Fashion is an expression of who we are, who we want people to see and how we are feeling. Lately, the plus-size fashion industry has been pushing past decades-long rules that were put in place to define us without our permission.
This month we are featuring model Alexis Henry who is one of those models who does not allow someone’s else opinion to affect her worth.
Alexis is relentless in her pursuit of true diversity in the modeling industry and is willing to speak her truth to all who will listen.
Modeling seems to be many young girls dream. Did you always want to be a model?
Growing up, I wanted to work in fashion. That was my goal, to live and thrive in NYC as a creative director for a magazine. I knew that at 9, but I think I’m still open to that career path. I’ve spent the majority of my career just learning the odds and ends on every spectrum, so I think down the line, being a creative director would also suit me well.
Can you take me to the very beginning? How did you get started in the modeling industry?
With modeling specifically, I had gotten scouted at my high school football game. The agency was fairly new and in the town over, but come to find out, they were a scam. So I pulled out before signing anything. I was still very interested in modeling, so I decided to begin building my own portfolio and connecting with creatives and photographers locally. Then, I made the decision to move to Los Angeles for school, where I was able to not only study fashion marketing, but also network and learn the industry. I applied to NYC agencies and soon was signed. Finally, I moved to NYC to pursue my career as a model professionally and now I’ve been working for about 4 years.
What valuable lessons did you learn along the way that have brought you to where you are now?
You are your biggest competition, your biggest fan, and sometimes your only motivator. You have to really want what you work for, meaning that you just don’t do something because of the possibilities; you do something because you truly believe you can and you will.
There have been so many highs and lows in doing the career I chose, but I know that giving up isn’t an option and because I haven’t given up, I have accomplished so much in my life. Outside of modeling, I’ve been able to take part in so many initiatives in mental health and mentorship, that my platform has allowed me to be apart of and create.
Inclusivity in the fashion and modeling industry seems to be on the lips of many people both inside and outside the industry. From a models perspective, what positive changes have you seen in the modeling industry?
I see brands going past a size 16 and actually showing diverse bodies in their ads, which is great. Also, campaigns are doing less retouching which is key, and actually highlighting the bodies of diversity by giving them a voice.
I do think that the industry, at times, is very slow to change and progress, that it almost feels like diversity sometimes is at the expense of just making more money for brands, but there are definitely a few brands that get it and produce the most beautiful inclusive campaigns.
NYFW still needs to progress. I want high fashion to include my body type and others outside of the same 3-4 shows every year. Not for “shock value” or publicity, but actually intentional designs that showcase an array of bodies and campaign this year round.
We’re working on that part still lol.
You deliver high-end editorial imagery, so I have to ask what everyone wants to know. How did you become so AMAZING in front of the camera?
Years and years of practice! A few years ago, I use to watch old Naomi Campbell runway videos and practice my walk. For posing, I just get wild honestly. Let go and just move. The camera will capture what it needs from me.
Being a plus model, posing is my superpower because it’s not common to see a size 16/18 do what the editorial models do. I like pushing that envelope because if the culture can see me produce high fashion imagery, it becomes normalcy for the next wave of plus models.
In one of your blog post, you talk about ‘Releasing What No Longer Serves You’. Can you share with us about coming to this place of clarity in your life?
I feel like there comes a point in everyone’s life that they realize the space they’ve created for themselves in life needs to be protected. To further myself in my career, as a mom, as a partner, as a friend, as a businesswoman, I have to protect my energy and space. If I’m not protecting what makes me happy and thrive, I don’t win in this world and I don’t win internally. Everything I’ve worked in this world can be gone tomorrow, so I firmly believe in protecting my energy and space everyday.
I’ve learned to love people from a distance if that means my happiness is secured. I’ve also learned that separating myself from anything that isn’t serving my purpose is probably top 5, one of the most valuable lessons I’ll ever learn.
I really enjoyed your post about Neveah. Many times we think of parenting from only one perspective and your story is both unique and inspiring. Would you share with us a little about your story and how important it is to encourage self-confidence in our young ladies and gents?
My daughter, Nevaeh, came into my life about three years ago, when I needed her most. When I began dating my partner, we had that understanding and family bond immediately, that I knew that this was what I needed in my life. We refer to each other as mother and daughter and we make our own rules as to what our relationship looks like. Becoming a mom has taught me a different perspective on working for your dreams and why it’s so important to protect your energy and space.
When I become a mom, it was like, “Okay, she watches and mimics everything I do. I have to be on point.” I think with the career I have as a model and me being very hands on with my daughter, confidence and self love is something we take very serious in our house. It’s important for her to know that self love isn’t nessecarily about how you look, but rather how you feel about yourself. How to love yourself through any changes and through difficult times. She understands that confidence is giving it your all, even when you feel like you can’t.
Encourage your children to be themselves and love themselves as they are; it will truly make a difference.
What goals do you have in mind for your career?
Continue disrupting the fashion industry and keep serving what they’re not used to. I want my non-profit to birth and blossom beautifully, more money in my bank account, keep making advances in pushing mental health initiatives in this industry, travel extensively, create my own fashion brand, star in makeup campaigns (manifesting Pat McGrath)… I have a laundry list and I can’t wait to keep checking them off.