Interview: Anastasia Garcia
If you’ve been following Playful Promises for any length of time, you’ll probably have noticed how femme empowerment and diversity is extremely important to us. We’re constantly striving to expand our size range and options, as well as featuring a wide range of our customers on our social media. Which is why, when it came to needing a photographer for our Hunter McGrady swimwear collaboration, we were extremely excited by Anastasia Garcia’s portfolio!
Not only is Anastasia an amazing photographer, but her portfolio is full of diverse, beautiful people that have stepped in front of her lens. Having worked with Hunter before, and well-versed in shooting plus size campaigns and models (including Tess Holliday, Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, Danielle Brooks and more), she was the perfect choice.
Want to find out more about Anastasia? She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work, body positivity, and how the industry is changing.
Could you tell us a little bit about your photography and how long you've been shooting?
I'm a fashion photographer, and body activist based in New York City. I’ve been shooting for eight years. I am passionate about creating imagery that celebrate women in a variety of shapes, sizes, races, and abilities. My photography is a tool to help empower women, and encourage women to love themselves, and to love their bodies. It’s my hope that my imagery will inspire, and serve the people viewing it, instead of damaging them, as so much fashion imagery has done.
What drives you to photography?
Above all, photography is my chosen medium for artistic expression. I went to art school, and learned first and foremost how to be an artist. Photography has always been a way for me to express my perspective of the world. To illustrate the world (or in my case women, and fashion) how I see it.
As a female photographer, do you find the photography industry inclusive?
No, I don’t find this industry to be inclusive. We’re starting to see more diverse models popping up in magazines, and in campaigns. (I put emphasis on the word starting, because we still have SO far to go.) But we aren’t talking about diversity behind the lens. The photography industry is very much a white male dominated industry. People of color are largely left out (as creatives), and plus size folks are also left out. The industry truly needs to become more inclusive behind the scenes. We need people who can authentically speak to different experiences, to be seated at the table.
There's such a wonderful, diverse range of body shapes/types in your portfolio, could you tell us more about this?
I am a plus size woman, who grew up looking at fashion magazines, films, music videos etc. For most of my life I hated myself because I didn’t fit into a mold of what was “conventionally beautiful” (read: thin). I began dieting at 12 years old, so I could look more like the girls in the magazines, or on TV. I felt flawed and disgusting for so much of my life. When I began my education as a photography student, I knew that I loved fashion. I knew that I wanted to make the type of inspiring images I was seeing in the most influential fashion magazines. And moving through my education, I understood that fashion models looked “a certain way”. I understood that if I wanted to “make it,” I would have to shoot a specific-sized woman (read: size 0-2). Another body type didn’t feel like an option. In the beginning, I didn’t care. I just wanted to be a well-known fashion photographer, like Annie Leibovitz. It wasn’t until I was presented with the opportunity to speak up for plus size women, at work, that I realized I needed to re-evaluate who I was shooting, and why. From that moment on I began shifting the focus of my lens to include a more diverse range of bodies, and races. I realized that as a photographer I had a responsibility to not continue to perpetuate the same destructive (and unrealistic) beauty standards that damaged me growing up. It’s been eight years, and I haven’t turned back since. I believe all shapes, sizes, races, abilities, and ages are beautiful. I think it’s time media reflect the beautiful and diverse people of this world.
What advice would you give to plus size women getting in front of the camera?
It’s easier said than done… but don’t over think it. The camera can read everything… so just have fun! Learning how to be a great model takes years of practice. It’s all a process of trial and error… so try to enjoy the process and just have fun!
How do you think the fashion industry could make plus size women feel included?
By including us more! Put us in magazines, and not just in a small image front of book. Give us covers. Gives us 8-page fashion spreads. Cast us in films, and TV shows…. and not as “the poor fat girl”. Let’s create media together that tells our stories, and showcases our beauty.
I also believe the fashion industry could be more conscious not just about the women they put in front of the camera, but also the talent they hire behind the scenes. We don’t JUST need more visibility of plus bodies (although more of that please), we also need more body diversity behind the scenes.