Exclusive Interview: Plus Size Model, Confidence Activist and Content Creator Dani DMC. Confidence Activist, Dani DMC is well-known for creating amazing content online and encouraging self-love as a Plus Size Model in the fashion industry. She has broke many barriers by showcasing what true confidence is and how to accept your body regardless of others.
Dani lives by the saying “Confidence with a dash of cockiness”. A saying that focuses on changing narratives and the mindset of conforming to the beauty standards of society.
Growing up, Dani was ridiculed for being overweight but never conformed to what others expected of her. Her rebellious nature encouraged the confidence she has today.
She was able to continuously remind herself of who she is, what her purpose is and setting boundaries towards a life filled with self-love and acceptance. We were curious to know more about Dani and this is what she shared with us!
Youtuber, Plus Size model and confidence activist! This journey surely has a starting point that is pivotal to where you are today. What were your childhood and teen years like?
I come from a strong family unit with married parents and an older sister. My sister is two years older than I am. She is my best friend!
I had a really good early childhood. However, I’d have to say that my later childhood and adolescence years were difficult. I became a victim of bullying in the second grade for being overweight and it lasted until eighth grade.
In our school, you were with the same pupils from second until eighth grade. It is rare to be with the same classmates until eighth grade in the States. You usually switch over to middle school after fifth grade so you are able to have new classmates but unfortunately, my school was different.
It got worse over time being in the same classes. It was really bad and to this day, it is still one part of my journey that is hard to talk about. There was just so much of trauma attached to that journey and those memories.
After completing my schooling, I was so lost. I became rebellious and tough. It ultimately led to me being kicked out of the house at fourteen. I was sent to a Behavioral Boarding School.
It was extremely tough and my childhood memories carried a lot of trauma but that was my starting point. It is my story.
We want to avoid trauma and bad things happening in life, but in order to breakthrough and get to certain places in our lives, sometimes you have to endure those bad times and trauma that comes with it.
Even though my childhood and adolescents had some triggering memories, I don’t believe I would be where I am without those experiences and working through them.
Growing up, what are some insecurities you have worked through that have impacted on your life and career today?
There were two insecurities that I worked through growing up. One of my biggest insecurities was the word ‘FAT’. The word fat was my kryptonite. You could say a lot to me but the word fat just melted me.
The word triggered me for years up until the age of 24. Before that, if you said the word fat to me, it would completely demolish me. It didn’t matter how tough I was or my hard exterior, the word absolutely triggered me.
Another insecurity I had to work through was being different. I always felt as if I was very different. As a kid, I was so lost on the inside. I never allowed myself to open up about my insecurities. I seemed put together on the outside but on the inside, I was suffering.
Being overweight, constantly just nit-picking my body in the mirror. I was so hard on myself. I allowed my thoughts to cripple me more than anyone else’s.
As a kid growing up, it felt like such a bad thing to be different but now as an adult I see it as my superpower. It allows me to be a leader, an individual and to be different!
Accepting my uniqueness as a superpower impacted on where I am today because I allowed myself to set boundaries.
At the age of 22/23, I was at my lowest and I ultimately decided it was time to set boundaries for myself. I told myself that there were places I was never going to go again in my brain and places I wasn’t going to allow others to affect me with their words, opinions and judgments. It changed the course of my life.
The boundaries allowed me to have this unwavering confidence. I still deal with insecurities like everyone else. I find myself as being very ‘rare’. As part of that genuine 1% population that truly loves themselves.
I have come across so many body positive models, YouTubers and public figures who have days of insecurities once the cameras are turned off. They speak to me about how they are feeling and I have realized that I am a leader. I have known this from a very young age.
I would always be the one hyping people up and supporting them. Telling them “YOU GOT THIS”. I was the one inspiring others naturally before even attempting to inspire people out of my own.
With my career today, I am able to showcase that to others and use what I have learned from my own experiences into the work I am doing now. The practices that I have put forth into my life have allowed me to deal with insecurities even less.
I don’t deal with insecurities much anymore. Similarly, I don’t allow myself to get to that place of insecurity anymore because of the boundaries I have set.
I am beautiful and powerful. I don’t allow myself to go into a dark place. Once you retrain your mind in that manner, it isn’t very often that you feel insecure or allow that feeling. It is very rare when you have those boundaries.
Being a victim of bullying and dealing with a lot of criticism can affect your self-confidence and mental health. How did you handle those moments and were there any coping mechanisms that you used during that time?
Growing up, there were a lot of comments being made about my weight. I was told countless of times to lose weight or eat healthy. Conforming was never something I wanted to do. There was no need to be what others wanted me to be. I did not want to be ridiculed for being different, but I definitely didn’t want to be skinny and conform.
As a kid, I had nobody to look up to. There were no plus-size models in the mainstream media. Many brands did not even carry plus-size clothing. I relied on myself but I was young so I was not as strong as I am today. So this made it even harder for me to find ways in terms of coping with the scrutiny.
I was an internal sufferer. I didn’t tell anyone about what I was experiencing. My family had no idea that I was being bullied or feeling insecure.
Music was my outlet. I would come home from school, go into my room, close the door and blast music. Music was therapy to me as a young kid. I would lay on the ground and just listen to music.
I also enjoyed writing and journaling a lot. Poetry was something I thoroughly enjoyed. It allowed me to work through my emotions.
Dancing allowed me to feel liberated as well. I was a dancer as a kid. Ballet at the age of 3. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of ballet though. I dabbled in many genres of dance, Lyrical Jazz, tap and so much more. Hip Hop was my absolute favourite.
You are a plus size model and you have impacted many lives being a confidence activist, mine included. How many years have you been in the industry and where did it all start?
My journey started 3 years ago. I graduated college in New Orleans and went back home to Chicago for 3 months. In February that year, I went on a trip to LA with my dad to an award show. When I was there, my dad mentioned that he thought it would be good if I moved to LA.
I lived in New York before, grew up in Chicago and I found that moment to be so random. My dad is a very logical man and doesn’t make impulsive decisions, so it really made me think about it.
That exact day I decided that maybe I should move to LA. I had no idea what I wanted to pursue and LA seemed like the best kind of challenge!
I moved there and met with a family friend/ a mentor. She is a plus-size woman as well. I was encouraged by her to get into modeling. She previously worked for Ford models. A spreadsheet was sent to me with things I could do. I did every single thing on that spreadsheet for 2 week. I eventually got signed to an agency in Malibu.
Things started to take off. I took control and used my own power. Emailing brands myself because I was determined to get booked and it worked. I was often the only model on set that booked the job without my agency. My agency was not that great and I would email brands myself and book jobs out of my own. I figured it out on my own.
Later on, I got signed by agencies in Chicago, New York and LA. That was massive for me. It has been a journey. LA opened the doors for me. You can make it happen for yourself.
What are some of your most memorable moments as a plus size model and confidence activist thus far?
Getting signed in three cities was major for me, especially in Chicago since I lived there for so long. LA and New York City was a big accomplishment as well.
My agency, Bicoastal Management is situated right on Sunset Boulevard in LA. I remember when I signed the contract, I got in my car and I lost it. I started balling, tears running down my face! It was just one of those moments where it was so full circle.
Enduring all that trauma, pain and loss as a teenager over the years and now here I am doing things I never thought I could do. Using what the world told me was so awful about me to fulfill my purpose. That was a huge moment for me. It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about it!
Another big accomplishment was shooting a commercial for Nordstrom. I shot a commercial for their Jean line. It was amazing. I remember meeting their co-ordinator at an event and he recognized me. He mentioned a big campaign and wanting me to be part of it. A week later, I got the call for the shoot.
The shoot was taking place right before Thanksgiving and I had a flight home. The shoot was ending right before my flight that day. I remember pulling up to the location. A huge mansion in Beverly Hills and I felt like such an A-list celebrity. It was one of those surreal moments where I was like “wow, I’m really a model in LA in one of the toughest industries and I am plus size.”
As a confidence activist, I love public speaking. I feel like it is the best way to connect with people because they can feel your energy. When you are present, you can feel the authenticity. I have had three big speaking opportunities in LA.
One being on an all women panel, we focused on body, love and sex. It was all about women empowerment. So many women spoke about their experiences. There were moments of tears and people breaking down. I remember just crying with these women and holding them. It was such a powerful moment to connect, teach and inspire others.
I was also able to speak at an After-school program for kids in East LA. It was for troubled kids like how I was. I went there on numerous occasions. It made me feel like I was living in my purpose.
Being in the industry, there are still many mainstream clothing lines that make being a plus size model limiting with regards to opportunity, as well as the beauty standards that still exist today. What are some of the challenges you have experienced being in the industry?
There are a lot of issues that still exist in the industry today. It is a new industry with a lot of new trends. A lot of brands are interested in the trends rather than the people, the bodies or the realness of what they are providing for plus size people. That brings alone brings a lot of issues as well.
I have had photographers completely annihilate my body on set. I have lost a lot of weight over the years. Four years ago, I got on this health journey and focused on being as healthy as possible.
I lost 100 pounds and I still deal with a lot of the loose skin. I had an instance where, a photographer made comments about my arms. It was so unprofessional but I kept on doing my job. At the end of the shoot, he wanted to do even more shots so clearly I was doing a good job despite his comments.
Another issue is having a natural body in the industry. There are more women in the plus size modelling industry getting plastic surgery than others. I believe that you should do what you think it best for yourself or your body. I will never shame any woman for getting plastic surgery. It is your right and your body. Nobody should have an opinion about it.
It makes it a bit difficult for women with natural bodies to get booked because people getting surgery, not having any cellulite or loose skin are going to get picked for content purposes.
The brands are not leaders, they are followers. They are focusing on what is trending in society and what other brands are doing. Using people who are smooth or toned in certain areas because it’s a trend.
Also, with plus size modeling being such a small category, it is harder to get jobs. Straight size brands have so many clothes and companies. All the models get hired regardless of prejudice. There are more opportunities whereas in the plus size industry it is one model at a time. They have specific looks that they are going for each month, so it makes work scarce.
Some brands, especially in the UK tend to also use models that are smaller sizes like size 12, that are considered curvy as plus size. I believe plus size starts at a size 14. The models that should be representing plus size should start at a size 14 and go beyond a size 20. It speaks more to the body types of many plus size women universally.
You use other social media platforms to promote confidence and body positivity as well, such as YouTube. When did you start youtube and what do you enjoy most about creating content?
My journey on YouTube started 6 months after moving to LA. I was booking modeling jobs and I was passionate about it but I knew something was missing.
Above all, I kept asking myself “Where is the Dani in this?” I have always been a leader in my community. I have always been loud, bold and fearless in what I say.
Modeling was voiceless. I had no voice in what I did and had no say. I wanted to put more of myself out there. For years, friends kept suggesting that I start a YouTube channel and I never felt ready. I eventually started but wished that I had started sooner. It all worked out perfectly though.
I knew I wanted to attract my community with fashion. It’s something I have always loved and my mom was in the fashion industry as well. I knew that it was the best way to teach confidence and self-love to others.
I felt it was a better way to show people than to say “you should love yourself” because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear that.
Dressing yourself, caring enough about yourself to dress up and get out of your comfort zone is an act of self-love.
My first video was called “Fat girl tries on Fashion Nova haul”. I wanted to make a bold statement right from the start. I wanted people to know what I was here for, what I was talking about and who I was representing.
YouTube has been amazing for me. It gives me so much of fulfillment, happiness and joy. It is difficult and requires a lot of work. I am a self-working machine. Working by myself is something I really enjoy.
I have experienced challenges being a plus size content creator. One of them being my channel getting demonetized, losing large sums of money in one day and so much more.
I’ve had some rough patches but I have that “never give up, fight of flight” mentality. I have a bigger vision and purpose. I do it for the people, community and knowledge that I can pass on.
As a content creator on YouTube, criticism is always present. How do you handle criticism and negative comments online?
I handle hate online the exact same way I handle it in real life. I don’t tolerate it. One boundary I set is that I will not tolerate disrespect from other people. I have tolerated disrespect my entire life already.
You can’t control others. People are going to say what they want and voice their opinions.
I know that I can control myself and my reactions. One of my biggest blessings enduring the trauma as a kid is that now as an adult, I am able to handle the hate. I don’t see it. I wish I realized this when I was younger.
If you don’t give it the validation or the energy, then it simply doesn’t exist. It is there but if you choose to not give it power, is it really there? It doesn’t affect me.
I scroll past it and I feel so powerful and empowered when I do that because I wasn’t able to feel this way when I was younger. A lot of people harp on the hate instead of the love.
Many times it’s those who might not have endured such hate as a kid. Trauma really makes us the strongest version of ourselves.
I don’t give energy to the hate and that’s probably why I rarely get a lot of it online. People are going to have opinions and my followers always have my back in those moments, but I use it as a teaching moment to show them that it’s not worth the energy.
Being a model and confidence activist, what would you hope to change in the fashion and beauty industry and how do you use your platform to encourage that change?
The number one thing I would change is inclusivity. A lot of brands are saying “We’re inclusive, we’re inclusive!” They are saying that they are including everyone but they aren’t. I want to see all bodies, races, religions, sexualities, cellulite, imperfections, disabilities, gender identities, different skin tones, EVERYTHING.
Everything to me doesn’t mean that one dark skinned model, one Muslim model or one transgender model. It means a variety of people. Dismantling the ideal of beauty. Realizing that there is beauty in everybody and we need to showcase that!
I am a true leader. Nobody can tell me how to think or what to do. I believe in everything that I do. It makes it hard because everyone is just following trends and doing what others are doing.
Be powerful. Make a bold statement and make an earth shadowing move! Do something different.
So many brands out there are not leaders. They follow the trends. What if they did something different? It could boost their revenues but they don’t want to risk anything or be the first to do something different.
A perfect example of a leading brand is Rihanna and her Savage brand. I am so proud to be part of Savage because Rihanna’s idea fits the purpose of being different. The quality of savage is amazing and their vision includes everyone. The models Rihanna uses in her runway shows are so inclusive and it’s powerful!
I support and encourage brands like Savage because they are including people and supporting the community by being leaders. They have really good products and use unique people to push that product.
Above all, I feel like I encourage all of that by using my platform and supporting brands like Savage. I push that message through my voice and the work that I do on my platform and who I support.
We all have days where we feel overwhelmed or insecure. What confidence tips or coping mechanisms do you use to overcome any negative feelings or insecurities?
I have always heard from my followers and community how they have days where they pin point all the negative things about their bodies and I can relate because I always did that growing up but now as an adult my insecure days are very rarely about my appearance. An insecure day would just be me feeling lazy or “bleh”. It all comes down to the same negative feeling. My coping mechanisms include:
I really love to do mirror exercises. I spent a lot of years hurting myself and tearing myself down in front of the mirror. Now, I have a strict rule when it comes to standing in front of a mirror. Every time I am facing a mirror, I think positively. I say positive things. I am very proactive in what I tell myself.
Mirror exercises are a game changer for someone who is at the beginning or middle of their self-love journey because it allows you to reconstruct the thoughts in your head. It forces you to figure out what you love about yourself. I like to be completely naked because then you strip yourself from everything.
You are with your body in its purest and most natural state! Say the most positive things you can about yourself.
Challenge yourself. If you have certain areas that you struggle with, such as your arms, stomach or thighs. Focus on those areas. Say the powerful things and beautiful things. It may be hard but that’s because it is foreign to you. That’s how you grow. You persevere through that.
Writing / Having a Journal
Write down affirmations and put them all around your room to remind yourself of who you are. I always tell my community to do this journaling activity.
You take a page and make a column. On the left-hand side, write down all the negative thoughts you are struggling with and on the right-hand side, you write down all the positive thoughts combating and outweighing the negative thoughts.
So one negative thought and two or three positive thoughts on the same thought. You keep that piece of paper and then on days when you are feeling negative, you go back to it and read those thoughts. Look at the positive thoughts.
Music and Dancing
Blasting music and dancing is so therapeutic! I have an entire playlist called ‘Phenomenal woman”. It’s something I love sharing with my followers. It has songs that just makes you feel good, strong, alive, powerful and celebrates womanhood. It’s important to have those playlists on hand. Music affects you so much. There is so much music that comes from therapy. Get loud, naked, dance around and just be one with your body. Feel the music.
We are all stuck indoors and it’s easy to just not have make-up on and wear comfy clothes all the time. It’s always nice to just dress up, put on an outfit you feel cute in, some jewellery, make up and do your hair. There is so much power to that. You are loving on yourself so much. It’s not about putting everything on to make yourself look “more beautiful”. It’s the act of doing it and putting yourself together. Picking out what you like and putting it all together for yourself.
What styling and confidence tips do you have for other women out there that might be feeling insecure or struggling to accept themselves?
1. Forget the rules!
People always associate certain clothes with certain body types eg. If you’re apple shape, you can’t wear a crop top. It’s absolute nonsense. Why would you allow other people to dictate what you wear and how to love your body? There are no rules.
2. Understand your comfort level.
Some people are not comfortable wearing crop tops or string bikinis. They are just not at that level yet and that is fine. Understanding what feels good on your body and what looks best to you is important. Not succumbing to the rules.
3. Pushing yourself and trying new things
Different things empower different people. I feel the most empowered when I am naked, others might not be comfortable in the same sense, which is absolutely understandable.
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and trying new things might help you feel more empowered. I love wearing string bikinis, crop tops, short shorts and I would rarely wear pant suits when doing hauls but it is still good to explore things.
There is beauty in trying new things. You get to know your body better and feel beautiful. You never know until you try. Fashion is a game. It is fun and should be explored.
Magazines and runway shows enable fashion to be fed to us in a certain way. It makes us think that there are certain ways things should be worn or done. The whole point of fashion is INDIVIDUALITY. Explore and try new things. Get uncomfortable.
There needs to be a strong combination of being gentle with yourself but also pushing yourself really hard. A balance is needed. Being confident is not easy. If it was then we would all be confident.
It is something that is very hard to obtain but also one of the most worthwhile things to obtain. It starts with being gentle and kind with yourself. Being gentle with yourself.
Understanding that you are your protector even against your own self. You’re essentially protecting yourself from the outside world, society, judgement but also your own negative thoughts and judgments.
When you shift that mind-set, everything changes. They say magnificent things happen once you step outside of your comfort zone. Being confident is out of everyone’s comfort zone. Unfortunately, it is not taught when you are young. It’s something you gain from experience.
Hopefully the next generation gets to be taught about self-love and loving yourself at a young age so that we can change shift the mind-set of the next generation.
It’s not an easy journey but understanding and pushing yourself will get you very far. The whole concept of relearning. At a young age, we are taught to fit into certain boxes and categories.
You have the power to strip your mind of those negative relearned thoughts. You can control your thoughts and reactions.
The world is not going to change for you but there is power in that. There is beauty in being a leader, being different and bold despite it all. It’s a big game changer and setting boundaries with the outside world and yourself. Do not tolerate hate or negativity.
“You are Bold, Empowering and Strong”
Dani has never been one to conform to society standards. Even in days of darkness, she was always able to find herself and become stronger.
Setting boundaries enabled her to become more confident in herself and know her worth. Dani has taught us that you control your mindset. When fighting for confidence, fight with vengeance.
Furthermore, Dani lives by the notion of never forgetting who you are! Using what others thought would tear her down and turning it into her super power.
Be sure to follow her journey on social media @itsdanidmc .