Brains and beauty, our July Cover Model Allison McGevna has it all. After modeling for urban brands Baby Phat and Rocawear, Allison recently added Full Figured Fashion Week™ to her extensive resume of modeling accomplishments.
In this interview Allison is honest as she shares her thoughts and opinions regarding the way media reports on the plus size industry. She also chronicles her journey to accepting her body and how diversity played a major role in her transition.
Stephanie: You’ve been a member of the Venus Diva community for quite some time. How did you hear about us?
Allison: When I first started looking into professional modeling, it was one of the first sites I came across. Then I had several friends recommend it to me. I loved all the tips you guys have to offer for girls who are aspiring to become models, so I kept coming back. I always tell girls to start there as well.
Stephanie: Thank you for pointing aspiring models in our direction. In addition to the lifestyle tips we offer, we try to be a resource for aspiring models as well.
When did your journey of becoming a plus model begin?
Allison: I modeled since I was a kid, but in high school and college, I was struggling with my self esteem because of my body, so I think I convinced myself modeling was no longer in the cards for me. When I was right out of college and had worked through most of those issues, I entered a contest to be a fit model for a small fashion company. I got hired and it led to more jobs and I’ve been actively pursuing it since.
Stephanie: Do you mind sharing what company you became a fit model for?
Allison: Sure, the company was E-Fashion Solutions – that led to my fit work with Baby Phat and Roca Wear (I guess maybe I shouldn’t call them small, don’t want to offend them, lol).
I sent my photos in as part of a contest, then they invited me to a casting and I got hired.
Stephanie: Working with Baby Phat and Roca Wear is HUGE!! As women, it’s easy to feel less than perfect about our bodies escpecially during our teen years.
What was your turning point of self acceptance as it pertains to your body and figure?
Allison: I’d say my turning point was a slow and gradual one. I think I just got sick of being so down on myself all the time. Where I grew up, there weren’t a lot of people celebrating curves and the women in my family are all thin, so I think it took me going to college, moving to new cities and being around people who celebrated me just as I was. That really helped me to look in the mirror and say, wow, I am allowed to feel pretty and sexy and cute just as much as the next girl
Stephanie: I noticed you credit your college experience as being responsible for you realizing how beautiful you are.
What school did you attend and was it a diverse environment?
Allison: Yes, it was very diverse. I went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick. I was a part of Douglass College, which was a great place to be – they help create amazing women from that school.
Stephanie: Speaking of college and diverse experiences, I understand that on top of being a fierce model, you’re also a News Reporter for Fox News.
Was becoming a journalist always a dream of yours?
Allison: Writing and speaking about things that people need and want to know about was always a dream of mine. In college I thought I would become a historian/professor though, and my journalism career developed from that. I am incredibly happy to be working in it though and I feel extremely blessed that God took me on the path he did.
Stephanie: I think the things that you’ve accomplished as a model are great but to me, following your dreams professionally is even greater.
As a plus size model and a journalist, do you take some of the media’s perception of plus size individuals personally?
Allison: Oh definitely. I work in an industry that has directly contributed to fostering images of women that are not only unrealistic, but dangerous for some. It’s hard when you read fashion magazines or critics calling someone like Christina Hendricks or Beyonce fat when you know that these women are beautiful. But I think some people in the media are also doing great things for plus size women. The response to Full Figured Fashion Week has been amazing. Sure, I think you still have some people who are going to see it as an us vs. them kind of thing – I think the NY Times in particular missed the mark a bit with their story, but people are talking about it and realizing now that women come in all shapes and sizes and should be celebrated for their beauty, regardless of what the size tag on their jeans reads.
Stephanie: I’m happy you mentioned the NY Times.
Although they approached it from a different angle, do you think they were attempting to report on it from a neutral standpoint to make sure they didn’t offend any of their readers who may disagree with the whole “Plus Empowerment” movement?
Allison: Most certainly yes, and as a journalist I can appreciate trying to be neutral – it’s what we strive for but I think it showed that people cannot mention plus size and beauty in the same sentence without screaming about obesity, when I dont think thats really what it’s about. I think the plus empowerment movement is about saying we deserve the same fashion and the same recognition as any other woman. We are not bad people because we wear a size in the double digits. We are the majority of Americans. I’m not saying obesity isn’t an issue, bc clearly it is, but what we have been doing in the past – making plus people villains and skinny people heroes clearly isn’t working for us, so maybe it’s time to do something else. There are so many different sizes and shapes and frankly maybe if we showed images of that, people might be more likely to love themselves and therefore take control of whatever health issues they might have.
Stephanie: Do you think media outlets such as the NY Time will ever get it or do you think they are content with viewing the plus empowerment movement negatively?
Allison: I think any change to the status quo is met with resistance, but if we continue to challenge it, eventually, they have no choice but to get it. But it’s up to consumers to show they want and deserve better, we can’t just expect people to change without a fight.
Stephanie: Speaking of consumers catering to the needs of plus size women, how important are events such as Full Figured Fashion week and how did you get involved with it as a model?
Allison: I am so proud and honored to have been a part of FFFWeek. I think events like it are critical and I think Gwen and bloggers, e-zines and designers are pioneers in that respect. Honestly, look at the response. It was all people could talk about. And the people who are a part of it are amazing. Let me tell you, I have been to my share of fashion events in my career and none of them that I have attended have had the same energy and positivity that FFFWeek did. People were EXCITED and to get people excited in a time of recession and war and greed is no small feat.
I got involved in it by following details on it since last year, then i made sure i sent in photos and was on point at the audition, lol or casting rather.
Stephanie: I agree!! Sitting in the front row, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of how historic the event was and how proud I was to be apart of it.
Why do you think those in attendance were so energetic and excited?
Allison: Because I think we feel that change is in the air. I would guess that each and every one of the people who participated and attended have been made to feel bad about their size or have struggled to find clothing and fashion made for them. It was really amazing to feel like we could make a change in an area that has been failing us for so long. And the other part of that is that for the most part we all treat each other with respect, which is not surprising considering the rest of the world so often doesn’t.
Stephanie: On that note, I want to thank you for allowing me to interview you for Daily Venus Diva (DVD). The cover is Amazing!!! Is there anything else you wish to share with our readers?
Allison: Oh thank you so much for allowing me to be in the magazine. I am honored to be a part of it!!! As for anything else with the readers, just keep asking for change and staying beautiful!
Jasmine E. Photography
Photography Assistant: Aloysius E.