#SupportWomen is a hashtag many use across social media to combat sexism, but the reality is sometimes women are the ones who need to hear this message and be reminded that when you support another woman, we all win. Thankfully, at our CurvyNoire event during New York Fashion Week, the audience didn’t need to be told that, but it didn’t hurt when plus-size influencer Shaina Harrison gave us all a blunt reminder: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”
What many at CurvyNoire understood Sunday is that sometimes support is as simple as showing up, which more than 100 plus-size bloggers, influencers, business leaders, stylists, and designers did at Casa La Femme restaurant for the event we hosted in conjunction with Maui Bigelow. A discussion led by Atlanta style influencer Nikki Free set the tone of support for the day, asking panelists Chante Burkett, Cherie Washington, Alicia Criner, Harrison, and myself how plus-size women can demand the respect and attention we deserve from the fashion industry. The answer is it starts with support from within.
Emphasizing the importance of optics on social media, Harrison told the crowd how far simple likes can go when scrolling on Instagram. “For brands to show women that look like women that we see every day they have to understand the money behind it. Are they going to make money?”
If we as shoppers don’t show love to the dark-skinned model with coarse hair who doesn’t have an hourglass figure, brands are not only going to limit the women they choose to represent their clothing to a certain aesthetic, they may stop catering to that community with products all together.
“We have buying power, we have liking power, we have to do it,” Harrison emphasized. “We can only control us at this point. What are we going to do? That’s the question.”
CurvyNoire was fortunate to have been supported by a number of brands who understand that buying power such as Lane Bryant, Cantu, Black Radiance, Dove, Love Beauty Planet, and Carol’s Daughter. Jibri, The Wendy S Collection, LiviRae Lingerie, and Curved By Sylvia Mollie also showed the audience exactly where their dollars should go during the fashion show portion of the event.
While there was no shortage of confidence in the room, from the guests to the models who proudly displayed their curves in lingerie, Nikki Free still asked panelists to relay their tips for loving themselves in a world that suggests they should do otherwise.
“I challenge you to dive into who you’re following,” Burkett said. “Who are you following? How are they influencing you? How are they inspiring you? Is it just by a pretty picture?…You have to watch what you are filling yourself up with.”
Harrison issued a challenge to the women in the room as well. “There’s so many women who are able to connect with me on levels outside of beauty so that when we do connect on those levels, beauty is always a part of the conversation but it’s not the first one.
“I think it’s important that we challenge ourselves to just be a little more transparent and to connect with each other in a way that’s deeper than the way that we look…sometimes things are hard and the people who look at you and think that you’re beautiful, they can’t connect because you won’t allow them to and I think we should just try a little harder.”
Washington said her secret to self-love is a daily affirmation written on a sticky note on a mirror in her home which reads, “Love you girl, because if you don’t love yourself no one else will.”
“I affirm myself every single day,” she said. “I am good enough when I walk out the door.”