Aliyah Cherrisse knows that beauty doesn’t come in a certain size, shape or race.
The plus-size model who grew up in Atlantic City has found success in her curves.
But Cherrisse, who grew up in Atlantic City’s West Side, has struggled as well.
After having her third child, she went through heartbreak, insecurity and self-esteem issues.
Now, in raising her own spirits, she is hoping to help other BBWs — Big Beautiful Women, that is — find their own confidence.
She is teaming with good friend Jason Smart-El in a casting call that will find six women for a special photo shoot.
“Jason, who is like family to me, is amazing with his eye,” Cherrisse said. “He’s professional and always trying to help build his community. So these women that will be selected from our casting call should feel comfortable and bring their confidence because he’s going to bring this shoot to life in a special way.”
The event was born of comments in a Facebook status.
“It went from a simple conversation through comments with me and Aliyah to a master plan,” Smart-El said.
“We as women come in all shapes, heights and sizes but social media, magazines and television will have you thinking different,” Cherrisse said. “Body positive movements are going on all over the world now, so it’s an honor to finally be able to use my platform right here in the city that birthed me alongside one of our own young community pillars.”
It fits in with Smart-El’s clothing line, Unique & Rare.
“To be unique and rare is to be yourself,” he said. “Some people are afraid to be or not comfortable with themselves, whether it be insecurities or fear of being judged. Most photographers look for the skinny or petite models for pictures but beauty in all shapes, colors and ethnicities.”
Cherrisse followed plus-size modeling for years learning what it took and embracing her own body shape.
She attended Plus Night Out as a blogger in 2012 during her “trying to learn phase,” she said.
The next year, she beat out hundreds of women to win, garnering a modeling contract with TRUE Model Management and Ashley Stewart
It was a payoff from sacrifices that included having her oldest son stay with his father while she slept on friends’ couches and chased her dream with just “my car and my drive.”
Even now, she struggles with the ups and downs of weight, from being told she’s too big to too small.
So she is calling out for women of all types.
“I want the woman with tattoos, the woman who never likes to take pictures, the Caucasian, Hispanic, bi-racial mother of seven. The covered and curvy Muslimah,” she said. “I want women from all backgrounds, cultures, colors, shapes and sizes.”
It will be held at the AC Villa, at 1625 Atlantic Ave. starting at 4 p.m. June 8.
For more information, contact Cherrisse via Facebook or Smart-El via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.