Interview with Rhapsody Arajo by Velvet d'Amour
Introduce yourself and let us know how you came about appearing in VOLUP2.
My name is Rhapsody and I am a Singer, Entertainer, Model and Makeup Artist.
I was introduced to Volup2 by a few models that inspired me. I fell in love with how inclusive it was. The magazine's Showcase of size, gender, uniqueness and the sheer love for all body types took my breath away.
What was your experience modeling for VOLUP2 like?
It was honestly very exciting!!! Overlooking The Hollywood Hills and the beautiful setting was incredible. When I finally hit the water portion of the shoot in the evening, It was both exciting and borderline hypothermia inducing !!! Although it was freezing, I had no intentions on giving up!
The team was very welcoming and warm, it felt like working with old friends! I was honored to be working with Velvet d' Amour and James White. The location was stunning and I was honored to be in a place that hosted such historic photographs.
So many people are complaining that the same few plus models continually get exposure, why do you think it is so difficult for plus size models to garner media attention?
I believe that we as a society, were "trained" to a specific ideal about what models should look like. While it is still a accomplishment that we are seeing more mainstream plus models- we are seeing the same plus models because I feel they have been deemed as being on the "healthier"- therefore acceptable size of fat. There's that- and also there is visual marketing.
Think about it. How many times have you seen someone wear something and think "I want that!" Just because it looks great on them? For most folks like me, a few seconds into that thought and we start analyzing how the garment would actually lay on our curves, lumps and bumps.
Whether we admit to it or not , there were times where we may have purchased an article of clothing because it looked good on someone else. Many brands still bank on those first few seconds when we are in awe of just how perfect the model looks.
I think that's why a lot of companies still use the smaller sized plus babes.
With the Body Positivity movement, people are becoming more comfortable in raising their voices about inclusivity. It has literally taken social media groups and advocates speaking out, to slowly change the minds of big companies. Using larger women along with the straight sized models realistically has only been beneficial for sales because people can see the way clothing fits on different types of bodies. Not just traditionally proportionate ones.
Although it is a relatively small dent in the fashion industry - we are just beginning to see the first sprinkles of true diversity in models.
You are a very talented singer and makeup artist, as well as model, tell us a bit more about these passions and where we can see more of you.
Thank you kindly!
My father ( although I did not know him well ) was a concert pianist. I play piano by ear and I attribute my musicality to him.
I was raised by two mothers who constantly supported me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.
I am currently a makeup artist for a luxury brand and I perform around Southern California. I like to post silly videos and go live quite frequently. I live in a quiet area so it is a treat for me to chat with folks around the world!
I feel like Apple-shaped women (thinner limbs and weight being held in the abdomen area) are the body shapes that are least showcased in fashion, both straight and plus size, what are your thoughts on that?
I think that there is a ideal that has been learned throughout the fashion industry that there is only physical beauty in very proportionate models. The problem with this is that once our culture learns something to be standard , it becomes very difficult to change minds that have been molded to a specific ideal.
We are seeing more models of all shapes and sizes being featured in independent companies- which is fantastic! And I think that big businesses are starting to take notice.
Like any learned habit, it takes a while to change. It is happening. Unfortunately it's going a lot slower than I hoped.
When we shot, you mentioned that you were half Filipino, while we begin to see more diversity in fashion, there is still a huge lack of inclusion when it comes to women of color within media representation, who are some of your favorite models that you feel deserve more representation?
I would love to see more Indigenous people with more cultural representation. If you think about the models that are currently in the mainstream media you can pretty much guess what their background is, I would love to see more people that leave you wondering what they're mixed with. It's really unfortunate that we don’t see more plus sized,unique beauties from around the world!
How has your youth shaped you to be the person you are today and if you could give advice to young adults today, what would be your top three suggestions?
Being teased my whole life could have turned me into a bitter person full of hate. I chose to use my story as a way to show that light can come from darkness.
My top three tips:
Stay relentlessly optimistic .
Be contagiously confident.
Be grateful for everything.
Who are your favorite plus size designers?
I keep discovering new designers but..
Torrid (especially their Fan Girl geeky wear !)
What 5 beauty products do you most recommend?
(Literally the best!!)
What is the plus size dating scene like in California?
OH MY GOODNESS! Non-Existent (for me anyways!) Think a lot of it has to do with the consistent hustling bustle and go go go that it makes it very difficult to meet people in person and I'm kind of old-school and where I like to build a relationship in person rather than online. I've done the online dating thing and I think it's more of a novelty for me personally! I'm a old believer in if it's meant to be it will happen! 💖
Who inspires you?
Honestly, the day to day worker. The single parents. The people who who do things that may not fulfill their passions with their paychecks but still chase their dreams.
People who have faced heartache and continue to be optimistic. I get inspired by people who give their all.
Where can people follow you/your work?
(Rhapsody Artajo on Facebook)