During my long career in publishing, every magazine I ever worked at received a steady stream of reader letters pleading for more clothes suitable for plus size women. This was no less true at the magazine I edited for ten years. But publishers weren’t so interested in pursuing advertisers in the plus size category, so there was no business imperative to do so. Market editors always did a big eye roll when I brought it up, claiming they didn’t have relationships with those brands, and that it’d be a colossal pain to get the designers we did work with who made clothes in plus sizes to actually lend us clothes in plus sizes. And, if we’re going to be brutally honest, I didn’t push the issue as hard as I should have. Which is, looking back, one of my biggest regrets. I took such pride in creating a magazine that reached women who felt disenfranchised by traditional fashion magazines, and that very same magazine still managed to make a whole lot of them feel excluded.
Which is why I felt so many different things—hugely impressed, super-inspired, and also pretty lame—as I listened to Gabi Gregg speak on a panel at the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference this week. Gabi (who it appears as though I am the last person in the world to discover) is the fantabulously cute and stylish size-18 woman behind the blog Gabi Fresh. She didn’t see a place in the fashion world for people like her, so she simply went out and created one. It wasn’t the easiest task: to be a large woman in the fashion world is to be treated as though you have some kind of very real and of insurmountable disability, but Gregg says she always remembered Steve Martin’s famous advice—”Be so good they can’t ignore you”—and soldiered on. And now, she’s kind of a deal.
I’m not a big girl, but parts of me are bigger than they used to be: like so many of us as we hit our 40s and beyond, my body has shifted and changed and responded to gravity in ways I would have preferred it not. The clothes I usually show here do a lot of camouflaging and draping, because my personal style is now very much about covering up a poochy stomach and making sure nobody ever sees the very, very tops of my thighs when I wear skinny jeans, and that type of thing. But I’m wondering how many of you would like for me to occasionally go a little deeper in order to find cool stuff in bigger sizes. And if so, how big? Also: what are the toughest pieces to find? Let me work harder to serve you better.