On November 2, 2019, bodies of all sizes took over the streets of New York and the Jamaica Performing Arts Center to showcase, highlight, and honor bodies of the full-figured industry. Hosts, MsNickee and Nathaniel Jaye, kept the show’s rhythm with their attention to detail, humor, and larger than life chemistry on stage. However, none of this would have been possible without the vision and drive of Tawana Blassingame who was determined to create space for bodies marginalized by mainstream industries. Tawana, owner of Queen Size Magazine, created an evening to honor those bodies who have been told their goals can only be reached if their bodies changed.
In our current landscape, plus size, curvy, fat, thick, full-figured etc. bodies are demanding and creating spaces for them to exist. No longer waiting for the opportunity of others to value who we are and how we show up, we have decided to celebrate and validate our own.
Categories of the evening ranged from models and emerging models of the year, bloggers of the year, designers of the year, photographers of the year, hairstylist of the year, makeup artist of the year, innovative product of the year, journalist of the year, retail brand of the year, boutique of the year, stylists of the year, and more. Members of the audience waited in anticipation as nominees were announced and winners took the stage. The evening honored Gwen DeVoe of Full Figured Fashion Week (Lifetime Achievement) and plus size model Alexandra Boos (Iconic Award) for their contributions to the industry. The work in the full-figured industry did not happen over night and these two women were critical forerunners.
For some, this moment may have seemed like another award show. But for bodies told we are too big to been seen, not worthy of desire, and questioned because of our exterior, this was a moment in time to recognize how much is being done to highlight our experiences and talents without conforming to the standards of others. As a researcher focused on creating space for bigger bodies, it was rewarding to hear and see the stories being shared by award recipients, nominees, and individuals continuously pouring into the spaces we occupy.
For me, the night was more than glitz and glam although I appreciated that these bodies were dressed in the highest fashions the world said we “could not fit” *insert eye roll*. It was about seeing bodies that were pushed into the margins because of societal norms and constructs telling us that we do not fit in. This night allowed individuals to stand out and live in their truths. At the close of the event, I had the opportunity to reconnect with individuals I have interviewed on +Plus Size Magic Radio, connect with those who are doing grassroots work in their communities, and recognize the work that is being done for bigger bodies will continue to hold value as we provide space.
Use this as a reminder to chase what you deem valuable and to never stop seeing your worth because someone else may have shrugged off your dream.
Photos courtesy of Ellise Smith Photography