Nadia Aboulhosn’s Body-Positive Calendar Is Truly Stunning
(This article was originally written for, and appeared on, Refinery29. You can read the original here.)
When we receive calendars as gifts, it’s rare that we’re filled with feelings of…excitement. Sure, we appreciate the sentiment, and the pictures of kittens that decorate the pages are adorable. But, usually, those calendars remain in their shrink-wrapped plastic or on the shelf long after the first of the year has rolled around. After all, if we’re going to be spending 12 months with one, we prefer to hang something on the wall that inspires us and we can be proud to display.Every day.
So, we were thrilled to hear that super-stylish curvy blogger Nadia Aboulhosn has released a 12-month spread that showcases her beauty and confidence. From a stunning bathtub picture that puts Ophelia to shame to a glamorous staircase shot (in black and white, of course) that looks like it’s plucked from a noir film, Aboulhosn’s pictures make it clear that her modeling skills extend beyond the blogosphere.
So, considering this launch is unlike any we’ve seen from other bloggers, we had to sit down with Aboulhosn to find out exactly what inspired this beautiful, body-positive woman to release it.
And, of course, you can buy Nadia Aboulhosn’s calendar on her site.
What made you decide to release a calendar?
"Honestly, I’m the type of person who has to constantly stay busy doing something creative. And, although I work a lot, I wanted to throw myself in to an entire project that I can call my own."
What was your inspiration behind your favorite individual shot?
"My inspiration behind the September month was me paying homage to my Lebanese roots. I feel like there is a stereotype in the West toward a lot of Arabs, and so many people over the years have told me to drop my last name and not brand it for business purposes because companies might not want to work with me. I wanted to really focus on the beauty of being different. There’s so little individuality nowadays. I used to get made fun of for my thick eyebrows, and now I’m known for them, so I wanted to really focus on some of my favorite features."
Do you view yourself as “plus size”?
"I’ve never labeled myself plus size because, in my opinion, with time, the plus-size label won’t be needed. I don’t think straight-size models are any different from plus-size models. This last Fashion Week season, a few plus-size models walked the runway. If we saw this all the time in fashion without labeling women, then eventually we can hopefully train people’s minds and undo years of media brainwashing [and turn it] into believing all bodies are beautiful. The same goes for magazine covers."
Do you view yourself more as a model or a style blogger?
"I view myself more as a personal-style blogger. I began blogging, then people on Tumblr would see my pictures and think I was a model, not knowing I was just a blogger taking pictures of how I dress. People started labeling me as a plus-size model. I had never considered myself plus size because I always fit into the larger sizes of straight clothing, I had never shopped at a plus-size store, and I definitely had never modeled professionally in my life. Eventually, that led toSeventeen magazine noticing me and then asking me to model for them. Then I won American Apparel’s model search. That’s where my modeling career began.”
Why do you think you have gained such a loyal following?
"The main reason I believe I have gained such a loyal following is because I’m relatable. I’m confident in myself and my body even when society and the media brainwash people into believing women like me shouldn’t be. I wear what I want even if it makes people uncomfortable. I don’t try to glamorize my life and trick people into thinking I’m living a life I never had or currently have. I’m human just like everyone else, and I show it. I also take whatever free time I have and FaceTime some of my followers to thank them for all they do for me. I believe that’s what people appreciate."
What style advice can you offer curvy women?
"Block out negativity. Life is too short to be worried about someone else not approving or liking you. Be proud of who you are and what you look like even though our society tells you to change it."
NEW POST: What’s Black & White & Red Allover….
(Answer: it’s me! Like you didn’t see that one coming…)
Anyway, I was lucky enough to get invited to the Isabel Marant for H&M launch event. Having been to the 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target party I knew to expect a bit of a shit-show, but it was beyond insane. We got there 30 minutes early and the line was already wrapped around the corner. By the time they opened the doors the line was down to the next avenue. When we got inside it was clear that every one was 20 seconds away from getting into a fist fight.
Now, I’m a seasoned shopper. I hit the mall every year on Black Friday, I can navigate a sample sale with ease, and I can even sift through the garbage at F21 to find a gem, but this brouhaha was more than I could take.
But, instead of leaving, I went up to the men’s section to scope out their stuff (men’s sizing is bigger, so would fit my plus frame better anyway). Not only was this a brilliant move (I was able to snatch up a coveted sweatshirt and top), I then headed up to the 3rd floor to try on a few items, which just happened to also be where they were bringing out the replenishment stock.
I could have been greedy, I could have snatched up items and re-sold them later. But I think that’s unfair (and I’m too lazy to deal with that mess).
The coatigan is actually a size M and it’s huge, and the men’s items were a size L and oversized. It’s yet another lesson why trying things on is so important!
This outfit would also make for a perfect Paris Fashion Week look; considering that Isabel Marant hails from France it seems only right to bring her designs “home.” And why am I randomly mentioning PFW? Well, the nice people at 39nineteen are offering a chance to attend! After years of NYFW, it would be fab to finally check off “attend a foreign fashion week” on my bucket list, and hopefully you all can help make it happen! Just vote for me on their facebook page so I can win! (And, if I don’t win, hopefully I can snag some gorgeous Diamondere jewels as a consolation prize!)
Coatigan: Isabel Marant for H&M
Skirt: Bar III
Shoes: Nasty Gal
Sunglasses: Ray Ban
The Plus Size Woman’s Ultimate Style Guide
(This article was originally written by me, and appeared on Refinery29. You can read the original here.)
We know how tough shopping can be when you’re plus-size. Some stores think that just because you’re bigger, you’re shaped like a box and want to spend your life frumping around in a big black sack. Thankfully, more and more companies are wising up, so — good news — there’s been an increase of plus-size-specific stores (both brick & mortar and online) and an expansion of sizes within existing brands (like GAP, ModCloth, etc.).
But now that there are even more options for full figure fashion than ever before, plus-size women are finding themselves with a new challenge: how to wear those styles that they never even had the option of before! But before you get flustered, take a moment and heed our body-positive style advice. Soon enough, you might even find yourself in a crop top!
Make A Point To Show Off Your Best Assets
Everyone has a part of their body they like to show off. If you worship your waist, bring in the focus by cinching your middle with a beautiful belt. If you love your legs, show them off with patterned or colorful shorts and skirts. Adore your arms? Stick with sleeveless shirts that let them take focus.
Head Online To Expand Your Range
While many “straight-size” brands keep their stock below a size 14 in stores, their size range can be more expansive online. Gap offers up to a size 20, Old Navy goes up to size 30, and department stores like Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Macy’s offer up to a size 24W online. Also, U.K.-based stores like ASOS Curve, Evans, and Dorothy Perkins offer shipping perks if you spend above a certain amount of money, so you don’t have to deal with pesky international charges.
Build Your Foundation The Smart Way
If you want to let it all hang out, that’s your prerogative, but if you’re looking for a smooth silhouette, you should invest in the right shapewear. From high-waist thigh trimmers to stomach-slimming tank tops, there’s a plethora of plus-size shapewear styles available both online and in store.
Additionally, more than 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size, and the more of a fuller figure or fuller bust you have, the more obvious it is when you’re stuffed in the wrong size. Take a trip to a specialty bra store or to the lingerie department of a major department store and get a proper bra fitting. Can’t make it into a store? Websites like Bare Necessities can help fit you over the phone (and their bras go up to a 56 band & N cup)!
We also have to talk about Chub Rub. It isn’t fun; it can ruin summer outfits, and if your thighs touch — regardless of your size — you’ve had to deal with this problem especially in hot weather. Whether you’d prefer to slip on some lightweight SPANX, pull on an anti-chafing thigh band, or use an anti-chafe gel, there’s no reason you have to suffer.
Doesn’t Fit Quite Right? Tailor It So It Does
So, you find a hot dress that fits your hips but is too baggy in the waist…get thee to a tailor, ASAP! It’s challenging to find a perfect fit, but a tailor can make an off-the-rack item look custom-made for your curves (which is also a great tip to making a dirt-cheap item look expensive).
Don’t Be Scurred, It’s Only Patterns!
With more trendy styles in stores than ever before, there is no excuse to hide your curves in another black wrap dress. Embrace colors and patterns — yes, you can wear stripes (in any direction), polka dots, floral and more! Loud prints can bring emphasis to the area you wear them, so pay attention to where you’re wearing your prints. If you’ve got a great ass, there’s nothing sexier than a high-waisted printed pencil skirt. If you want to direct attention to your décolletage, try out a printed blouse or tank.
Find Inspiration From Other Plus-Size Pros
The internet is filled with amazing plus-size bloggers (ahem, like yours truly) who not only have amazing personal style but are more likely to resemble your body type than the average plus-size model. Whether you’re a size 14 or a size 30, apple-shaped or hourglass, ultra-girly or super-edgy, there’s a style blog that can speak to you! Find a blog that speaks to you and mine them for visual inspiration (don’t forget to check out the comments suggestions for even more info!).
Dare To Wear…Everything!
Forget all those antiquated rules that say only specific body types can wear certain types of clothing; from crop tops and jumpsuits to bikinis and body-con dresses, plus-size women can pull off any trend! It’s all about finding the right size, cut and style that fits and flatters your curves. Again, plus-size bloggers can help you with specific styling dilemmas, but there’s really nothing like just trying things on. In order to rock the ish out of a certain trend, you need to give yourself the opportunity to try it out first.
London Times Loves: Style Writer Extraordinaire, Liz Black
(This interview originally ran on the London Times blog, you can view that article here.)
As a contributor to many of LT’s daily reads and the author of her own blog, P.S. It’s Fashion, Liz Black is nothing short of a style expert here in NYC. She’s also a pioneer for plus size fashion, and never seems to shy away from telling it like it is. If you don’t already know her, you need to. Read up!
First off, where are you from and how did you get into fashion and blogging?
I’m from New Jersey (I currently live in Bloomfield). I always had a love of fashion (I wrote Betsey Johnson a letter when I was 10, saying I wanted to work in fashion some day because of her), and once I was out of college I began a style blog. I created it mostly so that I would have writing samples to provide if I was ever asked for any; and I’m so glad I had them readily available when I was asked to intern at an online magazine. I went from intern to fashion editor in less than a month because of those clips, and I’ve been networking my way through the industry ever since!
My current blog, P.S. It’s Fashion, is only about a year & a half old, and I was encouraged to start a style blog because my fashion industry PR contacts had never seen a stylish larger woman before! The majority of my work between the first blog I created ages ago and my current blog has been focused on other style websites and magazines, such as the Huffington Post, City Magazine, Luckymag.com and Refinery29.
Tell us how you landed the Refinery 29 contributor gig.
I actually reached out to them to see if they were in need of a plus-size contributor and they were very receptive. I pitched a few article ideas and sent them some links to articles I’ve written (I also contribute to the Huffington Post and City Magazine, as well as my own plus-size style blog, of course), and they offered me the freelance contributor position.
I think this is an important lesson… sometimes, if you want something in life you need to put yourself out there and go get it. You can’t sit back and wait for opportunities to fall in your lap!
What are your favorite blogs/websites to visit for style inspiration?
Well, Refinery29, obviously. I also like DailyCandy, Stylecaster, Fashionista, ASOS (they have a great digital style magazine!), Luckymag, Glamour, Instyle, Marie Claire, etc. I do support a lot of other plus-size bloggers, and I love to see what they’re doing, but I actually take most of my style inspiration from straight-size websites/blogs and translate it into plus-size friendly outfits! I feel like if a smaller woman can pull it off, so can I!
Speaking of plus size style, it has really moved to the forefront of the fashion world over the past few years – why do you think that is?
The majority of the women in this country are a size 14 or above, and I think companies are finally beginning to realize how profitable that market is!
What progress do you think the industry still has to make with plus size fashion? What can brands do to better to cater to a wider range of women?
The smartest thing ANY brand can do is to make the exact same designs they have for straight-size women into plus sizes! We want those same trendy, edgy, fun, funky designs that smaller women wear, just give them to us in our size! To me it seems so obvious, but many retailers feel that plus-size women just won’t spend the money on quality or on something trendy.
Also, many existing plus-size brands need to step up their style game as well. We don’t want to wear only black wrap dresses and sack-like muumuus… Watch the trends coming off the runway, see what other straight-size lines are making, and get your designers to make those types of clothes before you lose the market to a new line!
Do you have a favorite London Times dress right now?
What are you most looking forward to wearing this spring and summer?
I love maxi skirts & dresses, and the warmer months are the perfect time to break them out!
Also, I love bright, vibrant colors & prints… this is the time to throw off all the black and embrace the dynamic shades of summer!
Be sure to keep up with Liz on twitter @TheLizBlack
Dress: London Times
Shoes: Boutique 9
Necklace: Lane Bryant
Blazer: Lane Bryant
I’m sure a lot of you may have seen this fabulous galaxy bikini that was designed by GabiFresh for swimsuitsforall, but I had to post this again because… I’m going to be on a segment about it tomorrow at 8:20 am on Good Morning America!!
I’ve obviously posted pictures of myself in a bikini on my blog, but oy, I’m going to be on national TV for the whole world to see! Once upon a time, I never would have been willing to even wear a two-piece, let alone allow myself to be filmed in one for TV…. so for all of you who feel self-conscious (regardless of your size), keep working at it; you can learn to love your body too!
Please tune in tomorrow & you can see the entire segment!
(Sorry for the grainy photos, they were taken on my husband’s iPhone!)
The Other F Word: Why Are We Still Uncomfortable With The Word “Fat”?
This article was originally written for and appeared on Refinery29. You can view and comment on the original here: http://www.refinery29.com/fat-fashion
When I wrote about Gabi Gregg’s capsule collection for swimsuitsforall just a couple weeks ago, I honestly was not expecting the level of ire that came with using the term “Fatkini,” a term coined by Gregg herself.
You see, I’m fat. You can call me plus-size, curvy, voluptuous, or full-figured, and they’re all accurate descriptions of my body shape. And so is fat. That word once had a huge negative connotation behind it to me, and I’ve shed tears over being called “fat,” so I can understand the anguish that can come with such a tiny word. But I have embraced my body, my weight, my size. I’m active and I eat a plant-based diet; I know I’m healthy, and no amount of pounds is going to tell me otherwise. This is my body, and I accept it as such. So, I no longer view “fat” as an insult — to me, it’s become more of a descriptor word (like skinny, tall, short), and nothing more. But not everyone views “fat” the same way.
The most vocal of our readers jumped to the attack, or the defense, on Refinery29’s Facebook page. With comments running the gamut from, “That is the most horrible thing you could have said,” to, “My fat ass will look fabulous in one of those bikinis,” it was clear that “fat” can bring up some heavy feelings.
While the body-acceptance movement has encouraged us to embrace the word fat, the feelings within the plus-size community are still mixed. There are those who accept the word at face value, like blogger Gabi Gregg and Cult of California designer, Jen Wilder. “I learned about women reclaiming the word eight years ago and haven’t looked back since — it changed my life,” Gregg explained. “Realizing that I could be simultaneously happy, beautiful, AND fat was definitely a turning point in my life. I still strive for health, but I realize that my health is between me and my doctors, not strangers on the Internet or on the street, and it isn’t determined by a specific size.” Cult of California designer Jen Wilder shares Gregg’s sentiments. “It’s true I am FAT. I cannot deny that. But I am NOT any of the things you are really calling me, which are stupid, lazy, slow, outcast, etc. It’s not the word; it’s what they MEAN when they say it!”
But not everyone is eager to start calling themselves fat. “The word ‘fat’ has negative connotations, and is never used to compliment. I prefer being called curvy, full-figured, or plus-sized,” explained plus-size model Katherine Roll. “Plus means ‘in addition to’ and therefore, simply defines my size as additional sexiness added to the straight-sized woman!” Aimee Cheshire, founder and CEO of Madison Plus Select, can see both sides of the spectrum. “I personally do not use the word ‘fat,’ not on MadisonPlusSelect.com or in my personal life. I have too many sad memories associated with the word. I do appreciate that the plus-size blogger community wants to reclaim the word back, and more power to them. While I understand why, and I truly love what they are doing, it just won’t find a place in my vocabulary. I have too many other battles to fight.”
In a society where we’re striving for body acceptance, is supporting “fat” a step in the right direction? Whether you’re embracing the word, appalled by its usage, view it just as a descriptor, or feel altogether something else about it, we want to know. What does fat mean to you?
Photo: Courtesy of Lydia Hudgens
Why Is There Such A Weighty Debate About Plus-Size Mannequins?
This article originally was published on Refinery29. You can read (and comment) on the original here: http://www.refinery29.com/2013/03/44975/plus-size-fashion-industry-growth-mannequins
As you may have already seen, a photo of two mannequins from Swedish department store Åhléns has been circling the Interwebs. While two plastic women typically aren’t the catalyst for a surge of body-image discussions, these mannequins struck a chord across the globe due to their size — approximately a size 10 and 12.
With comments ranging from accusations of promoting obesity to sheer delight over seeing a “normal” sized mannequin in a non-plus-size-specific store (and a few trolls thrown in for good measure), it truly brings up an issue that no one seems to be discussing. Why is this such a big deal?
Don’t get it twisted; we’re all in favor of having mannequins (and models) of every size, in both department stores and on the runways, but the fact that the installation of larger mannequins in a “regular” store is so controversial seems ridiculous. Why hasn’t this happened sooner? Why aren’t more stores commonly using mannequins of varying sizes to showcase their products?
With more than one-third of U.S. adults classified as obese, according to the CDC, and the average American woman wearing a size 14 or larger, it is no surprise that, according to Business Insider, those labeled as “plus-size” account for approximately 67% of the apparel-purchasing population, bringing in a retail revenue of nearly $16 billion. Therefore, it could be financially foolish to not display mannequins of larger sizes, even within non-specialty stores.
Plus-size sales are poised to jump 5.2% annually in the next five years, while overall apparel sales will only climb a modest 2.7%, according to research firm IbisWorld. The category is expected to hit $9.7 billion by 2017, up from an estimated $7.5 billion this year and $6.6 billion in 2009. “The issues that plus-size women face in store translate into the biggest opportunity for brands and retailers to grow their businesses today,” stated Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, Inc. “There are so many consumers who wear at least one item that is plus size, and yet the market is dramatically underserved.”
With the average non-specialty clothing store offering up to at least a size 14 (some, like Old Navy, carry up to a size 18 in store) and the growth of plus-size consumers, it makes fiscal sense to provide mannequins that reflect the size of their increasing customer base. By displaying larger mannequins, not only could women see how the clothes would potentially fit their shape, they would also feel more body confident thanks to the increase of plus-size representation within the fashion industry, and therefore, be apt to purchase more.
Overall, the fashion industry needs to accept that the majority of their customers are larger than their current mannequins, and that it’s about time they feel represented and included, instead of demonized for their size. Because the truth is larger mannequins aren’t promoting obesity; they’re reflecting reality.