To commemorate the first anniversary of The Power Of Plus, Gianluca Russo and Shammara Lawrence are launching their #PowerfullyMe campaign to celebrate!
The campaign and its digital initiatives and virtual events aim to inspire members of the plus-size community to share how inclusive fashion, social activism, and being a part of the Power Of Plus community have empowered us to be our true, authentic selves.
The Power of Plus co-founders were able to chat with me about all things Power Of Plus and the many exciting things they have planned to continue to empower and celebrate the plus size community!
The Power of Plus Co-Founders Reflect On The Past Year, And Into The Future
Mayra Mejia: Gianluca and Shammara, you both make for a powerful duo! How did you both meet?
Shammara: “Aww, thank you. That’s really sweet. We were internet friends for a couple of years before finally meeting in person at an ASOS fashion week party. The line was super long to get in, and I spotted Gianluca at the front, so I walked up to him, and he instantly recognized me and allowed my cousin and I to skip the line (thanks, love!). We’ve been really close ever since.“
Gianluca: “I really think Shammara and I were destined to meet because our timelines synched up so perfectly. When I was a freshman in college in 2015, I watched Teen Vogue start a revolution in the magazine industry, which resonated so deeply with me and pushed me to become a writer.
Around that time, Shammara was the one at Teen Vogue helping expand their plus-size fashion coverage, and it’s through her reporting that my eyes were opened to the world of size-inclusivity. Three years later, once Shammara left the magazine, I got to take over her spot. If she hadn’t opened the door for me, I would have never even known that someone like me could have a place and a loud voice in this industry.”
Mayra Mejia: How did The Power of Plus come to be?
Shammara: “Last year, during the pandemic, we talked a lot about the dearth of safe spaces for plus-size folks like us to talk about important and sometimes sensitive topics around being fat in a fatphobic world — from mental health to fashion and dating in a big body. Instead of waiting for someone else to create the size-inclusive community we wanted to see, we did it on our own, and thus, The Power of Plus was born.
The Power of Plus is a size-inclusive community promoting style, love, and respect for every body. Since our launch last July, we have grown to over 14K followers and counting across platforms and have hosted popular bi-monthly panels featuring leading inclusivity advocates like Gabi Gregg, Kellie Brown, Chrissy Rutherford, Hunter McGrady, Marie Denee, and more.
Gianluca and I know firsthand how difficult it is to be a fat person in a thin-first world that’s stacked against you in every way imaginable, from doctors dismissing your concerns because of your weight to the lack of representation of bigger body types in media and entertainment.
Through the Power of Plus, we’re actively advocating for fat people by centering their stories and celebrating our existence because we deserve to have access to the same things like well-fitting clothing and proper medical care just as much as someone else in a smaller body.“
Gianluca: “To Shammara’s point, a lot of these back and forth conversations that we were having were because I was crafting my book proposal at the time about the industry, trying to determine what topics in particular needed to be expanded on. And what I quickly found is that there was more to uncover than I ever even realized.
As I wrapped up the proposal, Shammara and I were getting excited about the conversations this book would start and didn’t want to wait until its release to start making changes within the space. So we decided to launch this platform, under the same name as the book, because we knew people were craving more authentic representation, just as we have been our whole lives.
I think Shammara and I are a great team because while we’re bonded over our shared experiences of being plus-size, we have very different backgrounds and perspectives, so we’re able to really have a 360 view on a lot of conversations.”
Mayra Mejia: You guys are approaching the first anniversary of The Power of Plus! What can we expect from your relaunch, and what have you both learned from your first year?!
Shammara: “It’s such an exciting time for Gianluca and I. We’ve been so grateful for all the support we’ve received thus far from the community and industry insiders. I’m particularly excited about our brand new website, www.powerofplus.co.
Not only does the site look incredible visually and is totally on-brand for both of us, but I can’t wait to see it blossom into the ultimate lifestyle destination filled with a plethora of resources, fashion inspo, career advice, and more for plus-size people like us.
One major lesson this year has taught me is the power of staying true to your vision and going after your dreams full force despite any hurdles that may come your way. We’ve faced so many obstacles while building The Power of Plus, and I’m sure we will continue to (that’s the nature of entrepreneurship after all), but we preserved. As a result, we’ve fostered an incredibly inspiring community of women, men, and nonbinary fat folks who are ready to have their voices heard and help make the world a better, more size-inclusive place. “
Gianluca: “The relaunch is two-fold: First, we have our website, which we’ll be building out greatly over the next year to include fashion resources, lists of body-positive mental health practitioners, and much more. Secondly, we’re launching our #PowerfullyMe campaign, which aims to inspire people to talk about the things that make them feel most powerful and authentic.
After the past 15 months of isolation, I think we’re all craving that feeling of boldness again, so our social media campaign serves to celebrate that. The campaign will kick off with a launch video featuring Gabi Gregg, Nicolette Mason, Lauren Chan, and a few others, followed by many in the plus-size community who will be sharing their stories on Instagram throughout the week. We’ll also be having a virtual panel on Thursday that will discuss the concept of the “acceptable fat body” and how we can dismantle it within the industry.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in the past year is that community and conversations mean everything to me. It’s what drives me, what inspires me, and what allows me to self-heal from my own body trauma while helping others to do the same.“
Mayra Mejia: Tell us about the hashtag campaign, #PowerfullyMe? Can anyone participate?
Shammara: “In honor of The Power of Plus’ one-year anniversary, we’re celebrating our beautiful community and our collective power with a social media campaign around the hashtag #PowerfullyMe. From July 19th onwards, we are encouraging plus-size folks to share what makes them feel powerful, whether it’s fashion, being part of this incredible community, contributing to social justice conversations using the hashtag #PowerfullyMe on social media.”
Mayra Mejia: What, so far, has been your favorite project or memory connected with The Power of Plus community?!
Shammara: “We’ve hosted some really powerful virtual panels this past year, but one of the most impactful ones for me had to be the very first one we did when we launched titled, “How Black Women are Fighting the Racial Divide in Plus-size Fashion.” The panel featured Gabi Gregg, Kellie Brown, Liris Crosse, and Kristine Thompson, four trailblazers who have broken numerous barriers in plus-size fashion, making way for Gianluca and I to come and pick up the baton and continue the fight for size inclusivity in fashion and beyond.
Speaking with four women I’ve always looked up to about their career journeys and the contributions Black women have made in fashion was a privilege that I’ll never forget. It also showed Gianluca and I how vital our work as writers and co-founders of The Power of Plus is, seeing as we were able to get four industry leaders on our first panel, which sold out immediately.“
Gianluca: “That panel really sticks out as a favorite of mine. It was our first, so it really set the tone for the kind of platform we wanted to become. I remember logging onto Zoom that night and seeing my screen alongside our panelists and just having to take a “wow” moment.
Every time we have a panel, I always stop to think about how incredible it is that we’re able to bring these thought-leaders together for impactful, moving conversations that are free and accessible to the public. And honestly, we owe it to our panelists. It’s because of their knowledge and generosity that any of this is possible.”
Mayra Mejia: What is your hope for the future of The Power of Plus?
Shammara: “We’re on a mission to turn The Power of Plus into a mega lifestyle and digital storytelling company that has a diverse range of content and resources to help plus-size people live their best lives.
In the future, we will not only have resources like a directory of size-inclusive practitioners, Gianluca will be publishing The Power of Plus in 2022, and we’ve been discussing launching a podcast and doing in-person events in the near future once it’s completely safe to do so. So the sky is really the limit, and we’re so excited to see the brand evolve in the coming years.”
Gianluca: “As Shammara mentioned, we have so many hopes and dreams. Right now, I’m most excited for the book version of The Power of Plus, which will be published next year from Chicago Review Press. The book is really a celebration of the countless women and men who created this community over the past three decades. And while uplifting, it also tackles the important, pressing topics that we discuss in our panels.
A podcast, in-person events, fashion line—really, I see no end to where The Power of Plus can go. But no matter what happens, Shammara and I are determined to not only center this community in everything we do but to elevate their voices into mainstream spaces where, for so long, they’ve been rejected and excluded from.“
For The Power Of Plus…. It Seems Like The Best Is Yet To Come!
Be sure to follow them on Instagram at @ThePowerOfPlus.co to keep up with their latest events, and be sure to hashtag #PowerfullyMe and share your story!
Originally posted 2021-07-19 17:25:39.