Toward the end of Rihanna’s most recent fashion show for her Savage x Fenty lingerie brand, Paris Hilton appeared in a hot-pink bodysuit with generous cut-outs and mesh leggings, her blond hair framing the sunglasses on her face. The camera then panned to Margie Plus. The size-18 body-positivity activist and Savage x Fenty brand ambassador was wearing a nearly identical outfit with her neon-yellow hair pulled back into two thick braids. Two women, two signature looks. This shouldn’t have been remarkable to see, but for Plus, it has been a journey.
“I feel the most myself when I have neon hair — it’s like my own art,” says Plus, whose real name is Margie Ashcroft, of the vibrant-yellow hair she has sported since 2016. Growing up in the small city of Spokane, Wash., she liked to stand out. It prepared her for an editorial internship at Condé Nast at a time when plus-size bodies were not represented in magazines — or on staff. On her first day commuting from her friend’s place in Jersey to the company’s Midtown Manhattan office, she ran into Anna Wintour outside the elevators. “I was wearing these off-brand scuba shoes my mom had given me for the walk from Port Authority,” she recalls, laughing. “From that moment on, I was like, ‘I need to serve every day — be that confident girl and just be me.’”
Plus started a plus-size fashion column for Lucky, the now-defunct magazine, and went on to have her own blog. Then, in the mid-aughts, she went through what she calls her “Eat, Pray, Love” time of self-discovery. “I tried out every hair colour under the sun: turquoise, blue, lilac, pink. Then I did yellow and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me. That’s who I am.’ And that’s been it ever since.”
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While the fashion industry has become more inclusive of plus-size bodies in recent years (Plus has worked with brands like Nike, ASOS and Forever 21), it has not been a blanket acceptance. “Even plus-size brands have this ideal: You need to be snatched at the waist, you have to have big, thick hips and your face needs to look like a Kardashian’s,” says Plus, who has been booked for campaigns on the condition that she cover her neon hair with a more natural coloured wig. “It’s like, ‘We gave you a little bit, but we’re still kind of keeping you in that box’ because the beauty has to be so on point.”
As you might expect, neon hair requires a lot of upkeep. To maintain the vibrant hue, Plus colours her hair every two weeks. “Some people can look in the mirror and see roots and they’re like, ‘It’s fine; let me just be beachy,’” she says. “But when my hair is styled and the colour is perfect, I find so much joy. It really alters my well-being and my mood.”
After bleaching her hair (Plus refers to her natural colour as a mousy brown), she applies a secret blend of yellow and green Pravana hair dyes. “For vivid colour, there’s nothing better,” she says. To counteract the frequent colouring, she deep conditions: Redken argan oil, Olaplex and It’s a 10 leave-in conditioner are in her current rotation. Changing her styling tools has also made a big difference in her hair’s health: “I was getting a lot of damage from my brushes, so I switched to The Y by Yusef thermal ceramic brushes and carbon combs, and that really helped.”
A solid routine is important to maintain what Plus says will likely be her hair colour for life. “I want to be able to express myself and be appreciated for being different,” she says. “The message behind my hair colour is so me: Be loud, be bold, be different, be who you are. If I can do it, you can do it.”
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