As a plus-size model, Isabel Hendrix doesn’t fit the mold. But, then again, her overall aesthetic doesn’t fit neatly into any categories, either. You'll often see Hendrix decked head to toe in bright colors, with a variety of patterns layered one atop another. To describe her style as loud would be an understatement: She colors her hair frequently and wears lipstick and eyeshadow in neon hues. Her softer side comes out in lingerie shoots, like a collaboration with Alexandrea Anissa that features Hendrix looking ethereal in pink lingerie on a light pink bedspread.
Born in San Francisco, Hendrix bounced around for a while before deciding to officially settle down in Los Angeles. In a city notorious for its emphasis on looks, it can difficult for anyone to break into the world of modeling. But Hendrix found her niche, modeling for the brand Tunnel Vision and, in her downtime, blogging about fashion and self-love.
A friend inspired Hendrix to start blogging, and she fell into fashion accidentally. A lot of the people who inspired her happened to also be into fashion, as well as discussing issues such as social justice and feminism. Once she entered the realm of fashion blogging, Hendrix began creating her own style, which she realizes, looking back, can be traced to a number of different sources. She developed her love of tie-dye, for example, after seeing a friend’s mom wearing it.
It wasn’t long before Hendrix started breaking fashion rules, those commandments that state what you should wear for your body type, what you should and shouldn't mix, and what is trendy.
“When I first started caring about fashion at all, I was a lot more conscious of that kind of thing: what was cool — deemed by society and not, like, cool to me,” Hendrix says. “As I tried more and more different fashion stuff, and as I found different people who had different, unique styles, I just became more and more comfortable doing my own thing and seeing what I really liked myself.”
For Hendrix, the key lies in surrounding yourself with people who approach fashion in a similar way. She spends time with those who see it “as a fun way to express yourself” and who look at the art of creating an outfit as “more than just what’s trendy.”
At the moment, Hendix has more than 60,000 Instagram followers. Besides posting photos from her shoots, she also writes self-love tidbits. In a recent post, she shared a photo of herself in a one-piece swimsuit. On one side of the split-screen photo, she smiles, her hip confidently cocked, while the other side shows her gazing behind her shoulder with a coy, surprised look on her face. The caption for the photo reads: “Psychedelic dream. Sending love to every1 who has a hard time during the holidays — remember that you can create your own family of people who love you and accept you however you are!”
This mix between playfulness and seriousness comes through often in Hendrix’s social media presence. It’s a good approach, given the volatile nature of online spaces. While social media can create a supportive community, it also can attract less-than-friendly commenters. Posting photos on Instagram creates a sense of vulnerability, as each post leaves you open to critique from strangers on the Internet — especially if you work within the fashion realm.
But Hendrix learned how to deal with the haters. For starters, she doesn’t keep negative comments up on her posts because she says that will only encourage others to add to the noise. As she puts it: “People go nuts and say weird and horrible things.” And sometimes sarcasm works just as well.
“If it’s a guy, I’ll respond, like, ‘Oh my gosh another guy who cares what a woman looks like and dictates how she should dress? What a shocker, I’ve never seen that before,’” Hendrix says.
When it comes to negative comments online or IRL, Hendrix takes a no-fucks-given approach. Whether her style or looks appeal to someone or not, she continues to dress the way she wants.
“Everybody has different aesthetic choices in what they like, and obviously no one is going to ever look good to everyone in the whole world,” Hendrix says. “It’s ridiculous to assume that. Some people for some reason have it in their head that everybody should look good to them at all times. When you think about it, it’s so bizarre.”
But the road to finding this self-acceptance wasn't easy for Hendrix. After dealing with depression and an eating disorder, she finally realized that she couldn’t keep judging herself based on impossible standards. Now she makes sure to practice self-care and not demand too much of herself even as she keeps busy. She suggests taking time to step back and think about even the smallest accomplishments and congratulating yourself for completing them.
“It sounds kind of silly, but I feel like little reminders add up over time,” she says.
Hendrix's message proves powerful even for those who don’t pose in front of a camera every day.
“You have your life — do you really want to spend it being concerned with such trivial things?” she asks. “You should be able to enjoy your life and not be thinking, ‘Am I doing things right? Am I eating the right thing? Am I wearing the right thing?’”