Aby Deal, a body positive and mental health influencer, began sharing her vision on social media in February of 2018. Since then, she has gained a following of over 120k followers on Instagram and nearly 80k followers on TikTok, sharing her advocacy for removing the stigmas surrounding mental health and the plus-size community.
The 28-year-old body positive influencer and mental health advocate uses her platform to share dance videos and motivational content to inspire plus-size women to love their own bodies. After years of focusing on unhealthy fad diets, Deal wants to share her own mental transformation to women of all sizes: from self-loathing to self-love, and years of viewing physical fitness as a punishment, to her passion for using dance as physical movement for positive reinforcement.
“I feel like I had spent so much of my life missing out on great experiences, because I feared what people would think of me if I dressed or acted a certain way as a plus-size woman,” Deal shares. “The biggest thought going through my mind was, ‘What would people think if I didn’t cover myself up with a cardigan?’ instead of just enjoying myself and loving myself as I was in those moments.”
Deal had always found joy in dance, but through the last year struggling with her own mental health, found a way to use it as an outlet in her journey for self confidence and mental wellness. Through her own struggles, she shares this love for movement and dance with her expansive online community.
“Some of my greatest support comes from online supporters, women I’ve never met.” Deal has hosted a series of Curvy Confidence meet-ups and events all over Las Vegas, including a successful sold-out Body Positive Pool Party in June 2019.
However, after a series of unpredictable events, from losing her job, to losing her car, to even losing her home in Las Vegas, she felt completely hopeless. What ultimately helped Deal through the hardships was the love and support she felt from her family and the online community she had built.
“Hosting the Curvy Confidence events helped my mental headspace and focus, so not being able to put my all into that and my blog, was a real struggle point for me, mentally,” Deal explains. After relocating to Florida and beginning a new chapter in Gainesville, she had some time to slow down with the pandemic and refocus her goals. She knew that with all she had experienced, she had to rebrand her blog to reflect who she was now. “The name, @AbyInRealLife felt more true to my journey to loving myself and finding my voice in the plus-size community.”
Since then, Deal has put more of a focus on mental health experience in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, and supporting others within the plus-size community with their own mental health. Deal hasn’t let her hardships stop her though; since relocating to Florida, she has already started building up a local community in Gainesville, hosting virtual events and socially-distanced meet-ups, and is actively working on new local projects geared towards physical movement with the focus of moving for joy and empowerment, as opposed to looking for a number on the scale.
Deal is truly an inspiration to follow for individuals of all sizes. Not only is Deal an uplifting social media influencer, but she also hosts a podcast, Curvy Chat Podcast, where she talks about everything from fitness, to sexual wellness, to political advocacy. Viewers can find this podcast on Facebook and YouTube live every other Wednesday.