Is Losing Weight Bad For Business?
Posted on January 27 2016
With the new year comes the time when most people start adding "Lose Weight" to their goals. Losing weight has never been a personal goal of mine, but it was often one that others put upon me.
My relationship with my weight is what led me to create Hey Gorgeous! The highs and lows of my fluctuating weight has created a struggle for me to find the right clothing- a struggle countless women like myself experience and one that has shaped me into the woman I am now immensely.
In 2009 I started my blog, Madison Plus. At the time, I was on the thin side and did not look like an obviously plus size woman. I was living in the "inbetweenie" world- not quite plus size, not quite straight size. It made me self-conscious. I felt that I was calling myself a plus fashion expert, but I just didn't look the part. I didn't look like the other plus bloggers. It made me nervous that my appearance didn't match my credentials, my experience and my struggles weren't clear in my size. I caught myself wondering, "Do I appear authentic?"
Aimee circa 2009, just after starting her blogging career.
After blogging for a couple years, in 2011 I became pregnant with my daughter Lenora. This was not the plan, I was concerned that my pregnancy would take away from my work. Looking back now, I would have preferred to have two little ones back when I was blogging rather than with my workload today. After my first pregnancy, I had acquired a beautiful little girl along with some extra weight. Instead of making losing weight a priority, I allowed myself some room. Then, in 2013, I became pregnant with my son- just as we began launching the new company. Impeccable timing, right? We started the process of raising money for the company while a basketball-sized stomach was growing under my shirt.
Aimee (center) pregnant with her second child. Right: IMG model Ashley Graham. Left: IMG model Julie Henderson.
Now, I am a successful founder of Hey Gorgeous!, an e-retailer focused on inclusive sizing. I am making waves in an industry that has been completely ignored, and am advocating for the importance of fashion being available for all women- especially those who fall outside of straight size offerings. I know there are women just like myself who crave great fashion but who cannot find the right options. I represent this woman much more now in my current size than I did when I started blogging, my body has changed since these pregnancies. Unexpectedly, I find living in my current size refreshing. I am a voice for women like me everywhere. I am comfortable living life as a size 18. Finding a happy medium is hard. I didn't quite feel like myself at size 22, I felt like a bit of a fraud at size 12, but I am fairly happy where I am now.
Aimee circa 2015, founder of Hey Gorgeous!
Just like everyone else creating New Year's Resolutions, I started to think about the extra pounds I could lose. But I started to question how customers, media, and the industry at large will accept me if I do lose weight. Will I lose credibility? One of my best attributes is showcasing the fact that I am the woman that our company is selling to, I am the woman that has been ignored by the fashion industry, I am the woman with money to spend on clothing and almost nowhere to spend it. Losing that may make it harder for customers to identify with me and harder for the press to accept me as a voice for these women.
Hey Gorgeous! is a very authentic brand. My experience living my life in my body has led me to create something that both fills a white space in the market, and serves a community of women like me who have forever been under-served. We have become trailblazers. Would changing my physical appearance make our brand less authentic? Very few founders of plus size fashion brands are actually plus size women. I am not just trying to fill the space, I am trying to fill it with clothing that I want to wear; fashion-forward clothing that has great fit, that will work in my everyday life. I know what this woman wants, because I am this woman.
But- if I don't look the part, am I compromising my unique position?