Reality Check — Roxy Earle

Roxy Earle is breaking down the barriers of traditional beauty and encouraging self-love and inclusivity through her viral movement, #MySizeRox.

Interview By Sarah Kanbar

If Roxy Earle had her way, clothing companies would do away with the term “plus size,” and there would be more acceptance of diverse body shapes. She’s doing her part to encourage these progressive changes.

Roxy has been catapulted into fame with her appearances on TV’s Real Housewives of Toronto, and the spotlight has afforded her the opportunity to be a model, a positive-image advocate, and a commentator on modern beauty.

Fans know her as the curvy, outspoken tour de force seeking to change the public perception of “standard sizes” by creating her own lifestyle brand.

Among her many endeavours, she recently collaborated with Le Chateau on an apparel line of fashionable garments in a larger sizes. Clothing brand Addition Elle has hired Roxy, alongside model Ashley Graham, to promote a campaign with a similar thrust.

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Real Housewives of Toronto — which has just wrapped up filming of its first season on Slice TV — has enabled Earle to launch Luxurious Roxy, a trademarked online platform where fans can enjoy her musings on fashion, travel, and lifestyle living, as well as purchase a myriad of garments modelled by Roxy herself.

“You have empowered me to change the way the world perceives women with curves, without curves, with small bums or large ones,” she tells her supporters. “You have given me a platform to change the way people judge bodies and beauty in the media, and I am so thankful.”

Given her former life as an award-winning marketing and advertising executive with Ogilvy and American Express, few should be surprised at her ability to promote her bold style and forward-thinking message.

City Life Magazine caught up with Roxy to ask her all about image, beauty and her message of positivity:

CITY LIFE: Tell me about New York Fashion Week.
ROXY: I was walking in New York Fashion Week for the designer Mac Duggal. That was an incredible experience. I had some amazing meetings in New York. The #MySizeRox movement is going international. It’s really exciting.

CITY LIFE: How do you compare the Toronto and New York Fashion Weeks? It seems that New York is much more size inclusive. What’s your message to fashion designers, whether local or international?
ROXY: I would definitely say I haven’t felt the embrace from the Canadian designers. It would be great to see some of our big Canadian designers embrace what I’m doing, because American ones have already started. No one asked me to walk in Toronto Fashion Week, but a lot of designers were interested in having me attend their shows and walk in New York Fashion Week. I would say it’s time for Canada to get with the program.

CITY LIFE: What does body positivity mean to you?
ROXY: I think body positivity is a movement in society now where people are accepting bodies of all sizes. It is about ending the judgment that’s been placed on people around their bodies. I feel that women, when they lead with judgment about other people’s bodies —it just creates so much tension between women. She’s skinny, she’s fat, she’s too this, she’s too that. The worst of all is we bully ourselves when it comes to our bodies. We look in the mirror, and we say things about ourselves. Body positivity to me is a real shift that I’m seeing in society around a lot more inclusive and diverse images and diverse views of what it means to be beautiful and what a beautiful body is. I think the world is ready to show that people of all shapes and sizes are real, beautiful people.

CITY LIFE: So we are often our own worst enemies, especially when surrounded by the pressure to fit a cookie-cutter idea of beauty. How do you suggest women smash those unrealistic standards in their minds?
ROXY: I think one of the best things that I’ve done to break down that barrier is I’ve stopped surrounding myself with unrealistic images of a beautiful body. So I tell women to change up their social media feed. Change up the shows they watch or the magazines they consume and start surrounding yourself with images that are more in tuned to a healthier version, a more diverse version of what a body consists of.

I often tell people that on their social media there’s incredible, inspiring people out there who are advocating for diversity, beautiful models that come in all shapes and sizes, different fashion brands that have different ideas of what a standard size is So, for you, if you’re self-conscious about being too small, or you’re self-conscious about being too big, change up your feed and start providing yourself with images that are beautiful, that are diverse. That begins to train your brain.

CITY LIFE: What has been the most rewarding part of your journey as a body positivity expert?
ROXY: It’s not that there is one single pivotal moment, but walking in New York Fashion Week has been a very cool experience. Six months ago, I set out to become a model. To break down that barrier and walk in New York Fashion Week six months later is a pretty cool moment. But I think most rewarding is every single day I interact with my fans in an incredible way. I hear from them about how I have helped them overcome something. I’ve helped them overcome body issues, eating disorders, insecurities, depression. To me, that’s the rewarding stuff.

CITY LIFE: Was there a moment in time when you thought, “You know what, enough is enough. I need to start embracing myself.” Or, was that always your attitude?
ROXY: I think it’s a journey. I think loving yourself comes over time. I definitely remember, around the time of my wedding, I was buying a beautiful wedding gown and the first interaction I had was a negative experience. They said, “We don’t have anything that comes in your size.” I left in tears. That’s the moment I remember telling myself, “This is my wedding. I’m not going to let insecurity or someone else’s judgment of my body shape how I get to enjoy this really magical experience.”

Buying a wedding gown with my mom and my sister-in-law — that’s a special moment. One of my girlfriends was with me. She said, “You want to wear a dress that embraces you. Don’t keep trying to find a dress that obviously isn’t going to fit you. Go find a dress that makes you look beautiful, because you’ll look beautiful in anything you want. Don’t let this process and all of this stuff about a dress fitting overtake what is special and important here.”

Which is me getting to marry the love of my life, and buy this special gown, and be surrounded by my family.

That’s when I realized that my body wasn’t going to be a moment that took away from my wedding; it was going to add to my wedding. Me being beautiful, and me being comfortable in my own skin is something I wanted to exude on my wedding day. Definitely, on my wedding day, I said, “Enough is enough. I don’t want any more talk about wedding diets and craziness.”

CITY LIFE: Today we live in a society that is both diet and plastic surgery obsessed. Many would argue that social media glamorizes both. Do you agree?
ROXY: I absolutely think so, if you consume certain types of social media. This is why I continue to say that social media can be a beautiful thing. Instagram has been a way that I can connect with people all over the world and inspire them with real images of my real body.
I’m really proud of that. Me, putting out realistic images of myself — and I’m maybe not fitting into the typical size of what you see when girls post pictures of themselves in bathing suits on Instagram.

Because young girls and women see me posting pictures on Instagram in my bathing suit. Me feeling very beautiful, proud, confident, and fashion forward they are able to look at me and go, “Oh, look how stylish she looks in that swimsuit.”

So that is how things begin to change. You have to change up who you follow. There are incredible women out there on Instagram, if you follow the right people. If you only follow Victoria’s Secret models, you are only going to have one idea of what a beautiful body looks like in a bathing suit.

CITY LIFE: What’s your advice to parents for helping their children navigate the pitfalls of social media, in terms of unrealistic standards, Photoshop, and cruel comments?
ROXY: I would make sure that they follow the right kind of people and that they are educated on what a photo in a magazine does. People forget that they are trying to sell a swimsuit. For some companies, trying to sell a swimsuit means putting it on a girl that only looks one way.

For me, if you want to sell a swimsuit to me, I want to see it on a girl who looks like me. I want to see images of different-shaped women.

I think parents need to educate their kids about everything that is done to make a photo look good. There’s so much out there to help educate them on that topic. They need to know that an image is altered.

I would encourage them to follow me on my journey. I often talk about social media. I talk about what’s real and what’s not. I show off stretch marks and cellulite, and I’m proud of it. Because it’s real. A lot of women look like that, and they appreciate it. They appreciate a woman feeling sexy and beautiful and confident while being real.

“I’m not here to judge what is healthy and not healthy. I’m here to tell girls to stop hating themselves every single day”

CITY LIFE: Some would argue that body-positive advocates are glamorizing obesity. What are your thoughts on that, and where do you draw the line on what is healthy and what is not healthy?
ROXY: I’m not here to judge what is healthy and not healthy. I’m here to tell girls to stop hating themselves every single day. I’m always going to advocate that you be healthy. Girls see photos of me at the gym all the time. I constantly talk about the importance of physical exercise, not just for your body but for your mental health.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be the healthiest version of you.

I’m saying, stop hating yourself in the process. I’m also saying that healthy bodies come in a lot of different sizes.

Just because you are a size 14, it doesn’t mean you aren’t healthy. I think that is important for people to know.

Why don’t you focus on the real issues here? Why isn’t anyone talking about how fashion models glamorize eating disorders?

CITY LIFE: If your body could talk, what would it say?
ROXY: I’m proud of it. I’m proud of you.

CITY LIFE: I am beautiful because …
ROXY: I am confident.

CITY LIFE: What is the one thing that every girl should aspire to in regards to her body image?
ROXY: I think all girls should aspire to come to a place where they feel confident being themselves and not trying to compare themselves to someone else. Once you decide to love yourself and be confident and comfortable in your own skin, beautiful things can happen in your life.

CITY LIFE: What is your ultimate goal for #MySizeRox?
ROXY: I’d like to inspire as many women around the world to feel confident in their own skin. I’d like to be responsible for designers increasing what a standard size is. I’d love to have fashion lines with beautiful elegance be inclusive of all sizes.

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