Lifestyle plus size swimwear

Always For Me Asks Plus Size Model, Actress, Producer, and Influencer Vanessa Lunnon Her Various Roles in the Plus Size Fashion Industry

June 28, 2018
Interview and article by Sarah Jankowski
Always For Me Rio Cheetah Tankini Set

Vanessa Lunnon in Always for Me “Rio Cheetah” Tankini Set Always For Me Plus Size Rio Cheetah Tankini Set (Click the link above to learn more) Style# AFM1084

Always for Me:

For those who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself.

 Vanessa:

I’ve held a variety of roles in the “industry” from modeling to acting to even producing some fashion shows, so it’s a comfortable space for me.

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve spent a lot of time in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes.

I love being creative and I’m passionate about body positivity (BOPO) so I started a blog called “The Diversity Collective”.

I want the media world to be responsible about how they portray ALL types of people. I also want a platform and space to showcase people in media who are living their dreams and life passions to the fullest.

I want to encourage people to stay positive about life, regardless of their environment(s). I also want to remind everyone that we need to stick together instead of tearing each other down.

We’re stronger together, there’s strength in numbers!

Always for Me:

How did you get started as a plus size model?

Vanessa:

I actually started as an actor. I was raised in the theater world and then went to drama school in NYC.

As for modeling, I had been approached early in life and asked to try modeling, but wasn’t really interested in it. Then the body positivity (BOPO) movement began to get traction, which is really a passion of mine, and I started to change my opinion of the modeling world.

I took some time off, left the country, and traveled a bit. When I came back I felt I had some unfinished business in the modeling world. So, I took the chance to pursue my passion in the BOPO field.

Initially, I worked for a top CEO of a modeling agency, and that’s how I got my foot in the door, both in front of and behind the camera. That’s when I really started to pursue plus size modeling.

It was an exciting time because the industry was changing. Suddenly there were editorials, supermodels, and events that were plus size focused. The plus size fashion industry couldn’t be ignored anymore.

Always for Me:

What is your favorite thing about plus size modeling?

Vanessa:

Growing up there weren’t a lot of fashion models or people in the fashion world who looked like me, so I always struggled with the idea of conventional beauty.

Now that I’m a model, I love that I’m able to influence the next generation in a positive way by representing another form of beauty.

I also love having a community that looks like me.

Always for Me:

How do you feel social media has influenced fashion?

Vanessa:

Yeah, social media is everywhere! I think on one hand it makes it easier to have different types of people represented, but also you have a lot of bullying and negative comments.

Not everyone on social media is positive. Those of us with more exposure need to have thick skin, and we have a responsibility to represent all people.

Always for Me:

When you’re modeling a plus size swimsuit for someone, what makes you think “this is really going to sell well” or “I want this suit”.

Vanessa:

Fit! Fit is such an important part of loving a plus size swimsuit.

If it’s fun, it’s your outfit for the beach, so treat it the same way you would a Saturday night outfit.

The most important factor is if I feel confident in the suit or cover-up.

The Timothy Snell Brooklyn Crop Plus Size Tankini Top and the Timothy Snell Jax Zip Front Plus Size Swim Brief

Vanessa Lunnon in Always for Me Timothy Snell “Brooklyn Crop” Tankini Top and “Jax Zip Front” Swim Brief Timothy Snell Brooklyn Crop Plus Size Tankini Top (Click the link above to learn more) Style# 1850X Timothy Snell Jax Zip Front Plus Size Swim Brief (Click the link above to learn more) Style# 1847X

Always for Me:

Everyone has body anxiety when swimwear shopping. How do you personally overcome that?

Vanessa:

If I look at a piece and think “I love it” – I’ll take a chance and try it on. But…I’ll take a few sizes to try on. I’m flexible with sizes because ultimately FIT is the most important.

Don’t force yourself to fit into a specific size or trend. Find what works for YOU and then rock it!

I struggle with body image just like any other woman. It’s normal to struggle a bit, but it’s important to find what works for you.

Be kind to yourself. Remember that we all share the human experience and we all change from day to day. It’s beautiful but we all struggle at times.

Always for Me:

What would you tell your younger self regarding swimwear and fashion?

Vanessa:

Look for things that really fit your body. Great prints, mix in color.

Take risks. Don’t be afraid to step out of the norm.

“If you can rock it, you can wear it”. It all comes from within. Just own it!

Have fun with it!

Always for Me:

Do you see any downsides to the body positive movement?

Vanessa:

No. I think the BOPO movement is great!

Watching it unfold in real time and seeing as it moves towards including more and more people is really exciting. Even if it wasn’t a movement, I would still champion the cause because I believe in it.

There’s such a range from transgender, to older models, to men all on board with body positivity.

BOPO doesn’t mean that we are always happy or never feel self-conscious. We are all trying to be our best selves at any given moment. We all have good and bad and we all want to have a space in the industry and know that we matter.

If there was a negative, it’s that as the BOPO movement has grown, so too have the amount of groups. We need to remember that we are all on the same side, my win IS your win.

Always for Me:

What are the most important features that you look for when buying a swimsuit?

Vanessa:

Fit. Also a fun color or a print.

Something that flatters me and that I feel confident and know that I can rock on the beach.

 

Always For Me Twist Front Bandeau Swimsuit in Aqua

Vanessa Lunnon in Always for Me “Twist Front Bandeau” Swimsuit in Aqua Twist Front Bandeau Plus Size Swimsuit Aqua (Click the link above to learn more) Style# 67164W-AQUA

Always for Me:

Do you feel the terms “plus” or “plus size” is still valid?

Vanessa:

Yes, they are still valid. Originally these terms were only supposed to be industry insider terms, that’s how they started. They were just meant to be another category like “juniors” or “children’s”.

Now it’s moved to represent a community, a movement, a space for women.

I don’t feel it’s derogatory. Should be used as a positive and inclusive label. I’m proud to be plus size and represent plus size women. When I go to my job as a model, I’m a plus size model.

Still relevant because we’re still talking about it, it’s still “out there”. Especially within the body positivity movement.

Always for Me:

What would you tell a young woman, or any woman, who is being body shamed or bullied for her size?

Vanessa:

What others say about you is a reflection of them. You should be able to do what you want in your life regardless of your size.

No one can define you but you. Life is too short, so live your best life.

Rules for dealing with negative people or comments:
  • Do not engage. Many bullies want you to respond, so not responding can help it stop.
  • Remember it’s really about THEM and not you. People who are truly happy bring people into that happiness.
  • Use safety measure if needed – locking/blocking people who are hateful.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people and supportive people.
  • Take control of what you can, spread love. Love will always go further.
Always for Me:

What’s the greatest or one of the greatest compliments you’ve received?

Vanessa:

When people message or come up to me and thank me for my work because of what I’m doing for their children.

You can see the confidence in young women, and that’s amazing to see!

It’s great when I see others fully embrace themselves. I love seeing someone really rocking a look and seeing them as fashionable or stylish before seeing them as plus size.

Always for Me:

What are some of the emerging plus size swimwear trends that you’re seeing for the 2018 season?

 Vanessa:

Plunging necklines, more risk in print and design overall.

More things that cater to plus size specific market. There are more styles that are supportive to the plus size body (tummy control, band width).

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The fact there are more options in the plus size swim market and that plus size fashion is trending in and of itself.

Always for Me:

Is there anything in the plus swim world or plus fashion world as a whole that you’re really excited for/by?

Vanessa:

Like I said, I love that there are more options for plus size women.

It’s also really encouraging to see more plus size models and fashion campaigns.

It’s important to have companies like Always For Me that you know and trust for quality, fit, support, etc…

Always for Me:

What would you like to see or not see in the industry?

Vanessa:

We’ve come a long way, but have more work to do. I’d like to see more acceptance of all size ranges and also more racial diversity.

More options to wear swim in different settings, and beach to bar transition pieces that offer style and support.

Plus size women are active women! We need things that are supportive too and that can stand up to multi-wear and multi-purpose styling.

Companies and designers that are supportive and will cater to men/women of all sizes and races.

Putting your money where it matters. Support each other. I think it’s so important to support brands that give a positive image.

Models/brands…if you like them, follow them.

For me, Always For Me has been around for a long time and really supportive of plus size women and that’s been great.

Always for Me:

Any final thoughts on swimwear or your message.

Vanessa:

I love to feel sexy and accentuating parts of my body that I think make me look great. Necklines, leg cuts, fun colors and prints, for this reason, it’s exciting to see more things out there.

Have your own confidence, and also be confident that your plus size suit or plus size clothing is doing it’s job. Holding you in, fitting you, and supporting you where you need it.

I love that there’s a community out there and that I’m part of it. It’s great to see the BOPO movement happening and growing.

I really try to live my passion and purpose and work to translate that into all areas of my life.