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Survival of the Thickest

Source: Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

Keia Bounds knew she wanted to work on “Survival of The Thickest” before turning to the script’s last page. 

The series, based on the book by creator and star Michelle Buteau, had fashion baked into its DNA. It follows a Tribeca-dwelling stylist forced to reinvent herself in Crown Heights after a sudden breakup leaves her cash-strapped without connections. 

Bounds loved telling a story about a woman finding her freedom.

“Michelle’s a dream,” Bounds told HelloBeautiful in an interview. It was inspiring to be around the “free” creator who was “wanting everybody else to be free.” 

Bounds, who previously worked on Shots Fired, BMF, Chappelle’s ShowMadam Secretary, and Succession, felt a kinship with the show’s heroine, a mouthy beauty named Mavis Beaumont. She knew she was the type of woman to wear leopard as a neutral and sip after-work drinks rocking a graphic tee and Jordans. 

“I’m a Brooklyn girl,” said Bounds. “I live in Jersey now, but I came up in Brooklyn, and, you know, Brooklyn is an eclectic place. It’s fun. It’s funky.” 

She enjoyed charting Mavis’ transition through clothing. “I love the fact that she came from Tribeca where she was a little bit more streamlined and like dressing a little bit more professional, and then when she freed herself, she acclimated to Brooklyn in my mind.” 

Size discrimination did not stop Bounds from serving looks on the show.

Bounds bounced to the stores for inspiration once she came on board the project. When she arrived at the racks, she was disappointed at the rampant size discrimination. She described her experience. “The most disappointing thing for me doing the show was I would go to the stores and be out physically shopping, and I’m like, okay, where’s the stuff for the curvy girls,” she said. 

Sales associates in several stores told her larger sizes were only available online. Plus-size consumers have complained about this separation for years. 

Michelle Buteau, Nicole Byer

Source: Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

“This is ridiculous, like, I want to touch [and] feel,” she added. 

“We all have different shapes. We all need to be able to try it on and see if it works. See where we need tailoring. See, you know, see where we need to go up on the size, like what if you have a party to go to? You’ve got to order like five different things to try them on,” she continued. 

“It’s so unfair!” 

Even with some retailers falling short, she and the other members of the costume department created multiple standout looks.

Survival of the Thickest

Source: Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

Clothes reveal character traits on the series.

In one scene, Nicole Byer sizzles in a sexy marigold lingerie number after she and Mavis reject the “Christmas reds” and “Clinical beige” that retailers usually assign to more extensive size ranges. 

In another, Mavis enjoys a puff puff pass and a power walk wearing an Adidas Farm Rio printed track jacket. Later, she chairs a charity event wearing a robin’s egg Selkie dress with a cloud-like silhouette. 

Michelle Buteau as Mavis and Tone Bell as Khalil in Survival of the Thickest.

Source: Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

Colorful berets and cute bags punctuate the character’s moods. The cheating boyfriend rocks loud colors and prints as an “easter egg,” subtly highlighting his personality. 

“Jacque is always bold in my mind. His character was bold to have had an affair and think that he could come back from it,” Bounds said. “His confidence is reflected in his style.” 

Marley, played by Tasha Smith, shows up to a friend’s doctor’s appointment “just dressed to the nines for no reason” in a satin violet number that is “flirty and fun.”

The oddball roommate, who respectfully avoids the n-word and always vaguely smells like kitchen products, rocked a hodgepodge of funny fits. She showed up in silly tees with fake bikini bodies and furry pom-pommed hoodies. 

“Jade was just a weirdo, and that’s what we loved about her character,” said Bounds. “You didn’t know what she was gonna show up in.” 

The finale features a cow print bag from Black designer Brandon Blackwood. “Michelle is very adamant about inclusivity in all areas.”

Garcelle Beauvais as Natasha

Source: Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

The Inappropriate Looks Were The Standouts.

Natasha Karina, a supermodel played by real-life model Garcelle Beauvais, tosses a pink crystal dildo with a black leather harness into a casket. She takes this risk wearing a sparkly sequined gown with an unexpected “bodycon kind of vibe to it.” 

“She was supposed to be inappropriately dressed for the funeral, but that particular dress became an important piece just because of the way it fit,” said Bounds. 

Garcelle Beauvais, Anthony Michael Lopez

Source: Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023 / Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2023

The character wants to wear a corset during the moment, but Mavis refuses to let her restrict her body uncomfortably. “It was great because, you know, Garcelle is fabulous. Like she needs, no corset. She needs nothing,” said Bounds. 

It’s a meta moment as the real model turned Real Housewife goes from a face of the old fashion guard to a representative of the inclusion efforts. 

Natasha literally fights Mavis for the corset because she can not accept that she does not need to be uncomfortable to be beautiful. 

“She needed to look like an hourglass because that’s what we all think that we need to look like based on what society dictates to us,” said Bounds. 

Those who binge this series will see how society is changing with each look driving home the mission of the character, her creator, and Bounds, 

“Being able to show that you can look great in any body type was the ultimate goal.” 

Season one of Survival of the Thickest is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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Keia Bounds Served Top-Tier Looks For ‘Survival Of The Thickest’ After A Familiar Struggle At The Racks  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com