Name: Leah Stanley
Location: Upstate New York
Occupation: Social Media Specialist
Leah Stanley is a small-town girl from Vermont who has conquered the Internet with her message of self-love and fierce fashion. As a child, she was taunted for being “fat,” but took the body-shaming bullies to task by maturing into a gorgeous, bubbly, contagiously confident influencer for people of all shapes and sizes.
“I knew that growing up I didn’t really have any role models like myself to look up to,” she says. “I didn’t really know that much about plus-size fashion and where to find it, or that fashion rules don’t exist! A larger space means a louder and bigger voice, creating a bigger impact. I really just want to reach as many people as I can. I love being able to spread a positive message.”
Back in 2014, a friend mentioned to her that she might have fun on Instagram. Although it took her two years to start her personal blogging and photographic adventure, she remembers how it began.
“She was always on Insta, and mentioned something about how I would most likely also enjoy the app,” Leah recalls. “I eventually created a personal Insta, which I loved. My friend was totally right. It was through my personal Insta, years later, that I had discovered a plus-size fashionista, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, that could be me.’ Shortly after I started up @Voluptuousleah and here we are!”
With her fashion advice and inspiration, she quickly found an audience.
“I started just by starting my Instagram and sharing my daily outfits. It’s always helpful to see another person’s outfits on the daily, to see how they style pieces differently than you or I,” she says.
One of the seminal moments occurred during winter storm Stella in 2017, when Leah boldly flaunted a bikini…in a blizzard. With her tenacious, visually stunning, and often hilarious posts, Leah blended beauty and brains with a keen knack for what to wear, regardless of size. That’s not to say that she didn’t encounter online trolls, or perplexed family members who didn’t understand what the point was of an online presence. That said, nothing is stopping her.
Leah continues to challenge herself to step outside of her style comfort zone, and to dream big. One day she hopes to possibly design Voluptuousleah swimwear, or simply to manage social media for a business. “That’s currently part of my day job, so we’ll see where it leads me!” she says.
And what message does this motivated model and inspiring Instagram influencer have for other fledgling fashionistas and fierce females out there?
“Always be yourself, let your personality shine and to love yourself. Most importantly, I also like to remind that there are so many people in the world working against us, that’s okay. Turn their negativity into energy you can use to fuel your growth and strength,” Leah says. “We cannot ever control what people say to us, but we can control the way we react.”
For her message of body positivity, self-love, and for being a role-model of motivation, we think that Leah Stanley is a very Cool Girl!
Keep in touch with Leah by following her on Instagram @Voluptuousleah.
We made a $200 donation to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Leah. We encourage you to make a donation too!