Recently, 29-year-old Candice Huffine became the first plus-size model (she’s a US size 16) to be featured in the famous Pirelli calendar (for 2015). But while we may be far from hailing the democratisation of fashion, or calling this the end of the dominance of the waif-thin model, that day isn’t entirely out of sight as Huffine is not alone.
Boston-based Lesley Kinzel, who calls herself a ‘fat activist’, and is also the author of Two Whole Cakes, has been creating buzz about big women in the online space. Thus, fatshionistas — as they are being referred to now — are trying to ditch stereotypes and redefining beauty.
Wendell Rodricks, is one such designer, who took a stand against the word ‘fat’ early in his career by naming his apparel sizes small, medium, voluptuous and voluptuous goddess. “I find it demeaning that ladies should be labelled ‘large’ and, worse, ‘extra large’. So, we came up with this sizing. Also, I feel that anything with the word ‘fat’ in fashion conjures visions of cellulite. So, maybe voluptuoista (sic) might sound better than fatshionista,” he says.
Some known faces supporting this stand are actor Camryn Manheim, writer Marianne Kirby and historian Hanne Blank. Closer home, actor Delnaz Paul has been vocal about being happy with one’s body type. “You can be fashionable at any size. We all have the right to look good, and no one should be judged for turning out stylish just because they are not the standard size,” she says.
The TV actor adds that it is not necessary that a woman who is not skinny is unhealthy, or that a woman with a thin frame is fit. “A skinny woman may look fine from the outside, but what if her food habits and lifestyle have given her a thousand problems? She may look great in what she’s wearing, but that’s not what you want to project as ideal,” says Delnaz.
Chennai-based designer, Tina Vincent, who specialises in clothes for plus-size women, says that according to her, fatshionistas can change the perception of beauty. “Usually, it’s hard to think that you can look good when you are being called fat. On top of that, you might have people picking on you. So, an attire that enhances your figure in the right way always helps,” says Vincent.