by Hélène Montpetit

September 1, 2016 – Body image is not something that has so far been addressed on UpTheMountainAndDownAgain, where topics usually run to nuclear disarmament, climate change, food security and similar “weighty” issues (pardon the pun). However, as I chatted with different artists at the NDG Art Walk in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce last weekend, I was drawn to Kathleen Doyle’s table and inspired to interview her.

A tall, nicely proportioned size 10 or 12 during most of my 20s and early 30s, I did not notice how under represented larger women were in fashion magazines and catalogues. I took for granted the many benefits of being within the cultural norms of beauty – things like wearing whatever I pleased, for instance.

…the inability to shed extra weight often brings shame and severely distorts self-image.

Years passed and the combination of heredity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lifetime habit of indulging a sweet tooth added pounds to my frame. Soon, I was excruciatingly aware of much more than the under representation of people my size in mainstream beauty and fashion. Over and above the inherent physical limitations and health risks of carrying extra weight, the inability to shed it often brings shame and severely distorts self-image. As unimportant as this may seem, limiting fashion options to clothing we were taught is “age and size appropriate” can mean losing touch with whole aspects of ourselves.

79 year-old Wang Deshun takes to the catwalk at China Fashion Week.
79 year-old Wang Deshun takes to the catwalk at China Fashion Week.

A (Catwalk) Turn For The Better

During the past few years, a movement has emerged to open up the fashion world to those who do not fit the traditional “Top Model” stereotype. This movement celebrates style as it is expressed by people of various sizes, ages, and racial backgrounds.

When I encountered Kathleen Doyle’s illustrations of attractive plus size fashionistas, I was moved to reassess how I see and express myself now that I no longer fit into mainstream culture’s beauty norms. It is an interesting process and I am grateful to her for acting as a catalyst.

In the clip below, a vibrant and interesting Kathleen outlines why she started Curvy Sketches, how she learned her craft and what products and services she currently offers. I hope you enjoy meeting her as much as I did.

To find out more about Kathleen and Curvy Sketches, click here.

She is also on Instagram.

And can be found on Etsy here.

Thank you for reading, watching, commenting and sharing.