Thanks to Elle Baez, Body Positivity Has a Soundtrack

Curvicality Monthly Cover Feature - Bringing you plus-size celebrities and A-List influencers with inspirational feature stories and interviews about how to live your most awesome, body-positive life.
Thanks to Elle Baez, body positivity has a soundtrack.

Her songs are anthems that celebrate women of all shapes, sizes and races. Make that “womxn,” the term Baez prefers for its inclusivity.

Baez started singing as a toddler on Long Island, her early talent nurtured along by her musical parents, who are Puerto Rican and Dominican.

“My dad was a DJ in the ‘70s playing lots of soul and disco music. My house was always bumping with jazz, Latin, funk, disco — everything under the sun. My mom has a beautiful voice and her mom, my grandmother, was a singer, too. My older sister sang and my older brother played jazz percussion. Our house was a musician haven.”

“I grew up in a very lively, musical, proud household and it definitely reflected in who I have become; not only as an artist, but as a person.”

As a curvy Latina, Baez didn’t always feel she fit in, but things were different when she sang.

“Singing was where I felt safe. When I got on stage and sang, people respected me. I suffered from a lot of bullying for my weight, and diet culture really altered my mind for so many years. I even went to fat camp growing up! It was not until after college that I was able to finally blossom into who I am today and fully own my body. That is when I became an independent artist. I have been writing and putting my music out into the world now and I hope to inspire with it.”

Elle Baez

‘Starving myself’

While everyone who heard her voice acknowledged her talent, many of them urged her to lose weight in order to make it as a singer, leading to a “very dangerous eating disorder.”

“I was told by many professors that in order to succeed in the industry, I would have to lose weight. I was at my largest at that point in my life, around a size 22. My sophomore year, the head of the performance program sat me down and said in order to be cast in leading lady roles I would have to be thinner. I spent that entire summer starving myself and losing weight in an unhealthy way.”

Sadly, her dangerous, unhealthy dieting won her praise.

‘I was hot now’

“When I returned my junior year, I was suddenly seen so differently. I had classmates tell me ‘I was hot now’ and professors casting me in roles I would have never even had a chance at before the weight loss. This fueled me. I just wouldn’t eat. I did this until the end of my senior year, when a special guest professor came in — an Oscar-winning actress — and met us all for a master class. As soon as she got to me, she told me I was so beautiful but that I had to lose weight. At this moment, I was at my absolute thinnest I had ever been in my entire life — around a size 10/12. I left the room in tears.”

Elle Baez

‘I came into my own’

The famous actress presumably meant to inspire Baez to lose weight, but the opposite happened.

“That day was my turning point. I realized that if this industry was never going to accept me for me that I was not going to allow it. I started to write my own songs and work with music producers. I started recording and putting all of my time and energy into it. I knew that body positivity was exactly what I needed to share with my music and my artistry because it is what had saved me.”

Baez realized there was a whole world of supportive, plus-size women out there who served as better role models, and she has never looked back.

“I met plus-size influencers and models who helped me see how perfect I was as I am. I started to allow myself to gain weight back and I learned about intuitive eating and listening to my body. I made plus-size friends. I started performing all around NYC. I finally came into my own.”

What would it be like for little girls, Baez wonders in her song “Stereotype,” if they weren’t bullied about their bodies?

“Imagine if society taught the little me”

‘That I was pretty’

“Then I woulda believed them and had been strong enough”

“To own this city”

Elle Baez

‘I wrote it for other little girls’

Past traumas and years of being told to diet inspired the lyrics for “Stereotype.” “I knew that if the little me had a song like Stereotype growing up that perhaps my confidence would have soared. I always had the confidence, power and self-love inside of me but it was censored and suppressed by others.”

She wrote this song to show all the negative people they couldn’t hold her back.

“I wrote it for other little girls to hear it and follow their dreams. For them to feel beautiful and worthy, because they are #NotYourStereotype,” Baez says, using one of the hashtags she’s known for on her social media.

“I wrote the actual song after I did a bikini photo shoot as a plus-size model and I left feeling amazing. I kept picturing the younger me and how proud she would be of me if she saw me now. She would probably be in disbelief but so so happy.”

The day she shot the music video for Stereotype was “quite literally the best day of my entire life,” she says.

“I had never felt so safe, seen and supported during a shoot. That was my main goal the entire day. I wanted all of the women on camera to feel comfortable and confident. As soon as the song was done, I knew I wanted the music video to be a body-positive pool party. I had never been to one before, but I had always wanted to host one.”

The video shows a large number of bikini-clad plus-size women confidently dancing and celebrating their bodies at a pool party.

“Growing up, I never felt comfortable wearing a bikini but perhaps if I had been surrounded by other women who look just like me I would’ve felt safe. I thought about how I wanted all the women to be styled and Adore Me immediately came to mind. I have been an influencer for them for about a year and love what their brand represents. I reached out to them and they immediately said yes.”

 

‘Plus-size sisters’

Besides her body-positive music and fashion, Baez also has helped bring an appreciation of curves to artists of all types, including writers, directors and musicians, via the Curvy Artists Collective.

“I co-founded it with the amazing Marlee Dater around the time when I graduated college and started my body positive journey. I always thought how helpful it would be to have a community of like-minded curvy and plus-size artists who can support each other and who are going through the exact same trials and tribulations. I wanted plus-size sisters!”

The CAC has hundreds of members and close to 1K followers on Instagram.

“I can’t believe it and I am so grateful for each and every ‘womxn’ who is part of it. I reached out to the members for the music video shoot and they all came to be featured. The day was so liberating and exciting — something I will cherish. I will never forget walking in and seeing them all in their Adore Me suits for the first time with tears of joy in my eyes.”

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The first body positive song

“Paint Me was the very first body-positive song I ever wrote. I love the movie Titanic, and ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be the character Rose. My favorite scene was when Jack drew Rose. However, I grew up with the stigma in my head that I would never be able to play a role like that because I was fat.”

Baez notes the irony of Kate Winslet having been told she was too fat during the filming of Titanic.

“I had this idea to write a song from Rose’s perspective but make it my own. I channeled the way my first love made me feel — he loved my body and always told me it was a work of art.”

Once again, Baez found inspiration at the intersection of art, music and body positivity.

“I wrote the entire song in one night as soon as the idea came to my head. I sang it live at my Your Lips single release show and afterward everyone told me it was something special. So I brought it to the producer, Tiger Darrow, and she made it the beautiful anthem it is now. I knew in the music video I wanted to give myself my own ‘Rose’ moment, so I re-created the Titanic drawing scene as a plus-size Latina.”

Works of art by forgotten female Renaissance painters were projected onto her body.

“When I was planning the release, I had the realization that just me as Rose wasn’t enough. There were so many different shapes, colors and sizes of plus-size ‘womxn’ and we needed to showcase them all. Thus, Paint Me: The Collection was born. I sent the Titanic ‘heart of the ocean’ necklace to a dozen different inspirational plus-size ‘womxn’ in my life and had them take their own ‘Rose’ portraits.”

Baez compiled the women’s portraits into an art collection that showcases each “Rose” and tells her story as a plus-size artist and/or activist.

To experience it, visit www.paintmethecollection.com

Pandemic recording

“’My Type’ was such a fun song to create!” Baez says. “It was the first song I made not only over Zoom, but recorded and arranged all of the vocals from my bedroom. I started taking courses at Berklee College of Music during the pandemic to learn more about music production. This led to me buying my own microphone and sound system. It was so much fun recording all my layers of vocals and making it a velvety, sultry soundscape. I also love how I was able to intertwine Spanish into my English lyrics. I grew up hearing Spanish all around me and I absolutely love singing in Spanish because it was when I felt the most connected to my roots and my ancestors.”

If you’ve ever dreamed of having the last word with catcallers and players, “My Type” is for you.

“I put them in their place and tell them to take a step back unless they are going to be ‘my type’ and treat me as I should be treated. I love singing and writing about female empowerment with my music too because I feel it is very important for women to own their power.”

A body positivity journey

“My goal is to be a voice for ‘womxn’ everywhere, not only ‘womxn’ but anyone who has ever felt suppressed or ostracized. Anyone who has been told they need to change themselves. I want my voice to be something they can hear and they can relate to and connect to. I want my platform to be a safe space for them to feel seen and heard,” Baez says.

“Body Positivity to me is a journey. In fact, loving your body every single day is simply impossible. There are going to be days when you feel down and don’t want to look in the mirror. Those are the days when I would want my listeners to turn on my music and shake their booties! I have ups and downs. I think body positivity is to help you on those down days. I have actually been able to change my mindset so profoundly in the past two years. I started reading Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings and educating myself on the origins of fat phobia. I realized how mentally I have been conditioned to believe things about my body that simply aren’t true. I think although body positivity can seem far-fetched to people, it is needed. We need to learn to give our bodies unconditional love in the moments we need it.”

She remembers years of feeling uncomfortable in her body, feeling PTSD from bullying, being called “fatass” and “gordita.”

“I honestly think I have overcome it all by educating myself. With that education, I untrained my brain to say ugly thoughts. If one comes to my brain then I know I have tactics to remove and reframe it. I tell myself to stop and I think of something beautiful about myself either inside or out. I put on music that makes me feel good. I put on clothes that make me feel invincible. I say mantras and I remember who the f*** I am!”

Everyone, Baez notes, has bad days. One of her songs reflects that truth.

“The last track on my EP, Everyone Else, was written from one of those bad days when I felt unloved and lost. I almost hesitated to include it on my EP because I didn’t want to be a downer. But then I realized it was important to be raw and honest with my fans. Perhaps, hearing a song like that can actually help them feel less alone — that they aren’t the only one feeling that way.”

Listen to Elle Baez

After the release of her debut EP, Bold Soul, Baez will begin work on a second EP.

“I feel that I am still learning and growing and becoming the artist that I want to be and want people to see. I hope to continue building my platform and inspiring others. I want to go on tour and touch more people with my music. I want to write more songs and write for other artists too. I want to sing in a big gown at the Grammys and bring tears to people’s eyes.”

You can stream the music of Elle Baez now on all streaming platforms and watch her music videos on YouTube. For more updates on releases and shows, follow Baez on Instagram, TikTok,Twitter and Facebook.

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