Alright curvy divas it’s time for part two of my 2011 year-end review, and it’s just as action-packed as the first half of the year! Let’s dive in right where we left off, shall we:-)?
7) In July, Our Miss, Ms., and Mrs. Illinois Plus America delegates: Toy Hawkins, Courtney Hendrix, and Cindy Ramos-Parmley competed in the 2011 Miss Illinois Plus America pageant. Though they did not win the title, Cindy placed 3rd Runner-Up to Mrs. Plus America, and Toy won best Overall Pant wear and Evening Gown. I introduced the “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” segment into Chicago Plus-Size Fashion Examiner. The purpose of this segment was to introduce a different established or aspiring model from the Chicago area. Our first “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” was Michelle Bernard. Another big curvy event in Chicago was AKIRA’s first plus-size fashion show held at the Andersonville Akira store!
8) At the end of August, TLC introduced “Big Sexy”, a reality show based in New York that followed 5 ladies in the plus-size fashion industry on their road to success in a world obsessed with being thin. The show only lasted like 3 or 4 episodes, but it made a big impact & left audiences begging for more! One of the episodes even featured Patricia Stewart, full-figured designer/owner of Chinoo Designs. Patricia has ties to both Chicago and Philadelphia. Her designs can also be purchased online at www.chinoodesigns.com . The “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” model for August was Michelle Marie.
9) September and October were BUSY months for the fashion community as a whole! 2011 Ms. Indiana Plus America, Aaryn Myles, was our “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” model for the month of September. September kicked off with history in the making! Media Planet, a company responsible for publishing special interest magazines in major newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today, decided to do their FIRST EVER insert dedicated to full-figured fashion!!! The spread was initially supposed to be 12 pages, then 16. It wound up being a 24-paged spread, and yours truly even got a chance to contribute an article! This was easily one of the biggest highlights of my career!
My article, “Midwest Plus-Size Fashion Innovators” highlighted plus-size designers, boutique owners, and fashion industry professionals in Chicago and Wisconsin. The spread was featured in the major fashion markets, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles for the ENTIRE 4-day Labor Day Weekend! As if that weren’t enough excitement, Fashion’s Night Out occurred a week later and there were PLENTY of events happening all over the city of Chicago and across the nation! I attended Vive La Femme’s Fashion Night Out event where I met Style Plus Curves Blogger Amber McCulloch. We were interviewed by Ellen Warren and featured in an article in the Chicago Tribune entitled “Plus-size ladies wish lists for shopping zen”. Here’s the link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/tribu/ct-sun-0918-warren-shopping-plus-sizes-20110916,0,7087021.column .
September also saw another beautiful plus-size woman on a hit television show! Jahleeka “Jelly” Morris competed on BET’s “Born to Dance” and made it to the final 5 before elimination! I got the chance to interview Jelly in the September issue of PLUS Model Magazine. It turned out to be my final article as a Contributing Writer for the magazine as my focus has shifted to helping to build/shape the Chicago Plus-Size Fashion industry. October’s “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” model was Tenia Watson. October saw Chicago abuzz with excitement as Fashion Focus Chicago (our own version of Fashion Week) hit the city! The Macy’s Fashion Incubator show was easily one the BIGGEST highlights of the week! I cannot tell you how proud I felt to see Shavonne Dorsey’s Spring Collection showcased on the same stage as straight-size models! The show was AMAZING! All of the designers were remarkable, and I, and everyone in attendance I’m sure, left with such an overwhelming since of hope and pride in the Chicago Fashion Industry! Ready or not world, here we come!
10) November’s “Windy City Curvy Spotlight was Robin Smith. The month kicked off with AKIRA Andersonville’s Fall/Winter Fashion Show on the 3rd. I participated as one of the models this time. The store was filled to capacity! On November 6th, I was asked to participate on the panel at the M.E.D.I.A. Girls Foundation’s “True Beauties Brunch”. There were literally hundreds of girls of all ages in attendance at this event. The celebrity guest host was Naturi Naughton (formerly of girl group 3LW, Playboy’s Club, Fame, and “Lil Kim” from Notorious). Yep, this was another career highlight for me. It was great for those young girls/women to literally see women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds telling them that they could accomplish whatever they set their minds to do. Also, Chicago Fashion Connect, a consulting company that sponsors monthly fashion mixers in the Windy City, dedicated November’s Fashion Industry Mixer to Shavonne Dorsey Designs! Shavonne has had a BIG year this year! Sadly, the world also lost legendary rapper Heavy D on November 8th. He was only 44 years old. Heavy D was easily my favorite rapper back in the day! I knew nearly all of his dance moves, and even though I didn’t become plus-sized until I was in college, I still looked up to this big guy that could throw down on the dance floor and give his slimmer counterparts a run for their money! Rest in Paradise Heavy D.
11) December’s “Windy City Curvy Spotlight” model is Shettima Webb. This month hasn’t been as jam-packed as other months due to the holidays, but there have still been some awesome curvy happenings. ThYck Troupe CEO/Founder Tressa Thomas was among the honorees at Sarah Vargo’s Maven/DIVA Series honoring female philanthropists. ThYCk Troupe became a 501-c3 organization in 2011. Chicago native/comedienne Erica Watson is currently starring in Broadway Chicago’s “Love, Loss, and What I Wore”! It’s a great play that I’d strongly suggest you all go out and support! Chicago’s Crescendo Apparel had a big year this year as well! They have just recently moved from their Lacuna Lofts location on Canalport Ave. to a new location. Crescendo’s new address is 311 W. Superior! I’ll have to swing by & see the new place:-).
Marie Denee, of the plus-size fashion blog “The Curvy Fashionista” released an eBook this month!! The book entitled “Keeping it Curvy. Confident. Chic” gives some great styling & shopping tips to today’s curvy woman. It retails for just $10 on Amazon.com, so for all of you who just got a Kindle, Nook, or tablet for Christmas, go and get your copy and read it today!
WHEW!! This was a VERY eventful year, both here in Chicago and abroad! There’s so much more that occurred this year, but I couldn’t name everything! This year seemed to be the year that that nation and people around the world, stood up and took notice of the plus-size community! Television networks began featuring more curvy people on TV. Magazines started featuring curvy women on their covers. The year hasn’t been without controversy either. Jennifer Hudson’s series of Weight Watchers weight loss commercials have certainly kept people talking, and not necessarily in a good way! I have my thoughts on this entire Jennifer Hudson backlash, but I’ll save them for another article.
Comedienne Erica Watson became a victim of “fat shaming” by the TV One television network when one of her promo pictures was used as a “Before” picture for Tatyana Ali’s character on “Love That Girl”. The outcry from the curvy community reached a fever pitch, and the network eventually apologized. One of the actors, Phil Morris, even stopped by the “Love Your Body Day” event in L.A. to apologize to Erica in person. Very classy move Phil! There’s definitely a LOT to look forward to in 2012! Chicago will be getting it’s own Plus Fashion Week in the Fall of 2012! The ThYck Troupe of Chicago will be doing its performing arts exhibition in April, and if you thought this year’s show was good, you ain’t seen NOTHING yet!! I am sure my fingers will be flying at the speed of sound as I continue to bring you the latest in plus-size fashion in 2012!
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