Joan Smalls wants you to feel like a supermodel, no matter your size or shape.
"When I learned about how inclusive Smart & Sexy was—how it embraces all shapes and sizes—it spoke to me because I know not everybody is shaped like me," the Set It Up actress told E! News, referring to her new lingerie and swimwear designs. "My mom has a different body type than I do, and I always understood her frustration shopping for bras, so I wanted to tackle that. Women should be celebrated, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of size."
The model, wearing the Caged Longline Push-Up Bra with white lace pants, repeated this sentiment as she greeted hundreds of women lined for a custom bra fitting at the Walmart booth at Essence Festival in New Orleans. While she may be a professional at giving face, when talking to everyday women, she's all smiles. Towering above most them, she even bent down slightly, making it easier for festival goers to capture a selfie with her.
"The way my parents raised us was to always know that we were beautiful at home, regardless of what the world says because everyone has an opinion and everyone is entitled to it, but you shouldn't let it affect you," she said, stating how she remains at the top of her industry and maintains her down-to-earth persona. "Some times people project their negativity on to you. Once you understand that when people say something, it really doesn't have much value."
After challenging herself to become a designer and making her recent acting debut on the Netflix romantic comedy, Set It Up, the star admitted that ignoring the haters is easier said than done, but in the end, she's happy that she's stayed true to herself, believing in herself at all times.
This is why she wants women to feel free and comfortable to wear her lingerie however they want, even without anything on top.
"I love wearing sheer tops," she said. "Then I'll put the lingerie underneath it, so you can still see it. That's my thing. Or, I wear a bra as a crop top because it's super edgy and visual and it makes my boobies look amazing."
Described as her "labor of love," her collection not only embodies her love for other women—it's an expression of her Latina identity and Puerto Rican upbringing.
"I'm from the islands, so I'm accustomed to seeing color and being vibrant, so I wanted to speak to that as well," she told us. "Especially against different skin tones, it looks beautiful. It just pops. I wanted to capture a little bit of everything for everybody."
Beyond complementing different skin tones and fitting all shapes, it's also important that her line is affordable. She wants the girls growing up in her hometown to be able to partake in her success. And, with $14 bras and $4 panties, they can.
She shared, "Where I grew up in Puerto Rico, in Hatillo, we have one Walmart, and that's where we would buy our clothes. To be a part of this, it just comes full circle."
If you're still doubting whether you can pull off her looks, the model left us with one piece of advice, "You always have to believe you're beautiful, no matter where you go—just know you're a bad b***h."
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