Influencer Troy Solomon…
Describe yourself in 4 words?
Colorful, outgoing, empathetic, extra af
You are a fierce body positive advocate with exceptional style. Can you take us back to when your journey began that led you to live boldly?
Well jeez thank you so much!
I’d say I really started this journey of body positivity and self-discovery about 6 years ago. I had just come out of the closet and all of a sudden it felt like all of my secrets had just been spilled out to the world and this incredible weight was lifted off my shoulders. From that point on I began to express myself through style, something I had always wanted to do, but let my fears hold me back. The more I experimented with style and posted it to my Instagram, the more I noticed people resonated with what I was doing. They actually liked these looks I was turning out and supported me in my journey.
I owe a great deal of my confidence and self love to my Instagram family, without them I don’t think I would be as happy as I am today.
You are one of a growing list of male model/influencers. How would you describe the term “influencer” and what responsibility do you feel about being seen as a person with influence?
I think it’s easy to roll your eyes when you hear the term “influencer” (I know I’ve been guilty of it) but it’s something that I do take very seriously. I look at an “influencer” as being someone who can connect and resonate with a large group of people. For me, that naturally comes with a lot of responsibility.
It’s my responsibility to be real and authentic with my followers because what we have is just as real as if I were telling my best friend about this skincare regimen I just started or my views on women’s equality in the workplace – they believe and trust in me to tell my truth and be transparent.
I think its our responsibility as “influencers” to look beyond the paycheck and really think about if we believe in the messages we’re putting out into the world. We’ve established trust with the people who follow us and because of that, our actions carry weight and “influence” change.
I think it is also our responsibility as influencers to foster dialogue instead of telling people how to think or what to do. I can only share MY experience with a product or social issue and my experience will never perfectly match someone else’s, so it’s really important for me to share MY experience and drive home that this is just how I feel about it and you need to do the leg work to decide how you feel about it for yourself.
Many people think that bloggers/influencers simply post pretty/sexy images. What do you think is the biggest misconception about this line of work?
I think the biggest misconception about this line of work is in regards to the actual amount of work that goes into everything we do. I’m not going to sit here and compare it to being a doctor or a first responder or a public school teacher but I will say there’s A LOT more to it than just posing, having a friend snap your pic, and throwing it up on the ‘gram.
Bloggers and influencers who are good at their job have to think WAY beyond simply posting photos. When you work for yourself, there are a million factors that go into every decision you make and when you’re a blogger/influencer working for yourself, you really take on a handful of different roles; You’re a branding consultant, a marketing coordinator, a public relations professional, a creative director, an executive producer, an editor, a model, and a stylist.
The greatest part of the job then comes when the final product is posted and we get to spend time connecting to and talking with our followers through comments and DMs, but that also takes time. Ultimately, it’s extremely rewarding and fulfilling work but make no mistake, it is work.
The plus size industry and mainsteam media has embraced the male influencers. What do you feel still needs to happen in order for the male influencer/model to be seen as “main stream”?
I think the most important thing plus male influencers and models need is to be patient, but diligent. We need more brands to start recognizing the plus male demographic as a profitable one. We need more designers, both famous and startups, to create lines and collections for plus size men. We need more plus men to stand up and say I want more representation in mainstream media in more ways than just the token funny fat guy. The same way the women’s plus movement took time, energy, and patience, the men’s plus movement will need to do the same in order for us to be recognized by the rest of the world on a grand platform.
What is your advice to anyone looking to bring his or her brand into the spotlight?
Know who you are, don’t be afraid to evolve, and admit you don’t know everything – often times we go into something thinking its going to be one thing and then learn its actually something else – don’t just dismiss this right off the bat. Analyze the new path and be open to it – maybe it looks different than what you had in mind but that doesn’t mean it won’t get you where you want to go.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years ago I never would’ve imagined I’d be where I am today so who knows?! I have some bigger projects in the works that I’m very excited about but I’m really trying to keep an open mind to opportunities. I have a laundry list of ambitions with the platform I’m creating and I’m working towards them every day but I don’t want to predict what my life will be like in five years; I just want to enjoy the ride. So all I can say to you (and to myself) is: stay tuned 🙂
Ian Mofford @IanMofford