Designer Ven bullies client/model about weight, age and constant bashing with no repercussion.

I have been truly overwhelmed by the events of the last few days.  As you probably already know, I had agreed to be a participant in the “Fix my Friend” competition for Project Runway.  I anticipated a pampering experience wherein I would receive a makeover and have a new look designed just for me.  Instead, I was humiliated and degraded for being a “plus size” contestant.

I kept dreading the day when the episode would be aired and the whole world could see me trying on belts that had been made for Twiggy.  Since I was so mortified, I did not tell many people that I would even be on the show.  I watched it at home with my husband and young children.   Seeing the edited version of what had been filmed shed a new light on what had occurred.  I was horrified to realize that my children (who I always try to teach to respect others), were now watching their mother being bullied on national TV.  It was devastating!  I want my daughters to grow up with healthy self images, regardless of what the media promotes as fashionable.  I deeply regretted my decision to do the show.

However, since that time, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from perfect strangers.  They are outraged at the designer’s comments and attitude towards me.   I am so grateful for their kindness which is helping to rebuild my damaged self-esteem.   I only wish I had the time to personally thank each one for their remarks and gestures.

It was disheartening to see that the judges on Project Runway did not send the offending designer home.  Does this mean they condone his actions?  Do they also believe that only rail-thin models are worthy of their attention?

As I begin to put my own embarrassment aside and look at the situation from other people’s eyes, new questions pop into my head.  Why aren’t the sponsors’ speaking up?  The sponsors’ offers an anti-aging product line, and very large selection of plus size women clothing.  Do the network and sponsors believe in promoting tolerance or do they only care about ratings?  (I know that controversy can be beneficial to them, but at what cost?)  Why does the average woman compare herself to runway models to begin with? There are nationwide efforts to stop bullying. My experience is a prime example of adult bullying at its best. Bullying needs to stop, not just for children but for everyone!


I am not an extrovert by any means so I really am overwhelmed by all of this attention.  I have no idea where it will lead, but hopefully more women will carry their heads high on their “plus size figures”, and fewer teens and tweens will feel that designer clothes make who they are.   Maybe someday Project Runway will official denounce this designer’s actions. But in the meantime, I again thank everyone who has shown support for me. Your kind remarks have diminished the hurt I felt from one individual’s insensitivity.

I especially want to thank my friend, Theo Thomas, for challenging me during the filming as I was pretending to like what had been designed for me.  And I also want to publicly acknowledge that other former Project Runway competitors (namely Michael Costello and Suede) have graciously offered to design an appropriate outfit for me.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Terri Herlihy:

Email:  [email protected]

Facebook official “fan” page:  Terri’s Redemption  URL:

Ph:   913-488-3295, Mary Mattheis, public relations consultant


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  1. Jackie says

    I saw the episode last night and was so disgusted by Vens behavior. You are a beautiful and kind woman, whereas he is clearly a bitter, angry and soulless human being. I wish you nothing but happiness and the best of luck in the future, and I hope that you will soon have your moment to shine and be pampered.

  2. Jacquie Barbavian says

    To humiliate a woman based on her size while not focusing on her talent is low, declasse’ and unprofessional. NOt every woman is meant to be the same size. As a Fashion Designer I have made clothing from size 0 – 26 and larger! Every woman had a figure flaw they wanted to hide no matter what size they were! This was cruel and I will not be watching this show anymore if this kind of bullying behavior is allowed!

  3. Amy Lambert says

    I actually finished watching last week’s episode right before this was posted. I am overwhelmingly bothered and saddened by the experience of this woman. The only thing that saved this show were the denounced expressions of the other designers towards Ven. He was disrespectful beyond being disrespectful and should have been sent packing.

  4. Analise Whitlock says

    Take this show off the air! How dare the judges allow that beautiful woman to be humiliated and mistreated. The designer should be stoned! I will start a boycott in my town so people know the truth about this show. No one spoke up for her. I’m so sorry you had to endure that.

  5. April Yedinak says

    You know what really burnt my big butt about the whole fiasco (aside from how rude and unprofessional he was) is that he was such a hypocrite. Seriously big boy- you are going to cast some stones about size?! I think he needs psychiatric help for that level of delusion.

  6. says

    April Yedinak, THANK YOU for finally writing what I have been screaming (to no one in particular) since Thursday! Ven’s hypocrisy was infuriating, particularly his “Oh, she’s AT LEAST as size 14″ comment. Well, he appears to be AT LEAST a size 20! (You know what I mean.) I’m glad so many people have spoken up in defense of Terri, including the wonderful Tim Gunn. Terri, you are beautiful and a kinder person than I and are blessed to have such a wonderful friend in Theo.

  7. Mimi says

    I’m so pleased that Michael Costello and Suede offered to create an outfit for Terri. I’m also pleased that the other current designers were horrified by Ven’s behaviour. My only disappointment is that he was not sent home for his behaviour…AND his essentially crap creation. The skirt was too long (Sorry, Terri, but it was), the top was a meaningless blob of cheap fabric, and the whole thing showed a contempt for his client, even without Ven’s pathetic attitude. Nathan’s stage creation, while tacky, showed more work, creativity and respect for the client. Ven who takes such pride in his perfectly made clothes, turned out a stinker, and insulted his client (and, by extension, me, a plus size girl with the cash to order designer pieces made to order – so a potential client who’ll look elsewhere now!) in the process.

    I’m glad Theo convinced Terri to speak up and express her disappointment with the treatment and outfit she received from Ven. I am SO deeply disappointed that Ven wasn’t even reprimanded, let alone booted, for his actions and pitiful product. Bad move, Project Runway.

  8. Samii says

    Oh wow. I just can’t believe there are such awful people out there. I’m sorry, but shouldn’t he have been focusing on making the most amazing clothes, rather than what size he had to make them in? What a jerk. I hope he’s kicked from the show for his cruel behavior. I would’ve loved to have been on the show, myself. I would’ve went postal on him after all of that. But Terri took it in stride, unlike I probably would have. I have to have all the respect in the world for this woman. Keep your head high, darling! xo

  9. says

    One of the MANY reasons why I don’t watch shows like this. They don’t EVER include plus models for anything..and if they do its to ridicule. This is horrible. I’m so glad you have a platform to share your experience and your thoughts about what happened to you. Thank You Terri and thanks Plus Model Mag.

  10. Lily Marlene says

    “It was disheartening to see that the judges on Project Runway did not send the offending designer home.”

    It’s a design show and they didn’t judge his design to be the worst- that’s why he wasn’t sent home. He treated his client poorly, but client relations isn’t a part of the judging criteria, or a required skill. It would have been ridiculous (and pandering) to have sent him home for having offended his client and her supporters. No disrespect meant, his actions and attitude were repugnant.

  11. says

    When I first read this post I was completely dumbfounded but then as I thought about it I feel dumb for being dumbfounded as this kind of behavior is so typical.

    I haven’t seen the episode yet as I tend to watch most shows in a marathon format . . .

    The funny is he could’ve used the situation to his advantage. After all who couldn’t design something attractive for an 18 girl with an adolescent boy’s figure? Designing a flattering plus size garment actually takes TALENT.

    My heart goes out to you Terri.

  12. Brina says

    I watched the episode and was deeply disturbed by Ven’s behavior and the fact that he got to stay on the show. He should have been removed just for making his client feel terrible about herself. In the past when the show has done the “Real Woman” challenge there is almost always someone who is whining that all of the real women aren’t sample sizes. Um Hello!?!? Do they not understand that women of all sizes deserve to be clothed in beautiful clothing? That everyone deserves to feel good about themselves?

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