Up Close And Personal With Influencer Chastity Garner Valentine
Chastity Garner Valentine is one of the most beloved ‘influencers’ in the plus size industry.
With her ‘girl next door’ sense of humor and genuine demeanor it’s no surprise she has amassed over 1 million followers on Facebook alone. How does this beauty see her brand and the industry? Chastity tells all…
Describe yourself in 4 words?
Organized Chaos & Introspective
Influencers are very important in the fashion and beauty industry. What responsibility do you feel about being seen as a person with influence?
Personally, I struggle with this. When I started, I didn’t think any of this “influence” was on the table. I don’t like to think of myself as a person who influences others, but in the same breath I know I have to accept that is what is happening. For that reason, I keep a lot of my life private, because what is right for me may not be right for someone else. For me, I just want to encourage people to do what is best for them, take care of themselves and be decent human beings. I try to be that in person and online. I’m not perfect so I do fail at times, but those are my goals. I feel like if I “influence” people in that way then I’m good with that.
How would you describe your brand to us?
I’m sort of the girl next door that acts up on occasion. LOL
Many people think that bloggers/influencers simply post pretty images. What do you think is the biggest misconception about this line of work?
The amount of time, work, and sacrifice that goes into building a successful brand is what people seem to not understand. From the questions I get it seems like people think I just did a sequence of things and churned out two successful brands. I started dabbling in the plus industry in 2005. It’s 2018. I’ve been a full-time blogger for about 5 years now. It took a long time to get there. I also think people don’t understand how timing plays into a person’s success. I started in plus when there was no plus. We were on the cusp of something and I didn’t know it then, but being one of the first plus-size bloggers would set in motion the career that I am in today. If I was just starting this journey now, I know I wouldn’t be able to repeat what I’ve done. The perfect time has passed.
What projects have you worked on that you are most proud of?
theCURVYcon is on the top of that list. TCC took me out of my comfort zone; actually electric shocked me out of it. It showed me how much I could do with limited resources and time. It showed me that even I could accomplish something bigger than myself.
The plus size industry and mainstream media have embraced size diversity. What do you feel still needs to happen in order for bodies of all shapes and sizes to be seen as “mainstream”?
I struggle with this a lot. Acceptable fat is a problem in the plus space. Hourglass shapes are celebrated and if you have a big tummy you aren’t. It’s a problem. I used to think with the celebration of all body types we could start to change the attitudes of how people think about plus bodies. Today, I’m not so sure. You’re not only talking about deprogramming the industry but the consumer. Some of the most vicious comments about non-curvy bodies have come from plus women themselves. It’s been ingrained in women that if you are going to be fat, you have to have a small waist, flat stomach and curvy hips and breasts. I used to post non-curvy women all the time, but the comments were so hateful I’ve personally shied away from posting those bodies. I hate to see women torn apart, especially by women who look like them.
What is your advice to anyone looking to bring his or her brand into the spotlight?
Find something different to do and find a niche. I contribute a lot of my own success in working in the niche of plus size fashion when there wasn’t but a handful of us in that space.
Also, prepare to pay to promote your social media. There was a time that algorithms were in favor of the influencer. That time has gone.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I ask myself this all the time. I feel like in my twilight years, I want to be a Creative Director for a major plus size brand. That is probably more than 5 years away. In 5 years, I know I’ll still be pushing theCURVYcon forward and hopefully, I’ll be a mom.