While the fashion world may not be known for its size inclusivity, entering the industry helped this Dia&Co employee learn to love herself just as she is.
How Working in Fashion Catapulted My Self-Love Journey
When I was younger, I never thought I’d work in fashion. As much as I’ve always enjoyed clothes and expressing myself through them, I hadn’t yet gone through what I’ll call my “style awakening.” A quarter of my closet was pieces I really, truly loved, but the vast majority was a collection of items that basically just fit. I never tried to correct the balance because it was so hard putting myself through the inevitable pain shopping would cause. My friends, who were mostly on the smaller side, would walk out of stores with bags of options, while I would just grab the oversized jersey dress that worked. I wouldn’t try much harder because I hated the disappointment.
In a past life, I was an actor, so I did the classic actor thing of looking for work that simply paid the bills. After working in coffee shops and as a babysitter, I wanted to switch things up. A friend knew of a fashion company that was hiring for their warehouse, so I threw my hat into the ring and soon after started my new job. Working in a fashion-centric environment put clothes at the forefront of my mind, rather than viewing them as this small slice of my life that I would often put off. While in the past I had always kept the size I wore close to the chest, I began to feel comfortable volunteering my size when they were testing the fit of new items. 16, which seemed like such a scary number at first, turned into just a number—one that was important to communicate in my work life.
That job in the warehouse opened up my eyes to how amazing working in fashion could be. Soon after, I discovered Dia&Co on a job site and felt something inside me click. Wait, I thought to myself, I can work at a fashion company exclusively for women like me? I applied through every possible avenue because I just had to make it happen. After finally getting my offer email, I felt a wave of excitement I never had felt before starting a new job. I scrolled through the Dia&Co Instagram feed and felt an immediate connection.
By the time I ended up getting hired at Dia&Co, I hadn’t really shopped in the plus-size sections of stores or at exclusively plus brands. The first and only plus-size piece I owned was a bridesmaid dress a friend had bought me for her wedding—one that she had selected based on measurements alone. At that time, I saw the size on the label and…didn’t love it.
Becoming comfortable with my size was always a struggle for me. In middle and high school, I would drape my jacket over my chair in such a way that the size couldn’t be seen. I would imagine a world where numerical sizes were instead colors or symbols, and where the number printed on a label didn’t hold the same weight that it so often does. I would dream of what I would buy when I finally lost the extra weight. As I saw it, that extra weight was standing in the way of being who I was supposed to be. Once I lost it, I would dress better, get more acting roles, and finally feel confident about who I was.
But once I got to Dia&Co, a whole world opened up for me. When you enter the Dia&Co office, it’s like beaming up to plus-size fashion heaven. Stylish, beautiful women of all sizes walk from meeting to meeting dressed in pretty dresses, chic moto jackets, and denim that fits like a glove—basically, all of the clothes I dreamed of wearing but never could find in my size. Instead of only being surrounded by friends who wore much smaller sizes than I did, I could go shopping with these women. I could ask them, “Where did you get that?” and then go and buy the item. I could borrow clothes and have them actually fit.
For the first time in a long time, I had access to clothes that, instead of just fitting, made me happy when I wear them. Friends who see me on social media more than they do in real life often mention how happy I look in my many #OOTDs on Instagram. They playfully ask if I’m trying to become a fashion influencer, but the reality is simply that I now deem my body worthy of taking full-body photos. Seeing my co-workers and the Dia Community celebrate their bodies and favorite outfits through photos inspires me—and tells me that I can do the same.
I recently went to dinner with a bunch of friends from outside my work family. The conversation organically led to talking about clothes—more specifically, what styles and patterns who should wear and when. It occurred to me, as it frequently does, that I’m infinitely lucky to have found the Dia&Co team and community. I no longer look at vertical stripes or crop tops as things I can never wear. Now, for me, clothing is a form of expression—not a tool to appear smaller or hide my shape. When my friends say, “Horizontal stripes make people look bigger,” I say, “I don’t subscribe to that. I just wear what I like.”
What has been even more impactful is the effect finding this new work community has had on my relationship with my body. When you grow up surrounded by friends who wear smaller sizes and media that shows you only one beauty ideal, the notion that you’re not good enough can become ingrained in you. Not only was I never as thin as my peers, but I was always just a little louder, more opinionated, and more off-beat. All of these combined qualities made me feel like how I naturally was wasn’t okay.
When I joined the Dia&Co team, I felt like I fit in in a way I hadn’t quite experienced before—and, as a result, I finally felt more comfortable standing out. As women, we’re often told to take up less space, speak more softly, and apologize when we’re not exactly who people want us to be. While I always understood intellectually that these societal pressures to look, act, and behave in certain ways were problematic, it wasn’t until I worked at a plus-size fashion company that I learned it on a deeper level.
At Dia&Co, I work predominately with women. Our co-founders are women, my boss is a woman, and my little team is made up entirely of women. Seeing strong women speak their minds and collaborate to make amazing things happen has the power to chip away at what the rest of society tells us. What’s more, the women at Dia&Co do this all while boldly expressing themselves through style—something that we’re not always told to do in professional settings. With all of these incredible, talented women around me—so many of whom wear plus sizes—I feel like I’m enough, just as I am.
Sometimes Dia&Co may feel like an island of body positivity, but, thankfully, it feels like the world is starting to catch up. What I’ve learned more than anything in my time at Dia&Co is that life is way too short to not find a way to be happy with who you are right now. Whether you find it through trying new styles, experimenting with makeup, or letting your true self shine through with your every move, it’s all in service of showing the world exactly who you are. Connecting with a community of women on the same path is a lovely reminder that we’re all in this together.