Time after time, I’m captivated by her videos, whether she’s displaying a massive pile of tights in every color of the rainbow or showing off this year’s emerald green spring trends. Never boring, Mary’s eccentric personality, the fact that she speaks with her hands as much as her lips and her ability to seem like she belongs in show choir makes every second fun. As though that weren’t all enough, she’s gorgeous and simply wonderful to look at! This incredibly well-spoken young woman is currently considering grad school and working on a lot of projects, but she took the time to discuss her own experiences being a bigger gal, her thoughts on the retail industry as it pertains to us curvy chicks and the role plus-size plays in society today.
For a more detailed account of her story, check out her video, “BigGirlBanter: Body Confidence My Story Part 1”.
Q: Have you struggled with body image, or conversely, embraced your body type?
A: Yes and no. For a while, I was a floating head, but not necessarily unhappy with my weight. Then a switch kind of flipped and everything changed. I was interested in looking nice (not just clean) and rockin’ it!
Q: What inspired you to start your YouTube channel and blog?
A: I have been watching beauty videos (Elle Fowler, XSparkage, Blaire Fowler) since 2009 when I was looking for distractions from my huge and major academic project of the moment (senior thesis, eepers creepers!). I never really had been into makeup. I had no real idea of how to apply it and had only mascara, concealar and lip balm in my makeup bag. In terms of fashion, about three years before I had begun to realize that I didn’t have to dress like a schlep, but hadn’t totally found my voice. (Hehe fashion was prompted by a boy, go figure!).
Anywho, they (the beauty gurus) really made me want to start a channel but I was pretty chicken-minded, not to mention the fact that I had no idea what kind of videos to do. Finally last year (out of boredom mostly), I decided, “this is it! I am so doing it!” I tested out lots of (unposted!) videos. I found that OOTDs (Outfits of the Day) were the most fun for me and that plus-size related tags were the easiest for me to film. These are both CENTERED on being plus-size.
It’s weird because I didn’t start out to make a “plus-size” channel. However, in today’s society, size and weight are so central to people’s perception of the other (and people’s own perception of themselves) that I had to include this element. By virtue of being plus-size, I am forced to face this head on. I embrace it because me being out there, helps so many others get out there too.
Q: What has been some of the greatest feedback you’ve received from your videos?
A: I get lots of feedback from girls and women telling me that they are inspired to get out there and live NOW (not wait to live until they lose weight). I am very happy to hear this.
All too often women are told that they aren’t beautiful being plus size, that they are not worthy of love, that they can’t or shouldn’t have good jobs, and that they cannot be happy if they are fat. It is subconsciously ingrained in girls from before elementary school (most elementary school girls are afraid of being fat and many have engaged in dieting behavior before the age even of 13; look up the studies!). From an early age, girls are taught that thin equals success and happiness. If they are fat, they must wait to live their happy, amazing lives until they lose weight. Inside is a thin, happy girl waiting to get out. They INTERNALIZE that they cannot be happy while curvy.
But the reality is that size on the scale doesn’t dictate your happiness level. Although low body self-esteem CAN!
I’ve also found that lots of thin (really thin!) viewers email me. Everyone has an investment in weight. If you’re not fat, you are afraid of getting fat (at least in mainstream society). So much energy is sucked into thinking about it.
Q: Where are some of your favorite places to shop for plus-size clothes?
A: I’m doing a video on this soon. But my store of the moment is most definitely ASOS Curve!!! Sigh. Swoon. Stop the clock. Full freaking stop. Love that store for finding classic and also trendy-liscious pieces.
Q: Do you experiment with sizes, mixing plus-sizes and straight sizes for instance?
A: I usually do not mix straight and plus sizes (I’m too big for that). However, I am the master of tucking and folding clothes to create a great shape even if they don’t fit totally properly. Belts, sweaters, scarves, pins, and broaches are GREAT for this!
Q: What are your goals with your videos/plus-size fashion/writing/blogging?
A: Initially it was to have fun. But given my feedback, I want to inspire people to carpe diem now!
My Mottos (written by me!): Live like you’re gorgeous (because you are), and carpe diem! Beauty is Curvy!
Side note: Don’t get me wrong. I definitely think that people discriminate against plus-size people (especially women!) but you won’t get anywhere unless you try! By giving yourself every advantage (looking good and knowing what you are doing) you can combat it.
Q: Do you think plus-size is becoming more main-stream?
A: Yes and no.
Yes: I love lots of stores that didn’t exist when I was even in high school (ASOS, Domino Dollhouse, etc.). There is a small push back online and in the world that you’ve noted in other questions. However, compared to unhappy plus-size people (who don’t necessarily have a presence on the internet OR appear as weight loss blogs and not “I’m fat and so am depressed” blogs) I think this number is still small.
No: Curvy may be becoming “mainstream”… but I think that pressure to be thin is ever increasing... The focus on curvy vs. thin just shows how society continues to make a distinction between the two. Also, curvy does not equal fat. You have to be voluptuous to be passably curvy in the mainstream with a particular body type (hourglass-y or have big,so-called “desirable” parts).
Q: Are more plus-size women embracing their bodies with the increase in plus-size blogging and plus-size divisions of stores?
A: I think some are and some aren’t… it’s certainly true that there are more plus-size women. And therefore a few more plus-size stores…. However, it is still a very underserved market place. Plus-size accounted for 39 billion dollars last year in retail but only has 18% of the marketing budget. 67% of people are plus sized!
Q: Who are some of your role models, be it plus-size or otherwise?
A: Hmmmm…. Does my dog count? He is a very happy-go-lucky creature.
Q: What changes do you hope to see in the plus-size industry?
A: I would like to see no delineation between the fashion industry and the “plus-size” industry of stores. There is no such thing as “separate” but equal. Go into any store that carries has a “Woman’s” or “Plus-Size” section and you can see this. There are usually fewer, and far dowdier options. Go to plus-size stores and items are either exorbitantly expensive or shiny, poorly made, polyester.
That said, I would like to see more designers pay attention to flattering cuts for all body types. I would like more companies to make loud, fashionable, edgy, classy, sassy, AMAZING clothes for plus-size women… clothes that are not just amazing but somewhat affordable.
Q: I often get a lot of plus-size women on my blog commenting on how they think there is a lack of males out there into curvy ladies. Would you agree/disagree with this?
A: I think that there are lots of issues to consider here.
- Women’s view of themselves. Confidence goes a long way… we accept the love we think we deserve (quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower). It really is true! Without confidence and some desire to look sassy, women won’t attract dudes (they are SO visual!). If you look like crap and have a bad attitude, you won’t attract anyone no matter what your size!
- Men’s actual preference vs. what society tells men to like. Lots of guys like curvy, plus-size, fat, really fat women. It’s true. Just look at my dating history.
- Some men are asswipes. Number 2. That said, some men can’t admit it because they are selfish cowards and bend to society’s whims. It’s disgusting. It doesn’t just happen to plus-size women either.
You can follow Mary on Twitter!