Mas has become such an intense debate on the styles chosen and whether bands cater for all ladies of all sizes over the years. Many females (and males) often spend a while picking something that they feel will be ‘suitable for them’. The horrible reality for masqueraders is that in most situations you give your measurements months in advance and then receive your costume a number of days before wearing it. Leaving little time for adjustments or try-ons. I recently read a comment made on WFYG- Which Fetes Yuh Goin?- a popular Facebook group for revellers looking for advice, or a feteing partner. I came across a comment from Ayisha, she was so inspirational we had to catch up with her and get her perspective on mas from a curvier perspective.
Hello Ayisha, Where are you from and when did you start playing mas?
I am from San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago but raised in Beautiful Brooklyn, NY I started playing Mas when I was 9 years old for Kiddies Carnival.
When did you first book your costume and what band was it with?
I first booked my Costume right after band launch, I like to get my costume early before they sell out. The band I played with was Yuma vibe.
Unfortunately after booking you became ill, what happened?
After booking, I became ill because of the medication I was on for a liver issue. It was steroid based, and caused me to gain a significant amount weight.
What was your first thought when you realised your costume wouldn’t fit? How did you overcome it?
I literally became very anxious and nervous thinking of how my costume may not fit. The bra I ordered when I registered was 34c my normal size, but I had grown to a 38c. The panty I ordered was a large, when my bottom was more of a 2x. I was more worried about that, because my costume was a monokini, all built in, so I figured if one thing didn’t fit the other wouldn’t.
I actually wrote the band asking if I could have a size change, and they told me it was not possible because production was completed. Up until my departure I was so worried, but my friend who I traveled with, had a cousin who makes costumes, so I figured I would ask her to make adjustments. so that gave me hope.
You mentioned at times you let the body shaming bother you. How did you change your mindset to not let it get to you?
Gaining weight made me feel a little insecure, and I am not an insecure person but getting prepared for Carnival, I always see articles on what the perfect body is, and it is usually considered Skinny, muscular or in some cases plastic surgery enhanced. Popular blogs would tell you 104 days until carnival ” is your body ready” Basically saying if you don’t have a 8 pack, toned arms and legs abs 24 inch waist. Playing mas makes me so happy, it is the best feeling in the world to me and the thought of missing that, is what really made say “The hell with it” I am going to go out there put my costume on and make the best of it, and that is what I did.
How did you feel being a different body size then you were used to on the road? Did it even matter to you in the end?
I am so hard on myself, but what amazed me was that everyone I encountered on the road, male and female, old and young, all races and ages, told me how beautiful I was and I howawesome I looked in my costume. From the time I came on the road, until the parade was done, I had so many people stopping me to ask me for a picture, as well as the professional camera men hired. I had woman stopping me, telling me they wish they had my body, the compliments were endless and I wasn’t expecting that.. I had so much fun on the road, taking pictures and meeting awesome people, that at the end it didn’t matter.
You looked absolutely stunning in your costume. Do you have any practical tips for the larger ladies out here on adapting your costume?
I believe that when choosing a costume, you must pick based on what would work well for your body type, being comfortable in your choice is very important. If your stomach is your issue, try a high waist panty. If you are bottom heavy like me, try boy shorts. I am a big fan of monokinis because of the sexy coverage it provides. Also, I am a huge on wearing stocking with my costume, I believe stockings give you a flawless look, and makes the costume pop even more.
Even though I believe Mas Bands should make costumes for all women of all sizes, for right now that is not a reality, so I suggest bigger women, getting their own panty made and also providing their own bra to the camp, so they can have a costume that fits. I do not like to see women with a costume that does not fit them, it takes away from the beauty of the costume and their overall appearance. I love seeing Curvy Plus-sized women on the road, we are beautiful, and we should not be ashamed of ourselves or made to feel we do not belong in Carnival. Mas bands need to take notes and provided a market for us.
My experience this year has lead me to create my own support group called Curvy Carnival International. This group provides support for one another as we prepare for Carnivals all over the world. Please join us Curvy Carnival International. It’s women like you that She Soca celebrates, women that love their culture and will do so without the ideals of anyone else.
Ayisha She Soca salutes you.
Thank You She Soca!
Make sure you check out Curvy Carnival International on Facebook, and keep your eyes peeled for their future website.