“I want every thick and curvy lady in Namibia to know that ‘you are beautiful as you are. You do not need to change anything about yourself, you are perfect as you are,” says 27 year-old entrepreneur, Julia Etuhole Negumbo.
Fashion, by its very nature, reaches for the extremes and has always made size inclusivity a much bigger ‘event’ than it needed to be.
Fat, or being fat, has fetishised, weaponised and every other -ised you can think of.
“While I was at ‘varsity in India, I was very active on social media where I followed many body positive women, big bodied women, who were inspirational to me. When I returned home, I realised that there was a need to encourage women that they are fantastic and that they look fine as they are. That is why I started this ‘Thick and Curvey’ movement,” says Julia.
As Rubenesque women replace the wafer-thin ones on the runways and as the focus of attention, perhaps plus-sized fashion will be freed from bearing the burden of identity and cultural prejudice. Why can plus sized human beings simply not exist, and when will a bigger model finally become just ‘a model’ rather than ‘representing diversity’?
“It started with my cousin and myself printing some t-shirts for ourselves and wearing them out, and when people saw them, many were so impressed and also wanted them. So, I printed and availed them to many ladies. The aim is to have ladies take pictures in their shirts and them post them online, so that they can be an inspiration to other young ladies as well, who may feel insecure about their bodies,” she says.
As an Environmental Sciences graduate, Julia has found the employment lines uninviting and has turned to entrepreneurship to keep the home fires burning. Other than starting this plus size movement, she does environmental impact assessments independently, while keeping the vision alive for the future of her Thick and Curvey movement.
“I now have bumper stickers available, to stick on cars, and I am planning to have more articles of clothing available like dresses, shorts, legging, etc.”
Julia has a lot of plans for the future, like starting a modelling agency for big-bodied people. She is currently passionate about starting movements that will change the mentality of people and change the world.
“When you are wearing on something that is written ‘beautiful’ you really go through your day believing that you are beautiful and that is the same thing we are achieving here. When you wear that t-shirt it affirms that you are in fact thick and curvy and that you are comfortable and happy with how you look.”
There are many negative perceptions in society which are perpetuated through the generations by what women in particular are taught and which have been normalised. With the genesis of this movement in Namibia, Julia hopes to start a new narrative, to solidify a new normal, where it is not unusual or something to tolerate, when we see a big-bodied person walking down the street of just living their life every day.
“I want every thick person to feel appreciated and loved. I want everybody to be okay with their bodies, to be comfortable in their bodies, I want them to know that it is okay to be different and I want that to reach every big-bodied person.”
In the words of Ashley Graham, who might have been the first plus-sized model in a music video when she was chosen for Joe Jonas’s ‘Toothbrush’, “I think yesterday’s models are just so old-fashioned. Young girls today need to be able to understand that just because you aren’t a size two, doesn’t mean you’re any less beautiful at a size 16.”
Thick and Curvey items are sold on an IG boutique store with the same handle.