I attended Fashion Week’s first-ever plus-size runway show on Wednesday, for the label OneStopPlus. Yesterday, I posted about the body-image insensitive Pretzel Crisps incident — and unfortunately that was not the event’s only weight-insensitive gaffe.
But first the celebs! Nikki Blonsky and Gabourey Sidibe were in attendance, along with Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo and America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson. I was most excited to see Richard Schiff, who played White House staffer Toby Ziegler on The West Wing – so maybe that says something about my qualifications for covering a fashion show.
Based on the fifteen minutes spend hanging around the press area, Gaby and Nikki truly seemed like two of most genuinely sweet celebs I’d ever encountered — so hooray for them! Gabourey seemed excited about the show as talked about a future where all designers will make clothes for plus-size women. She emphasized how many fashionable larger women there are, saying “we are here and we do buy clothes.”
Both Nikki and Gaby wore black, the color Nikki named as her favorite. The Hairspray star talked about feeling comfortable in her body, explaining her personal definition of beauty as “how you feel about yourself when you wake up in the morning.”
Here’s where the insensitivity and awkwardness comes in: After the red carpet we headed inside, where I was seated directly behind Nikki and Gaby. Fashion Week events are notoriously crowded and organizers try to cram as many people as possible into small spaces. The chairs alongside the runway are tiny and pressed right up against one another. The seating arrangements at this show would have been less-than-comfortable for anyone, but at an event held specifically for full-bodied women they were actually insulting. Inviting celebrity guests, then failing to give them ample room to sit comfortably? The audience was quite disappointed to see how, even at a plus-size event, the mindset of the industry is still so overwhelmingly skinny-centric.
But onto the fashion! The show featured models of a range of sizes, including former ANTM-er Toccara Jones (who hammed it up for the camera!). The clothes were pastel and flowy and quite pretty, in my opinion — though it must be said that none of them were anything Toby Ziegler would ever have worn.
(photos via Crushable, Getty)