By Mary Damiano
BOLD Associate Editor
Beautiful women in gorgeous swimsuits enjoying the sand, surf, and sun have always been a big part of Miami Beach. And while long, lithe figures on the beach are well-represented, both on the beach and at Miami Swim Week, plus-size women are often left out.
Enter Miami Gardens’ residents Deana Williams and Sarah Christine Williams, a couple out to change the perception that only skinny women go to the beach and want to look fashionable doing it. The couple, who are engaged to be married sometime soon, are the creators of Miami Curves Week+, a weekend of events designed both bring together designers of plus-size swim fashions and the women who want to wear designs that flatter their curvy shapes, and also empower women to feel good about their bodies by featuring larger models looking sexy and fierce and strutting the runway.
Now in its second year, Miami Curves Week+ takes place this weekend at the Marseilles Hotel on Miami Beach. There is a VIP reception and preview of the Style Marketplace on Friday, featuring dozens of designers of plus-size swimwear and resort wear, a full-day of the Style Marketplace fashions on Saturday, and a runway fashion show on Sunday. In addition to featuring eye-catching plus-size swimwear, the Red Swimsuit Runway Show will raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke, which claims the lives of one in three women each year. According to the creators, “We want to educate our curvy community while celebrating body positive fashions because not only do we want to look good but we want to feel even better.” Those attending the Red Swimsuit Runway Show are encouraged to wear red in solidarity with the popular Go Red awareness campaign.
BOLD Magazine is proud to be the official media sponsor of Miami Curves Week+. We talked to Deana and Sarah about the biggest challenge in producing Miami Curves Week+, what it’s like to work together and still keep romance alive, and their message of plus-size empowerment.
BOLD: We’re excited to tell our readers all about Miami Curves Week+. Tell us about yourselves, such as where you’re from and what you do when you’re not producing this inspiring body positive event.
Deana Williams: I’m originally from New Orleans. I came to Miami for college where I studied filmmaking and I’ve been here ever since. I currently manage the equipment room at Miami Dade College’s Film School as well as making movies, producing Miami Curves Week+ and producing a movie trivia card game called Name Dropping, which launches on Kickstarter in October.
Sarah Christine Williams: I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, so the beach has always been in my backyard. My background is in fashion with experience in styling and costume design. Currently I work on Miami Curves Week+ full time.
BOLD: How did you come up with the idea for Miami Curves Weekend?
Sarah: After talking with some colleagues of mine I realized that there was a need for plus size representation in Miami, so I created this event for women like myself who also needed to see themselves represented in a positive light.
BOLD: This is the second year for Miami Curves. How does this year differ from last year?
Sarah: This year is different from last year because we have received even more support and involvement from brands. Attendees will experience new brands at the Style Marketplace and more fashions at our Charity Red Runway show. More fashion is always a plus!
BOLD: What can attendees expect at this year’s event?
Deana: Attendees can expect a really excellent weekend of visibility for plus brands during swim week.
BOLD: What was your proudest moment from last year’s event?
Sarah: My proudest moment from last year was when a lady came up to me at the runway show with tears in her eyes and saying, “Thank you so much for doing this. I am so proud to be in this room with all these beautiful curvy women. I feel so good about myself.”
Deana: My proudest moment was when the runway show finished. I broke down into tears with the feeling of accomplishment. It had been almost two years that we were working on the show to make it come to life and it was finally here. We did it. Others thought something was wrong with me but I was simply so happy that we did it!
BOLD: In recent years there has been a move in general toward body positivity and acceptance of more body shapes and sizes. Even so, what kind of stigma still exists toward plus-size women?
Sarah: We still have a long way to go because a lot of shows are still done separately instead of integrating. One day plus models will just be models.
BOLD: Has there been any negativity or pushback at putting plus-size women in bathing suits and in a runway fashion show?
Sarah: Not really. People are excited to see real representations of women hitting the runway.
BOLD: What has the reaction been like from past attendees and women who you tell about the event?
Sarah: They’ve said this is amazing. Everyone is excited. And would you know, most people say they didn’t know all these amazing brands existed, which is one of the reason we do the show—to bring brands and consumers together.
BOLD: What has been your greatest obstacle in putting together Miami Curves?
Deana: Sponsorship! As you can imagine, a show like this takes a lot of resources to get done and as a startup for the community, I didn’t have a lot of money to start this. We rely on sponsors to help support and bring their contributions together to make the show even better. If we want to have more shows like this, we will need a significant amount of backers who believe in what we’re trying to say.
BOLD: What is your goal in producing Miami Curves?
Sarah: The goal we have with the show is to create a moment of inclusive body-positive swimwear. In the future, we would like to be a leader in plus swim fashion events and host many different types of shows all geared to the plus community.
BOLD: The two of you are partners in Miami Curves, and you’re also partners in love and life. How long have you been together?
Sarah: We have been together for five years and we have an awesome five-year-old kid.
BOLD: It can be a challenge for a couple to work together. How has your working partnership affected your romantic partnership?
Deana: It can be challenging at times to work together because since we are also a couple—if I am frustrated about the work then it may bleed into the romance. But the challenges don’t really come on a deep level because we have the same goals and we both know that we are trying to make the show and anything we do a success. Plus, I have to do what she says anyway! But seriously, it’s very fulfilling when we accomplish goals together.
BOLD: And we hear there will be a wedding is in the near future?
Sarah: I suggested we get married today and be done with it. You think it’s hard to plan Miami Curves Week+, just think what it’s going to be like for the wedding.
Deana: That’s next on my list of things to do. I want to be married already!
BOLD: What do you hope to achieve with Miami Curves?
Sarah: I hope to get a little better every year. I hope we have more women emotionally moved by what the event represents and how we can use the event to empower others.
BOLD: What do you hope women who attend Miami Curves gain from the experience?
Sarah: I hope all my attendees gain a new swimsuit and the feeling of empowerment when they put it on.
Miami Curves Week + will be held July 13-15 at the Marseilles Hotel, 1741 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. For a complete schedule of events, more information and to purchase tickets, visit MiamiCurvesWeek.com.