A self-described ‘fat Black trans woman’ is celebrating a starring spot in Calvin Klein’s latest campaign — and her own huge billboard in New York City.
Jari Jones, 29, is one of several models to front the designer’s 2020 Pride campaign, an achievement she was told she would ‘never’ experience after so long of being ‘demonized, harassed, [and] made to feel ugly and unworthy.’
But her stunning billboard is now hanging in downtown Manhattan for all to see, and she is calling the meaningful moment healing, affirming, and an honor.
New ads: Jari Jones, 29, is one of several models to front Calvin Klein’s 2020 Pride campaign
Big picture: Her billboard is now overlooking Houston Street in downtown Manhattan
So exciting! The Black trans model celebrated the achievement earlier this month
The #ProudinmyCalvins campaign debuted earlier this month, and also includes Chella Man, Mina Gerges, and Pabllo Vittar, among others.
But it’s Jari who scored a billboard overlooking Houston Street, in the same spot that has previously hosted billboards of Kendall Jenner, Eva Mendes, and Justin Bieber modeling for Calvin Klein.
On June 19, Jari shared a photo of the billboard on Twitter.
‘Today, on #JUNETEENTH2020 a Fat Black Trans Woman Looks over NEW YORK,’ she wrote.
Later, on June 22, Jari went to visit the billboard herself, and celebrated with an excited Instagram post.
‘There are moments that I heard about, that help you forget when the world told you “Never”!!!’ she wrote.
Yes! Jari said she thought that she’d never work again after she transitioned. But since she has embraced her ‘most authentic self,’ others have too
Woohoo! She celebrated with friends in front of the NYC billboard this month
‘There are these moments I heard about about that help you heal when the society has tried to beat you down, over and over again. There are these very real moments that I heard about that help you feel affirmed even when you don’t see yourself.
‘I’ve been searching my whole life for those moments, I got tired of looking for those moments. So I decided to create them. Not for me but for the next dreamer, outcast, queer, trans, disabled, fat, beautiful black, piece of starlight waiting for their moment to shine.
‘It has been such an honor and pleasure to sit in my most authentic self and present imagery of a body that far to often has been demonized, harassed, made to feel ugly and unworthy and even killed.
‘I present this image, myself and all that my body stands for to my community and chosen family, in hope that they see themselves more clearly than ever and further realize that they are worthy of celebration, of compassion, of love and gratitude,’ she said, adding that she hopes the shoot ‘will hopefully be a symbol of hope and love during these moments.’
Jari posted for several other images for the brand, including one that was posted on the official Calvin Klein Instagram account.
For the campaign, she and the other stars photographed opened up about identity.
‘It has been such an honor and pleasure to sit in my most authentic self and present imagery of a body that far to often has been demonized, harassed, made to feel ugly and unworthy and even killed,’ she said
‘Today, on #JUNETEENTH2020 a Fat Black Trans Woman Looks over NEW YORK,’ she wrote
‘I thought that being in this industry, especially the acting world, that once I transitioned I would never work again,’ she admitted.
‘There were no real positive or uplifting representations of trans people in magazines, on television and in film. But there was something constantly telling me this is what I had to do to live in my truth, to essentially be happy.
‘There was no other choice for me — it was either live my most authentic life or jump out of here.
‘With the love and support of community and chosen family, I chose my life. I chose me over the industry that I loved, I chose me despite what society was telling me. There were people waiting for me, once I took the leap into this journey called Transition, standing there with open arms ready to show me love and compassion and respect.
‘In those very crucial moments I realized that when you have an unshakeable self-love and a support system, nothing is too big to conquer. What I find now is that that I’ve done more since transition. I feel like when you’re your true self, you create the most beautiful and honest art.
Proud: She hopes the shoot ‘will hopefully be a symbol of hope and love during these moments’
Amazing: Jari added that seeing the billboard was ’empowering’ and ‘like an out-of-body experience’
‘I think the industry can recognize that and they have no choice but to celebrate and uplift that art on huge platforms. I’m glad that I chose me and everybody else kind of jumped on board as well,’ she said.
Speaking to Yahoo, Jari added that seeing the billboard was ’empowering’ and ‘like an out-of-body experience.’
‘Never have I seen a Black trans woman put on such a public platform to be celebrated, and it was overwhelming,’ she said.
Though she’d heard the word ‘no’ a lot in the fashion industry, she thinks that being in her ‘most authentic skin’ got the attention of casting agents.
‘Once you are so sure and aware and settled in yourself, people can see that’ she said.
It’s not just fighting against bitgotry against trans people that Jari has overcome: She also noted that she doesn’t have the type of body most often seen in the modeling world.
‘All those intersections, of being fat, of being trans, of being Black, it needs to be seen and named directly. I didn’t want to sugarcoat anything,’ she said
‘It’s taken me a long time to take back that word [fat] — for so long I was a plus-sized kid, a fat kid, and everybody always told me I was fat,’ she said.
‘If you’re fat you won’t be able to get jobs, if you’re fat you won’t be able to find love’ she went on. ‘It was important for me to put “fat” up there … so people know a fat body is worthy of celebration, it’s worthy of love, it’s worthy of respect.
‘All those intersections, of being fat, of being trans, of being Black, it needs to be seen and named directly. I didn’t want to sugarcoat anything.’
It’s taken her a while to feel that way, and she said she has done ‘a lot of self-love work’ to get a thicker skin.
But she wants to help others feel as she does — and thinks fashion and media are a great place to start in changing society.
‘I feel like that humanizes us [Black and trans people], and once you’re humanized, people will think twice before killing you or discriminating against you,’ she said. ‘I think that when people are being killed in the streets, it’s because they don’t see us as human.’