I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this month for most of my life. When I was a young kid, Black History Month didn’t mean all that much to me. The lack of melanin in my teachers and classmates meant that any extra attention to Black history was reserved for what could fit on the glass encased bulletin board that hung somewhere near the administration office. Once I got to high school, I started to hate Black History Month because I knew that meant a super awkward moment was awaiting me. Every February 1st, a teacher or a classmate or once even the principle would decide to point me out as one of the only two black people in the class (shout out Marcus Shelby if you out there) and ask me some kind of unwelcome personal question that would have me speak for all black people.
It wasn’t fun. BUT then I graduated high school, moved to LA, and learned to self educate! Black History Month became a time where I chose to learn more about myself and my black history than I knew existed. I was geeking out over the Moors, Madame C.J. Walker, and so much more. Did you know that ancient Egyptians used afro picks? In college, I decided that Black History Month was insulting. Why would we only get a month when others gets the rest of the year? I would look at what major media decided to cover and be frustrated that they wouldn’t dive deeper into the history of black people globally. I’d hashtag #BLACKHISTORYYEAR every single day in the month of February.
I still believe that discovering more about black history will enrich your life all year round. I also know that it is not everyday that people are looking to educate themselves on any kind of history. So, if black people have an opportunity to share our history, learn our history, and have our history acknowledged; I’ve got to be on board. I celebrate Black History Month because I want to know more about the past to help me prepare and move toward the future. I hope you all have take even a few moments to learn something new today! And you can start here!
Y’all I could cry! My first blog post! *Insert raised hands emoji* This is a loooonnngg time coming! I wanted to start a blog in college. That didn’t happen. I wanted to start a blog in 2015. That didn’t happen. And now we’re here. And it’s HAPPENING! You know what held me back all this time? I had this ridiculous expectation that I would launch my blog once I had the perfect site with Vogue quality images and Teen Vogue quality articles. I wanted my blog to capture body positive culture, create community, and challenge the status quo all on day one. Obviously, I never felt ready. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. But perfection isn’t real. And if I had to be honest with myself, I don’t think I’d ever feel ready. There will always be something more to learn or some way I can improve. And I’ll take you on that journey with me! For now, I’ve got somethings to say and it can’t wait any longer.
Let’s start with the basics:
I’m Alex! I’m a plus size model and body positive activist. I’ve been in this industry for 8 years and have learned a whole lot about modeling, fashion, business, and activism. I love that there are more clothing options for plus size women and I recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to make fashion more inclusive. I’m from Los Angeles, but equally love my new home, New York City. I want to travel the world and experience different cultures. I think all people deserve love, respect, and equal rights. Although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I will absolutely call you out on your shit if your opinion hurts people. I curse a lot and I’m not sorry about it. I like spaghetti and cold pizza. My favorite color is purple and I know the words to most Cheetah Girls songs. I’m half black, half white and was raised in a huge Italian family. I’ve been vegan for 3 months now and it’s getting easier every day. I practice yoga and meditation. I hate dancing in public, but regularly twerk it out alone in my room. I want to grow old with my boyfriend. I’m feminist as hell and am constantly inspired by amazing women on the internet. I want people to love themselves and I am furious that there are multi-billion dollar industries that convince them not to. I believe self-love is a journey, not a destination. I feel my most powerful after I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I feel my most badass when I go against the norm. And I feel my most loved when I forgive myself.
I started a hashtag and internet campaign called #VisiblyPlusSize and it’s been pretty freaking cool to watch it grow! I started it because I noticed that as the plus size fashion industry grew, the size of the models shrunk significantly. Here’s a little history: Before we had fashion forward, trendy, or eclectic styles to choose from, plus size women were shopping in a store literally called The Forgotten Woman. How sad is that? Brands like Lane Bryant, Catherine’s, and Avenue came later, but still lacked popular styles that the smaller women were buying. Fat activism grew and a community of women who refused to be treated differently due to size demanded stylish clothing, a better shopping experience, and all around equal treatment for fat people. Fast forward to now and we have seen the work of these activists blossom into this amazing plus size fashion industry. The industry we know today is a 20 billion dollar industry that becomes more and more lucrative each year. Fashion brands and companies have recognized the money making opportunity and have started carrying plus sizes; however, they don’t necessary operate with the same purpose with which it began.
When I first started modeling, I worked for brands that wouldn’t be able to book me now. I shot campaigns, ecomm, and walked runways all at a size 16/18. Those same brands now only work with size 14 models. As plus size fashion brands have gone more mainstream, they have adopted aspects of the pre-existing beauty standard that favor thin, white and able bodies. And here’s the hardest part about this: research has shown that thin, white and able-bodied models sell more clothes. So from a business stand point, it makes sense. But, I’m not okay with it. We, the customers, have the power when it comes to retail fashion. We get to demand and the brands, supply. I started #VisiblyPlusSize because I want to normalized visibly plus size bodies in the media and in the minds of the customers, so that we can change how brands market to us. Our mindsets are already shifting to a more inclusive norm. You can see it in the success of the body positive movement. You can see it in the success of models of color in the straight size fashion world. We have brands who purpose their work in creating a more inclusive space in digital marketing, on runways, and in fashion options. It’s happening, y’all! And it needs to happen quickly. Representation in the media, whether it is in fashion, on television, in movies, or on a concert stage, is vital for developing a sense of belonging, of value, and of self-appreciation. Not only do images shape how we feel about ourselves, they shape how we feel about other people. Researchers at Durham University in England coined the term “visual diet.” Their studies proved that people became more tolerant of whatever images they saw. They concluded that “showing [their participants] thin bodies makes them like thin bodies, more, and showing them fat bodies makes them like fat bodies more.” This is why we need size diversity. This is why we need visibly plus size representation. It is my hope that #VisiblyPlusSize will help normalize fat bodies in the media, because it directly affects how fat people are tolerated and treated in their day to day lives. I want to see the world be a safer space for all and this is how I plan to help.
If you’ve gotten this far, I appreciate you! Thank you for being a part of my first blog post! Woo! I plan to share a lot of really amazing things with you all! Watch this space for more thoughts on the industry, modeling tips and tricks, self-care practices, style and beauty advice, and of course lots of pictures! I will be launching my YouTube channel VERY soon, so stay tuned for news on that! And as always, you can follow me on Instagram (here) or Facebook (here).