Khrystyana, the famous top model from America’s Next Top Model is the founder of The Real Catwalk (#theREALcatwalk) that started one year ago in New York. This year, The Real Catwalk returned to where it started, in Times Squares and it was the event of the year that celebrates body positivity, self-love, diversity and acceptance!
People of all shapes, sizes and looks promoted body diversity and inclusivity and showed how a catwalk can bring people together, no matter how different each one is. The aim of The Real Catwalk events is to celebrate beauty of all kinds and to show people that there is so much more to beauty than the type of bodies we always see in the media.
The latest Real Catwalk had the biggest participation, with an incredible amount of representation. There were beautiful people from all walks of life. It’s exactly the type of event that Khrystyana envisioned and shows how beauty can be diverse.
YASS Magazine was there to cover exclusively the event and interview most of the people who made The Real Catwalk become the new standard!
This catwalk was mind-blowing! I want to mention that in The Real Catwalk in London that took place the previous year in Trafalgar Square we set up the standards of my vision and it was the perfect basis and foundation for the future Real Catwalks. This time in Times Square in New York more than 230 people participated, compared to the first ever Real Catwalk in New York the previous year where 35 people took part! Everyone who participated had different stories. All the different bodies, shapes, sizes, genders were represented! It was a celebration of body and self love!
This time there was a lot of sensitivity around the Real Catwalk. Especially, because of the Victoria’s Secret Show controversy that was sparked about plus-size and transgendered women. For that reason, I wanted a trans woman to open and close the catwalk to show that there are no boundaries in catwalks.
The message that came across was very strong and we had a very big coverage! It was crazy! This time, we had some sponsors that helped us a lot to make this happen! They helped with outfits, food and, also, they prepared an amazing penthouse for us to get ready; we felt so pampered! Everyone was dancing and vogueing and having fun in the penthouse, it felt exceptionally comfortable to be yourself in such a safe place! It was truly amazing!
I am very happy about The Real catwalk and I hope that more people get in touch in the future! I am grateful that there are more people who are excited about it and are motivated to love their body and embrace themselves. I started something, but anyone can do it anywhere and help the Real Catwalk become the new normal.
For the future, I would like to take the Real Catwalk on a TV level, maybe on a TV show, or a documentary so that everyone can see it all around the world, and not only the people located in New York or London. They are so many people on Instagram who feel inspired and would like to watch it and be a part of it, so it would be nice if The Real Catwalk could reach everybody!
I have to say a big thank you to everyone who participated and made this dream come true! Also a big thank you to our sponsors: WomanWithin, Swimsuits For All, KingSize, Roaman’s and Pacifica Beauty.
credits: Salty World (IG: @salty.world)
“Hello, my name is Ashley Walker aka “MsBeYouDoYou” on all social platforms and I am a petite plus model, fashion blogger, body positivity activist, and motivational speaker at http://www.msbeyoudoyou.com. My goals are to empower and inspire others while continuously empowering myself to have the courage to always shoot their shot while #walkingbeyondthestandard for their goals and dreams. I am a woman and I believe those with platforms have a duty to uplift and encourage other women and the world.
I decided to participate in #therealcatwalk 3.0 because I have followed and admired Khrystyana since first seeing her on #ANTM. Everything she stood for and remained consistent in the way she carried herself and and others so when I saw her post about The Real Catwalk, I had to be a part of it. We have the same values and beliefs when it comes to love for others and the acceptance necessary to allow people to genuinely love happy lives. There was no better place than the The Real Catwalk to express those beliefs.
Our message to the world is that there is still beauty in our flaws and that it is okay to love yourself just as you are without worry of judgment from others. Beauty is not perfection, beauty can be found within the scars of our bodies and souls for it is the strength and love of self that creates beauty.
I can easily sum my experience with The Real Catwalk in one single word, “Iconic”!! The amazing souls I met, the relationships built, the connections made, getting to meet and know the love in Khrystyana was beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined. This was a priceless experience, I wouldn’t trade for the world and will forever be grateful and a better woman having lived it.
As my 2 year anniversary approaches of my career as a model and blogger as MsBeYouDoYou, I am truly honoured and humbled by all that I have been fortunate to experience and for every single person that has poured into me and my growth in this industry, I thank you all!!”
“My name is Dmitry, I am a hairdresser/make-up artist; who recently moved to America from Russia. I am a gay man who moved to America to have the freedom of being able to be myself. I do not believe that anyone should have to right to tell another person they can not live their own truth.
I was originally invited to work the event to help the participants with their make-up and hairstyles get them prepped for the event. But upon meeting Khrystyana and getting to see her passion behind the event, I decided i had to participate as a model. Upon helping all the beautiful models and being able to interact with them and hear their stories, it gave me the confidence to be able to walk with them through Times Square.
Being over weight through out my childhood, society was constantly telling me I didn’t look right. By participating in this event I wanted to show everyone that beauty standards are not set by the magazine cover, beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes. Look at me I’m beautiful as well, and I will not except any one telling me other wise.
By participating in this event I was able to increase my self confidence to another level. I am who I am and I am beautiful, body positivity is something I am learning with-in myself and I want to share that with everyone.
I want to give a very special thank you to Khrystyana and everyone involved with this project for helping spread the word of body positivity. For every person that is told that being plus sizes is not beautiful I want to wish you all the strength to endure the negativity placed upon you by society. It is important to take care of yourself and eat healthy and to be active but always remember it’s as important to accept yourself for who you are but just as important to take care of your health.”
credits: Allie Joseph (IG:@shotsbyalliej)
Leah Faye Caddigan
“My name is Leah Faye Caddigan and I identify as a Witch. I participated in the Real Catwalk to promote the idea that all people should love themselves, in public, shamelessly. I am a feminist, film-maker, podcast host and producer, and a theatre artist whose work focuses on body positivity, sex positivity, and the archetype of the Witch. The experience was one of the most empowering of my life.
Before I participated in The Real Catwalk I was very nervous as to how everyone in my life and beyond would respond. I was scared of facing online bullying as well as scorn from my peers. However, the flood of support I received from my community and the larger body positive, queer, and Witch communities has been brighter than the sun’s rays. Not a single negative comment has reached me since The Real Catwalk went viral, and I’m still having friends tell me I popped up in their newsfeed. I’m so grateful for Khrystyana for organizing this fantastic movement, and my friend model Lauren Karamen for getting me involved with the movement through her work, the 36.24.36 project which I posed for as well. When Lauren told me about The Real Catwalk and that they were seeking models, a wave of fear hit me along with a voice in the back of my head saying “You have to do this”. It took me no more than three steps into the green room the morning of the event to know for certain that I was where I needed to be. What I learned most from the experience is the lesson to find those who love you at your brightest, you deserve to shine. “
“My name is Gia Hayes, I’m 24 years old from Newark NJ. My story is that I’m a woman who loves to model and dance. I love the freedom to express myself and I’m not afraid to do it. I am one who lives not caring what anyone thinks or says.
I participated in The Real Catwalk because I’m sick of the way beautiful is portrayed on the runway. Not just on the runway. There’s a change in the world of fashion that needs to be made. We need magazines, designers and well known fashion influencers to change their language about what humans should look like. They are indirectly dictating the lives of many who have hopes and dreams. Dreams that are getting crushed by their words and actions. I wanted to be a part of that change. I wanted to be a part of the message that needs to be spread across the world. The message that real beautiful comes in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders, etc. That’s what needs to be in the media, diversity! And not just limited to racial diversity.
This experience was amazing. I’ve never felt so empowered and on top of the world as I did on that runway. This was a wonderful experience that I was so grateful to be a part of. When the catwalk was done many came up to us letting us know what a beautiful thing we’re doing. To hear and see how we impacted the people standing around us were, is showing that our message is being received. This is only the beginning. There’s still a lot of work to do!”
“My name is Alonzo Cruz Bourne and I identify as a gay man with a sometimes androgynous style. I also perform and have the stage name Ruby Inari.
When the beat of the music drops, I strut on a stage. Confidence, Elegance, Joy, Freedom all radiate from me. My stage name is Ruby Inari. I was born and raised in East Flatbush Brooklyn and growing up I knew I was different. I knew I was meant for great things. When I hit 20 years of age I began to blossom into the person I am today. My sometimes androgynous style, my boldness, my radiant energy all broke through. Admittedly it was a bit hard to accept myself in fear of society and a matter of safety. I realized however, I only have one life and it’s my duty to live it to the fullest to the best of my ability.
I am honoured to have been part of The Real Catwalk and for me it allowed me to be the physical embodiment to inspire and empower people to be who they are with no regrets. We all deserve happiness and that first starts with ourselves. The more love and happiness we radiate, the better this world will be and all the scars left on the world will be in vibrant colours.”
“My name is Vidal Francisco, 25 years old, non-binary (not pronoun specific), living in Brooklyn, NY, fresh out of swampy sunshiny Florida. Back at home I’m known as somewhat of a Disney princess. I frequented Walt Disney World often, always in a princess-inspired outfit, but still rocking my natural face and beard. I’m a sappy whimsical soul and I just wanted to make my park trips a little more magical through my fashion choices, and in doing so, I started to see how much of an impact I was creating. WDW Resort is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world, and I was being seen by families from just about everywhere, providing a visibility to trans and gender non-conforming individuals that the media does not provide for us unfortunately. After so many supportive, heart-warming experiences with parents and children at Disney, I then made it my mission to venture out of my home and push for visibility in media, hence my move to New York.
When I heard about The Real Catwalk, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to spread my message of inclusiveness and visibility. The love and positivity at the event were so very tangible there. Khrystyana looked straight into my soul with those beautiful green eyes and told me, “You need to radiate happiness and show the world that you are beautiful, because you are, truly.” With her words echoing in my head, I donned a dress and tiara once more, this time inspired by Disney’s own New York City princess Giselle from Enchanted, and strut down that runway. I feel so fortunate to have walked alongside so many beautiful individuals of all shapes, sizes, colors, and identities in none other than Times Square itself. You don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful or to be a princess; you simply need to have courage and be kind.”
“My name is Jazmine Shepard, I’m an educator from Connecticut, and I am transgender. I came to New York for this amazing event, and truly did not know what to expect. When you arrive with everyone in Times Square, The Real Catwalk is pure magic, full of love, and friendship. It’s an instant spontaneous wonderful feeling. What really mattered is people showcased their gorgeous bodies to the world. No matter their size, race, class, religion or identity. We all represented the real world, and real bodies. It was beautiful and moving. When you are in that space, and you can feel the electricity, energy, and love all at once, you are changed forever. It’s important in times like this, when people who so strongly influence the world, don’t take a stand. Like Ginetta Sagan once said, “Silence in the face of injustice, is complicity with the oppressor” We took a stand, we conquered and if one human being sees themselves in the show and can learn some self love, that’s all the matters. I’m truly blessed and thankful. I’m so thankful for every model, photographer, guest, tourist, and random New Yorker that was passing by. You’re magic, made it possible. “
I wanted to participate in the real catwalk to show that ALL bodies including non-binary and queer bodies are valid. There’s also such a stigma around black males being or looking feminine and I want to combat that. Fuck gender norms.
“I am a beautiful black artist who identifies as a non-binary baddie. I don’t really believe in gender and go by all pronouns.
The message was to let the world know that ALL bodies are beautiful. With idiots like Victoria’s Secret putting down women of trans experience and plus-sized model, it’s so important to speak up and be seen. It surpassed anything that I could have imagined. It felt and feel so empowered now. It can be so scary to step outside looking the way I do. At times I feel scared for my life, but I don’t regret a thing. I hope that my presence made a difference. “
“My name is Constance Smith, an Afro-Latina plus-size lesbian model from Boston, MA.
I participated in The Real Catwalk for anyone struggling to love and accept themselves. I believe that everyone should embrace their flaws and eliminate any and all expectations that are believed to be “society standards.”
I am so thankful to have been able to walk the runway and meet such beautiful individuals from all walks of life! The overall experience was so uplifting and I encourage everyone to take part in future shows!”
Ady Del Vale
“My name is Ady I am a Gay Latino, I am also a plus male model, I have been modeling for 3 years, BOPO Advocate and LGBTQ Advocate.
I participated in the Real Cat Walkbecause I wanted to be that representation we don’t see or have in fashion or media. Being the biggest ion size actively in the industry I had to do this for those at home who do not see themselves represented. I wanted to also represent my Latinos, ,y LGBTQ community, the disabled and for mental health. I am a piece of all those things.
The message spread was to be you, be free in the skin your in, no matter who you are and what you look like. This experience was freeing, and liberating, I was able to leave all my insecurities, the hate I get, the stigma people like me have ans left it all in that runway.
I want everyone to see themselves in the people that walked, and realize they are worthy they are capable of being them and pursuing any dream you have. Not to let society dictate what we can do and be. I want to use my platform and purpose to make the impossible happen for those that need to representation.”
credits: Holly Grace Jamili (IG: @hollygotgrace)
“Hello! My name is Hann Browning and I was a model in The Real Catwalk. I identify as non-binary and my pronouns are they/them. I am a 28 year old non-binary photographer living in Brooklyn, New York.
I wanted to participate in The Real Catwalk because it is this beautiful, inclusive and empowering experience and being a part of it meant celebrating inclusivity and visibility. Everyone was so warm and inviting and kind! From the get-go it was so evident that everyone was there to radiate positivity, love and support. I chose to wear a binder for the walk because visibility is meaningful; to be able to see someone you can relate to and connect with is so empowering! Not everyone knows what a binder is for, or who would wear one and to normalise what that can mean to a person is important. My binder makes me feel one with my body and makes so many others feel comfortable in theirs so if someone can see me and think ‘okay, I can do that!’ or ‘that person looks like me!’ that’s all I hope ask for. The walk included such a diverse group of bodies, ethnicities and gender identities and I was and am so honoured to be a part of something that celebrates that diversity and is working to change beauty standards. Hopefully one day all runway shows can look the The Real Catwalk!”