Times Square was a real scene this past Saturday. Yes, even more of a scene than usual (if you can believe it). And that’s because it was the setting for an impromptu fashion show featuring women of all sizes in lingerie.
Spearheaded by plus-size model and body positive activist Khrystyana, the show was another effort on her part to promote the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And the fact that it was staged just days after the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was no coincidence.
“Paige Davino [a fellow model] suggested doing it after the Victoria’s Secret show,” which Khrystyana thought was a good idea, she tells Global News, although it was in no way a slight on the lingerie brand.
“I want to stress that this isn’t an anti-Victoria’s Secret [statement]. I love to watch the show, but I do know that it has an impact on my self-esteem and I often belittle myself while I’m watching it. This is to support all women who feel that way and feel they can’t relate to the women who walk in the Victoria’s Secret show.”
It isn’t the Siberian native’s first public act in favour of promoting body positivity. In March, she walked around Times Square alone in lingerie to send a message, and in April, she did it again along with seven friends who collectively promoted body positivity as well as diversity and inclusiveness.
“We were a diverse group of women, including curvy, petite and trans. There’s a message in body positivity, too, that stresses you have to be curvy to be a part of it, but to me what’s important is being you, no matter what you represent or how you identify,” she said.
With that philosophy in mind, she approached her recent event, dubbed #TheRealCatwalk, by sending out an open call for participants across the country. Through her Instagram stories and posts that were shared by friends, she recruited real models from around the U.S., including a woman from Colorado and another who drove in from Boston.
The only stipulation for participants was that they had to wear lingerie that properly covered their “private parts.” One of the participants, who has her own New York-based lingerie label, even provided outfits for some of the others who didn’t have anything appropriate for the occasion. (Khrystyana also provided her models with fresh-pressed juice with ginger and lemon to help stave off any illness they could catch from walking outside barely clothed in the month of December.)
Interestingly, Khrystyana says the reaction from the crowd was unlike anything she could have imagined.
“The first time I did it by myself, it felt really unusual and I had some inappropriate comments. The second time, I had a lot of support from women [onlookers] but some angry reactions from men. But this time, it all felt really warm. A lot of people came and they were really supportive. I noticed a few women watching us and smiling, and they seemed genuinely happy.”
Beauty Revised event in Times Square. Our second ALL BODY INCLUSIVITY event this year. Seemed so long ago…. looking at these photos to get more inspired for today’s #theREALcatwalk . We came a long way, our direction is unshakable. We believe in unconditional beauty in all humans and that there is a way to love yourself just the way you are all day, every day. Thank you for participating, supporting, moving, inspiring and BEING YOU, because being YOU is the definition of Beauty Standard, not what media has been telling us :) !!!photos by @yosauceme #inclusivity #diversity
Since news of #TheRealCatwalk got out, Khrystyana has received requests from women across the country to stage a similar show in their city, which she hopes will spark a national conversation around body positivity.
In the meantime, the New York-based model, who also volunteers with kids and adults with disabilities, hopes to stage a runway show featuring them to destigmatize disabilities.
“This show was very spontaneous, and it was very well received. I hope there are a lot more in the future,” whether they’re spearheaded by her or by others.
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