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Is Instagram Deleting Fat Body Accounts? Ady Del Valle Shares His Story

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Fashion Week is coming up in NYC and while the industry is getting ready to celebrate fashion, the plussize industry is still buzzing about wanting to see more inclusivity on and off the runway and on social media.

It was just a few years back that Ady Del Valle was discovered on social media and walked his first NYFW.

Today Ady shares his thoughts and his journey with PMM. 

Photo, Jose Pagan

You have to be one of the most adored people in our industry. What was your journey into the plus-size industry?

Thank you, and I adore everyone I have had the privilege to connect with on this journey.

My journey really just happened… an Indy big and tall designer who was showcasing in NYFW almost 4 years ago discovered me on Instagram. I thought it was a scam because I had never seen myself as a model, ever. Yes, I loved fashion all my life but I never saw myself as a model, because I was told by people and media fat people can’t be that.

I agreed and showed up to the show… I walked the show and the rest is history. Me walking, I think, is what people needed and were craving to see, to finally see someone of size that looks like the people that are overlooked. That opened the window to where I am today, I decided to ride that bull and take this journey. 

Can you share your self-confidence journey?

My self-confidence journey to where I am today took me all my life and it’s still a journey I am on every day.

I was the quiet, chubby kid with barely any friends; my sister was my best friend and I had school friends, but just school.

I was very insecure with my body, especially in my teens. I would wear a jacket and sweats even in the summer to hide my body. I’d even bought male body girdles to keep my body and large chest from moving while I did my activities. I felt like I had to plan everything ahead in my head because of my size. I avoided going out with friends and family thinking I’d hold them back from fun or doing things because of my size.

As a young adult in my early 20s, it was a really dark and depressing time for me because I was battling with my insecurities and sexuality all at the same time; it was a tough, long and dark journey to who Ady is today, that not many people know.

One day about 5 years ago I had a moment of like, “Forget all this insecurity and hiding my body.” I forced myself to take up space as me, and just embrace Ady for who he was and is. It took time but every day I made sure I stuck to not hiding my body strategically; if people don’t like how I jiggle or how my curvier chest looks, that’s too bad, it’s me and it’s what makes Ady.

I work on my self-love every day and do have my down days like anyone, I’m human. I shake it off and  keep it going, and surround myself with positive people that love me for me.

Photo, Teri Hofford

Let’s talk about representation in the plus size industry. In your opinion, where are we lacking and what could we be doing to push true diversity. 

Representation in the plus community has been improving little by little. We can do more and we should be seeing more body types and sizes represented. In my case, on the male side of things, it’s very stagnant. The inclusion of more body types and sizes is non-existent in ads, brands, and campaigns. The most frustrating part is they keep looking and assuming everyone is 6’5″ and looks like a basketball player or football player; you have to be masculine enough to pass and be accepted and we all don’t look like that – actually 80% of us don’t that shop these brands.

Brands don’t allow male models of average height and size to be included, to be a representation of those bodies and people overlooked.

 There’s a lot of work to be done but that has to come from the brands and designers; they are skipping and missing an audience that still wants to be seen and included.

A few months back I saw that your Instagram account was deleted. Can you tell us the events that led up to this and why you think it was taken down?

Yes, my Instagram account was abruptly deleted and it has been 2 months now. I was actually on a break at work, went to check my account and it was logged out. When I tried logging back in, I kept getting an error message, which turns out that my page was disabled/deleted.  

A week prior I was waking up to my photos being removed/reported and it was specifically my body positive posts of me shirtless, by the pool or just in underwear. I didn’t pay any mind to it until it happened 3 more times the same week. It seems that’s the new Instagram algorithm system is set up to sense skin, including nipples, and it removed posts using a generic system that assumes a post by the amount of skin exposed.

Unfortunately, the  Instagram system kept assuming my body was female because of the curvature of my chest and dark nipples. So immediately the system is bias and discriminatory, assuming someone’s gender through a generic system, which is wrong. I should be able to post images as any male should or any person can at the beach, pool or even professional work without being targeted. I feel like I’m not supposed to post photos like everyone else because of how my body is shaped. 

Photo + Opening Photo, Silvana Denker

Social media, especially Instagram seems to be giving the body positive accounts a lot of grief. Do you believe those accounts are being targeted?

I do believe specific accounts are being targeted; it’s been a trend I’ve been noticing and following since they began shadow banning my posts a year ago and making my posts invisible and undiscoverable, as well as activity level dropping dramatically.

A lot of the accounts I’ve seen being targeted are accounts that are from LGBTQ+, People of color and Plus size; it feels like they want, or are trying, to silence us in an indirect way. It’s like telling us, you look that way and therefore we must delete you and silence you, your art and body. I’ve spoken to so many people and even publications that feel that way as well. We just have to keep speaking, fighting and just keep being us and post what we want, how we want.

As an influencer in the body-positive space, what do you feel is your responsibility to this generation and generations to come?

As an influencer and a person in this body-positive space, my responsibility is to live in my truth, that everything I do, every opportunity is to help open doors for that 16-year-old boy or girl and show them you can be this -and- do anything no matter what you look like, your size, age or gender.

My goal is and always has been to motivate and hopefully not only inspire this generation and the next but even the ones who think it’s too late because of age; it’s never too late for anything.

My responsibility is also to always speak, always speak up for what’s wrong, and be the voice for those who think they don’t have one. I want to always use my platform and voice for good no matter if some may get bothered… my reasons will be for good and for what’s right, always. 

What does body positivity mean to you and how do you plan to expand your message into 2020?

What Body positivity means to me is me loving me as I am no matter my size, age, gender and disability. It means it’s ok to have your insecurities and down days, but working on loving you every day as you are at the moment. There is no wrong way to love; embrace and celebrate your body and you. 

I have been working on some cool stuff…

  • I have a book I contributed/Co-Authored called: The “Other” F Word Celebrating the Fat and Fierce – release date 9/24 in bookstores and online
  • I’ll be walking NYFW in my biggest show to date that kicks off NYFW for DapperQ x Devon 9/5.
  • For 2020 I plan on taking opportunities that will broaden my reach even more but will help me spread my message through different outlets beyond modeling. I want to be multifaceted and represent us in everything I do. I’m in the talks for some hopefully more mainstream opportunities, which would be awesome; I want to take on quality opportunities over the amount of opportunities. 

I’m excited for what’s to come, and embracing what comes my way.

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Follow Ady on social media:

Instagram @_adydelvalle
Facebook @Ady Del Valle

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