“I’m 40 now — 25 years ago, there were just not a lot of options for plus-size girls, especially on our budget. So I got creative with alterations — adding buttons, changing sleeves,” Atkins says. “We would go to stores and I just couldn’t fit into stuff. So I would wear some of my mom’s stuff, some of my older sister’s stuff — and she’s about 14 years older than me. And I thought, ‘No — these are old people clothes.’”
Atkins who has 742,000 Instagram followers, a web series with WE TV, and countless celebrity styling gigs, will be presenting at TheCurvyCon 2018, a three-day event in New York City for plus-size influencers, celebrities, and their fans that focuses on fashion, which will be live-streamed on Yahoo Lifestyle on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.
Even though Atkins realized at a young age that she would have to create her own style if the world wasn’t ready for her, she also realized that she wasn’t going to let this lack of recognition or accessibility in any way hinder her own sense of self-worth.
“I realized that even if I did care or got up in my feelings about it, it wasn’t going to change. I had to grow and change and create options for myself and work til I came up with good looks for myself. I had to make it happen,” she says. “I’m not someone who sits down and complains. If I want to look fly, I’m gonna look fly.”
Atkins would thrift and hit “the $3.99 stores,” looking for pieces she knew she could make her own.
Despite this success, Atkins says she still doesn’t see herself as someone who has “made it” — but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still revel in her greatest accomplishment: happily being herself.
“I was in high school when I realized I wasn’t someone who overly cared about what other people did. I’m a hippie and I always have been. And hippies? We free. Whatever society’s thing is or religion’s thing is, I don’t subscribe to that because that’s not free to me. Anytime someone tells me to conform, I just don’t like it,” says Atkins.”I know in my heart when I look in the mirror that I see a fox. Who are you to tell me that I’m not?”
This is why she would likewise remind others, especially her younger fans: “Other people are just as insecure as you! So put that away. Put that away. Ain’t nobody perfect.”
It’s also why she “feels good to be entrusted with the responsibility” of being thought of as an influencer, which includes letting people in on some of her top styling secrets.
“Those of us with lumps and bumps and curves, one way to cover up is with ruching. It’s good for concealing and hiding some of the little bumps,” notes Atkins. “And I also always tell women they should have a shaper on at all times too. Not heavy-duty, but something that helps you look a little more comfortable in your clothes. And also, you can conceal certain things with prints. I have a little stomach situation, but when I put on a print, you can’t see that. It’s like my battle armor to conceal some of the imperfections in your clothes.”
There are still fashion moments that leave even Atkins scratching her head.
“For me as a sturdy woman, when I pick up a dress and it’s cut like a box, I’m like, ‘Can you please put a little waist into this?!’”
Atkins insists that’s why alterations are essential.
“I get alterations on a lot of stuff because my hip-to-waist ratio is exaggerated. I get that every woman may not be as extreme of a figure as me, but just give me a little waist please! I shouldn’t put on a woman’s dress and look like a box!”
“Whenever you have an option for people who are heavier in the hips, it makes me happy because that’s the story of my life. Those are some of the brands that remember us and accommodate us, and I’m grateful for it.”
Atkins says she reads all the DMs and messages she gets through social media and sees so much of herself in the people who say they can see themselves in her.
“I can feel other people’s hearts and I realize I touched someone by just trying to figure it all out myself. So I’ll be out here and making mistakes and jacking it up sometimes, but I’ll be out here on this platform telling people to keep going.”
Atkins says that if nothing else, she wants people to know that while it’s OK to find themselves feeling competitive, it’s not OK to show yourself anything but self-love.
“Even when you’re the phattest, you still compare yourself to others. You will gain a job, lose a job, have heartbreak, find love. Through it all, you’ll still have that competitive nature. But if you compare yourself to others, when you’re not at the top of the mountain, you beat yourself up. If you’re negative, you’ll find yourself doing that even when you’re on the winning side. That comparing yourself to everyone else will bite you in the butt,” she says, emphatically. “I don’t want to be the baddest — I just want to be GooGoo.”
And the truest thing she knows?
“One thing is for sure and that’s that I am beautiful and I’m not waiting for anyone else to tell me that because I tell myself that and I know it.”
Read more about theCURVYcon 2018: