Turn on the television. Plus-size women are on prime time. With "Drop Dead Diva,” "Dance Your A-- Off,” "Ruby” and "More to Love,” television is playing up curves and giving viewers a more realistic peek at the majority of American women. Nancy LeWinter, a plus-size fashion expert and editorial director for OneStopPlus.com, thinks it’s about time. Sixty-two percent of American women 18 years and older wear a size 12 or larger, she said. "Wouldn’t they like to see themselves on television once in a while?” Television shows are finally reflecting the population reality, what women see when they look in the mirror, and it’s being done from an entertainment value rather than a politically correct nod. "Size is sort of the last bastion of a minority that isn’t one,” she said. These shows have an opportunity to encourage personal empowerment, and each approaches it differently. "Drop Dead Diva” does it with humor rather than "woe is me.” "It’s all about your personal empowerment. It’s not defined by size any more than it’s defined by your hair,” LeWinter said. On the reality show "Ruby,” star Ruby Gettinger of Savannah, Ga., is trying to be the best she can as she sheds more than 400 pounds from her highest weight of 716. "Her journey has captivated people because she’s just wanting to live her life and look great doing it,” LeWinter said. Perhaps the first baby steps toward a new way of thinking came in 1999 when actress Camryn Manheim declared, "This is for all the fat girls!" when she took home the Emmy for her supporting role on the television drama "The Practice.” In 2007 at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, winners Chandra Wilson of "Grey’s Anatomy," "Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrera and "Dreamgirl” Jennifer Hudson were among the changing bodies of Hollywood. Plus-size actresses have gone from playing frumpy characters to ones who are fabulous. Such positive spins aren’t just making the rounds on television. In the September issue of Glamour, model Lizzi Miller, 20, who wears a size 12 to 14, is shown in a sideways pose, her arms covering her breasts. She’s laughing. Only the string of a string bikini is visible at the waist. Her belly hangs a bit. Response was incredible. "I literally gasped when I saw this picture. I have never seen a ‘real’ belly in a magazine before,” a reader wrote. "This has to be the most refreshing photograph! Finally, a true representation of a ‘modern’ woman!” someone else wrote. The size issue keeps growing. Plus-size model Crystal Renn’s new book "Hungry” hit book shelves this month. Forever 21 recently introduced a new plus sizes line in select stores and online. Jessica Simpson is designing full-figure bras. A side effect of television and magazines finding more room for curvy women could translate to more fashion choices for plus sizes. While the selection of plus-size clothes is better than ever, this is one instance when more will always be better. For women of every size, LeWinter said, "Just how we get dressed in the morning says a lot about how we feel during the day. If we feel good when we walk out the door, that’s communicated. Then it gets bounced back to you ... it just keeps bouncing back, that energy. We do feel better when we look better.” Already the fashion industry is delivering the plus-size goods. What triggered the forward movement is up for discussion. "Did the fashion come first, or did the empowerment cause the fashion?” LeWinter asked. The reality is, the fashion is available. The plus-size woman who wants to wear a one-shoulder dress can find it, even though sometimes it may require some searching. "Before, she couldn’t find the hottest look of the season, and now she can. The title of the TV show says it all. She’s allowed to be a diva,” LeWinter said.
What clothes are on local stores’ racks for plus sizes?
Macy’s and J.C. Penney officials say they are working hard to please plus-size customers by offering the same fashion looks that are available in missy. Lane Bryant launched a new couture-inspired line called the icon Collection by Lane Bryant. Forever 21 introduced a plus-size line called Faith 21. In Oklahoma City, plus-size retailers also include Catherine’s and the Avenue. Other stores such as Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Old Navy only offer plus sizes online. Another online option is OneStopPlus.com. Nancy LeWinter of OneStopPlus.com said the Internet has allowed women to define what fashion they want and where they can find it. At OneStopPlus.com, an online mall for sizes 12 and larger, women can find everything from jeans and evening wear to wide-calf boots and lingerie. The site even offers men’s big and tall sizes. "No one has to go 20 different places ... (and) all the clothes fit the body. It’s a head-to-toe concept,” she said. Since it launched three years ago, the site has been an extraordinary success, LeWinter said.