by Greg Gargs Allard

originally published in Silent Charm.

Why did you start Fashion Beauty CurvesAlexandra?

Growing up in today’s society, young girls and women are exposed to an unhealthy image of what beauty is. Through magazines and television, they are taught standards that include a slimmer figure, larger breasts and a perfect backside.

That’s so true. It must be difficult for girls growing up with that kind of pressure.

I, myself, struggled with my body image ever since about fourth grade. You might think that is a young age to start feeling insecure about yourself but sadly, bullying starts far too soon. I was pelted with fat jokes all the way up until high school.  At my highest weight of 260lbs, I always felt undesirable, unattractive, unpopular and that I was not good enough.

So sorry to hear that, Alexandra. It must have been so awful.

I never dressed nice because I didn’t understand that girls my age and size could look great.  I didn’t know how to dress and flatter my shape.  It wasn’t until my first semester in college that I realized how small of a world high school is and how I could be my own person.  Finally, I started to believe how beautiful I was inside and out.

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Awesome. What helped you to realize how beautiful you really were (and are) after you got out of high school. Did anyone or anything particularly inspire you?

When I began college, I realized how small of a world high school is. I realized that I had my own unique beauty and I didn’t have to be skinny to be attractive. I started learning how to dress my figure to really flatter my size and shape, and once I became comfortable in my own skin, feeling beautiful shined on the outside.

I remember shopping online, looking at different clothing lines, and seeing the models in the plus-size section. It really inspired me seeing curvy, beautiful, full-figured girls modeling. They were proud of their figure and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. That is when I decided to pursue plus-size modeling, beauty and fashion.

How did it all evolve to the point that you decided to become a plus-size model?

In wanting to share my journey with other girls who may have body image insecurities, I found my passion for aspiring to be a plus-size model and fashion designer.  This is when I created Fashion Beauty Curves, a website and blog dedicated to plus size modeling, plus-size fashion and beauty.

Could you give plus-size girls and women some tips how to dress?

No matter what size or shape you are, you have to learn how to dress your unique figure to best flatter you. I’ve learned that with my figure, my go-to outfit is a pair of jeggings and a shirt that gathers under the bust and falls around my hips. This combination gives me a more proportional, slimming look. I think the key as well is to know where to have a close fit. When I was in high school, I thought that if I wore baggy shirts along with skinny jeans, I would look skinnier. That does not work at all! Never hide your figure, just be familiar with it and learn how to flatter it! V-necks and lower cut tops are also great for a bustier woman or plus size figure because it creates a longer neck line. It also helps to feel beautiful in whatever you’re wearing, to work it and own it because confidence is the best way to top off your look!

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Could you talk about the difference between encouraging girls to be healthy as opposed to being skinny?

I think the idea of being healthy as opposed to skinny is often misunderstood. I feel that a lot of girls, due to bullying, seeing ads with skinny models, television, and magazine, think that being healthy means to be skinny. I used to believe this myself. You can be perfectly healthy and weigh over 160 lbs. I use to weigh 260 lbs and was the heaviest girl on my softball team at my high school. I had practice six days a week running laps, sprinting the bases, running stadiums and doing calisthenics with sometimes two games over the weekend. I was in the best shape of my life doing what any other girl on my team could do. I was heavy but I was incredibly physically active. We should encourage girls to define their own “healthy.” We need to inspire girls to start from within and to really believe in their beauty. Once you conquer your own beliefs of who you are, no one can tell you different.

You are also an excellent photographer. Could you tell us something about that and how it might be connected or help you to be a model and a fashion designer?

Being a photographer has really helped with my modeling. When Im posing for the camera, I can picture what the photographer is seeing and it helps me know what angles are best for the lighting and my figure. Sometimes I photograph myself to practice different techniques and poses. When Im designing a dress, bathing suit, top, etc. I sometimes envision how great it would photograph. Ever since I was five years old I’ve been painting, sketching, creating charcoal drawings, exploring makeup artistry, and photography. All this has helped with modeling and designing. I pay very close attention to detail in lines, curves, lighting and shape. Being an artist in these areas really benefits and enhances my eye in many aspects of design. I am very particular and am sometimes guilty of being a perfectionist.

Do you think your story might inspire girls who are growing up struggling through what you went through?

Yes. I also hope to start speaking to young girls and women, possibly leading workshops to help inspire a healthier attitude.  I want to encourage young girls and women to love themselves exactly the way they are and embrace it no matter what number the scale shows.  Your weight does not define, you define you.

What basic message do you want to give to them?

No matter your weight, height, skin color, ethnicity etc. learn to love yourself exactly the way you are. If you want to or need to make changes in order to be happy, do what you feel you need to do but always make sure you do everything for YOU. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your dream and live the life you feel you’ve always been meant to lead. If you have a passion, go after it with all you’ve got and own it! You are beautiful, strong and unstoppable.

We’re not quite done yet here. I’d like to ask you a few more questions just for fun.
Who are your favorite music artists?

Some of my favorite bands/artists are Paramore, Michael Jackson, and Adele, but my absolute favorite is Demi Lovato. She is a huge inspiration of mine and her music and strength has helped me through a lot over the past several years. I actually hope to one day collaborate on a clothing line with her.

Favorite all-time movies?

My all time favorite movie would have to be Forest Gump. The story is just so amazing and I always cry at least a few times….
My other favorite movies would have to be The Addam’s FamilyBeetlejuiceTitanicThe Sandlot and I will watch just about any zombie movie.

How about hobbies?

My hobbies include drawing, paint, photography, hiking, softball, singing, and fishing. Im a very complex woman, I’ve been told. I love to do my hair, makeup, nails, and go shopping, but then I could spend a whole day on the river or at the beach fishing. I love almost anything to do with nature.

Awesome, Alex! Thank you so much for talking with us.

Thank you, Gargs!

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