Holly Carter

Holly Carter

by Melissa Magsaysay

As a long time writer and editor for influential publications including, OK, People and O, The Oprah Magazine, Holly Carter (@hollsbeauty), style features director at O, The Oprah Magazine, has been instrumental in shaping our society’s beauty conversation.

From the best ways to grow out different hair types and hairstyles to highlighting the brands changing our perception of size, Carter’s stories are relatable and reflective of modern, multidimensional women who like her, crave on trend fashion made for curvier bodies.

By going further than skin deep in her approach to beauty and fashion, Carter continues to be part of today’s changing media landscape which is increasingly more accepting and representative of different shapes and sizes.

Here, Carter talks about her personal style, passion for beauty and career highlights (including the incredible “Size Wise” story in O, The Oprah Magazine.)

“As a black curvy woman, my perspective organically comes from an inclusive place... Everyone should be able to see themselves when looking at fashion or beauty editorial.”

Q&A with Holly

Have you always wanted to be a writer? About fashion/beauty specifically?

My father is an artist and my mother was a jewelry designer, so I’m naturally inclined toward creative expression. I’ve always loved articulating myself through the medium of writing, even as a child. And beauty and fashion are my other loves. I can remember mixing concoctions in the kitchen for DIY facials and secretly trying on my older sister’s way-too-small trendy jeans. When I found a job where I could combine all of my loves, I knew I hit the jackpot.

How would you describe your personal style?

I would say, I’m eclectic. I am always on the hunt for unique pieces. I can be bohemian one day and edgy the next. I like to mix it up. But most of the time you will find me in some sort of dress—it’s easy and feels pulled together, flattering, and feminine or sexy (depends on the day). I like pants, don’t get me wrong. I’ve just always had trouble finding them in my size and that goes for many things I would like to wear—it just isn’t readily available. Thankfully 11 Honoré changing the game!

Your focus on diversity and inclusivity in your work is amazing and inspiring. Is this something you set out to incorporate into your stories and how you select topics?

As a black curvy woman, my perspective organically comes from an inclusive place. Throughout my career, I’ve strived to produce editorial that makes people feel good about themselves and included—a part of the conversation regardless of race, size, or budget. Everyone should be able to see themselves when looking at fashion or beauty editorial.

Did you feel reflected in fashion and lifestyle media growing up?

No. But as a young black girl, I probably didn’t even realize it. That’s the sad part. I accepted seeing very thin white women in fashion and lifestyle media as the norm, and what does that do to build self-confidence and self-acceptance? When that message seeps in, it’s hard to assuredly find your voice and your place in the world. Thankfully, I’ve always had a village to support and cheer me on.

Do you feel like the fashion industry has made great strides to be more diverse and inclusive?

I am so grateful to have worked on O, The Oprah Magazine’s “Size Wise,” a piece that really got into the nitty gritty of the plus-size revolution. I had the opportunity to learn about so many brands and companies—11 Honoré, Nordstrom, Loft, JC Penney, Universal Standard, the women of theCURVYcon—that are making huge strides in the industry to cater to a woman who has never been justly catered to. I do believe that impactful steps have been taken toward a more diverse and inclusive landscape. But as with any movement, it’s a continuous journey and there is still a long way to go.

What more can we be doing to strengthen and further the conversation around size inclusivity?

I think we have to use our voices as individuals to tell brands what’s missing and what we want. If you truly want change, you have to be a part of that change. Thankfully now that we are in the social media age, voicing our opinions has been facilitated and companies are listening. And of course brands need to do the work, too, to make sure their messaging and product speaks to the broadest range of consumers. With 68% of women wearing a size 14 or above, it’s about time.

Is there a story (or 2, 3...) you feel most proud of at this point in your career? What is it and why is it a highlight for you?

There are two that instantly come to mind. I was extremely proud to be a part of “Size Wise,” as I mentioned earlier. There were a few editors working on this piece and it was amazing to collaborate with them and interview so many interesting and innovative designers, influencers, and celebrities pushing the industry forward and making real strides in the plus space. And as someone who is not a size two, it was also so gratifying to work on something that was about me and so many underserved women out there. Next on my list: When I was a beauty director at another publication we wrote what became an annual story about the best tried-and-test beauty tips, interviewing tons of experts in haircare, cosmetics, and nailcare. My first year doing it, the piece ended up being the top-rated story in the magazine’s history. That felt pretty darn good.

Beauty mantra you live by?

Lipstick has the power to change everything.


  • dot
    Wed, Oct 31

    Thank you! I loved reading this and of course the piece in O, Oprah Magazine. So great to see continuous efforts being made.

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