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A plus for big girls

Natasha Beckles

A plus for big girls

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The fashion and lifestyle blog Big Beautiful Black Girls may not register in the minds of many Barbadians.
But its owner, 23-year-old Ashlee Hinds, is a Barbadian and the blog has a large following in the United States, Africa, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago, among other countries.
Its Facebook page has more than 105 000 “likes” and the number of fans continues to increase daily on sites such as Instagram and Twitter.
Ashlee started the blog, which is hosted on Tumblr, in May 2011 as a way to clear her head after school but it became an inspiration for many women.
“On Tumblr, there weren’t many plus-size fashion blogs when I first joined, so I decided to make a positive blog about plus-size fashion,” she told the SUNDAY SUN.
The blog offers full-figured fashionistas information on sales as well as tips on shopping, food and health, and even previews of plus-size clothing collections.
“My aim, with the help from various plus-size fashion bloggers, is to illustrate that you can have a personal style regardless of your size,” she said.
In the early days of the blog, Ashlee said it was difficult to get women to submit full length photos of themselves showcasing their “outfits of the day”.
“When I first started, what I had trouble with was ladies submitting full size pictures of their clothes. Most just liked to submit headshots because I guess it is actually a big step for anybody to submit a picture to be placed on the Internet and seen all over the world.
“In addition to that, many plus-size women were afraid of trying new trends. This was prevalent because for too long it has been embedded in ladies that they don’t look great from the head down because of their size and I was quite determined to change this,” she said.
These days, the University of the West Indies (UWI)?management student gets daily emails from women across the world who are excited about having a site which caters to them.
But she didn’t expect the blog would be so well received.
“I was surprised to see that it impacted so many ladies across the globe. It was just something to do as hobby, so I am actually happy that it has gone so far and that so many people appreciate what I write about and what I post on a daily basis,” she admitted.
Still, there are some who believe she is encouraging obesity or unhealthy lifestyles although she insists this is not the case.
“What I do promote is body confidence. I’ve found that society believes that just because a lady is plus-size, she is unfit and I must state this is far from the truth.
“I know of many plus-size bloggers, including myself, who maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating clean and exercising weekly just like any other regular person,” Ashlee said.
Although she is pleased with the blog’s international success, Ashlee wants to increase its local popularity.
“I would love for it to impact on the Barbadian population because what I realize is that many ladies don’t tend to dress to their size,” she said.
One idea the former Coleridge & Parry School student is toying with is starting a street-style segment on Instagram featuring students of the UWI.
She also wants to offer ideas on how plus-size women can “dress for less” since plus-size clothes are often expensive.
Even though many bloggers turn their sites into commercial enterprises, Ashlee is content, at least for now, to simply enjoy her hobby.
“Although the creation of my blog was nothing I set out to do, over a short period of three years, I’ve realized what an impact it has made on so many lives. Every day, I thank God for blessing me with this ability.”