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By Christy Anyanwu
Taje Prest is a media personality who has featured on many hit shows on Ebony Life TV and Spice TV. She added another dimension to her career with her luxury shoes brand. Taje was a guest at the media parley week for PlusSize Fashion Week Africa coming up in September. So proud about her curvy plus size figure, she tells you how she wears whatever she feels like. At the gathering, she also admonished other plus size women to be confident and raise their heads high with their figure. She spoke with Sunday Sun after the meeting.
You spoke confidently about your figure, can we know you better?
Aside being a media personality, I’m also a designer. I have a shoes line. But I’m all about plus size and how confidently we should love ourselves. It’s very important to love ourselves no matter what anyone tells us. Right now, I just started with slide fancy slippers that you can wear to events when you don’t feel like wearing heels. We have ladies who are not really into heels and those who want to change into their slides to work because it’s really comfortable. It’s something that I started, I have always wanted to be in the fashion industry because I’m in love with fashion but at the same time, I don’t want a situation where I will just jump into the fashion industry and not make impact, because I want every woman to wear my brand; so I decided to start with slides that are comfortable, what everyone can wear all the time. You know fashion changes and there are slides you could wear to any function as long as the quality is good.
What’s your take on the plus size fashion show coming up in September?
I’m really happy about the event. I’m excited that the plus size community is being given an opportunity to shine and showcase themselves. I’m really happy that there’s an opportunity to show that it’s not everybody that is a broomstick or size zero. And most of our mothers are not size zero.
I’m really happy that this event is happening, because it tells us that it’s okay to be big, it’s okay to be plus size and you don’t have to be a size zero to be accepted. You don’t have to be size zero to be fashionable; you don’t have to be a size zero to make it. My grouse is, why are you trying to be accepted by people that make no difference in your life?
Can you tell us about your childhood?
I studied in England. I also studied in South Africa briefly but I was in England for most of my life. I studied in Buckingham. I did Media Communication and Journalism. I literally stayed abroad most of my life but I have always wanted to come back home. I have always felt Nigeria is home and that it’s very important that those of us that live abroad should come back home and make an impact. We get good education abroad, we get the balance, we get the exposure but it’s good we come back home and impart it into our system. Not every Nigerian is exposed unfortunately, so it’s just nice for us that are fortunate enough to have lived abroad to come home and do something. That’s my belief.
Any embarrassing moments because of your size?
Definitely and you know what’s funny? People have never been able to insult me in person.
They insult me online; social media gives people the freedom to kind of express their anger. I feel if someone hates you so much for no reason; they can’t believe that you as a plus size person are confident and you love yourself. They are skinny and they don’t love themselves half as much as you love yourself.
They are using their anger in trying to push-kit on you. Yes, I have been embarrassed. People call me all kinds of things. I remember at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award two years ago, I wore like a bandage dress and I heard all kinds of comments. How dare she wear this? Who does she think she is, as big as she is, look at the moulds behind her? And luckily for me, my mother had been an advocate of loving yourself no matter the situation. Even if you have scars on your face, love yourself and love the scars.
I never wanted the insults to get to me; I just laughed and moved on with my life. Since I moved back to Nigeria, I have experienced some ugly situations and if I don’t have a tough skin, I’d probably hide in my shell and never go out. Also, there was a day I stopped to use an ATM in Lekki Phase 1 and some uneducated individual also waiting to use the ATM said, “You should do some sports, maybe running or something”. I say uneducated because an educated man wouldn’t be so rude.
His friend in his car told him off. I laughed and told him off with a two-part sentence and walked back to my car. I smiled because his friend told him off so I didn’t have to say much.
Is your mum a plus size?
Yes, she is. She was really skinny back in her youthful days and was like a model until she started having kids. She accepted it and she’s size 14 because she’s doing a lot. She tells you she’s okay the way she is after having five children.
So, what’s your size?
I’m 16 at the bottom and 14 at the top
Then you are not really big, your pants and top suit you very well…
I think I get away with certain things because I have very small waist and I wear whatever I want to wear because I love myself very much. There’s nothing anybody can tell me. You can tell me I’m ugly but I know I’m not ugly. One thing I know for a fact is, I try to be pleasant regardless of whatever.
People will walk up to you and tell you all kinds of things like “Oh, do you think you should be wearing that for your size?” And they try to trivialize it but I always find a way to make it pleasant and I’d say yes of course, why couldn’t I wear it? and I walk away. But it’s really stupid to think I can’t wear it because I’m big.
What kind of things do you like to wear?
I like to wear interesting tops and wrap dresses because they work on my figure since I have a small waist. I like kimono and nice, interesting free tops; I generally like dresses. Nigerians may call it decent or perverse but that’s how I like to dress. You might see a bit of cleavage but if I’m showing cleavage I’m not showing legs. If I’m showing legs, the entire top is covered. Everything just depends on my mood. I wear everything. I like my colored hair too. I wear pink, blue, red and white hair. I have done it all.
What’s your advice for plus size women?
It’s very important for you to be confident. Stop sitting down in front of the mirror worrying “I have flab here”, “my hands are too big” and “my colour is not coming out enough”.
Just ask yourself if you have a roof over your head? Are you happy? It’s very important to be happy no matter what anyone tells you. Be happy within yourself, be happy being alone by yourself before adding another person into your life. But sometimes, when I’m not feeling great, I smile.
If I’m feeling sad, I force myself to smile and before you know it, you just find yourself feeling great. That way, little by little, your confidence will grow. You are not the only big girl. There are plenty big girls out there in the world and they love themselves. If they can love themselves, why must you be different?
How did you venture into the shoes business?
All I did was that I made some by myself with my hands. I always like to wear different shoes before I changed to heels and everyone would ask me where I got them and who the designer is? Can I make for them? Initially, they even thought I was lying and it was like a joke.
Eventually, everyone was asking me to make for him or her.
I made one out of old shoes with a chequer material. I make something of quality and I push it out.
We are doing so well by God’s grace. The first collection is called The Velvet Range and are stylish leather slippers with velvet bands stylishly wrapped around them and in different colours as well as Ankara prints.
Where are you from?
My dad is from Itsekiri land and my mum is from Edo State.