It’s a vibrant, fashionable celebration happening for on-air personality and now fashion designer, Nina Parker. The beautiful producer and TV host has always given us a lewk on air, with ever-changing hair styles and classic makeup moments. But what’s also been so fulfilling to see is a Black, plus-sized woman on television showing the girls how it’s done when it comes to fashion. So when Macy’s debuted Nina’s new namesake collection, there was little to be surprised by. The line is full of sexy, fitting pieces that push curvy and plus-sized women to not only be seen, but to stylishly stand out as well.
Below, EBONY caught up with the stunning, voluptuous entrepreneur and Nightly Pop host to get the dish on her new line and why we should learn to combat our body issues and fears.
EBONY: You’ve been such an inspiration for Black women, particularly on television and in the media. And you’re just growing your empire.
Your collection is for women who are plus-sized and who really have felt as though they can’t find fashion that is trendy and fun, not drab but uplifting. So, how does it feel to now be a fashion designer and create a collection that is so impactful for an underserved audience?
Nina Parker: I just recently went to a Macy’s here in Los Angeles and there were several women that I had conversations with that really felt like they were being underserved. I think we have to acknowledge that there are brands out there, but not enough. There’s no shortage of clothes for women under a size 14, but when you’re plus-sized there’s like only three places, where you can shop.
How do you want young women, or folks in general, to feel when they put on your clothes?
Well, first I want women to feel like they have options because my clothes are designed to be worn in multiple ways. I have a front zip skirt that you can wear three different ways. To me, that’s amazing because when I wear something, I want to get multiple uses out of it. I’m on TV, so I have access and resources that a lot of people don’t have. So, if I do a one-and-done with an outfit, I can. However, there are so many women out there who need to be able to wear these clothes multiple times.
It’s important for me to make not every item, but a lot of these items, clothing that you can worn in multiple ways. I’m putting out a collection every month. It’s not like I’m hitting you with 20 pieces, and then you don’t see anything else for the rest of the year. Every month we’re going to be turning out different designs and looks so you’ll have something to look forward to.
I love that you paid attention to the smallest, minute, details for fuller-figured women. I love that you created tops that really provide ample support for bustier women, and that you added pockets to some items. [Some brands don’t add pockets for fear that it’ll make women look bigger.]
I’m heavier on top, so when we were doing our fittings, it was very important that we had these options. It’s all about certain subtleties in the clothes and the only reason I learned is because I had hellish experiences.
Exactly. I think that’s why the women who love and follow you have been very excited about purchasing your collection. They know and trust that this has been your experience as a woman. Do you have a special piece in the collection?
Well, for May, it was the body con graffiti dress, that has words of affirmation on it. For June, it’s probably the denim bodysuit. That is my favorite thing. Oh, and then the jumpsuit with the pockets!
So one of the things that I love about the collection is that it’s very sexy. On social media, women are praised for their “sex appeal,” but only if they fit a particular aesthetic. What are your thoughts on this, given your collection is empowering fuller-figured women to stand out?
You know, in general, people judge women and whatever they do. It’s like, this body is too big or this body’s too natural. They want a natural body, but they don’t want to see stretch marks. I think when I kind of realized that it didn’t matter what I did, that there was always going to be someone who had a criticism for it, I was able to just see what would better serve women.
And I think there’s a little bit of growing pains in the sense of the plus customer figuring out where my line fits? I’ve seen some women say, “Oh, everything’s so tight” and it’s like, “yeah, that’s intentional because I don’t want you to feel like you have to hide your curves or hide your stomach to be attractive.” You don’t have to cover it up. You can show that.
Do you have advice for curvy and plus-sized women who may not be ready to wear tighter, fitting clothes?
I think we all have those days. What I would say is try and break out of your comfort zone. I kid you not, the other day I was going to a brunch and decided to wear something that showcased my legs. I was so nervous about it; my legs are one of my biggest insecurities. Two groups of people were kind of looking out over at me throughout the brunch. I thought, “Oh, they’re talking about me.” I wanted to leave, but these people stopped me and they were like, “you look so pretty… I love your outfit.” It just goes to show the insecurity was in my head. I was worried for nothing, but it also had me pause and think what if I didn’t get this validation from others. What then?
Exactly! Like okay, so were you going to go home and burn the outfit because you thought they were saying something about you?
I spent summers in jeans and jean jackets because I didn’t want to show my arms. I’m not doing it. It’s too hot. I’m not going to get heat stroke, trying to impress people. I’m just not.
Not a heat stroke, Nina please!
Not in 2021. We outside for real.
I saw someone tweet your summer body is the body you have right now. Even if you want to change it or become healthier or whatever it is, your summer body is your body now.
Now let me also say this, if there are people who react negatively to your legs out, stomach out, back out, butt out, then those aren’t the people you would want in your life anyway. Because even if I was a size two or super skinny, if I saw a man fat-shaming a woman, I wouldn’t want that kind of man in my life. So for me, I love being plus sized. I feel like it weeds out the shallow people. It really kind of dissipates the people who are only concerned about what surface and what it means to them. It really allows the people who are really for me to be there for me. So if I’m out and about, and someone is reacting negatively, they would never be someone I would want in my sphere.