Campaigning For Diversity And Representation In The Fashion Industry

 

Last weekend I spent my Saturday strutting through Trafalgar Square with approximately 100 other babes including burns victims, an amputee, wheelchair users, a pregnant lady, a lady who had just given birth, a newly divorced mum and her two daughters, abilities and disabilities of all kinds, all ages, all shapes, sizes, colours and persuasions, for a guerrilla style, pop up fashion show – not modelling clothes but modelling our own unique and beautiful bodies. (Scroll down for pictures.)

 

 

It was the brainchild of KhrystyAna, a “body/mind/spirit positive activist” and model. She appeared on America’s Next Top Model and is using her platform to fearlessly campaign for equality and diversity within the Fashion Industry – which I believe will create a much needed ripple effect through the rest of society. Hoorah!

 

Watch the results here…

 

 

 

I found out about the pop up catwalk only 2 days before. My lovely friend Becky aka The Anti Diet Riot Club messaged me on Instagram, told me about the event and that she was helping to organise it and that I should take part and strut. She told me to check out the video from the event that KhrystyAna had staged last year in Times Square and I agreed without hesitation. Of course I should take part. I’m the queen of strutting around with very little on (see last blog post) in the name of spreading body positivity and body acceptance.

I read KhrystyAna’s post on Instagram explaining that this year’s theme was “NUDE” which is a message to the Fashion Industry that “nude” should come in all shades and shouldn’t be restricted to the pale, insipid colour we know currently as ‘nude’. However, at short notice not everyone was able to get appropriate nude underwear (I spent the whole of the Friday searching for a tanned enough nude to go with my fresh-from-summer-holidays glow. I ended up going for a cheeky bra and thong set in a deep tan/brown from Boux Avenue. Turns out I’m now an F cup – don’t be jel!) and so black and white were also totally ok. (A couple of ladies missed the memo and strutted in red, and looked freakin’ fabulous doing so, so meh! Rules are made to be broken, right?)

I don’t mind telling you that the night before, I woke up at 3am nervous AF and could not go back to sleep for what felt like hours. But turns out, as with all things we worry about, there was literally nothing to fear.

When I finally found the group of nervous looking people we all bonded very quickly over our anticipation of what was about to occur. KhrystyAna was so friendly, inclusive, warm and welcoming that she put us all at ease immediately. She gave us a master class in all the different kind of walks. They’re regional. The Paris walk is sexy but understated. The LA walk is flirty and bouncy and the New York, possibly my favourite to take the Micky out of, is aggressive and bad ass. I was aiming for 90s Supermodel á la Naomi, Linda, Cindy! However, it turns out that whilst my shoes are super impressive and completely on brand for the School of Strut, they are probably not meant for doing anything other than posing in and possibly lying on one’s back! So, whilst I had hoped to give it a bit of Beyoncé, I feel it went a little more Barbara Windsor. But hey ho!

 

Watch the BBC New’s coverage of the event…

 

As someone of influence within my field, my foremost reason for taking part was to show that as a plus size dancer and fitness instructor who mainly teaches slim women, that if I can parade my gut (it’s not even a baby belly) around Trafalgar Square then my followers and class participants can certainly give themselves some slack when it comes to how they feel about their own bodies. Yes I am somewhat of an exhibitionist – it’s why I was drawn into teaching, but I did not do it to show off (although I do know my ass looked amazing in the thong th-thong thong thoooong!)

I believe that the images that are pushed into our eye gate by the media and fashion and fitness industries are distorting our understanding of the world and the people within it. They suggest that people are more worthy if they fit a certain criteria of beauty, that they are more worthy of respect the lower their body fat or the more fully functioning their body is. But our wellness is not a moral issue. Our health or size (and these are not interchangeable concepts) is not a barometer of our worthiness. And with that in mind I, along with visionaries like KhrystyAna and an ever growing pool of like minded people, will continue to flood the internet with the beauty of diversity.

And if you want to soak up some of my newly strengthened bodyposi-power join me for the SUMMER STRUT CAMP on August 4th, 12pm-3pm. Sessions will include all 4 of the School of Strut Curriculum classes: BodyLanguage, Divanomics, Strutology and Raunch. We’re holding the class at the new BASE Dance Studios in Vauxhall which is owned by JLS star Aston Merrygold.

Tickets are £40 plus Eventbrite booking fee and we will have a picnic afterwards (unless it’s raining but we will have drinks in a local bar)

Photo Credits: Sophie DavisLayna Miyazaki