moreover, her finale collection was strutted across the runway at New York Fashion Week by some of the industry’s most vibrant plus-size models, with many of them being what us plus-size consumers would call “visibly plus-size”, which is another major win for both sides of the full-figured spectrum. Ashley was able to do so much for women, the plus community, and the fashion industry in this one season, with the pinnacle of it all being the history that was made on the show, for visibly plus-size models and the modeling and fashion industries, at NYFW and much more. This is indeed a person and accomplishment worth celebrating, which has been and will continue to be done.

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But… for a brief moment, Pretty – and Big Too! is hoping on our #SoapBox. Ladies, I just have one very important question—WHY… I REPEAT- WHY, DO WE HAVE TO TEAR EACH OTHER DOWN?! It seems that no matter how big the win or how historical the moment, no progress that we make is enough to satisfy us. And this is bigger than being plus-size, and bigger than fashion- this is about what we do to each other as women.

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As women, we have been fighting for equality in every area for decades upon decades, and although to some it may seem minuscule because of the industry the fight takes place within, the battle is no different (and is actually a lot harder) in entertainment, media and especially FASHION! It is hard to just be a women with a vision in this world, but to have a passion and a dream placed in your heart in an industry where who you are and what your goal is are both not welcomed, it takes a special type of person with a warrior’s grit to make it. What may not be said, but what I can see, is that behind Ashley’s adorable smile, fun hair, and playful style is a fighter! Someone who not only fought for herself and her vision, but fought for all of us AND WON! So why aren’t all of us thankful?

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What got #PABT on our soapbox was but of course, social media – especially Twitter. Social media is what it is, but sometimes things do need to be address and due to the extensiveness of the fooletry that we saw from women, EVEN THOSE WHO ARE PLUS SIZE, not only outraged us, but many others both male and female, big and small, leading us to make the following points:

  1. One thing that we saw that many women were complaining about was that Ashley’s collection was too “girly” and “cliche”. Too many flowers, too many pastels, too flowy – too this and too that. That’s interesting, because last I checked the complaint that has been going around for years is that plus-size models either fall into 1 of 3 categories- 1. Over-sexualized 2. Career/Business 3. Edgy-Chic, with the first 2 being the biggest complaint. Plus models are either completely covered (which it appears is where most of the visibly plus models book their jobs) and the last two categories go to more of the curvier shaped and “in-between” plus models, in which they have to always look sexy and desirable. Where as in straight size modeling that is not the case, in those models don’t have to be pretty or sexy, but are picked because of what is quirky and stands out about them making them high fashion worthy. However, Ashley’s line, to us, is what has been asked for for years. It was fun, it was girly, it was youthful and above all fashion forward. Those colors you are complaining about- they are in! So are the flower head pieces (don’t make us run down the list of celebrities – both women AND even surprisingly, males- rocking them). The designs of her collection you’re muttering about – you can see those types of looks being worn on straight size models around the world. We have asked for this. We have pleaded for this. We have begged to just be able to be girly, flirty, fun, trendy, fashion forward and most importantly, EQUAL!  Now that this has happened, why are we bashing the very thing we asked for? Show me in the book where this is okay. I’ll wait…Ashley Tipton NYFW
  2. Another thing that we take issue with is how quick we are to support something that has a “name”, even if we can’t afford it or fit it, and even if they designer or brand says they aren’t looking to cater to us ethnically or size wise, but we want to buy their stuff anyways. We will buy accessories, perfume and bags out of Victoria Secret and Michael Kor’s, but can’t wear their clothes. We will try to squeeze into junior plus sizes to be trendy in Forever 21 and H&M (and I better not catch any of ya’ll trying to squeeze into Balmain, but I am sure many will try because of the name of the label – DESPITE the recent remarks in the media about how they feels about non-white models), but if we want to wear something close to being trendy and affordable, we have to shop Ms. Tina’s collection at Walmart, the limited selections at the previously mentioned stores, or pay the higher prices of Lane Bryant, Torrid, the slim pickings from department stores and trendy online shops/lines which are becoming harder for the average consumer to afford Moreover, what we buy doesn’t even match what we are asking for majority of the time as the shopper. Yet, we have heard so many women of size ask for the type of clothing that was in Ashley’s collection and now that it is here, instead of seeing this as a victory it is for us all and a stride in the right direction, we are holding back more than progression in supporting each other in fashion, but as women and what we fight for for one another holistically in this culture.Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-8.29.58-AM-300x197
  3. The last point I am going to make, (although this list could probably make it to 10), is pertaining to the tweets I saw about Project Runway turning into a social movement due to Ashley winning and the plus size barriers that were broken in both fashion and modeling. Due to this, many people stated were going to stop tuning in after this show/season. PEOPLE… Maybe you don’t know much about fashion and shouldn’t be supporting the show anyways, because when has fashion NOT be a social statement or movement!? I will use Balmain again as an example—do you think them collaborating with H&M is a coincidence? No! Do you think some of the hottest designers coming on board to design for Lane Bryant was just because? So do you think Rebel Wilson for Torrid, Tess Holiday for JC Penny, Kendall Jenner for Este Lauder, and Rihanna for Dior and various other stars chosen to model or endorse brands, and collections being added to mainstream stores are simply for no reason at all? NO, NO, and NO again! They are selected because they have an influence to cause a ripple in the waves of culture and make a SOCIAL impact that will bring an increase in revenue through what? FASHION! Every era has a style, every group of teenagers rocks the current “it” style, and we all aspire to look like what we see that is trendy. Why do you think trends are set and do what they do? To cause social movement! So Yeezy Season is really what ya’ll aspire to look like? Many of you really like that hat Pharrell wears? It’s okay for men to blur gender lines and wear dresses and we will be barked at until society shoves their opinions down our throats to the point of acceptance until we are scared to even have an opinion and voice it at the notion of being torn apart, but this is somehow different. Why? BECAUSE SIZISM IS REAL AND ALIVE! Moreover, because us as WOMEN have a long way to go. But just in case you didn’t no, the time for a social movement to spark change for any type of equality is ALWAYS right now, by any body!if not me, now, when

The reason why Pretty – and Big Too! exist is because I as the founder believe wholeheartedly that we have to be the change that we want to see and this is my way of implementing that. Ashley did not only create a change she wanted to see for herself, but she was on a top show of our time and WON it! She created designs that many of us have complained about not having, created an opportunity for models of size to do something that many of them would not have had the opportunity to do without her vision, hard work, execution and sacrifices, made history for herself, those models, the plus industry and community, in television, entertainment and media, all-encompassing fashion. She gave people hope, she inspired someone not to give up on their dreams, she opened doors and knocked down barriers. Yes, she did spark a social movement and unlike many who we call “celebrities”, she did it without diminishing who she is and going a route that would be popular to do in our culture. She participated in a show whose premise is to pick the best designer and they chose her- someone we have been asking and waiting for. But because of what she looks like, the effect she caused, and the shape of the women who are wearing her clothes, and more of the knit-picky reasons we were able to scrounge up, we can somehow find a way to deem her win unworthy and to rip apart every other victory that is a win for women overall in and out of various industries within her accomplishment over the “little things” we sought out to complain about.

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Ladies, we have to do better! We have to celebrate each other and learn to support our fellow women like we rush to support anything else that more than likely doesn’t even benefit us. We have to stop tearing each other apart and looking for the negative when there are so many things to be celebrated about us individually and collectively. Maybe you are straight size and don’t get why this is such a huge deal for us thicker gals. Or maybe you are plus size and Ashley’s line isn’t your style. Both of these things are fine, however, why can’t we open our eyes to see what a huge step this is for the EQUALITY of WOMEN in and out of fashion, to look good, feel good, be stylish, go after their dreams and see the hope of glory in following them? This moment is way bigger than fashion, and should be even more celebrated that it did cause what many are angrily calling a “social movement”, because that means that this was bigger than fashion – it was about a purpose. Since when was purpose not a great thing to fulfill? I would hope that we all would love to see other women of any creed fulfill their God-given destiny and if it happens to be what Ashley’s accomplishment did, what a wonderful spectacle to see.

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We have to change our mind sets to stop seeing other women as our competition and seeking the bad in what is good because it isn’t “your cause”.  At the end of the day, if it involves a woman, then if should involve each of us and we are the cause! It’s time to go from cause to effect and stand together in fashion, and all other things that pertain to us all having equality and democracy to be and feel as amazing and powerful as we were created to be- not try to decimate our fellow woman’s accomplishment(s), even if you see it as just being online or what comes with the territory because in case you forgot, we are all still human and last I checked, all humans do have feelings.

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MY BEAUTIFUL AND VICTORIOUS WOMEN – Lets stand TOGETHER and make a CHOICE to be supportive instead of hateful and understanding instead of judgmental, because after all, it’s love that conquers all. So Ashley, from Pretty – and Big Too! to you, we not only applaud you, celebrate you and appreciate all you have done for all women through the platform of Project Runway and making history in so many ways that has been well over-due – but we will say it on behalf of all those who already did and all of those who should have, above all, THANK YOU!

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Until next time,

Stay #PrettyAndBigToo

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