Liris Crosse (1978- ), “shaped like the number 8″, is an American fashion model and video vixen. She was one of the first (and so far few) thick black women to become a fashion model. Before Toccara there was Liris.
She calls herself the Black Barbie: she looks like how a black Barbie doll should look: one with the shape of a black woman.
She is beautiful: I could look at her forever. She has cat-like eyes, high cheekbones, thick lips, an hourglass figure and a big, beautiful behind. Her eyes make her look a bit strange – but beautiful too.
But as beautiful as she is, it was hard for her to become a fashion model. Being black did not help, but worse than that she was seen as fat. The modelling agencies told her to come back when she lost some weight. She did, but it did not help.
In time she did get signed with a modelling agency, Wilhelmina. But she was considered a plus-sized model, meaning fat. This limited the work she could get.
The black models that came before her, like Naomi Campbell, Iman and Tyra Banks, were all tall and thin. But no matter how much weight Crosse lost she would never be thin like them: the shape of her body was all wrong.
But while the white people who ran the fashion industry saw her as fat, ordinary black people did not. She was fine the way she was – more than fine, in fact. Not because blacks like fat women or something, but because their idea of female beauty stands on this side of the stick-thin anorexia that white people like.
This gave Crosse an opening, but she would have to become her own agent since no modelling agency saw it. She talked directly to directors, magazine editors and others. They were not sold right away: even black magazine editors followed white ideas of beauty.
Her hero was Jennifer Lopez. She had a womanly shape too but she never let that stop her. Crosse took her example to heart. By never giving up no matter how many times she was told no, she broke through at last. “If you can think it, you can do it,” she says.
At first she appeared in magazines aimed mainly at black readers, like Essence, XXL and Honey. Later she was in mainstream ones, like Glamour and Seventeen. In time she modelled for Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart.
She achieved her long-time dream of appearing in Vogue in January 2008.
In addition to print modelling, she has also been in music videos and film. She is the woman in the gold dress in Jay-Z’s “Do It Again” (1999). You saw her with Tyrese in the film “Baby Boy” (2001).
She also hosts parties, sells swimsuit calendars, DVDs and T-shirts. She is even a character in a video game.
She knows Tyrese outside of work – they go to the same church. She is also friends with Toccara Jones.