Rani Dhaschainey, co-owner of The Curve Cult

CLEO Change Makers is a movement celebrating the grit, bravery, and tenacity of young women in Singapore. 

For Rani, The Curve Cult isn’t only a fashion business – it’s about including and empowering plus-sized women and giving them a space and more choices when it comes to clothes. Here’s what fuels her passion.

What does it feel like to be able to change people’s perception of themselves?

I feel like sometimes, it seems very nice to want to change their perception, but it’s very difficult because they’ve been thinking like that – for a lot of them – for a good 20 to 30 years. You don’t want to be rude, but sometimes you really wanna shake them and tell them, you’re so beautiful why don’t you see that? But … you have to understand that it’s a process as well. I got exposed to it when I was younger, so maybe I could change and I had support from my family. But these people don’t have all these things. So I think, sometimes what [we can] do is I try to talk to them slowly and help them validate themselves. I always tell them take slow steps and do what’s comfortable for them. And when they come back and get a little bit more comfortable, that’s like a small success to us and we cherish it.

It really doesn’t happen overnight. When we started, we were really worried whether people would understand this concept. If you open a shop and you say, “OK, wear whatever you want. Come on plus-sized people,” they are going to be like, “Guys, are you mad?” And I think that’s how we felt when we started but it’s really improved. People are changing their perception and it does feel good but I always say [it’s all about] small successes. Every small success, every small change that they make makes me really happy. I’m not gonna expect for overnight changes or dramatic changes, but everything is valuable.

Growing up, was your mum your biggest influence in embracing the concept of body loving?

Yeah. I wouldn’t even say I knew I had to be body loving. I mean, … I’ve never hated my body but I’ve never really loved it as well, so I think the fact that I don’t hate my body already means a lot. A lot of plus-sized girls grew up feeling inadequate or the need to cover up. My mum has always been like, “Wear what you want lah. Just do whatever you want. If you like how you look and you feel good in it, that’s how it is.” But I think this idea got a bit more pronounced when I started reading about body positivity and I realised that it’s about loving your body, whatever size it is.

As a society, we’re not there yet in terms of embracing every single body type. Is there a message you’d like to share with the readers?

I think we really need – we desperately need – more representation in terms of body size, in terms of height, in terms of skin colour, not only in plus size but in so many other [areas]. …if you’re plus-sized, you get a wider range of sizes. If it’s a [normal] shop, you get a SML, but for us, we have a 16 right up to a 24 or 26 and people come in different sizes, heights and skin colours. Some of them have conditions. I have people coming in wheelchairs and stuff like that. Really, you see a huge [variety] of people and I think we desperately need representation because we only see skinny Chinese girls most of the time. No offence, but that’s what we see. It’ll be nice to see people of different colours and different heights as well. Because I have really tall Chinese girls who say that nothing fits them and they are like, you need to make stuff for taller girls because everyone is so small and they make clothes only for smaller girls. I think we just need representation throughout.

On Rani:
Polyester taffeta off-shoulder dress (worn as top), The Curve Cult
Mesh tutu, iRoo
Heels, Rani’s own
Gold earrings, $16, Lovisa
Gold choker, $12, Lovisa

*This story was first published in August 2016

CLEO Change Makers 2019