Voices: A Candid Chat With Plus-Size Model Alexa Phelece, Founder Of The #EveryBodyDeservesLove Movement

illustration of Alexa Phelece
PHOTO: VOCALLY

Voices is a series of interviews with influencers, social media personalities, and overall badass women who are speaking out about self-love. Hand-selected by self-love mentor and wellness advocate Sarah Sapora, the series' goal is to cultivate an honest conversation about love and acceptance and highlight the perspectives of women living boldly. Inspired by her own journey to creating a happier and healthier life from the inside out, Sarah uses her platform as a social influencer to create a community for women, both on- and offline, based around a single powerful idea: “I stand, you stand… and together, we rise the f*ck up.”

The Voice of... Alexa Phelece. 

Alexa is one zany chick. For real. It’s the perfect word to describe her. Unique. Spirited. Outspoken. Dynamic. 

When we sat down to connect with Alexa, we knew she would be fresh and frankly awesome — and she was. Her answers to our questions were totally real. As a plus-size model and the founder of the body-positive #EveryBodyDeservesLove movement, this is one chick who shows up in a major way.

What's your name?

My name is Alexa Phelece. That's actually my first and middle name. I don't go by my last name anymore because I've had so many freaking creepers look me up and all kinds of crazy things like that, so we go by the first and the middle. 

Where do you call home? 

Right now, home is wherever my dog P-NUT is. But usually California. 

Who is Alexa? 

Alexa is a badass chick with a huge heart who doesn't care what anybody else thinks of her. She's just trying to live her greatest life because for so many years, she was worried about other people's perspectives and perceptions of her. She used to try to look different and be different and act different and hold in her craziness to fit a certain mold, but then she finally reached a point in her life where she's just like, “I don't give a f*ck what people think of me. If the industry doesn't want to hire me because I have too much of an opinion or a voice or whatever, that's fine; I don't want to work for them anyways. If they love me because of who I am, then that's great. That’s what is meant for me."

Why do you share your life online? 

I share my life online because people apparently care! I didn't know my life was even interesting, that I was really even that different, until I started posting more on Instagram. It kind of just happened on accident after I started modeling and just posting some of the stuff I was doing. People started listening and they started to care and they agreed with me and they disagreed with me and I just realized, “Wow. People really care about what I'm doing. I must be doing something right.” 

From there, I just started to get to know my followers and realized that I actually have a lot to say and I actually have an outlook on life that most people don't. I realized that there's a lot of good I can give to the world, and that I have a lot of knowledge and experience. That's why I decided to be a little bit more vocal online; I think it's important to put your perspective out there even if people aren't going to like it. Sometimes it's good to just put your voice out there so people can hear something different.

What does Alexa believe in? 

Alexa believes in individuality, spontaneity and living your greatest f*cking life. Live that sh*t to the fullest, regardless of who likes it or who doesn't like it. Do you, boo boo! 

When you were little, what did you want to be “when you grew up"?

A singer! Ugh, I always wanted to be a singer — a singer and a dancer! I was really good at singing and I still am pretty good at singing, but I was always so insecure about it, even as a kid. I was always so worried about what other people thought of me. I always projected a sort of faulty confidence when I performed at talent shows, weddings, funerals, and all these different events my mom mad me do because I truly never thought I was good enough. When I got old enough to make decisions for myself, then, I stopped singing. Looking back now, I'm like, “Wow, you really had a talent. If only you believed in yourself, you could have really made a profession out of this art." It really was as simple as me not believing in myself, thinking I was too fat, too flawed, blah blah blah. It makes me really sad that little Alexa never got the chance that she deserved because she didn't like who she was. 

What’s your favorite curse word? 

F*ck. Hands down. 

What turns you on the most in life? 

Optimism. 

What turns you off? 

Pessimism. Gross. 

What is one misconception you think people have about you? 

Oh, this is a good one! People truly think that I act a certain way because I'm trying to get attention, but I'm really just a f*cking nut and after so many years, I finally don't feel like I need to hide how crazy I am and how much energy I contain, and how much spirit I hold inside me. I used to always feel like I had to hide my true self because I was too crazy, too loud, and too opinionated, and it can get really overwhelming for people. The biggest misconception about me, then, is that I act out for attention or that I'm doing things because I want everybody to notice me, but the truth is I don't really care whether or not I have an audience. I just want to be myself for the first time in my life, you know? If people like me, then awesome; if they don't, that's their loss. 

Do you believe in the idea of second chances? 

Absolutely, absolutely. Life is all about growing and developing and in order to do so, you have to f*ck up. You have to make mistakes. Success comes from failure, and if you gave up after every first attempt, then you'd never reach your goals.

Singing in the shower or singing in the car? 

Singing everywhere, girl. Singing everywhere. 

What do your online “haters” say to you? 

You know what? I don't really have a lot of online haters. There are a few fat-shamers, but they are irrelevant. B*tches that hate on me stay silent. They just like to creep on my page and not say anything, and I feel like that's so cowardly. If you don't like me but you still want to creep on my social, that's your problem. 

If you could sit down and talk to one of those “online haters” face to face, what would you say to them? 

I would tell them that I'm okay with them disliking me, but that they need to do some self-reflection and ask themselves, is this really the way they want to spend their time? ... I feel like life is too short for all that hate. Life is so beautiful! You should focus on the things that you DO like.

I'd also say that you should probably work on your own self-esteem issues before you go picking on someone else, because someone who truly loves themselves doesn't have the time to beat up on other people.  

I just want to be myself for the first time in my life, you know?

Pudding or pie? 

Pudding, eww. It’s definitely pie. Pumpkin or apple for sure. I actually make a mean pumpkin pie. 

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from sharing your life online? 

There are so many incredible lessons that I've learned, but I think one of the greatest is to not compare yourself to other people because those comparisons can be crippling. Don't get so consumed with what everybody else is doing, either by comparing yourself physically or emotionally or worrying that you're not as successful as you should be. Everybody's life is different. 

Lastly, I would say that I learned a lot about sensitivity online. I'm not very sensitive; there are not too many things that I take personally. I brush everything off. I see everything as a joke. ... Sometimes I say things that are not entirely politically correct and the people that know me well understand that there's no malice behind my words, but sometimes I offend people. I’ve definitely learned to be a little bit more careful with my words because people are sensitive.

Do you believe that people can have a “life calling?” If so, what is yours and are you following it? 

I definitely think people can have a life calling, but I don't think that everybody has the determination to figure theirs out. That sh*t takes a lot of self-reflection and discovery ... and figuring out how to love themselves for all that they are.  

That being said, I feel like I've definitely found my calling — one that I never thought I had until this year. I think it's the ability to instantly connect with other human beings. I feel like I have this incredible skill to relate to people and make them feel comfortable instantly, like we've known each other forever. And I think that's kind of my calling in this world, to bring people together and show them that even though we're so different, there are so many things about us that are alike and those are the things that we should be focusing on instead of hating each other for all of our differences. 

Imagine every person in the world would stop what they were doing and listen to you talk for one minute. What would you say?

I would talk about comparison. I am a fraternal twin, and even though my sister is amazing, she's totally opposite of me and I used to always compare myself to her because everyone else did. It really f*cked me up for most of my life. It really messed me up. So, I think I would talk about embracing all that you are instead of focusing on all that you're not, and realizing that it's your differences that make you so special in this world. 

If you could have a conversation with yourself 10 years ago, what would you talk about? 

I would definitely talk about believing in myself. I would tell little Alexa that she's beautiful even if she doesn't look like her sister or even if she doesn't look like the people that she goes to school with; that she's beautiful in her own way and — sorry, I'm getting emotional — that she's beautiful in her own way and that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I'd tell her that she is capable of great things and that she should guard her heart just a little more. 

Tell us about a time you f*cked something up but learned a lesson in the process.

I had this really good modeling job and it slipped away from me because I was too opinionated in that professional setting. I learned that even though I'm trying to live my life at its most raw state and trying to be vulnerably myself at all times, the world may not be ready for that. I'm trying to find my voice again in the working industry, but unfortunately, people [brands] don't care. So, I learned that even though I'm trying to find myself, I have to really focus on that balance between being professional and making it in the industry while staying true to who I am. I have to find a good balance; I think that's definitely a lesson I'm still learning today. 

Who was your first celebrity crush? 

I honestly think my first celebrity crush was 50 Cent when I was in the sixth grade. It's freaking crazy. I remember going to Walmart to make my mom buy me the CD for his single "Candy Shop." She thought I was nuts. 

If you could sit down and have a conversation with any person, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about? 

I would probably sit down with Dr. Martin Luther King. I would love to talk to him about just the struggles that he went through personally and ask him how we can get through the craziness and injustice that's currently going on in this world; and definitely how to survive it and how to create the biggest impact for change and equality. 

What lineup in a game of “F*ck, Marry, Kill” would you have the hardest time playing?

Oh damn, I don't know! It would probably be Beyoncé, Rihanna and Cardi B. 

Finish this statement: I am… 

I am a force to be reckoned with.

This interview has been edited for grammar, clarity, and style.

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SARAH SAPORA

Sarah Sapora is a marketing expert specializing in lifestyle brands for women. From plus size apparel to the tantalizing world of the male revue- she’s worked marketing for both Chippendales and The Men of the Strip as seen on the E! Channel—Sarah loves nothing more than to use her creative, professional juices to support and empower women. With her blog and small sliver of Social Media World, Sarah uses the gateway of fashion to inspire women of ALL shapes, sizes and ages to be more forgiving of themselves and to live confidently. Her plus size lifestyle blog for women,SarahPlusLife.com is a candid, intimate, and often hilarious, study on the living plus size, fashion and dating.  A native New Yorker, Sarah lives in the San Francisco area with her Shih Tzu wingman, Winston. She enjoys cooking, the arts and singing in the car. 

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