Love unapologetically, celebrate individuality, free yourself!

Meet Our Shannon our Model Monday!

Name: Shannon Grace Clemons

Instagram: http://@itsshannongrace

1. How did you get started as an influencer/blogger? What kind of content do you create, and what’s your main channel?
I’ve always had a love for fashion but after years of being worn down by bad jobs, bad
relationships, societal pressures to fit into certain ideas of who I should be, and how I should look, I had lost my passion and was in the depths of depression. But then several years ago I stumbled upon the body positive community via Facebook and it was the start of my own personal journey of self-love and discovery.

Finding a community of women celebrating life and living it to the fullest exactly the way they were was the inspiration I needed to start living my life again. Over the last few years, I have gone from a shy broken girl to a passionate self-loving fashionista. About two years ago I decided to embrace my new mindset and give back by paying it forward. I started focusing on building my Instagram and creating youtube content centered around fashion as a means of showing self-love and spreading positivity and acceptance.

2. Describe your personal style. What are some of your signature colors, styles, and
accessories?
My personal style is classic with a modern twist. My wardrobe is consistent with bold colors, modern graphic prints, mixed with classic silhouettes, and a feminine touch. I love to play with opposites, like velvet with leather or chiffon with wool.

I suffered a foot injury in my teenage years that cause limited my ability to wear certain shoe styles, so you can always catch me in a great pair of block heeled booties (esp. if they’re an animal print), a collection that is only rivaled by my love for clutch bags (tip: I always find the best ones at local thrift shops!).

3. What are some tips you’d like to share with aspiring influencers or models?
The two tips I always give for those aspiring to be an influencer/model are consistency and engagement. You have to put in the work. You have to post as often as you can on your feed and every day (multiple times a day) on your stories. Think of it as an advertisement for yourself. Do you ever just see a commercial once, not likely.

You see it again and again. That is because the brand knows each time you see their content is a new opportunity for them to reach you as a customer. Each time you show up on someone’s explore page is a new opportunity for you to make an impression and to convert that person into a follower and the only way to do that is to be posting consistently!

It is also important to build a community with your platform. Do this by engaging as much as possible. Reply to every comment and message you received. Interact with other accounts similar to yours. Engage with your followers’ content. Answer questions, share tips, offer congratulations, whatever it is, we are all looking to build relationships with people who are interested in the same things we are.

4. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a little girl, what would you tell her?
It always works out in the end. Stop assuming that other people are thinking the worst about you. Most likely, they’re just thinking about themselves. Know that your value comes from within. That the only person you need to make happy is yourself. At the end of the day as long as you are proud to be who you are nothing else that anyone has to think or say about you matters.

5. For our readers who struggle with being comfortable in their own skin and wearing what they want, what are some practical things you would recommend they do to help them get to the level of confidence you have?
You have to retrain your brain and that starts with what you see and hear every day. Fill your timeline with people who make you feel like it’s okay to be yourself. Fill your life with positivity.

Don’t allow the people around you to speak negatively about themselves. If you cannot control what others say, then simply remove yourself from the situation. I still change the channel when diet commercials come on and block accounts every day that are triggering for my own mental health. It starts from within but eventually, you’ll find yourself doing things on the outside you would have been uncomfortable with before. For me, the first step was going sleeveless. I always had to have my arms covered even on those hot summer days, even at home with my family, but I can still remember the first sleeveless dress I wore without a cardigan. I felt scared but empowered. In reality, no one even noticed but thinking back on that day I get tears in my eyes because it was a true act of self-love. Now I wear crop tops to the grocery store and you cannot tell me I am not the absolute cutest!

6. What does life look like for you outside of blogging or modeling (day job, hobbies, family life, etc)?
I am an office manager/bookkeeper for an interior designer. So I spend regular work hours in an office placing orders, invoicing clients, running payroll, etc. It is hard work but I enjoy working for a small company because I can see exactly how my work impacts the business. I have a great group of friends that I just adore. Lots of creative types, designers, songwriters, actors, comedians, and the list goes on.

I am constantly inspired by them and always feeling pushed to achieve new goals. Most days, in between work and creating content, you can find binge-watching the hot new Netflix series on my sofa while snacking on cheese, or chocolate!

7. What does being an influencer or model mean to you? What do you hope it means to
others?
It’s an opportunity to express my creativity while spread a positive message. I hope that my work creates a safe space for people to feel accepted and appreciated. I hope others are inspired to try new things, be that with fashion or just in life in general, to love themselves unconditionally and to celebrate other individuality.

8. What are your goals and dreams as an influencer or model? What accomplishments are you most proud of?
The unlimited goal would be to build a community of people who love themselves so deeply they feel unstoppable. To cultivate a space where all marginalized people are celebrated for their uniqueness, talents, and gifts. I would love to work with a major fashion brand (particularly one that does not currently cater to the plus-size community) to create a true size-inclusive collection or to one day have the opportunity to create my own fashion line.
I am proud (and quite frankly still a little shocked) that I grew my Instagram following by 20K in just over a year. Also, I had the opportunity to model for the only curvy/plus bridal salon in Nashville, was cast in a national commercial for a well-known beauty company, and have established ongoing partnerships with established clothing brands.
What makes me the proudest though is when I get a message from my teenage cousin telling me how proud she is of me, or seeing what a positive impact I have had on my mom and her relationship with her body, or the messages I get from people I haven’t talked to in years saying I’ve inspired them to try something new or to love themselves more. All those moments when I doubt myself and it feels like it’s just too hard, those are the things that make all the work worth it.

9. How have you seen the fashion, retail, or modeling industry changed in the past decade – specifically with regards to diversity and inclusivity? What work still needs to be done?

Growing up I remember having to weed through the “grandma” section at the department
stores in hopes of finding something that I could wear. At the start of the last decade, there were a handful of plus size brands (Lane Bryant, Torrid, etc.) catering exclusively to the plus woman. Recently I am seeing more and more “straight size” brands expanding into the plus market. I would love to see this continue to the point where brands are less focused on size and gender and more focused on creating amazing fashion for everyone. All people have to wear clothes and all people deserve to feel good about what they are wearing.

10. What are some of your favorite shopping and styling tips?
Try it on!!! I can’t tell you how often I hear people say they hate trying on clothes or that they shop without trying things on! When I go into a store I will try on as many pieces as I can. Even though I have become an expert in what I like to wear, I still try on the things I’m unsure about. Maybe I love a print but I’m not sure the fit will work, I try it on! Maybe I love the style but think the color might be weird on me, I try it on! Maybe I love the garment but they don’t have my “size”, then I try on another size. Don’t let fear get in the way of a fashion “ah-ha!” moment!

11. What does beauty mean to you?
When I learned to love myself I learned how to love other people and to see the beauty in each person. Instead of judging people and thinking about what they needed to change in order to qualify as good enough, pretty enough, etc, I started to see how each person’s uniqueness was what made them beautiful. What I have learned is that beauty is not the payment we owe the society in exchange for respect. We make the world beautiful just by being ourselves and by celebrating each other exactly as we come.
But if you’re looking for a beauty tip I’d say drink a lot of water and wash your face before bed!

12. How has your body image and self-esteem changed over the years?
Growing up I was a dancer and even at my most active I was already the biggest girl in the
room. Being surrounded by 90s diet culture and bombarded with the waif models of the time, I was constantly thinking about my weight and never felt like I was good enough. Now as an adult I am the most confident I have ever been. I advocate for myself in spaces that are not built for people of size. I combat diet culture through my content. And I speak up when those around me are speaking negatively about themselves or perpetuating poor body image stereotypes. What was once the chains that held me hostage within my own mind, are now the sword and shield I carry in my fight for acceptance!

13. Which fashion brands and designers are leading the pack or doing something different and meaningful? Please give examples.
The first brand that comes to mind is the Universal Standard. They are not only size-inclusive from size 00 – 40, with other options like petite and tall, they have changed the online shopping game by showing garments on a fit model representing each size. This is revolutionary when it comes to shopping on the web because it is so difficult to know how something will look on your body unless you are the same size and shape as the model.
I would also say Christian Sirano. As a high-end designer, he was one of the first to include curvy and plus models in his NYFW shows and has become a staple on the red carpet designing for curvy celebs like Chrissy Metz (This is Us), Lizzo (Grammy Winning Recording Artist), and Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black).

14. From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Working in the interior design space over the last 7 years has exposed me to a world of textures and details I had previously not known. Seeing how designers play with colors, patterns, and scale has definitely influenced the way I edit and style an overall look. I also draw a lot of inspiration from art. That can be a lot of different sources like photography, painting, or music. I have always been a lover of the arts and would define myself as creative so I am attracted to clothes that tell a story the same way a song or a photograph does.

15. What can readers expect next – do you have anything exciting you would like to share with us?
I moved a few months back and finally have a little space set up exclusively for filming so I am working on bringing some new video content to Instagram. I have been collaborating with more brands and more photographers to create higher quality more dynamic images, so that is something I’ll continue to focus on this year. I recently recorded a podcast with the Beautiful Strength Project, so I am eagerly waiting for its release.
Personally, this is a big year for me. I turn 35 this year. My brother is getting married in the fall and I am his Best Woman so I am super excited for all the festivities leading up to that big day. I am planning to donate my hair and I’m looking forward to a little bit of a hair transformation.

16. Do you have a message you want to leave with our readers?
They asked me the same question when I recorded the podcast and what I said at the moment really resonated with me so I have kind of adopted it as my personal mantra.
Love unapologetically, celebrate individuality, free yourself!

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