Jessica Torres is not someone who wants to shy away or hide anymore.
"I feel like being a plus-size woman existing in fashion, and doing what I do, is like a huge middle finger to society and their beliefs of what women should look like," Torres told In The Know.
Torres is a style blogger and body-positive advocate. Her mission is to empower women and abolish absurd beauty standards. She has more than 114,000 followers on Instagram, 46,000 subscribers on YouTube and co-hosts the Fat Girls Club podcast. Her blog is filled with fashion and beauty advice.
But the path to achieving this success within the fashion realm did not always seem possible for Torres. Her formative years were filled with fat-shaming comments that made her want to shrink away from any kind of attention.
"Everyone would always comment on my body," Torres said. "Being fat was like, even though you can see it, it was almost like my secret and if anyone said it out loud — if, like, anyone in school would call me fat, it would be the worst feeling ever. So, for me, the best way would be, 'Don't participate,' you know, 'Just isolate yourself and blend into the wall.'"
Eight years ago, Torres starting blogging about her personal experiences and love of fashion. Her readers began to reach out to her and tell her about how much her posts resonated with them. She started using Instagram to promote her posts, and her popularity grew from there.
"I think it was something new for them to see: A plus-size Latina from the Bronx who just wanted to wear cute clothes. And, this was resonating with everyone."
Torres stands out because of how she rejects fitting into the standard mold of what a fashion influencer should be – even a plus-size one. She said that while she took it as a compliment at first when people promoted her body positivity, she doesn't get being called "brave" for wearing some of her clothes.
"It's like, I'm just wearing a f***ing dress. Like, what's the difference from any other person?"
"I've been a fan of Jessica for years," Coco Limberakis told In The Know. Limberakis is the social media marketing manager for Eloquii, a clothing store designed for sizes 14-28. "Jessica made me feel that I deserve to have options."
"You don't have to wait to lose weight — you don't have to wait for anything for you to feel comfortable with yourself," Torres said. "Do makeup, get your hair done, dress up. You can do it now."
Watch the full In The Know: Profiles episode starring Jessica Torres to learn more about her.