Many know Jessie Paege as the talented musician with turquoise-colored hair, but they are so much more. In addition to being a poet, visual artist, and activist, they’re also a vlogger and mental health advocate. They create content for those who are victims of abuse, stuck in toxic relationships, or struggling with depression, social anxiety, or anorexia. They want their followers to be comfortable in their own skin, and they lead by example. In an Instagram post, they state:
“You don’t need an airbrush or lack of acne to be beautiful. Keepin’ all my flaws, I think they’re lovely. They show you all that I’m a human with a story. Authenticity is one of the most important things on my platform. I don’t want to hide anything that I don’t need to hide.” – Jessie Paege
They also spread this message of body-positivity in their single “Full Course Meal,” which inspired merchandise now available in their Threadless Artist Shop. Paege confronts issues head-on, and they’re always one to offer up solutions and ways to stay positive. And did I mention they have incredible style? You can see for yourself on their Depop page, which shows how illustrious their technicolor closet really is. Giving us a glimpse into their multifaceted life, Paege took the time to talk to us about the double-edged sword of social media, anime, and their love for Harry Styles.
Why does anime inspire your art?
Jessie Paege: I love the color palette. A lot of anime includes soft pastel coloring, while a lot of American cartoons include harsh neon colors. There are obviously exceptions! The coloring and scenery typically reflect the mood of the characters. It’s something that’s always enticed me when I watch anime. A lot of the emotions I’m expressing are joyful and nostalgic, which correlates with a pastel color palette.
Why is one of your favorite anime characters of all time Misa Misa?
She absolutely has her flaws. I really resonated a lot with her aesthetic and how it contrasted with her personality. I love the duality. A lot of women that show more skin are perceived as being promiscuous in character, but that isn’t always the case. She comes across as very bubbly and youthful, which is something I resonate with. Yet, she dresses in darker colors and clothing that bring out her figure.
Where did the concept for the t-shirt “I’m not a snack, I’m a Full Course Meal” come from?
I released a song called “Full Course Meal” in January 2021. This was the third song I ever wrote. I had just released “Skeleton,” a personal song recounting my struggles with an eating disorder. It put me in a very serious head space and I felt like I needed a little bit of lightening up. My producers, after spending a lot of time with me in person, told me I needed to make a song that shows my sillier side. I definitely can act like a little kid. I banked the song and just shared a bit on Twitter and everyone LOVED IT, so I put it on Spotify.
How is your artwork an extension of your music (or the other way around)?
I work as a small business in a lot of ways. I love supporting creators that create in the same way. As of 2021, I’ve written and recorded all my songs on my own. I contact small producers to collaborate and get a track, and the rest comes from my brain. With that, I love expanding the universe each song creates. I make some t-shirt designs myself, but I also love to compensate artists and to see the song and message through their eyes.
Why is it important to use your platform to talk about body issues?
Eating disorders and body-image issues have so much false stereotyping and inappropriate stigma. It’s something that’s so personal to me. It allows for me to be incredibly passionate about it. I want to normalize conversation. I lost years of my life because I stayed silent, and I want to give others the encouragement to speak up. The encouragement I never had.
How is social media both a blessing and a curse?
Social media allows for communication on a very wide scale. I think sometimes it can be hard for people to remember their value when they’re off their screens. People get addicted to the jubilation you can feel from a number on a screen. It’s alright to wish to be heard, but it’s important to remember that you’re a living, breathing human, not just a username. I’ve built a strong and, for the most part, healthy relationship with social media by being kind to the human behind the username. Does this content harm you? That person online is saying that was your intention, but it doesn’t matter. You know you would never think that way.
What do you admire most about Harry Styles?
I’ve always loved One Direction. I grew up in a toxic household with parents that weren’t there for me. I put value in my friendships, and I loved seeing musicians that also treated their bandmates, not tied by blood, as their family. As Harry pursued his solo career, I resonated with his music and messaging even more. It’s so admirable that he creates music he loves to make, not music that he thinks will sell. I love hearing electric guitars on the radio.
What do you credit your YouTube success to?
I am a HARD WORKER. However, I think my career flourished the most after I made the editing more minimal and the videos more meaningful. My subscribers always say they love my sit-down videos the most, and that truly means the world to me. I take pride in being humble as well. I welcome constructive criticism and don’t take myself too seriously. I want to be on their level, so I can be there for them. I would never see myself as above them.
What’s next for you?
I learn more and more about music every day. As I create more, I find out what I want my music to sound like. I am definitely working on incorporating rock into my music more. In 2021, I want to embrace being a female electric guitar player. I also want to continue to make my community proud. I want to show them strength after hardship.