The growth of the plus-size fashion industry during the past 10 years speaks volumes about the power and influence of Black women. This year, in the U.S. alone, the plus-size market is expected to grow to $24 billion dollars. But it’s important to note that retailers didn’t just wake up one day and decide to make clothes that would actually fit the average American woman, who is now between a size 16 and 18. Had it not been for fearless fat Black girls, many designers would’ve never expanded their offerings past an XL and a number of intentionally size-inclusive brands might not even exist today.
With it being Plus-size Appreciation Day, we decided to show appreciation for the Black women who taught others how to embrace their bodies and put their own style on display when the fashion industry failed to accommodate their curves. The changes we see manifesting today didn’t happen by chance; they came about by sacrifice. Each of these women devoted their time and energy to educating brands, and in some instances even creating their own.so that fashion and self-love and acceptance could truly be for all.
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Gwen DeVoe created Full Figured Fashion Week in 2008 when she saw a void that need to be filled. There were no plus-size fashion events of its caliber that offered models, indie designers and plus-size brands a runway. Gwen’s dreams helped to encourage other event producers to create spaces for plus-size fashion.
Gabi Gregg, better known as GabiFresh, was one of the first plus-size bloggers. She used her love of fashion and confident curves to show brands that plus-size fashion was big business. Today, Gabi is still a big boss who has not only created her own brand, Preeme, but also releases regular collections with SwimSuitsForAll and Playful Promise.
Marie Leggette started her blog The Curvy Fashionista over a decade ago as a way to encourage plus-size women and herself. Today the blog serves as a resource for plus-size women who need information and encouragement. The Curvy Fashionista is home to a diverse team of contributors who are guided by Marie to curate content that normalizes life as a plus-size individual while calling out negativity.
Chastity Valentine boasts millions of followers collectively on her Garner Style social media platforms. While she began her blog more than 10 years ago, she is still without question one of the hottest, most recognized and respected plus-size influencers in the game.
Chastity turned a corner in the industry years ago when she called Target out on their lack of inclusion. Since then, she has worked with countless brands and co-founded one of plus-size fashion’s dopest events, The Curvy Con, which is held in NYC during NYFW every fall.
Chante Burkett whose blog was once known as Everything Curvy & Chic was the first known as Instagram’s “fat it girl.” When Target decided to include a plus-size woman in its first swim campaign, they tapped her. Since then, she has been on fire influencing beauty from a brown girl prospective, providing lifestyle content, and of course inspiring curvy girls with her style.
Confidence is something every woman should possess, and no one has advocated for this more than the original Golden girl, Essie Golden. She created the #GoldenConfidence hashtag and Instagram page that celebrates plus-size bodies, beauty and fashion. As a plus-size Icon, Essie has a “can’t stop, won’t stop” commitment to her audience which pushes her to constantly do more, like co-founding the brand Thick Laces. Thick Laces is a community for plus-size sneakerheads who know how to flex their style.
Shaina Harrison curated her blog Out Of The Corner to show her style and skill as a plus-size stylist. Her hashtag #FatGirlsBeWinning brought all the girls to the yard and proved plus women have been it. Shaina’s influence became an even greater source of power when she began to encourage women to find their #BraveSpace via live video conversations.
Kelli Brown is a plus-size influencer who advocates for larger plus-size women to be more visible. Even as society became more accepting of fat girls, they watered down who was seen. However, Kelli wasn’t having it. She started the blog And I Get Dressed to show that plus-size fashion needed to be more inclusive for girls with rolls, fupas and who were larger than a size 18.
Kelli is also the creator of the #FatAtFashionWeek hashtag which showed another way to take up space In areas not so fat girl-friendly. Today, she receives praise for continuing to show extended plus-size women how to slay via her content.
Alissa Wilson has been serving body-positive fashion articles for her audience via her website Stylish Curves since 2009. Living by the motto, “Your size does not determine your worth,” Alissa teaches followers how to dress for their body type and regularly puts them on to new brands and designers that cater to their curves.
Passion Jonesz’s influence came about thanks to her YouTube videos back when video content wasn’t popping. From there she gained a cultlike following that has expanded her reach to include millions of women (and men). Passion is a partner of fast-fashion brand FashionNova and is committed to showing curvy girls how to serve up sexy. She’s also broken the internet thousands of times with her sexy photos rocking lingerie from Indie designer Monif C.