Every 'body' plays mas - Carnival embraces full-figured women

April 11, 2018
Monique Long, the 'Tutu Lady', spotted in her rainbow and black outfit for Carnival in Jamaica.
Full-figured model and body positive activist, Nadelle Lewis hits the streets of Kingston in her Athena costume from the Xodus: League of Angels band.
Nadelle Lewis
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No matter one's shape or size, the revelry of the rhythm-driven festivity of carnival attracts women.

Full-figured model Nadelle Lewis, visiting Jamaica from Toronto, Canada, has been spearheading a body-positive movement known as Every BODY Ah Play Mas since 2012.

It encourages females to get involved in carnival and similar celebrations that allow them to be free to express themselves, even if it means wearing body-baring outfits.

"I modelled my first mas costume for the Toronto Revellers, and I always encourage women to step out of their comfort zone and find a costume they love. Full-figured women can make alterations that will help them feel more confident in their costumes," said Lewis.

However, when Lewis collected the Athena monokini costume for this year's Jamaica carnival, she was met with the challenge to make adjustments, having received one that did not fit perfectly to her form. That, however, never discouraged her from boldly playing mas.

"My mission is to lead a safe, inclusive space for every body (shape and size) to feel comfortable participating in the parades. Playing mas and being in costume is a very liberating and fun experience," said Lewis.

She has been featured on quite a few runways, including Montreal Plus Fashion Week, Caribbean Plus Fashion Week in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Canadian edition of the International Fuller Woman Expo, along with advertising campaigns.

Monique Long, another plus-sized reveller, modelled a rainbow-coloured tutu to Sunday's Road March festivities.

She says brightly coloured tutus have become her signature look.

"My first time wearing a tutu was to carnival in Barbados, but I have since worn it to Notting Hill Carnival in London; I have been modelling the tutu for about four or five years," said Long.

Tutus have been a popular carnival trend in the London street parade.

The very confident Long told The STAR, "Although carnival bands are broadening the spectrum of designs to include full-figured women, the costumes are still expensive and it is important if you have a creative side to express it."