Gabi Gregg – the Instagram trailblazer known to over 650,000 followers as GabiFresh – has championed the body positivity movement since starting her fashion blog in 2008. Based in Los Angeles, she went viral with her ‘fatkini’ shoot in 2012, later co-founding plus-size clothing brand, Premme and launching three collections with UK lingerie brand, Playful Promises
Interview: Cheryl Caira
Sexy but practical
Whether it’s clothes, swimwear or lingerie, I’m always thinking about how to innovate and make things that aren’t normally available in the plus-size market. I try to get creative by using new fabrics and styles that I haven’t seen before, but I also think about the wearability.
Promise me style
I chose the collaboration with Playful Promises because their name is perfect and our brands just align. Their designs are playful and whimsical, while still being sexy. I knew I could really be creative on the design front because all the other styles on the website are so fun and innovative and they’re doing things so differently within the industry.
Licence to thrill
The shoot for my second Playful Promises collection was definitely inspired by James Bond. I thought it would be fun to go for a spy girl vibe. When I looked at the collection as a whole, it felt very sleek and fashion forward, so I thought it would go well with the black Lamborghini and the ‘woman of mystery’ theme around the campaign.
Some people think the term ‘plus-size’ is divisive or that it’s separating women into categories based on their size, but the way I feel is the same way I feel about race. You have to acknowledge that we’re all different and that we’re treated differently in society, so until we’re all treated the same, I think we do need categories to create community – especially if we’re part of those groups that are marginalised.
A lot of us have reclaimed being larger or ‘plus-size’ as something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, so I don’t mind the word. It’s not the word that’s doing the damage to society, it’s the way we’re treated because of our size. With or without the word, we’re still looked down upon, so I prefer to have a community around the term where we feel more comfortable and can connect with each other.
The lingerie industry has had to catch up with the times. For so long it was focused on selling a fantasy, using lingerie as a way to promote this idea that you have to be attractive to men and have a ‘good’ body type.
I’ve definitely seen improvements, as we’re now seeing lingerie made for all different skin tones and sizes, but we still have a long way to go. Overall I still can’t walk into most shops and buy a bra that fits me that’s not black or beige or boring. I’m a size H, so once you get to my section – if they even have it – there aren’t that many options.
What I always tell people is that it’s definitely a journey. I haven’t reached a final destination. I’m always working on it and there are things about my body I don’t like, but I know I shouldn’t dwell or focus on that. It’s human nature – all of us have been brainwashed from the time we were born about what it is to look perfect and what it means to be beautiful, so you have to unlearn those ideas.
I surround myself both online and in real life with empowering, beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, races and gender identities. It’s a good daily reminder of all the different types of beauty in the world, so you’re no longer just comparing yourself to an ideal of beauty.
Solidarity on socials
We’re now empowered through social media. Before we kind of relied on mainstream media, TV and film to tell us what beautiful was, and now they no longer have that same power. We have the choice, through Instagram and all these other platforms, to share ourselves and each other. Women are feeling inspired by the confidence of other women around them to post pictures in a bikini or lingerie. It’s that snowball effect, and there are so many more of us than when I started 10 years ago.
Gabi Fresh x Playful Promises is available online at playfulpromises.com in sizes UK 16-28 and bra sizes 36-38B-G & 40-44C-G
Body positive inspiration
The Empowered Woman Project
Founded by Mandy Rose Jones – named one of YWCA Scotland’s 30 under 30 – the Empowered Woman Project has become a blog and community for women to express their feelings around post-natal depression, anxiety, body image and self-esteem issues. It’s also now a podcast, with a series of feminist events in the pipeline. Jones launched the project after her mental health deteriorated last year, to empower women and encourage them to share their stories without judgement. She says: “In a world full of unachievable beauty and unrealistic expectations, I want the project to serve as a reminder to other women that they are perfect just as they are.”
In-between killing it as Tahani al-Jamil in The Good Place, the actor and presenter regularly speaks out against body-shaming. Her ‘I Weigh’ Instagram campaign, showing how she weighed herself in achievements and experiences rather than kilograms, sparked an impassioned response. She’s also criticised celebrities who promote diet products and detox teas for weight loss, and called for a Photoshop ban in beauty ads.
Body Proud Mums
Mothercare’s latest campaign is aimed at making mums of all shapes and sizes feel more confident. Featuring images of ten women, the aim of ‘Body Proud Mums’ is to start a positive conversation that celebrates the beauty of the post-birth body. In the retailer’s words: “At the heart of the campaign is the belief that all mums are beautiful. After all, their bodies have just performed a miracle.”
Body beautiful: Diversity on the catwalk
The National Museum of Scotland exhibition, running until 20th October, examines how parts of the industry are calling into question existing practice and spearheading alternative ideals of beauty on the catwalk, while also exploring themes around size, gender and sexuality, age, race and disability. There will be a spotlight on the fashion creatives embracing inclusivity and body-positivity, and looks from designers including Max Mara, Ashish, Pam Hogg and Jean Paul Gaultier.