Michigan born, LA living fashionista Marie has been a plus size model for 10 years and has recently launched a new lifestyle company Lulu + Birch. If you're not following @renee.waniolek on Instagram yet, we are sure you'll be hitting that follow button before we're finished.
Marie can't "go through life with out mac + cheese, my beautiful friends + family, shopping all the best sale racks and stalking Instagram + Pinterest for inspiration/networking."
So let's learn a bit more about her and share her fashion with you!
What has been your journey with body positivity?
My journey has been pretty amazing. I know that this is rare but I was blessed with the opportunity to start modeling 10 years ago. I was scouted. It was still in the slower stages of the plus + curve movement but it was amazing!
My first job was runway in Miami during swim week. I was the only plus model in our show and the reaction was amazing. People kept coming up to me in my hotel saying thank you, crying, and giving me hugs... they loved that I represented the average body. That show and experience changed my whole mind set about my body. I was confident. I was able to see beauty in other women's bodies that they didn't even see.
Of course there are things I don't like about my body - MY ARMS. I think they will forever be a struggle for me. But I just embrace them... work them out and not think about them everyday.
What motivates you when you’re feeling low in confidence?
My go to thing to do is wear something that I know makes me feel good. I do my make up and my hair, put on some jewelry and those things give me and instant boost!
I also go into my saved album on my Instagram (saved under + plus) and scroll through pictures of girls who look like me and see how they style themselves. I just love it...
I also check out fitness pages because I have recently found a new love for fitness - so seeing new workouts motivate me to put a pep in my step and not have any negative thoughts.
How do you think the world is changing (if it is) to be more or less inclusive to plus size people?
I mean we still have those closed minded people who need to say how they feel, but WHO CARES ABOUT THEM. The world has become more accepting of people with curves. They see us now!!
They allow us to have major roles in tv + movies. There are so many new clothing brands that create beautiful and trendy clothes for us. The swimsuits they design now, amazing! Fashion Nova Plus - created clothes that hug the body, show our curves. They are one of the brands that really appreciate a curvy woman.
Instagram is really great because you have so much inspiration at the tap of a finger. You are able to see plus models and influencers - you can find people just like you. See their confidence, their style, learn about new brands who cater to us.
I think the curve movement is heading in a positive direction. And I feel blessed to see how much it has changed since my first modeling job.
Who is a role model for you in the body positivity space and why?
I love @lateciat (love her photos), @melcarrero (she works for spell and I love her style), @tabriamajors (love her confidence), @thebirdspapaya (love her instagram and what she stands for), @aushosays (love her style), and @saffi_karina (I just think she is beautiful)
How would you describe your style?
I love anywhere that I can get sweats, leggings, a nice pair of thick biker shorts and t shirts.
OH, and A LOT of gold jewelry.
What is your favorite plus size brand and why?
I don't really have a favorite brand, I just love where I can find my style of clothing that fits and that is comfortable.
Target, Fashion Nova Plus, Anthropologie Plus, Shein, Forever 21 Plus, H+M Plus... These are a few places I shop. All of these places have stylish clothing that represents my style and who I am.
When did your Instagram start gaining popularity? Were you expecting to have such a large following or did it happen naturally?
My instagram started going up with in the last few years, I hit 10K on my 30th birthday - which was really cool. I think when I was so focused on growing my following and how many likes I was getting it did not grow as fast.
When I took the pressure off of myself I started to find my groove of how I wanted my page to look, I started getting re posted more and things just started going from there. Now I am not so focused on growing it - whatever happens happens and I am just having fun.
What is your favorite Instagram tip?
Be personable and connect with your followers.
Renee is one of our favorite accounts to follow! She is a positive light in our IG feeds everyday. We post her frequently on our Instagram because not only is her plus size fashion sense on point, but she is someone that should be in everyone's following list!
Looking for more fashion inspiration? Check out Anthropologie Plus Spring and Summer Picks - one of Renee's favorite brands!