Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Refinery 29 - Every Beautiful Body!

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend an amazing event by Refinery 29 in partnership with Lane Bryant and Aerie. It was called Every Beautiful Body Symposium (part of the 67% project) and it called for better size representation from the fashion industry. The idea came from the statistic that 67% of women identify as plus size, but the only 2% of images in media depict plus-sized women.
The event consisted of a couple awesome speakers, yoga in your seat, spoken word and some phenomenal panel discussions. Around the room there were a couple other activities happening as well. There was a beautiful gallery of images shot by Anatasia Garcia using models of all different shapes and sizes, depicting that plus-size could look just as “high-fashion” as the campaigns that use straight-sized models. I also snagged a “SLAY SISTA SLAY” shirt from Lane Bryant as well as some goodies from Aerie at their section.
I stayed for both sessions; throughout the day there were definitely some noteworthy moments and I developed some massive girl crushes. It was also pretty amazing to see my girls: Denise Bidot, Charli Howard and Iskra Lawrence do their thing!

There were a bunch of important issues brought up on every panel; everything from price of plus-size clothing, to plus girls in advertising, to the exclusivity of the fashion world. See more about the issues brought up: here
I particularly loved Danielle Brooks’ emotional keynote speech where she recounted the first time she saw her Lane Bryant ad in Times Square. With tears down her face she explained how it felt to finally see yourself being represented, instead of constantly being bombarded with images that look nothing like you. I can definitely relate as I had similar feelings when I saw my first ad in Times Square.
Some of my favourite moments though, were from the second session of panel discussions. On two separate panels I was introduced to my new girl crushes: Nicolette Mason and Jes Baker. Nicolette’s panel discussion was all about social media. Nicolette spoke a lot about the visibility of coloured and LGBTQ women in media. She talked about how leaving out the intersectional issues would be missing a large part of the body positivity conversation. Similarly, on Jes’ panel (about inclusive image making) she brought up the issue of your typical “white, blonde, hourglass” plus-size model and how we need to see more representation in media of different types of plus-size woman as well.
I was so happy to finally hear panelists bring up intersectional issues. People often forget that within these larger movements, there are many women who are further marginalized by race, religion, sexual orientation etc. To exclude those intersectional issues from not just this movement, but any, would be ignoring these women and their specific concerns. These large movements are making waves, getting visibility and becoming mainstream – so now it’s time for us to stop glossing over the more specific issues that minorities face within these movements.

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