Stephanie Yeboah has always loved fashion. When she was young she’d watch runway shows on TV, loving the creativity, drama and the couture. She’d even tear out images from fashion magazines her older cousin had bought to create her own fashion paradise on her bedroom wall. But, it took a long time for Yeboah to find clothing that actually gave her the opportunity to express herself in the way that she wanted.
Yeboah is plus size and, until relatively recently, many fashion brands assumed that women who are larger than a size 16 only wanted, in her words, “butterfly prints, smock dresses and empire lines”. Yeboah says she felt bound by those fashions, relegated to wearing items that really weren’t her style. Then her mum introduced her to ASOS Curve—the day she found out about the brand, Yeboah says, is one of the happiest days of her life.
“The first fashion post I’d ever done for my blog I was wearing an ASOS dress. I took a full length mirror photo and uploaded it. I went to work and came home and saw the amount of comments on it and burst into tears. It was a very affirming moment for me.”
Today, Yeboah boasts 173k following on Instagram, a sure sign that fashion people take note of her style, and wears outfits from chic checked suits to cool slip dresses worn over tees with stomper boots. In some ways it appears she’s like any other fashion blogger. But there are still barriers when it comes to fashion and body positivity in the fashion industry—especially ‘fat’ and Black bodies. Just last month, model Nyome Nicholas-Williams had a photo deleted by Instagram and warned her account could be shut down for posting an almost topless photo. A move that doesn’t appear to be replicated when it comes to slimmer, white women.
The release of Yeboah’s debut book book Fattily Ever After: A Fat, Black Girl’s Guide to Living Life Unapologetically couldn’t have been more perfectly timed as it speaks to the issues the fashion industry has when it comes to “socially unacceptable” bodies. The book isn’t just about her own personal experiences of what it’s like to be ‘fat’ and Black but also about the history behind the body positivity movement. There are vital lessons to be learnt but also useful, tangible tips for those navigating an often hostile industry. Here, we speak to Yeboah on her love of fashion, what the industry can do better and its future for plus size women.