Kennesaw store alleges its plus-sized models were “body shamed”

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Kennesaw store alleges its plus-sized models were “body shamed”

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The owners of the LiviRae Lingerie shop in Kennesaw say a management company has asked them to remove a window display. CREDIT: SHELIA POOLE

The owners of a Kennesaw business that specializes in custom-made and plus-size lingerie say they were asked to remove a window display that featured several larger women and allege their models are being “body shamed.”

Molly Hopkins, co-owner of LiviRae Lingerie in the Main Street at Town Center shopping center on Barrett Parkway, said she received an email from the senior property manager saying he wanted to talk about the display.

During the conversation, Hopkins said she was told the display was in “poor taste.” Tim Chung, a representative of Westwood Financial Corp., which owns several shopping centers across the country, said the company was investigating and did not have a comment at this time. The senior property manager could not be reached for comment.

“I just got very upset,” said Hopkins, who along with store co-owner Cynthia Decker, are former stars of Lifetime’s “Double Divas” series. “I cried. These women were chosen from our body positive campaign. These are real women with real stories. “

Hopkins said she was told she was in violation of the lease, which specifies that window displays must be approved by management.

The problem, though, said a defiant Hopkins and Decker, is that it’s never been an issue before and they’ve been in that location for years.

Other displays have also included women shown in sports bras and lingerie. Those have usually been furnished by the makers of the products.

The last one stayed up for nearly a year and featured three women in bras and panties, but “they were mostly thin,” said Hopkins.

“White and thin,” added Decker.

The current display photos include African-American and white women, mostly plus-size. One woman is in a wheelchair. Most are not professional models.

They women were part of a campaign “Real Bras, Real Women, Real Stories,” where they shared their personal journeys and desire to help women feel good about their bodies. Some of the women were survivors of abuse, eating disorders and poor self-esteem.

The owners say their store is a “judgment-free safe space.” Their have fit women with bra sizes 28A to52 N and panties from 1X to 10X .

The display has been up since mid-February.

“What makes one person more beautiful than another?” said Decker.

Caio Viera, manager of the Velox Insurance Co. office just a few doors down from LiviRae, said it doesn’t bother him.

“I think it’s interesting,” he said. “I think it’s different.” He scoffed when told about issues surrounding the display.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “It’s called discrimination, right? I’m against that.”

One of the women featured is Christy Foster, 33, a retail sales representative and makeup artist from Kennesaw.

Being selected was “one of the most amazing confidence boosters,” said Foster, who wears a size 14.”It took a lot of courage because we’re not what society considers beautiful models. I don’t define beauty by numbers, but how I feel.”

She admits being hurt that someone might want to take down her photo and that of the others. In retrospect, though, “it’s pushed me to be 100 percent positive about this campaign.”

She said most women don’t look like the models featured in fashion ads. “It’s not realistic,” she said. “Not every woman looks like that. If I can help a few girls gain confidence and feel they’re beautiful, then I’m happy.”

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