It ain’t always easy being a vivacious, voluptuous gal in “a somewhat small-minded world.” But Torrid, a fashion purveyor for curvy women sized 10-30, doesn’t think it should be that way. Inspired by the outsized confidence seen in our favorite fuller-figured ladies, the plus-size brand launched Torrid Stories, a four-part short film series, featuring Euphoria actress Barbie Ferreira and her crew, that highlights the power of looking and feeling your best no matter your situation or size. At the New York City digital premiere party, EBONY caught up with model Precious Lee. who dished on the challenges she faces as a plus-size model, how she overcomes them, plus curvy style tips she’s picked up on the job and her favorite party looks.
EBONY: What challenges do you face as a plus-size model?
LEE: It’s not easy being a big girl in a somewhat small-minded world. I’m constantly confronted with the reality that most of our society has a deeply rooted perception of what it means to be beautiful. Unfortunately, that general perception is a narrow one that often excludes so many amazing people like women larger than “sample size,” especially in fashion. Being categorized as a plus-size model or commercial model is limiting at times because I’m such a dynamic woman. I have interest in so many types of art, literature, music, fashion, photography and travel. It can be challenging showing how multifaceted we are when we’re categorized because of our size and race. However, I work through many of these challenges by staying faithful. I try not to take anything personal. I know that I am capable and was chosen to do this work. My goal has always been to expand the views of what beauty means in today’s culture. No woman should be marginalized as a joke or as an afterthought because of her size, race, sexual orientation or religion. Women can be dynamic and beautiful at a size 4 and at a size 24, no matter her skin color. I speak kindly to myself and build myself up. I’m my own hype man, and I believe in my vision with all my might. And we should all be doing that for ourselves, regardless of our challenges. We should all be responsible for our own energy.
EBONY: How do you stay so body positive in an industry that can be dismissive to plus-size girls?
LEE: I am innately a really strong person, but like everyone, I have emotions. However, I don’t believe in allowing external noise to dismiss me. We all should see our contributions as important and expansive because we as woman are worth that. I think the healthiest way to handle any adversity is to commit to what you want and what you know you deserve. I set goals and focus on them. I accomplish them and set more. I hope that women can look at my journey and feel inspired to know that it is OK to validate ourselves and not wait on anything or anyone else to do it for us. If that were the case, we’d be waiting for a very long time and never get it; but if we focus on the work, the rewards will come in so many ways. Helping even one girl feel better about herself through my work is amazing to me. I focus on gratitude, finding joy in what I’m working on and uplifting others to keep me above the low vibrations that this industry can easily spew. We have the ability to control our own narrative. Waking up in a world that we feel doesn’t think we’re beautiful or valuable is hard, period. But it’s not our truth. We all need to work on rewriting and writing our own story in our own words/actions every day. I do.
EBONY: What on-the-job styling tips and tricks have you picked up as a curvy girl?
LEE: 1. Don’t worry about the number; focus on the fit.
- Learn what you like to accentuate about your body and work with that. Taking the time to figure out what you like about you is key. If you love your shoulders, your waist or even your eyes, play that up!
- To accentuate my hourglass figure, I love mixing supermasculine pieces with really girly pieces. I often pair high-waisted cargos with a crop top or fitted top to play up my gorgeous God-given curves.
- Don’t listen to the traditional styling dos and don’ts— if we did, no woman over a size 2 would wear prints (which is insane). Create looks you like seeing yourself in. That innate confidence that you have when you are wearing something that you love will always naturally make the outfit wildly cuter.
- Buy your “staple stunt pieces,” also known as investment pieces, such as a top quality shoe, bag or coat, at the beginning of the season. Then throughout the season, buy whatever trendy pieces you see you like. So instead of having to run and out and buy a whole outfit for an occasion, you’ll just be adding a few fun items to your staples, and shopping will be actually fun and less stressful.
EBONY: Any party styling tips for babes with fuller bodacious bods?
LEE: ‘Tis the season to stand out! Try playing with statement pieces. Wear a black sequined pencil skirt with a black blazer, and go braless or pair with a really cute bra. Or wear gold leggings for extra flair. Don’t be afraid to wear color now, especially if you’re one to shy away from colors the rest of the year. Also, try doing a fun beauty look with your outfit to make it pop. Try a fun, bright lip color, shimmer on the eyes or add some extra highlight on the cheek. Just be festive, and try to step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to trying a bold look that people will be shocked to see you do. It’s the end of the year, just go all out! It’ll be fun. Also we’re closing out a decade here—so do it BIG!
EBONY: What’s your favorite piece from Torrid’s latest collections, and why?
LEE: I love Torrid’s Black Satin Collar Tuxedo Blazer. It’s so versatile. You can dress it up with a heel or dress it down with a cute boot and legging. I also love their Black Velvet Front Slit Maxi Dress as a winter staple. The dress’s ruched detailing accentuates everyone’s curves and the jeweled-tone colors are so pretty with the velvet on all shades of skin. The Metallic Foil Crosshatch Gold legging is so comfortable, festive and fun. Gold is my favorite color. I love to pair it with almost any other color; I use it like a neutral.
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Joane Amay is the Beauty and Style Director at Ebony magazine. A hoarder of shoes, baubles and sparkly things, she dreams one day of owning her own private island.