Please check out my latest interview with Glamour Magazine's Kirk Shannon-Butts (available now for your reading pleasure) at Glamour.com
How did you get into the industry?
What has been your success in the industry?
I feel extremely blessed because I have had quite a few successes in the fashion industry. I got my first cover on the premiere issue of BELLE Magazine in 1995 right before I signed with Wilhelmina. But I consider my biggest successes to be my appearances on Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance and MTV’s MADE because of the impact (Both shows were the highest rated segments of their seasons) that these shows have had on the lives of plus sized women of all ages.
Tell me about the challenges you have faced in the Fashion industry?
When I first started out as a beginning plus sized model, I did a lot of local shows and I found that it was on the local level where I encountered most of the challenges. When I would show up at the call time with the standard size models, people always asked me if I were singing or they thought I was there to do makeup. Usually, I was the only plus sized model in these shows and many of the makeup artists were either reluctant or simply refused to do my face. Therefore I had to learn how to do my face as well or sometimes better than the pros. I always had to prove myself in order to inspire designers to dress me. However, once they (the designers) saw me do my thing on the runway and the way the audiences reacted to me, I no longer had a problem getting people to dress me or do my makeup for me, as a matter of fact many of the designers went on to create plus sized lines after seeing what I could do in their clothing. I rarely let the adversity get to me though and I learned quickly that preparation was the key and I made it my business to always be ready for any challenges that might come my way.
Statistics suggests that most American women are closer to a plus size rather the size 2 or 4 presented in runway shows and advertising campaigns, elaborate on this majority – minority?
Actually, statistics show that the average woman is a size 12 and over 2/3 of the population are women who are a size 14 or larger. Enough said.
Do you struggle with your weight?
Struggle? Well no, not really. Of course I would love to lose these pesky last 20 pounds, who wouldn’t? But I would only call it a struggle if I were actually doing everything I was supposed to be doing to lose weight with no results. THEN it becomes a struggle for me.
What shows and campaigns have you been in?
I have appeared in ad campaigns for The Avenue, Nordstrom’s, Ashley Stewart as well as commercials for Weight Watchers and Just My Size. My television & runway credits include The View, Rip The Runway, MADE, Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance, Entertainment Tonight, Curvations and I made history last year as the first plus sized model to appear in Guyana’s first ever Fashion Week festivities.
What are your style and fashion mantra?
Be who you are but, be who you are tastefully, always have a little class about yourself. My personal fashion mantra is to always try to be the one to SET the trends rather than following them. Less is definitely more for me, I believe that sexy is not about letting it all hang out but more about the way YOU feel about YOU…inside and out. When you love yourself and you feel good about you…it emanates from your pores and it changes the way you carry yourself and to me, that in itself is sexy. As for my personal style, I love clean lines and classic clothing with a burst of color thrown in the mix. I am drawn to bright colors and love clothing that fits well and makes me feel feminine and sexy, but still leaves something for the imagination.
What designers are getting it right for all women?
Hmmm…”Getting it right for ALL women”??? I am not sure that ANYONE is doing that at the moment. Wow, that’s a really interesting question right now because I was recently in a department store shopping and I saw a plus line by a major designer who’s big on both Seventh Avenue and Television. I was intrigued enough to try on a few things but the fit on the clothing was absolutely heinous. It all looked like clothing that orderlies would wear. I was puzzled that someone who is literally “setting the tones” on Seventh Avenue would put their name on a line for plus sized women that so little thought appeared to have gone into. Quite frankly I can only think of a few designers who are “getting it right” for ALL women. Innovative & fashion forward plus sized designers are relatively hard to find these days. On the other hand I do love the lines that both Anna Scholz and Isaac Mizrahi have created for plus sized women both past & present.
What advice do you have for getting into the model arena?
Be prepared. Be informed. Do you homework, get on your computer and do some research about the industry you want to be in BEFORE you just show up at an agency’s doorstep. There are way too many websites, including my own (www.sharonquinn.com), forums, clubs etc. that have the basic information about how to get started as a model, the basic requirements you must meet, etc., for ANYONE to show up at an open call without at least knowing how to prepare. Know what you are getting into before you get started, as the overhead for starting a career as a plus model can be quite costly at the start.
How is the fashion industry to plus sized models?
Quietly discriminatory unfortunately, I am seeing an alarming trend in the plus sized market; clients are reverting back to the 80’s practice of hiring much smaller sizes and then padding them up. If you look closely at some of the ads in the major plus size stores today, you can see that the clothing is often baggy and doesn’t quite fit properly on some of the models. I think nothing says more thoroughly about how the industry regards plus sized models than the glaring omission of plus sizes from the tents during fashion week and on television. No one seems to want the “stigma” of being associated with plus sizes but they understand that there is MUCH money to be made in this category, so a lot of people will put out quick, cheaply made, badly constructed clothing that the masses will buy because there are few alternatives for them. Stores like The Gap, Old Navy and others have quietly removed plus sizes from their stores, forcing us to purchase clothing on line, wait several days before it arrives and then often times having to send it back because it doesn’t fit properly. Shopping online completely takes away the joy of shopping from shopaholics, like me, who get pleasure from being able to walk into a store and see immediately how a garment looks and/or feels on my body, then being able to purchase it and perhaps wear it that same evening.
With all the discussion with model's weight, what is your opinion?
I believe that the idea behind fashion, be it small or plus sized has always been about selling a fantasy. Most manufacturers/designers assume that they know what their consumer/clientele wants and looks for and they think that they (the customer) don’t want to see a model that doesn’t look like a doll in their clothes. I don’t believe that fantasies or perfection stops at a size 10. I hope that someday manufacturers will accept the fact that the world is ready and willing to embrace a fantasy that looks closer to a real woman.
Tell me about image and health and beauty.
The three go hand in hand. As a working model it’s all about your image and how it’s cultivated. Your image is what remains in a client’s memory long after you’re gone. So it would behoove you not to be the “drunken party girl” at the agency holiday party. Also, being a plus model does not afford you the luxury of running amok at the buffet or continue a steady diet of junk food. YOU are the product and you must maintain your working weight to keep consistent clients. Practice healthy eating habits and get regular exercise in addition to taking extra care to maintain clear and beautiful skin. A model with problem skin often has problems getting work.
Who are your Style Icons?
Plus sized style icons are fairly hard to come by, but I do admire Oprah Winfrey, She’s always stylish and classy NEVER trashy! I don’t know who is currently dressing Mary J Blige, but I totally love him/her at the moment. Mary is looking the best she has ever looked in her life! I am also a big fan of Roberto Cavalli and mark my words; he is going to create a magnificent outfit designed specifically for me one day. Just you watch me!
What is your website?
My official website is (www.sharonquinn.com), which features my personal blogs, a slide show of my works over the years, as well as an advice column called “The Runway Diva Says…” where I post monthly advice on the plus sized modeling industry. I am also the new “Industry Liaison” with Plus Model Magazine (www.plusmodelmag.com) where I contribute monthly features on plus modeling as well.
Let me know your thoughts when you have a moment fam!
Thanks as always for your continued support!!!
"Patience and perserverence have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."