It's a Curvy Revel-ution - Carnival takes on more 'real estate'
"Women should never allow two words or any word that speaks about size to define who they are," says Hollice 'Mr Killa' Mapp, Grenadian artiste who became popular for his 2013 soca hit, Rolly Polly.
When the artiste released the song approaching Grenada 2014 Carnival he never expected it to become one of the top tracks for the season all over the Caribbean. Mr Killa told The Sunday Gleaner, "It was just a celebration of the curvy, full-figured woman."
"Through my conversations with females with that 'round' figure, I found out that many while growing up were put down, rejected or automatically left out because 'fat' was not considered as sexy or good looking," Mr Killa said.
Rolly Polly was the artiste's way of showing his appreciation and inspiring women to join in, even if it meant parading a showy carnival costume.
But before Mr Killa, Heavy T Bumpa, Bigg Girls and Roll it Gyal by Fay-Ann Lyons, Biggie Irie and Allison Hinds featuring Machel Montano respectively, all praised the round revelers and encouraged female empowerment.
Dania Beckford, designer of BroadTail Designs says, "I haven't heard a song so far celebrating a small bumper but why should there even be a differentiation? Women are beautiful in all shapes and forms. It is just that a plus-sized woman feels liberated as she is getting positive attention."
"I believe the notion to lose weight and firm up was developed based on the traditional way that the costumes are showcased. When garments are worn on a runway, you envision that how the model looks in it is the way you should look in it."
Additionally the emphasis placed on fitness from the perspective of persons planning carnival is misinterpreted as maintaining a certain body size but actually it is to build vigor needed to endure extensive hours marching on the road.
"We actually need women that want to showcase their full-figured frames on stage. If I had more confident full-figured women who were willing to walk the stage for my section on launch night, I would have gone bigger in size."
There's a real movement nationally to celebrate curvy or plus-sized women as many of our own artistes and dancers even seek options to gain weight or add to their figures.
As a full-figured woman herself, Beckford explained that the real issue may lie in the names given to a female of her size and bigger.
"Some females may have not liked the phrase 'rolly polly" but there are colloquial terms for plus-sized women in different places. I say 'broadtail' but in Jamaica you hear, 'fluffy, 'tickaz' and many others."
So how else does Carnival really cater to the full-figured woman?
If carnival is a happy festival where persons feel free to express themselves while dancing to music, it is extremely important that the way most women in our country look should be on showcase as well. BroadTail Designs is collaborating with Xaymaca International band for the second time to have a section for full-figured women called Iridescence.
"BroadTail Designs is about the celebration of all body types but we cater to the full-figured woman. The costume was designed by myself and Debi-Ann Newell (who is an average sized woman) so it is actually the best of both worlds."
One of the main features of the Iridescence costume is the fabric, which is "thicker than the average spandex", says Beckford.
"Physically, a full figured woman, as the name suggests has what I like to call more 'real estate' than an average sized woman. That is more bust, hips, thighs, derriere or a larger waist. As a result, for her carnival suit to fit well it must have enough reinforcements like straps, buttons or hooks."
For years, designers and soca artistes have expressed that Carnival is about having fun and persons should not be too caught up in the exclusivity of whether a costume or song is marketed for plus size or not - just care-free enjoyment.
"Within our section, we have an option to be completely covered or highlight a bit more of the curves of the masquerader. We know that we may have masqueraders with big busts, so we ensure our suit is tied in such a way that it takes the pressure off the neck of the masquerader and balances more on the back and shoulders for more comfort while they enjoy their road experience," Beckford said.
Usually when ordering carnival suits the measurements are for bra size and panty size. Now the trunk measurement has become important to take full details of the torso and how each curve corresponds, so to speak.
"Just like we are 'chipping down the road' one foot at a time so too will be the progress of the celebration of all body types at Road March and in fashion."
Mr Killa says he is not prepared to release his newest single that speaks to big women, titled Thunder Rollers. "I doubt it will make it to Jamaica Carnival 2018 as I am currently working on other projects, but if I get the time I will try, if not we will have to wait for August for Grenada Carnival 2018 season," he said.