Bad hair day? Relationship woes? Modeling aspirations? Stephanie has the answers!
By Stephanie Zehr
Q: I've always wanted to wear my hair long, yet everyone tells me that women with fuller faces should wear only shorter styles. What do you think?
Stephanie: I think that "everyone" should keep their opinions to themselves! These are probably the same folks who think plus-size women should only wear black and stay away from horizontal stripes. Your hairstyle should always be your decision. Your hairstyle, like your clothing, is a personal statement. I suggest doing a little research. Go try on wigs and see which styles you prefer. Better yet, bring a friend along to take Polaroids or digital photos. You can look at the pictures objectively and decide which hairstyles suit your facial shape.
Q: I have two young daughters and I'm looking for a short, wash-and-wear hairstyle. The dilemma is finding something that is flattering and not frumpy. How should I go about deciding on a style?
Stephanie: Start by picking up some styling magazines - there are plenty out there to choose from - and marking the hairstyles you think might fit with your lifestyle. Every woman's magazine has dozens of photos. Go through the magazines you have at home and tear out the pictures of styles you like. You can also search the Web for sample styles. Bring your magazines and pictures to your next appointment and show them to your stylist. Ask her or him which styles would work with your hair thickness and texture. Together, you should be able to come up with a winning style!
Q: My husband and I have been together for 14 years, and even though I know my husband loves plus-size women, I still have a problem letting him see me undressed. I feel confident in being a plus-size woman, but when it comes to a sexual relationship, I seem to go into a shell. Any advice?
Stephanie: Well, you could start slowly and purchase some new boudoir clothes. A new corset or thigh-highs can do wonders for your sexual soul! Some of these items can be worn during sex. This might make you feel more comfortable, yet still sexy. Soon enough, your comfort and confidence level should skyrocket. Be daring, be sexy, but most of all, do what makes you happy!
Q: After a lot of prodding from friends, I'm finally ready to place a personal ad. But I can't seem to think of romantic-sounding words that describe my plus-size body. Any suggestions?
Stephanie: Congratulations on taking the plunge and for having the wisdom to note your - it will save you the trouble of having to weed out the thin-obsessed respondents. Words that I find very attractive and descriptive of our plus-size bodies include curvy, luscious, Rubenesque, abounding, abundant, plush and bountiful. As an aside, be careful when meeting the people who respond to your ad. Don't go alone, and have a back-up plan. You never know if you'll be meeting the person of your dreams or a total psycho! Let me know what happens.
Q: I'm 19 years old, weigh 240 and stand at 5'9". I feel like I'll never get married and will end up alone. Guys hit on me sometimes, but I wonder if they just think I'll sleep with them because I'm desperate. I don't know how to approach relationships at all. Can you help me?
Stephanie: Even though it doesn't seem like it, you are only at the beginning of your relationship journey. It is safe to assume that a high percentage of men in clubs are hitting on you for sexual reasons. It is best not to agree to sexual relations unless a) you are ready to have sex, both emotionally and physically, or b) you are in love. I prefer answer "b," if you're asking. It's much better for your mental and physical health to wait, rather than to have regrets later. Don't feel as if you have to have sex or a relationship to be considered normal. Develop friendships first, and see where they might lead. At the same time, be assured that plus-size women do find boyfriends, get married and have very happy lives. Just have fun and enjoy life as it comes to you.
Q: I realize the modeling industry has made huge advances in regard to full-figured women, but why are women under 5'7" still discriminated against in modeling? The average height for women in the U.S. is 5'4".
Stephanie: It's not just in the plus side of the business where height counts. With the thinner models, height is important, too. Most designers cut clothes that fit girls with taller frames. Usually, it is to suit those that are 5'8" and over. If you were to put a 5'8" pants on a 5'3" model, what would happen? For fashion shows, the producer or designer pulls clothes straight from the rack. There isn't much time to hem the clothes to fit properly. There are some lines, such as Elisabeth, that are actually carrying petite plus. EMME(r) will eventually produce a petite plus line. It will take time, but I believe that when the petite lines start producing more sales, we will see a shift in the use of petite plus models.
Q: I work as a professional fit model, and am very glad to see the plus-size market growing strong. I was initially ecstatic about seeing larger women in print, but now they seem to be getting smaller and smaller! Most so-called plus models are barely a size 14 and usually a 10-12. Does this bother you?
Stephanie: This is due to both the designers and agents. The designers want to see the women that are curvy, but not "too" curvy. And the agents don't want to sign girls that are not "in shape." We know that you can be in terrific shape at any size, but this is the excuse they like to give. They are afraid to use a real plus model - afraid that the press will view them negatively. We have to continue hounding the designers about the use of true plus models. Write them and email them, telling them you want to see their clothes on women who are truly plus size.
Q: I've never been one to pay attention to fashion magazines and never could relate to the models, other than their height (I'm 6' tall), but secretly I've always wanted to be a model. After seeing BBW Magazine for the first time in May, I feel like anything is possible and - with some luck - perhaps my secret fantasy can come true. How do I get the ball rolling?
Stephanie: How exciting for you! I remember the first time I read BBW about ten years ago. I felt like I had finally found what I had been searching for. There are so many things you need to do. First, you can visit great sites, such as www.plusmodels.com, www.venusdivas.com, www.plusstop.com and www.plususa.com. There is so much information on those sites to help you get started. If you do not have a computer, find someone who does! As a beginner, it's best that you visit a reputable agency with some snapshots. They will give you sound advice on your look and what you should do. There are some requirements that need to be met, so start researching information now. Best wishes for your success!
Q: I have a co-worker who prides herself in being a "fashion expert." She's a size 8, and she tends to treat me as a disabled person (I'm a size 16), and refers to plus-size women as "lovely ladies." I resent her making presentations to groups and categorizing women like me in that way (although I am lovely and am a lady). How should I handle this?
Stephanie: Let her know exactly how you feel. Honesty is always the best policy, ALWAYS! If you continue to keep you true feelings to yourself, it will only end up disastrously. Tell her that you don't feel comfortable with her analogy. Give her alternative terminology. Hopefully, she will understand your feelings and proceed with a better attitude. If all else fails, talk to your supervisor about sensitivity training for the company's employees. Remember, though, don't stoop to her level - it's not worth the time or the amount of oxygen it takes!