‘Real women’ come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colours. How they got to identifying as a women and how they look does not make them any less ‘real’.’
Jasmine of Quirky and Curvy is a flame-haired vintage and retro lover, gamer, and self-proclaimed geek with ‘goth tendencies’. At her popular blog she writes about geek culture, vintage style, corsets and plus-size bras and vintage underwear, providing a great resource for women in search of the prettiest underthings in larger sizes, which can be hard to come by. Jasmine, who grew up on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, dropped by to chat vintage, body positivity, the ‘real woman’ trope, and the links between vintage and goth culture, and to share with us some beautiful, previously unpublished images by Russell Thomas.
What first got you interested in vintage and retro?
I have always had a bit of a ‘odd’ fashion sense. Even at a young age I often dressed how I wanted – running around in a big puffy blue and white broderie anglaise dress while climbing trees, riding bikes and fending off pirate attacks on our makeshift rafts on the dam. As a young teen I developed curves quite young and it took me a few years to realise how well vintage fashion and styles just worked for me. It was a shape made for me. Many years of hating how I looked and trying to fit into ‘regular’ clothes was basically body image hell for me. With already low body image, I wanted to hide. Then one day it just clicked that the dresses I wore when I was going out, the ones that made me feel pretty, Why can’t I just wear that all the time? So I started to. Slowly building my collection, finding new things and styles, and mixing in my goth tendencies as I saw fit.
What does the term ‘curvy’ mean to you?
To me curvy is just who I am and what I am. Regardless of my size or body weight I have always had ‘curves’. Curvy does not define someone’s size. Women of all sizes and shapes have curves. I get quite mad when people say things like “‘real women’ have curves”, excluding and body shaming women of a less voluptuous body shape. So what, so do roads and planes and circles and anything that isn’t a straight line basically. For me curvy means the shape I have and I have grown to be very proud of. I am not always happy with it but I love it and it is what I have and who I am.
Can you tell us how you first discovered your love of vintage foundations and stockings?
I have always been drawn to them, even when I did not wear them – the shape, the look, everything. Corseted waists drew my eye, the outline of a stocking clip through a skirt, the seam of a stocking. It was my shape, what I wanted to look like, but with added vavavoom. As I got older I used to try and wear them as often as I could but had difficulty finding ones that fit or I could afford at the time. Honestly the Internet was been a godsend. I was able to track down things that worked so I could indulge in my love – and now share it. Feeling like a curvy vintage loving Lara Croft, just searching and raiding tombs of a different kind.
What are your thoughts on the body positive movement?
I love the body positive movement on the whole. There is so much negativity and self doubt out there in the world it is about time we shared a whole lot of self love and acceptance. We are pummeled on a daily basis with images on how we are ‘supposed’ to look or act. For me, having quite bad body image problems, seeing amazing women like Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Caroline from Curvy Wordy who had shapes that were not so dissimilar to mine, just totally rocking it, made me stop and think… wait.. if they can do it why can’t I? I wanted to share the fact that just because you are plus size it does not mean you can’t wear stunning things that make you feel sassy and sexy. It doesn’t all have to be big, beige and bland. I remember almost panicking after I posted my first full lingerie picture but the words of love and women reaching out saying I helped them in the tiniest way makes it totally worth it. [It’s] my own little rebellion against beauty norms and my body image demons.
What I do dislike greatly are the comments along the lines of ‘Real women have….’ Actually, no. ‘Real women’ come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colours. How they got to identifying as a women and how they look does not make them any less ‘real’.
The ‘real women’ and ‘real men’ tropes are extremely problematic. It’s one of the reasons I wrote, The Fictional Woman, and the chapter on The ‘Real’ Woman.
The Fictional Woman rang true so so many times, pretty much one giant ‘Amen’ when reading it. The ‘real’ woman/man comments have always driven me insane!
You mentioned you were previously ‘goth’. A lot of men and women in the scene previously identified as goth, or have ‘goth tendencies’ as you put it. What do you think links goth and rockabilly, or vintage and retro? The subcultural element? The music? The look?
There are a few links, part of it I think for me is the love to ‘dress up’ and still being true to my own individuality. The fact that within the one scene we can have so many varied styles and still all mix in so well. The true vintage, Rockabilly, Gothabilly, brightly coloured hair and tattoos, all of us bringing our own element. Another big link for me is the community and subcultural element. I have met so many amazing people, many who have become some of the best friends I have ever had, in these little communities. They accept me for me and all my wonderful oddities.
Portraits of Jasmine by photographer Russell Thomas.
Collage of images from her Instagram feed, above, by published with permission.