Black, plus-size model and LGBTQIA+ icon Jari Jones officially has her own Calvin Klein billboard in New York City and I truly cannot express how much I love this for her.
Jones, who identifies as a “trans queen lesbian” made her Calvin Klein debut as part of the “Proud In My Calvins” campaign back in May, but now she’s got her face on a bloody NYC billboard, which is a monumental achievement for anybody.
The campaign is a huge step in the right direction for diversity, giving people an opportunity to see their race, gender, sexuality or body type on a billboard, rather than the stock-standard supermodel look (which is also perfectly fine).
2009 vs. 2020 pic.twitter.com/Fgt8cZSd1P
— honest papi ????????︎ (@trey_forde) June 24, 2020
But while the campaign itself was a huge win for LGBTQIA+ and POC representation in modelling, the hate comments directed at Jari Jones show how far we still have left to go.
Jones took to Instagram to reveal “the ugly” side of her journey, posting a number of the truly heinous things she’s had written about her since the billboard was first debuted.
“Learning today that though this ride will be such a blessing from the universe , god and the ancestors , there are things and people, miserable behind computer and phones screens that will try to suck out every ounce of joy I have left in my body. It comes with the territory I guess,” she wrote. “It comes with showing the world that Black folks, that Trans folks , that Fat folks can be celebrated and loved and empowered publicly.”
“I’m practicing self love everyday , I’m practicing boundaries everyday , I’m practicing balance everyday to armour myself for this fight but I know it’s gonna be a tough road ahead but like my queer trans ancestors believed, the people and the community and the youth I’m doing all this for ….are worth the mental ass kicking!!!!!”
The truly disgusting comments included racist, transphobic and fat-shaming language, thus illustrating that despite the huge steps we’ve made in the right direction lately with the BLM movement, we’ve still got a long way to go
“That’s a man baby,” one wrote.
“Shaniqua then dies from morbid obesity,” another said.
It goes without saying that anyone in the model industry or the public eye will receive some levels of trolling and hate, but Jones has been blatantly misgendered, fat-shamed and the target of racially-fuelled abuse just because she was offered the opportunity to be on a billboard.
We’re not talking about a problematic celebrity who’s facing backlash for their questionable opinions, we’re talking about a woman who is just trying to live her life and use her platform to give a voice to some of the most oppressed voices in the room.
Thankfully her post resulted in an outpour of support from fans who called her “a beautiful queen” and reminded her that “we all adore you.”
“People are ugly and you are beautiful. Congratulations on the campaign. I do not know you, but I am proud of you,” one fan wrote.
“I didn’t know you are trans, everything I saw was beautiful lady getting job she absolutely deserves … you are amazing and thats it,” another added.
You’d think it goes without saying, but if you’re thinking of sending somebody hate on the basis of their race, gender, sexuality, religion, weight or anything else that they can’t help, just don’t.