Fashion Rule Breakers is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Each month, we profile a fashion designer, model, organization, or icon who is a fashion rule breaker — someone who acts outside mainstream industry standards to make a positive difference.
When we think about fashion, we're often forced to think about size — the one we are, the one we aren't, the one we "should" be. But body-positive fashion blogger Katie Sturino won't be defined by one size. Instead, she takes ownership of however many she wants as a self-described "size 12(ish)."
Unafraid to shout from the rooftops, or more accurately, her computer screen, that "great style can look chic at any size," she created The 12(ish) Style to not only inspire other women and girls to believe this, but to introduce them to the brands that practice what she preaches.
One of the main ways she does that is through her #SupersizeTheLook Instagram series where she dresses like models and celebrities (her favorite being Giovanna Battaglia) to prove true style has nothing to do with the size of your clothes and everything to do with how you wear them.
"Even though there has been some good changes made recently, the majority of media and fashion are still positioned to make women feel not good enough," she tells A Plus.
Because Sturino takes it upon herself to become a leader in the body positivity movement, she's a Fashion Rule Breaker.
"Working in the fashion industry had given me a distorted view of my body," she explains. It wasn't until she participated in an article with Man Repeller, a fashion and women-focused publication, that started to changed. "After the article came out and I read the comments, I realized I wasn't alone," she says.
Since then, The 12(ish) Style, including her #SupersizeTheLook series, has gained a 170,000+ strong Instagram following and she has expanded the blog to cover travel and fitness topics as well. Sturino says it's important to her to take a holistic approach to body positivity because she wants to debunk the preconceived notion that size is the only indicator of health. "I don't think that fitness should be so directly connected to your physical appearance," she notes. "There are so many benefits to fitness and movement that have nothing to do with what size you're wearing — and everything to do with how you feel, your long-term health, and mental state."
And that's not the only misconception Sturino's tearing down post by post. The 12(ish) Style hopes to prove "that curvy girls can't wear ____" doesn't belong in anyone's vocabulary. "Whatever the blank is — white jeans, short skirts, crop tops — whatever it is they think they can't do because someone told them they couldn't, or because they told themselves they couldn't, I'm trying to show them that they can," she says.
With her #Supersize side-by-side photos, she shows just how a person of any size can pull off a celebrity or model's look so long as they are also wearing their confidence.
“Every day, women share their stories about how they're doing something for the first time, like wearing a bikini to the beach or shorts. “ ... And it's amazing to watch people shed those unnecessary restrictions, and just enjoy clothes.”
Others have conducted similar experiments to counteract today's celeb-itization of 'street style,' drawing attention to the problematic ways society often views thinness as a prerequisite of fashionista status.
An A Plus contributor, Lauren Sauer, dressed like "style icons" Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner for a week to shed some much-needed light "on our society's reaction to these women," who though they certainly "aren't strangers to couture or trendsetting fashion... also get praised for ensembles that are nothing special." Case in point: a black legging and tank top combo sported by Hadid and emulated by Sauer. While black clothing is always "in style," athleisure is nothing to blog home about.
Through their side-by-side photos both she and Sturino force their viewers to confront their implicit bias when it comes to standards of beauty. But that doesn't mean tearing down celebrity women for their size or sense of style; it means showcasing themselves as a positive alternative for women of all shapes and sizes to see and say, "If she can wear that, so can I."
That includes, but certainly isn't limited to, white overalls.
"Size 2 ladies are lovely too, all bodies are, but you don't need to be extremely slender to pull off looks like this — which is a reminder I could use frequently," Valerie Williams writes on Scary Mommy in reference to Sturino's #SuperSizeTheLook series.
"Honestly, her whole account is making me feel sheepish that I’ve had it in my head this long that there are certain outfits I just shouldn’t even try."
Check out more photos from Sturino's #SupersizeTheLook series.
As for the future of The 12(ish) Style, Sturino simply wants to "continue to inspire women to stop talking negatively about their bodies and start embracing themselves as they are right now." Whether that's on social media or with her IRL beauty line, Megababe, she's working to "take the Ouch and the Ugh out of being a woman." That can't be done without first acknowledging the "ouch" and "ugh" of thigh chafe and boob sweat that women have suffered in silence for too long. "That's why I started my [beauty] line Megababe because I see it as a full extension of what's happened in mainstream media for women," she explained.