We’ve seen plus-size women dance, shop for wedding dresses and go to boot camp, but reality television has never taken us into the world of plus-size fashion, a quietly booming industry far removed from the opulent world of Dior, Chanel and Louboutin. That’s where TLC’s new reality show Big Sexy comes in. The show, premiering Aug. 30 at 10 p.m., follows five beautiful, self-assured women trying to bring plus-size fashion into the mainstream. Refreshingly, Big Sexy isn’t about changing bodies, but rather celebrating curves.
Before the premiere, MORE caught up with four of the show’s stars—here, they offer tips for developing a confident personal style.
Tiffany Bank, 29 - Model
Dressing to Slim: You have to realize what body shape you have, first and foremost. I’m heavy in my stomach and I have a small waist, so I wear belts around my waist to give myself an hourglass figure. A lot of times, women buy stuff that just fits. I think women are kind of afraid to step outside the box and go outside their comfort zone. Don’t just buy things that fit, buy things that are well put-together.
Trends to Embrace: I am very bohemian, so I like maxi dresses paired with a really hot fedora and lots of bangles and chunky jewelry. Plus-size women need to wear more colors. There’s nothing more beautiful. Black is really sexy, but the more color the better. You just have to find clothing that flatters you and turn it up with some color.
Staying Confident: Most of the time, if you feel good, then you look good. It’s really important to do things that make you happy—whether it’s wearing really hot lipstick for no reason or having brunch with your girlfriends. If you walk into a room and tell yourself you’re the most beautiful woman there, that confidence is contagious.
Look in the mirror. Pick out a few things that you really enjoy and think about those things on a daily basis. I say three things every single day: Just breathe, this too shall pass and just keep swimming. In a sea of ‘No,’ all you need is one ‘Yes,’ so just keep swimming.
Changing the Industry: We need to see more diverse models in the media and advertising. Why not use models and real women? I’m not talking about a real-woman campaign or a special shape issue of a magazine. I’m talking about a Gap ad. Use models that reflect your true customers.
Leslie Medlik, 34 - Stylist
Dieting: I spent a lot of my life going from one diet to the next. And they worked. Sometimes I lost ten pounds, sometimes I lost 50 pounds. But I was gaining the weight back, too. Last time I was on a diet, I was miserable. All I could focus on was what I was going to eat and when I was going to work out. I wasn’t living my life anymore.
Dressing to Look Thinner: I don’t encourage women to do that, ever. For me, it’s not about trying to change the body you have. You should really focus on the body you have and what is great about it. You can still look beautiful and wear an amazing outfit without trying to look slimmer.
Bad Trends: I’m having a hard transition to the skinny belt. It’s hard to pull that off because it’s not always doing anything for you. We’re adding belts just for the sake of adding belts.
Staying Confident: Before, when I would get ready for work, I would look in the mirror and find something about myself that I hated, whether it was my arms, my stomach or my face. I don’t do that anymore. I look at myself everyday and tell myself that I do love myself and this is me. Throw away the nonsense that your body isn’t good enough. Know that you are a person who is more than the way that you look. Your body is beautiful as it exists.
Audrey Curry, 24 – Makeup Artist, Aspiring Designer
Dressing to Slim: Always wear clothing that fits—never something that’s too small because that’s going to make you look larger. Loose clothing will make you look insecure. If you have a low cut neck, you can’t have a short skirt. A lot of plus size women wear black—I’m one of those, because it’s easy to accessorize it if you want to wear a funky hat or chunky jewelry. Tailoring always makes plus size women look better. Stay away from woven clothing and always go to knit clothing because it stretches. Shoulder pads are something plus size women are afraid of, but they can slim your body down by balancing out your body and hips.
Bad Trends: Stay away from white leggings or neon leggings of any kind. A lot of people also do the deconstructed, messy, shredded look wrong. They think if you throw on something messy and dirty you can make it work. You can’t.
Staying Confident: I present myself in a confident way because I spend time getting ready and making myself look the best I can look. When I go out, I already feel good about myself. Don’t walk into a room with your head down. Stand tall. I’m very positive and I always think about what I’m going to do that day and how it’s going to go smoothly.
Nikki Gomez, 34 - Model
Changing the Industry: There are a lot of preconceived notions about plus-size women—that we’re not active, that we don’t take care of ourselves. Photographers will shoot skinny girls in a certain way, but they won’t shoot plus-size girls that way. He doesn’t think it’s worth his time. You have to look for people that are a little more open minded to get the results that you want in this industry.
Dressing in a Flattering Way: It’s important to know how to dress your body, no matter what size you are. If you have amazing legs, show off your legs. If you have a beautiful complexion, wear colors to enhance your features and you’ll find the confidence.
Don’t be afraid to wear color. This whole black-is-slimming thing is old news. Shapewear is important, even for thin women. Stay true to your style. I do love the new geeky chic kind of look, the big black-rimmed glasses. I’m a big fan of vintage clothing—I love feminine clothing and being really girly.
Bad Trends: For some reason, people don’t get dressed anymore. People go out in their pajamas to run errands. It’s important to take pride in yourself. Get dressed. There’s something to be said about how you look and how you present yourself to the world.
Staying Confident: It’s about learning to love yourself. When you dress yourself with confidence, it shows. You can walk into a bar with the most beautiful person next to you but if they’re not confident and you are, you’re going to get more attention.
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