Jo Boon sits down with Ashton to chat about body positive activism, and how important it is to create an inclusive environment. Ashton has lived with a disability for a long time and, whilst it may impact how others see her, it has no affect on her extraordinary abilities. She is making waves in the fashion world, and showing others that beauty knows no size.
How did you first engage with the body positive movement?
I had another channel that I thought was my calling but, I found it wasn't. I didn't enjoy it and I was searching on YouTube one day for some clothing stores for Plus Size women that could help with my wardrobe and I came across a few people showing off clothes. Their personalities and the way they presented themselves inspired me to be more body positive. I felt as soon as I saw it that that was more of my calling and I fell absolutely in love with it. Plus, I really loved clothes but, I didn't know how to always put them together really well. I've learned a lot about not only fashion but, myself as well through doing this.
Are there people who particularly inspire you to love your body?
learningtobefearless, fatgirlflow, xbrittney89x, thesassytruth_ - These were some of the women I saw when I was looking up clothes and I felt a real sincerity and connection with them. Of course thesassytruth came into being a YouTuber after I had found my calling but, I still admire her channel and personality.
What advice do you have for people out there who are struggling with body image?
I would have to say this. I have struggled my whole life with my body image. I still struggle with my body image. There is no 100% happy days every day. Some days are just going to suck and that is how it is. But, you, in your person right now can change the bad days by changing the negative voices into positive voices and that is something really hard to do. I have always struggled with my stomach. Almost everyday I still wake up and look in the mirror and I hate it. I hate it more because of my medications are swelling it up and it's the biggest part of my body but, I do my best to change those thoughts into good ones. If it wasn't for my stomach taking the beating of the harsh pills my heart and lungs wouldn't be working. So I thank my tummy.
What motivated you to start making videos?
Some time after being diagnosed and starting treatment for PAH, I played a lot of online games and spent more time on social media since I was bedridden for most of the time. At some point I decided to make my own gaming videos and so I purchased a mic and camera. But, I soon found out that that wasn't my calling. Fashion and Body Positivity was. I purchased a Diva Ring (which is a total waste of money, get the $100 knock off one instead) and found that I liked these videos more. I found myself growing more confident as well. Never in a million years would I be doing lingerie or night gown videos two or three years ago. My body was off limits because to me it was disgusting. Then I saw myself on camera and started falling in love. Even with the red bumps I get from my medications.
Do you have a favorite video that you've done?
I enjoy all of my videos. I don't post a video unless I have worked super hard on it and in my heart I know its the best I could do with what I had at the time. Here is a link to my channel though: www.youtube.com/channel/UCyOgevLe8zZ-5bADXHpgfMQ?view_as=subscriber
Who are the best designers for larger sizes in your opinion?
boohoo - jackets, shirts
charlotte rusee - anything, but mainly jeans
torrid - shorts
forever 21 -
lane bryant - 2nd best underwear
adoreme - good underwear
rue21 - good shorts
What have been the highs and lows of the experience so far?
The highs of doing this particular thing and doing something in the public is when people, strangers, message you and thank you for posting something because their too scared too because of society. Either it be fashion, disability, body positivity it's all very scary and hard to do. When people tell me they are inspired by me to keep living because of their illness or to do something in the world that could cause any amount of positive change. That's what makes it all worth while for me. Helping others.
The lows is definitely the stress of it all. I have a very serious life threatening illness called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and sometimes my health can't handle it or my body doesn't do what I want it to do. Another thing is the mean comments. The vulgar and sexual harassment comments. The death threats and people telling me to just go ahead and kill myself. Another thing is when people tell me I am sick because I am fat or I have diabetes because I am fat. That is just plain ignorance and the health classes in school should be more educational. There is several type of diabetes. I have Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes. I got mine from a gene mutation as a child. Not as an obese person. I ask that you please educate yourself. But I am learning to not worry about those comments. Because I realize they come from unhappy people with self hatred reflecting unto me. I am not a punching bag and as it does still sting sometimes, I am not afraid of a block and report button. No one should ever be bullied because of who they are or their bodies. But, the biggest thing to me is not uploading regularly with a good schedule because of my illness. I don't like disappointing people.
What do you most want people to know about what you do?
That what I do has no definition. I am not more on one side of someones body positivty opposed to someone else. I float to my own river and I go off what I feel or think is right. I don't do what others do. That makes me somewhat unpopular in the community but that is to each their own. What I do is meant to be heard wither I am blunt or not. I do it for people who are never mention in the body positivity, fashion community and that's us disabled folks who would love a chance at getting noticed as well. I want people to know that disabled people can do just as much as a normal able bodied person can. We may need a little more time but, we can do it.