Fashion Is Political: About The Curvy Con

September 13, 2017 16 Comments

Fashion Is Political: About The Curvy Con

September 13, 2017 16 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links allow Fatgirlflow to earn commissions on products we recommend. All opinions are our own.

I would not call myself a fashionista, and clothing definitely isn’t something that makes me wildly excited. But I am excited about the fat community, our determination, and the noise we are currently making, that is slowly but surely tearing down oppressive boundaries that society has set. So, I was pretty hyped to be at The Curvy Con, in a space where that tear down was actively taking place.

So, what is Curvy Con? Well, as far as I can tell, it’s a place where plus size fashion bloggers/influencers come together to see what new things are happening in plus size fashion…. or something like that. People (namely women) who want to attend can choose to buy a ticket at the “general”, “teal”, or “platinum” level. This makes my blood boil. A platinum ticket costs several hundred dollars more than a general admission ticket, creating a divisive energy among attendants before you even walk in. In a world filled with classism, The Curvy Con carries that right on through their event. Instead of making all tickets one price and providing everyone the same amenities, we’re relegated to only getting brunch if you can drop several hundred dollars. Doesn’t the plus size fashion industry do this to all of us enough already? Aren’t we tired of the fashion hierarchy?

Meanwhile, the models used in the fashion show were mostly size 12-14 (I saw the model board stating their sizes, this isn’t just an assumption), brands known for their lack of awareness were used as headliners on panels, and the entire event had a major accessibility issue (ie: elevator outages*, chairs that even super thin people would be uncomfortable on). Panels consisting of brand CEO’s seemed to be presenting so that they could convince us that they care about our community, instead of being there to hear us and tell us how they’d do better by us. The entire event felt performative and removed from the fat community. In fact, I don’t think I heard anyone involved in the event even use the word “fat” the entire time I was there.

Maybe you’re thinking “why does that matter?” or “ok so that event isn’t for you” and that’s fair… except fashion is for everyone. Even when we don’t want it to be. I’m not a fashion girl, but the plus size fashion industry is directly driven by my consumption. I may not be thrilled about new Fall lines, but I still have to cloth my size 28 body. There is no way to separate the every day person from fashion – plus size specifically (because if you haven’t heard we’re 67% of the population). That makes it political.

I want us to start accepting the politics of fatness into fashion. I want awareness, and thoughtfulness from brands and the people who create events that support those brands. I want us to talk about the intersections of fatness and poverty and what it means to hold exclusive events like this. I want us to ask how we as a community continue to contribute to the oppression of fat women that don’t look like ourselves.

The Curvy Con was exactly what I expected it would be. It wasn’t life changing, it didn’t teach me anything new, and we didn’t suddenly break the mold on runway shows. It was exactly as fashion has always been, dressed up in plus size clothing pretending to be revolutionary.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the hard work this community does being exploited for capital gain. I’m tired of taking the crumbs from other people’s feasts. I’m tired of getting my hopes up. I’m not a fashion girl, but I want to be. I’m here. I’m showing up. So, when is plus size fashion going to let me participate?

*I had been informed that there actually were no “elevator outages” but that the elevators were actually reserved for platinum ticket holders only. After publishing this article one of The Curvy Con co-founders reached out to me to let me know that this was not the case (see below), but rather the elevators were for people who “couldn’t use the stairs”. During the event several of my friends who usually use mobility devices but opted out of carrying them to the conference were turned away from the elevators by security guards that said no more than “the elevator is out, use the stairs”. While I understand that this is not necessarily the fault of the event coordinators, all event staff (security guards included) should be well informed on protocol regarding accessibility. 

EDIT – co-founder CeCe Olisa messaged me via instagram to say “Using the elevator wasn’t a platinum benefit. The elevator was having issues so usage was limited so that we could properly serve those who couldn’t use the stairs. I was only able to ride the elevator when accompanying a guest who used a cane.”





ps – The Curvy Con wasn’t great, but I did get matching tattoos with my fat friends that were attending soooo… it wasn’t all bad 😉


  • Brianne September 13, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing and writing this! I was so frustrated to see SO MANY sz 12 and 14 girls on the runway. You could audibly HEAR the cheers from the crowd when someone bigger came down the runway. Sharing a critique is hard, but I think it’s so so necessary.

    • fatgirlflow September 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      <3 The people there were EXCITED to see fat girls (the few that were walking) and it just goes to show you - we create our own space. And I hope this critique helps to demand that other people make room for that. We're fat, we want to see other fat babes walking in these shows and being celebrated!

    • Mary January 18, 2020 at 7:20 am

      Size 12 and 14 are considered plus size. They’re definitely not grouped in with the size 2 through 8.

  • Kitty Morris September 13, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    that elevators were reserved for platinum ticket holders is absolutely disgraceful!! It’s disappointing that so many problematic brands would be allowed to lead the conversation, I expected better of such a big popular event

  • Jes September 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I’m not a person who usually leaves comments on posts but HERE WE GO!!!!

    I’m REALLY glad you wrote this and I hope that this (SUPER VALID AND IMPORTANT) conversation spreads like wildfire. We need, need, NEED to be talking about this larger issue.

    Talking about the larger issue is where I want to add something:

    While CurvyCon exemplified the problematic fashion world that we’re still facing (I wanted to scream after reading what Lane Bryant’s hyper privileged, thin, white, male CMO’s response was to a plus women who asked the question that we’ve all been asking for millennia: “Where are OUR bodies?”) I also want to acknowledge- **as someone who has put on a body image conference and made INNUMERABLE AND HORRIFYING mistakes while trying**- that this sort of event was created by two plus/fat (and successful! YAY!) women of color who genuinely want to create change and have worked tirelessly to create a space (however misguided) for that.

    I know what it’s like to try your best, work yourself to the bone and then spectacularly fail at crucial aspects of a conference. While it hurt to see scathing criticisms online after the energy that was freely given to an event that was our best effort- I ALSO learned ways I could improve.

    I learned SO much.

    I didn’t attend this year’s conference, though I did go last year. (I want to note that I went to present a video and wasn’t expecting *anything* from the event which probably affected my experience) and found it empowering.

    I’m deeply moved when I’m in a room full of hundreds of plus women. The energy itself was healing. It was fairly obvious to me -though only through the documentation of those who attended which was OMG A MILLION PEOPLE- that this year looked VERY different with an emphasis on making room for capitalism at it’s worst.


    I sincerely hope that we can hold space to acknowledge the work that went into and success that happened at CurvyCon for many (simply having a place where hundreds of fat babes can hang in one place is something I wish I had years ago) AND the glaringly harmful problems that need to be fixed.

    I’m hoping that this criticism is eventually heard (I’m sure you’re not the only one who feels this way) and that next year reflects the application of this post and it’s valid asks for inclusivity, model diversity, radical progress and the reintegration of POLITICS that cannot be separated from fatshion no matter how hard we try.

    And thus ends my comment that is actually an essay born from procrastination.


  • Jes September 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Welp, THAT formatting didn’t work at all but hopefully you get the gist;)

  • Lisa s September 13, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you! I couldn’t agree more! As a girl who applied for the torrid model search I was disappointed to learn that of the final 10 none were over a size 18! Really??? What a let done! I am a size 24 and I want to see someone like me walk a runway! I was love torrid but really didn’t like that a girl over size 20 was no where in the top 10!

  • Elizabeth September 13, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Hearing that the the elevators were CLOSED OFF to abilities humans cuts deeply and is something that happens at ALL events I’ve attended Plus Size or not, sadly! Not seeing full inclusion and representation is doubly horrifying and is one main reason why I rarely attend such events… as a Petite Plus and over 40 it’s even more painful reality.
    I’ve also experienced that in “one general priced” events we may have “received” the same foods/access BUT there is a separation of groups/clicks and SECRET EVENTS hosted by the same event planners for the “VIP” attendees.
    This last action is most poignant at events that state “WE are all together in this” then back handedly continue to segregate us by popularity/reach/brand AND even LOOKS whilst placing the same cookie cutter individuals on their stage to present.
    Where is the “ME” in your “WE?!”
    I do send my kiddos for these ladies trying and hope that they address our views and concerns as well as any other event planner and Brand that truly wants to change the LANGUAGE to their events ❤️

  • Momo September 13, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    There are a few things I agree with and couple of things I a disagree with. First i doubt elevators were not reserved for plautuim people. My group was made up of general, teal and plantum and we all used the elevator together multiple times. The only time we could not get on was when they were bringing down the keynote speaker. Second, I agree about the seating. The seating was way too small and squished together. Third, yes they did have a lot of models that were on the smaller size of plus but maybe they were casted for another reasons like height and race. It was great to see shorter models. Also to see models of colour. (and i dont mean just black) my friend was so excited to see a half Asian model because she is half Asian. Fourth , I dont see a problem with the different ticket levels. I think It helps having different ticket level. The price of the Platinum tickets are helping offset the price of the general admission ticket. All the stuff the Platinum people are getting is free stuff from the sponsors. the brunch was paid for by Target. the party was paid for by Macy’s. The swag bag was sponsored by Dia &co. So my extra ticket money went to making it more affordable for everybody else. If it was just one set price for everybody I’m pretty sure it would be more than a hundred a ticket. It cost over 10,000 just to hold that place for an event. If some people want to pay extra and they can afford let them. I dont think it divided us. I went solo and make friends with people from every ticket level. We hang together all weekend. Lastly the event had some kinks that need to be worked out but overall I think it was very empowering. To be able to workout ,party.and shop with people who won’t judge your size is freeing. To be in a place that I dont have to embrassed to try on clothes . To be around so many positive plus size woman doing big things in life is empowering to me. Sorry the event was not to your liking.

    • fatgirlflow September 13, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      this is absolutely a totally valid perspective on the event and I don’t ever want to discount anyone’s experience.

    • Marcy September 14, 2017 at 11:38 am

      I have issues with my knees and can’t do stairs. I was also told the elevator was only for Platinum ticket holders. I only had a Teal ticket, I was taken aback and very upset. I was there covering the event for a well-known media outlet and ended up not attending any of the panels, since I would have to use the stairs. I did the stairs once to attend the fashion show and it was painful. I was disappointed that I did not get to see Chrissy Metz speak or talk to brands there. All because I was not allowed to use the elevator. So the Curvy Con experience was limited for me because of that.

      • fatgirlflow September 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm

        Thank you for sharing that Marcy <3

  • rachel September 14, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Thank you for keeping it really real, Corissa. We have to integrate critique into plus size event/fashion/whathaveyou production so that there is justice for all fat people– not just the fat people who are smaller or have money.

  • Dasha September 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for such an honest review, glad I kept my coins.

  • Mary September 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I experienced just the opposite at the curvy con. It was an amazing event that catered to everybody. I had no problem using the elevator, used it all day except for when they closed it due to a medical emergency that happened. This is at no fault of the event. People are always going to hate, so this post isn’t much of a surprise.

  • Mama Sass October 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this. The plus size community is constantly in danger of being ruined by the very types of companies and thinking that caused it to need to exist in the first place, and if we aren’t discussing issues like these, we’re going to end up just having body positivity for rich able-bodied girls who are slightly larger but mostly same shape and color and attractiveness as the straight sizes, and all the beautiful fat girls who don’t fit this ridiculous mold are going to be left out in the cold again.

    Kudos for raising awareness.

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