Recently, Real Style had a chance to attend and review the Canadian premiere of the Straight/Curve fashion documentary. In addition to viewing the inspirational doc, we also spoke to plus size models and stars Robin Lawley and Denise Bidot, and producer Jess Lewis.
Lawley, who hails from Australia, is probably best known for covering Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The 28-year-old statuesque beauty also owns an eponymous swimwear line, Robyn Lawley Swim, which offers diverse swimwear styles for a variety of body shapes. Meanwhile, gorgeous and curvaceous 31-year-old Bidot is a Miami native who discovered the world of plus size modelling after she started pursuing acting roles. Bidot is also the mother of a nine-year-old girl, Joselyn, and is proud of her status as a body positivity icon and role model.
Meanwhile, Toronto-born Lewis is not only the producer of the film, but has also modelled as both a straight size and a plus size model. We sat down with this passionate and talented Canadian gal, and also had a chance to catch up with Lawley and Bidot about life in a rapidly evolving fashion industry.
Real Style: Tell us more about your experience, as a model involved with Straight/Curve.
Robyn: I knew it was going for quite some time, and I was intrigued by it. My friend, Jess [Lewis] is a producer of it. When it was in its final stages, she asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I said “100 percent!” because my whole career had been based completely on curvy modelling and plus size modelling. For me, [it was about] having this topic discussed and having the ability to have women talk about the challenges of the fashion industry. We are all sick of this one body type that we constantly see in every magazine for how many years. We never see diversity, and now everyone is like “we want diversity.” That’s why this documentary is happening.
Real Style: What are some of the biggest challenges of being involved in the documentary? The world of fashion is different from the world of film.
Robyn: I’m an aspiring filmmaker. I just finished my own documentary. It’s 11 minutes, in comparison to a movie. Having finished that, I was really interested in the technical standpoint. Obviously, this topic and what it means to be curvy, and getting this message of body diversity out there.
Real Style: Being Australian, do you have any favourite designs from your country?
Robyn: I love Australian fashion. I love [designers] Scanlan Theodore, Zimmermann, Alex Perry and Josh Goot. They think outside the box. They think “what would be the statement piece, what’s going to put me aside from everyone else?” I have a swimwear range, so for me, it was the same thing. Quality is my number one important thing.
Real Style: Speaking of which, tell us more about designing your swimwear range.
Robyn: I couldn’t get swimwear that fit that was cool, and I was in Australia where I swam every day. I have this one suit that looks good on all sizes, even a size 20 versus a size 10.
Real Style: Tell us about your experience as a curvy model.
Denise: I actually never knew about the plus size industry as a whole. I started modelling a little over ten years ago. It was a completely different industry than it is now. Back then, we were wearing muumuus and there was this preconceived notion that you got older and you got bigger. I was on the young side of a lot of the models who were working at the time. I got told “no” a bunch, just because I was young and there was no need for consumers for young, trendy plus-size women. The last five years [have been] the first time I have been able to really shop and express myself.
Real Style: Tell us more about your passion for fashion.
Denise: I have a runway movement that I started a few years ago, and that allows me a certain level of expression in allowing others to have their own expression. I am an avid watcher and I love our industry- fashion, makeup, theatre and film. As any creative knows, our work is 120 percent us.
Real Style: Your daughter is a huge force in your life and your career. What would you like her to know about body positivity growing up?
Denise: I had to watch my mom struggle a lot, while I was growing up. As a mother, it’s very important for me to be transparent with her. She knows nothing else, other than me as a model. To think that she has grown up with this body positive revolution and this self-love generation that I think should have happened many moons ago! I’ve been able to see how first hand, it has affected her, and how she is a confident, sassy nine-year-old. A lot of what has helped that dynamic and bond is conversation.
Real Style: What was the most inspirational moment you experienced, as producer for Straight/Curve?
Jess: I’d say the most inspiring moment for me actually happened before we officially started filming. After many years as a straight size model, discovering the curve side of the industry and its amazing message of empowerment, inclusivity, diversity was ultimately what motivated me to creating this call to action for not only the industry, but our society.
Real Style: How do you think this film can inspire young women and teenage girls who may be struggling with body image issues?
Jess: The film exposes many of the tactics used behind creating the images we see in media, so hopefully any girl or woman struggling with body image issues will realize that many of the images we see aren’t the reality. There’s actually a hashtag that we use, #straightcurvesisters and if you go look at it you’ll see that the message the film and I hope to portray.
Real Style: What changes would you like to see in the modelling/fashion industry, in terms of inclusivity? How can the fashion industry work on these changes, in your opinion?
Jess: I’d like to see agencies actively recruiting more diverse boards. I think ultimately the industry needs to be challenging themselves more on a day to day basis, and analyzing if the projects they’re working on are truly diverse. Varying hair colours between Caucasian models does not represent diversity. As the film states, this is our social responsibility when choosing to work in media this day and age.
Photos: George Pimentel (via lesleyhampton on Instagram)