“I got to a place where I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m looking at all these people curate their lives on social media and their everyday lives. It started off as a thought. It started off like a blank canvas and that’s what I looked at myself as.” – Latoya Shauntay Snell
Throughout life, Latoya Shauntay Snell had to overcome adversity. Growing up in Brooklyn during the crack epidemic, Latoya watched as her dad struggled with drug addiction. While the experience made life difficult for Latoya and her family, it exposed her to the many facets of human life. Latoya’s dad was also a huge inspiration and exposed her to various creative outlets like arts and music. These forms of expression would become the foundation for Latoya’s calling as an advocate for body positivity and inclusivity as a multi-sport athlete.
Latoya also had to overcome physical adversity; in 2013, Latoya graduated culinary school and, just as she was starting her career, she was diagnosed with disc degeneration and sciatica. The diagnosis kickstarted Latoya’s weight-loss journey and she lost 100-pounds in the first year. While Latoya received positive feedback on her transformation, she was not expecting the negative comments from people who accused her of abusing drugs and being “too skinny” The experience sparked Latoya to advocate for body positivity and exposed the phrase “body politics” where marketing tends to showcase just one dimension of a person’s physical appearance, race, or physical disability. Latoya’s advocacy work would take on a life of its own four years later when she when a spectator heckled her about her weight in the 2017 NYC Marathon. Latoya wrote about the experience in her blog and soon after was invited to be interviewed by Redbook Magazine. Latoya’s online presence exploded when The Root, a well-known African American-oriented online magazine, picked-up her story and invited her to become a contributing writer. Latoya now uses her platform to educate others on body positivity, body politics, and several other causes.
We’re so grateful for the opportunity to chat with Latoya and it’s clear in this episode how captivated we were by her storytelling and positive outlook on life!
To learn more about Latoya, you can follow her on Instagram at: @iamlshauntay
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