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.

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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.

JHud Opens A Weight Watchers Center

29 Sep

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

The ex-American Idol contestant turned Oscar winning actress has been the topic of many discussions since her debut as the latest Weight Watchers spokesperson.  For some she has gotten too small and for others she seems to be just right, but no matter what any of us think–one thing is for sure…JHud is making this weight loss thing stick.

In a Chicago South Side strip mall (not far from President Obama’s home) JHud stood gushing at her latest accomplishment.  “I never thought I would make it to have my own center,” said Hudson. “I’m so honored to be here and see this day.”  On Tuesday, September 27th, Jennifer Hudson stood alongside Alderman Will Burns, Dave Burwick (President of Weight Watchers North America), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and cut the ribbon to the Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson Center.  Weight Watchers has pledged to donate a portion of the funds generated by the center to a foundation Hudson co-founded in honor of her nephew, Julian King.

So here’s the question we ask–a lot has been said about JHud’s 80 pound weight loss (dropping her from a size 16 to a size 6)–what do you think about it?  Is Jennifer promoting a healthy lifestyle, a dieting system, or both? Do you think we focus more on the diet than living a healthy lifestyle?

Comment, tweet us, facebook us or all of the above. We really are interested in what you think.

 

Week 5: Get Real

26 Sep

The day I threw out the scale, I declared that I just didn’t need it. The number that glared at me from between my feet was too close to 300lbs, therefore it must have been wrong.  Besides, I told myself, digital scales have expiration dates or something. They don’t last forever. (Yea, I know–I called b.s. on that one too once I wised up)  After months of moving and making better food decisions, I knew it was time to face the numbers again.This time when I looked at the numbers, I knew I would  have to came to grips with that being my place.

A lot of the journey through Healthyland is about just being real. No, I didn’t like the numbers I saw. No I didn’t like the measurements I took, but they were mine. I owned them. All of the cake, doughnuts, cookies, soda, pasta, cheese, butter, and fast food I put in my body belonged to me.  In order to get real and keep my tennis shoes on the ground, I had to let my inner healthy chic speak really candidly to my outer big chic (with love of course). She wrote a letter to me, and as crazy as it sounds, it really helped.

Dear Big Chic,

As your friend, I want to say that there are no hard feelings for putting us in this place.  I know it’s rough. I know food is your constant, but what I also know is that it’s time for a change. Your way of doing things just isn’t working and I think it’s time that you let me have the reigns for a bit.  There are some things I need you to know about the journey we are going to take together. Remember–this is out of love (smile).

(1) The scale doesn’t lie. Yes, there is such a thing as water weight, but honey you aren’t carrying 100lbs of water weight. Just sayin’.

(2)You are not Beyonce’s twin. No matter how much working out you do or how much weight you drop it will never happen. You will look like you–just less of you.

(3)Sweat is your friend.  You can’t ever ever ever ever lose it without moving your body. Period. You are not lazy, just a little side tracked is all.

(4)Weight loss does not equal happiness. Just because you lose pounds doesn’t mean you’ll lose the unhappy. Work on the icky stuff first.

(5)No diet soda, fat free, and sugar free are not your friends. They only make you fatter.

(6)Yes, that was your fat ass that you just saw in the mirror and yes, your stomach really is that big. Look at it, jiggle it, laugh at it, and then hug it because it is all a part of you.

(7)You aren’t perfect. Yes, I know you are having a hard time with this one, but it is the truth.

(8)You can’t control everything. Again…I know you may have a hard time with this one, but it is the truth. You tried to control emotions and people by holding them at bay with–you guessed it–food and how has that worked for you so far?  Mmmhm, I thought so.

(9)Friends, family and strangers do not, I repeat do not, want to hear about how they should not eat or drink this or that. Please don’t be one of those people.

(10)Fat, Obese, and Overweight are just words and yes you are all of the above, but that’s ok because it doesn’t make you who you are. Love who you are not the labels others (and you) may put on you.

Where you are weak, I will be strong. We are in this thing together and we can be better, but you are going to have to trust me. Remember #8? Yea, that applies in this situation.

With Love, The Healthy Chic

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

TALK TO YOURSELF — It sounds super crazy, but do it.  Write a list of things that you know to be true.  Often times we know the truth but we never want to fully admit it. Be honest, be real, and be positive.

BE A VISIONARY — This week, scour magazines, newspapers, and websites for delicious foods that nourish the body along with things and places that instantly de-stress.  After you are all finished, place the vision board in a place you will see it to remind you of how to feed your body, mind and spirit.  NOTE: Your vision board can be created on the computer and printed out if that works best or you can get down and dirty with the glue and scissors—kindergarten style.

Week 4: Move!

19 Sep

I workout 6 days a week. I run/walk 2-3 miles per day, and I take part in some sort of kick ass fitness program (for the next 2+ months it is Turbo Fire).  When I made up my mind to do the Peachtree the first thing I knew I had to do was move my body.  I began walking for 30 minutes, 2-3 days per week.  I felt slow and stupid at first, but I had to keep reminding myself that I would eventually be able to walk at a speed higher than 3.5 without passing out.

Believe it or not, being active is the easiest part of being a healthier individual.  For some it may mean walking every day after dinner for 30 minutes, for others it may mean having a love hate relationship with Shaun T (“dig deeper people! dig deeper!”), either way you look at it though getting off the couch and moving is beneficial (and easy).

Now before you jump off the couch and head on in to the gym or take a turn or two on your local track–here’s some much needed advice.

Nike Air Pegasus +27, $72

Shoes–The most important thing you will ever do for your fitness regiment is to buy a good pair of shoes.  For cross training, running, or walking a good pair of shoes will ward off injury.

 
 
 
 
 

Enell Sports Bra, $60

Sports Bra–This is the second highest important weapon in your fitness arsenal. Some women can get away with the little spandex contraptions at Target, others (like me) have to twist themselves into a vest of sorts. The Enell is tops on my list of sports bras to own.

 

 

Workout Gear–Finally we get to the fashionable part! Some people feel good working out in bleach stained oversized tees (guilty), some feel good wearing the latest fitness fashions.  Whatever your style, go with it, but be mindful of some things.  If you have thick thunder thighs (guilty again), shorts can be annoying. Try capris or a loose basketball short instead–no ride up there.  If you have a lot of junk in yo’ trunk (not guilty) or a lot of uncontrollable jiggle in the gut or legs (guilty) compression bottoms work wonders. Always, always always opt for the moisture wicking fabric–especially in the heat. 

Need some workout inspiration? Too embarrassed or broke (guilty again) to head to the gym? Here are some good places to start from home.

Low Impact–Leslie Sansone, Walk Away The Pounds. I absolutely love love love her! You sweat, but you won’t die from it.

 

 

 

High Impact–Shaun T, Insanity. If you want to die in a pool of sweat after just 45 minutes of movement–this is the one.

 

 

 

 

Kick Ass–Billy Blanks, Tae Bo. Whenever I get extremely stressed out or angry, I pop in B Blanks and whip some air butt. 

 

 

 

High Energy–Chalean Johnson, TurboFire. A-freakin-mazing. You move from minute one with a combination of dance and kick boxing. 20 minutes will go by and you won’t even know it.

 

 

 

Dance–Alberto “Beto” Perez, Zumba. Do you love dance? Want to move and sweat but have a blast too? Zumba is p-e-r-f-e-c-t! Low Impact, but high fun. It really is a blast.

 

 

 

 

Strength Training— Jackie Warner, Power Circuit Training. Jackie’s Power Circuit lets you work on each area in 15 min segments or all at once. Great workout for on-the-go movers and shakers.

 

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

MOVE IT TO LOSE IT–For the past month you have been moving 3 days for at least 30 min (or I hope you have been), this week we are going to bump it up (you’re ready for that right?) This week move your body for 5 days at a minimum of 30 minutes. 

*REMEMBER–Drink 64 oz of water every day.

Week 3: A Course In Weight Loss

12 Sep

Imagine [the] excess weight as a brick wall you are carrying around.  This wall has been built by your subconscious mind; its purpose is to separate you from other people and from life itself. Your fear has built the wall, and love will tear it down.” Those 3 small sentences changed my life forever and for the next week I walked around in a stupor wondering why I had never thought of my weight that way before.  I spent most of my free time devouring books and magazines on health, running, fitness, and (you guessed it) food.  Somewhere I ran across a green book that would change how I felt about the weight I carried.  A Course In Weight Loss (by Marianne Williamson) saved my life.

You go on a diet. You say to yourself, “Monday is the day! No more fat pants. No more sitting still. No more eating things that aren’t good for me.  Just me, my tennis shoes, and a bowl of salad.”  By Thursday you are hoovering through a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream.  You tell yourself there is no point. “Why bother?”  For the next few days you eat whatever you see and by Sunday you are either throwing your scale away or declaring to do it again.  Perhaps you do it again via a weight loss program or buddy up thinking that this time it will work.  Yea…I’m here to tell you that you’re loony.  It will never ever work.  

Becoming a healthier person and really controlling how you use food is all about why you hide yourself from the world.  So no matter how much money you spend or how much weight you think you can lose, you will always be carrying that “brick wall”.  I began to no longer feel comfortable with what I was carrying and I really, truly faced what it was.  That’s when the change began.

So many times I have shoved food in my mouth because I was sad, lonely, happy, upset or bored.  So many times I ate because I was feeling things I couldn’t even identify. I now had a better understanding of why I had tried and failed so many times, and I vowed to tear down that stupid wall once and for all.  With the help of true understanding (on my part), the book, the lessons, and the small prayers at the end of each lesson (life…changing), I changed day by day.  Today I am able to identify why I am craving a  box of Dunkin’ Donuts.  Today I am able to really deal with what is happening instead of covering it up with food.

The weight you are seeking to let go of was added to your [mind] before it was added to your body.  Your body is merely a screen onto which is projected the nature of your thoughts. When the weight is gone from your [mind], it will be gone from your physical experience.”  Yea, girl. Let that sink all the way in.

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

DEAL WITH ITTake a step back and just deal with the weight on your mind. It will be harsh, there’s no doubt about that.  Below are a few words Marianne used in the book for the reader to identify each “brick”. This week, take a long look at each word and ask yourself if it represents a thought, emotion, or character flaw.  Write down the details and sit with it.  Close your eyes and picture your wall with each brick identified by the words that follow.  Reach your hands out, touch each brick and watch the wall crumble before your eyes.

Shame, Anger, Fear, Unforgiveness, Judgment, Disdain, Excess Responsibility, Pressure, Exhaustion, Burden, Stress, Heartbreak, Injustice, Protection, Pride, Selfishness, Jealousy, Greed, Laziness, Separation, Dishonesty, Arrogance, Inferiority, Embarrassment, Self-abnegation.

REMEMBERDrink your H2O, 64 oz and move your body 30 minutes, 3 days this week.

Week 2: Gooooaaaallll!

5 Sep

(Ok, I’ll give it to you–that title is pretty corny, but I was really trying) A few weeks ago, I shared my personal steps to weight loss with you.  This week I would like to discuss the first step.  So, to recap for those who don’t regularly read my ramblings, I will summarize the journey.

I realized I was fat months prior to making a goal when I got on the scale and it read 293.  I threw the scale away claiming it was old…and wrong.  A few months later, I began to feel sick, sluggish, headachey, and a touch dizzy.  I soon found myself seated in the doctor’s office with a bp cuff on my arm.  Ultimately the doc gave me a perscription for a water pill (which would change to bp medication if the water pill didn’t work–eeek. I hate meds) and broached the subject of doing  lap band surgery.  The lap band surgery suggestion was a punch in my 53inch gut (actually, it was the insurance company saying they wouldn’t pay for it that hurt the most).

With bp issues, diabetes, cholesterol, and heart troubles floating around in my family history, I decided to make a change…but how?  Losing weight had never really worked–well, stuck–before and I didn’t really have the patience to deal with the constant cake vs. no cake tug of war again (cake always wins…no matter what). “Screw the scale! Screw the rabbit food! Screw the never ending ‘I can’t have’!” I said thrusting my chubby fist in the air–I would make a goal instead.

My goal was to run the Peachtree. Your goal may be different.  At the time I made the goal, running a 10k (6.2 miles) felt almost like a superhuman aspiration.  I had 38 weeks to pull off an impossible (or seemingly impossible) goal.  Needless to say, the goal wasn’t impossible and yours won’t be either.  In order to really change your life, you have to peel back the layers.  Making a goal for yourself, no matter how silly it may seem, is just one way to begin peeling the layers back.

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGES

DREAM BIGDiets suck.  The focus of your efforts should not be on the weight you need to lose (and which plan you should try next).  The focus should be on an ‘impossible’ goal.  This week, I want you to think big (no pun intended) and reach really, really high. Share your goals. I would love to hear them.  This might seem like a lame first step, but I promise you it will push you to do amazing things.

REMEMBER — Drink at least 64 oz of water per day and get moving for 30 minutes, 3 days this week. We will worry about food a little later. 

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).

 

Week 1: The Plan

29 Aug

Welcome to The Plan. Clever name eh? Now, before you begin there are some pretty nifty rules to abide by.  If you don’t want the Healthy Lifestyle Goons to give you a pair of specialty made cement shoes (sorry…currently listening to the Sopranos on the tv), you better take note of them.

THE RULES

 

1) I AM NOT ON A DIET. Nope, you most certainly are not. This, my friend, is not a diet. It is a way of living your life. Life has it’s rollercoaster moments and your weight does as well. The problem with dieting is that when the word is uttered our brains go into “Can’t Have” mode and eventually we end up doing a swan dive into a double chocolate cake (ok…weak moment…yum!). Never say this is a diet. Just say “I’m loving my body right” and changing your life in the process.

2) I WILL GET SWEATY. Oh yea! Who doesn’t love sweat? Eh? Yes, it does look a whole lot sexier dripping down a hard body’s six pack vs. your–um–well….but in order to get to the hard body, sweat is manditory. EVERY WEEK WILL CONSIST OF 3 DAYS OF VIGOROUS ACTIVITY FOR 30 MIN. There is no bending the rules on this one. In order for your inner organs to be healthy, they need some of your good ol’ fashioned sweat. Doing more than that is optional (go ‘head girl! get it innnnnn), but be sure not to kill yourself, mmmnokay?

3) I WILL NOT EAT PAST 7:30. (If your schedule permits) Some people don’t have this luxury, but if you do make sure you don’t break this rule. Nothing else, except water or herbal tea (if you feel like you’re absolutely dying of hunger) should cross your lips past 7:30. This rule may be bent ONE (1) day per week, but if it’s not necessary don’t do it.

4) MY TOILET WILL BE MY NEW BFF. Know what that means? That’s right–we’re talking good ol’ H2O goin’ in and comin’ out. At least 64 oz of water should be entering the body daily. Some places will count diet sodas or tea or coffee as part of water consumption, but that doesn’t fly here. Crystal clear water is all we’re counting…well 64 oz of it anyway.

5) I WILL DATE MY SCALE ONCE A WEEK…IF YOU CAN HANDLE THAT. Once a week, not 12 times a day (guilty), is all that’s needed for the scale.  Sometimes the numbers on the scale lie–ok not really…well kinda– but the tape measure is the best way to peek at progress.

THE PLAN

The Plan consists of those (5) little rules above. You should be doing that anyway–in life I mean.  Each week there will be a small challenge. There will NEVER be more than one challenge in the week. Change is about small steps. The changes we make only look big to those on the outside looking in, but WE know how many steps it took to get there.