Fashion & Activism

An Interview with Paloma, from Her Closet to Yours

We are wrapping up our series of interviews with our talented and gorgeous cast of the #GBSisterhood Video, ending with Paloma. Paloma is a model and body activist, whose style is easy, effortless, and very cool. You might recognize her from her recent collaboration with Nike, or modeling Glossier’s Body Hero on billboards and online. Read on to hear what she thinks the body positivity movement is missing, and what piece of clothing will always feel magical to her.

What does sisterhood mean to you?
“When I think about sisterhood, I think it transcends familial attachment. I think that it means a connected solidarity with women or whoever identifies as a woman in similar ethos and practices.”

What are the characteristics of the women in your life that inspire you?
“All of my girlfriends and I are very hard working. We all are really dedicated and motivated to doing the best we can in our lives. And with a similar impact, of wanting to give women and girls a platform. In general, I appreciate women who are really present and have a voice. And some people, it’s okay to not have a voice but you believe in it. Yeah, really present and hardworking and creative are things that are really important to me in a friend.”

What do you wish everyone knew about body positivity?
“I think that the misconception is that body positivity looks positive all the time. I think that that’s definitely a hole that’s missing in the commentary. I don’t know if that’s like, particularly honest or real for me, personally, and my peers. When every day is like ‘I love my thighs’… that’s not my reality. Some days I feel great and some day I feel like ‘We’re still living in media that is bombarded by bodies that don’t really look like ours’. We’re only human, and I spent the majority of my life being told, essentially, that I wasn’t pretty enough. Body positivity is an armor and a way to combat that but it’s not a constant. And I think that’s a misconception, that like you’re not allowed to still feel not 100 about your body all the time.”

How do you feel about the expectations that different sized women have different expectations on how to perform femininity – do we need to be concerned of how we perform femininity? How does that play into fashion?
“I think, because we live in a patriarchy, we have to be, I guess, conscious. It shouldn’t be like that: how one dresses, or performs, femininity equals sexuality, or that it makes or invites a commentary, especially from men. But it’s the reality we’re in, so it’s about navigating it to make each individual feel safe. Femininity is, for some women, their survival, you know? I think it’s hard because I feel, personally, as a plus size woman, my body has always been sexualized. I was curvaceous at such a young age that style was a means of survival, to combat a certain sexualization that I felt very uncomfortable with at a young age. Now I wear a hoodie because I feel good in it, but before, I was like ‘I just don’t want to be 12 and be ogled at by men. It’s annoying.’ You know? And it’s still annoying. But it made me feel very unsafe and it shouldn’t. I think that it’s all personal, because it’s about how you want to express yourself.”

How do you think safety and fashion intersect? Do you pick what you wear in the morning because you want to feel safe in your identity as well as your presentation?
“It’s not unique when I say this but it’s just like a mood, you know? Today, I was thinking of comfort and practicality because I’m going to the airport, but I’m not wearing literal pajamas because you’re still like out in the world! I do think it like caters to my mood, sometimes I wanna be über-tomboy and sometimes I wanna be more sexy… but I’m always finding the balance. I think it’s always about balance and symbiosis – that’s really important to me – and style. It speaks before you do, how you dress or whatever and that’s what we’re trying to move through. Especially for me, being a woman, being a woman of color, it’s all these preconceived ideas and attachments that go with it before I even open my mouth. So if you turn it into a positive way that helps me, with style, I’m speaking for who I am and who I wanna be, because we don’t have much control over anything else!”

As someone who has been in the industry, how does the idea of size inclusivity make you feel?
“I think it is putting into practice a mindset above all else, that if we want to have a diverse range of bodies we have to have a diverse range of clothes, you know? So, I hope that like, brands, like you guys, with such an important size range – I hope that it sends a message. It’s like [when people say] ‘We should all be feminists!’ Whatever, we know, but I don’t want feminism unless it’s intersectional. This is a practice of intersectional feminism – by being able to give intersectional sizes.”

Do you have an outfit that carries magic for you?
“Yeah, I definitely have a shirt that I wore when me and my girlfriends did a Nike collaboration. It’s a shirt I bought for the party and every time I wear it, it reminds me of that time because that was just such a huge highlight in my career and was so important to me and was such a milestone. So when I wear it, I try to wear it to things that I think would be a milestone. Also, that shirt is made by a brand of whom I’ve walked in to shows, so I’m also very attached because working with them was a milestone. It’s my power shirt.”

Check out Paloma in our #GBSisterhood video, and look out for interviews with her incomparable co-stars, right here on the blog. You can see our interviews with AmandaMolly, Diane and Hadassah live already.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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