fashion

"It's been life-changing." The best Australian plus size and body positivity creators to follow on Instagram.

Like too many other women around the world, I grew up with a 'when' list.

When I lose weight, I'll plan that dream holiday.

When I lose weight, I'll join my friends at the beach or jump into pools. 

When I lose weight, I'll apply for that brilliant new job.

When I lose weight, I'll wear bright colours and sparkles and prints

When I lose weight... I'll start really living the life I'm supposed to.

But the thing about living with a 'when' list is that the days, weeks, and months tick by but the list remains unchanged. 

And unless there is some sort of catalyst to break you out of the way you've been conditioned to look in the mirror, you'll find yourself with nothing more than a life of unchecked boxes.

For me, the catalyst for beginning to tear up my 'when' list was Instagram.

Or, more specifically, the women and creators I discovered there. 

Watch: Aussie model Jessica Vander Leahy Speak on Australian fashion and body diversity. Post continues after video.


Video via Jessica Vander Leahy.

Growing up and during my first years of adulthood, I never saw anyone who looked like me on the TV shows I watched, the magazines I bought, the websites I scrolled through, or in the movies I consumed. 

Traditional media was designed to make plus size women feel like we were living in a perpetual 'before' body, and even though the representation of different bodies is starting to slowly get better, mainstream media still only offers up a world where plus size women can look into, rather than fully live in.

There are many downsides to the hold that social media has over the world right now, but the fact that it has allowed so many different creators to build up their own platforms and find their own audiences is not one of them. 

ADVERTISEMENT

None of the creators listed here are inspirational simply for existing in a body that is not traditionally seen in media. 

They are inspirational for the content they create and share, the fashion finds they so kindly pass on, and for the way they interact with their audiences, encouraging them to do away with the 'when' lists for good.

Here is a selection of some of the greatest Australian plus size and body positivity creators to follow on Instagram, and a look into why they started working in this space. 

Creators who make the world (and my Instagram feed) a better place. 

Curvy Sam

"When I started blogging back in 2009, it was so different; there were so few resources and there was nowhere to go. Now with the growth of social media, you can click on a hashtag and see women who are happy and confident wearing cute outfits— all the things that I wanted to see growing up that I had nowhere to find. I’m really proud to be one of the handful of plus size bloggers across the globe who initially helped spread the message. 

"For me it’s been a journey of showing up as a visibly plus size person, sharing many facets of my life, which has in turn inspired others to live their best lives no matter what size they are. I’ll always be a huge advocate that you can be sexy at any size, be beach body ready by simply putting on a swimsuit, and that there’s no need to hide away just because of weight. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"Years ago you could hardly find Australian brands who go up to a size 20. Now many brands have extended after seeing the demand from customers. There's definitely been some impact but there’s a long way to go. I dream of being able to walk into a shopping centre to get a last-minute outfit and having more than one store to purchase from. 

"I created CurvyAu so that plus size women had a safe place to connect and feel supported in a world where you are conditioned to believe that you can’t be happy, loved or wealthy in a fat body."

Follow Curvy Sam here.

Allira Potter

ADVERTISEMENT

"I started sharing content on social media because I was so bullied growing up, I was always the larger kid. I wanted to create a safe space where humans felt empowered when they saw me a larger body, a coloured women doing her thing and giving zero f**ks. 

"The most rewarding thing is when people message me saying they felt inspired to wear that dress or do something out of their comfort zone because I was doing it! I post for me but I also post for others to feel really inspired to be the best versions of themselves."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Allira Potter here.

Katie Parrot

"I love having the opportunity to reach so many people, to show them it's ok to be vulnerable and own who you are, regardless of the size or shape of your body. 

"Knowing that I make a difference in how people see themselves, that I help them speak and act more kindly to their bodies, or maybe change the language they use around their children, makes it all worth it. 

"I wish there had been people like me visible in the media and online when I was growing up."

ADVERTISEMENT

You can listen to Katie chat through all things fashion on the What Are You Wearing? podcast, right here. Post continues after audio.

Follow Katie Parrott here.

The Bodzilla

"I got into online body positivity and fat activism by accident. What started as me just sharing my lived experience to friends has now become a huge part of my life. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"It’s so rewarding to realise how much impact I’m having when people slide into my DMs to let me know how I’ve helped them." 

Follow The Bodzilla here.

icurvy

ADVERTISEMENT

"I started because it used to be near impossible to find fashionable plus-size clothing. When I was younger, shopping (even with a huge group of friends) was often a very lonely and isolating experience. All because there was maybe one store that had clothes to fit me. Online shopping was really the only option, and risky because I had never tried these brands before - that’s how I stumbled across plus-size blogs (showing my age there!) and so I started one myself to join in, share info and connect.

"When Instagram started, we all set up accounts to participate in weekly fashion challenges together and the rest is history!

"It’s not always easy to be a larger person on the internet - but I work hard to keep my patch a safe and positive space. Women will send me the sweetest messages about how connecting with me, seeing my reviews or pictures has helped them be more positive about their own body and or style."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow icurvy here.

Jessie Cassandra Hall

"I’m not sure how it started. I posted what I liked and outfits I fell in love with and people resonated from there. The goal was never really to gain anything from it. 

"Modelling-wise - I saw a space that needed to be filled, and no one was stepping up to do it. So instead of complaining about a lack of diversity, I thought I’d actually do something about it. Action. It also helped me understand the industry a lot more. Again, the goal for me isn’t to make a career out of it but to ensure that there is representation out there.

"Honestly, I still can’t believe people find me inspiring, and message to thank me for what I’m doing, or ask for the confidence I have. I cry just like others, I have shitty days just like everyone else, but I think it’s the way you react that really establishes how you move forward."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Jessie Cassandra Hall here.

Fat Mum Slim

"For so long I was a passenger on social media. I rarely shared anything about myself but dreamed I’d be perfect enough to share myself, eventually, one day. Then I had an epiphany, what if I was OK right now? What did I want to see more of on social media? Real people, just like me.

ADVERTISEMENT

"So I started sharing. Seeing real people online, sharing their flaws, their stories, their ups and their downs, it lights a fire in my belly and fills my heart with joy. For so long magazines and social media featured people who didn't look like me, but not anymore. 

"It makes me feel less alone in my imperfect, beautiful world, and I think we need more of that online. I’m grateful to be contributing to that noise and hopefully helping others see themselves in me, and my bumpy life."

Follow Fat Mum Slim here.

ItsKateJanMaree

ADVERTISEMENT

"I honestly feel so lucky to be able to surround myself with incredible women (in my community) and brands who share my passion for self-love, empowerment, and inclusivity in the fashion space. All I ever wanted was to help other women feel safe and comfortable in their own bodies, to love themselves exactly as they are, express themselves, and embrace their bodies in a positive and loving way. 

"Being on Instagram means I can do that and also create really meaningful relationships and have important conversations with so many women!

"It’s when you get messages from older women saying they finally feel comfortable in their body, or they wore a swimsuit for the first time, or are learning to love themselves because of me, that is just the most surreal and rewarding thing." 

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow ItsKateJanMaree here.

Melissa Jade Style

"I have always been a plus-size woman but I haven’t always felt completely worthy or accepted. So I decided to create a space where other curvy women could feel safe, be vulnerable, and never be judged. 

"Plus size styling has always been a dream of mine. I always dreamt of providing other curve women with the power and confidence to wear whatever the hell they want, feel beautiful, and never feel lesser than because of their size. 

"The most rewarding part of this journey is the kind messages I get from women saying they now just love who they are. Creating a positive space where women feel empowered is the most amazing thing I have done and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I have been given."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Melissa Jade Style here.

Style Not Size

ADVERTISEMENT

"I started 'Style Not Size' because I really believe style and size aren’t mutually exclusive. 

"With every #samesamejustbigger post or styling idea, I hope to break the stereotype of what a body like mine (Sarah-Elyss of Style Not Size is a proud New Zealand-born Cook Islander/Polynesian) should and can wear.

"The most rewarding part of this little internet community is definitely the messages I receive from women and feeling like I’ve helped them in some way. Something as small as making it easier for them to get dressed one day or as impactful as helping them feel more comfortable in their own skin. It’s the connections I make that are the absolute highlight of all this for me."

Follow Style Not Size here.

That Girl Lucy Ryan

ADVERTISEMENT

"I just wanted to be the person I needed in my dark times, the person who would have reminded me I’m not alone. I realized that’s the most comforting thing sometimes, so I simply just started sharing more. 

"Sharing my body, my mental health struggles, and parts of my life that aren’t considered the 'highlight reel' so people can see me and think 'okay she’s the same as me, I’m not alone'. 

"Without a doubt, the most rewarding thing is when someone messages me and says I’ve made them realise there’s nothing wrong with their body and they can wear that bikini. Or I've made them realise the way they’re feeling is completely valid and they’re not a freak. 

"There’s no feeling quite like being able to help someone just by being yourself!" 

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow That Girl Lucy Ryan here. 

Maddy Zanatta

"I started taking photos of my outfits and uploading them to Instagram as a bit of a passion project. I never expected to find a community full of supportive women, who just wanted to see fashion on a similar body shape to their own. 

"It is the most rewarding feeling to have someone reach out to you and say, 'I never would have thought I could wear this, but now I have the confidence to'.

"I always tell people, just because we exist in a larger body it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fashion or follow the trends."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Maddy Zanatta here. 

Dress My Curves

ADVERTISEMENT

"I started my page because I had no choice but to online shop. In a small country/coastal area, in-store shopping is hard enough when you are straight-sized, but plus-size options are essentially nonexistent. I got really good at online shopping, learning which brands worked for me and which didn't. I liked to show other women what clothing looked like on a size 20 body.

"I have daughters (and a son) and I refuse to let my children grow up feeling the way I did about my body. Our voice becomes their internal voice. Every woman I ever knew as a child was on a diet, constantly trying to lose weight, restricting food, exercising furiously - not for enjoyment but as punishment for what they'd eaten.

"I never heard one woman say that they loved their body, we didn't have much exposure to any kind of diversity then and I want to break that cycle.

"The most rewarding part for me is knowing my babies will love and respect their bodies, however they turn out." 

Follow Dress My Curves here. 

My Wardrobe Wonderland

ADVERTISEMENT

"I work in the fashion industry and I initially started my page just to capture my daily outfits. Over time I realised I wasn’t seeing many people on social media who looked like me or were featuring outfits that I could actually go out and buy in my size.

"I find it so helpful to see someone my size try on clothes as most of the time the models used online for plus size are a size 14-16 with flat tummies, so I try and show my followers what it would look like on someone who is more curvy.

"The most rewarding aspect of my page is when I get comments and messages saying they saw an outfit I featured online but never thought to try it until they saw it on a ‘real’ body." 

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow My Wardrobe Wonderland here.

Suzie_Stevens

"I started posting on Instagram when I was signed as a model as a way of documenting what I do. Then over time, I noticed a lot of my followers were plus size women so I wanted to pivot my content to showcase my own personal style and hopefully empower women to experiment and express themselves.

"As a plus size woman I was always told I wasn’t allowed to take up space, that I should be making myself smaller. But once I carved out my own corner of the internet, I felt like this was where I could take up as much space as possible, to be myself and find others who are hopefully inspired to do the same."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Suzie_Stevens here.

stace_mcgregs

ADVERTISEMENT

"I had secretly always wanted to be a model, but growing up, especially around the age of 12, I never saw girls that looked like me in the magazines I would pour over every day, or on TV.

"Then out of the blue six years ago, I was approached by a designer at an event. She took a photo of me and invited me for a test shoot as plus size model.

"Modelling evolved into me creating an Instagram page and sharing my outfits of the day, fashion finds, and behind the scenes on shoots… infused with my own unique sense of humour. One of the many pinch me proud moments is when I started to create the imagery 12-year-old Stace was so desperate to see.

"I’m personally so passionate about body positivity, after a decade-long journey learning body acceptance, following challenges with eating disorders in my 20s. As much as I love fashion, my true passion is helping women embrace their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin. Fashion just happens to be the tool I use to do that.

"The most rewarding part of working in this space is the messages I receive from women who feel empowered from the content I share. Whether they lean into a more colourful wardrobe or are jumping off the sidelines and into the family photos on the beach." 

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow stace_mcgregs here.

Lacey-Jade Christie

"I originally started sharing content because I wanted to feel better about myself. Taking photos of myself (whole-body shots) made me very uncomfortable, so it was about stepping out of my comfort zone.

"I started taking body positivity on social media more seriously and putting myself out there after I started getting messages from people thanking me for showing them what a fat body looks like in a natural state. For example, I wasn't forcing the storyline of the 'fat friend' like you see in the movies and I wasn't hating myself. I was just existing.

"These messages helped me realise how much fat representation was missing and how my story and me sharing my body could actually help people.

"I also can't even articulate how much these spaces and other fat creators have helped me in my body positivity journey and how much they've taught me. I'm so grateful to be a part of such a supportive community."

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Lacey-Jade Christie here. 

_lavi__love_

ADVERTISEMENT

"I started this space after I had left a toxic relationship and reclaimed my power back by learning to love myself. Self-love really saved me!

"It made me see my worth and since sharing my journey I’ve been able to help other women love themselves and their bodies, which has been the most rewarding part."

Follow _lavi__love_ here

This is just a selection of the brilliant creators working in the body positivity and plus size space in Australia. Please let us know about other creators you love to follow and we will add them to the list. 

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Entertainment Editor and host of The Spill podcast, you can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Mamamia + all of these incredible creators included in the article!

Love the joy of Christmas? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.