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Jess (and the Bandits) On Plus Size Fashion

Jess-and-the-Bandits

Jess is our new girl crush! Why? Because she’s just awesome. As well as showing us beauty comes in all different sizes by supporting the #StyleHasNoSize campaign in association with Evans for Plus Size Fashion Week, she also fronts a fabulous band, Jess and the Bandits. Loved by Terry Wogan and the magazine Gay Times, amongst so many more, we thought it was only right that we had a chat with lovely lady, Jess!

You’re supporting the UK Plus Size Fashion Week this September. Why is this important to you? I’m plus size myself and I think the plus size market – anything over a US size 10 – has been looked over for far too long. I have a bit of a platform with what I’m doing with my life, with music and it’s a good opportunity to bring some awareness to [the fact] not everyone is a size 4.

Do you feel we should be seeing plus sized women at London Fashion Week? Oh absolutely. Fashion shouldn’t have boundaries. It’s a way of expressing yourself and being different – wearing clothes that some people wouldn’t normally wear. I don’t think just because you’re a certain size, you shouldn’t be able to experiment with fashion and be a part of it. It will be amazing to see more relatable women as a part of fashion week.

jess atb2

There has been recent debates whether to drop the term ‘plus size’, but a lot of women feel the term empowers them. What are your thoughts? It doesn’t bother me either way. I was reading that Melissa McCarthy has a new clothing line out and wants to drop plus size. She would much rather see clothes available just in the normal way, just in higher sizes. I don’t see a problem in saying you’re plus size. I see it from both sides of the spectrum because people want to make it normal. You don’t have average, plus size and skinny separated. I’ve been plus size my whole life and went on my first diet at 9-years-old. It’s been a long-time struggle for me, I don’t have a problem with it and it’s not as much a stigma as it [once] was.

Do you want to be a sort of role model for ladies who feel they don’t fit the general mould of the supposed ‘perfect sized’ woman that we see in the mainstream media? Absolutely, 100%. If I can in some small way help, especially a young girl who is desperate to be thin or some idea of perfect, I want to do that. I spent many years hating myself, crying myself to sleep because of a size on a pair of jeans. This is so stupid, why are we so concerned about this instead of empowering the individual? We need to be healthy inside our heads and to make it work together we have to be happy with ourselves. I’m hoping that through that and people seeing even me learning to be happy with myself, that they’ll be able to do the same. Especially the younger generation ’cause it’s just so hard on them.

We need to be healthy inside our heads and to make it work together we have to be happy with ourselves. I’m hoping that through that and people seeing even me learning to be happy with myself, that they’ll be able to do the same. Especially the younger generation ’cause it’s just so hard on them

You’re performing the track Beautiful which you wrote for the event. Could you tell us the idea behind the song and what inspired it? This song is what you would imagine is saying to anyone that looks in the mirror and picks themselves apart. I know for me I did it for many years. If you had a black sharpie like the plastic surgeons do and you would draw all over yourself, you would do it because you’re so critical of who you are. It’s for people who have been broken down by past relationships, not just people insecure with their looks. They feel worthless – the inspiration was to build these people up. Until you actually believe you’re beautiful yourself you’ll never believe it from someone else. The song is about trying to convince yourself that your worth something.

The track Nitty Gritty is in support of the #StyleHasNoSize campaign in association with Evans, the official sponsor of UK Plus Size Fashion Week. Has it been fun working on the campaign? It has been. Not to mention I get perks, they give me clothes which is nice. It’s great to be a part of something which is all inclusive rather than divisive. I hate using the term real women as if you’re a woman, you’re a real woman. I love that style has no size, although Evans are plus size, they’re being inclusive of everyone and saying it doesn’t matter. The song is hand in hand with that message.

Speaking of fashion, what 3 clothing items could you not live without? A really great pair of jeans because I am such a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl. A great midi skirt which are super in fashion right now. Probably because I can’t help it and I’m a country singer, a pair of cowboy boots.

Would you ever want to design your own fashion collection, or are you sticking to music? I would love to design my own fashion line. I was doing stuff like that as a little girl, [but] I’m a terrible artist and stick figures are about it. I have these terrible drawings of dresses and clothes I drew as a girl. I’d love to design a line for size 0 to size 28. I don’t think there really is enough of that.

You’re touring soon in the UK? We’re going on tour in October all around the country and several dates are almost sold out. All info and tour dates are on jessandthebandits.com.

More information of UK Plus Size Fashion Week can be found here.

Words copyright VanityHype magazine//Mark Ryan 2015

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