Media won’t dictate to me what is Beauty. I will be the change I want to see and you can witness that in my magazine VOLUP2 which aims to expand society’s limited notion of beauty by promoting genuine Diversity. If we are freed from the constraints modern media dictates, we can then move on to exploit our talents to help others rather than being lost in a downward spiral of self hatred.VELVET D’AMOUR
You can’t have a discussion about plus size empowerment without talking about Velvet D’Amour. The former plus model turned magazine editor has always, so eloquently, fought the established perceptions of beauty in whatever she’s done. Velvet is from Rochester, NY, and as her stage name suggests, is also fluent in French.
why she’s revered ✨
- Founded Volup2, a magazine dedicated to showcasing beauty in all forms
- Was featured on the catwalk for a number of Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion shows in Paris
early modeling fame
Fame is absolutely the right word here. Velvet meteorically rose to fame with an appearance at Paris fashion week in 2006 as part of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s prêt-à-porter collection, as well as in another Jean-Paul Gaultier collection called Everybody is Beautiful. The well-known fashion designer should be commended for including a genuine BBW in these collections.
Velvet’s career since then has seen her appear in a number of indie films as well as on a French reality TV show.
volup2, changing perceptions, and empowerment
I want to start this section with an interview Velvet did for the documentary A Perfect 14 because this discusses body image and this is where Velvet truly shines.
Listening to this interview was a truly eye-opening experience for me. Here, we have a plus size model not simply repeating the same old tired phrases (“eff your beauty standards” or “I’m breaking boundaries”) but actually discussing the complete HEALTH of women. Not just one aspect of health either, like “oh you’re fat you should lose weight for your heart” but the whole spectrum of health, including mental health.
This is so important when we talk about body image, often it has very little to do with our actual bodies but the way we feel about our bodies. Velvet takes a problem with the way the media presents women as wholly unattainable, Pamela-Anderson types and actually questions the kind of impact this has on us mentally. In this brilliant HuffPost interview, Velvet calls out the unrealistic expectations placed upon the models themselves, saying they are unhappy, and if they’re unhappy “it’s not looking good for the rest of us.”
In the A Perfect 14 interview, she even goes as far as saying men are also struggling with mental health issues related to body image, which we are seeing play out even more nowadays.
More often than not people will harken to this health issue, and they will totally speak nothing about how people feel about themselves. And you can’t talk about health without talking about mental health.VELVET D’AMOUR IN A PERFECT 14
Velvet would go on to found the magazine VOLUP2 in the early part of the 2010s. I am a really big fan of her work there, where she promotes beauty in all shapes and forms, not just plus size women, although these are a focus. She has teamed up with another notable plus size icon, Charlotte Coyle, on a number of occasions to create vivid, artistic photoshoots that showcase the human body in all its glory. VOLUP2’s mission statement is below, and it continues to be a powerful resource for all in the plus community today.
velvet’s unique style
Velvet LOVES corsets, and she looks stunning in them! As mentioned with regards to VOLUP2, Velvet is also creative with her style and has the ability to tell stories through her poses and outfits. All image credits are Velvet D’Amour.
Here, in what I believe was one of the initial shoots for VOLUP2, Velvet is only too happy to “take up space” as she fills the frame, crouched as if ready to pounce on anyone who dare suggest she is too large to model, her fat sitting beautifully below her corset and the no-nonsense black boots completing the look of sheer dominance. This woman is iconic!
In two images from the same photoshoot, Velvet presents vastly contrasting stories with her poses. First, a pensive figure longing for the return of someone she loves, her soft body vulnerable and a wonderful contrast between her feminine softness and the hard, wooden floor beneath her.
Next, you can almost feel Velvet’s feminine power through the lens as she sits upright, taking up the entirety of the chair beneath her, on her tiptoes, fully alert. Her gaze into the camera is intense, and her hair falls naturally and perfectly on her shoulders. Am I the only one getting Xena, Warrior Princess vibes from her? Prob not!
Either way, Velvet is a powerful and driven woman who has allowed myself, and I am sure countless others, to embrace my body with purpose and poise, but not only physically, mentally as well. She is an inspiring woman of note.
velvet d’amour’s measurements
- Velvet weighs around 300lbs
- She is 5 foot 8 inches tall