Velvet D’Amour is a blogger, photographer, model and an advocate for plus sized women. She first came to my attention when she strutted her stuff on the catwalk for Gaultier and caused an uproar. A controversy. Because her body was in no way the norm for international catwalks. Because Gaultier must have been using her as an example of a “freak” body. Because she didn’t look like everyone else. Because he may have been making a statement about eating disorders in the modelling world.
Since then, she’s been on my radar as an example of a plus sized woman I look up to. Fearless. Fierce. And a big “fuck you” to mainstream fashion that tells women to fit into a certain mold, otherwise there is no room for you in this industry. Even the plus sized industry. She’s been told her body wasn’t right for it, she was too large, she didn’t have the right shape. And yet, she’s become a household name: a success story.
Plus sized models lately are dominating straight sized model spaces – a recent shoot in Italian Vogue featuring three plus sized models (including Australian Robyn Lawley) provoked much discussion. On the one side, the shoot was deemed empowering and “About time!” while on the other, the issue that the vast majority of editorials featuring plus sized models usually involve nudity or lingerie.
Frockwriter asked Velvet’s opinion and she gave it:
My sense is that our minds have been programmed via mainstream fashion to question FLESH. Fleshy, curvy women have been relegated to men’s magazines, whilst edgy editorial fashion in particular, has been inundating us with imagery glorifying adolescence (sometimes using models even as young as 13). We have been fed a steady diet of rail thin, white, tall, Youth for the most part. Thus instead of delving further into what Beauty means to us as individuals, the tendency is not to question authority. Fashion is innovative, tumultuous and it’s not meant to stagnate. Sameness is born of the dependence fashion magazines have on advertisers, who tend to be the very last people to take risk (due to the amount of money involved). It is this unlikely marriage of two opposing yet dependent components which has stagnated the blossoming of fashion, and in turn, its muses.
I don’t look to fashion magazines for advice on health, I look at them for fashion. We need to start looking beyond the simplistic and dig deeper. If you want to have a health debate, then let’s tackle mental health, which is the stimulus, more often than not, affecting s one’s physical health. If we start to include a major cross-section of our society within the revered pages of fashion magazines, fat women, emaciated women, women of colour, aging women, differently-abled women, small women, you name it – then we can turn the tide against the overwhelming sense so many women suffer from not being able to live up to this exceedingly stringent, highly unattainable beauty ethic we currently subscribe to.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.