“Yes, I’m a plus-size lady, I’m an Aboderin, I’m proud of it… I have always been plus-size… For me, my confidence comes from within.”
Temi Aboderin-Alao is very proud of her plus-size physique. When you spend time with her and other plus-size models, you come away with a whole new perspective about these ladies who are beautiful inside and outside, and overtly proud of their figure. In the midst of the feverish preparation for the forthcoming Plus-size Fashion Week in Lagos, she spoke with Sunday Sun about what most people need to understand about being a plus-size figure, her lifestyle and other issues.
Why are you advocating for the plus-size woman?
It’s not something I just started. I got into plus-style styling in 2011. Then the official launch was done in 2012, during which plus-size models took to the runway and left the audience excited. I started this because plus-size women are often made to look down on themselves. They are belittled and people judge them by their experience not taking time to know the person. So, a platform like this helps them to build up their self-esteem, and be happy about who they are. That is what drives my passion for the plus-size fashion week because
I have done over 20 fashion shows on another platform. I felt that instead of begging people to feature me on their show, I could create a place for plus-size people to be celebrated on my platform. A place where they are not going to be ridiculed by people backstage that they are going to fall on the runway. It’s a proper international standard platform.
Is it really a problem to be a plus-size lady?
This year’s theme is called ‘Beautiful Me’. We want to look at it from this perspective that we need to be impressed with who you are, be happy with your plus-size and healthy. You shouldn’t feel that you are less than who you are because you are a plus- size person.
The truth is that one of our influencers is saying that she has done all kinds of exercises and she’s has not gone down but she’s absolutely stunning. If you have that beauty, work with the beauty but if you want to shed weight go ahead and do that and that is what I love about the master class we are having this year. One of our speakers is somebody who has actually lost a lot of weight. We don’t want to be biased, we want to show how somebody feels when they lose weight and the other people feel happy the way they are. We should build up a woman no matter what her physique is.
You are a plus-size yourself, were you ever booed because of your size?
Yes, I’m a plus-size lady, I’m an Aboderin, I’m proud of it. Of course, they will abuse you. Secondary school was so harsh. School mates said awful things like, ‘Who is this ball? What is this ball?’ Even people who know you would say all sorts of unhealthy things. It used to get to me but it never really injured me. It did affect me but it has never injured me because I still went on to live my own life.
I have always been plus-size. Honestly, I was smaller but after I had a child I got bigger. For me, my confidence comes from within. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that I’m healthy the way I am right now and if I want to change it, I’m within my right to change it if I want to. It is my decision not because of the abuse.
As a plus-size person what was it like schooling in Britain?
I had my primary and secondary education here. Then I went to England for my GCE Advanced Level. Being a plus-size person have been a journey because it has not has not always been accepted.
But the fact is, British people are always reserved not like Nigerians calling you ‘orobo’ to your face. Or calling you a ball. They are more subtle and reserved. It’s just a few looks but they won’t directly come and insult you that way. That’s just the difference.
Prior to starting the plus–size fashion show, you had been in hiding so to say. Why did you decided to break silence?
I’m a designer and I didn’t want people to feel skeptical that I was doing a show so that I could come and reign on their parade. I wanted to take a back sit and allow all those designers doing beautiful works to shine.
What is your identity as a designer?
The name of my brand is JP Kouture, which stands for James Princess. My father’s name is James and refers to all his daughters as princess. It’s a brand for plus-size ladies. It’s all about sparkling stones and sequins, to make plus-size women beautiful and gorgeous.
I have done runway outside the country as well. It’s an international brand. I have been selling under the JP Kouture brand since 2012. What is unique about my design is that it’s based on body shape. I look at different body shapes and come up with my pieces. I will also showcase at the plus-size fashion week in November.
What lesson have you learnt about life?
You have to fight to get what you want. I don’t mean physical violence; I mean you have to persevere. People will antagonize you; anything that is goodwill get antagonized; so stay
focused in what you want, have the audacity to have the believe that you can make it and keep going.
Were you over pampered growing up?
No, my mum is very strict.
What of your dad?
He died when I was two years. So I didn’t get to know him very much. People say very good things about him. They talk about his philanthropy, which is exactly what I’m like. They said he empowered various people in the community, so I get to understand more about him from what people say about him.
Did your mum influence your fashion sense while growing up?
Yes, she is a fashionista.
What’s your vision for the Plus-Size Fashion week?
My vision is to get established on the international fashion show calendar; it’s going to get bigger and better, in any way, shape or form. We have international participants and we are going to have more international participants.
What is the perception of Nigerian men about plus-size women? I think they like plus women. I think it is the women that sometimes bully themselves over this plus-size thing. I think men do actually appreciate plus-size women. If you look at it, I think it’s the same generally everywhere, because Caucasian women and others pay plastic surgeons to make their breasts bigger or make their bums bigger. They all just want to look more African.
Was it your shape that attracted your husband?
You have to ask him (pointing at her husband). We have been married for three years.
READ ALSO: Plus-sized ladies make best wives
Why were you attracted to him?
He is a good person and his family is also good. That is the most important thing for me. You have to come from a good family. A family that loves me.
What is your kind of fashion?
Glamorous and casual at the same time.
How do you relax?
I sleep. My idea of recreation is to get some rest because I’m a very busy person.
What’s your favourite food?
Rice, chicken and plantain. But I have to watch what I eat, otherwise I will be bigger.
You have to be careful and these are what we tell our models in our agency; if you just keep eating nobody would want to take you as a model. You have to maintain your shape. I think that is very important.