One day in 2011, queer fashion blogger Alysse Dalessandro was walking down a street in Chicago, wearing a short dress and minding her business, when a stranger yelled, “Hey, fat girl, stop trying to look skinny!”
“I wasn’t trying to be anybody else but who I was,” Dalessandro, who is plus-sized, told NBC News. “And it really gave me this idea that when you are confident about who you are, people will stare, and when they are staring, they’ll think, and when they are thinking, hopefully, they will change this idea that they have in their head about who is allowed to be considered beautiful or fashionable.”
The incident inspired the 31-year-old, who identifies as queer, to start her popular blog, Ready To Stare, a destination for fashion, travel and lifestyle content for the plus-size and LGBTQ communities.
“The whole message .. it’s always been for challenging beauty standards, and making fashion more inclusive, and learning to love yourself and to feel more empowered to be who you are,” Dalessandro said.
In September 2017, the fashionista once again found herself walking unapologetically, this time along the dapperQ fashion runway in Brooklyn, before a cheering audience. Dalessandro, who lives in Akron, Ohio, was invited back to the dapperQ runway in September 2018.
“I feel the DQ show is the most inclusive show that exists during New York Fashion Week, so to me it’s always a huge honor to be a part of it, and to be one of the larger-bodied people on the runway means a lot to me,” she says.
Dalessandro has a message for young LGBTQ, plus-size people who want to pursue careers in fashion: “Don’t be afraid to stand out.”
“We need more young, plus-size, queer people in fashion, because there’s just not enough of us,” Dalessandro said, “and we need more points of view, because that’s what makes fashion beautiful.”
What does "pride" mean to you?
“Pride to me is about visibility and representation. To me, pride is about showing up and not being afraid to say, ‘I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m not going anywhere,’ and to me that is what pride has always meant. I went to pride [marches] many times as a person who was not out, and when I finally came out and had been living in my truth, there is so much community that is there, and I felt so happy to be represented. So for me, pride is about representation and creating the visualization of all of us being there as a community.”
This year, we’re celebrating Stonewall 50 — the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Where would you like to see the LGBTQ community when we’re celebrating Stonewall 75?
“I think I would like to see the LGBTQ community celebrating Stonewall 75 more united and listening to each other, because I think that it’s so easy to stay in your own identity within the LGBTQ community and not listen to other people who have different experiences than you do. Just because we’re all part of the community doesn’t mean we have the same lived experiences, and there’s many cross identities that we don’t experience. So, I think for me I want to see Stonewall 75 centered on the experience of black trans women, and have them be the leaders and have them have the loudest voices, because I think that so often those who are most marginalized in our community are not heard the loudest, and they should be because they have different experiences and we need to listen. So, I want to hear the community listen more and advocate and lift up the voices of those who are heard less often.”