Body Positive

SHARING MY “WHYS” in Body Positivity & Social Justice

 SHARING MY “WHYS” in Body Positivity & Social Justice

I’ve been grappling with some major realizations lately that have influenced some of my focus personally & also professionally. (If you haven’t read about what informed my Weight Loss Resolution Resistance project, that might help put some of my thoughts into context.)

I am only one woman. But, I want to do my part in spreading support, love, information, and validation to others - especially other curvy/plus-size/fat women and also those in other marginalized groups.   

To do this more effectively, I’ve identified two actions that I want to better infuse into what (and how) I share my perspectives. . .

1. Explain more fully why I believe what I believe.  
I have so many opinions, y’all! If you’re reading this you are likely aware (or, well aware - depending on how closely you know me). I want to do a better job of sharing my “whys”. What, exactly, my values are & why my convictions are so strong.  Why certain information has lead me to increased understanding. And, why I feel so passionately about certain topics.

I can’t just say something like  “I don't support intentional weight loss” and expect you to understand exactly what I mean. There are years of reflecting, learning, and internal work that have brought me to where I am. It’s silly for me to assume that I can say one quick comment & that y’all are ready to come along with me. . .or, even understand what I mean, for that matter.


2. Actively work with people who are just starting to adopt a body positive mindset.
I spend a lot of my time in fat activism spaces. A place where body positivity is old news (or, even bad news) and we’ve moved on to unapologetic, radical self love and demand representation of not just traditionally attractive chubby folks in mainstream media but super fat folks, people with big tummies and small booties, fat people of color, fat trans & gender nonconforming people (a.k.a. Nice try Lane Bryant, but you’re still not cutting it) . And, are calling for a major cultural shift including active resistance against fatphobia & all systems of oppression.

This is radical. I get it. And, I know that lots of things I do, even saying “fat”, for example, are a bit much for some of you.

Though my values are unwavering, I am challenging myself to take more time to engage with people who aren’t in that space but are craving body love and body positivity in their lives.

Those who are beginning to understand that diets and intentional weight loss efforts are not making them healthier or happier. Maybe people who are impressed and excited to see the very Lane Bryant ads that I am so quick to dismiss as “too little too late”. Folks who see what I am doing and might be drawn to it, but are utterly confused by some of the things I say flippantly or in a matter-of-fact way. I want to do a better job of showing up for you.

Not just in body positivity! 

Y’all! I can’t mention these two areas of focus and just relate them to body positivity. There’s more.

Since the election, I have been painfully reminded that I do a pretty shit job of talking to people outside of my circle about what’s going on in our community, country, & world. Though it was shocking to find out that 54% of white women voted for President Trump, I now see how I definitely contributed to this. Just because I didn’t vote for him doesn’t mean I did my part. I keep coming back to the fact that I didn’t speak out as much as I could have and, when I did speak out, it was mostly just lots of sassy statuses and not true engagement with much of anyone.

So, I want to bring these two tactics to my overall social justice & racial justice work, as well, . . . not just body positivity & fat activism! Because, the same thing holds true! I can’t just say “That policy is racist!”, for example,  and expect everyone to understand why. It’s easy for me to speak without remembering that we all have different knowledge bases, different experiences, different relationships, and different stories.

I am going to be honest. On both accounts, this feels really, really daunting. But, so very important.

BODY BRAVE CONSULTING 

One way I am excited to actively work on reaching more folks maybe just entering body positivity AND sharing my “whys” is through a new collaborative endeavor - Body Brave Consulting.

 
 body brave - bravely embrace your body as is it is today. 
 

My friend & co-creator, Ani, and I are offering facilitated trainings for people interested in developing a new framework for pursuing health & body confidence. Rooted in (true) body positivity & Health at Every Size®, we want to help others bravely embrace their bodies as they are today. We currently offer trainings (two or six hour sessions) & a monthly discussion group locally in the Twin Cities. (I’ll be sure to update if/when we expand to more virtual resources.)

Yes - this is a new business endeavor. But, don’t worry - my shop is still going strong. Now, more than ever, I am working hard toward opening a storefront in St. Paul. In fact, Body Brave aligns directly with these efforts. I am committed to having my shop also be a community space. I envision doing these trainings and welcoming lots more body positive, intersectional feminism, social justice focused events in my shop, too.


 
 

Another thing! I’ve added a “Just Ask!” page to my website. If there’s something I’ve mentioned that you want to know more about, ask me! You are also more than welcome to remain anonymous.  You can "Just Ask!" here! 

RESOLUTION RESISTANCE: Voices in Opposition to Weight Loss Goals

 RESOLUTION RESISTANCE: Voices in Opposition to Weight Loss Goals

For a week in June, I gave away my goal setting workbook for free. As part of the download form,  in addition to the “required” name and email fields, I included one more optional question. Just for fun, I asked people to share what goal they were working to accomplish before the end of the year.

The response to my offer started off really strong - which was exciting. Of course, I wanted to look right away to see what kind of goals everyone was working on.

I started to peek at the responses rolling in. . . .and my heart sank.  So many of them referenced weight loss goals. I was literally holding back tears as I scanned through some of the responses.

I was mad & sad & overwhelmed that, for many people,  the first thing they thought of when I asked them what they were working on was losing weight.

It enraged me that we live in a society that reinforces daily, especially for women, that how we look is more important than what we accomplish.

It made me angry that this myth of "healthy = thin & unhealthy =  fat” continues to be the status quo (in spite of research to the contrary) because I am sure many folks who reference weight loss really just meant they wanted to be healthier but didn’t see the difference between the two.  

It made me sad to think about all of the ways fat people & people who do not live up to societies standards of beauty/desirability are made to feel less than. And, are often treated differently because of their bodies. (When your body size and appearance can literally play a role in whether you get hired or promoted, it’s understandable that people would feel pressure to change themselves.)

It also made me realize that I need to do a better job at sharing true body positivity & empowering messages of self love with my community. (I did NOT go through and match names to goals and start picking out people - or anything like that! But, based on sheer numbers, I can assume that some beautiful folks who follow me - and see my body love messages, inspirational self acceptance quotes, and countless shared articles and resources - were actively pursuing intentional weight loss.)


Weight Loss Resolution Resistance 

This has been weighing on my heart and mind, literally, since June, and has informed a project I worked on throughout January. I wanted to share voices in direct opposition to the typical “New Year! New You!” crap that is thrown at us at the start of each year.

Don’t get me wrong, I think January is an amazing time to set goals! (I love goal setting! Remember, I even wrote a workbook about it!) What I do take issue with is the idea that we need to be new people. The presumption that the present “us” isn’t good enough. A focus not on growth & progression but on guilt & shame. And, finally, the assumed notion conveyed in these “New Year! New You!” slogans that we need to change ourselves to live up to an ideal that is truly unattainable.

I was honored to have so many people participate in this project. Their statements are strong and their stories are ones of resilience. Have a look at a few below &  see all of them on my website or Facebook (for easy sharing!).   

Finally, in reference to weight loss goals & choices you make about you. . . 

Your body is your body. I am not here to judge you. Do whatever you want. (Truly!)  Your goals are your goals. Set them however you see fit!

I do care a lot about your insides. . .your thoughts, feelings, emotions, & baggage about your body -  all informed by messages around us that are constantly telling us that we’re not good enough. . .that we deserve less. . . that our bodies are not valued. I also care a lot about information. I want everyone to be able to make informed decisions about their bodies with the full picture in mind.

Whether these are things you care about or not, know that you are so much more than the size of your body!  Losing weight is not your life’s purpose. You are capable and valuable and worthy no matter what size your body is or how healthy you are (or, aren’t)!

BEST OF 2015: Top Six Blog Posts of 2015

I started my blog this time next year! I'm still finding my space with blogging. I want to share a good mix of body positive content, motivation and inspiration, fatshion, updates from my world, plus critique and conversation. I'm looking forward to doing even more of that in 2016.

Looking back, these are the six most popular blog posts from 2015. (This doesn't include my Inspiring Women project last March. Those posts received a lot of love from folks who loved the women I featured.)  Take a peak if you haven't read these already. Just click the title to go straight to each post.

Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing! I appreciate you!  Here's to lots more great posts in 2016. Plus, an exciting writing project I'm excited to share with you soon. . .

BODY POSITIVE NEW YEAR: Resisting Toxic Diet & Weight-loss Resolutions

I love the start of a new year! I take it as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and think about goals, dreams, and plans for the year to come. Unfortunately, “health & fitness” (read: “diet & weight loss”) talk, “info”, and resolutions are almost everywhere. Even the most secure and confident among us can have trouble getting through this time of year unfazed.

 
 

I surround myself with a lot of body positive media (particularly social media). There have been so many great articles shared over the last few days about just this topic. Take a look at these voices and perspectives if you could use a little help resisting toxic diet and weight-loss resolution talk.  Let’s replace that mess with a more self-love!

I recommend these 8 videos & articles:

  1. Melissa Harris-Perry is a goddess. Her critique on social and political issues is always on point. This open letter to Oprah (shared in video form from MHP's TV show) is no exception. Long story short, Oprah has a new Weight Watchers commercial out in which she essentially claims that there is a thin person inside of all of us fat folks. Um, no. MHP’s response is *everything*.
  2. And, this additional response to Oprah’s commercial from Bethany at Power, Peace and the Poarch Gym is also great!
  3. Huffington Post knocked it out of the park with this article on "Resolutions to Boost your Body Image."
  4. Though I am not familiar with this mom blog, I really love the "New Year, New You! And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves" article from Peachie Moms.  It even includes a pdf sharing 20 self-care ideas.
  5. Love Virgie Tovar’s tips for dealing with the New Year’s diet & weight loss obsession.
  6. One of my favorite articles circulating is from Mashable sharing “What 8 body positive activists want you to know about losing weight in the new year”.  
  7. I started my blog this time last year and kicked it off with a short “Starting 2015 with Intention” series. It’s totally applicable to any year (not just 2015) and shows where I came from. (Even though it was just a year ago, I feel like I’ve already grown in terms of blogging but especially video – thanks Periscope! The videos are a little funny but the content is good. I promise!)
  8. Finally, I have a Body Positive Email Course that I would love for you to take part in – “5 Steps to a More Body Positive You”! It’s super simple and free! You just pop in your email and receive an email a day for 5 days. Each one includes a tip for loving yourself and enhancing your body positivity. Plus, each lesson includes an accompanying worksheet.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! And, while you’re clicking on links, take a look at these 77 babes in fab outfits from 2015 (including yours truly at number 55)! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, seeing more images of women who’s bodies look like mine and/or aren’t the traditional standard of beauty has been really helpful for me in learning to love myself and be bolder in how I dress, think, and feel.

PLUS SIZE COSTUMES: Favorites Throughout the Years

Costumes are a good way for me to get crafty and thrifty - two things I love to do! This post highlights some of my best costumes throughout the years and shares a little info on how I created each look. I can't even choose which is my favorite - I love them all!

ADELE

Yeah, yeah, I feel like every curvy, bright-eyed woman in the world has been compared to Adele at some point (or, is that just me?), but I really do love her and loved this costume!

I was really proud of this costume! It's a recreation of her 2012 Grammy look with all of her awards! I created the whole outfit from things I already owned - a lacy top and high-waisted a-line skirt. I bought the wig (which I think looked better in person). And, I crafted the grammy's! I spray painted mini bread loaf pans, sponges, and dixie cups and then hot glued them all together!

SCARY ZOMBIE/HAUNTED HOUSE CREATURE

I HATE haunted houses. . .hate 'em! I get way too scared and they are absolute no fun at all. I will, however, happily be in a haunted house! Maybe it was working at universities for several years, but I have found myself being part of many haunted houses (or, more like haunted hallways, haunted Rec Centers, etc).

I love creating bloody zombie type looks for occasions like these. And, it's really pretty easy! I find an old flowy dress or nightgown and rip holes in it. (I always wear leggings and a tank underneath!) Bonus for blood stains on the dress. Every time I've been in haunted houses, they've supplied the face paint and fake blood but never have a good selection of costumes in my size. So, I always bring my own and always get compliments on how scary I look!

I paint my face with white paint and then darken my eyes and add lots of smudges. (You can't really tell in the pics but this usually looks extra scary with my bright eyes!) Make sure you put the white paint over your lips, too. I make my hair big and messy. Finally, I use fake blood to make fake gashes on my skin and always do some from my hairline and lip or nose.

PUNK

We're going way back with this one! (Yes, I had short hair! Yes, it was amazing! No, I didn't spike the top like that regularly. Yes, I plan to have short hair again soon. #30Before30 Bucketlist!)

Although, for one summer I did have my lip pierced, that ring was fake for the costume. Those fake tattoos were amazing! They were rebel librarian themed temporary tattoos and said things like "Literature 4 Lyfe!"

 

PIRATE

I do love a good pirate costume! This was actually one of my favorites! My friend Margot and I are both dressed as pirates here. I put some work into this one! It's actually probably one of my sexier costumes, too! Gosh, I was a hottie in college, wasn't I? ;)

I'm wearing a wig. It's not a great one, but with the scarf over the top it doesn't matter. I have tons of layers - ripped fishnets, a sheer black nighty thing, a cream top ripped up and worn off the shoulder, (lol, I wore a bra with lacy straps because I knew they'd be revealed), and an epic coreset dress thing that I crafted! I cut a dress open and made those ties with a ripped up black t-shirt.

 

NON HALLOWEEN COSTUME FAVORITES

Since I'm sharing costume favorites, I have to mention the following two looks that I would also qualify as winning costume moments. . .

A few years ago I had a pretty epic tacky holiday party outfit! I saw this look as an avant-guard Christmas tree. Gold bow at the top (with the help of a headband). Amazing turtle neck. My German dirndl as the main "tree" look covered with ordainment.  (Shoes not picture. They were wedges with bows on the toes to resemble presents under the tree.)

Years ago I was a camp counselor at a German immersion summer camp, Waldsee. They had an amazing costume collection because we were constantly dressing up to act out lessons and skits. The picture below is of our fairy tale evening where we were all dressed up as fairy tale characters.

AND, THESE GEMS FROM LAST YEAR!

What were your best costume moments?

GAL ON THE GO WORKOUTS: Catching Up & Working Out While Traveling

I was home in Minnesota for two and a half glorious weeks in September & October! What an amazing trip. Literally, every day I was catching up with people I love! Most of it was over brunch or drinks, so I really appreciated time to be active and get in workouts while spending quality time with my besties! Here are some ways I remained active while still being a social gal on the go!

HIKING

The weather happened to be beautiful and unseasonably warm when I was home. One of my high school bff's, Krissy, and I went for a hike with her two cute dogs. She was familiar with the trails and we went through both fields and wooded areas. Then, we stopped at the top of Granddad Bluff in La Crosse, WI to take in the view.

krissy hike.jpg

 

TRAMPOLINE PARK

Y'all know I LOVE giant trampolines! We grew up with a trampoline in our backyard and I suppose that's why I am so natural on them. Plus, I am flexible and love getting in some toe touches (something I could never do by simply jumping off the ground).

While I was in Minnesota, my friend, Margot, went through a bone marrow donation process. Margot is on the national bone marrow registry and, four years after signing up, was asked to donate. Talk about #WomenSupportingWomen and, essentially, being a selfless angel, Margot donated bone marrow to a woman she might never meet. Because of the donation process, she needed injections to draw out her bone marrow into her blood stream and was sick with side effects for 5 days leading up to the donation procedure.

Because she knew she'd be in bed for almost a week, she suggested we do something active before hand to get the wiggles out! ;) She loves these trampoline places as much as I do, so we spent the afternoon jumping!

We went to a kind of amusement place that had a pretty small trampoline area (not like the other trampoline parks I am used to), but it was literally just the two of us on them the whole time we were there. (They also made us wear grippy socks - which I was not used to nor a fan of.)

 

ZUMBA CLASSES

Zumba is also one of my favorite fitness activities. When I am home, I love joining friends at their gyms for zumba or asking for suggestions on where to find a great class. Last time I was home my friend Karyn and I got a class in at the local YWCA ( shoutout to Tania!)! And, this time, my friend Maryse got me in to a really great zumba class at her fitness center! No pictures of this one - I was too busy gettin' it! ;)

 

I love love loved my trip home. Infusing some active social activities helped keep me feeling good while I was there. (Also, I am convinced that drinking an EmergenC a day helped, too!)

PLUS SIZE COSTUMES: Easy DIY Witch Costumes

Last year I went all out for Halloween & costume season. I created and sold crafted, thrifted, plus-size costumes in my shop! 

As any plus-size ladies reading this know, it can be a real challenge to find cute & affordable costumes that go up to our sizes. So, I created my own!

Although I'll be selling a few costumes and costumes items at the two pop up shops I'll be doing in Minnestota in the upcoming weeks (details here & here), I won't be selling them in my shop this year.

I will, however, be doing more blog posts and tutorials about how you can create looks just like these! First up. . .simple do-it-yourself witch costumes! 

CUTE OR SEXY WITCH COSTUME

Throw on any kind of little black dress! (Belt it or add accessories as you see fit.)
Pair with black boots or booties! 
Add some black gloves. (I found these thrifted but you can also find them for $5 or less at most discount stores.)
Top it off with  a cape or hat. (I created this simple cape & hood with 20 minutes, my sewing machine, and a black bedsheet. You could also easily do a no-sew cape by simply cutting it and tying it around your neck. )
 

 TRADITIONAL WITCH COSTUME

Find a long or flowy black dress or top & skirt. 
Get some green facepaint!
Cut holes in black gloves to make them look tattered! 
Fashion a cape out of some kind of black fabric or garment you have laying around. 
Add a witches hat (and, a broom to take it to the next level)!

 

80's WITCH COSTUME

I know this witch costume is a little quirky, but when I found the bodice/dress and wig I knew I could create something funky! You can basically add witch or zombie to anything to create a fun costume - zombie bride, witchy librarian, zombie super hero, etc. So, this is an 80's witch! 

For this specific look: 
Get a bright wig and a dark colored 80's style dress or skirt. 
Find or construct a little witch hat you can pin to the top of the wig! 
Put on some lace gloves. 
Wear some ankle socks.
Add beads (mine are all left over Mardi Gras beads) and other 80's accessories! 

 

THRIFTED, CRAFTED PLUS-SIZE COSTUMES 

These are all the fun costumes I put together last year! Check out my album for a recap of all my fab costumes if you just can't wait for more tutorials! 

I cannot wait to see what creative costumes folks come up with this year! Also, remember that cultures aren't costumes! (This might also relate to witch costumes, but I think that the feeling are quite different based on my reading.) More costume tutorials to come! 

WATER WORKOUTS: & Confidence at the Pool

I love all things sunshine & swimming pool & beach!

One of my favorite ways to workout is at water fitness classes! These come in multiple forms. The classes that I frequent include Aqua Zumba, an H20 Cardio class, and general aqua fit/water aerobics. I also like to swim laps. Well, mostly kickboard laps.

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

I seek out water fitness classes everywhere I go! Currently, I take them at my amazing (albeit expensive for a #GirlOnABudget) gym & community center. Most places with a pool offer these type of classes.

Like any group fitness classes, the quality of the class depends a lot on the instructor and the focus. Some classes I’ve attended have crappy music (or, no music – ah!) and not very challenging moves or routines. While others are more active with a great cardio and strength workouts. It really just depends. My perspective is to try everything to see what I like. Also, I like to replicate water work out moves on my own later. (Yes, I am that lady at the pool!)

I usually wear a more supportive, “sensible” suit for these classes – purely based on comfort. I don’t like being distracted by my boobs popping up, bottoms falling down, or tankini top sloshing around when I’m trying to get my work out on.

My favorite water workout suit is a Reebok one-piece purchased years ago. (I can’t find the link but there are a few pics of me in it on Instagram.) And you know how I found this suit? Another fat girl was in a water work out class with me and I saw her wearing it. After class I pumped her for information! I especially wanted to know about the length (#LongTorsoProbs) but she assured me that it was really roomy in terms of length. And, it is!

 

Fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good. 

Whether you’re in a water workout class or just lounging at the pool, I think we can all agree that it feels good to see other body positive people there! For me, I especially love seeing other plus-size/curvy/fat ladies loving life in the sun and giving no fucks. I also try to be one of these people!

I notice when girls run for their towel or cover-up as soon as they get out of the pool. I see people’s hunched backs to draw attention away from their breasts or strategically placed arms to cover up tummies. I also see the judgmental looks people give others at the pool.

But when I see another curvy girl standing up straight and tall, unconcerned with covering things up or the illusion of angles, and owning her space, I feel a little more confident, too. And, I don’t know her or her heart. Shoot, this confidence could be a “fake it till you make it” situation. (Sometimes mine is, too!) But seeing her there makes it easier and better for me. It makes me feel good. I imagine it makes some of you feel good, too!

I recently shared a video of me in a bikini on Instagram where I say “tummies out at the pool and fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good”.  I remind myself of this when I’m considering which suit to put on. If I am just chilling at the pool, I challenge myself to wear what I feel most comfortable in and not what covers up the most.

When I am showing my tummy at the pool I feel like I am creating a small little revolution for me and other larger ladies. And, providing an educational experience for people (including all the kids at my pool) about the sizes and shapes of bodies and what is “acceptable”.

The same holds true for folks who are unbothered by their body hair, darkness between their thighs, or other things we're told are not pretty or not acceptable. 

Wear whatever you want to the pool! Do whatever feels right to you. I'm just saying that I have so much love and respect for people at the pool exuding a confident, body-positive vibe. Let us be be surrounded by those people and let us be those people if  we can. 

"Tummies out at the pool and fat girls at the pool make other fat girls feel good."

 

RESPONSE REQUIRED: Interrupting With Body Positivity

As body-positive and/or fat and/or plus-size and/or curvy women living in the world, we are often confronted with cringe-worthy comments directed at us or said around us. They can run the gamut of blatantly fat-phobic to well-intentioned but grossly misinformed. In these type of situations, I always want to say something but sometimes struggle with what exactly should come out of my mouth next.

There’s a name for these, by the way! They’re called microaggressions. Essentially, a microagression is a subtle way oppressive ideologies are conveyed against marginalized identities. Body and body size are parts of my identity that are marginalized because they are not society’s ideal or standard. Of course, I can’t forget that I have many identities that hold power and privilege in our culture (let’s acknowledge intersectionality, folks!) but, parts of my body – specifically my size- have been marked as substandard and undesirable by popular American culture.  Check out this amazing tumblr for more info and more examples of microagressions.

Because every situation is different based on where you are, who you’re with, and where you’re at mentally and emotionally, there isn’t one perfect response for every comment that comes your way. I’ve listed some statements I hear fairly often and three types of responses I use that are rooted in body positivity - the radical notion that all bodies are good bodies.  

I’ve jotted down three levels of responses: 

“Slight interruptions” are when you want to say something but don’t really want to go into it. Sharing your feelings and educating others is important but your emotional health and well-being are more important. Sometimes you want to voice your confusion or lack of “cosign” but would prefer to keep it vague.

“Short & Sassy” statements are a short but more pointed way of voicing discontent or non-agreement. I like these the best. It’s easiest for me to pop them out.

“On a serious note” responses go deeper and take a more no-nonsense, educational approach. For situations with people who you would like to go deeper with, this type of response might be right. This response is the subtext behind all of the responses – like, what you’re saying in your head but sometimes goes unsaid. 

Optional add-on to all of these responses:
“Plus, as a body-positive/fat/curvy/plus-size [however you identify] person, that comment is hurtful/offensive/bothersome/annoying [pick your poison] to me.”

 
image.jpg
 

 "You look great! Did you lose weight?"

Slight Interruption: "I have no idea! I am feeling great, though!"
Short & Sassy: "Nope! Still fat and fabulous!"
On a serious note: "I know you meant that as a compliment but I’m not comfortable with people commenting on my weight. Plus, I am not focused on my weight as it's not the best indicator of health. "     

 

"Ugh, I feel so fat."

Slight Interruption: "Huh? What do you mean?"
Short & Sassy: "Excuse me?! Fat is not a feeling!"
On a serious note: "Fat is something people have - it’s not a feeling. What I think you mean is that you might feel full, bloated, or like you haven’t moved your body enough today.  Just say what you mean because when you complain that you 'feel fat' you are assigning negative attributes to that descriptor that don't actually belong to it."

 

"Oh, you are not a size ___. You’re not even big!"

Slight Interruption: "Thanks but that is my size."
Short & Sassy: "Yes I am a size ___. And, I am big! And, I am fine with that!"
On a serious note: "My size is part of my identity and when you say that you don’t see me as a big or fat person, I don’t take it as a compliment. When you say that, I feel like it means that I can’t be big and beautiful – like people can’t be both. I am both!"

 

“I don’t like to wear sleeveless things because of my huge arms.” (Usually while you're next to them wearing a sleeveless top, am-I-right?) 

Slight Interruption: "It’s important to be comfortable with what you’re wearing. Maybe you'd be more comfortable in this heat with something sleeveless?"
Short & Sassy: "Hey! "You have the right to bear arms! ;) For real, the size of your arms is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! And, it is hot outside!!"
On a serious note: "I know that our society and standards of beauty dictate that your arms need to be small in order to be seen but let’s get over that. All bodies are different and every body has the right to be seen and take up space in our world. If you are warm, I encourage you to wear clothing that is comfortable for you. Being comfortable in something you've been taught not to wear is hard. It takes practice. "

 

"Are you really going to wear that crop top?"

Slight Interruption: "Yes! Let’s go!"
Short & Sassy: "Fuck flattering. I am rocking this crop. And, I l think I look damn good!"
On a serious note: "I don’t ascribe to the notion that people need to wear things that are considered flattering or for a specific body type. If I like it, I wear it. It’s as simple as that.  Please open your mind a bit and kindly refrain from policing my body."

 

Interrupting in these kind of situations takes practice! 

Please know that I do not say these things all the time. Fat phobic shit flies past me all the time (I mean, I am a woman in America!) and I don't always say something. But, I'll tell you what. . . like most other things, practice makes "perfect" or, at least, builds your confidence up. And, when I say practice, I don't just mean in these situations. I also mean when you're by yourself ruminating on someone's comment and wishing you had spoke up. Practice what you would have said so that a response might come out more easily the next time.

Finally, no, a response to these type of comments is not "required" but who can pass up a good alliteration and reminder than small steps like speaking up in situations like these can be good for us and our body positive community! 

Side Note: These “Real Talk” statements remind me of things you’d find in a Feminist Ryan Gosling meme. All they need is a “hey, girl” in front of them! Y'all remember those? Ha ha. . . 

SUMMER ESSENTIALS: 10 Things Every Fat Girl Needs This Summer

Ten of my current summer essentials include. . .

1. Good facial sunscreen
Hopefully everyone is using sunscreen on a regular basis! Although I can usually get away with an SPF 15 or SPF 30,  I have a special sunscreen routine for my face. I use this amazing mineral powder sunscreen that provides a powder veil that blocks the sun but doesn’t add any extra grease to my face. It also is a nice oil absorbing powder that I can easily whip out and reapply throughout the day.  (Sometimes I also wear my liquid foundation that contains an SPF and then apply the mineral sunscreen over it.)

2. coconut oil.
Coconut oil is, by far, my favorite moisturizer! It is also a great hair deep conditioner (or leave in conditioner, depending on your hair type) and cooking oil! (I also know some folks who put in in their smoothies.) It’s amazing for after-sun skin care, including sunburns, and is perfect for sensitive skin like mine.

3. a fabulous fatkini.
Due in large part to Gabi Fresh, bikinis are now fab and flattering for plus-size ladies! For the last few years they have become more widely available. Now you can find them in several stores and in a variety of price points. You need one! ;) And, yes, “fatkini”! I support calling it this. If you haven’t gleaned this from my other content, and the title of this post, I like using the word “fat” to describe myself in order to take the stigma and “ick” away from the word.

4.  a sensible swimsuit.
I qualify a “sensible suit” as something that you can swim laps in or jump off a diving board in and not worry about a nip slip or exposed booty. I wear a sensible suit to water aerobics and in situations when I want to be my fabulous self but not reveal all of my fabulousness ;)! (Not that fatknis aren't sensible. . I just can't resist a good alliteration!) 

5. a light scarf to protect you from the sun.
I love a thin, summer scarf as an everyday accessory or at the beach. I wear a scarf in my hair for sun protection or, in instances where my skin has had too much beach time but I have not, I will wear it damp around my shoulders to protect my skin and keep me 

6.   bright polish for your nails and/or toes.
I am usually attracted to brown, purple, grey, and maroon tones for my nails but I love to go bright and colorful for my toes (and nails) during the summer. It’s a fun time to try some new colors!

7.  a new journal or pens.
Summer is a great time for reflection! For me, journaling is my mode of choice. Opening up a new journal (or putting a fresh, new pen to paper in a journal that I am already using) while sitting outside, laying on the beach, or enjoying an iced coffee on a patio is a great way to reflect.  

8. shorts, spanx, bandelettes, (etc.) that are comfy for summer
If you can wear skirts or dresses and do not have irritation from your thighs rubbing – count yourself very, very lucky! I need protection from this. . .and, something stronger than a little body glide or deodorant. Thinner spanx brand shorts and bandelettes are the most comfy for me. (I am sure you can find spanx-like shorts that are thinner and more comfy for summer but my thin pare are spanx brand and the most comfortable for warm weather.) Note: bandelettes are a lovely option but not for long walking adventures.

9.  a good set of podcasts in your iPhone.
With summer travel and beach or pool time, you’ve got to have some great podcast on deck! My favorites are a combo of small business podcasts and women-centered podcasts.  I’d LOVE to hear about what your favorite podcasts are. (As I listen to more and more of them, I am becoming very tempted to start my own. Would you listen?!)

10.   body-positive sisters in your (real or virtual) life.
Feeling confident in summer styles can be tough. Y’all, it takes bravery to go out on the beach with your tummy or wear a crop top.  You will be ok. And, so will everyone else, but sometimes it is hard!
Aside from simple practice (the idea that the more you do it the easier it gets), I think that seeing other women confidently bearing their bodies and surrounding yourself with body-positive people are invaluable ways build your body confidence. Some of us are lucky to have folks around us that can serve in that capacity. Other of us might need to find that online. Either way, be sure to be getting that community somewhere and surrounding yourselves with a variety of bodies in summer styles.

 Love this suit paired with a flowy maxi skirt. This suit is actually for sale right now in my shop! Check it out! 

Love this suit paired with a flowy maxi skirt. This suit is actually for sale right now in my shop! Check it out! 

 Tummy out and a scarf in my hair! 

Tummy out and a scarf in my hair! 

 Bright toes and a tumbler from The Golden Girl Shop! 

Bright toes and a tumbler from The Golden Girl Shop! 

 This vintage, thrifted suit is one of my current favorite "sensible suits"! 

This vintage, thrifted suit is one of my current favorite "sensible suits"! 

These are ten of my summer essentials. What are your must-haves this summer??

30x30 Challenge: 30+ Outfits With Less Than 30 Items

May was busy for me! One major part of my month was moving. In an effort to make packing easier and for a fun excuse to try new outfit combinations, I embarked on a 30x30 outfit challenge.

Essentially, I wore only 30 items all month to create 30 outfits. I *mostly* stuck to the items I selected at the beginning of the month. Actually, I ended up wearing less than 30 items. And, I included shoes!! (Of course I didn't count gym clothes or undergarments in my 30!) 

Many of these clothing items are my old reliables so I can't link most of them for you. The items I'm wearing that are still available are linked when listed below. (I am obsessed with my "Riots Not Diets" top!  The other linked top - not so much. Poor quality!) 

25 ITEMS

TOPS: (1) Black Tube Top, (2) Black Tunic Top, (3) Cream Tunic Top, (4) Chambray Tunic Top, (5) Riots Not Diets T-shirt, (6) Black T-shirt. (7) Black 3/4 Length Top, & (8) Snow Leopard Peplum Top

BOTTOMS: (9) Black Leggings, (10) Black Gathered Pencil Skirt, (11) Thrifted Brown & Black Skirt, & (12) Harvest Skirt, (13) Pink Accordion Skirt, & (14) Denim Shorts 

DRESSES: (15) Orangey-red High Low Dress, (16) Pink Floral Dress, & (17) Brown Fitted Dress

JACKETS: (18) Black & Gold Moto Jacket, (19) Olive Bomber Jacket,  (20) Grey Lace Blazer, & (21) Denim Vest (not pictured #fail)

SHOES: (22) Cream Snake Skin & Gold Strappy Sandals, (23) Brown Strappy Sandals, (24) Black Pointed Flats, & (25) Black & Gold Strappy Sandals 

ACCESSORIES: (unlimited) belts, jewelry, & scarves

 

33 OUTFITS

18.jpg

Here's a peak at some of my #ootd looks in these outfits this month! 

I loved doing this challenge! Unfortunately, I wasn't diligent about taking #ootd selfies everyday to show what I was wearing but I'm happy I could do a recap for y'all! Plus, there are even more combos I didn't share here! 

LOOKING FAB IN ANY KIND OF WEATHER: Outfit Ideas for Changing Temperatures

Spring is a beautiful time of year! (I especially love April because it's my birthday month! Yay, April babies!) While it's fun transitioning our wardrobes into spring and summer looks, the frequently fluctuating temperatures can pose a challenge.

I have experienced dramatic weather changes throughout spring in most places I've lived. This year in New Orleans, it was cold and rainy high 40's/low 50's just a few weeks ago and now we regularly have a high of 80! It's like one day I was wearing boots and the next day I was in sandals. (No lie!)

As a fatshionista on a budget, I find creative ways to wear my garments throughout all seasons.  Also - when I love something, it's hard for me to only wear it for a few months of the year!! I need my favorites to work with me in all weather! 

Inspired by Garner Style's incredibly cute and clever "three ways to wear one garment" posts, I wanted to share some ways I make one piece work for a variety of temperatures. Most of these item's are older stables of my wardrobe - so they're not available anymore. But, I have linked the items that are. All outfit details are below each image!

Floral Dress - 3 Looks

This strapless floral dress is one of my favorites. It's certainly an oldie-but-goodie in my wardrobe. It's from Torrid - about 5 years ago! (Fun fact: I wore this to my college graduation.) I love how this dress fits and recently discovered that I can make it look like a skirt very easily. (Wearing a dress as a skirt provides more outfit options for one garment!)

WARM LOOK: I wear this denim vest on a regular basis in the warmer months. It's a great way to make a strapless dress a little less revealing and more comfortable. For a warm look, I added cognac wedge sandals and coordinating a belt.

COOL LOOK: I wear this type of look to work! It's a simple button down top tied at the waist - to reveal the flattering cut of the dress. Paired with black Lane Bryant flats - available here.

CHILLY LOOK: Booties and a moto jacket can easily make a dress like this work - even if there's a chill in the air! For more warmth, I put a crop top on over the dress. The length of the crop falls perfectly to maintain the skirt illusion.

black & white foral dress

This simple and fun dress can be worn from warm to cold!

WARM LOOK: Simple accessories! Earrings, black and gold belt, and black and gold sandals. (Those are my favorite sandals from Lane Bryant last year. I got some extras last summer because I knew I would want a fresh pair this summer.)

CHILLY LOOK: Replace sandals for booties and a simple crop cardi to make this look work in cooler weather. Silver accessories - belt and necklace. (At the moment, this cardi is still available in my online shop!)

COLD LOOK: Add tights to warm up any look! And, this moto jacket and big scarf (two of my favorites) also add some warmth! (Everyone always asks me about this jacket - it's from H&M+ two years ago!)

harvest maxi shirt

This skirt is one of my all time favorites! I call it my harvest skirt because the colors remind me of fall. But, it can look fab any time of year. Its a Lane Bryant find - but is no longer available.

HOT LOOK: Simply styled with a tube top and sandals. The belt, bracelet and earrings tie it all together. I am sure I'll be wearing this as it gets to be tube top weather!

WARM LOOK: Worn here with a simple black t-shirt under this denim vest. For accessories, I have my regular bangles, leopard flats (hard to see!), a thin belt, and my amazing tortoise shell chain from Lane Bryant - still available here

COOL LOOK: For cooler weather, I wear this skirt with a long sleeved top. The one pictured here is over-sized and off the shoulder. The same belt and chain as previous but this time with tights and black flats. (Tights under this aren't my favorite - but if it's chilly it will definitely work!)

This is how I make one garment look fabulous in any kind of weather!  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

LOVE YOUR BODY: Make Healthy Choices Because You Love Your Body

 



I've been feeling mysteriously tired and kind of run down the last two weeks. I described it to someone as "pre-burned-out feeling". Like, I'm fine - not sick, not too overwhelmed, not too busy. . .but it seems like just a little bit more and I would get there.

Acknowledging that "pre-burn-out feeling" is important! Last week I made several conscious choices to benefit my physical and metal health! I ate more veggies, drank more water, went to yoga, and cancelled some evening commitments. 

I chose to do these things because I love myself and I love my body. It is counterproductive to make "healthy" choices out of punishment or judgement of yourself. (How "healthy" can something be if you are pressuring or shaming yourself into doing it?!) 

When mid-March comes (like, next week), things get even busier for me. So, I'm taking a few moments now to get back into my groove and prioritize my health. 

Hope you liked the quick video excerpt above reminding us to make healthy choices because we love our bodies! You can see the full video from a few months ago here

 

IN A FUNK? 10 Small Ways To Kick Crabbiness

Last week I was in a funk. And, this week has been dangerous funk territory. For me, being in a funk means feeling crabby and unmotivated for no apparent reason.  I’ve compiled a short list of things I do to jolt myself out of a funk and work to kick crabbiness. Use this list when you're having a crab attack! ;) 

  1. Blast music and sing along.
    I usually do this in the car. And, I drive an old, crappy car with no other music capabilities than the radio. So, sometimes this means belting out mumble singing to pop songs I don't know the words to.

     

  2. Exercise.
    Take a walk! Go to Zumba. Swim. Stretch. Have a personal dance party. Endorphins are real, folks. Very, very real.

     

  3. Drink water.
    And maybe a coffee or diet coke. But then, more water! I feel like over 50% of problems in life are probably because we’re somewhat dehydrated. (This is not real science but, what I like to call, “Cat Science” - meaning, a mixture things I’ve heard but cannot site and my intuition.)

     

  4. Make sure you've eaten.
    Related – make sure you’ve eaten the most recent meal. And, if not, fix that quick!

     

  5. Put a deadline on your crabby.
    One of my friends taught me this. If you’re going to feel an emotion let yourself feel it intensely but give it a deadline. When the deadline comes – honor it and move on!

     

  6. Journal.
    You can write to vent about what’s going on in your world and/or list the things you are be grateful for.

     

  7. Reminder: negative just brings more negative.
    Remind yourself that positive brings positive & negative brings negative. When I am crabby EVERYTHING goes wrong. For instance, first I’m stubbing my toe, then I’m out of almond milk, then my eye pencil is dull and there is no sharpener in sight, then I get in the car to go to work and forget that I’m on E. Right? Bad energy just brings more bad stuff! So, it's good to remind ourselves of this as a push in the right direction.

     

  8.  Watch a funny show or standup on Netflix.
    My personal recommendations include Parks & Recreation and Aziz Ansari stand up. I also recommend “Dads dancing to Uptown Funk” videos on YouTube. I have no idea why but they just crack me up. . .every single time. (I watched it again while linking it here and am currently laughing out loud.)

     

  9.  Go to bed.
    And, vow that you’ll let your pissed-off attitude go by morning.   

     

  10. Clean or organize.
    Clean your apartment/office/room and listen to music or a podcast while you do it!

 

What kinds of things do you do to get yourself out of a funk? Let me know in the comments below!

WELCOMING 2015 WITH INTENTION - Part 4: Infusing Self Love into Your Everyday Life

I'm excited to share the final part of my Welcoming 2015 With Intention series. In this video, I share five ways to infuse self love into your daily life. Loving yourself can help you be a stronger, happier, and more confident person.  I hope these tips will help bring some more self love into your life. 

In the video, I highlight these five ways to infuse self love into your everyday life: 

 
  1. Practice positive self talk.
  2. Create & display positive reminders of self love.
  3. Don't say negative things about other people.
  4. Prioritize yourself above everything else.
  5. Advocate for yourself. 

I hope this series has given you a glimpse of what I have to share.  As I mention in the video, in these four videos, I have just scratched the surface!

With Cat's Closet, I am able to share body positive messages and fatshion & style inspiration. With this blog, I hope to continue to share about those themes and add a lot more content related to self-development, as well as lifestyle topics and some general sassiness in all areas!

Thanks for viewing and listening!  

WELCOMING 2015 WITH INTENTION: Part 3 - Health & Wellness

In part three of my series Welcoming 2015 With Intention, I share my thoughts and tips for embracing health and wellness! Many folks vow to "get healthy" in the new year! Unfortunately, for many people, "get healthy" is code for "lose weight". Well, not for me!  If you're thinking about health and wellness in the new year, this blog post shares some ways you can approach health in a supportive, body positive, loving way!  

Health and weight-loss are not the same thing! 

In case this is something new to you, health and weight-loss simply do not go hand in hand.  I am a strong believer in the Health at Every Size movement. Many folks have broken this info down better than I have, so I encourage you to take a look here and here. Plus, some thoughts on the weight-loss resolution trap here

Listen to your body and do more of what feels good! 

Like I've mentioned before, I believe our wisdom lies within. Our bodies know what we want and need. It's just a matter of listening and doing it! 

Think about wellness holistically! 

Health and wellness is so much more than just exercise and nutrition. I encourage you to think about health holistically. To consider all components of wellness, I like to use a wellness wheel. Take a look at the image to the right and feel free to look at this presentation that I modified from something I created for my day job. It goes in detail to describe each area of wellness. 

No need to label yourself as "good" or "bad" when talking about your actions. Just say what you mean! 

I think my example in the video says it all. You are valuable, good, worthy, and deserving. While your actions may be positive or negative, they don't make you a good or a bad person.  And, just say what you mean! 

Love your body! 

Let your love for your body and yourself motivate your healthy habits! Don't get caught up in the negative and scary cycle of making "health" choices out of anger or hate or shame or dislike for your body! 

SUMMER IN JANUARY: Throwback Swimwear Style

Over at Cat's Closet, I am doing a Summer in January theme this month.  In the spirit of summer fashions, here is a photo set from this past summer. You can find outfit details below. 

DSC_1068.JPG

Suit Pieces & Sandals: Lane Bryant
Shorts: Homemade! Sewn from thrifted jeans. Some similar ones will be on sale soon in my shop
Bag: Target 
Scarf & Chain: H&M
Midi Rings: Old Navy
"Love" Ring: Jou Jou My Love

Photo Credit: Emily Horne Photography 

DSC_1097.JPG
DSC_1094.JPG
DSC_1084.JPG
 

Check out summer dresses, suits, and shorts in my shop at www.ShopCatsCloset.com

 

DECEMBER: Favorite December Outfits

 

Here are some of my favorite outfits from December! 

Heather grey/black maxi dress belted and worn off the shoulder. Accessorized with my favorite chunky belt, leopard scarf, and stocking cap. (Maxi dress is actually a 4XL and will be for sale soon.) 

image.jpg

I had my eye on this eloquii dress for months. I finally purchased it over the holiday shopping weekend. I love it! It's the first item I've ordered from eloquii and, although my measurements looked to align with size 18, this dress is a tad big. I've been meaning to take it in but haven't got around to it yet. So, I wore it under my moto jacket to bring it in at the waist.  (Sorry for this pic quality! Better pic once I take it in!)

image.jpg

I sold this fab 90's duster jacket earlier this month. But, I had to wear it a few times first! What a fun garment! (Boot info linked above.) 


Now that I'm blogging I'm going to try to take some better outfit pics to share with y'all! What looks good on my Instagram doesn't look as great here, but I think the general fabulousness shines through! ;)  More highlighted looks coming soon. . .

image.jpg

This has been one of my favorite outfits this year! I love to wear this fun snow leopard dress over leggings. My boots coordinate with the tortoise shell chain necklace and black and cognac-colored belt. Plus, wearing my usual gold bangles and black moto jacket.

All of these items are long gone from their respective retailers except for the boots which everyone asks about. They're from Target online. Here's the info. 

image.jpg

Colorful thrifted skirt with a chambray button down. (The top is actually a tunic but tucked in.) Funky and fab choker necklace from Ready to Stare. Simple belt, usual gold bangles, and flats. 

Loving this top from Feminist Apparel. "Riots Not Diets"!!  Find this top here.  (I'm wearing a 2XL which is a tad roomy but comfy.) 

image.jpg

This outfit is technically from November, but I just loved this comfy but chic airport look! Black leggings and top with this great, thrifted flannel around my waist. Boots and my tortoise shell chain! Boot info linked above. 

BANDELETTES: Practical & Sexy

Like many women, my thighs rub together when I walk which can cause a lot of skin irritation and discomfort. I religiously wear shorts, spanx (well, usually off-brand, spanx-like shorts), or tights under any skirt or dress! Sure, I sometimes like the curve-smoothing benefits of shapewear but, for me, it’s really a matter of comfort.

Let it be known that chafing is an issue for women of many sizes. And, just because one’s thighs touch does not necessarily mean it will cause discomfort. This issue has always plagued me for – well, forever. My thighs have touched as long as I can remember. And, I have sensitive skin. It took me years as a teenager to figure out how to shave without intense razor burn. (If you’re interested, my magic formula is a Venus razor, Dove soap, and NEVER LOTION after but coconut, olive, or baby oil instead.) I used to really, REALLY want the illusive “thigh gap” – not for the look but simply for relief from my burning skin.

I have friends who use other forms of protection from chaffing or, chub rub, as some folks call it. Using things like runner’s glide or deodorant. I’ve tried these things, but none of them offer enough protection for me. I need a layer of something between my legs and each other.

I’m so pleased to have found a protective alternative in addition to my spanx! Plus, something cooler, less constricting, and sexier! I am quickly becoming a fan of Bandelettes! I'm wearing them here under this chic, royal blue dress. This dress flairs out a bit, so it's sometimes difficult to conceal spanx under it. 

Blue Dress Bandelettes

I ordered Bandelette’s for the first time recently. They had a promotion going on, so I got 50% my second pair. I measured my thighs and was between sizes, so I ordered one up and one down. (Side Note: Through wearing these I have discovered that my thighs are shaped differently. Bodies are so cool and weird!)

I ordered two pair in different colors and two different sizes. They seem delicate but sturdy. I was pleased to find that the bands are stretchy and have a clear strip of grippy material on the top and bottom. (You know, that material that’s often on the cups of a strapless bra!) I would recommend sizing down as the smaller pair didn't fall or sag when I walked (once I positioned them where I wanted) but the larger size did. When I order some more, I’ll be sure to stick to the smaller size. 

Blue Dress Bandelettes Sitting

Not only do these offer protection and comfort, I definitely won't mind as much if they happen to peak out! 

Bandelette Stairs

Here's an up-close-and-personal look so you can see how they fit me. They're most comfortable when wore up at the top of my leg - right under my booty. 

Bandelette Up Close

I am very into these! But, I am interested to see how they hold up after several trips through the washing machine. And, how they’ll work for me in the humid, sticky summer.

For more info or to order some bandelettes of your own, check out their website www.bandelettes.com

If any of y'all have worn these, I'd love to hear your experiences. Let me know in the comments below.