This interview was done in partnership with Elomi—a fuller-figure lingerie and swimwear brand—as part of The Elomi Portrait Project: a thought-provoking campaign merging art, fashion and data designed to shift society’s perception of women beyond just what the eye can see. Kristine Thompson was the host of the Elomi Portrait Project event, where she, along with four other inspiring women became the subjects of an art exhibit which challenged the perceptions of women.
Kristine Thompson is the force behind Trendy Curvy: a platform dedicated to showcasing style for curvy women. What started as a hobby in 2013 has now grown to a community of over 166K on Instagram which is no surprise—Kristine’s spirit shines far beyond the outfits she wears. This is what she shared with us on her blog’s success, how her own sense of self has evolved as her business has, and connecting her purpose to serving others.
“I have been plus-size/curvy for the majority of my life, and never felt as though I should have to compromise on anything because of my size. I had a really supportive upbringing which contributed to that security. When it came to playing sports or dressing up, I never felt restricted, and that translated into the way that I dressed. I would often get asked, ‘Where do you shop? How did you put that together?’ At that time, there weren’t a whole lot of plus-size retailers. I would shop anywhere and everywhere that had my size—so I created the blog as a resource for other women trying to put outfits together. My first blog post was a red leopard body-con dress, so clearly, I’m not shy! I never thought that Trendy Curvy would reach the level that it has today. I think one of the reasons for its success is that people can see themselves in me. I’m not too far removed from them—and while I love luxury items, I don’t purchase them frequently. I’m often wearing an outfit that costs less than $100 collectively, which is affordable for the everyday person—but I’ve put it together in a way that they may not have thought to. People are able to mimic my style at an affordable price—that’s what’s helped the evolution of Trendy Curvy.
Discovering Elomi was a breath of fresh air. I was pleasantly surprised from the beginning at their size range which included cup sizes that not a lot of brands go up to. The lingerie looked beautifully made and I was excited that it was made with my body type in mind. Being fitted in an Elomi bra for the first time was incredible—the construction was impeccable. My bust was lifted and supported yet I did not feel any pressure of my shoulders or back. It was unlike anything that I had experienced before.
Any outfit that you put together starts with the foundation—and Elomi creates the perfect base for any look. The Morgan bra is one of my favorites—I love the lace detail at the top and how I can use it as an accessory to show through on the top of some shirts. Being involved in the Elomi Portrait Project was empowering and inspirational. I’m fortunate enough to know the four other women who were involved from being in the plus size community. I met my artist, Camila Rosa, for the first time the night of the event. She created my artwork purely based on my social media and blog, and it was amazing to see what someone sees in you without having met you personally.
I don’t want to put myself on a pedestal to say I’m this super-confident superhero who never feels any self-doubt, because that’s not the truth. We all have moments of insecurity, but what helps is community and family and friends to reassure you of who you are. I didn’t really realize I was bigger than my peers until well into my teenage years. I was bra-shopping with my friends in high school, and I realized I couldn’t fit into any of the bras that they were wearing. But I didn’t feel embarrassed. I just thought, ‘Huh, I guess they don’t have my size.’ I always had bigger legs, but throughout my childhood and adolescence, my mom would say, ‘Look at my child with those big pretty legs!’ I don’t think she was intentionally trying to instill anything in me—she just thought I had big pretty legs! I’m so grateful for that because it set me up to be able to respond to some of the counter-forces that I would experience growing up and becoming a woman.
Whenever you put yourself online, you are opening yourself up to criticism. I experience things in my online life that I never experience in my ‘real’ life. People are definitely more bold and vocal online in terms of projecting their own insecurities onto you. I get my fair share of negative comments, especially if I’m wearing something like a bathing suit. That has been a challenge, but I try not to internalize that kind of commentary or make it personal. I take myself out of the situation—it’s not about me. I don’t view it as a flaw in me, but a flaw in the person who is saying it. I release that person and their energy, and by doing so, give them no power. I’d also say that the negative comments I receive are by far the minority of the community. The feedback I get is in abundance positive, so I don’t like to dwell on the negative.
As Trendy Curvy has progressed, I’ve become much more confident in who I am. While I haven’t completely figured things out, I have become more in tune with my strengths, what I’m good at, who I am as a person, what makes me happy, the type of person that I want to be and the things that I want to do. I think there are times in life when you are going through the motions and checking off the boxes—going to school, graduating, getting a good job, etc. At some point, I realized that I wanted to do something else, but I was scared to fully commit. So I said, ‘OK, let me just do this little side thing, see what happens, and go from there.’ So seeing how people have responded, and getting messages from people daily saying how inspired they are to dress how they want without fear of judgment is so rewarding. It just confirms to me that I was on the right track in terms of pursuing my vision. I have become much more at peace with myself in terms of realizing that I’m in the exact place that I’m supposed to be. There are things that haven’t happened in my life that I expected to happen by now, but there are also many unexpected things that have happened—and I’m very grateful for that.
I believe that I have a divine purpose and there’s a reason that I’m here. My family has a religious background and that has definitely contributed to that belief. A phrase that has always stuck with me is: ‘God didn’t wake you up another day because you needed it, he woke you up because there is someone out there that needs you.’ I don’t think that our true purpose is connected to our own self. Of course, we all have goals and dreams and aspirations—but I think the core of why we are here is to be of some contribution to someone else, whether that’s on a large or small scale.
If there’s someone out there who is struggling with their self-esteem, I’d say—you’ve spent all of this time feeling insecure and doubting yourself. For one day, try and look at yourself a different way. Your insecurities haven’t served you thus far, so try the flip-side. Try to walk into a room and feel confident. Try to talk to who you wouldn’t normally spark a conversation with. Try the outfit that you would never normally try. See what happens. Because in my experience, confidence has served me far better than any insecurity ever has or ever will. It opens up so many more doors. You are putting up your own walls. I promise people don’t see you that way. It’s only the way you see yourself. If you take a chance and step out of that box, so many things will open up to you that you could have never imagined.”