Hey, BOLD readers! It has been one HECK of a few weeks. We’ve been meeting some incredible bold ladies around the plus size community. About a week ago, we introduced you to Renee Cafaro, US Editor of SLiNK magazine. Well, we’re happy to report that we caught up with Cafaro and she did not disappoint! The one time political pollster is such a beauty inside and out. Every time we dug more into her career, we kept finding more surprises. Cafaro has written in publications like the New York Post and for websites like Yahoo! Travel. And aside from her job at SLiNk, she’s also been running her own blog since 2010. You need to scroll through all of her links and publications, here! She’s also an incredible activist, mentor, and intelligent woman. We were so refreshed to read of all of her accolades. The plus size community, like any community of women, is filled with all types! Cafaro is the spitting image of what a woman in any community can and should be doing to be a roll model and advocate, for plus size and all women!
So, let’s get started!
Bold Magazine: Renee, let’s start with SLiNK. Tell us about the magazine (in your own words)!
Renee: SLiNK is the premiere print magazine for plus size women and the mission is to bring elevated fashion and the same glossy magazine experience to 67% of women who have never had a magazine just for them. We are available for purchase online and in many retailers across the globe.
Bold Magazine: But, you do and have done so much before SLiNK. What’s been your favorite place to write before SLiNK?
Renee: I will always have a fondness for Yahoo! They were my first by-line and the ability to write for a travel site was something that I truly loved!
Bold Magazine: You mentioned on the Plus This! Show that you were in politics for a while. More behind the scenes. What are the similarities between that role and what you do now?
Renee: I wish plus size fashion didn’t have a political aspect, but it does. Unlike fashion writing for straight sizes, it isn’t just about trends and clothing. Writing for the plus size audience means we must also tackle extremely important women’s issues like sexism, size-ism, fetishizing, fat-shaming and cyberbullying. My life in politics and campaigns was dedicated on social justice and pushing back on close-mindedness in society and I feel that so much of that can be applied to being a plus size women who has the “audacity” to buck the system of conventional beauty.
Bold Magazine: Hah! The “audacity.” We love it! You also mentioned running for office one day. Tell us about that. Would the plus movement be part of your platform?
Renee: I am still very active in NYC politics and my community so I would never rule out running for local office if the time was right. My main issues are affordability, landmark preservation and curbing the rampant as-of-right development caused by the uncomfortably close relationship between REBNY and most candidates. Obviously as a plus size woman, the issues of body image and fat shaming would most likely come into the message. It is very difficult to be a fat woman on an average day, so clearly in the public eye, I would have many opportunities to bring up the issues that female candidates are often unfairly judged by appearance.
Bold Magazine: Oh, we’re familiar with that! Where do you see the plus fashion world in the next 5 or 10 years? How do you figure you’ll make an impact? And SLiNK?
Renee: We have already come a long way in the last 5 years so I can only assume that we will move at an exponential rate towards equality with straight sizes in 5 to 10 years,. There is such a momentum now for the “body pos” movement and for extended size offerings in stores. My hope is that in 10 years we will be in place where plus size women will not only have just as many options as other women, but will no longer be segregated in stores. SLiNK obviously hopes to see more diversity in media and other magazines making an effort for increased size representation. We make a point of not only using size 12 plus models – who are often still un-relatable to the average reader- but also women of different heights, races and visibly plus shapes.
Bold Magazine: Renee, there are so many women out there who want to write for or edit a fashion magazine. What’s your day-to-day like? Do you think running a plus magazine differs at all from a typical fashion magazine? Why?
Renee: The hardest thing about running the US side of SLiNK is that there are not enough hours in the day. We are still an independent press and now rapidly expanding our “turf,” but on a daily basis it’s pretty much just me and a few freelancers in NYC since the whole team is based in London. Like anyone who wants to be her own boss, you have to be ready and willing to do everything from write content to fly to meet new brands to partner with. You wear many hats and must be able to pivot when things inevitably do not turn out as planned!
Bold Magazine: What advice do you have for young women who want to break out into the world of plus fashion?
Renee: Figure out what your mission is. If you just want to be insta-famous, fashion blogging may not be for you. It is a lot more work than it looks. Be sure that your content is fresh and as an angle that is uniquely you. People respond to plus bloggers who are genuine about their body image journey and remain authentic even after they reach 20k followers.
Bold Magazine: You’ve definitely been a leader and mentor in this community as well as just helping females in general. What’s the reason for your generosity?
Renee: I know how awful people can be. My empathy and compassion run deep because I was bullied, abused, forced to diet/hate myself, and witnessed many other dramatic things growing up, which led to living with PTSD. If my words can save one woman from wasting their life trying to please toxic people and crying away their adolescence, my work here is done. I’d also seen the best and worst of society on 14 years of campaign politics, knowing on doors and listening to people’s problems from all walks of life. I have experienced a lot, good and bad, and feel it is incumbent upon me to share what I’ve in hopes that it may be helpful to someone.
Bold Magazine: Ugh! Sounds like you’ve overcome a lot! Mentors will almost always say they gain just as much from helping young people. What’s the biggest revelation you’ve had from being a mentor?
Renee: I am always really touched by hearing their stories – because whether you are the mentor or mentee- there will always be something that unites us all.
Bold Magazine: Lastly, Renee, what makes you BOLD?
Renee: What doesn’t make me Bold?! Most people would describe me as bold, loud, outspoken or outgoing. These are all pretty true and I love meeting new people and connecting folks together. However, what I think makes me the most bold is that I have to overcome a lot to let my true personality show. I’m what they call an introverted extrovert. I thrive on being around people or being on stage, but quite often I still need to push social awkwardness aside in order to get out there. I also love to recharge alone and travel alone – which as a women in her 30s- is seen as VERY bold.