I’m happy to report that it wasn’t just thin thighs strolling down the catwalk at the Ibiza Fashion Festival at Mo’s restaurant recently; the show featured plus size models, dazzling dancer Yvonne Cardoso and a range of shapes and sizes who rocked their swimwear and looked sexy as hell. It was a brilliant day with 13 beach hot brands and lots of lush models including Britain’s Next Top model winner from the 30+ category Sarah Rich and finalist Danielle Sandhu. As a size 8-10 I just wanted to share my thoughts on the ridiculous role models that are handed to young women from the world of fashion, even if being a model skinnie Minnie financed a good portion of my life.
The show was put together by London stylist Karen Windle who wanted to capture Ibiza’s special style while sending positive role models down the catwalk. Ibiza is certainly the place to wear what you want, wear what you dare and be who you really are, but not everyone is a size 10. Karen is passionate about spreading positive body messages to real women of all races and booked Asian model Miss United Nations Mya Amerise, pictured below left next to Yvonne – Mrs British Beauty Curve. “Mya was so grateful that we accepted her to do this, and I do like a challenge. We had to keep her arms and legs covered as much as possible, but I wanted to create a positive image for all the Asian girls out there.”
As for me I’ve always been slender and eat like a horse, but like Karen I’ve never advocated the fashion industry’s refusal to portray real women on the catwalks and in the press. “There’s a huge market that’s being ignored because of the stigma,” says Karen. “The 4 girls you saw on the runway are Asos models; at least Asos have realised there’s a gap in the market to address real, normal women.” But if there wasn’t ‘a market’ they’d probably still be ignoring plus sizes and rolling everyone into the collective consciousness of feeling less than ideal.
Below you see model and TV presenter Emily Blake in FAC Designs with Mary Louise Chandler.
I am not the norm; I was born a skinnie Minnie and eventually I capitalised on it to earn a living. I had my boobs done as I knew I would get more work. I know full well what an image conscious world we live in because I made back the money I spent on my operation within 3 weeks and was smiling all the way to the lingerie shop!
Below I’m wearing Ashera Soul Clothing, Jordan is wearing Mona Swims and Sarah Rich is in Bossa Nova Bikinis.
I certainly did not aspire to be a model or even think about being a model – it just happened when I was scouted in a night club on my 19th birthday. When I saw myself on Esprit underwear packaging and was repeat booked for lingerie showroom jobs for La Perla and Calvin Klein I remember realising I must have something going on!
I didn’t even like my body in my teens but grew to love it as the work flooded in which is weird in itself. When I was little I was constantly teased for being tall and skinny; I felt gawky, my feet looked massive, my knees knocked and I hated the word ‘skinny’ – it seemed to portray everything a woman shouldn’t be. At 14 I force fed myself Yorkies and downed meal replacement drinks for extra calories, because to me the ideal woman was curvier, softer and more womanly than me.
Now if I felt like that even though I was an alleged ‘ideal’, imagine how other girls felt. Imagine how bigger girls felt seeing clothes on rake thin models; I hate the thought of girls growing up thinking they have to be skinny or look a certain picture perfect way. I realised it was maybe those who secretly wished they were tall and slim who slagged me off, because that was the unrealistic image portrayed in the media to aspire to.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not looking for sympathy here. I just don’t see why people need to judge others for their size or have the cheek to mention it. My point is that if the media stopped portraying unrealistic ideals, people stopped judging each other and women stopped comparing themselves, maybe we could all love the skin we’re in.
I certainly loved the bikinis I was in and formed a fab friendship with Paula Daza of Lumé swimwear, seen below and in the feature photo at the top of this post. Her 100% ethical, luxury swimwear brand transforms art from leading artists into unique prints, gives a portion of the profits to foundations helping children in Colombia and is beyond committed to fair trade. That’s my type of bikini and I will soon be bringing them to Ibiza so please comment below if you want to know more.
Other highlights for me were the West Seventy Nine cut out swimsuit I wore with an amazing headdress, Mona Swim’s gorgeous prints and sleek shapes in their mix and match day to club wear, Fashionista’s bespoke designs from the beach to the club, seen below in that order, plus Butterfly Jewellery’s gorgeous accessories, .
Beyond the show stopping swimwear I was reminded of the beauty in all races, shapes and sizes that day. I’m so pleased that Karen Windle is flying the flag for real women and was brave enough to launch the Ibiza Fashion Festival with plus size girls in the land of the beautiful people.
Next stop for the Ibiza Fashion Festival is London’s Grosvenor Place on Sept 17th for a multi sensory fashion experience, before returning to our sunny shores next June.
Bossanova bikinis as featured in Glamour UK magazine. Sultry swimwear from vibrant micro bikinis to all in one swimsuits for day to evening wear. www.bossanovabikini.com
Lumé swimwear – Eco conscious using hand painted prints by leading artists, with 10% of profits going to foundations in Colombia. www.lumeswimwear.com
Mona swims – Beautifully put together mix and match day wear, pool wear and swimwear from day into night. www.monaswims.com
Wired Angel – Beautiful yet funky boho lace collection for summer evenings and festivals
Beth Richardson – Young and vibrant club wear and beach wear
Victoria Deny – Bespoke jewellery and precious stones, next to the Pacha shop in Ibiza town
Boho Street – Market place for all things bohemian providing the online hippy market www.bohostreet.com
Fashionsistas – Bespoke and one off pieces, providing eye catching swimwear for the clubbers of Ibiza
Butterfly Jewellery – One stop shop for delicious boho and contemporary pieces. www.butterfly-jewellery.com
Melissa young – Up and coming bespoke boho designer going into first year of production
Bugsy swimwear – Miami style glitz with individuality in a summer palette of pastels versus golds and glitter. www.bugsyswimwear.com
WestSeventyNine – All in one cutaway swimwear in graphic prints with kimonos to match, tribal headwear and accessories. www.westseventynine.com
FAC – Plus size limited editions in a vibrant palette from day to evening up to size 22
Ashera Soul Clothing – Soft and high quality designer fabrics, fused with handcrafted art pieces from ancient indigenous tribes. www.asherahsoulclothing.com