Body Positive IG Star Jazzmyne Jay On Self-Love, Mental Health & Her Dream Collab

If there’s one thing that 2020 taught us, it was that we need to take it easy on ourselves, take care of our mental health, and get in the habit of practicing self-love because the world out there doesn’t always have it on offer!

We’ve spent more time buried in our social media feeds than normal, but it hasn’t all been doom-scrolling for us, because when you follow Instagram creators like Jazzmyne Jay, best known from BuzzFeed’s beauty and style channel “As/Is”, who creates fashion-forward, body-positive content for her 573K followers on topics including coming out, living with OCD and PTSD, anxiety, and cultivating self-love, you can’t help but feel the love.

Jazzmyne is currently part of a BuzzFeed Instagram series called “Show Off’ where rising creators compete for a chance to star in a video with their favorite BuzzFeed creators. We had the chance to speak with this bold, beautiful, badass creator about self-love, mental health, what brands are missing out on if they aren’t being inclusive, and manifesting her dream collaboration.

Tell us about your personal journey with body image and self-love. Why did you decide to first start speaking out on Instagram? 

My personal journey with body image and self-love is definitely an ON GOING journey! I think it was around when I was 21 years old, in college, and honestly just sick of trying to simulate what was around me. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I did not look like the white, straight haired, super small people I grew up with. I have a Black dad and a white mom. I had curly hair, brown skin, and more curves at 13 than my peers would ever have in their lives! 

My parents raised me to know that I am a leader and that I am just as gorgeous as anyone else. But I always struggled with being noticeably different, especially in the ways that were deemed negative like being described as “big” or “huge” because of my body and my height. 

By the time I reached 21, I had been through several eating disorders, a couple therapists, and just really had to evaluate who I really was: was I someone who was going to compare myself to others constantly or was I someone that was going to appreciate myself for who I am, and I finally chose me.

One of the first moments that I felt like 100% myself was when I was with my volleyball team in a Florida mall. My teammates were all running around looking for clothes, and of course I could maybe squeeze into a Forever 21 XL (at this time I had to be maybe a size 16) I walked into my fave childhood store, Clarie’s, because the one thing I knew would fit me were accessories and immediately found this huge hot pink daisy hair accessory and these huge fake zebra print glasses. I put these on in the store and was like “I’M A WHOLE NEW PERSON” and ever since that I really started to prioritize myself.

You focus on topics like identity, coming out, mental health and cultivating self-love. Why are these issues important to you personally?

They are my struggles, my strengths, my lessons, and the special parts of myself. I talk about these topics to let anyone who is listening to know that society for so long has made minorities feel bad about having these differences, because of hate and fear NOT because you are wrong to share these traits. I focus on these topics because I have no option not to.

You also showcase your fashionista side, especially with your work on Buzzfeed’s “As/Is” style channel. What are your fave fashion trends right now? 

I LOVE FASHION! Because of the pandemic, there have been a lot of quarantine trends. My favorite trend is pretty broad but I call it the “experimenting trend”. With events being cancelled and a lot of people staying home, I think now is the perfect time to try fashion trends that you are afraid of. Are you nervous to wear shorts? Cool, let’s work on that. Buy a pair of shorts, wear them around your house for a day, go to a zoom meeting in them, maybe go to the grocery store (with a mask on of course!) in them, wear them around to get comfortable in them!

Then by the time everything opens up again, you’ll be rocking those shorts with all the confidence. If we are staying home to be safe anyway, try out some clothing you have always wanted to wear.

Growing up, who were your role models for body image and confidence? And what is your perspective on being a role model for so many people who follow you today?

My role models for body image and confidence going up were any characters that I could see representing me even a little bit! Tia and Tamera from ‘Sister, Sister’, Oprah, Scary Spice, Kim from ‘Moesha’, Tyra Banks, and Terri the plus size model from ‘Degrassi’. Seeing little bits of me being represented by so many strong, intelligent women really made me the person that I am today. 

Being a role model to others now is so weird to think about! To know that I have helped people love themselves, who I may never meet, meet is just mind boggling to me. I am thankful to have this opportunity to just make people not feel so damn alone. I have had many partners of people who deal with mental health, as I do, ask me questions on how to understand their partners more. That really makes me so happy that I can reach that second layer of people. I am just grateful to be there for people and help make them feel good.

A lot of brands use terms like “Diversity” and “inclusion”, but don’t necessarily practice what they preach. As a consultant, what do you have to say about the importance of walking the talk? 

Honestly, it’s 2021 and these brands are NOT fooling anyone. If you are a brand not catering to at least all bodies and races, baby what are you doing?! These brands will ultimately need to step up sooner or later, and if you are stepping up later it will only be harder for you, the talent you work with, and your audience. I also think brands that really get it right now are the brands that look at diversity and inclusion more than just a Black person and a size 20 women modeling for you. Diversity and inclusion is more than race and bodies, and if you are reading this and interested learning all the other categories contact me and I’ll invoice you!

As a queer Instagram content creator and Youtube personality, can you talk about the power of LGBTQ representation growing in digital media?

LGBTQIA+ in digital media is another “COME ON IT’S ALMOST 2021!” The LGBTQIA+ community has been here for so long, so if you are making content and you are not including those roles played by members of the actual community, you are literally walking away from not only money, but respect. Also, when the LGBTQIA+ community is represented we will blast your content! Everyone will be watching it and talking about it because we know what is good. The importance of LGBTQIA+ representation is just as important and honestly will probably make your content at least 1.5x cuter 🙂

One of the things we love about you is that you aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and show the not-so-glam parts of life sometimes. Why is this important to you? 

I think being vulnerable on social media is important because whether you know it or not, when you look on social media you see things that look so damn “perfect”. Whether it is bodies, houses, parties, friends–we look at this stuff, compare ourselves and think “Why aren’t I like that?”

We all have days, weeks, months of low points and to post continuous pictures and videos of me smiling in a cute outfit is not my reality, so I’m not going to post as if I am always okay because like no one is always okay.

2020 was a tough year for everyone. Can you share some encouragement for those struggling with their mental health right now? 

What I have been practicing is to not be so hard on myself. What we are going through right now is not the norm that we are used to, and for so long I was being so hard on myself for feeling sad and unmotivated like “Jazzmyne pick yourself you got this, you are strong lets go!” In all reality, yeah I am strong but I also need to process and give myself time to feel my feelings. 

So my advice is if you are feeling something, give yourself a moment to process these feelings and know that recognizing how you feel and not shaming yourself for it is on your self-love journey. 

What would be your dream Instagram collab and what are you manifesting for 2021?

Okay honestly, I am like READY to collab with a brand on a clothing line. For a while, I thought like maybe I’m not good enough or not relevant, but YOUR GIRL KNOWS HOW TO DRESS! I would love to collaborate with a dope brand *cough cough ASOS* and have a little capsule collection with just some cute, bold clothes! Other than that, I am thankful for any opportunities that come to me, I only ask that I can continue to be myself and speak my mind.

Follow everything Jazzmyne Jay is doing on Instagram, and if you are a clothing brand who wants to collab, slide into her DMs asap!