08 September 2016

Ready To Stare x Migg Mag: The Importance Of Fat Friendship

My first best friend was fat. We met in the fourth grade, and I still wonder whether we would've clicked as much had our body types not given us something to relate to one another with straight off the bat.

Two young women who'd later become some of my closest friends, and whom I met the year after, were living in similar, round-bellied bodies. In our small, conservative town — where "ideal beauty" was akin to the standard thinness and whiteness typical of Western dogma at large, but with the addition of fake tans and surfer brands — we all stood out. But none of us felt particularly good about that fact. So if we couldn't physically shrink, we could do our best to do so in speech, in personality, in voice, in presence.
These women were all incredible people: They remain some of the kindest, strongest, most brilliant individuals one can hope to meet. But I often wonder how our formative years would've played out if we'd come across some confident, like-bodied women a lot sooner: Fat women who didn't believe that it was inherently wrong to be fat; fat women who wore the clothes they wanted to wear; who knew that they were no less desirable because of their VBOs; who realized that the problem lies not with fat people themselves, simply for existing, but with the folks and institutions that insist on shaming them, simply for existing.
These days, much of my time is spent online: Soaking up imagery of fat, empowered humans who wear the bright colors, who laugh and live loudly, who take up space with no apology, who fight sizeism in both their day-to-day lives and in grander politics. Alysse Dalessandro of Ready To Stare is one of the fat women whose online presence has deeply touched my life.
We first came into contact with each other through Bustle, after she joined my team and produced some of the most fearless, thought-provoking stories I had the pleasure of editing. Although our relationship began under the umbrella of professionalism, I had the utmost pleasure of meeting her IRL earlier this summer when she visited New York for The Curvy Con. Her work had long inspired me — her writing and her designs alike — and we literally ran into each other's arms at first glance.

That afternoon was spent taking photos with my partner, Patrick, walking through Midtown, and eating some pretty scrumptious tater-tots. But most importantly, it was spent talking. The online fat acceptance community is immeasurably important. But having encounters with fat positive people, in the flesh, is of utmost value as well: To spend time with someone in a body similar to your own, who realizes so acutely that fat bodies are subject to deeply ingrained intolerance, and who makes a conscious decision each day to fight that intolerance, is beyond empowering.

When you spend so much of your life being told that living in your body type makes you inferior, meeting someone who so boldly reminds you that nothing could be further from the truth is motivation to keep striving for better. Not just for yourself, but for all those people who still haven't realized that they've been lied to.
Being fat still comes with its fair share of socially-constructed issues. We are frequently denied health care based on BMI alone. We remain the punchline of many a film or TV show. We are told that love does not exist at our size: That sex is not for us. That clothes are not for us. That we cannot start living until ~the thin person within~ is revealed after rigorous, even life-threatening lifestyle changes.

As we await, and fight, for this social narrative to change, re-framing our own narratives through fat positive friendships — both in person and on the Web — can do wonders. Taking pictures that show off your double chin, with someone who has one, too, can do wonders. Eating unapologetically with someone who knows that your meal plan does not equate to your moral compass or "goodness" versus "badness" can do much the same. And putting on those clothes — those bright, flowery, tight, or quirky clothes — can help, too.

And when much of the world insists on proclaiming otherwise, your fat positive friends can hopefully put things back into perspective.
What We're Wearing
Alysse: Plus Size Tropical Floral Plunge Dress, Deb Shops
Marie: Denim Overalls, ELOQUII

For more fat pos friendship, you can read Alysse's post here <3

25 April 2016

Time, As A Symptom

I've been finding it difficult to "dress up" as of late. Not even dress up, per se. Just getting dressed in anything that isn't leggings, a striped tee, and my go-to Dr. Marten boots can feel like a challenge. This isn't particularly unusual for me. If ever I'm stressed out or anxious or not feeling the ~life situation~ I'm in at any given moment, my style takes a big hit.
Unfortunately, this is something of a vicious cycle. As someone who loves fashion and beauty, the clothes I'm wearing and the makeup I put on all have the potential of affecting my mood. I think the same is true for a lot of folks. My partner, for example, can't get on with much if he stays in his PJs all day. Relaxed clothing, for him, isn't conducive to much productivity. For me, it's more about a sense of playfulness. My base state is reveling in the kitschiest of prints and loudest of colors — wearing Peter Pan-printed dresses and cupcake bodysuits like there was no tomorrow. And whenever I don't, I miss it.
It's natural to go through ebbs and flows when it comes to getting dressed. This is likely because it's natural to go through ebbs and flows regarding mental health or your career or your relationships or just about anything in this life. But I know that, psychologically and for whatever reason, putting in some kind of effort to feel cute and quirky can make a huge difference in my day-to-day.

Mustering up the initial effort is difficult at times. But 90 percent of the time, it's worth it.
The last few months, I've opted for basic upon basic: T-shirt and jeans combos, leggings and tunics, '90s mom jeans, solid-hued dresses, or loose-flowing silhouettes.

I gravitated toward this Maggy London Times Curve Bib Front Tunic at a time when dresses with any kind of embellishments, zippers, fastenings, or detailing seemed a more daunting concept than losing Jon Snow for good. But what I loved about it from the very get-go was the versatility. The beauty of "basics" is that they can be styled in a myriad of ways: Be it on their own, for an easy breezy look, or with neon-scrunchied baby buns and an old checkered shirt for more of that aforementioned quirky vibe.
I've been trying to take sartorial baby steps in the last few weeks: I put on something simple, like this dress — something that slips on and falls loosely so I don't feel constricted or imprisoned in any way. Then I pair it with some wacky accessories or a statement lip color or a funky hairdo to elevate my mood. And the thing is, it almost always works.

I love this dress because I know it’ll serve me well. I’ll wear it as a cover-up at the beach. I’ll wear it on days when I just DGAF about much and want the quickest, cutest option I can find. I’ll wear it when I need a foundation for something a little bolder — á la this baby buns look. I’ll wear it with a cardigan and knit tights in winter. It’s multi-purpose in the truest sense of the word (at least, the truest sense of the word in my book), meaning it’ll have my back regardless of my mental or emotional state. 

01 March 2016

Standing In The Way Of Control

Musician and designer Beth Ditto was one of the first fat women I ever saw naked besides myself. Her now-legendary covers for NME and LOVE Magazine presented me, and who knows how many others, with images of an unapologetic fat babe who wasn’t ashamed of her rolls or wobbles or cellulite. In 2007 and 2009, respectively, this was a rarity. There were few mainstream voices, if any, telling us that it was OK to be fat. There certainly weren’t many telling us that fat could be beautiful, powerful, desirable, bold, or successful, and doing it all while being visibly and proudly fat and wearing some of the tightest, most metallic lycra jumpsuits you’ve ever seen. Before “body positivity” went mainstream in 2015, before game-changing bloggers like Gabi Gregg or Nicolette Mason or Callie Thorpe, there was Ditto. 

In late 2015, Ditto announced that she’d be launching an independent collection the following year. But in the interim, she released this T-shirt dress in collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier (a design house that is actually one of the most inclusive on its runways). The image is clearly striking: That of an hourglass, feminine, corseted chest and abdomen.
On the opposite side, we can see the back of the corset, with actual laces that can change the fit of the garment depending on how tight or loose you want it to fall. The boobs are pointed, and the whole thing feels like an image of a femme robot living in fearlessness of its sexuality. But more than all that, I think this plus size piece is a metaphor.

A lot of fat babes are taught that inside them lives a skinny woman waiting to come out: She is happy, she is “healthy," she is confident, she is sexy. So many of us live our lives striving to ~help~ her come out. We diet, we binge, we purge, we buckle, we tuck. But we don’t have to. And that’s what I feel this image represents.
Thinking back to my childhood self, my teenage self, my early adult self, I mourn for all the time I lost striving to be different, not to mention the harm I put my body through, all in the effort of helping Skinny Marie crack the surface. The thing is, there isn’t a “thin woman within us all.” Yes, you can lose the weight; you can shed the “excess,” but at the end of the day, unhappy people tend to stay unhappy. And the number on the scale very rarely changes how we actually feel about ourselves.
That’s one of the infinite things diet culture — and our culture at large — doesn’t tell you, though. Everything is promised to us if only we make those “lifestyle” changes. “When I’m thin, I will travel. When I’m thin, I will lose my virginity. When I’m thin, I will be beautiful. When I’m thin, I will love myself. When I’m thin, everything will be better.” That was the running dialogue in my head for years, and I know it’s the same for a lot of fat humans. 
The truth? You don’t need to shed any pounds to start feeling good about yourself. You don’t have to shed any pounds to find romance, have brilliant sex, build a great platform or career, or to deserve acceptance. You just have to make a conscious effort to disregard beauty standards and societal sizeism. You have to look at all the mainstream visuals you’re being presented with — all the entertainment, magazines, movies, television shows, advertisements — that only celebrate one primary body type, and confront the absurdity of that. You have to look around you IRL, acknowledge the reality we live in (one where bodies come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, styles, races), and question why the hell we only see the white, the thin, the cis, the able. There is no justifiable reason for this exclusion, of course. So there’s no reason to cater to it or mold your life around it.
To me, this dress is a direct confrontation to all the so-called rules and social guidelines that tell me and other fat women that we have to transform. I am fat, I love my fat, and that’s the narrative I want to live in. The petite individual's frame depicted on this T-shirt dress symbolizes the fact that I don’t have to look like her. She might be close to the status quo in terms of mainstream aspirational beauty tropes. But she is not me. Me is fat. And me doesn’t have to be anything otherwise. 

Blogger Blogger Template Designed by pipdig