Blogger. Brains. Business Owner. Beauty. Babe. Boss. These are only but a few words to describe the amazingly talented, fashion blogger, Ann Wynn. A visual artist, designer and foodie covering arts and culture in Washington, D.C., Wynn has a true knack as a creative for designing and discovering all things colorful and classy. Finding inspiration in everything she stumbles upon — whether murals, magazines, museums, music and more — Wynn is the co-founder of Pink Plastic, a 20th century inspired jewelry and clothing company whose mission is to “encourage all women of different shapes, ethnicities, and sizes to embrace their inner princess.”
In a society that constantly tries to dictate how women should look, think and feel, Wynn’s mission to encourage women to love their bodies is not just an entrepreneurial stance but also a very personal one. Having battled with “fat-shaming” by members in her community for being a curvy, Vietnamese woman, Wynn is inspiring other Asian women to embrace their curves by using fashion as a vehicle for body-positivity. Moreover, she is constantly dismantling Western standards of beauty and stereotypes by having women of all different body types represented in her work. While Wynn is certainly a fashion designer, she is also a role model who is paving the way for all women to be proud of who they are — irrespective of “shape, shade and size.”
In a Q&A, the 25-year old social media influencer shared with me why she created Pink Plastic, how she overcame hurtful comments about her curves, some of her favorite fashion icons, and advice she would give to other curvy, Asian women to love the skin their in.
You are a well-known blogger, fashionista, and co-founder of Pink Plastic. What inspired you to create your business? Why is it imperative women of all backgrounds and sizes have access to cute, fashionable wear that embraces every body type?
Pink Plastic was originally founded by my friend, Aurum! It is actually a pretty cool “#girlpower” story on how we partnered up. We met when she modeled for a photoshoot I was having and we kept in touch afterwards. One day, we were casually chatting and realized we had the same ideas, visions and goals. We were both obsessed with the idea of bringing back some of our favorite trends from previous decades, especially the 90’s. We had not seen another online brand do this for that specific decade, but we knew our peers would love to be reminded of all the styles we grew up seeing but were not old enough to wear. At this point, she had started her business selling septum rings and I also had started to design and sew. We set up a meeting to discuss ways we could collaborate and decided to work together to make something so amazing. This was the magical beginning of the two-woman team behind Pink Plastic Babez!
The first collection we released was “The Valentine’s Day Collection”, which was entirely designed and handmade by me. When we released the photos on our social media, it sparked people’s interest and we received good feedback. However, we wanted to delve deeper and do something we have not seen most other online stores do. We wanted to play up on the fact we are both women of color who have much in common, but whose daily struggles differ tremendously because we come from completely different backgrounds and every culture has its own idea of “beauty”. I have always been considered curvy and while my American peers praised this, it was an entirely different story amongst those older, more traditional people in my Vietnamese community. They commonly share the idea that tall, slim and slender is what's beautiful and my shape just wasn't to them. I knew I couldn't be the only person going through this culture disparity and that there must be so many different forms of it worldwide, so I wanted to use my own personal story to create a brand and platform for this very reason.
“Too often women are shamed into not being able to wear what they want because they have been told they cannot or that it wouldn’t be flattering on them. We were just sick of it.”
Prior to creating Pink Plastic, I often shared personal, but encouraging words through my captions and posts on social media; it was my little way of trying to help women raise their self-confidence because I know how damaging harsh words about one’s body can be. I never really let anyone’s words hurt me and I wanted to help other women realize it does not have to be that way for them either. It might not have been much, but I am so thankful many Asian women have told me my simple words have helped them. Knowing all of this, I kept this in my mind while creating our second collection. We wanted to create the ultimate collection that catered to every woman we possibly could, because we genuinely do believe every woman is beautiful. We should not let others make us feel anything less than just because it is not the “ideal” beauty they are used to. Too often women are shamed into not being able to wear what they want because they have been told they cannot or that it wouldn’t be flattering on them. We were just sick of it.
You mentioned on an Instagram post that other Asian women have thanked you for embracing and showcasing your curves. Moreover, they expressed to you they were “fat shamed” for being curvaceous. Why do you believe there is such a pervasive stereotype that “all Asian women are skinny?”
Of course, we are not all actually skinny — it is just that if we want to be thought of as beautiful, we should be. I cannot speak on all Asian countries, but I do know that specifically for Vietnamese people, as mentioned earlier, most share a Westernized standard of beauty. I think this is because while it is a developing country, it is still poor in most areas. Many have the idea of moving to the United States to achieve the “American Dream.” The “dream” includes better opportunities but also the idea of the glamourous life that is portrayed on American television shows and movies. American actors and actresses are more idolized than anyone else and of course, all “beautiful” actresses are depicted as slim and slender. Even famous Vietnamese entertainers seek to copy American styles and celebrities can play a big role in what young girls wish to look like. Since this is a common aspiration, many girls try their best to be skinny and girlish even into adulthood because American entertainment probably led them to believe looking a certain way will lead them to living a glamorous, American lifestyle. In my opinion, this is why most Asian women wish to be skinny and thus, this stereotype was formed. In my culture, it is not common to be “fat” or curvy but it does not mean it is does not exist. Being Asian doesn’t mean you will easily be “skinny” — as if it is supposed to be a common gene — but in the occurrence an Asian woman is not thin, she more than likely told she needs to be in order to be considered attractive.
What are your personal experiences with “fat shaming” and what advice would you give to other curvy Asian women to embrace and love the skin they’re in?
To American eyes, I’m considered small and I might even be considered petite to some. There was a point where I even wanted to gain more weight to be even curvier but to Asian eyes, I’m definitely considered a “big girl”. It’s kind of tricky for me because I’m shapely but yet have a small waist, but never have considered myself as fat regardless of how often I’ve been called that or shamed for it. Yes, I am constantly being told that I need to lose weight to be pretty or to look better in my clothes and I should consider just how much more pretty I could be if I just was slimmer. I don’t ever listen to it simply because I did not grow up with these insecurities people tried to force onto me. It is now very easy for me to shrug off the negative and hurtful body shaming comments I receive and while that may have been difficult to hear at one point, I’m totally over it now. When people ask how, I always say it is because I like the person I see in the mirror, inside and out. Once you realize self-love is the most important thing you can give yourself, society’s idea of what beauty should be will no longer affect you. Self-love and self-confidence are really key in this situation.
“There’s no need to let others convince you that you are not beautiful because they are unhappy with how you look — the only person whose opinion matters is your own!”
I know it can be quite difficult to achieve this inner confidence, so the first step is to sit down and honestly point out all the things about yourself that you dislike, whether it be a physical or personality trait. You then have to decide if it is something you dislike so much that you need to change it, or if it is something you can live with and learn to accept. Either of these choices will lead you into a better mentality overall because you will know you consciously made the decision on your own to either improve it or to live with it and accept it; both of which are decisions you chose to make. However, the main advice I constantly give is that you should never allow someone else's thoughts, words or opinions dictate how you feel about yourself. If you are comfortable with how you look and the size you are, that should be more than enough. Being a naturally, curvy woman is something I truly pride myself on because I know we are a dime a dozen, and I encourage other curvy Asians to learn to love and accept this about themselves as well. There’s no need to let others convince you that you are not beautiful because they are unhappy with how you look — the only person whose opinion matters is your own!
What are some summer must-haves we should all have in our closets?
I always love to play up on my curves, and I find the best outfits that accentuates my hips, thighs and booty, which are high-waisted, wide leg pants. For a long time, magazines told curvy women we need to wear slim-fit jeans because it will help hide our “trouble areas”, but why are they trying to get us to “hide” anything anyways instead of encouraging us to show it off? Wide leg pants will definitely accentuate those hips we love and being high-waisted will elongate your legs! Athleisure is also very popular right now, and no one can ever complain about dressing comfortably. I think a light cropped hoodie is a must for those summer nights, as well as joggers. Also, off-the-shoulder tops are my “thing” right now. It elongates my neck and shows off my sun-kissed skin. Hoop rings and glazed lipgloss are the best 90’s comeback right now and I’m loving it. Basically anything that has me glowing, I think is a must have this summer!
How did you develop your personal style? Who are some of your favorite fashion icons that inspire your style the most and why?
I actually am inspired by so many different styles that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one word to describe me and the things I like. I’m very versatile and I think that if I did have to choose one word it would be that. I’m known to dress according to my mood and pull off whatever style that may be for the day. Overall, I’ve always been able to find things that were flattering for my body and shape regardless of trend or style.
Playing dress up is not just for children! One day, I’ll decide to go vintage Marilyn Monroe pin-up or channel 90’s Cher Horowitz in “Clueless”. I really just love clothing, fashion and style, so why not wear whatever I want as long as I feel comfortable in in? I think one word you definitely will never be able to use to describe my style is minimal, since I love things that are quirky and quite over the top. These are a few of my fashion icons and all of them were game changers because they were for sure not known for simplicity: Cher Horowitz was a 90’s school-girl icon, and she definitely inspired my style with her pleated skirts, feathers and thigh-high socks. Cher, the singer, is also a huge icon because she was so risque and glamorous, alongside Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O and Madonna. I love Daphne Guinness because she mixes patterns and textures so darn well, and the Olsen twins because they make the bohemian look like it was made for them. Fran Fine, was also a 90’s icon and most recently, I am liking Scream Queen’s Chanel Oberlin and her over-the-top furs and colorful ensembles. Collectively, all of these women’s style make up what is Pink Plastic, and I’m happy to say my personal style truly reflects my brand.
What are three beauty products you can’t live without?
I’ve been obsessing over Glossier’s Rosewater face mist to keep my skin hydrated and Glam Glow’s mudmask. Neutrogena’s acne face wash also stays in permanent rotation every morning and night and Milk’s skin tint foundation is also a must. Having great skin is so important to me right now because I want to maintain it in order to use as little products as I can. Also, I have this really amazing lash tech that makes me feel so beautiful — nowadays I don’t even wear a lick of makeup anymore when I leave out the house besides my lashes and eyebrows! Her IG handle is @lashoutloudmaryland and she’s honestly so worth it!