Expanding beauty standards through inclusivity

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I am originally from Nigeria but I came to the UK for my masters degree and just being in the UK, I realized there is a heavy focus on what was socially acceptable at the time, ‘skinny women.’

I realized at the time that plus-sized women were marginalized and that kind-of stirred up something within me, because I am from a society where being plus-sized is seen as a sign of health and wealth, so it was a bit of a culture shock to come here and see that it was completely different in the Western World.

I decided to bring a bit of my culture to the western world, because I have always been involved in Fashion. It was genuinely a nightmare to shop back then in 2004. I mean there were some very few brands out and about then and it was honestly the aesthetics of the clothing was very dragging and uninspiring. It was very difficult, truly difficult. I was always making my outfits most of the time.

That was a skill I learnt from my mum, because she was a teacher but as a side hobby she did a bit of fashion as well. So with that, she made our clothes also back at home and thankfully I got that from my mum. I made my own clothes with the very vibrant African colored clothes that are very popular all over the world now.

Ojoma Idegwu, founder of Dear Curves

Representation is very important because we need to reflect what society actually looks like. We have a broad spectrum of women of all shapes and sizes and it is only fair when you open a magazine you can see someone who looks like you. It boosts women confidence to just see people who look like them. This is major feedback we have had.

Promoting plus size is not promoting unhealthy habits because you can make the same argument for women in other spectrums. Thus women who a slim, size zero – we can make the same argument that being that size is unhealthy. What we try to do at Dear Curves is not just create stylish clothes but also launched a lifestyle blog which just talks about healthy living and talks about lifestyle just for women to contribute to how to love themselves and live a healthier life.

I feel like women are held too high above and held to a higher bar than men. After delivery, there is the unrealistic expectation to immediately get back to how you were before pregnancy.

Plus size fashion only recently started making a buzz. To be honest, we only saw a massive surge say 5 or 6 years ago. You know, with the rise of Lizzo, Monique, Queen Latifa (who has always been Plus-sized) – we have seen main stream magazines more open to the idea of having plus-sized women on their pages. We have seen less marginalized of the plus-sized women. Though there is more room for improvement, I must admit we are in a much better place than 5,10 years ago.

Ojoman Idegwu, is the founder of Dear Curves, a fashion label for plus-size women based in London. She worked on the shop floor in Topshop, but eventually took the bold step at starting her own fashion business.

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