RSVP Live caught up with stylish Dublin blogger and Plus size model Brenda Mang about styling your shape, why flattering underwear is everything, finding confidence and being vibrant in your fashion choices.
Brenda, you’re a model as well as a blogger and body positivity advocate – what is your advice for a young person who aspires to get in to plus size modelling?
I have been a plus size model since 2010 and it can be so much fun but sometimes very harsh. There is more to modelling than the glam and end product you see in magazines, online and on tv. It is a job and like most jobs, you have to build up your skills. Studying your favourite models, watching behind-the-scenes of photoshoots on Youtube and practising your posing and model walk is key. You can start building your portfolio before you approach agencies. And yes, you have to approach agencies yourself because gone are the days where models were often “discovered”. If you are a university student, take part in your university’s fashion show. Most universities have an annual fashion show and it is a great way to gain experience. The auditions are great way to get a taste of what castings will be like. Even if you don’t get or want an agency, build up your online presence and approach brands with that and you would be surprised how much work you can get from just connecting with the right people online and building great relationships with brands. Put yourself out there really, the worst anyone can say to you is “No”.
What has been your career highlight to date?
I have worked so much being on different TV shows, runways and some magazines modelling clothes but my career highlight so far has been contributing on RTE Player’s show, The Talk. I really was honoured to be given such a huge platform to discuss Body Image and my experiences as a plus size woman. My modelling and blogging definitely opened the door to that and I am still so grateful for the opportunities that come from that because for me, it is more than just posting about nice outfit pictures and makeup. I want people to take something valuable from what I share and hopefully feel more confident in themselves if they were struggling.
What is your favourite outfit you have ever worn?
I don’t know if I can pick just one! I love putting together outfits and I am such a girly girl and that always shows in my style. But if I had to choose, I would pick this dress from ASOS. It was such a hit when I posted the picture on my Instagram and I use any excuse and occasion to wear it! I love the colour blocking with the red and pink as well as the off shoulder style. It is definitely a show stopper!
When shopping, where are your favourite places to purchase outfits to style up?
I am admittedly a fast fashion girl. I think as a plus size woman in her early 30s, even when I was younger, I struggled to find affordable and sustainable brand that catered to young, plus size women. It was hard to find trendy, stylish brands 10 years ago but now fast fashion brands have filled that gap. My online faves are Pretty Little Thing, SHEIN and ASOS. On the high street, you will find me in New Look, Penneys and Dunnes Stores.
What is your hero brand that you shop from the most?
Like most Irish girls, it has to Penneys! They have a great range of sizes and you can find anything from basic wardrobe staples to trendy items too. There is something for everyone!
Do you feel brands could do more to embrace sizing inclusivity?
We have definitely come a long way in the last 5 years when it comes to inclusivity in fashion. But Rome was not built in a day so I glad we are moving in the right direction. Irish brands, the bigger high street brands are great with their plus size lines but the smaller brands still need to work on that. A lot of brands that are launching, usually only end up considering plus size after the fact. I often get excited when I see my favourite Irish celebrities/influencers launching a clothing line and then end up terribly disappointed when I see the lack of range in their sizes. I am not sure what the logistics are behind making clothes for bigger people but a wider range of sizes needs to become the norm.
Who is your ultimate style icon?
I draw my style influence from so many people but my ultimate style icon has to be my mom, Doreen. She has a lot of pictures from back in her day all the way up to now and she has always been super elegant, classy and stylish. I always seek her approval when I am shopping and when I was younger, I would ask for her help a lot with styling my clothes. Nowadays, I can confidently style myself without her input because I have learnt so much from her already.
What item in your wardrobe has the most sentimental value?
It would have to be my wedding dress. Specifically the second dress I wore for the wedding reception party. It was custom made and I had a hand in designing it but what makes it sentimental is that I was able to wear it again to my baby shower when I was pregnant and I ended up having to leave my baby shower and gave birth that same day. So it is associated with two monumental days in my life and it will always hold that value.
What are your top style tips for our readers?
A lot of people focus on the clothes but very few really consider the impact of how underwear can make or break your look. Wearing the right underwear is the foundation of any good outfit. Personally, I am a fan of high waisted knickers because they can offer some support and smooth you my belly out comfortably. A lot of women also wear the wrong bra size so if you have never been measured professionally, I suggest popping into the likes of M&S and ask for a bra fitting. And lastly, regardless of your size, shapewear can also be a great foundation for your outfit and you can look that bit more put together and there are so many options available to suit your needs.
What advice do you have for your social media followers who struggle with having a negative body image?
If you struggle with your body image, you are not alone. We all have our good days and we have our bad days. It is totally normal. Try and remember that the beauty standards we often see are unattainable and so you should never compare yourself to that standard. There really is no formula to loving yourself that I can give but if you are really struggling, then what works for me is instead of concentrating on your flaws, amplify the things you love about yourself. Take the time to look at yourself, look in the mirror and compliment yourself on just one thing a day. For me, I may not like my belly but my goodness I love my legs so any chance I get, the legs are out! Your mind is very powerful and that is where the work to loving yourself starts.
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