Gabi Gregg is a stylish, body-positivity influencer and panelist for theCURVYcon who emboldens hundreds of thousands of fans online — which is exactly where she found her own self-love epiphany just over a decade ago.
“It kind of blew my mind,” she recalls of stumbling onto a plus-size fashion community on the website LiveJournal, “because it was the first time I saw fat women embracing themselves and loving themselves. I had an immediate ‘oh, my God’ moment. I learned that we didn’t have to talk about dieting — and that was really enlightening, especially for an 18-year-old.”
Before that, Gregg, 31, says, she wasn’t exactly down on herself. “I just had the idea that of course I’m going to lose weight one day, and then I’m going to be prettier.” She got used to what she calls the constant “background noise that everyone lives with and assumes is normal … this idea that it’s part of your life to constantly talk about dieting, or, ‘Ugh, I hate how my arms look today,’ or, ‘Let’s talk about my problem area and how to cover it up.’ It’s just so ingrained in us.”
Reading the love-yourself discourse, Gregg tells Yahoo Style, was the crack of light that changed the course of her life. “When I started my blog, it was a definitely a passion point — to fill the space and void specifically for younger plus-size women. I really wanted to start a website giving tips, talking about where I shop, sharing resources, and from there it sort of snowballed.”
At that point, she explains, blogging was something people were doing not to make money but to create community. And being involved at the right time afforded Gregg a bit of “luck and privilege,” as she made the organic switch of turning her hobby into a business.
“Over the years, as brands got savvy, they started to tap into us to ask us to promote items. And as brands started to extend their sizes and wanted that younger audience, they started asking me to work with them and consult with them.”
That approval from others was hard to navigate at first, she recalls, especially when it came to the issue of swag.
“Of course it was exciting that I was this young broke girl who was suddenly being offered free clothing! I’d say yes, and I think it took a little bit of trial and error to know, oh, I don’t like the way I feel if I’m accepting gifts I don’t like and am then obligated to talk about them in a positive light,” she says. Eventually she had to learn not to simply say yes to anyone who sought her opinion, noting, “It was just a learning process.”
Those early consulting days led to a capsule collection and, as of July, her very own collection, Premme, created with fellow style influencer Nicolette Mason, which practically sold out the week it launched.
Now, between running Premme and her dearly beloved website, Gabi Fresh, Gregg says she finds herself constantly grateful for her influencer position. “What’s amazing is just the fact that I’m able to inspire other people and hearing from them directly that I’ve changed their lives,” she says. “I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to have a career that I really enjoy and have the ability to design and create things I’ve always wanted to wear.”
She sees her mission as one that goes beyond image and fun and style and reaches into the political-feminist sphere.
“I just try to realize that fashion can be transformative and can be political — particularly when you’re addressing marginalized groups that have been told they don’t deserve it,” Gregg says. “When I was growing up, in high school and college, I wanted to dress like my friends and didn’t have the ability to, because it didn’t exist in my size. Making the demand that we deserve this too is feminist and is a political statement.”
The same goes for gaining and holding on to body confidence — and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easier for her than anyone else, Gregg stresses.
“I always try to explain that I, like other body-positive bloggers, am not some magical human who has learned the secret to loving yourself,” she says. “We definitely work at it and have bad days, and there are things I don’t like about myself, but I try not to stay in that and know it’s possible to get out of it. That’s what keeps me going.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- The important reason Chrissy Metz is headlining theCURVYcon 2017: ‘Her body type is a little bit different’
- This plus-size model’s career began on a dare
- ‘Being plus-size might just be part of my story’: The moment Cece Olisa found body positivity