Calling all body types: strut your stuff.
Creative Ventures project at the Kelly Writers House recently awarded College seniors Josh Herren and Henry Steinberg $1,000 to put toward a body positive fashion festival.
The festival is meant to shed light on issues of body image that are often overlooked by fashion journalism. The culture of the “do’s and don’ts” of fashion is deeply entrenched in how we view fashion and body image, according to Herren and Steinberg. As a result, they believe it is important to start a conversation about positive body image, taking into consideration the topics of physical, emotional and mental health.
The festival will feature a panel of guest speakers, a fashion show and venders who will be selling clothes for all body types. “We want to bring bloggers, retailers, and activists together for a conversation,” said Herren.
This is one of two projects that the Writers House has given funding to this year, the other being Penn Timebank.
“They’re funding things that couldn’t happen anywhere else,” said Herren.
The idea for the festival, which will take place during the next academic year, originated from a debate on a Facebook post, they explained. An article from the Huffington Post about gay men’s body image spurred an online debate in which Herren and Steinberg felt the need to defend the article against critics of their body types.
Herren and Steinberg, who are dating, said that while their interests usually do not overlap, they wanted to work on something together, and this project was something they were both very interested in undertaking.
Steinberg, who described himself and Herren as “large, gay men,” said that for men of his size, “it’s hard to find clothes that make you look good and also make you feel comfortable,” believing that the fashion industry caters more to women of larger sizes than to men. He and Herren want to create a space where the narrative of larger men’s fashion is heard.
“Just because I’m over 200 pounds doesn’t mean I want to wear elastic waist bands,” Herren said. “I’m not 80.”
The festival is intended to be inclusive to men and women, gay and straight, of all sizes and especially to those that might be considered different from the mainstream.
“It’s not just about loving your body if you’re fat but loving your body no matter what,” said Steinberg.
The organizers want it to be a fun, inclusive day of celebration of all body types. “It’s not about shoving anything down people’s throats,” said Steinberg.
The festival will take place at the Kelly Writers House. Steinberg and Herren, who have both been involved with the Writers House for a few years see it as an ideal location, because “a lot of body shame is [implicit] in fashion writing,” Herren said.
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