By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett
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Videographer / director: Colin Weatherby
Producer: Martha Hewett, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Carmen Rene, 31, is the co-host of the Plus Size Divas, an LA-based weekly talk show promoting body acceptance and self-love.
Carmen featured on the Shake My Beauty series in 2018, where she embraced her curves and her lymphedema.
Carmen told Barcroft TV: “I had so many people message and comment saying they saw me on Barcroft, and that they had lymphedema and had never seen anybody who looked like them.
“It gave them the courage and confidence to feel safe and feel loved.”
Carmen developed lymphedema as a child, causing extreme swelling to her legs, ankles and feet due to a compromised lymphatic system.
This left Carmen feeling self-conscious of her body: “I’ve always embraced my curves but where my insecurities lie were in my legs and feet.”
Carmen’s mindset began to change when she begun advocating for body positivity.
With over 120,000 followers on Instagram and an array of fierce, semi-nude pictures online – Carmen has become a strong voice for self-love and size inclusivity.
However, living with an online presence invites unwanted criticism over her appearance.
“I wish I could just wear a huge sign around my neck telling people to stop staring at my feet and legs,” Carmen explained.
“Obviously I’m a bigger girl so people think she’s just fat, she’s just heavy and that’s why her legs look like that – she’s unhealthy.”
Originally from Oregon, Carmen moved to Los Angeles and quickly grew tired of the underrepresented amount of plus-size bodies in the media.
She quickly joined forces with Deanna “Bomb Chica” Colon – a singer/songwriter who longed for move size-inclusivity within the entertainment industry.
Debuting back in June 2018, the Plus Size Divas promote body positivity through conversation, events and apparel.
Carmen said: “What makes Plus Size Divas so special is two big, fabulous women celebrating each other and collaborating in an industry where you don’t see enough of that.”
Their goal was to create a platform and an open space for vulnerable conversations about being plus size in today’s society.
When asked why Carmen thinks her advocacy has been a success, she said: “I think people find me relatable and encouraging because I’m real and I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.
“I’m not afraid to show my body and women love that because they are that person with cellulite and fat and dimples.”
And it was this attitude that caught Deanna’s attention.
“I started following Carmen on Instagram and thought, who is this luscious, delicious and beautiful woman who has no problem showing every ounce of herself?”
Deanna continued: “I needed someone around me like that and so we decided to start the Plus Size Divas – she inspired me to love me more.”
Most recently, Carmen and Deanna teamed up with the Plus Bus, a plus-size clothing brand, to host their ‘Shake Your Cake’ event – an evening dedicated to celebrating women of all sizes and ethnicities.
Carmen said: “We told all the ladies coming out to come with their body as is and feel safe and sexy. It’s a really fun celebration of all these bodies.”
The Plus Size Divas usually partner with the Plus Bus once a year to put on an event and encourage women to dress and dance however they want in a space that is wholly dedicated to them.
Carmen and Deanna’s mantra is, ‘I am a masterpiece’ and this is the message they aim to send through their movement.
“We just want to have everyone screaming from the rooftop that they are a masterpiece and if we can reach five women or 10,000 women, we’d be happy.” Deanna said.
Carmen added: “We made an impact on each other’s lives and now it’s more special because we are making an impact on other people’s.”