I'm A Fohr Freshman Class Finalist!
The Final Round
Yesterday I learned that I was selected as a finalist for the Fohr Freshman Class! I know you’re probably wondering what that even means, so allow me to explain. The Fohr Freshman Class is a pilot program that is meant to provide mentorship, access and networking opportunities to influencers who typically have been excluded by the industry. Members of the Fohr Freshman Class will be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to NYC in November for a week of learning, fun, and education. With over 1600 applicants, I feel so honored to be one of the 85 finalists! None of this would have been possible without testimonials from you - my amazing community - so today I am sharing a few of my responses to the application in an effort to share how my blogging journey began and why it is so important to me.
Why Did You Start Your Instagram?
I started my Instagram because of my relationship with weight and fashion. Ever since I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn, I knew that I wanted to work in the fashion industry. I also knew that breaking into the industry would be difficult for someone like me - an overweight woman of color. Throughout my adolescence, I never saw women that looked like me on billboards, runways, commercials, or in magazines. There was no representation, and that translated over to my shopping experience as well. Up until recently, finding cute clothes in my size was like mining for diamonds, because the options were extremely scarce. Nevertheless, my passion for working in the industry remained.
Why Did You Start Your Instagram? (cont.)
During my freshman year at Wellesley College, I had my sights set on J.Crew HQ’s merchandising internship. That summer I was accepted into the program. It was then that I started my Instagram account. I blogged throughout college, which helped nurture my love for fashion and connect with other plus size women of color through style tips. I interned at J.Crew for a second summer, and eventually landed a position as an Assistant Buyer at Bloomingdale’s upon graduation. My time at Bloomingdale’s was bittersweet. Landing that position was a lifelong dream, but the reality of the culture of the industry was devastating. The lack of diversity was even more apparent to me during my time working on the business side of fashion. There was no interest in diversity of thought, size or color, and because of that, I felt pressure to hide who I truly was to fit in. I couldn’t operate in an environment where being myself felt like less than enough, so I went to school to pursue my Masters in Management and started my blog after earning my degree. Today, my Instagram allows me to operate within an industry that I felt ostracized from on my own terms. It has allowed me to build a community of like-minded women and has enabled me to use my platform to instill confidence in others. To me, that’s priceless.
What is Your Favorite Thing About Having A Following?
My favorite thing about having a following online is being able to energize people from around the country and the world! My mission is simple - I want to bridge the gap between the everyday woman and fashion by breaking down the intimidating barriers to entry through knowledge sharing and confidence building. I like to use my stories and my posts to share positive messages with my followers. When I share links to products that I like, I am intentional with the images that I use. I will show products on petite models, models of color, curvy models, along with traditional models. I do this to show rather than tell that diversity is important and people notice those things! I will never forget the first time someone sent me a message saying that they loved that I share diverse content. I never forget when someone messages me saying that my blog inspires them, or that seeing me in a particular outfit has inspired them to let go of their insecurities. It reminds me that what I am doing matters and is making a real difference in peoples lives by shifting their perspective on what it means to be an underrepresented person of color that enjoys style and fashion. So I would definitely say that the sense of community and progress is my favorite thing about having a following online.
Get the Look
If You Woke Up To 500K Followers, What Would You Post About?
The first thing that I would post about if I woke up to 500,000 followers would be my relationship with weight. As a plus size blogger, I talk about body confidence and style all the time. What I haven’t had a chance to go in depth with my followers about is the road that it took for me to get to this point of love and acceptance. I left home to attend a predominately white boarding school when I was 14 years old and stuck out like a sore thumb for two reasons - my skin color and weight. Weight was one of the two things that I could control, so I developed an obsession with losing weight to fit in. When I got to college and decided that I was going to apply to J.Crew’s internship program, I started taking diet pills in the hopes that it would bolster my chances of receiving an offer. That summer I received an offer. I continued to take diet pills throughout my second internship and continued down that path through my junior year of college. When I started working at Bloomingdale’s things shifted. I didn’t want to feel like being my authentic self wasn’t enough anymore and I didn’t want to have a negative relationship with weight loss or gain. I made a commitment to loving my body for all that it does for me on a daily basis regardless of size, and it has worked wonders for me! My plan was always to lose weight before starting my blog. It’s funny because it was at my heaviest weight that I woke up to images of myself on Forever 21’s website modeling their clothes. It isn’t easy to admit that you’ve had a tumultuous relationship with body image, but I talk about it more and more with friends and followers because my story is not unique. Millions of women are dealing with negative body image and low confidence on a daily basis. So that is what I would post about if I woke up to a large following because that is the foundation of why I started my Instagram and my blog.
Why Should You Be Chosen For the Freshman Class?
My heart is truly in this. My passion for bridging the gap between fashion and the everyday woman is something that ignited in me as a little girl growing up and noticing that there was nobody like me in the media that I consumed on a daily basis. My confidence comes from my Caribbean culture and NYC upbringing. There is so much beauty in what makes me different, and there is so much beauty in diversity. I use my platform to remind people of that and instill confidence in them. I use my blog and my Instagram to break down the intimidating barriers to entry that many people of color face when entering and working within the industry by simply being myself - positive, encouraging, and collaborative. Many people may not see it this way because they view fashion and lifestyle tips as trivial, but this work is extremely important because it shifts the way that brands view and present people of color on a mass scale. I love my blog because I love diversity and I love women and I love using my skills to ensure that we are seen and heard in spaces that we have historically been excluded from. That is why I should be chosen for the Fohr Freshman class.
Thank you to my amazing community of friends, family and followers that supported my application with testimonials of how my work has made an impact on them. Without you, none of this would be possible! I also want to thank Fohr for recognizing the value of my work along with the work of so many other diverse finalists! Fingers crossed for the final round! Until next time babes!