Meagan Kerr Changes the Style Rules

Portrait of Meagan Kerr by Doug Peters, Ambient Light

You’ve likely seen Meagan Kerr’s face before, she’s undoubtedly New Zealand’s best-known fashion blogger specialising in plus size fashion and has an ever-growing loyal following. Meagan launched her namesake blog This is Meagan Kerr in August 2012 to share her personal style and fill an obvious gap as there was no one blogging locally about plus size fashion at the time and the media coverage of it was very limited. Utilising her keen eye as a photographer, great sense of style and honest writing style her blog rapidly gained traction and has become a regular read for tens of thousands of people every week.

Meagan also shares her tips on body confidence, self love and how to enjoy the body you have, which has seen her create popular body confidence workshops and take on public speaking engagements. I was curious to find out more about how Meagan got into fashion, how she feels about where plus size fashion is at now and how she handles the popularity and inevitable criticism that comes with bring a well-known blogger.

How did you first get involved in fashion and what made you start a blog?
My start in fashion came when I was at uni and working as a fashion photographer. I started writing for nzgirl and eventually I had people asking me what my blog was so that they could follow it. At that point I didn’t really know what a blog was, so I did a bit of research and set one up. It took a few months for me to really find my voice, but once I realised that what set me apart was that I was plus size, I decided to focus on that.

What has the response to your blog been like from your readers and the fashion/beauty industry?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I love being able to share plus size style with my readers and talk about other things like self esteem and changing the relationships we have with our bodies. I’ve had a great response from the industry as well, it’s such a privilege to be able to work with brands I love to help them improve what they’re offering their clients and to be able to help share those great new things with my readers. There have been some negative responses, which seems to be par for the course when there is a woman (particularly a fat one) who has a reasonable level of self confidence and doesn’t fit within your traditional beauty standards.

Being a personal style blogger requires getting your photo taken regularly for outfit posts, how have you found this and what do you feel when you look back at your earliest outfit posts now?
At the beginning it was a real ‘fake it til you make it’ approach because I was really uncomfortable in front of the camera (especially because I was used to being behind it). Looking back I think it’s obvious from the way I’m posed and my awkward expression that it was a learning curve from me. Now I’m completely comfortable in front of a camera or speaking in front of a group of people. With the success of my blog has come television and magazine interviews so I’ve had to get used to being in front of someone else’s camera and not having creative control of things as well.

Your blog has grown to be New Zealand’s most visible and successful plus-size fashion blog, what do you attribute your success to and was there a turning point that you realised things were going to blow up in terms of scale?
Two years ago for my grad project (a year after I started my blog), I started a series called Fat Girls Shouldn’t Wear Stripes that looked at how women over a size 16 were treated in terms of fashion, what style choices were available to them and the so called fashion rules that come along with being a fat woman. There were women in swimsuits being unashamed of their bodies, ladies wearing stripes, body con, bright colours, you name it – all with confidence. That was picked up by a news site and all of a sudden people knew who I was – the outspoken fat chick who thinks that fashion is for every body.

Plus size fashion has come a long way in the past few years in terms of visibility and the greater range of garments that are now available, where do you see the future of plus size fashion heading?
I really hope that it continues to grow – when you compare the amount of options in straight sizes to what is available in plus sizes there is just so much more choice in the smaller sizes. When it all comes down to it, we want to have the same range of choices, to be able to wear the same fashion forward clothing as our straight size friends, but cut for the plus size body.

Self portrait by Meagan Kerr from This is Meagan Kerr.

While you feature both international and local fashion on your blog, what do you love most about New Zealand fashion?
New Zealand is a nation of black wearers, and I think that our designers (both straight size and plus size) produce amazing pieces in black. They’re far from boring and use different fabrics and silhouettes to create stunning garments – one of my favourites is LaLA (Lost and Led Astray), designer Sarah-Jane Duff makes some gorgeous clothes that move and flow.

One of the less than pleasant aspects of becoming successful means you’re likely to get criticism, especially on the internet, how have you dealt with criticism directed at you and your blog?
I always welcome relevant and constructive criticism, however I have no time for bullies or body shamers. If comments fall in the latter category they’re usually removed pretty fast – I like to provide a safe space for my readers.

Body confidence and self love are topics you regularly discuss on your blog and in speaking engagements, how did you come to the place of self acceptance and love that you currently have?
It was a really long journey for me, and doing quite a bit of it in the public eye wasn’t easy. I think that making the conscious decision to put yourself first and start treating yourself well is an important beginning. Even now it takes work – I don’t wake up feeling great about myself every single day but I do make sure I treat myself with kindness every day.

What are your tips for people who want to grow their confidence and learn to love themselves for who they are?
Ditch the magazines and people in your life who are telling you that you’re not good enough; change the way you talk to yourself; make sure you’re looking after your whole self and treating yourself with love and kindness; and of course wear things that make you feel fabulous. I talk about these things regularly on my blog, because learning to love the body you have right now is a process that is not always linear – in my experience you have days when you feel great and days you don’t. The important thing is to keep being good to yourself when you’re not feeling confident.

Where do you see yourself heading from here and do you have any goals you’re working to achieve in future?
I’d really like to spend more time talking about body confidence and helping people to realise how awesome they really are, so by popular request I’m going to be taking my body confidence workshops (previously only run in Auckland) around New Zealand. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my readers! Of course I’ll still be focusing on fashion and style, and I would love to pair up with a fashion brand to release a collection.

Self portrait by Meagan Kerr from This is Meagan Kerr.

– by Evelyn Ebrey

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