Turning a fashion and beauty passion blog into a thriving purpose-driven business
To most people, the phrase ‘living large’ has a positive, hopeful connotation. For those of us considered plus-size, it triggers painful memories.
I was bullied my entire adolescent, teen and young adult life. Classmates, teachers and co-workers referred to me as ‘big’. While I loved fashion, mentors told me I would never be thin enough to work in the fashion industry. After years battling eating disorders, there came a time in my life when I realized I had to be okay with being me — whatever size I was or would be.
I had to learn to respect myself before I could expect others to respect me, and all that I represent.
Over time, with conscious effort, I learned to let go of the things I loathed about my appearance and now embrace and love the things I once considered flaws. I created Girl With Curves (a blog, now renamed www.TaneshaAwasthi.com) to share my story and to help bridge the gap between the average, everyday woman and the celebrities our society idolizes. Today I have a following of almost 2 million women who entrust me to help them gain the level of confidence I’ve been able to achieve through my own journey to self-love.
As even the makers of Barbie have finally come to understand, the average woman is not a size zero. I am one of the 55% of women in America who are size 14 or larger. And here’s the paradox: Despite being part of the majority, my ‘plus size’ body is radically underrepresented in fashion and media. When I first started blogging I didn’t consider myself plus-size; I was curvy. But as time went on, I embraced this label in order to show women that we can’t be defined by our size or by a label. All we can be is ourselves, regardless of size, weight, race, or age.
People are people and we are all uniquely beautiful.
As an international fashion and beauty influencer, my goal is to change the narrow, idealistic view of beauty the media has ingrained in the public, generation after generation. I’d like to see plus-brands execute fashion at the same level of professionalism, quality and care that conventional size brands do. I think there’s a major disconnect between the consumer and the brand. As consumers, plus-size women want and need variety. We want amazing options, we want trendy, but we also want flattering and everything else a smaller girl wants.
When I am asked for my advice about what to wear, my answer is simple: wear what you love, regardless of fashion rules and anyone’s opinion, because when you’re wearing something you feel amazing in, your confidence radiates from within. Also, find what truly works for your body type and rock it! If you have a small waist and large hips, work with what you have and dress in a way you feel comfortable — either flaunting it or being more modest.
Personal style is just that; it’s personal and every woman should wear what makes her feel great.
Since embarking on my career in fashion, I have helped bridge the gap between the straight and plus-size industries. I have accomplished things beyond my wildest dreams: I’ve been on a billboard in Times Square, collaborated with brands I’ve admired since I was a teenager, and been featured in every major fashion publication in the world.
But of all my accomplishments, what I am most proud of is knowing that my work is helping women to change their perspective of the fashion industry and shift their perception of beauty — and ultimately helping them to shift their perspective on themselves and their self-worth.
To all you women out there, regardless of your size, my message is this: Be kind, be yourself and be a role model for others to be the same.
You may also enjoy reading Could You Love Your Body, Really? | Shifting your Body Identity by Peggy Farah