October 21, 2021

Meet One Of The Original Plus-Size Influencers

When Chenese Lewis’ profession within the plus-size trade started in 2000, Instagram didn’t exist and physique positivity had but to enter the general public consciousness. Her introduction to a fledgling plus-size group got here by message boards. On the time, Lewis says that folks on the boards had been primarily searching for alternatives for modeling.

“Because the trade grew,” she recollects, “many aspiring fashions transitioned into different areas comparable to occasion manufacturing, pictures, and on-line media. The group blossomed.”

Rising up, Lewis says she noticed only a few individuals who appeared like her in mainstream media. Her inspirations? Queen Latifah, Mo’Nique, and Oprah Winfrey. “To see them succeed within the leisure trade and break limitations was very inspiring to me. They offered a blueprint to point out what was attainable,” she says.

Some may say that Lewis created her personal blueprint by changing into one of many first influencers within the plus-size house, lengthy earlier than the class of influencer was established.

The motivation for creating her personal model got here, partially, from her personal expertise with dimension and race discrimination: “Our society celebrates an unrealistic splendid of magnificence that’s normally skinny and white. There are much less alternatives accessible for you primarily based in your look alone, which might get discouraging. Even modeling and performing jobs which can be searching for plus-size girls set dimension limitations that exclude many.”

Undeterred, Lewis headed to Los Angeles.

“I created alternatives for myself when others weren’t,” she says. With a restricted advertising funds, she taught herself the abilities she wanted to construct her firm, Chenese Lewis Productions. “I needed to learn to do primary graphic design, web site constructing, writing contracts, and public relations for myself,” she shares. “It will have been simpler if I had a group to do all this stuff on my behalf, however I didn’t have the funds. I took the trip to study the trade requirements and I grew to become extraordinarily aware of all the time presenting myself in probably the most skilled manner attainable so I may compete with folks that had extra sources than me.”

She would go on to win the title of Miss Plus America in 2003, and become the president of the Hollywood chapter of National Organization of Women (NOW). In 2008 she launched The Chenese Lewis Present, the primary podcast targeted on the plus-size trade.

Twenty years in, Lewis says lots has modified. She laments that after feeling “camaraderie, assist, and a way of group” earlier in her profession, she notices a rising ubiquity of competitiveness because the plus-size trade turns into extra saturated. She says the arrival of social media has introduced optimistic and detrimental change: “The good half is that trade requirements have broadened and model representatives at the moment are extra numerous. The dangerous half is {that a} skilled with an intensive resume will usually get missed for somebody with a giant social media following.” 

Within the midst of a quickly rising plus-size market, Lewis says that she stays passionately dedicated to the work she got down to do twenty years in the past: develop magnificence beliefs to be extra inclusive and numerous.

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