Hispanic Heritage Month, Featuring Cover Model Larissa Byrd
We have the immense pleasure of featuring Larissa Byrd, someone who is redefining beauty standards in the world of modeling and is not afraid to use her voice to advocate for more inclusivity.
To us she’s not just a model; she’s a symbol of empowerment, diversity, and confidence. Joining us for our special cover feature is Larissa Byrd a captivating Afro Latina plus-size model who is making waves in the industry.
Get to know Larissa…
I see in your bio you list that you’re Queer, is this something that you knew about yourself from an early age?
Little me was soooo sassy, Miss Diva, and always very expressive, which I am still very expressive in all forms and the sassy part is still true too – lol. My mom has a photo of me at 3 months old from Sears waving at the photographer and honestly the rest is history!
Understanding that I was Queer was something that I knew but also didn’t fully comprehend. Like I understood that I was attracted to women but I thought it was just a “phase”. After I graduated college, I was like okay I’m bisexual but that still did not fit right but I rolled with it. Then I came across the term Pansexual and researched what that meant and I finally was like AH! YES, THIS FEELS AND SOUNDS RIGHT! For those reading who do not know what pansexual is it means that you are attracted to all human beings, no matter their gender and no matter what they identify as.
Did you always want to be a model when you were growing up? How did you get started in the modeling industry?
My Senior year of high school is when I really started to gain interest in becoming a model. I used to always watch ANTM and being like okay girl you got the height maybe you can really do this! I had created a profile from this site called Model Mayhem (not even sure if this website is still a thing) and I had uploaded my senior pictures, which were the only professional photos that I had at the time. My mother was a single mom so trying to put me into any type of modeling classes was definitely out of the question but I was fortunate enough to always try in my gut whenever photographers would reach out wanting to collaborate. My mother and grandmother always came with me to these shoots and I started to build my little portfolio.
After high school I went to college and that became my main focus. It wasn’t until a year post grad that modeling started calling me again so I went back to the drawing board. I had reached out to the old photographers that I had great experiences with in high school and pushed myself to network, research, and build myself up. The summer of 2018; 2yrs of being a freelance model I had gotten signed by my current agency in NYC. After signing all the documents, I remember walking to the subway on the phone with my mom and crying tears of joy because I was in such disbelief.
The plus size modeling industry includes models as small as size 4 and 6, can you share your thoughts from a model that is in-between the size spectrum?
In my opinion it can be difficult being classified as an in-between model because you are kind of like “Am I this or that?” From what I have experienced opportunities can be scarce depending on the clients and brands. In my everyday life it’s even difficult for me to buy clothes, especially online shopping because I can fall anywhere in between a 14, 16, or 18, which is so bizarre!
We are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, as an Afro/Latina, are we doing enough in our industry to be inclusive?
Inclusivity has definitely come such a long way compared to 10 years ago, even 5 years ago. And all I have to say is that ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME! However, the marathon still continues because more still can be done. I have come across some brands who stated that they are body inclusive and they only go up to a size 2-3X. That is not body inclusivity, that is still trying to remain in a “nice” framework but that does not truly support plus/curve/full figured humans.
What changes would you like to see in the near future in the modeling industry?
I would love to see more everyday looking folk in the modeling industry. More gap teeth, freckles, skin conditions, ALL races, ALL genders, ALL BODY SIZES! Many people have the perception that you need to be “pretty” to be a model. Please define pretty? Or beautiful? This is still a negative societal viewpoint that I really hope people within the industry; models, agencies, clients, brands etc. continue to push the envelope on. I also want to see more plus bodies on the damn runways! OUR BODIES ARE LITERAL WORKS OF ART THAT SHOULD BE DISPLAYED AS SUCH! Especially in the high fashion realm.
What Hispanic models do you feel have opened up doors for this next wave of models?
For the past 3-4yrs Paloma Elsesser has been and still is my absolute favorite! In my opinion she is the new Ashley Graham of our generation. She serves every damn time, literally never misses. Paloma gives us sexy, fierce, goddess, editorial, and authenticity. She is truly an inspiration of where I hope to get to within my own modeling career.
Tell me one thing most people don’t know about you?
One thing people may not know about me is that I am a Reiki Practitioner. For those of you who may not know, Reiki healing is a spiritual healing type of therapy. A universal life force energy; mind body and soul by helping to clear stagnant energy that may be stuck within the 7 chakras of your body. Reiki can help with: stress and anxiety, depression, trauma healing, womb healing, and enhances spiritual connection
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month to me means where I come from. All of my ancestors who came before me. It’s my Puerto Rican culture, memories I have with my Hispanic family and all of our traditions, it’s our music, our food. Everything that makes me proud to be Boricua! Lol… but also a very proud Afro-Latina in general.