Work It Wednesday - Erica Exposed
On this week's Work It Wednesday, we've featured the awesome and amazing Erica Exposed. What does she have in store for us? Find out!
1. First off, share a little about YOU. Who IS Erica Exposed?
Well… if you hadn’t guessed, my name is Erica! I am a plus-size woman who also happens to be: disabled, outspoken, compassionate and unapologetic. I created @EricaExposed as an online platform where I can publicly reveal my thoughts, opinions, feelings and experiences. I had hoped to become a genuine “breath of fresh air” in the digital world – where I feel that social media is often an inauthentic reflection of our self-worth. Erica Exposed started as a fashion and beauty blog although, I later realized that there was still so much depth to explore within. I expanded my range to include “lifestyle” and wellness (i.e. mindfulness, physical and mental health, fitness) and have used my educational background (MSW) to do so. My hope is that Erica Exposed will be more than just a blog in the relatively near future!
2. What inspired you to create your blog and become one of the city's up-and-coming bloggers?
I’d hardly say that I’m one of the city’s up-and-coming bloggers – but I’ll take the compliment! Growing up, I yearned for a role model that resembled myself in mainstream media, but the 90s (and even the early 00s) weren’t highlighting these women (i.e. curvy, plus size, voluptuous). I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, and desperately tried to escape it. One day, I stumbled on a body-positive Tumblr account and saw beautiful plus-size women showing off their style in #OOTD posts. From then on, I knew that it was possible for me to feel beautiful, confident and to be visible. I attended a media event in 2013 and met some iconic plus-size bloggers. Queen Marie complimented my style and personality and encouraged me to start a blog. That night, I took my platform from Tumblr to Blogspot and haven’t looked back since. I have always told myself this: If I am able to help even just one person to positively change the way they approach self-worth, self-love and/or self-confidence, I will be fulfilled.
3. We LOVE that your blog promotes positive messages and that you're a self-identified feminist and disability advocate. How does your advocacy come through in your brand?
Thank you so much! I think that my advocacy can be recognized by my demeanour and the careful selection of language I use. I hold myself (and others) accountable and operate from an anti-oppressive lens. There have been occasions where I’ve politely declined brand partnerships or collaborations due to concerns of cultural appropriation and/or exploitation, for example.
Having the lived experience of a physical disability has broadened my insight and awareness, and has heightened my level of compassion. What I have gathered from this experience is, that you need to be visible and heard in order to be a successful advocate (for yourself and/or others). By sharing my story so openly (seriously, ask me anything), I hope to empower and inspire others facing similar adversities. I am not ashamed of my disability and I won’t hide the fact that I use mobility devices (which is apparent from my social media) *(see images with my cane/walker)*. I refuse to tone down my experience or quiet my voice in order to fit into a socially constructed mould.
Also, I just wanted to throw out my definition of “body positivity”, if I could. To be “body positive”, one must recognize that all bodies (including your own) are unique, personal, valid and beautiful. All bodies are good bodies. No ifs, ands, or buts. I want to stress that body positivity is not only about size or shape. We are intersectional beings, who carry a lot with us. There has been more diversity and representation in mainstream media as of late (did you see perhaps the most body positive fashion show put on by Lesley Hampton at TFW?). This is amazing and important; however, there is still so much work to do!
4. Outside of blogging for Erica Exposed, you're also a social worker, which is a pretty demanding job. How do you balance full-time work and keeping your blog up-to-date? Any advice for other full-timers?
I will always consider myself to be an advocate (and social justice warrior) before taking on my “blogger identity”. Although, who says you can’t be both?! I like to use my blog as a platform for the topics that matter most to me. When you write (or speak if Youtube is more your thing) about issues that you are passionate about, you will be more inclined to spend the time doing so. I do work full-time, but I am blessed to work evenings/nights, which means that I am able to dedicate a few morning hours (my most productive time) brainstorming, creating and/or writing. Also, I keep a running note page on my iPhone for content ideas, since I am usually on the go!
5. If you could pinpoint one thing to being responsible for your success, what would it be?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing, because I hardly think that one thing can be solely responsible for my success. I do think that what sets me apart in this competitive industry is my willingness and genuine desire to connect with people. In the digital industry, we are often communicating and demonstrating outreach through our technology. I always take the time to acknowledge and appreciate others (especially in person). Fostering continued relationships is so important (i.e. check in emails, supporting other’s content and events) if you want to be successful. I also love taking in-person meetings with brands, collaborators and like-minded individuals. That way, we can vibe off each other and create something magical!
6. What’s been the most challenging part of growing your brand?
Wow, this question is even more difficult than the last! Okay, well… I can’t help but recognize that I’ve encountered more pain and trauma (both physical and emotional) in the past 4 years than I would have liked to. When you barely have the emotional fortitude to get through the next few hours, how can you be expected to perform executive functioning tasks such as, time management? Therefore, I would say that confronting consistency has been one of my greatest challenges. At times, I also get swept away and feel as if I’ve lost my voice; I often experience writer’s block as a result. Also, I don’t have an Instagram husband! However, I manage because I’m determined and resourceful. One of my favourite pictures of myself was shot by yours truly using the self-timer option on my iPhone. *photo of Toronto skyline – attached image*
7. What advice do you have for other bloggers out there?
I mean, it wouldn’t hurt if you spent a little more time on your blog than I do (haha). Just kidding, I’m not here to preach to the choir about consistency (you can get that advice anywhere). Truly, the best advice I have to give is: stay humble, kind and true to yourself. There is only one you, and you do that job better than anyone else! Also, please consider using your privilege and klout to create social change! I’m going to throw down on of my favourite quotes: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” – Mark Twain
8. Who are your favourite bloggers and why? Let's share the love!
I LOVE to share the love! I met one of my best friends through blogging. Her name is Allie and her online persona is (ailurophilewithstyle.com). (FACT: Aiulurophile means cat lover.. which is legitimately the essence of Allie). To me, she is some sort of magical being who can literally wear anything while looking amazing in it. I spend a lot of time reading “Sarah Plus Life” (sarahpluslife.com) because we share similar views about human nature and personal growth. Sarah is currently on a health and self-discovery journey, as am I. I am very self-aware, but always strive to be even more in tune with myself. Following along with Sarah’s progress helps to keep me motivated and inspired! I am also obsessed with horoscopes and read Chani Nicholas’ Astrology blog religiously. She’s the real deal. (chaninicholas.com)
9. How do you #workit everyday?
I’m able to #workit (almost) everyday by staying positive. I truly and deeply believe in the power of positivity. My sense determination and ability to “keep going even when the world gets tough” helps with this. I can’t really achieve much if I’m not in a good mindset while trying to do so. I became legally disabled this year, after requiring emergency spine surgery to treat a rare condition. I have spent most of 2017 recovering from a spinal cord injury, including two months of hospitalization. Even before this, I was living with chronic pain for 3 years and it really broke down my spirit. I am privileged to have been on the “good outcome” side of the spectrum and have progressed from wheelchair to walker and from walker to cane(s) over 7 months. When I realized how close I came to becoming paraplegic, something changed within: I am a living miracle. After much reflection, I was able to develop the deepest form of gratitude, and understand that I was given a gift that I must share with others. I remind myself of this by writing in my gratitude journal daily, and spreading love and cheer wherever I go. Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. Sending love, light and good vibes to all who see this!