When I was younger, I didn’t know that I wanted to work in fashion.
…better yet, I didn’t know that I wanted to work in fashion because I didn’t know that was a possibility for me. As I sat and tore the pages from Teen Vogue and tried to DIY all of the beautiful things I saw in Seventeen Magazine, I honestly never thought that I could be a part of that world. I didn’t see myself represented in the pages in any way. There was never anyone with a single bump or lump, and the brown girls within the pages were but a drop – so ambiguously melanated that I couldn’t relate.
Fast forward fifteen years and I’m here living the life I wanted for sixteen year old Kelly. A life where I get to do the things I love without consequence. Where I can represent the things that I used to think weren’t for me. I am presently living in the body and taking space where I was subconsciously told I couldn’t.
I have been attending New York Fashion Week for years. There’s nothing more magical than when the lights go up and the first model stomps down the runway. The climate has gotten significantly better – in my humble opinion – in terms of diversity. I kind of see myself walking down the runway. I kind of see people that look like me at parties. I kind of feel included. Street photographers like Lydia Hudgens are making it their business to photographs bodies outside of the status quo while in attendance. Curvycon moved it’s timing to NYFW on purpose. I’m not saying what I’m saying this to discredit all of the incredible opportunities I’ve been afforded and the progress that has been made thus far, I just think there is still a ways to go.
Last season, there was lots of buzz about diversity and what that means. Designers booked girls from the curve boards at agencies. Everyone seemed to be very excited! But what I slowly started to realize was designers who stopped at a size 12 were putting size 12 models in clothes and screaming inclusivity. I’d see one of my faves and get excited that a designer was doing plus, only to be disappointed when I went on the site to buy pieces.
What I’d love to eventually see is designers do the work. If you are offering extended sizes, offer them. Don’t misrepresent your brand and muddle the very important message that needs to be heard. I have some very incredible things happening this season (stay tuned!) so I know the needle is moving in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what’s in store this time around.
Photos by Lydia Hudgens