Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi calendar offers plus-sized power

Blogger hopes her venture will boost the confidence of women with fuller figures.
Zina Beth McLeod Purvis is one of the models featured in New Zealand's first plus-size calendar, being launched today. Photo / Mike Mikha
Zina Beth McLeod Purvis is one of the models featured in New Zealand's first plus-size calendar, being launched today. Photo / Mike Mikha

A Kiwi fashion blogger is aiming to help fuller-figured women feel empowered by creating a new calendar featuring plus-sized pin-ups.

Regina Alai will launch New Zealand's first plus-size calendar at an event in Auckland today. The collection of photographs shows everyday Kiwi women in lingerie they chose and bought themselves.

Mrs Alai, a fashion advocate for Regina & Peachtree, hopes the calendar will encourage curvaceous women to feel more body positive.

"Being fuller figured my entire adult life I have lived it and breathed it every day," she said.

"I'm so lucky to exist in a generation where the perception of beauty is changing for the better.

"The plus-sized topic is hot and is a significant one to make a noise for."

Last year the iconic Pirelli calendar featured a plus-sized model for the first time, creating worldwide headlines.

And after breaking down barriers by appearing on the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition in February, size 14 model Ashley Graham forged a career for herself as a body-positivity campaigner and clothes designer for girls of all sizes.

Mrs Alai said although some other Kiwi calendars had occasionally included plus-sized women, hers was the first to show an entire collection.

The calendar launches with a free afternoon of "social glam and indulgence" at a release party at Little Easy in Ponsonby at 1pm today.

Courtney Teague is Miss May in the new calendar. Photo / Mike Mikha
Courtney Teague is Miss May in the new calendar. Photo / Mike Mikha

Part of the proceeds from sales of the $20 calendars will be donated to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation and Save the Children.

"The concept with having the ladies in lingerie was a nervous one, so I left the women to find lingerie from local retailers that they were comfortable wearing," Mrs Alai said.

"A goal was to create an acknowledgment for females in New Zealand who don't fit the generic model template."

The traditional use of skinny models to promote fashion seems to be changing. Last month France adopted a law to ban excessively thin models. Models applying for a job in the country must now produce a medical certificate proving that their overall health and Body Mass Index meet acceptable standards.

Samantha Whybrow, a mother of three from Onehunga, Auckland, stars in the Kiwi calendar as Miss March. Ms Whybrow, 41, is a size 22 and said the experience made her feel beautiful.

The plus-sized topic is hot and is a significant one to make a noise for.
Regina Alai fashion blogger

"The reason I wanted to do it is I've always felt pretty invisible with regards to feeling attractive," she explained. "Although I have always had great self-esteem there just hasn't been the platform or recognition of the beauty of bigger girls in a way that is not sleazy."

Tiare Strickland, 29, from Mt Maunganui, modelled as Miss February in Rose & Thorne underwear she bought from The Warehouse for under $30.

"It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my body had changed after I had a child," she said. "There is a stigma in New Zealand about being a larger size and a lot of women feel it is not okay to have curves or cellulite.

"Hopefully this calendar will help change that perception."

- NZ Herald

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