Ann Lauren: Founder of Bella Petite

annlaurenAnn Lauren is the founder of Bella Petite, an online lifestyle magazine dedicated to women 5’5″ or shorter.  Bella Petite was created with the objective of offering creative and innovative content while, at the same time, promoting the petite image in media. 

Ann is 5’2″ and 99 lb.  Like many petite women, she has a great deal of trouble finding things that fit. The height issue was also complicated when she was a teenager and was trying to enter pageants.  Many had a minimum height requirement of 5’7″, which meant that she was barred from entering. Even if petite women could enter, it was very unlikely that she would win.  Luckily, Ann’s mother found a petite pageant a few years later, which Ann entered and won. Even though she obtained an agent soon after, finding work was difficult. Ann was encouraged to go into acting and parts modelling due to her size, but that was NOT whas she wanted. Ann wanted to do fashion. It was at this point that Ann felt that the standard needed to be changed.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful a person’s face is. If she is not tall, she has very little opportunity to become a top model. This is because designers are not taught to design for the shorter frame.  Schools teach them to design for a 5’9″ woman, even though most women are not that tall.  In fact, most schools won’t allow their students to design petite sizes!

By age 17, Ann was already raising capital and finding sponsors for what eventually became the USA Petite Model Show, a 30-state competition leading up to one held nationally. Unlike most model searches or pageants, the height requirement was that one had to be 5’5″ or SHORTER. In addition, the winners did not have state titles, wear crowns or sashes, nor did they attend carnivals/state fairs. They were, instead, promoted as models.

Ann on her definition of petite being 5’5″ and shorter (rather than 5’4″ and less):

There are many accepted definitions of “petite” around the fashion and modeling world. For the runways, modeling agencies often consider petite models to be anything under 5’9″. Most clothing designer’s refer to “petite” as 5’4″ and under. In our petite modeling shows women 5’5″ and under qualified to compete. Unfortunately, there really is not a universally accepted “petite” standard. In my experience, 5’5″ and under is the most accurate definition of women across the full spectrum of petite fashion.

On challenges she has faced since her business launched:

The biggest challenge is breaking the 5’9″ model standard and the age old stereotype that tall women are symbols of beauty and fashion. We need to get the “old guard” to see the error of their ways. Essentially these women are simply clothing hangers, and are not often viewed as symbols of real beauty. It is a fallacy that tall models look better in clothing than petites. If the clothes are scaled correctly, petite women look great. Just look at the stars on the red carpet, a large percentage are petite women.

At http://www.BellaPetite.com we have written a number of articles discussing solutions  for the fashion challenges facing petite women, and have also profiled a number of petite celebrities, in an effort to educate and bring positive recognition to the petite image.

 

On why media rarely discuss height issues when it comes to body image:

I actually think many articles reference height, but when they do it is often in a disparaging manner or it is misinformation. Seemingly the entertainment industry is intent on creating this facade that stars are bigger than life, which translate into being “tall.” The truth is, the majority of female celebrities (and many male celebrities) are short. The problem is that most celebrities are advised by their agents and representation to lie about their height. For instance 5’6″ Model Kate Moss’s agency, Storm, promoted her as being 5’8″. I discovered the “2-4 inch rule,” meaning: “whatever.”

On petite designers rarely getting press and how she’d like to see things change:

The change will come when we a have a relevant and widely accepted vehicle to promote their products, for example a quality fashion and lifestyle magazine with a global web community specifically catering to the petite market, such as Bella Petite. Our primary focus will be to promote the efforts of true petite clothing designers, as well as featuring petite models and celebrities throughout our publications. Bella Petite will not have a single clothing ad campaign or editorial featuring a 5’9″ model wearing petite clothes.

On what makes Bella Petite different from other petite-oriented sites:

BellaPetite.com is one element of our efforts to launch a globally significant website, magazine, and brand to represent the fashion and lifestyle interests of petite women. The website is still in its infancy, but is focused on becoming the premier platform and web community for exclusively discussing and servicing the needs and interests of petite women. Bella Petite will be on par with the other mainstream fashion and beauty magazines, and we strive to become the petite standard in the fashion world!

On where Ann sees Bella Petite in the next five-10 years:

In five years I see Bella Petite as a globally recognizable platform for petite clothing designers and businesses catering to petite women to promote their goods and services. We look forward to the site growing in its capabilities and scope in order to provide an experience that is truly a one-stop spot for petite fashion and lifestyle on the Internet. Additionally, the magazine, radio, television and other platform expansion is key to our all-encompassing, brand-building approach. We believe it is to the benefit of petite women to have a brand at the forefront of petite fashion steering this multi-billion dollar industry, and we strive to be that standard. Bella Petite expects to provoke a paradigm shift in the fashion industry and replace the old, stale fashion publications with an option which better represents petite women.

Note: Ann will be launching the Bella Petite Hour on AmericasWebRadio.com very soon.  This is an hour-long webcast is an entertainment variety show with celebrity guests as well as fashion, beauty and entertainment professionals.  Check the Bella Petite site for news!

Comments

  1. Great to see a smart, beautiful woman promoting the cause for petites! I’m looking forward to seeing what BellaPetite has in store. Nice work Prospere!

  2. Julie Ann says:

    I have just come accross you & have been searching for such a forum. I am the same size as you, perhaps a few lb’s heavier ! In clothes a UK 6 (US 0 ?)
    I love clothes & fashion but clothes shopping is nolonger a joy. I can barely find anything to fit. Trousers and jeans a total nightmare.
    I am also at an age 43 where I do not want to buy high street or certainly low end high street as I want superior cut & quality of fabric. It appears to me that the further up the scale you go the more generous the cut. Size 6 UK has virtually fallen off the cliff. In the last 10 years all clothes are cut bigger, I think size 6 today was size 8 10 years ago ! Whilst this may delight a size 14 who can now purchase a 12, if one is unfortunate enough to be at the bottom end of the scale, one just falls of the edge.
    Sales assistants are often extremely rude when one is desperately trying to find small sizes. No one would dare be as rude to an “outsize” shopper or the bigger ladies would be marching on the street, so much media coverage has been given to their issues. For the record I am a perfectly healthy weight (as you know) for my height and build.
    If a garment just about fits the proportions are often wrong because of the petite factor.
    I am in despair, I suspect the UK is even further behind the curve than the US. I despair and as I say my passion in shopping has all but deserted me for this reason. The job as got harder as I have got older and demand quality.
    Any comments or suggestions & best of all sources of great quality petite size UK6 clothing would be much appreciated. I prefer not to buy from American websites as the import duties are so high & add another 20-30% to the retail price. It becomes prohibitive.
    Thank you for bringing this neglected subject to the table Ann, I will follow you with interest.
    With kind regards
    Julie

  3. Hi! I can help you in NY,plese email me,I love the idea that you have and have a lot of friends that pay crazy prices for seamstress work. You should be on Oprah.
    Thank you,
    erica roth

  4. Hello Ladies: Happy to know you enjoyed my story and you’re interested in the plight for petite women! Stay tuned in at BellaPetite.com for all of the latest news, entertainment, products and services for you the petite consumer. Also, become an official member and stay updated, it’s free and easy to JOIN us!

  5. It’s so good there’s finally a woman that understands the petite fashion industry. I can never find clothes that fit. I hate the fashion magazines out there. They don’t show any petite clothes on beautiful petite models like you. You really have a fascinating background to share. The fact that you have worked as a model and producer should prove to be valuable in what you’re doing. I really like bellapetite.com, I am looking forward to seeing the magazine too. I also follow you on twitter. You are right about the world needing to pay attention to us petite women! I am a member of bellapetite and I want to do what ever I can to help us. Can’t wait to see more!