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We Lied…We Are Back!

19 Oct

Gemini Magazine Special Edition 2012: Asia Monet

 

Well, no, not entirely. During an afternoon chat with plus model Asia Monet, the subject of doing a special edition of Gemini for October popped up. Why you ask? Mainly to celebrate a dear friend and long time supporter of the magazine, and secretly I kind of missed the late nights staring at a computer screen. Any who, a few weeks later, the Special Edition 2012 was born and it is here for you to enjoy. So while we are not entirely back the way we teased you in the title of this post, we are here for a short time to spread a little inspiration.  Enjoy! [Click here to check it out]

~Sommer J.

NEW FIRST LOOK!

10 Apr

Photo Credits:
Stylist: Spry Lee Scott
Makeup Artist: Tara Taylor
Hair Stylist: Aliza Williams
Photographer: Lucas Pictures
Picture Editor: Poetic Image

Ok, so what–we are a little bias when it comes to Christina Mendez. It could be her candidness during an interview, or it could be her 24/7 grind–we aren’t sure which, but anyway you slice it we just love her.

If it seemed like she had been missing in action, you can attribute that to her new bundle of joy, Cailey Christine. Although, being a mom for the second time around did not stop her for long. Three months after the birth of her baby girl, Christina hit the ground running with high-profile features on Good Morning America and Rachael Ray modeling for Modern Family’s star Sofia Vergara’s Kmart Fashion segment, BET’s Rip the Runway, New Jersey Full Figured Fashion Week, Rocawear.com, Qristyl Frazier’s Epitome Collection, WABC (NY) speaking on behalf of Autism Speaks, and numerous commercials. Did we mention that she was ranked #3 on Oddee’s list of “10 Incredibly Hot Women Who Are Larger Than A Size 12”?

“I’m a strong believer in fate/faith and I am so happy that the industry has welcomed me back after my hiatus. My goal as a plus size model will always be to continue to diversify my resume with brands and campaigns that truly embrace what I have to offer,” says Mendez.

Even with all of that going on, Christina never strays too far from the still shot. “Working with the amazing styling team I was fortunate enough to partner up with, these new photos definitely show my versatility.” Luckily for you, she loves us enough to share her latest looks (and they are smoking hot might we add).

If you don’t know much about this positive powerhouse, you’ll get to learn more in an upcoming issue of Gemini Magazine (shhhh…we haven’t told her yet). Until then, enjoy the view!

Quick News: Catwalk Model Turns Plus Size Model

2 Oct

Karolin Wolter, Spanish Vogue, Jan 2011 (Photographer Michelle Ferrera)

Following in the footsteps of Crystal Renn, Robyn Lawley, and Alyona Osmanova, Karolin Wolter has made the switch to the plus side of  Ford.  Wolter has worked the runway for Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, and Yves Saint Laurent.  According to Gary Dakin at Ford+, Wolter’s agent, says that she’s “absolutely thrilled about the move.”  It is unclear as to why she made the switch, or exactly what that means, but it will be interesting to see what she does next.

American Apparel Does It Again

1 Oct

Nancy Upton

Poor American Apparel.  They just can’t seem to stay out of trouble when it comes to the plus community.  Their first boo-boo happened in the spring of 2010 when plus size adult film star and model, April Flores, was told that they did not carry clothes in her size because she was not in their demographic.  A big oops. Currently American Apparel is stepping in a steaming pile of…well…you know yet again.

Late August, the clothing company launched a campaign to find the perfect face and bod for their plus line.  The winner of the “Next Big Thing” (we’ll reserve comment about that title for now) by popular vote, Nancy Upton, a size 12 student in Texas, turns out isn’t exactly what American Apparel had in mind. Earlier this month, the AA rep, Iris Alonzo, broke the news to Upton via letter.

Dear Nancy Upton,

My name is Iris Alonzo and I am a Creative Director at American Apparel. Along with four other women, I conceived of the Next BIG Thing campaign for American Apparel. Firstly, we are very sorry that we offended you. Our only motive was to discover and celebrate the many beautiful XL women around the globe who enjoy our brand, and to promote the recent size additions to our collection. Nothing more, nothing less. We would also like to assure you that no one is getting fired over your stunt, as you expressed concern about in a recent interview. We are fortunate to have a great boss who trusts and believes in our instincts and ideas, and we are still very excited about all of our Next BIG Things and looking forward to meeting our new XL brand ambassadors.

It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there? Maybe you’ll find it interesting that in addition to simply responding to customer demand and feedback, when you’re a vertically-integrated company, actual jobs are created from new size additions. In this case, for the XL women who will model them, industrial workers that make them, retail employees that sell them and beyond. That’s the amazing reality of American Apparel’s business.

Though I could spend hours responding to your accusations and assumptions, this isn’t the appropriate forum for that, so I will only briefly address a few issues here. In regards to April Flores’ “that’s not our demographic” experience, I don’t recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that, but he or she was sadly uninformed, and our company certainly does not endorse their statement. For as long as I can remember, we have offered sizes up to 3XL in our basic styles, and as far as adding larger sizes to the rest of our line is concerned, if there is the demand and manufacturing power to support it, we’re always game. There are thousands of brands in the market who have no intention of supporting natural – and completely normal – full-figured women, and American Apparel is making a conscious effort to change that, both with our models and our line. If every brand that tried to do this was met with such negative press, we may have to wait another decade for the mainstream to embrace something so simple.

 

In the past, American Apparel has been targeted for various reasons, many times by journalists who weren’t willing to go the extra mile to even visit the factory or meet the people in charge. Dov is a great executive director and American Industrialist, but there are hundreds of other decision-makers in our company, over half of whom are women. I suppose you have read a few too many negative pieces about us that have helped to form your opinion of who we are and what we stand for, and perhaps this has clouded your ability to give us a chance. I get it. I read some of it too. As a creative who isn’t always the most tactful and tends to stay away from the limelight, maybe I haven’t spoken up as much as I should have over the past 8 years that I’ve worked at American Apparel. Perhaps I could have shed some light on some issues that have been left cloudy over the years. However, sensational media will always need something to latch on to and success, spandex and individuality (and mutton chops circa 2004) are certainly easy targets. And who knows – maybe the PR ups and downs are all part of our DNA as a company. What I do know is that after all the years I have been working for this company I can wholeheartedly say that American Apparel is an amazing and inspiring place to work. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can represent of a ton of people I know when I say that we really like Dov and we passionately believe in his vision for a beautiful factory with sustainable practices. We are the largest sewing factory in North America, after all…10,000 jobs is nothing to sniff at. A lot of people would be very sad if this company wasn’t around.

That said, we realize that we are in no way perfect and that we’re still learning. We want to do better or differently in many areas, and we are actively working on them every day. You’re literally witnessing a transparent, sincere, innovative, creative company go through puberty in the spotlight of modern media. It’s not easy!

Oh – and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.

Please feel free to contact me directly anytime. If you want to know the real scoop about our company before writing a story, I’ve got it (or if I don’t, I can put you in touch with the person that does!).

Best of luck,

Iris Alonzo
Creative Director
American Apparel

Upton never really intended to model for AA and her entry was more of a satire than an actual earnest attempt to win.  The whole campaign did not seem to sit well with a lot of plus women–especially with the cheesy big girl references in the narrative of the campaign–Upton being one of them.  Earlier last month, American Apparel reached out to Upton and offered to fly her out to their headquarters.  Nancy told Fox411 that the company offered her the opportunity to tour the factory and sit with the creative directors to discuss the contest and talk about how to advertise to a different demographic.

The idea behind the photos, Upton explains, was to convey the idea that a big girl can be as sexy as ever and “she can’t seem to stop eating because she is plus size and plus size women love to eat. You can be beautiful and fat and that’s not a problem.”  Take a look at the photos and let us know what you think.

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Mike & Molly Co-Star to Launch Plus Line

30 Sep

We have all been there (“we” meaning the plus size woman) in a store wanting to spend money on the latest trend or at least something that resembles fashionable only to find that the selection is (in the eloquent words of Mike & Molly co-star Melissa McCarthy) “either for like a 98-year-old woman or a 14-year-old hooker, and there is nothing in the middle.”

For some of us, the talent of being stylish is completely God-given, for others (raising hand here) not so much, but we can all agree that for years stylish plus size clothing options were far and few between.  Melissa McCarthy is seeking to change that for the fashion-handicapped.

McCarthy plans to launch her own plus size line with the help of couturier Daniella Pearl (who, shall we add was the helping hand behind her self designed Emmy dress).  Before you roll your eyes at yet another celebrity putting thread to fabric, McCarthy has a slight edge on the other celeb fashion designers. She has a background in design and wanted to actually become a designer, however, as luck would have it she ended up doing stand-up in New York.

There is no definite timeline as to when the line will launch, but we are sure it won’t be too long.  We wish the Emmy Award winning 41-year-old mother of two the best of luck in her endeavor. Let’s face it, it can’t possibly hurt for the curvy girl to have more choices.

The Limited’s New Plus Line: Eloquii

1 Sep

I can only remember being this excited over clothing once in my life (well—ok—twice. When I was recently able to buy jeans from NY&CO I thought I would faint).  The year, 1997. The age, 18. The time, college.  My bff told me about this amazing thing called credit (not so amazing when you get the bill), and a particular store I had my eye on for years had it to give.  The day I walked out of The Limited with a bag full of clothes purchased ($250 to be exact) with my brand new credit I shed a tear.  Years later, while shuffling my way to Lane Bryant, I would stand at The Limited store window (along with Banana Republic, The Gap, and NY&CO) and a shed tear for a completely different reason—namely because I couldn’t possibly fit a thigh in anything the store had to offer.  Fourteen years later, the store I called home in college may soon be considered what pushes me over the financial edge.  I am so excited I could spit (not about the financial ruin—but the other stuff)!  Why you ask?

The Limited has created a plus line for women staring longingly into store windows shedding tears (or snarling at the skinnies who come bouncing out—tears then snarl is usually how it went for me).  Eloquii, created by CEO Linda Heasley, gives the plus size woman the same amazing style and quality of the company’s smaller shoppers.  The line will consist of some really pretty silhouettes (from what I gathered in the video) in sizes 14-24 (can I get a hell yea?!).

Of course when the line officially launches in October (46 days, 9 hours, and  9 minutes…but who’s counting), I plan to be ready.  Once again, I will stand in line (virtual or actual—either one…doesn’t matter) with plastic in hand ready to purchase dresses, suits, outerwear, pants, tops, accessories oh my…only this time I won’t be worried about the bill (thank God for debit cards).

 

Chelsea Settles

27 Aug

I don’t watch MTV much. I am not a huge fan of pregnant 16 year olds, horny 20-somethings being forced to live in a swanky apartment, or overly tanned Italians from NJ. Since they haven’t really shown a video since 1985, I tend to channel surf right past MTV, but when a friend emailed me the trailer (click here)  for the new ‘reality’ show, Chelsea Settles, I was intrigued–enough to set the DVR for October 11, 11:00pm.

For those of you (like me) who didn’t know about the show, it appears to be about the very public journey of a small town girl who just happens to be enamoured with fashion, tries to get a job in the industry, and weighs 324 lbs.  In the trailer, you can see she is a tad bit uncomfortable with saying those numbers out loud (324) for the whole world to hear, but bravely she takes on the journey.  The trailer also shows a few idiots hissing mean comments at her like “You’re fat, bitch” (Quick note to you asshats: it’s obvious she knows she is overweight–she didn’t need you to tell her.  Don’t worry though, I’m sure someone will return the favor when you have somehow squeezed your wide behind (a few years from now) into jeans that belong in the Jr’s department while your unsightly, gelatinous, stretch marked bulge spills from up under your too small, stained baby tee.  Just sayin’).

From what I see, Chelsea seems sweet and determined to walk her journey.  Moving to LA to pursue a career in fashion couldn’t have possibly been easy, but she did it. Perhaps (even before we really get to know her) we can all take away a little something from this 23 year old go getter.  Stepping out on faith to pursue something worth while is what makes life worth living–especially when you embrace growth along the way.  Kudos to MTV for showing the journey.  Maybe it will inspire others do get out there and actually do something instead of making excuses as to why they can’t.  I do have one complaint, though.  Eleven o’clock is kinda late–it’s waaaay past my bed time.  Do you think we could move that up a bit?  Just askin’.

Want Ad: Need Plus Models…Know Anyone?

8 Aug

 

Need Plus Size Models….Know anyone that fits the requirements?

ATLANTA APPAREL MART – PROM SHOW August 18-21, 2011; 9am – 6pm

Must be available to work all four days. Elegant Prom and Pageant gown designer looking for Model to show their dresses to buyers in their showroom. Must have graceful runway walk.

REQUIREMENTS: Female Ages 16 – 26  Height: 5′-7″ to 5′-11″  Plus Size 14-16-18   Missy Bust: 40-44″   Waist: 33-37″   Hips: 44-48″   Any visible tattoos must be able to cover with professional tattoo makeup.  Must be able to stand in 3″ or taller high heels for long periods of time.  Must be professional, dependable and easy to work with.  Experience preferred, but not necessary….personality a huge plus!

Please email steveeashlock@hotmail.com your name, contact number, current photos and stats (height & measurements).

FAT TALK BY WAY OF MARIE CLAIRE & MAURA KELLY

28 Oct

Ok, ok so we’ve gotten quite a few emails asking us had we heard about Maura Kelly’s blog post, and if we would even address it.  At first, we were all outraged, but after careful thought we realized that perhaps we were looking at this all wrong.  A lot of times, when you belong in a category (which…we all do so just face it) we tend to jump into the deep end of the emotional pool at the first word of insult.  To me, it seems, Ms. Kelly wasn’t trying to be mean—she was just uneducated on the matter of ‘fatties’ (her word, not ours).  So, Ms. Kelly, we are going to educate you just a tad.  No—we won’t rip you a new one…seems like you got plenty of that in the comments on your blog.

(Maura Kelly’s Post) “The other day, my editor asked me, “Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?”

Because I can be kind of clueless — I’m not much of a TV person — I had no idea what she was talking about, so she steered me to this CNN article, about the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. As CNN explains, “the show centers around a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group [and] has drawn complaints for its abundance of fat jokes [as well as] cries from some viewers who aren’t comfortable watching intimacy between two plus-sized actors.”

My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country’s obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it’s at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity!”

(Gemini’s Response) We agree with you Ms. Kelly.  Promoting obesity is…well…perhaps crazy is not the proper word. Uh, shall we say irresponsible?  But do you honestly think that the television network put the money into this tv show to say “Hey America!  Look at these two actors who are overweight!  We want you to be overweight too!” That sounds so silly.

(Post) “Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.”

(Response) Ah, ah, ah Ms. Kelly (by the way—can we call you Maura?  Ms. Kelly seems so informal) we have to stop you right here.  Yes, anorexia is a sickness and yes some slim models are just naturally skinny, however (you knew it was coming right?) there are some obese individuals who are that way by no fault of their own.  We do admit, there are a majority of overweight individuals who are that way simply because they are unable to move in the right direction, but just as you justified some of the super slim models as being ‘naturally skinny’, the same can be said for some overweight people. Now we aren’t the ‘blame it on McDonald’s’ type of publication, but if you want to really get down to the knitty-gritty our food options aren’t exactly excess fat repellant.  Chickens are pumped full of hormones so they can grow bigger, faster.  What do you think happens to us when we ingest it?  That’s just one example—we could run down the various examples of what’s put into our food that shouldn’t be (and possibly lends a helping hand to the obesity issues in our country), but we don’t have all day. Next.

(Post) “So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

(Response) Most of us find it displeasing to see a ‘very, very fat person simply walk across a room’…wanna know why?  Guess.  Yes Ms. Ke-err, Maura! You got it!  It’s because for years we have been told that if you are not a certain height, skin color, hair color, and size you were…well…displeasing. Most people can look at a tall, size 8, blonde haired, Caucasian woman walk across a room and think ‘She’s pretty’ vs. a short, blonde haired, Caucasian woman walk across the room at 450 lbs.

(Post) “Now, don’t go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.”

(Response) Is this the same thing as “Now don’t get the wrong impression: I have black friends.” Tsk, tsk.

(Post) “And I also know how tough it can be for truly heavy people to psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down. (For instance, the overweight maintenance guy at my gym has talked to me a little bit about how it seems worthless for him to even try working out, because he’s been heavy for as long as he can remember.)”

(Response) Ok, we can agree with you there.  For heavier people it is a very daunting task to even think about working out because they are bombarded with this weight loss product and that weight loss product it’s kind of hard to figure out where to start.  Well, that and (a) they’ve most likely tried everything under the sun, or (b) when they go to the gym to work out people such as yourself who get ‘grossed out’ by ‘watching them do anything’ make deer-in-headlights stares at them.

(Post) “But … I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It’s something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.”

(Response) Ok, we can agree with you here too…well…sorta.  With a lot of control, a lot of healthy choices, and a lot of support excess weight can be overcome.  However, when people make rude statements or write blogs about fat people disgusting them just by walking into a room…that’s not really helping the problem. Is it?

(Post) “(I’m happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it’s cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you’re getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there’s plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you’ll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can’t afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)”

(Response) That’s great advice, too bad it was overshadowed by the rest of what you said.

(Post) “Then again, I guess these characters are in Overeaters Anonymous. So … points for trying?

Then again, I tend to think most television shows are a kind of junk food for the mind and body. The boob tube gives us an excuse to turn off both our brains and our bodies and probably does a helluva lot to contribute to the obesity problem, over all. So … I don’t know.”

(Response) Yea, we could agree with that as well.  Watching Project Runway is way more exciting than sweating on an elliptical machine or catching some rays.

(Post) “What do you guys think? Fat people making out on TV — are you cool with it? Do you think I’m being an insensitive jerk?”

“UPDATE: I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I’ve said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary. It wasn’t productive, either.

I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight — for medical and psychological reasons — and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I’m truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.

I would like to reiterate that I think it’s great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.)  And for whatever it’s worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.

To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that’s an accurate insight.

People have accused me of being a bully in my post. I never intended to be that — it’s actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.”

(Response) Thanks, Maura, for your apology.  It was nice to read (especially the Marie Claire plug) and we truly hope that you meant what you said.  We also hope that the 15 year old obese girl who spends most of her time surfing the internet looking for fashion and beauty tips she can actually use doesn’t get a whiff of your post.  The post will cut her deep and the apology won’t quite serve as a proper bandage.  For the adults the post may sting and we’ll forget about it after a week or so, but we have to remember as writers, bloggers, editors, and so on we do have a responsibility to give our opinions in a more tasteful manner.

Now, to you–the overweight men and women of the world…we have said this time and time again so one more time won’t really hurt.  You can’t always be what the ideal body weight charts say you must be.  You just simply have to be a healthier version of you.  No, there is nothing wrong with the plus size movement.  No there is nothing wrong with seeing gorgeous women with a little meat on their bones in a fashion magazine, but please don’t let that make you comfy.  There is still a battle that needs to be fought and it is our responsibility to fight it with our healthy choices and our sweat.  If you want to stand up and speak out, do it with your tennis shoes and your wallets.  Don’t buy crappy foods to put into your bodies. Don’t forgo the gym just because you don’t feel like it.  No one will ever be a perfect size–that’s not what God made us to be, but everyone can strive to live healthy.  We promise, you won’t be alone. We are right here with you.

BEST BUY OF THE WEEK: Cheap or Chic?

11 Oct

When you hear the words Walmart, affordable, and clothes you tend to shrink away like a vamp to silver (all you True Bloodians know what we mean).  When you hear the words Tina Knowles (yup…Bey’s mama), collection, and plus size your ears perk up a bit.  Well, Tina Knowles does indeed have a new collection that includes–you guessed it plus sizes (up to size 20) and (don’t shrink away just yet) it’s exclusively available at WalMart.  We know, we know…pictures only tell half the story and that’s why we are out and about scouring our local Wally Worlds to get a taste of Miss Tina by Tina Knowles.  We suggest you do the same–especially since most of the pieces are $18 and under.  We want to know…is it chic or just plain cheap?