+ Size Matters : Curvy AF & The Significance of Body Positive Fashion Illustration

Last month we saw the unique collaboration between body positive artist, Jonquel Norwood of Jonquel Art and plus size fashion designer Courtney Smith of Courtney Noelle Inc. The brain-child of Jonquel, this event brought a different kind of fashion event – one that definitely put a spin to the concept of “wearable art.”

This event was one that I was really looking forward to since the day Jonquel first mentioned the idea of working on an event that celebrated both fashion and body positive fashion illustration. After all when people think about art it is rare that fashion is considered as part of that category. Yet the fact is anything that is designed, be it fashion or otherwise, is perfected first on paper with illustration really being a major part of the process toward the end result so it stands to reason that art and fashion shouldn’t stand so independently as they often are. Nevertheless, what made Curvy AF so unique, besides the unapologetic name of course, was the idea of having the holiday fashion show and accompanying art exhibition to not only provide a unique shopping experience, but more importantly empower women and prove that style and beauty have no size.

Art with fashionable women is not new but Jonquel’s work is relevant for when it comes to fashion illustration plus size bodies are the last thing you expect to find – especially dressed in styles that the fashion industry has made a point to say women above a certain size should never wear. I greatly admire her eye for great style as she even references straight size fashion designs to clothe her models, reworking them to show how they could work on a plus body.

Just to be clear, while much of her work does include appearances of real life models and sometimes even influencers, these fashion illustrations are not caricatures. Yes, the difference is significant as she strives to create visibility for all bodies with her work especially those that are usually ignored by mainstream and high fashion industries. Its both a passion and a mission for Jonquel, who knows that visibility in all kinds of media is what will bring the body positive change we wish to see in fashion.

The show even included original paintings – demonstrating Jonquel’s artistic range.

Life imitating art

Art imitating life

These two had an amazing event and I can’t wait to see what else they do, together or apart.

As her friend I may have a bit of a bias but I do have to say that Jonquel is incredibly talented.  The amazing  reception her work and her closing body positive speech received that November evening was incredible. To me this means that the world is ready for more plus size fashion that pushes the envelope and even if the fashion industry isn’t Jonquel has it covered.


ABOUT THE SERIES: Whether or not we are conscious of it, what we consume as entertainment has a great impact on our personal growth and identity. In many cases media literacy has been dismissed to be unnecessary, yet the truth remains that media influences social ideals and constructs of such concepts as gender, race and body ideals. Disregarding the significance of media in turn promotes the continuation of stereotypes and fosters a negative self-image especially in girls and women. Critical media consumption aids the fight against the over-sexualization, and under-representation of women, that can lead to the creation of works that aid female empowerment. It all starts with us. With that in mind, “+ Size Matters” will analyze past and present plus size representation in media as doing so sheds light on the beauty/body standards and stereotypes that still need to be broken.

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