“The Lifetime Achievement Award was created to recognize the excellence, leadership and contributions of our pioneers in the industry. These pioneers have paved the way for many of the professionals we see in the industry today. Terri Murray has proven that you can be glamorous at any size or age and continues selflessly to mentor and inspire change for the better of the industry,“ says Tawana Blassingame, founder and executive producer of the Full Figured Industry Awards, and chief executive officer and editor in chief of Queen Size Magazine (QSM).
Murray is known for her tremendous impact on the plus-size industry, which began as a Lane Bryant Fit Model at the age of 42.
A grandmother who had just gone through a divorce, Murray needed to find a way to provide for her family. After seeing an ad for the job in the local paper, her new career as a size 18/20 fit model was born.
“They said you have to be comfortable in your underwear and you have to go to Hong Kong twice a year,” Murray chuckles.
Of course, she said yes to the amazing opportunity. In fact, she modeled for the company for nine years.
“They interviewed 150 women and chose two of us. We started the whole new Lane Bryant,” Murray says.
Murray was the first to model intimates on the runway at Lane Bryant. “You couldn’t find beautiful intimate apparel for plus-size women until Lane Bryant did it,” says Murray.
The era marked Lane Bryant’s transition to fashion- forward style.
“They took on a whole new style and fashion that they never had before,” she says.
One of her favorite memories is the runway aspect of the job.
“They had us rehearse for 8 hours, and at 6 p.m. all the media came — and the district managers from around the country from their sales meeting. They would show the videos of the show in all their stores,” she says.
At one point, she was actually in a Lane Bryant store when the video was playing.
“This woman walked over and said: ‘See that woman? If she can look that good in it, I can look that good in it,’ and she was talking about me! She didn’t recognize me.”
Nine years later, Murray relocated to New York City and signed with the prestigious FORD New York.
“I was in a beauty pageant and one of the judges was from FORD Chicago. I asked her a question and she said ‘you need to go to New York,’ so she got me into see Wendy Ford at FORD Models in New York. Nobody gets that. Think about how many models would love to have that opportunity.”
Murray went to New York to meet Ford and came home. A week later, Ford called personally, offered her a contract, and said there was someone in the office who knew her from the fashion world.
What happened next is nothing short of amazing.
“This woman told Wendy Ford that she wanted to go on a sabbatical and she wanted to give me all of her clients,” Murray says.
Murray has used her experiences as a model to advocate for body positivity for all women.
“A lot of times, we keep ourselves from wearing what we love because we don’t think we look good in it. That’s why I really like helping people,” she says.
For more information on Terri Murray, visit her website TerriMurrayModels.com
For more information on the Full Figured Industry Awards, which will take place virtually on November 6, please visit their website theffias.com.