Roxy Reyes, Model & #GOODSQUAD Original, has a Message for Fashion Brands Out There
It probably won’t come as a shocker that Roxy Reyes is sort of a favorite over here at Good American. You've definitely seen her on our Insta, in our campaigns, and she's been our host for Good Times' IGTV. We were first introduced to Roxy back in 2016, during open castings for our #GOODSQUAD and campaign with Khloé Kardashian. Since then, she's remained an integral part of our family (and sisterhood!). We have the luxury of knowing her so well and have been witness to her making major career moves since our initial meeting many years ago, but we wanted to share more of her story with the rest of the world.
After seeing her post on social about the struggles of finding a swimsuit to wear in her upcoming triathlon, our CEO and co-founder, Emma Grede, immediately jumped into her comments, asking for the opportunity to design a swimsuit for Roxy ourselves. That sparked an entire conversation on how companies and fashion brands are missing the mark on something that's so completely obvious: design and produce clothing for people of all sizes, dammit! We wanted to talk to Roxy more in-depth about this, so we snuck off to a nearby office, and chatted about the subject. Here's Roxy's valuable two cents, and a look into her life before and after joining the #GOODSQUAD.
Talk to us about why you signed up for the triathlon and then the experience of going to shop for the clothing needed for the actual event.
I’m a pretty active person now. But since I was a little bigger when I was younger, I wasn’t really allowed to play in sports. Even though I feel like I was better than most of the girls, I’m assuming they looked at me and judged the book by its cover and were just like, “Yeah, you’re just not going to make the cut.” I think now that I’m an adult and I’m fit, I can try and do these things that I never thought I could. It started off with soccer. It was a six-week kind of program. We’d meet once a week and learn about the sport and play. And then, I kind of just kept getting feedback from the coaches, “Have you played before? You're really good at this.” I’m just like, “No. Never played soccer, this is literally my first time ever playing soccer.” So, that kind of gave me the confidence to try other things, and I’ve been wanting to do a triathlon forever. I just love being challenged! I thought that’d be a great way to be challenged, and I actually am pretty challenged. It’s not like I feel like I’ve bit too much off. I feel like I’m obviously preparing and training to hopefully be able to finish it.
So, just from doing that and seeing how your body changes, were you like, “Oh, I didn’t realize my body did this!”?
I’m learning techniques and really applying them to the sport. Same thing with Muay Thai. When I was doing Muay Thai, my trainer was like, “I kind of want you to fight!” He puts together these fights all over LA, and it shows up in Fox Sports, and he was like, “Damn you’re kind of good. I kind of want to train you to fight.” Obviously, I would never do that because this is the money maker. (Laughs, points to her face.) Every time we trained he was like, “You’re really good at this. You should fight professionally.” That was another thing, I was like, “Oh, damn. I guess I’m good at something else.” Yesterday when I went to training for my running mechanics, after my second run of him kind of explaining how to do it, he said, “Wow! People don’t really learn the technique as fast as you did.” He was really shocked and surprised. I just keep shocking people.
It’s just natural for you!
I’m kind of shocking myself. I want to see how I do in those triathlons, which is a three-parter–swimming, cycling, and running.
Got it. So, when you started, you signed up for the triathlon, and then you had to go shopping for everything you needed.
Yeah, that was hard. That was definitely hard. I think there’s a lot of things that kind of led to my breaking point with the swimsuit. Prior to that, I’ve worked with a lot of fitness companies. I do photoshoots, I go to events, I join different activities. But I feel like even when I do stuff with them and they’re quote, end quote “inclusive”, I always show up and they don’t have anything that fits me. They don’t prepare for the plus-sized girl.
Do you feel like, oh that’s my fault, or shame on them?
It’s shame on them. Because we are in 2019 now. That should not be happening. I should never feel excluded, but lately, I have been feeling that I’ve been putting myself in these situations and doing these classes, trying new things that I feel like most girls my size don’t. I’m learning a lot. I thought we were inclusive. I thought we were kind of heading towards a better place. But I’m finding out that we aren’t really. In pictures it may seem like companies are inclusive, but no, not really. I went to this event… a workout event. Afterward, they took us to one of their stores, and they were like, “Okay, go ahead and shop.” But they didn’t have a plus-sized section. I was just standing there while everybody’s shopping and there’s nothing for me to shop. So that was another thing. I know I always get these looks. Especially with yoga, I love working out in leggings and a sports bra and I always get women kind of staring at me and I already know why. And I’m a very confident person. I know who I am. I am very strong.
It’s just one thing after another, after another. It just seemed like I couldn’t catch a break. And then I go into Dick’s Sporting Goods and it’s the biggest Dick’s Sporting Goods that I have ever been to! It was two floors, it was huge, and they had not one single thing in my size. Not a short, not a t-shirt. They didn’t have any of the athletic swimwear. When I asked for help, “Do you guys have anything in a size 16?” The guy that worked there was like, “Oh, I think you’re looking for a regular swimsuit, which is upstairs.” I kind of took that offensively a little bit and I was like, “No, I am looking for the athletic one, that’s why I’m here.” But they didn’t have anything. I spoke to the manager, and I just love speaking up about this because if I don’t do it, who’s going to do it?
Photography by Devon Endsley
I’m a very confident person. I know who I am. I am very strong.
And you doing it can encourage others to do the same!
Yeah. And honestly the manager was very apologetic. He genuinely felt bad, and said there’s been other people like me, even men, who come in and are bigger and taller… and they don’t have stuff for them either. They’ve sent emails, but no one’s really doing anything about it. So, he felt bad and he gave me a gift card. He’s like, “If you ever come back to the stores, come talk to me, I’d love to be able to help somehow.” I thought that was great. They’re aware of it, but they have been telling people about this and nobody is doing anything about it. It was really frustrating. I was like, I just want one swimsuit! For a whole month, I was probably trying to find just one, simple black one-piece.
I’m kind of avoiding having to shop for everything else because I felt like shit. I felt bad. I felt so bad that they didn’t have something for me. I felt so excluded, and in sports, it just seems like there’s no room for plus-size women right now. I feel like people are trying to do that, but I feel like they’re doing it wrong or… it’s not even wrong. I feel like it’s not rocket science. If you are going to have a plus-sized woman on set, have options for her. Like, don’t just have one piece for her to wear. Or, if you have an event, make sure there are clothes for a plus-sized girl to shop from, too. There’s always an issue when it comes to sporting events or sporting anything. Just anything in general, there’s always an issue. So, yeah. Me struggling to find an athletic, black, simple, one-piece swimsuit was kind of like, it was definitely a breaking point for me.
Do you ever feel like your own personal style is limited?
Yeah. Always. Always. And I always have to improvise, too. I always have to just go with it. I’m tired of just having to go with it. I want to wear what I want to wear, and right now I feel like I literally wear Good American all the time. Because they offer a variety of clothes for curvier women. But then, fitness companies don’t really want to offer clothes for us to quote, end quote “lose weight” or get healthier. We just have it bad both ways. On one side, we’re being criticized, and the other is like, they don’t want to work with us. We’re left to do our workouts in the wrong clothing, which isn’t comfortable. It doesn’t feel good, doesn’t look good, which intimidates women, and then women don’t want to work out.
You know clothes give you confidence. You want to look good in your clothes, and feel good, and do good. So yeah, it sucks. And I never really felt like I was exposed to that until that swimsuit. And now, I’m noticing it a lot more these days.
The fact that you have to be called a plus-size model is ridiculous.
Yeah, like, let’s just be women. I feel like I still have to say "plus-size" or else people don’t get it. People don’t understand still. But what makes me even sadder is, I’m a fit size 16. And you know, I do all these activities, but what about a girl who’s never worked out, is a size 26, and just genuinely wants to get fit? I can only imagine what it’s like feeling that way and feeling so insecure and going into the store and just stepping foot into a Dick’s Sporting Goods. It's pretty intimidating. So, going there and finding absolutely nothing in your size, I can only imagine what it feels like.
Have you always been this confident?
You know what, no. No. Definitely not. I have my issues. You know, I’ve battled with eating disorders for ten years of my life.
What age were you when that first started?
I was 14 when it first started.
So, all through high school?
Mmm-hmm. I was bulimic for a long time. Then eventually became anorexic. And I was so skinny. I was losing hair. I was so, so thin. I was eating 100 calories a day and burning thousands a day.
Did anyone around you know?
I think they thought it was good. They were like, “Oh she’s losing weight finally.” I think in the Hispanic culture they don't know about eating disorders. I don’t think they’ve even heard what an eating disorder is. But no, if anything, I was kind of getting congratulated for losing the weight. Little did they know that I was hurting myself and my body.
What was the breaking point where you were like, “I can’t do this anymore”?
It’s like, really raunchy.
You don’t have to say.
No, you can write about. I don’t care. It’s actually better that people hear.
The true love of my life was singing, and I was in choir in high school. I was in a trio, I was is a quartet, I was doing solos, and music is definitely a huge part of me. I think towards the end of my eating disorder, I started bleeding from my throat because I was forcing myself to throw up a lot. Like, maybe ten times a day.
Your esophagus was wearing away.
Yeah. It was. And it's still there. I haven’t gotten it checked out, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me anymore. It was definitely a thing. And I think I also was really into "inspos" at the time. I was watching all these videos on how to be skinny, just kind of training myself. "Inspos" was, like Mary-Kate Olsen when she was going through anorexia, and “Don’t be fat” and “This is how much to eat a day”. They’ll tell you recipes like, eat half of a banana and then wait three hours and then drink some saltwater. I remember I saw a YouTube video of a girl who’s reading her sister’s diary. She’d committed suicide from being bullied, and she was not even close to being plus-size. She was a skinny girl, blonde hair, blue eyes, gorgeous! For whatever reason, society and the world made her feel like she was anything other than who she really was. She was gorgeous. So, she was reading her diary, and before she committed suicide, the last thing she wrote in her diary was “I just want to be beautiful.” And I think for me, I was like, “Okay, I have to stop.” I love kids so much, so that really hit a nerve and I stopped throwing up. I stopped forcing myself to throw up, but I continued to eat the same way I was eating before. I gained the weight back, and even more. So at one point, I was 300 pounds, until I wanted to try again to lose weight. I got a trainer, and it was hard. I feel like I should have seen a professional and I never did. It was definitely hard. I was depressed. I think my brain kind of blacked out the last four years of my life.
I don't remember much from it. I had to quit college because I couldn’t sit in class and focus because I was so hungry. I couldn’t sit there. I had headaches. There was always something wrong with me. I was always sick. So, I just kind of didn’t want to live that life anymore. I knew there was more to life than that.
What are the things that you love about yourself?
I think I have a great sense of humor. I’m very outgoing. I’m always the life of the party. I have such an open mind. I feel like people always tell me their weirdest, deepest secrets because they know I’m not one to judge. I’m very loving. I’m very affectionate. My weaknesses are... I have no patience. I hate waiting on people. I have road rage. I have major road rage. I feel like I have a short temper sometimes that I could probably work on. But whatever, I need it sometimes.
Are there sides of you, you wish people saw more or knew more about?
I’m a very emotional person, too, and I think I don’t show that as much as I should.
To protect yourself?
I think so. I think I learned the hard way that people use your weaknesses sometimes to get back at you. I'm a very emotional person, a very sensitive person. I try not to show that so people don’t use it against me. But, that’s something I’m currently working on–being okay with being sensitive and emotional. Just being like, whatever happens, happens. I mean, I already know it’s going to happen, so preparing yourself for what could happen is what has worked for me.
I mean, I feel like I lost those two years of my life, or probably more, just being infatuated by my weight, that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that. Slowly but surely, putting myself out there and talking about it, I got to meet other women who were also experiencing that. That’s how I started my Instagram before it became a thing before inclusivity was a bandwagon. I was there posting pictures of my outfits because I’ve always loved fashion, and that’s how I grew my following. And then here I am, 2019, modeling. It’s crazy.
Did you even imagine yourself growing up as a model?
I never, never thought I’d be a model. I tried being a model when I was 18 and someone told me I was too big to be a plus-size model. They were like, “You need to be a lot skinnier than that to be a plus-sized model.” I was a size 18, I think. So, yeah. Crazy. Crazy. I never thought that it would happen this way.
Do you still sing?
I don’t. But I am planning on it. Because musicals are my thing. My goal in life is to be in a musical. So…
I mean, go for it. Why not?!
I’m trying, I’m trying. I’m taking acting classes and I’m looking for an improve class I can take too because I love comedy, Bridesmaids sort of style. That’s definitely perfect for me and who I am. But, it has definitely been quite an experience and I think moving forward I’m going to have to be a lot more sensitive and more vocal about being truly inclusive. I feel like someone’s going to say, “You’re being dramatic.” But, if only they knew the reasons why I’m being quote, end quote dramatic. Like the true reasons why. It’s important to truly be inclusive, then people would understand more.
Well, and it’s not just an isolated event. It’s something you have to face.
I mean with the whole swimsuit thing, I think people were like, "Why are you being so dramatic? it’s a swimsuit.” Right, but people don’t know there’s so much behind it, and I haven’t been as vocal as much as I should be, but it’s so much deeper than a swimsuit.
Do you have women reaching out to you?
All the time. I have countless, countless women reaching out. I just always screenshot all of them, because when I’m having a hard time, hard day, or I want to give up, I go back to those messages and I read them. I need to get inspired, too. And it’s funny because I feel like my Instagram followers always say that I inspire them to do something, but it’s crazy because I feel like they inspire me to keep pushing and keep being the voice for all plus women. In everything that I do. It’s not just here at Good American. It’s not just with Nike. But, it’s everything that I am a part of, and I’m hired because I am a plus-sized woman and I always make sure to voice that. I tell them my concerns and I’m honest. Then sometimes they take it well, sometimes they don’t, but that’s not my problem.
Who are some people you look up to? Who inspires you?
Emma, I say, inspires me a lot. I would love to have her life. She has a great career, she has a great husband, Jens, who I love. She has a whole family, and she’s such a boss woman. She’s so nice and down to earth and funny. So, definitely her!
But everything you’re describing about her is who you are as well. You’re down to earth, amazing…
Let me have my own company, a husband and children, and I’m right there with her! But that’s why she and I really get along. It’s funny because when I first met her, I was doing castings for Good American. The very first casting, I thought she was Khloé’s assistant. I don’t think I ever told her this story. Which is why she and I clicked right off the bat.
Because you felt more comfortable with her?
Yeah! So, I was being myself and being dumb, and then, later on, we did an interview with E! News and the CEO’s of Good American and I am like…
I was literally on camera and I was like, “What! She’s the CEO?” I had no idea. Which worked out just fine!