SAN ANTONIO — In fashion, size matters and every pound counts.
Just look at some of the world's most prominent models, practically all of them a size zero to size two.
But it's an unrealistic image if you ask DeAnna Hodges, a plus-size designer. Or ask Tenisia Stirrup, an aspiring model.
At size 16 and 14, they believe that they are a more accurate representation of the average woman.
"All woman are real women. Curves, lack of curves, extra curves — I love it all," Hodges said.
'Loving your body' is their message
"We're beyond wearing a black dress or a moo moo," Hodges said. "We want to be just as much on trend, just as much as fashionable."
To showcase her fashion taste, Hodges puts on her own shows that highlight full-figured women, all dressed in the latest and greatest of her Hello Deeva designs.
But these days she's aiming even bigger. She wants a spot in Fashion Week San Antonio, despite knowing that she can’t.
"It's sad I have to go out of state or out of my own city that I support, that I was born and raised in, to get exposure when my own city has a fashion week I should be in," Hodges said.
Fashion Week San Antonio requires models to be 5 feet 9 inches or taller and size zero to two. This means Tenisia doesn't have a chance at modeling for them, either.
"They're looking for women size two to four," Stirrup said. "That's not a size range; that's size two and four."
Not a size zero
The 5-foot-11-inches tall Stirrup isn't your typical crowned beauty queen. With the national title of Miss United America Woman 2011, she knows she can rock the runway with her confidence.
"I'm very nontraditional," Stirrup said.
She was once in the Air Force as a vocalist in the special unit of Tops in Blue, which entertains troops around the world. But these days she's singing a different tune.
The Afghanistan and Iraq veteran is now in a battle with cancer, hoping to inspire other women to embrace their bodies and walk proudly.
"I called them and asked, 'Do you have a plus size division?' I get the same response every single time: 'No we don't but we're really hoping to get one next year. We're really working on that.' And they're still working on it, apparently," Stirrup said.
Once again this year, Fashion Week San Antonio goes on without making room for plus-size girls. However, the show's executive producer, Tony Harris, said there's a good reason.
"We've had inquiries of plus-size models and plus size designers. Unfortunately, this year we haven't been able to accommodate them because this is our first year taking over Tony's Productions, and we're moving forward."
Harris said the management change only took place a few months ago and since they handpick models and designers, it was difficult making changes at the last minute. When asked if he thinks there should be a place for plus-size models, Harris said he certainly welcomes the idea.
"I absolutely do think so," Harris said. "Fashion Week San Antonio is highlighting San Antonio and its fashion industry, and that includes individuals that support the industry. I will do my best to ensure we don't have that issue next year and will try to open up some opportunity for the plus-size division."
Pushing a more realistic image of the average woman is a growing trend worldwide. Spain and Italy, for example, have banned models who are too skinny. Meanwhile, fashion shows around the U.S., including one in Austin, are beginning to showcase full-figured models and plus-size designers.
Celebrities like Laila Ali, America Ferrera and Queen Latifah certainly prove that beauty comes in all sizes. Tenisia and Hodges couldn't agree more, saying fashion has a place for everyone.
"I'm fighting for every woman," Stirrup said. "You can't put us in a box that says size two to four. I just want to tell them, 'Put the money where your mouth is.' Don't make us empty promises."
Whether those promises will be fulfilled next year, Stirrup and Hodges vow to continue speaking up. Until then, they’ll just have to wait.
Fashion week continues this week and goes on through Oct. 29, 2102. More information can be found at http://www.fashionsa.org/