She’s publisher and CEO of Size Overrated Magazine and Arie’s Digital Creations, but she and her husband will also take photographs of just about anything anybody wants them to, including weddings.
But it’s plus-size photography that has her heart.
“I actually cater to all sizes, but I know the plus-size community is really important, because society is very judgmental,” King says. “I wanted to build this platform so women can feel good about themselves.”
King loves working with plus-size models, even though she herself hasn’t been one.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to do it. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum,” she says, having been thin and plus-size at different stages of her life. She describes herself as having been “chunky” as a young girl, so she didn’t even try to model then, assuming at that point that her weight would have kept her from success.
Yet, here she is teaching a course for models. It’s open to anyone, but it attracts mostly the plus-size community, she says.
It covers what to include on your website and social media, how to carry oneself and how to approach people for submissions. She teaches everything a new model would need to know about runways and makeup and hair.
“It’s for entry-level models who need to know the ins and outs of what it takes to try to become a successful model.”
So, You Want to be a Model
Why do so many women want to model, anyway?
“I think because they want something to say like, ‘I’m beautiful. It’s a confidence thing, to say, ‘I’m a model.’ But people don’t know the ins and outs. They think that modeling is easy.
“They don’t realize the financial investment it takes to start your modeling career. They start to feel they’re shelling out more money than they’re making money. And that usually happens in the beginning. There’s a million women and men wanting to be models. You have to think outside the box. How are you going to stand out from the rest of the models? You are going to be making an investment to start your career. It’s going to take money to make money. The biggest thing is your photography. Your pictures sell themselves. There are other ways, but one of them is photography,” she says.
She put together a training course and a book to serve prospective models.
“Because of Covid, everything changed. It was originally supposed to be a two-day bootcamp-style training course. Everything was going to be taught within those two days. It was a total of five to six classes. Now, I have tried to formulate on-line classes.”
A guide is also in the works.
“I came out with a book called ‘So, You Want to be a Model.’ Because I hear it all the time. These women get into this industry not knowing the ins and outs. They think it’s a way to glam up, to get their hair and makeup done. It’s an outlet to feel beautiful. They think it’s a money-maker. So they come into this industry blindsided. So I came out with a guidebook. It tells you everything you need to know if you actually want to make this a career.”
King plans to publish it on her SIze Overrated website. “It’s a digest-sized book. It’s a quick guide. It’s going to tell you the ins and outs, everything you need to know, so you know what you’re getting into. It’s for beginners.”
Being behind the camera is more King’s thing than being in front of it. “I love being behind the scenes. I’m not too fond of being in front of the camera anymore. I will do it, but it’s not something I’m as passionate about as when I was younger. I like being on that side of it.”
She started her magazine in 2014, and she and her husband set out to learn everything they needed to know. Her husband first learned photography, and then he helped her learn.
“I always loved photography. It’s just crazy how life happens. I started thinking about how I wanted to do it in middle school.
“We do a variety of stuff. Our focus is really on modeling, but we do do a variety of stuff. Weddings, proms, corporate events, fashion shows. We kind of do it all, but we focus on the model aspects of it. Some of it is seasonal. It keeps us busy all throughout the year.”
Her magazine evolved from what she thought it would be. “It seems like the majority of my readers are African-American plus-size women. I say it about a million times a year — I cater to all people of all sizes. But I’m not going to fight it.”
King says she wanted to build a platform with all sizes of people, because “size is overrated.”
“When I spoke those words, I thought, ‘Hey.’ That’s how I came up with the name of it. Whether you’re a size 0 or a size 18, as long as you’re living a healthy body, love yourself. Some of the very thin models have eating disorders, and that’s not healthy.”
King says she had no background in publication. “I never in a million years thought that I would be publishing a magazine. My focus was on a medical career.”
She had wanted to be a paramedic or nurse, but that didn’t work out. “It was a lot of trial and error, a lot of mistakes made, but that’s what helps you grow. Here I am, about to celebrate about seven years of my magazine being published. I’ve been on the newstands for about seven years now. Don’t let your circumstances stop you from where you want to be in life,” she says.
“My magazine at first was horrible. It was terrible. But people still supported it. The first two or three copies sucked! I do my own magazine layout. I’m still learning the process. When you have limited funds, you learn how to do stuff yourself.” She and her husband work full time jobs in addition to their magazine work.
Ariel King’s Personal Body Love Journey
“Back in high school, I was chunky. Someone told me as long as I stayed the size I was, no boy would ever like me. At the time, I was actually in a new city. So I didn’t know anyone. It was a new high school,” she said. Her family had just moved, and King was left trying to adjust to a whole new environment.
“I ended up with an eating disorder to lose the weight. And then what I found out was, it had nothing to do with the size of the person. It’s not just how you look. It pretty much taught me self love. You have to love yourself first.”
“I’m plus size now and I love it.” she says. “Just continue to be healthy.”
Ironically, she notes, she is far healthier now than when she was thin and suffering from an eating disorder.
“I’ve been told many times, ‘You need to lose about 20 pounds.’ I don’t have high blood pressure, I’m not diabetic. So why do I need to lose weight? So I’m a size 18. I’ve been a size 18 for about five years. I go to the doctor and my blood sugar is good. I do splurge now and then.
“A lot of doctors do judge you for your weight. Do I have an eating disorder? They don’t go there. When I was going through what I was going through in high school, everybody praised me for how I looked. Nobody asked me how I did it,” or seemed to realize what unhealthy things she’d done to lose weight.
She publishes a teen magazine twice a year because, she says, that’s where it starts. “So Free” is a teen magazine and “So Vivid” is for younger kids. They come out twice a year and are aimed at helping kids avoid eating issues.
With all these endeavors, King and her husband stay busy. They live in Virginia with their “furry kid.”