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#MEFIRSTMONDAY

ME FIRST MONDAY FEATURED POWERHOUSE

Escarle @Izah_Levana

Can you tell us more about yourself and where you come from?

Escarle: Growing up I didn’t know what it was like to live in a happy home. They say a person's childhood should be one to remember and full of bliss—my childhood was one that anyone would want to forget. Although there weren’t many blissful moments, I am privileged to have become the woman I am today as a result of those obstacles. I was raised by a mother who was illegal in this country for nearly 30 years and suffered the pain of not seeing her family in the Dominican Republic for all those years, including the loss of her father. Her only option in this country was to be a house wife or work for free in a catholic school, which in exchange, gave her 3 children a better education.

My father has been a taxi driver for over 20 years, working 7 days a week, still struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table. I remember coming home from school as a kid to countless eviction notices and wondering where we were all going to go. College wasn’t an option for me because no one in my family was able to attend due to financial circumstances. It wasn’t until my father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer that I was able to attend. It’s crazy, right? You have to wait until your father is in a hospital bed to be able to qualify for financial assistance in order to get a degree. By the grace of God, my father was operated on and is now healthier than ever. I always say, although my dad wasn’t able to literally pay for my college education, without him I wouldn’t have had the education I have today. Since then I’ve acquired a dual Bachelors degree, a Masters by the age of 23, and now working as a PMO Analyst at a top financial company.

What do we as an audience have to understand about your background in order to fully understand you, your experiences, and your content?

Escarle: I’ve had confidence issues for a while, probably since I was able to dress myself. As a kid, my cousins and family members would always call me fat. “You’re getting fat Escarle!" “Stop eating!” My cousins always made fun of my body because I was curvy and fully developed at such a young age. Now looking back, I was so skinny to the point where you could see the bones through my collar and spine. Despite that fact, I didn't believe I was skinny. I hated the way I looked as a kid and my weight was always the number one factor. I don’t remember ever being past 120 pounds and when I went to college I blew up. Since then I’ve been over 200 pounds. 

 

I’ve struggled with trying to "look" beautiful and trying to act like people’s comments about my weight didn’t bother me. I dated a guy during most of my college career, or at least I thought I did because he spent most of his time cheating. After all of the non-stop cheating throughout the years, I still stayed with him, thinking all this time it was my fault he cheated. I remember him always commenting on my weight. “You’re getting bigger Escarle, stop eating that." “I feel like every time I see you, you’re bigger.” It seemed as though he was more worried about my weight than I was and so I wondered:

 

“Well maybe if I was skinnier he would have never cheated. Maybe he cheated on me because he wasn’t attracted to me anymore as a result of my weight gain. Maybe he cheated on me with her because she was skinny and he saw something in her that wasn’t in me.” 

 

I spent years crying and blaming myself for his actions. I was bitter, angry, full of guilt, and resulted to punch any girl I discovered he cheated on me with. I became violent and always angry. I became more angry at myself for allowing those girls to let me think we were cool, yet sleep with "my" man. I hated myself for allowing him to humiliate me in front of everyone. I was embarrassed to tell my mother how low her daughter had gone. It wasn’t until I finally let go and began to love myself that I realized nothing or anyone can ever bring me happiness, if I can’t bring happiness upon myself. 

I began doing these funny videos because I wanted to laugh. The joy that these videos bring me in the process of creating them fills me up. I just think to myself, “How do I come up with things like this?” It amuses me to see how creative and funny I can be by just being myself. I don’t have to pretend to be anyone and that’s what I love the most about myself. Being myself led me to get reposted by countless celebrity blogs, and celebrities like Cardi B. I said, “Momma I made it!” Except Cardi didn’t tag me, which is why I’m still in the hood. But, it just goes to show how far being yourself can get you. 

How does your background influence the funny content you produce?

Escarle: During my free time, I create funny videos for Instagram based on personal experiences, things that could happen, or things that just pop up in my head. I’ve always had a funny and outgoing personality since I was a kid. I guess it runs in my family because people would come out of my house crying from all the laughs. At first I was too shy and embarrassed to post my videos on Instagram because I was afraid of what people might say. Simply put - I wasn’t confident. I hated the way I looked on camera. I thought I was too fat and that people wouldn’t be interested in watching me. It took for me to bite my tongue one day and just say "Fuck it, let me just post this!" Since then I’ve received countless support and beautiful messages from a multitude of people, which I am entirely grateful for. I’m nowhere near as confident as I want to be, but life is too short to focus on beauty standards and not make people laugh.

 

Please help us understand your self-love journey. What have you learned along the way?

Escarle: Through these videos I create, apart from making people laugh, I've learned to love myself, find myself, and be happy within myself. I no longer search for approval from someone else. I learned to be free and find the joy of life in myself. Am I confident? Absolutely not. I look at myself in the mirror everyday still hating the way I look. In spite of this, I absolutely love each and every bone in my body and I am blessed to be in the body I’m in. I think everyone struggles with confidence in their own way and there is a difference between confidence and self-love. I’m not confident, I just want the world to perceive me as ME! Someone real, with flaws, and not afraid to share with the world who she really is. My favorite thing about myself is that I am fearless about the opinions of others. What once killed me in the past, is now the strength of my future. I don’t care about what anyone may think of me. I am blessed to be in this world and will be disappointed if I don't take advantage of being here at its fullest potential.

 

Who or what inspires you to want to be the best version of yourself?

Escarle: My parents. They are basically my children except that they created me. I made it a huge responsibility to take care of my parents. As a kid my dream has always been to provide for my parents, take care of them, and make them feel like they always did right by their children. I saw all the struggles and pain my parents went through alone to provide for my brothers and I; It’s only right for me to pay them back for all they have done. I am their anchor, their provider, and the one who’s expected to solve all the family problems (even though I don’t actually volunteer for it). I’m not sure how I balance that with my personal life because it’s a struggle I’m currently trying to overcome, but I just pray and hope they know that I’m trying to make them proud. If my parents don’t eat, I don’t eat. If they’re struggling, I’m struggling. My success is determined by my ability to be able to provide for them and until I’m able to fully provide for them in abundance, I will not stop reaching for success.

What would you say to the person having trouble putting themselves first?

 

Escarle: The only advice I can give someone who’s having trouble putting themselves first or loving themselves is to not give a fuck about what people may say or think about you. Life is literally too short to depend on someone else for your happiness or to focus on things that will not benefit you. Everything or anyone that you are stressing about now will not matter once you’re gone. Take advantage of the beauty that is life and enjoy each day like it’s your last. Start by being happy with yourself, now.

Describe your self-love journey in one word:

Escarle: In progress

Where can I find this powerhouse?

You can find more of Escarle's hilarious videos you can check her out on Instagram @Izah_Levana. Thank you, Escarle!

Who is she?

Escarle Raposo is a 26 year old Master's degree recipient straddling the worlds between Corporate America and Instagram! During the day she is a Project Management Office Analyst at Moody's Corporation. By night she is posting tickle-your-funny-bone worthy content on her Instagram feed.

As the daughter of two Dominican immigrants, she takes pride in her Latina roots, particularly in the era of Trump. She is adamant about debunking the myth that "immigrants don't bring value to America" because she believes we ARE America. She capitalizes on her background to create funny content for her viewers to enjoy. 

Escarle is never afraid to speak her mind, and this level of vulnerability has catapulted her to expand her talents. Escarle has been featured on shows such as Caso Cerrado, has collaborated with other comedians to produce videos, and one of her videos has famously been retweeted by The Bronx's own, Cardi B, since then going viral. She is a budding comedian doing her part to remain authentic in a world that is too scared to say what they feel and mean what they say. Let's learn more! 

COMEDIAN, & PMO ANALYST AT MOODY'S COOPERATION