Two beautiful plus size Kenyan women open up about loving themselves and turning heads with their sense of fashion
Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa recently had a chat with two beautiful plus size Kenyan women who gave us a peek inside the world of BBW and all they love and hate about it.
They come in different sizes, styles and even skin colour but they all have one thing in common, they are big and beautiful and loving every curve on their body, add a dose of confidence and they become lethal and leave men and women alike in their wake drooling.
Welcome to the world of Gabriella Lascano, Tess Holliday, Ashley Graham, Fluvia Lacerda, Gabourey Sidibe, Eudoxie Yao, Grace Msalame, Vera Sidika, Neomi Ng'ang’a, Rita Mutheu and Talia Stacey where everything is big and beautiful.
Plus size women as the industry likes to call them are now the talk of town and they are turning heads everywhere they go, leaving a whole fashion industry led by global fashion houses from City Chic to Lovedrobe, who at one point despised and discriminated against them, lusting over them and are lining up to get a piece of the action.
However, dressing a big beautiful body requires some skills not taught in school or by your mother. It starts as a trial and error really and growing to accept and loving your body before turning it into a fashion statement fit for fresh glossy fashion magazines.
Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa recently had a chat with two beautiful plus size Kenyan women who gave us a peek inside the world of BBWs and all they love and hate about it.
Until recently, plus size women were the targets of body shaming and bullying because of an archaic tradition which took a toll on women like Rita Mutheu and Talia Stacey.
“It's discouraging at times especially if you have a low self-esteem but you need to always remember to be confident in your own skin because you're beautiful. Once you gain that confidence, dressing will feel fun and not stressful,” Says Talia.
“Yes as a plus size woman occasionally you get people who want to body shame you. I learned to grow a thick skin and be confident and love myself, when you are a plus size you have no chance of having low self-esteem or people are gonna bully you to death, when I was in high school I think I was a bit insecure but after my 20s I was like you either take me as I am or have nothing at all,” says Rita.
And so who’s better to take us through this fashion tour detailing Dos and Don'ts of dressing among other features than Rita and Talia, two proud and confident Kenyan plus size women.
Rita and Talia are both size 18 and won’t change a thing about their body, they love every inch and curve of their body, but know too well the challenges that come with being plus size.
“A lot, the list is endless, sometimes finding clothes that you love can be hectic. They are either too big or too small so you have to know at least one or two tailors.
Then of course there's the way you dress. You won't be judged the same way a petite lady is judged. Someone will probably comment and say how unflattering you look in a short dress but turn to the next lady who is petite and tell her how beautiful she looks.” Talia says setting the ball rolling.
Due to decades of western media brain-washing campaigns that beauty can only come with one size and not an inch more, Size 0,plus size women found themselves in a world where clothes designers and textile factories didn’t give a hoot if they walked stark naked, a whole fashion industry turned their backs on them and instead churned trillions of clothes annually for slender women with maximum size 16.
“I also have an issue shopping for new clothes because most clothes stores don't carry clothes from size 16 onwards, “
Frustrated by lack of plus size clothes in the market, ever an entrepreneurial, Rita saw an opportunity and seized with every fibre of her body.
She set up a profitable business selling plus size clothings’ in her quest to empower herself and other women.
“Most of my pieces are from thrift stores, I also started selling plus size jeans both plain and rugged because I had a difficult time finding stylish jeans which fit me,” said Rita.
As much as she is a businesswoman, Rita ensures while selling her wares she also cautions women not to fall prey to the fashion industry and blindly follow fashion trends irrespective of their body structure and size.
"I make sure the clothes are well fitting, stylish and the most important they flatter my body eg I don't wear low riding jeans but high waist jeans
Something might be in fashion but if it doesn't flatter my body or look good on me I let that trend pass,” Says Rita.
“If you're going to copy a certain style, it's okay to modify it to suit your body. What's good on someone else won’t necessarily look the same on you but it could look better,” Talia seconds.
Talia goes a step further and drops some of her fashion rules which she advices plus size women not to break.
“Comfortability and fitting is key. I don't really like loose fitting clothes because they make you look bigger but they can't be too tight in most areas either because it would probably show too much. Length is also something i consider. I wouldn't want to show my cellulite and jiggling thighs”
Rita who swears by her curves adds that plus size women also need to lose baggy clothes like yesterday because they are not doing them any favours.
“Don’t do baggy, most plus size women think if you do baggy clothes they are going to cover your curves if your midriff is bigger, for example, you can do skinny jeans and a loose chiffon top, don’t do baggy clothes please,”
Talia who loves her feet is a bit diplomatic in her answer to where plus size women go wrong in their dressing.
“I can't be the judge of that because I'm pretty sure I go wrong too. I think that when you're not really confident in your own body and see it in a way that it isn't, you're more likely to go wrong when dressing. Some of us try too hard to impress in the shortest clothes because it's trendy in a video while others hide their curves in big clothes. You need to know your body to dress it well,”
She says her feet from the knees downwards are not too chubby, so to say, plus she has wide but small feet and as a result, they look a lot better in heels and jeans and always ensures she leaves that house in the morning dress like that way.
Just like a piece of cotton dress requires different and multiple skills to produce and passes through the hands of many, fashion is no single man/woman's job and requires a whole team to carefully critique, rate and price it.
Rita and Talia are not the only sole fashion police in town, there is a whole station full of them policing the streets of Instagram. The two follow a number of international plus-size models and public figures who daily churn out dressing tips and fresh fashion sense.
“Not a mentor per say but I do love their confidence and how they dress. The two ladies would be Vera Sidika and Grace Msalame. They have beautiful curvy bodies and they definitely know how to dress them. If I'm looking for a professional look or casual or date night or summer or just something fun, I trust the two ladies to guide me. They always seem so comfortable in their own skin and very confident. It's amazing what clothes can do to boost your confidence,” Says Talia.
“I follow a lot of plus size women on Instagram. Beyond their style, I love the confidence they portray. Internationally I look up to Gabriella Lascano and locally I look up to Naomi Ng'ang'a and also grace Msalame” Says Rita.
Size 18 has never looked sexier than Rita and Talia.
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