Who are you?
Have you always been you?
I grew into myself, for sure. I went through a hippie phase (Beatles tees & paint covered jeans), a 'Jesus-Freak' stage where I donned only Christian band tees, a theatre kid phase with lots of scarves and cast shirts. The Penny Darling is who I became.
What do you wish people understood about you?
I didn't "used to hate myself". There's a stigma that body-positive-plus-size influencers are 'elevated' beyond the self-hatred that people assume I have for being fat. People love projecting their fear of fatness on me. I've been asked how I learned to 'embrace my body' or when I learned 'self-love' or what my experience with "weight bullying" - but I don't remember living in a world of hate for my body.
What event in life has shaped you most as a person, and how?
When I was in college, the theatre program got cut, so I started my own club. I wrote a play about the Columbine massacre, held auditions, started a club, performed the play, then wrote another one. They've since reintroduced performance as a minor in the college due to the club's popularity. This experience made me realize how much I was capable of doing. I will always work harder to prove that I can. I will always find a way.
Four years after I left college, I returned to see a play by my club perform and one of the actors remembered my name, hugged me, and said, "This was all you." I cried on the spot. I got to leave a legacy and I'm proud of that every single day.
How would you describe your personal style?
A healthy mix of Miss Frizzle, Jess from New Girl, and a Kindergartner. I've never met a pattern or a color that I don't love.