Words by Don W. | Photography Daniel Delgado
Organizer, youth educator, rapper, divination reader, and all-around Boss Lady Jasmine Barber (a.k.a. J Bambii) is challenging herself to see the world differently and wants us all to do the same.
We asked for her thoughts about inclusive fashion and got some style tips to help those who feel ostracized by the fashion industry. Read the interview below.
Who are you? And what does your style mean to you?
I think who I am is changing right now. I am refining, expanding, and challenging myself to see the world differently and see myself differently in it.
My style is about self-expression, comfort, and functionality. I ask myself: Can I wear this more than once? Is it durable? Can I mix and match it with other things? Does it feel good on my body? Is this price reasonable? [Things] like that matter to me.
Why is style important?
I don’t know if I would necessarily say it’s “important” but it is essential to have clothes that you feel good in because we live in a society that requires clothing. If you’re going to wear clothes you should love them, but I think fashion can be elitist.
I think “bad style” comes from people not having the space to be authentic, or they think they have to do what other people are doing.
People need to be able to have the autonomy to find their niche. I think “bad style” comes from people not having the space to be authentic, or they think they have to do what other people are doing. When you’re being yourself, everything looks good.
Which body types would you say are considered “fashionable” and why?
I think people would assume that curvy, hourglass bodies are fashionable but it’s actually the bodies that are slim, small, and tiny that are the “most fashionable” because it is easier to find/make/replicate clothes for those bodies. People who fall outside of euro-centric and societal standards (especially disabled bodies) get pushed to the side and aren’t given the same care as other bodies. Truth is, we ALL deserve to be fashionable and stylish.
Plus size models are becoming more visible and more widely utilized. What effect do you think this is having on the public? The fashion industry?
Clothes are kind of getting better for people with plus size body types, but companies are still using relatively small models with only slightly bigger frames than their counterparts as “plus size” models. To me, if you don’t have a FUPA, you’re not actually plus sized. People are still fatphobic. People are still afraid to gain too much weight. Bigger women, especially Black women, are still being used as comic relief. People are still commenting on plus size folks’ eating habits, but disregarding genuine health concerns for folks with skinny bodies. All of this “love” for marginalized groups is really [a marketing tactic]. Companies are only claiming diversity to make money and prey on those groups’ insecurities. They don’t appreciate these bodies. They’re using them.
What do you think the fashion industry is doing right in regards to inclusivity? What could be improved upon?
They aren’t doing anything right. They’re honestly doing what needed to be done a long time ago. Plus Size fashion is behind. ASOS is cool. I love how they have realistic plus size models recorded walking in their clothes so you can see how they look before you buy them. Unfortunately, they’re too expensive. Clothes should be more affordable. Just because they’re nice quality, doesn’t mean they should be $200. The best thing Plus Size fashion has ever done for me is make crop tops, high waisted jeans, and leggings/yoga pants.
What advice would you give to someone who feels excluded by the fashion industry?
Do what[ever] you want to do. Make these [people] mad. Make these [people] question the boxes they put themselves in. Fall in love with your uniqueness. Don’t be afraid to go up or down a size. You can find amazing clothes anywhere. Pay Attention. Make your own clothes. Find inspiration online. Show the world that your body is wonderful. The universe designed you in your own special way. The cliche mantras around self-love are true. Believe it.
Is there anyone that stands out to you lately that is pushing for better representation within fashion? This could be designers, models, brands, etc.
Thrift stores are great because they don’t discriminate. Trade and borrow clothes with people you know. ASOS is one of my go-to’s. I also like Rainbow, even though people don’t like to shop there because of classist and anti-black rhetoric, they do have cute items sometimes. I also love “House of Royal” based in Chicago. I love the model Na0 and the music artist Lizzo.
Jasmine is the founder of The Brown Skin Lady Show, a seasonal event that celebrates the work and creativity of Black and Brown women. It’s a showcase that supports these women, gives back to the communities that they originate from, and the communities that need the support the most.
Check out The Brown Skin Lady Show on social media (@brownskinladyshow) and be sure to mark their upcoming events in your calendar by visiting their official site. Follow Jasmine (@Oprah_Gucci) to stay up to date with her future endeavors, including a Youtube channel where she drops some spiritual guidance through divination and Soundcloud where she released her 3 track EP entitled Retrograde.
Photography by Daniel Delgado – Makeup by Henri Mitchelle – Styling by Sal Yvat