Seen this Bat Babe around? You may know this wicked witch of the web from this viral post, her mad music taste or sick style sense. An online body positive activist, who also goes by Alyssa Panda Eyes, she shouts her opinion through shades of matching blacks, various blues and obscure ornaments. I caught up with our favorite sorceress who laid out her plans to take over the media in Dining with Dana’s first ever interview:
Dana: How do you define yourself?
Alyssa: First and foremost a working artist. I see that term as meaning someone who is creative, putting themselves in the public eye, and a changing, evolving work in progress. I’m also a body positive feminist goth princess.
Dana: What are you looking to communicate to others through your style?
Alyssa: Style, to me, has always been one of the most valuable forms of communication and self expression. I think it’s always been really important to me to show through the way I dressed that I was different. To say to people – don’t expect me to confirm and be like you, don’t expect me to be normal cause I’m not. I’ve done that for years with my eye make up, hair, black clothes, so adding being plus size and body positive to that mix isn’t really any different.
Dana: How do you define “body positivity”?
Alyssa: It’s always seemed like a pretty simple concept to me – don’t judge any person’s worthiness as a human, and their ability to be interesting, beautiful, and stylish based on any parameters of their body. This would include size, shape, color, genitalia, ability etc. To be body positive oneself is to extend that attitude to include your own body, which obviously is not always an easy task in a society designed to convince everyone of their unworthiness all the time.
Dana: On your blog, you feature a sweet album every week. What does music mean to you?
Alyssa: Yes I do! I want to incorporate music a lot more into my social media presence in the future, and hopefully start making music myself someday soon. Ever since I was about 13 and started listening to music on my own it’s been a huge part of my life, and a primary means of escape and comfort. I think music has a lot of power, and I’m not happy with the state it’s in right now, it has become far too centered on the opinions of pretentious white men. I think at other times in music history, especially in the early 80s, it was a really positive cultural force for change and promoting individuality and cultivating an underground community that supported each other. I think it has the potential to be that again but for that to happen it needs diversity.
Dana: Do the sounds you listen to influence your style in any way?
Alyssa: Oh totally, I’ve always viewed fashion as being primarily about self expression and letting people know from the first moment they saw me what kind of person I was, so obviously music would be a part of that! Before I got super into fashion I would just get all my ideas about how to dress from bands – I’d wear a sweater vest to be like Mark E Smith, or a blazer to be like Jarvis Cocker, wear winklepickers like The Horrors, or a leotard like Kate Bush. I’m a lot more interested in fashion now, which results a bit more in music being a mood for a look – you know, I’ve been interested in riot grrrl results in wearing combat boots and a short skirt, or I start listening to UK 90s rave music results in a bike shorts & halter top street wear look. But I’m a lot more sure of myself now so it’s more like adding a vibe to the already existing Alyssa Panda Eyes aesthetic, rather than copying something.
Dana: Have you always felt confident? Can you tell us a bit about your path to embracing your Self?
Alyssa: I’m not sure anyone really feels totally confident at all times, I certainly don’t! I don’t really think self love is about confidence, although that’s part of it, but I think it’s really a long process of slowly eliminating the toxic bullshit that’s been put in us by the media about ourselves and recognizing that we are worthy and wonderful. I get asked about my confidence and self-love a lot, and I always get the impression people are hoping for this like magic sentence or something, like that you can change this the same way you would turn on a light. It’s not like that, it’s like anything else you work for in life…it takes time, energy, effort, thought, and most of all patience.
Dana: Has your appearance ever been criticized? How do you respond to hate?
Alyssa: YES! Basically, every day. From goth-hate, to fat shaming, to commenting on my lack of make up skills, to this week’s funniest comment which was an IG comment that said simply “potato”. I don’t know, do I look like a potato? What do potato people even look like? Can they be goth? Can you put platforms on a potato?
But seriously, hate and bullying has become a pretty serious issue on the internet, that goes largely socially unchecked. I think the most powerful thing we can do to respond to it is to not engage and create social parameters of shaming for those that create it. I have personally chosen to create a safe space on my social media outlets – when people leave negative comments I delete them instantly and block the user. I don’t allow anonymous commenting on my tumblr and I don’t post hateful messages. I think it’s really important for people to see that there are places where different types of people can be accepted and loved, and not be reminded constantly of the negativity and hate that we face everywhere else.
Dana: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your thirteen year old self?
Alyssa: I read the first half of this question and was like “oh my god, I want to go to London in 1980!!!!” and then I was like, oh, haha, yes, ok. I think I would tell her to put trusting herself and loving herself as number one in her life, I would tell her she was worthy and nothing could change that, and then give her a list of albums she should listen to. Oh yeah, I’d also tell her to not worry so much about boys and that she didn’t need one to make her complete. I really wish I could talk to myself at 13, I think a lot about how lost and confused I was then, and I think it’s a big part of my drive to create art and promote myself is to sort of do that vicariously through other people. I hope a lot of 13 year olds who are as sad and confused as I was at that age can follow me and maybe get a bit more hope and confidence in their life!
Dana: What are your current plans to rule the world?
Alyssa: I can’t tell you, it’s a secret. But trust me, world domination is on the way.