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October 21, 2017
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Tanesha Awasthi of Girl With Curves. Source: girlwithcurves.com.

Behind over 40,000 Facebook fans and 6,000 Twitter followers is a woman on a mission: 31-year-old Tanesha Awasthi is showing the world just how good curvy women can look through her blog, Girl With Curves.

Awasthi began as many bloggers do: she launched the site in February 2011 and started posting outfits she had worn the previous week. But, as her audience quickly grew - filling a void in the fashion blogosphere - Awasthi says her blog has "become a mission for change," in hopes of "chang[ing] lives through fashion, by promoting positive body-image, self-esteem and body-acceptance in the curvy community." Lara Wiedeking spoke to the UC Berkeley graduate and licensed esthetician about her mission, British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend and blogging as a full-time job.

Tanesha Awasthi. Source: girlwithcurves.com. 

Lara Wiedeking: Why did you choose to focus your blog on curvy women?

Tanesha Awasthi: When I started the blog, I named it "Girl With Curves" because I found my pictures posted on Tumblr and the majority of the comments referred to me being a "curvy girl." At the time, I didn't think about the meaning behind it, other than the fact that I've always identified as a curvy girl, so the fact that others were calling me that didn't bother me.

Over time, though, it became part of my identity, and I completely embrace the fact that I'm a girl with curves. Giving the blog a title that refers to my physical appearance has become a way for me to show other women that it's okay to have curves and it's okay to like them! 

LW: In your experience, which brands design well for curvy women?

TA: I really love brands like Asos, Dorothy Perkins, Forever 21, Anna Scholz, and New Look. They offer a range of sizes and they offer budget-friendly options that range from trendy to classic.

LW: The organisers of some fashion shows have started placing age and weight minimums on models. Does this help change the way society expects women to look like, or do designers and organisers need to do more?

TA: I think it helps to a certain extent, but what would help is if designers started realising that their consumer isn't model-tall or model-thin in most cases, so perhaps they should use a more realistic representation of the average consumer, instead of someone who meets traditional model standards!

LW: The first British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend launched a month ago. What are your thoughts on the collections that were presented?

AW: I didn't attend the British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend, but I've been to a couple of plus-size fashion events. What I love most about the events is seeing women come together, discuss fashion, network and promote body positivity. As for the fashion on the runway, I wish it was more diverse in terms of the customer they're trying to attract. Most of the fashion I've seen at events is trendy, but overtly sexy and not for everyday wear.

[W]omen come in all different shapes and sizes, and girls with curves deserve amazing fashion, just as much as anyone else.

LW: Is an event such as the British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend a positive development for plus-sized women?

TA: In my mind, plus-size events are extremely positive and empowering, because they bring plus-size fashion into the spotlight, however, my hope is that one day there won't be separate fashion weeks or fashion functions for straight-size versus plus-size fashion. I think the separation has to end, in order for the fashion industry, society and the media to accept the fact that women come in all different shapes and sizes, and girls with curves deserve amazing fashion, just as much as anyone else.

LW: But do you think with the increased attention through the British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend people are more likely to differentiate between curvy and skinny women and if so, is that something you would wish for?

TA: I think the fashion industry, society and the media have always differentiated between plus-size vs. straight-size. But what's interesting now that plus-size fashion is becoming a hot topic and more mainstream, is the fact that it is so separate, which itself is becoming more apparent. Especially when plus-size fashion is so far behind straight-size fashion in terms of being trendy, fashion-forward and having so many more price-points and brand options.

LW: In 2007, photographer Oliviero Toscani photographed Isabelle Caro, an anorexic French woman. The "No Anorexia" advertisement by Italian designer Nolita triggered a widespread discussion on eating disorders, the media's role in diffusing unrealistic beauty ideals and a call for change. In your opinion, have there been any advances in the past few years regarding the preconceptions of how a woman should look like?

TA: I suppose with the emergence of plus-size bloggers and more women embracing more forms of beauty than the one we constantly see in media, perceptions of beauty are changing drastically. But there is still a long way to go!

LW: When I walk in the streets, I get the feeling that many women have lost a sense of what a healthy weight is - women are either too skinny or beyond a modest weight. What do you think is the reason for this?

TA: I'm not sure, because I can't speak for anyone. I can only speak for myself in ensuring that I strive to be the healthiest version of myself, and sometimes life gets in the way of that! But at the end of the day, life is meant to be lived and not consumed with thoughts of being too this or too that. We are all individuals and we must be the healthiest version of our individual selves.

Forever 21 billboard featuring Girl with Curves, Times Square.
A Forever 21 billboard featuring
Tanesha Awasthi in Times Square.
Source: girlwithcurves.com.

LW: If you had a daughter, how would you raise her to feel attractive and comfortable with herself despite what others might tell her?

TA: I don't have a daughter, but I hope to one day; I would teach her that there are many forms of beauty, and she is one of them. I think it's important for the next generation to understand the battle between the media's idealistic form of beauty and how the average woman looks. I think if we all started with knowing this from the day we started comparing ourselves with others, the thoughts of feeling ugly, overweight, not worthy, etcetera, would be much less, if not absent altogether. A healthy self-esteem starts from within, and as children, we need help building one.

LW: And do you plan to add anything to your blog in the future?

TA: I do! I hope one day for GWC to be the number one plus-size destination for fashion inspiration on the web!

LW: That's quite a goal. When you're not working on you blog, what do you do "in real life"?

TA: I left my full-time job at the end of last year, in order to pursue blogging full-time. I spend at least 10 hours a day working on new content, answering emails, etc. I'd spend more time on it if I could - I love what I do!

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