When my best friend told me that Jazzmyne Robbins was walking in a runway show that her girlfriend designed items for during New York Fashion Week, I immediately texted back in all caps, “CAN I INTERVIEW HER?” Ever since Jazzmyne was featured on a panel at last year’s theCURVYcon, I’d become obsessed with her unapologetically bold looks and colorful makeup style. I wanted nothing more than to get the chance to sit down with her—even if for only a few minutes.

I arrived at the Brooklyn Museum for DapperQ, the biggest queer fashion event during Fashion Week and the site of the Sharpe Suiting show, and attempted to find the balance between gushing fangirl and serious journalist. When I saw her standing next to me waiting to chat with the designer, I momentarily froze before working up the courage to introduce myself. After a brief rehearsal—where I got to see the incredible models of all sizes, colors, and genders walk the runway for the first time—Jazzmyne and I searched for a quiet place to chat. The only option was two puffy beanbag chairs. When I told her that I’d never conducted an interview from a beanbag before, she responded, “[There’s a] first time for everything!”

Though she was fresh-faced and wearing activewear in preparation for getting into show mode, on an average day, makeup and fashion are two of the many ways Jazzmyne expresses her individuality. But back in Illinois where she grew up, what made her so unique was also what made her so anxious about fitting in.

As the only plus-size person of color in her friend group, she couldn’t help but notice how much she stood out, especially when she couldn’t shop in the same stores as her peers. “I was in a teen’s body when my friends were at a 3rd-grade-level body,” she told me. “[I always felt like I was] a little disconnected…because of my body.” Thankfully, her parents were there to teach her that there was nothing wrong with her size.

I was in a teen’s body when my friends were at a 3rd-grade-level body.

jazzmyne robbins in plus size fuchsia and lime green outfit
Jazzmyne slaying in neon hues and skin-tight separates.

But even with the support of her parents, Jazzmyne went to extreme measures to try to blend in with the crowd. “For so long I tried to go on diets, I developed eating disorders, tried to be smaller, tried to straighten my hair, tried to wear the clothes that they wore. And I just tried to not be me,” she told me. “I didn’t realize until a lot later that it really did something to me until I got around people who were more like me. It was hard—and I’m going to therapy now and working through that. But now it’s the total opposite. I’m very, very lucky to be where I am now, but it did come from a place of a little bit of a struggle.”

For Jazzmyne, the healing began when she started trusting herself over following society’s expectations. “I started leaning into what I truly wanted to do. I started in my little Midwest town where nobody was wearing lipstick. I started shaving one side of my head. I started wearing zebra-print glasses.”

After college, Jazzmyne wasn’t positive about what she wanted to do—but she knew what she wanted to accomplish. “When I moved out to LA from the Midwest, I gave myself pillars to go off of. [I told myself] if you’re moving 2,000 miles away, one, you’re going to work someplace that will accept you for you, no matter what. Two, you’re going to inspire people to become confident and to love themselves in whatever you do. And three, you’re going to be happy, genuinely happy to go to work. And, four, you’re going to make money,” she said. That’s what led her to work at Sephora to inspire people through makeup—and why she eventually took the video-producer role at BuzzFeed.

When I asked her how she snagged that coveted position at one of the most popular media platforms on the internet, she told me that she “worked [her] ass off” to move up to video producer after first getting hired as an intern. But what set her apart from the six interns who didn’t make the cut was her mission—to “help people feel confident no matter what.” After all, “you can teach anybody technical skills. You can’t teach someone to inspire others.” And that’s exactly what Jazzmyne has done for so many—including me.

For so long I tried to go on diets, I developed eating disorders, tried to be smaller, tried to straighten my hair, tried to wear the clothes that they wore.

jazzmyne robbins in makeup inspired by euphoria tv show

Jazzmyne in a “Euphoria”-inspired makeup look.

When you watch Jazzmyne’s videos—“We Had a Sketch Artist Draw Our Vaginas” is a personal favorite—you walk away immediately feeling uplifted. But her tone isn’t the usual brand of cheerleader-type body-positive content we’ve all seen our fair share of. Instead, she’s able to, without any affectations or forced bubbliness, empower her viewers to accept their bodies and remember that all sizes are worth celebrating. She’s immediately relatable—and, for me, her approach to building self-confidence feels so achievable because of that authenticity. Plus, with her signature bold lip and graphic eyeliner, she looks damn good while doing it all.

Jazzmyne never imagined she’d one day be walking in her second fashion show (her first was in 2016 for Stuzo Clothing) or inspiring so many through her work. “When I originally started working at BuzzFeed, I wanted to make content that made people feel good and made people feel confident to be themselves. And from that, I’ve come to really inspire some people,” she said.

One way that Jazzmyne inspires people is through her hugely popular Instagram account—I’m talking 538,000 followers huge. “Staying true and authentic to myself has helped me love myself more—but has also helped me grow a following that is very authentic. I’d rather have a smaller following of true-ass, authentic-ass people that really, really support me, rather than millions of followers who don’t care.” Her goal with her photos is to promote visibility—and to encourage everyone that they can wear whatever they want and rock it.

Staying true and authentic to myself has helped me love myself more.

jazzmyne robbins at thecurvycon in diy top and black pants
Jazzmyne at theCURVYcon wearing cling wrap (!!). 

And rock it she does. On the DapperQ runway, Jazzmyne stole the show by strutting in a royal-blue bodycon dress, printed trench coat and matching hat, scarf, and sunglasses to “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo and spreading good vibes with every step. The second she walked out, the energy of the audience rose—their cheers made it clear that we were all watching her personal mission of promoting confidence come to life.

Jazzmyne explained that being part of a show that’s so accepting of all bodies feels fantastic. “For so long, fashion was supposed to be not inclusive for certain people, whether that’s [because of] the money you have or the privilege you have. Having spaces where everyone can be accepted is uplifting. Why exclude people? There’s no reason.”

And that’s exactly why Jazzmyne says yes to events like the DapperQ fashion show and theCURVYcon. She sees them as safe havens for people who have struggled to find a community in the past because, in spaces like this, “You can be creative, you can be any size, you can be whatever…if you are gender-conforming or not, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to come here and you’re going to be accepted, no matter what.”

So far, Jazzmyne’s biggest takeaway from her life and career is the power of accepting and celebrating who you truly are. “For so long…I tried to dim myself for other people.” Now? “What I do is 100% for me and for the comfort of myself.”

There are many pieces that make up who Jazzmyne is. There’s “being in the LGBTQ+ community, being a woman of color, being a plus-size woman, being left-handed, being bald.” As for how she expresses her many multitudes through style, she can’t quite explain it. “I think the only thing you could say about me is I am 100% me, and you’ll know it when you see it. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t…but, to me, it feels good. And that’s all I’m looking for at the end of the day.”

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Second Photo: Bronson Farr

*Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.