How to be a Body Positive BrideWords by Lauren Ertl
The topic of body positivity is near and dear to my heart. Having struggled and recovered from an eating disorder and negative body image, encouraging women (and men) to find peace with their bodies is something I truly take delight in. And, for all of you brides out there hoping to look like a movie star on your wedding day, I’m here to tell you, not diets nor workouts will ever truly make you love your body unconditionally. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Liris Crosse, dubbed "The Body" and "The Naomi Campbell of Plus," is a model, actress and pioneer in the fashion industry for full-figured and African American women. Crosse is also the spokesperson for Maggie Sottero Bridal, making her the perfect interviewee to encourage all brides to feel confident and sexy before, during and long after their wedding days.
Q: What got you started modeling in the bridal industry?
A: For years, I was doing prom wear but at some point, you outgrow that! My agent at the time sent me to a casting for the prestigious Kleinfeld Bridal a few years ago. I went and the dresses just fit me so awesome and I felt like a queen. I became the buzz of some of their events because I represented diversity in size and race, something not usually represented in bridal. Then Maggie Sottero got word of me on a referral from bridal boutique Curvaceous Couture Bridal out of my home state of Maryland. They booked me for their E-comm shoot and the dresses fit like a glove. It was literally like a Cinderella story. They decided to use me for their runway shows for all their market weeks and included me in their campaigns. People started to notice and appreciate the diversity being shown. I must say we've been consistently pushing the pedal to the medal in the past two years together and it's helped brides see a piece of themselves when shopping for their special day! The feedback from stores and brides via my social media or in-person has brought me to tears some days. Representation matters!
Q: It's easy for brides to be critical of their bodies going into the hunt for a wedding dress. What would you say to brides to encourage them before diving into that experience?
A: Be kind to yourself. Remember, your partner already loves you just the way you are when they got down on one knee to propose. Of course, you are free to make changes to you as you see fit, but love and accept yourself at this very moment. Know that you're already loved for who you are as a person and not your size or shape. Don't let friends or family's opinions sway you to feel a certain way about your body either. Brides learn a lot about who their friends and family are during this process. Call ahead to make sure the different bridal boutiques have a sample close to your size to try on. It helps mentally. Also, a word to the wise, wedding gown sizing is two sizes bigger than your usual dress size, so don't get caught up in the numbers when trying on. Remember the boutique is there to help you look and feel good in your dress no matter what size you are, so find the dress of your dreams!
Q: What do you wish could be changed or improved about the fashion wedding industry?
A: I wish there were more samples of various sizes for brides to try on when they go into a boutique. It's no fun when a bride is a size 20 and she has to hold a size 6 dress up to imagine what she'll look like in it. These things can play with your mind if you let it. The average woman in the USA is a size 14/16 and women get married all the time, so why aren't plus size bridal models shown on the regular? You hardly see models of color in bridal and if so it's just one. Women of all sizes and races get married every day so we must do better about the representation. That's why it's been such a big deal with my representation within the bridal market. You get the best of both worlds with me.
Q: If you could tell a bride who is struggling with feeling confident in their body anything, what would it be?
A: In my book, "Make The World Your Runway", I talk about my keys to confidence and success. I feel every bride should be able to make the aisle their runway on their special day. Tap into your Liris inspiration! Confidence is a major factor of it. Remember your body and size don't define you. YOU define you by your heart, mind and works. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. He doesn't make junk, you're a designer's original just as you are. You should feel confidently successful at the fact that you already hit the love jackpot with someone who sees the inner and outer beauty of who you are. Also if we want to get technical, health is more important than size. You can be plus-size and be healthy just like you can be skinny and be unhealthy. Focus on being your healthiest for your special day if anything so you can be ready for that first dance and for exercising in the bedroom for that honeymoon! Enjoy your day ladies! Make the world and the aisle your runway!
Images courtesy of Maggie Sottero
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