The average woman in North America is a size 14. But you wouldn’t know it if you flipped through the pages of nearly any fashion magazine. The women in most fashion images are already pretty freaking skinny, but they are routinely Photoshopped to appear even skinnier. With all these skinny women taking up magazine and ad space, that can’t be good for anyone’s individual self image. Where are you supposed to shop if you don’t fit that the bill? Every season fashion pundits talk about how there needs to be “more diversity” in fashion, and yet for the most part the industry keeps marketing itself to skinny white girls.
Diana Di Poce, a savvy fashion student at Toronto’s Ryerson University, created DARE, Canada’s first plus sized magazine, as a way to make space for plus-sized bodies. The online magazine offers style and trend tips, shopping advice, and even has creative fashion editorials that rival those seen in the best mainstream fashion bibles. That’s the thing with plus-sized fashion: whenever a plus-sized model appears in a magazine, in their once-a-year “fat” issue for instance, the model is usually naked. But that’s not fashion — and it’s almost as if the industry is suggesting that there’s no way for people above a size six to look fabulous.
But that’s where DARE comes in. We caught up with Diana Di Poce and talked about women’s bodies, “fatshion” and the hardest part of pulling a magazine together.
Thought Catalog: Where did you get the idea for a fashion magazine for plus sized women? Are there currently any other magazines like it?
Diana Di Poce: DARE was initially developed as part of my fourth year thesis project, a requirement of the Ryerson University fashion communications degree program. I have also been plus-sized all of my life, so the creation of DARE, a magazine speaking to curvy women sizes 12+, seemed so natural. The drive to create the magazine came from the fact that, as a stylish curvy woman and magazine lover, I had nowhere to turn for my fashion fix. Therefore, when asking myself what to include in the magazine and whom I should be targeting, the answer was simple – curvy women like me! DARE is Canada’s first plus-size fashion magazine. There are other magazines in the world that cater to curvy women, however DARE presents a modern and fresh aesthetic, much like top magazines seen on newsstands today.
TC: Does the magazine have an aesthetic philosophy?
Di Poce: DARE is dedicated to catering to curvy women sizes 12+. Although the magazine is targeted towards plus women, I didn’t find it necessary to label it as a plus-size magazine in the logo or in the aesthetic. The average woman in North America is a size 14, so I didn’t see a purpose in stamping a 12+ label on the website or on the cover of the first issue. Similar to how I flip through straight-size fashion magazines for trend inspiration knowing that I won’t be able to fit into these garments or shop at the stores mentioned, I want all women to be able to go to DARE as a fashion and beauty bible.
TC: What do you think the experience of not seeing one’s body image reflected back to them in fashion magazines can have?
Di Poce:For myself, when I flip through the pages of a straight-size fashion magazine and see models who do not represent my body size, it is difficult to imagine how the clothing will fit on a silhouette such as my own. These fashion magazines do provide me with up-to-date trends and inspiration, however I cannot relate to the women in these pages. DARE caters to the average woman in North America, who is a size 14. Our reader can see herself in our pages and can imagine how the garments will fit her curves. We promote an attainable body image.
TC: Every fashion season the chatter is about how we need to have more diversity on the catwalks. But of course, there rarely is. What is this fear of diversity? Why aren’t plus sized models more mainstream?
Di Poce:I believe that we are now seeing curvy models in advertisements, on the runway and in the pages of magazines more than ever before. Glamour UK featured Rebel Wilson on their May 2013 cover, H&M worked with plus model Jennie Runk to advertise their new line of beachwear this season and Allistyle Inc. was the first curvy fashion line to be shown at Toronto Fashion Week last season. Although women have been waiting for these changes to be made for quite a while, the process is slow but I believe that soon diversity will be seen everywhere. With DARE, it has been extremely important to me to show readers that it is an ongoing fashion publication specifically for curvy women, unlike other fashion magazines that release a special plus-size edition once every few years.
TC: What was the most challenging part of pulling your magazine together? Where did the models come from?
Di Poce:The most challenging part was hearing about negative feedback that arose in the industry. Not specifically towards my magazine, but towards the plus-size fashion community as a whole. These naysayers will always exist and on a positive note, they definitely drive me to continue creating a beautiful publication for curvy women. I had so many ideas and stories that I wanted to include in the first issue, so part of the process was to determine which stories were the strongest and made the most impact in defining the magazine. Once I started contacting contributors, I was surprised to see how supportive everyone was of my concept. So many talented people provided me with guidance and help—I couldn’t have created the magazine without them. My professor and mentor, Ben Barry, is one of these people. He helped to guide me through the process and has supported the magazine since day one. Barry is the founder and CEO of the Ben Barry Agency, a modeling agency dedicated to diversity in fashion. I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to work with his beautiful models.
TC: How would you describe “fatshion”?
Di Poce:Fashion is not one size fits all and women around the world are embracing this. “Fatshion” is an empowering term that expresses that women are beautiful no matter what their size. Thanks to plus boutiques, online shops and designers, curvy women can follow the latest trends in fashion and look fabulous!
TC: Why does culture (or the culture industry) believe that great clothes and style are only for skinny people? That’s the only kind of fashion we ever see.
Di Poce:In fashion, we have become accustomed to seeing straight-sized models with an unattainable body image. There has been a movement in fashion and in culture that embraces women of all sizes. We have started to see fashion brands and magazines catered to the average (curvy) woman and I believe this will continue. DARE is apart of this movement and I hope that we can help give women the confidence and inspiration they need to dress in what they love.
TC: What do you have planned for the next issue?
Di Poce:The next issue to be released will be our fall issue. It will feature a wonderful selection of chic fall must-haves, beauty trends and news in fashion. We will continue to provide our reader with the latest information on where to shop for your size, how to flatter your figure and how to be daring with your fashion choices!