A few weeks ago, on Instagram, I asked you all a question:
“Who do you follow online for style inspiration and do they look just like you?”
It’s something I started asking myself a few years ago actually, when I was feeling a bit uninspired by this communal space. The photos I was seeing day after day felt the same (a reality I was probably feeding into myself), editing styles began to blend together with too much of the same preset package being used and even captions started to read like a formula. Suddenly, while scrolling through my feed, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was following a lot of the same type of person, right down to the way they looked, how they dressed, what size they wore and even how they posed.
Of course, I realized that was on me. Not them. I had hit the follow button. I had curated my feed. And I was the one left wanting for more.
I’ll stop here and say this before I continue: None of this is to say we shouldn’t follow people online who look like us or who we identify with. In fact, I think that’s the beauty of online communities like this — it allows us to connect with and relate to people just like us, going through similar situations, or in the instance of style, give us the inspiration (and yes, confidence!) we need to put a similar outfit together for our respective style, budget and body types.
But after reviewing my feed, I felt like I was cutting myself short — that I was missing out on a lot of style content that didn’t fit my “specific mold,” but that I could, nonetheless, get a ton of inspiration from.
Cue my friend, Kellie.
I’ve known Kellie for several years now. I remember my friend and photographer, Lydia showing me her account and I instantly fell for her fearless style, her killer wit and her contagious confidence. Yes, our respective styles are quite different, but I was drawn to her photographs, the angles, the perspectives and the unique space where our styles seemed to overlap so to speak. Yes, we may be different sizes, but that was the last thing I was looking at. At the end of the day, true style is style, no matter what your size tag might read. And Kellie, my friends, has style in spades. And then some.
She and I have chatted at great lengths about this topic together — how it’s manifested over the years in the content creator space (especially as the words ‘inclusivity’ and ‘representation’ get thrown around a lot) and how to best tackle it, from both sides of the size spectrum. Generally speaking, straight size influencers tend to follow other straight size influencers and plus size influencers tend to follow other plus size influencers, with not a lot of overlap in between, again, generally speaking, perhaps because neither group feels represented by the other. To reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with following people who look just like you, but what if we, as true appreciators of style (and substance!), could make more of a dedicated effort to connect with and find inspiration from those who don’t look just like us. Whose shape or size might be different than ours. Whose style might be a bit outside of our comfort zones. Whose background is totally unlike our own. Or perhaps they’re older. Perhaps they’re younger. What if?
My guess (and Kellie’s guess, too), is that we’ll find a hell of a lot more common ground than we will find differences.
All of this is to say, the past few years, and certainly this year, I’m dedicating more time and energy to fostering and creating this to be an online space where I feel more people are represented. Not just in the content I create here, but also in the content I consume — one begets the other, right?. So when it comes to what I consume online, that starts and ends with me. Granted, none of the above is meant to make you feel ashamed or bad about who follow or who you don’t follow online. I’m also not trying to imply there is any kind of nefarious intent going on here. But rather, I hope it encourages you to evaluate your behavior when it comes to deciding who to follow and support online, and really reflect on how you can be more inclusive with that decision. It may seem small, and yes, even insignificant in that moment, but that’s how change comes about.
I’m happy to report, I know a lot of beautiful and talented folks who I’m so honored to call friends in this space, who yes, like Kellie, don’t look just like me, and I’m so excited to collaborate more with them this year.
In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on the above! And please, when you get a moment, hop over to read Kellie’s own words here. I think she captures some beautiful sentiment in her own essay.
OUTFIT DETAILS: ON KRYSTAL Saloni dress (via Rent the Runway) // Balenciaga heels // Express bodysuit // Hunter Bell skirt (via Rent the Runway) // Dior heels // Olympia Le-Tan clutch ON KELLIE Eloquii pink top // Nouveau tulle skirt // Eloquii cardigan sweater dress
Photos by Julianny Casado