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Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013

Focusing on Women with Curves—Size 14 and Up

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“To expose beauty and turn pain to passion” are the founding goals of Big, Beautiful & Blessed, a new Milwaukee organization. BBB promotes healthy, well-balanced living and a positive self and body image in all women. Its activities include body-image workshops, small business expos and scholarship programs. To further “celebrate plus-sized women of faith,” BBB produced a calendar that it will launch during the company’s first-ever fashion show. Off the Cuff sat down with BBB’s founding/executive team: Shemelian Dove Bowman, Laneice McGee and Yolanda White.


Plus-size fashion shows?

SDB: By going out there dressed up and being celebrated, the women modeling feel better. We are spreading acceptance. 

LM: Beautiful women: check. Fashion: check. Curves: double check. The same values as any fashion show, supersized with flavor. We definitely know how to work a runway.


Calendar or show—which came first? 

LM: Calendar. We met so many beautiful women with powerful stories that we decided to expand. LaToya White, our calendar fashion coordinator, specializes in runway modeling. 

YW: Speaking of the calendars, a percentage of sales will go to Village of Hope, which supports girls academically. They’re $10 at the event and available online at bigbeautifulblessed.com.


Where did you find the models?

YW:  Craigslist, Facebook, word of mouth and two open calls. We asked family and friends, attended festivals and distributed flyers.

LM:  Basically, everywhere we went, we looked for uniquely beautiful people. 


Advice for plus-size women?

SDB: Make your liability an asset. Avoid comparing yourself. Easier said then done, though. I can’t stop comparing myself to Beyoncé. She, too, used to be a whole lotta woman. But…that’s her story.

LM: Be open to change. Don’t be afraid to love you. How one feels is the true essence of beauty. 


For boys and men? 

SDB: Boys are a bit different. It is often cool for a boy to be heavy. He is “Big D,” or whatever. Girls are just “big,” “fat,” “chubby” or lonely—rarely celebrated. 

LM: I will say: stay true and always support women. Tell them how wonderful they are, and mean it. Say, “You make the world more beautiful.”


Causal factors in American life?

SDB: Finding inexpensive, healthy food. Good foods cost more; bad foods are typically cheapest. Diabetes runs rampant.


Correlated issues? 

SDB: Growing up, I suffered low self-esteem. I was targeted and bullied, so I learned to be a bully, too. I used food, piercings and sex to hide my pain—pain from feeling “not OK.”

YW: People get mislabeled as lazy, greedy, undisciplined and apathetic. Continued, extended discrimination, racism and weight-ism result.  


Off the Cuff believes nothing heals like laughter. Good plus-size jokes?

YW: Sure. We are women who know Victoria’s Secret—she is hungry.


The fashion show and calendar launch are Sunday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. at El-Bethel Church of God in Christ, 5401 W. Good Hope Road. The show is free.