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StyleCrush: Jennifer Barreto-Leyva

StyleCrush: Jennifer Barreto-Leyva.

Jennifer Barreto-Leyva is someone that everyone can look up to. The Venezuelan plus-size model wears many hats: television host, lawyer and journalist — on top of her busy fashion career. Barreto-Leyva also serves as editor-in-chief of Belleza XL magazine and won the Miss Universe Plus 2007 title. As of 2015, Barreto-Leyva was the only Latina competing for the crown of Miss World Plus.

Barreto-Leyva is the host of the body-positive segment of the Puerto Rican television show Ellas Y Sus Noches. She has been on the cover of the “curvy” issue of Vogue and is a contributor to Huffington Voices.
Name: Jennifer Barreto-Leyva
Age: 37
Location: Venezuela
Hometown (if different): Caracas, Venezuela 
Blog/Brand: www.bellezaxl.com (The first and only magazine devoted to plus size Latinxs worldwide)
Social Media: IG, Twitter. I’m on Snapchat as @barretoleyva.

Wear Your Voice: How do you describe your style?

Jennifer Barreto-Leyva: I’m pretty much a bold and elegant style type of person. I love to shine and make heads turns toward me, but I do so with class. My mom was my first fashion icon; because of her, now I know the importance of fashion, type of fabrics, how to invest in good clothes, that kind of thing. It is totally out of season here, but the leather-like style and the embroidered-with-stones style drives me crazy.

WYV: What (or who) initially inspired your career?

JBL: Lack of representation — there are so few icons here. We have plus-size personalities in Latin America, but no one that actually sets a fashion style. They are pretty much ridiculed for being plus size and do nothing about it. So I feel the need to stand up and give a voice to all of us.


WYV: What would you be doing if you had taken a different path?

JBL: I would be a very glamorous yet very bored lawyer, trapped between a desk and courts.

WYV: Who are your three top StyleCrushes?

JBL: Victoria Beckham, Carolina Herrera and Sheikka Mozah.

Victoria has a very minimalistic, “posh” yet simple style. You don’t have to look like a piñata to stand out, and she proves it.
Carolina Herrera, besides being Venezuelan like me, is pretty much a Latinx class and glamour icon. She has a similar style ethos to Beckham. Herrera proves that you don’t need to overdress or over-accessorize to look amazing.
Mozah for many reasons. She is the very first female sheik in history, which is reason enough to admire her even if she did not exude glamour and class with every outfit. She makes elegance look simply effortless! Indeed, she uses every possible high-priced couture designer, which certainly does not hurt, but it truly is just about how she wears it. She embodies class in the finest way and is pretty much my vision of fashion.
Jennifer Barreto-Leyva.

Jennifer Barreto-Leyva.

WYV: Which designers or brands are your faves?
JBL: Versace, and I have to say I would love if they designed in plus sizes. They show that glamorous and wild side of me. One of my favorites. When it comes to plus size fashion, Yuliya Raquel designs with high quality standards and knows exactly what fits and what doesn’t in a plus size woman. When it comes to a casual/cocktail style, I would say Fashion to Figure fits exactly what I am looking for.

WYV: Which designers would you be most excited to work with in the future?

JBL: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Alejandro Fajardo and Balmain.

Alejandro Fajardo is Venezuelan. I love him because he’s very talented and flamboyant.  If you are going to be bold, just look Fajardo’s way. Balmain has a bold yet elegant touch that I’m obsessed with. Jean-Paul Gaultier has a very different style than what I usually learn toward. I love it because it kicks me out of my comfort zone, which I think is really healthy every so often!


WYV: How can the body-positivity movement reach impressionable audiences at a young age? How can we combat toxic messages that the media sends out?

JBL: It is extremely difficult! There is an estimate, according to studies, that an average person receives 21 hours of toxic information about their body. It’s too much to handle! Parents and adults must be watching what kind of information kids are provided with, and give them proper context and education around it. It’s our responsibility as adults and as a community to show children the right path to walk.

Related: Projeto Identidade

WYV: Who would you like to see more of on the runways or television and film?

JBL: Diversity and positivity. I’m really sick and tired of the soap opera and Disney-like movies. I have news for the show business industry: people with different genders, races, sizes and backgrounds have love stories too, and no, you are not including us just by doing a movie about it every 10 years. The Latina plus size woman has been terribly portrayed in the media and psychologically abused by it. We need to reclaim her!


WYV: How do you wear your voice?

JBL: I wear it out and loud: with integrity, passion, class and a focus on my life mission.

Check out Belleza XL Magazine and follow Jennifer Barreto-Leyva on Instagram and Twitter.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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