Alysse Dalessandro, activist, fat fashion guru, and owner of Ready To Stare, was gracious enough to grant me my very first interview on my new website platform this year. So exciting. I first came across her Instagram account about two years ago and fell in love with her boisterous style and outspoken posts on the body. I even had the pleasure of meeting her in person last year and hope to work with her in the future. She’s a pillar in the plus-community and her voice transcends our time. If you don’t know her, then get to know her:
LV: Let’s talk about your self-perception as a teen. How did you see yourself as an adolescent as far as beauty and self-esteem?
AD: In school, I was painfully shy, and I knew that I was different. One of the few fat kids, I matured much earlier than the other girls so fashion became my armor. And it still is. It was the one thing in my life that made me feel good, so when I would be bullied or rejected by my classmates, I stayed confident in my ability to put together looks. It didn’t matter if my classmates didn’t get them. In fact, I relished in being different. Fashion was empowering, and it started my pathway to self-love and acceptance. There’s something powerful about being able to express yourself.
LV: How did you stumble upon blogging?
AD: I actually wanted to be a blogger for a long time but was too scared to put myself out there. It had to do with the fear of not being good enough.
In 2012, I came up with the name Ready To Stare, my jewelry and accessory business. It was actually the name of the personal style blog that I was too scared to start. For the first two years, I was able to get my voice out there in the fashion world while remaining behind the scenes.
By the end of 2013, I felt stuck. My friend told me that I needed to put more of myself in my business by taking selfies and modeling for a Ready To Stare campaign. The reaction was huge. It gave me the confidence I needed to start my personal style blog, #StareStyle in May of 2014. And that entire year was a really big for my personal and business growth.
LV: Explain what the Body Positive Movement means to you?
AD: To me it’s really about loving yourself and helping others to do the same. My definition of body positivity continues to evolve, because mainstream media has started to cover it without a full understanding of what it actual means. I’m increasingly frustrated by the loud voices of small plus-size or non plus-size women being lauded as the face of the body positive movement who do not represent my interests as a size 22/24. At this point, I really identify more with the fat acceptance movement than body positive.
LV: Describe your style.
AD: I feel like my style is constantly evolving. My attitude to fashion is very much IDGAF about what people think I should wear. I strive to break fashion rules and help encourage people to dress the way that feels right for THEM, and not how anyone else thinks they should dress.
The way that I dress my fat body is a political statement, and I’m aware of that when I dress. My style is pretty bold, unapologetic and of course gaudy. I want you to stare. I want what I wear to make you think. Does it make you uncomfortable to see my fat body in this outfit? If so, why? I really think of fashion as tool to dismantle societal norms.
LV: Share a part of yourself that you may not be so confident in but are working on.
AD: Great question. I get asked so often about a part of my body that I am struggling to love and honestly, I have had much greater struggles learning to love myself on the inside than I ever had about my body. I still struggle with feeling worthy of things. I still doubt myself. But the one thing that someone could call me that will really hurt me is definitely not fat, it’s crazy.
LV: What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
AD: I feel more free. I don’t feel as afraid as I used to. I was always able to advocate for others and tell others they were worthy and good enough, but I couldn’t say the same thing to myself. Blogging really represents that personal shift for me. It’s funny with the increased amount of visibility, I face so much more criticism than I did before but because blogging was about finding my own inner strength, I am not fazed by that criticism.
LV: What are some of your top fashion influencers and why?
AD: I take a lot of inspiration from 90s fashion. I love everything RuPaul has even worn. I love the women from the blog, Advanced Style. I think older women who take risks with fashion are so important for fashion rule-breaking. I love Marie from The Curvy Fashionista not only because she’s an OG, but she really cares about making changes in this industry, and I have so much respect for her.
LV: What would you say to someone who said that hated themselves or how they looked?
AD: I would say to be kind to yourself. But there are so many little ways to start to combat those feelings of self-doubt. Take some selfies. Try a bold lipstick. Wear a bikini, even if it’s only in your bedroom mirror. Write a personal essay even if you never publish it. Do it FOR YOU. Challenge yourself to see yourself in a different light.
And don't forget to check out her social media feeds: