Celebrating Curves

Buxom bombshells want women to be happy as they are

  • Jan. 18, 2012 12:00 p.m.
Miranda McConnell is proving that big girls can make moves in a big way. She’s the teacher of the recently revived Big Dance — a class that encourages big women to get off the sidelines.

Miranda McConnell is proving that big girls can make moves in a big way. She’s the teacher of the recently revived Big Dance — a class that encourages big women to get off the sidelines.

Buxom bombshells want women to be happy as they are

Local luscious ladies Miranda McConnell, Sarah Frejd and Cathy Andrews are following in the footsteps of the likes of buxom bombshells Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Anna Nicole Smith — they’re celebrating their curves.

Frejd is the owner of Curvalicious, the recently opened boutique that caters to trendy above average 20-, 30- and 40-somethings. Andrews is her store manager — plus she’s a full-time nursing student and fat acceptance blogger (bigfatcherrybomb.tumblr.com).

McConnell is proving that big girls can make moves in a big way. She’s the teacher of the recently revived Big Dance — a class that encourages big women to get off the sidelines and onto the dance floor at Lynda Raino Studios. (Big Dance was an international phenomenon in the years surrounding the new millennium. Raino and her dancers were featured in Italian Elle, People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, The National and did a live performance on Good Morning America.)

The mantra: “You don’t have to have a dancer’s body, just a body that dances,” says Raino. The ladies of Big Dance helped Raino, an accomplished modern dancer “to see what glorious lines curvy women can make. They taught me to see in curves instead of lines,” she says. “It was total growth for me.”

Together, they hope to change the way plus-sized women dress, dance and feel about themselves. But most importantly they want to “help girls with curves feel like they fit in,” says McConnell.

McConnell knows how hard it can be to be a Size 20 dancer. She’s faced criticism about her body type from many teachers who told her there’s no place in dance for curvy ladies.

A trained belly dancer, she even quit dancing for a period because she didn’t like the message dance teachers were projecting on students. “People were telling the little girls they were too fat to be belly dancers … I don’t believe that.”

McConnell started her own studio, Cerise Fantasy Belly Dance, where she teaches Tribal Fusion — which blends traditional belly dance techniques with modern hip hop.

Her Big Dance class at Lynda Raino studios focuses more on the hip hop side and is “an empowering, inspirational environment, inviting incredible women to break through the stereotypes.”

“Big Dance is more than just being fat,” says McConnell. “It’s about dance and feeling good about yourself.”

“Dancing for a big person is really hard. I see women walking around all the time with their heads down. I want the lady that thinks she can’t do it to be in my class. I want people to say ‘at first I was scared, but now I’m not.’ ”

McConnell says she’s looking for a group of curvy ladies who are committed not only to the class but to themselves. “You just have to love you, or there’s nothing left,” she says. “I’m trying to reach the hearts of the women who want to dance, but are too afraid to try.”

McConnell knows what it’s like to be an outcast due to her size, but that never held her back. “For the longest time I was one of the only voices for plus-size women in town. I’m so excited that Sarah’s here and now I have a place to go. I wish this boutique was here when I was in high school. I would have rocked Vic High,” she says with a laugh.

McConnell says when she discovered Curvalicious, it changed her life. “I walked out of here stunning, and I was in heels for the first time ever. My husband took me out and he wouldn’t let anyone near me,” she says with a giggle. Now the two ladies support each other’s endeavours (Frejd shuts down her store every Saturday afternoon so her entire staff can go to Big Dance, and she offers free drop-in passes to customers).

Whether you’re a goblet, a pear or a lollipop, Frejd and her staff know the styles that will fit your curvy body best.

“We like to highlight the positives and conceal the negatives. Please, whatever you do, don’t throw yourselves in a tent to cover up. That just doesn’t work.”

Curvalicious Boutique opened in November, but it’s been an online business for years. Frejd was a regular at the Sidney market and she held seasonal fashion shows at various locations around town.

The demand was so high that she decided to do the research and open a window-front location (off Blanshard and Bay). What she found was disturbing.

“Out of 318 fashion outlets in Victoria, only a few cater specifically to plus-sized women,” says Frejd. “If you’ve got a booty or a bust and you want to be fashionable, you were out of luck.”

Frejd says shops south of the border cater to “real bodies.” “They go all the way up to 7X. The biggest size around here is usually 14.”

Curvalicious carries sizes 14-26. It also carries wide-fit boots, lingerie, handmade accessories and is getting a selection of junior plus grad dresses this month.

Frejd is very picky about the clothing she orders. She only buys designer clothing manufactured in Canada, the U.S., Australia or the UK and she never orders the same thing twice.

“When people ask me if I have more sizes or if I can order something in another size, I tell them no. And usually they end up thanking me when I explain that I don’t want all the full-figured ladies in Victoria looking the same. There’s nothing worse than showing up at the party wearing the same dress as the other plus-size girls.”

Andrews, who modelled for Curvalicious before becoming the manager says she was drawn in by the fashion. “I’ve always been big into fashion and Sarah carries the designers I would purchase normally. Instead of ordering them myself online, now I can go into the boutique and try them on.”

They invite any ladies with curves to come check them out.

“Just get in that room, get naked and let me play dressup,” says Frejd. “I guarantee you’ll walk out of here turning heads. I get goosebumps when I help a lady find themselves again.”

Frejd and McConnell are partnering in the spring to provide a body acceptance program, offered at the boutique through Crystal Pool’s recreation program, to teach a new generation of young ladies to be happy with who they are. M

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