How model and author Leah V. created her own lane for success

“I’m already doing the impossible,” Leah Vernon told In The Know. “So now I’m just obsessed. Like how far can I get, what more can I do? What other rooms and projects can I work in that no other fat, Black Muslim has ever been in?”

Vernon is a successful model, social media influencer, body-positive activist and author. But growing up with a single mother and an absent, unsupportive father, Vernon had no idea her life was going to turn out this way.

Credit: Cyle Suesz for In The Know

“I check all the boxes off, right? I’m fat, Black and Muslim, woman,” Vernon said. “It was always like anything that I was, people wanted to change me until I was what their version of what I should look like.”

But after years of never seeing herself represented in culture or society, she decided to carve her own lane. Vernon thanks hashtags and other plus-size women who shared their photos on social media for opening up her world.

It didn’t alleviate all the pain Vernon had endured growing up. There was still so much residual anger and resentment against the world and Vernon didn’t know what to do with it.

“I was more aware of being ‘other’ at a very early age,” Vernon said. “Where does a Black girl sit in all these ideologies of purity and goodness and worth? I didn’t see myself.”

An avid reader in her youth, she decided to write down everything and ended up submitting a manuscript that she never intended publishing to several literary publishers.

Agents started to contact her within 24 hours of her sending her writing out. Now she’s a published author, in addition to the many other roles she juggles on a regular basis.

“If at any point I had listened to the haters or the trolls or my ex, I would not be sitting here right now,” Vernon said. “So I’m very proud of baby Leah V.”

Credit: Cyle Suesz for In The Know

To witness her work resonating with people, whether it be on her Instagram posts or a tearful exchange in person, still amazes Vernon and makes it feel worthwhile — just to have someone else say that they felt that way too.

“I love it — that my words can touch somebody who I don’t even know.”

To watch the full interview with Leah V. watch the episode of In The Know: Profiles above.

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