The dusky zero filter Tia Duffy, creator of the BeBodyAware campaign just shot herself (she happens to wear a size 12 gown,) and her pal, the radiant actress Ann Pirvu (who happens to wear a size 0 gown) in floor-sweeping eveningwear.
Tia Duffy pulled this off to show people that campaigns don’t have to feature one body type, because that’s tired. “It’s just going to take a while for the world to see that, and that’s why we are setting out to change things in the ground level and show the world what it’s missing,” she told RunwayRiot. (These megababes are in the Canadian womenswear label Narces to show everyone out there, look same steeze different size.) She tried and got tossed out of what she calls “skinny” modeling, and wasn’t so accepted by everyone on Instagram in the “plus” zone, which is why she founded Be Body Aware. Because everybody has body image stuff and she refuses to accept division.
Here she talks to RunwayRiot about why she hopes this campaign will get everyone to stop being so damn nitpicky over size. In this interview, you’ll see she uses the fun word, “together.”
You talk about the stereotype that only models need to be a certain size to model. Where do you see the fashion industry is at with that right now?
Yes, I still feel for high fashion there is a uniform trend that all models should fit the same measurement and look almost identical on the runway and in shoots, when in reality every person and body is different. We we should not all want to be the same or aspire to be the same sizes. I see things changing slowly, but nowhere near where it should be, when I look all around me in the media on TV, on billboards, in stores I’m still not seeing diversity. The day I walk into a mall and see al body shapes in the windows and on the TV, then I’ll know the industry is where is ought to be.
Photographer: Steve Dolson, Hair: Mario Grassa, Cherie Grassa Makeup: Ada Lee, Cherie Grassa
What do you like about Narces?
I came across NARCES in Toronto Fashion Show this year and I was aware that they dress celebrities for red carpets and are a prestigious fashion brand. When I went to meet with the designer, my size wasn’t even an issue, the dress was just there and available to me, and they also had all their other dresses in many different sizes, which gave me hope. My first thought was, ‘is it possible for all designers to be like this?’ I’m pretty sure it is possible.
You call yourself an “inbetweenie.” Can you talk about times when you felt fashion didn’t know where to “put” you?
Yes, in Ireland and the UK when I started modeling, I was considered plus size at a UK 14. I knew where I stood and people knew where to put me. I entered into the Simply Be plus size competition and soon after, I moved to New York. In New York however I recall going to several agencies and they told me face to face you’re just too small. I’ll often get insta comments like “you’re not plus size”. In Canada, however, my agency Plutino signed me right away. Although they knew I was an inbetweenie, they took a chance on me because I was so passionate about diversity in fashion and I found my niche, which proves that size is irrelevant once people are open minded within the industry.
When did you feel you were embraced for your size?
I tried skinny modelling for about two years at the age of 17 and every agency said no. I dieted and after a while, I became exhausted with it all and gave it up to go to university. I left the idea of modeling behind. After university one day my mom had seen a completion with Simply Be clothing line looking for a curvy model, I entered in and that’s when my modeling career changed my life. I soon had every agency calling me. I embraced my size as a curvy plus size model and vowed never to change my body for anyone.
What were some reasons people gave you when you were rejected from either “straight” and from “plus”?
I didn’t fit into sample sizes for straight size modeling and that was very evident early on. I would never be accepted as a straight model. I’ve never felt as rejected from “plus” it’s just the ,social media comments that really bug me when I say I’m proud to be plus size and then people say “you are not plus size.” You’ll never be able to please everyone at once, this is why I founded Be Body Aware. I think that we are focusing on the wrong things. We all have a body and body image relates to us all, labels are not the issue, knowing and loving your own body is the most important and being body aware.
Often shoots are strictly about size acceptance or simply “straight size” so teaming up with a size 0 was a smart move…can you talk about how you connected with your fellow model?
Ann is an actress and model and often makes appearances on red carpets. We got talking about the acting industry and the model industry and she believes that women of the world come in all shapes and sizes. For Ann, sharing her humanity is her job and she feels that no one should be denied the opportunity to work for not being a certain height orweight. Ann is naturally a size 0 and has a petite frame and this is something that can also be overlooked and judged within the industry. For so long, we have been forced to accept that size zero is “high fashion” but what about the women out there who have size zero bodies? They are just as entitled to love their bodies as a curvy girl is. Body shaming should not be accepted on any level.
And as a model do you feel there was a solidarity across sizes rather than tension?
That’s such a hard question. I guess that’s why I founded Be Body Aware to start bringing everyone together. There are still stylists out there terrified to style a curvy girl, I want to change that and change it through action. There is a gap between the straight size and plus size world, which I’m trying to draw together. I get that plus size in itself is its own industry and I respect that, but there is still a large part of the industry excluding “plus size” and stopping it from going into high fashion. I don’t like the segregating, to be honest, I think we are all stronger together.
Is it a myth that the curvier women stick together and don’t support slimmer people and vice versa?
There are cliques in the industry and that’s what bugs me, to be honest. I’m hoping this campaign can show those people that we can all do it together.
What kinds of responses have you gotten from slimmer people and curvy people about this campaign?
When I tell people this is a campaign about all bodies, they are saying, ‘well it’s about time.’ Almost everyone involved is loving that both worlds are coming together as opposed to being seen apart all the time. Its so inspirational.
How do you feel about your shape?
I love my shape. Without my curves, I feel like I wouldn’t be me. They are part of who I am and nothing is more satisfying than putting on a pair of jeans and confidently showing my curves everywhere I go especially a red carpet.
How do you think being a model affected that?
I think the love and self acceptance I have for my body has encouraged me to not care about what others think my body should be. This is what gave me the confidence going forward. You should only ever really focus on your own body not other people’s bodies or what other people think of your body, just love and focus on your own body image and it will change your life forever.