Coco Madrid is pushing boundaries. We had to catch up with the activist of plus size fashion, cannabis culture and body positivity. Read on to be inspired by this incredible woman!Photos: Beth OlsenEYES & EDGE: First off, describe yourself in three words.Coco Madrid: Femme. Fat. Funny.E&E: What are you passions? What are you pushing in your work?Coco: My passion in life is to bring beauty and happiness to the world via Fashion, Style, and Music. Everyone should be free to pursue and achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them, whatever that means for them. I am a natural hostess who just wants to make sure everyone is happy and enjoying life to the fullest, at all times. I push integrity though my work, meaning my word is everything. If I am committed to something, I am committed. Loyalty and integrity are two of the biggest qualities that I hold dear, and through these actions I push these values in my work.E&E: How has the plus size model industry grown in the past years? How do you see your role in that growth? Coco: Growing up we only had Emme the Plus Size Model, but now we have so many faces that represent bigger bodies: from Ashley Graham being Sports Illustrated’s first Plus Size cover model in 2016, to Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, and Tess Holliday’s achievements as the first size 24 models to ever be signed to the major modeling agency Wilhelmina. We have newcomers like Jordyn Woods (Kylie Jenner’s BBF, an Asos Model) and Actress/model badass Barbie Ferreira who have ushered in the new social media-driven way to find and sign Plus Models. There is still a ton of progress that needs to be made, but in 2017 there were 27 Plus Size Models on the Runway at NYFW. That’s a record-breaking number of Plus Models working NYFW. Brands like Christian Siriano and Chromat have been leaders in this movement with no sign of slowing down. Not only are there more opportunities to walk in shows, but with this ripple effect, you will see these same women who walk the runway shows also get booked for high-fashion editorials and big ad campaigns. This double-duty way of booking Plus Size models mirrors my experience working in the Portland Plus Size model community. I have been blessed to be visible in many local Lookbooks, which in turn led to walking in several annual Fashion productions and being nominated at the Portland Fashion & Style awards 2 years in a row.If anything, I hope that I have helped strengthen the community by connecting people and being willing to support any and all designers who cater to Plus Size whether or not I personally work with them.E&E: What piece of advice do you wish you could tell your younger self? What do you want to tell young girls today?Coco: Everything happens for a reason: the path you are on is to prepare you for all that’s coming. What you do with those difficult times will define you forever. Also, you have looked cute your whole life at every size you have ever been. And your partying ways will actually pay off by paying your rent for many, many years. I would like to tell young girls today to rely on their femme relationships. To embrace EVERY femme/female-identified person. Especially the ones that you have misconceptions about. That make you uncomfortable. They have a story. They will teach you about hardships. They will guide you to challenge yourself and everything you thought about the world.E&E: How can we help support plus size issues in our everyday?Coco: Thank you so much for asking this question. I can only give you my opinion about how to be an ally to me as a Fat person and Fat activist. Speaking for the community would be an injustice to them and to the cause. That being said I would recommend asking Fat people that you would like to support how to best hold space for them personally. But for me here are some things that I would love for my allies to remember/practice.
- Body snarking - Stop making negative comments about other people’s bodies and your own. Disengage from reading that post about what celebrities lost weight, or clicking on best/worst body lists. Take notice when you start to dissect your body by the parts you don’t like. Start doing the work to find out why those areas are a problem for you, or why you have a problem with them on other people in the first place.
- Engage in ways to break the brainwashing surrounding bigger bodies. A good way to do this is to follow Instagram accounts that feature bigger bodies. Seeing these images everyday can help destigmatize your views of bodies that don’t look like yours. And while you are at it, add Fat bodies of Color, Fat Trans bodies, and Fat disabled bodies. You will start to see bodies in a new way. You will start to admire all bodies, like a painter or sculptor who appreciates diverse lines and textures.
- Fat issues are not always the same as Thin issues. For instance, avoid making conversations about Fat shaming into a conversation about how Thin people experience body shaming. Yes, it happens, it sucks, and it deserves to be talked about, but not in every space where Fat issues are talked about.
- Stop the Diet talk! I personally do not want to hear how you have to punish yourself on the treadmill because you ate one cookie. Or that you got a treat from your partner because you lost 15 pounds (that sounds problematic anyway but I digress). I believe you can be healthy at any size. I believe that you don’t have to live healthy at all. And I also believe that your health does not dictate your worth as a human. Do what you want with your body and leave other people’s bodies to themselves.
- Understanding the difference between Body positivity and Fat acceptance. Body positivity was built on Fat activism. Body positivity is just a commercial term that is an umbrella for ALL bodies. However we know that ALL bodies are not accepted. Just like not All Lives Matter. We know that bodies over size 24 are being left out of the conversation in order to celebrate the bodies that society deems more acceptable (Cis, White, Hourglass, Young, Able-bodied). We need to acknowledge and accept differently-abled, ugly, unhealthy, and/or unapologetic Fat bodies. Those are the bodies that have no voice. Those are the bodies that get threatened with physical violence and/or death on a daily basis.
- Being aware of your surroundings. Make your plans Fat Friendly. Does that restaurant have tables with stable chairs? Does that theater have arms that raise? Remember that the problem isn’t that your Fat friend is being difficult and needy. The problem is that the business should have planned to accommodate people of all sizes and abilities not go with the cheapest Ikea chair.