How was your experience on Project Runway?
At first I thought we were coming to model and participate in weekly challenges but they ended up giving us a voice this season they also gave us a chance to go up another level and show my fashion knowledge. For plus size women in the world it was a dream come true and I look forward to working with them again.
What are two things that you have taken from the show as you continue your career?
I definitely saw the epitome of making it work. A catch phrase that Tim Gunn would say is, “Make it work.” I had to make it work during the moments. We all have to make it work in our daily lives. Some days I didn’t like the outfit but I had to make it work. Some days my feet hurt and I had to make it work. Some days my body ached but I still continued. Making it work was a new level for me in modeling. It’s deep in my strength that I can continue to make it work. Another thing that I have taken away is how important it is to educate a young designer on how to create clothing for plus size women. They need to start in the F.I.T’s and design schools. It’s important that they start to get plus sized mannequins and they should be required to learn how to work with plus sized models and not just a 0 to 4. The youth is our future and we want them to make clothing for the masses. The average woman is a size 16 so there is a whole mass that isn’t being reached.
What were the toughest things about being a woman of color and a plus sized model on the show?
I didn’t have a issue with being a African American woman on the show. I just definitely wanted to show the beauty of being a WOC and a plus sized woman. One of the toughest things is when you can tell a designer isn’t trained to make an outfit for you. Or when they make an outfit for you and it doesn’t feel thoughtful, like they didn’t take my dimensions into consideration while making the outfit. It can be disheartening. Also trying to fight the stigma of what a plus size woman wants to dress like.
Why do you think the fashion industry is so reluctant to accept plus size women?
I think sometimes people are stuck in tradition and don’t want to shape themselves out of what was. You don’t have to make your samples all in one size. One model may be a size 4 another one way be a 10, or a 16 or a 4. Make whatever you want as a designer. I think they’re also reluctant also because they didn’t know how their clothes would look on a plus sized woman. I know plus sized women who dress impeccably. Designers don’t want to change. When you design for plus you get more detail and become a greater designer. Some people are too stuck in what was, as in the education for designers. But I think that it will change.
Being that you have 10+ years in the game what advice would you offer to a plus sized woman trying to get into the fashion industry?
Be ready to invest. Modeling is a major constant investment from pitches, to hair, makeup, clothes, and travel. It may take a while before you book your first job and it takes a lot more upkeep. Invest in your education of modeling, buy magazines, attend webinars, fashion shows. Find your market and your strengths, then build off of that.