Challenging Stereotypes – The Sheroes Behind “True Sheroes”
Challenging Stereotypes – The Sheroes Behind “True Sheroes”
Imagine a world where superheros came in different shapes and colors to protect their planet and inhabitants. Well imagine no more, True Curves is bringing you “True Sheroes”, a comic book series and calendar that introduces us to an entire galaxy of bold bodacious Sheroes determined to save the world from the destruction of the natural resources destroying the world.
Plus size models Meilee and Sommer are determined to help empower women to embrace their strength and beauty.
Maddy: Tell me a little but about True Curves?
Meilee: True Curves came together because both Sommer and I were doing really great things. We were both working in different aspects of the industry and we decided to brand our name. Our company would not only include us but we would also do special projects. Our first one was the controversial “Pin Up Calendar”.
The calendar gave people something to think about because when you think “pin-up”, you only think of a certain size. We turned it around and gave people all different sizes. We also used models as well as non – models. We wanted to show beauty in all different types of people.
True Curves is about empowerment for women. We want people to love themselves for who there are no matter what the size. We also embrace inner beauty, if you don’t have inner beauty – how can you have it on the outside?
Maddy: How do you get to a point where you accept, love and appreciate your body? What are your suggestions?
Sommer: I would say start of with simple things like looking in the mirror, and not to look at the outside but look at yourself inside. Love yourself, say “I love you” and find things about who you are that you love. It could be your smile, your skin or your eyes. Do this and build on it from there.
Maddy: You don’t see REAL friendship between models, can you tell me a little about how you both met and preserve the bond you have?
Meilee: Sommer and I crossed paths on several occasions before we connected. I still remember how she reacted to me approaching and introducing myself to her. I still giggle about it. We were in a production together and I kind of took Sommer under my wing and tried to show her that you don’t have to be sneaky or anyone other than yourself to be in this industry. It’s okay to share your castings because everyone has their blessings. We do bump heads at times, we are strong minded women, but we really balance each other out. We also have mutual respect for each other.
Maddy: Your both plus size models, and experienced a lot of challenges pertaining to height, weight, etc. When you were talking about True Sheroes, did you think about how using women of different sizes would affect your business?
Sommer: One thing that Meilee and I have said when we started True Curves is that we wanted to stand out from all of these “fat girl” movements. We wanted everyone to know that we are not a “fat girl” movement. We are focused on celebrating curves and this decision was based on the fact that we were brought up by voluptuous women in our family.
We decided to use all women with curves and this means working with women who wear sizes past a size 18. The models in our pin up calendar range in size between 8 and 18/20.
Maddy: I read the synopsis of the comic book and I LOVE planet CURVA! I want to live there LOL Who came up with the idea for a comic book?
Meilee: It almost came to me in a dream, during the time we were producing the first calendar. I did not say anything about it until I had put more thought into it. I had visions of what the planet would look like and details about the superheroes and called Sommer and asked her what she thought about Super Heroes. Sommer loved the idea.
We worked on the calendar first, since it would take longer to put together. Through this process we really feel like this project speaks about Women Empowerment. We feel there is a “Sheroe” in all of us.
Maddy: We admire people in sports and entertainment but we seldom tip our hats to the every day people who work, support families, raise children and volunteer. Those are our every day Sheroes!
Maddy: Tell me about the process of choosing the models for your 16 month calendar?
Sommer: It was a long process; we already had the story, the planets and a general idea about the characters. What we did was ask the women to come and tell us why they are “Sheroes” in their community. We also asked them, if you could have a super power, what would it be? We got some amazing responses, ranging from super eyelashes that blow people away to raining makeup from the sky. It was not just about a look but also about the personality because they would have to bring these characters to life.
Although we have girls of all different races and religions, in the comic book, we made them sisters and cousins. We are stepping out and saying there is no color line, and we are all one race! The human race!
Maddy: What is next for True Curves?
Meilee: Right now we are focusing “True Sheroes”. We developing the concept for our commercial and working on the True Sheroes tour. We are really eager to see how people respond to our project. We want people to recognize our every day “Sheroes.”
Maddy: Will there be a follow up to this comic book, a continuation?
Sommer: Actually we are working on issue number two; it’s going to be interesting because there is so many great characters to work with. We are looking forward to being able to offer dolls, lunch boxes, etc.
Maddy: Who are your modern day “Sheroes”?
Meilee: My modern day “Sheroe” would be my mother. My mother has it all, through all the struggles and disability she still managed to hold it down. My other modern day “Sheroes” are those women that are doing single life by themselves and raising children and making sure that their children get the best.
I also feel like Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith embody what a “Sheroe” is all about. It’s a woman that is creating opportunities and facing challenges despite the odds.
Sommer: My modern day “Sheroe” would be my mother; she is the one that has driven me to do more than one thing. As long as I could remember, my mother worked a 9 to 5 job, volunteered with a youth program and had a non-profit organization and an entertainment company. She instilled education, giving back to the community and the creative side while I was growing up.
Just to give you an example, even after my brother and I no longer played softball. My mother has stayed with the Little League and works on a volunteer basis, she coaches teams and sets up mentor-ship times when she feels like any of the players need it. She’s had me come in and speak to girls whose self-esteem is being challenged.
I also admire the every day woman who works, supports and takes care of her family, friends and community. I strongly believe in giving back to the community.
Maddy: In doing this project you both have become “Sheroes”. Thank you for your time!
Some of the “True Sheroes” models answer the question:
How do you feel about being a part of this spectacular project?
My experience with True Sheroes has been nothing short but AMAZING! Both Sommer and Meilee acted not only as mentors but as friends who care genuinely in the success of each and every participant. This project has taught me to be proud of myself and to broadcast the message to young women that it is ok to be who they are, no matter what race, ethnicity or religion- personally, this project has helped me overcome my own doubts and fears of the industry and I am grateful to be part of something so uniquely special.
Working with Sommer and Meilee on True Sheroes was unlike anything I have ever experiened. From conception, the project represented unity, empowerment, and both inner and outer beauty. I competed in the online competition and although I had the most votes, I didn’t win as votes were only a small part of the casting. I was crushed but at the same time I was appreciative of the experience. I wasn’t bitter or unprofessional. I was still. A few days later I received a call from Meilee and she extended the offer to me noting my character and determination played a major role in the decision making.
As a rookie in full figured modeling, I was both anxious and nervous to be apart of such an amazing opportunity. True Sheroes afforded me the chance to branch out and meet other up and coming models, stylists, and photographers from around the country. But it was not as easy as I thought. My True Sheroes character, Jamiz, is very fun and she possesses the power to teleport. She’s a bad girl with good intentions, free spirited, wild, and I love her! However, I did not love the pose Sommer selected for me in the calendar as it was very painful. Mike (our photographer) was no longer the nice dude that was joking when we got there. For a brief moment I wanted to walk off the set. Sommer quickly reminded me that I did not have that option. Meilee asked me very frankly, “Do you want it or not?” I was thinking I flew all the way from SA to Philly to put my city on the map. I got myself together and got my head back in the game.
Everyone was so professional and beautiful and fun. We all put our best foot forward as Sommer and Meilee expect and will present nothing but the best. We know the people are waiting and we will deliver. This is the beginning of something very special and our team is very strong. Trust me, True Sheroes will be nothing less than spectacular. I hope you are ready.
True Sheroe “Jamiz”
CEO Curvy Couture San Antonio
My experience with True Sheroes has been empowering, extremely fun, and pure joy. It was truly a pleasure working with Sommer & Meilee, who are so welcoming and firm believers that women of all colors, sizes, and shapes should be celebrated. I loved working with the other models and creating super power poses! The styling was hot, the costumes on point, and the hair & makeup created our powerful characters. I hope we can do a calendar every year!