What One Model Learned from Her Year of Celibacy
Dronme Davis—model, painter, diehard feminist—isn’t afraid to put it all out there. She’s an old soul with an infectious smile and a disarmingly funny, self-deprecating nature. She also happens to be whip-smart. While she may treat her social platform like a personal journal, it’s also a way for her to urge women to demand more, stop apologizing, and advocate for themselves in life and love. And her message hits home.
“I’ve carved out a little corner of positivity. And I overshare everything,” says Davis. “I grew up as the fat Black girl in private White schools, and most of the bullsh*t that weighs me down in relationships is the stuff that stems from my teenage years. I knew that speaking to young women needed to be central to what I’m doing and what I talk about in a very intersectional way when approaching my own experience as a biracial Black woman.”
Like everyone living through season two of the lockdown show, Davis can’t help but feel jaded. She credits her decision to swear off sex for a year to a series of unfulfilling encounters (“It’s my entrance into monastic life!” she jokes). She loathes getting asked the “do you have a boyfriend” question on set. And yet, she’s hopeful for a real-life Dev-Patel-waiting-at-the-zoo kind of romance, like the achingly dreamy scene in Modern Love. “All I do is Google pictures of him,” she laughs. “It’s market research for whenever I enter the dating world again.”
But mostly, she’s focusing on herself and maybe finding a little joy along the roller-coaster ride that is 2020. “It’s peaks and valleys,” she admits. “Especially in a social justice context, you need the joy and the dancing and the silly stuff that’s so easy to write off as secondary when people are fighting for their lives, but it’s actually so central.”
We talked about her effortlessly cool style, where she finds inspiration, why being a walking contradiction is normal, the real purpose of her Tinder account, and lots, lots more.
Favorite ethical brand?
“323 makes the most beautiful small-batch ethical items, like the oatmeal linen drop-crotch pants with oversize pockets and a perfectly scrunched waistline that I have been living in all summer.”
On my feet you’ll always find…
“This is really specific, but every time I wear my white Arizona Birks I feel like Sara and Erin Foster. Like, I’ll be walking on set with a coffee and some boyfriend jeans and I just feel like I’m one of those girls taking my kids to school and then going to a café to talk about some new comedy script or something. My point is that I am obsessed with the Foster sisters and also I love Birkenstocks.”
What lies beneath?
“I fully plan on being buried in a CUUP Balconette bra and high-waisted underwear—and that is all. Their bras are first and foremost absurdly comfortable, and as someone with a 36G chest (yeah, actually), my review really means something. They are also sheer and sexy and come in seductive colors like salt and espresso but then also hard left turn into lemon and leopard print. And I may or may not pop up in a campaign here and there…”
All-time favorite quote?
“The world needs to deal with you, not with its idea of you.” —James Baldwin
Favorite stress Rx?
“Put on a pair of obnoxiously large earrings and shake your ass like your life depends on it.”
“When I tell you that I watched Hulu’s High Fidelity reboot starring my personal hero Miss Zoë Kravitz three times through, it is not an exaggeration. It’s sexy; it’s funny; it’s endless fashion inspiration while simultaneously allowing me to live vicariously through her toxic yet incredibly hot relationships. And we need more complex Black female characters in lead roles, like, yesterday. So f*cking good.”
“I also just started watching Peaky Blinders. I don’t give a damn about the plotline—post-WWI England doesn’t really do it for me, unsurprisingly—but I could watch Cillian Murphy smoke cigarettes and yell at people forever.”
“Wine—plus this goop exclusive Luisa Bonne Nuit Set, which is stunning. I know it’s technically for housing water on your bedside table, but six months into quarantine? There are no rules anymore. At this point I’d drink Merlot out of a bucket.”
Biggest takeaway from your last relationship?
“We present all of the curated parts of ourselves, and I didn’t realize how much I was playing a character. I was left thinking, What if I had been more real? If you put everything out on the table and are totally transparent from the beginning and it doesn’t work out, then at least you said everything you had to say.”
Style can be summed up like this:
“My alter ego is a divorced art teacher who spent her alimony on a pottery studio by the coast. I think her name is Jean or Penelope or something? Anyway, she is always up for some chunky jewelry and psychedelics. These sweaters could both be worn by me and my wife on our annual fall jaunt through Vermont or by Harry Styles in his next music video, and that is exactly the line I like my clothing to walk.”
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“My girls over at DÔEN regularly fill my need to live like I just got done being chased by my one true love (cough, cough, Dev Patel) through a field of flowers or something (and again, I may or may not make a few appearances in a handful of campaigns).”
Any advice for your younger self?
“Being in love is awesome and beautiful and totally worthy of all the songs that have been written about it and the wars that have been waged over it. But knowing who you are and finding out what you’re passionate about and standing up for what you believe in is so much better. That is what sustains you. And making good art and cultivating healthy friendships and picking out stupid outfits in your bedroom can also be amazing. And I’m just going to keep telling myself that until I believe it.”
“The Maya x Kio Rise Up necklace is a must. Same with the Bing Bang NYC Feminist necklace that I live in. Fashion is always political, plus it’s like a douchebag protectant against any devil’s advocates you may run into.”
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“Lindsey of Grey Jays also combines fierce allyship and activism with the most incredible sustainably sourced earrings. Metal, wood, bone, you name it, she makes it into stunning statement jewelry and usually delivers a powerful social justice declaration to go with it. I love her with my entire heart.
“Ukaome has the best beaded earrings (5 percent of her monthly sales is donated to different BIPOC orgs), and they are perfect for dancing around your apartment. The rest is all sourced from the back of my grandmother’s jewelry box.”
“If Brené Brown has so much as exhaled into a microphone, I’ve listened to it at least fifty times, specifically her Unlocking Us series. Layla Saad’s Good Ancestor podcast is an absolute gem. Also, Clint Smith is a phenomenal poet whose ‘How to Raise a Black Son in America’ Ted Talk and ‘History Reconsidered’ poem are absolute mic drops. Chills every single time.”
Best skin-TLC tip?
“GOOPGLOW Microderm! Beyond that, I find random homemade avocado masks online and then end up eating them instead. I also swear by the Noto Botanics Rooted Oil: It’s straight-up nectar and perfect.”
Dating apps, in a few words?
“I have an inactive Tinder account. I made it when I was heading up to Oregon to see what the pool was like (hint: White men…with guns). I now use it for creative purposes only—like plotting funny Instagram posts.”
Recommended reading list always starts with:
“Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay changed my entire life. It was my introduction to intersectional feminism, all couched in brutal honesty and tenderness. Gay swooped in and told me that it’s okay if I am a walking contradiction!”
“It’s easy to pretend that we were all born woke and that we are living up to these expectations all the time, but we’re all floundering. I battle that all the time. Like, I am a hardcore feminist who also genuinely believes that Eminem has made some good music. And I’m sure that Gloria Steinem also would have spent hours stalking dudes on Instagram and feeling bad about it.”
“You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar checks every box. It’s hilarious and tear-inducing and educational as hell, all centered around fat liberation and genuine body acceptance.”
“James Baldwin, my dearest love, where do I even start? The Fire Next Time, of course, but get the tissues out. The book version of the biographical documentary I Am Not Your Negro is filled to the brim with the most brilliant interviews, notes, and excerpts all from his never-completed writing, Remember This House, about the civil rights movement and its many fallen leaders. He writes with an almost prophetic clarity and tenderness that educates you like a history textbook while managing to rip your heart out of your chest. Especially when aforementioned bucket of wine is added to the mix.
“Phoebe Bridgers’s new album, Punisher, is a work of damn art. ‘Kyoto’ is my go-to for dancing in the mirror, and ‘Chinese Satellite’ is my go-to for crying on the floor.”
“I’d also be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Taylor Swift’s decision to bless us with a surprise album mid-apocalypse. I know that I am no longer sixteen years old, and fantasizing about prom and parentally supervised parties and skater boys showing up on my doorstep with shitty apologies is no longer an appropriate thing for me to fixate on, but damn, Folklore is doing it to me right now.”
Getting all the inspiration from…
“My internet friend Veronica Campos is probably the most beautiful woman in the world—she’s a soon-to-be-supermodel and always coming through with the body-positive and radically candid content. World domination is not far off for her, I imagine.”
“Em Battaglini takes the most stunning film photography that makes me want to cover myself in tattoos and run away to a women-run coven in a swamp somewhere, if that makes sense. She’s stunning and disturbingly talented and honest with her work.”
“Khari Johnson Ricks is the visionary artist I wish I was, Dominique Drakeford inspires me to take better care of the earth and look hot as hell while doing it, and Chanel Miller fills me with unparalleled hope and empowerment and the perfect amount of feminist rage.”
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