30 November 2012

Dear God Of Wishes, Please Let Retail Stores Make Clothes Big EnoughFor My Ass

Ragini Nag Rao

Miss Trilby Goouch at Queen’s Journal Blogs posted an article today called, “Embracing All Shapes: Plus-Size Bloggers,” We all know plus-size writers, fashionistas and curve enthusiasts have been hitting the blogosphere at full force, even being adopted by renowned magazines and newspapers.  We’ve got publications like the Huffington Post, Marie Claire and inStyle embracing plus-size columnists and writers along with personal bloggers like Gabi Gregg and Ragini Nag Rao making bold fashion moves on their sites and earning thousands of followers while racking up the page views.  As noted many times, plus-size gals and lovers thereof have started wedging their way into the worlds of style, fashion and celebrity.

I know I always point to a select couple of shops as implementers of plus-size clothing, mainly Forever 21, ModCloth and ASOS.  I’ve been saying over and over that I think plus-size women are slowly getting more fashion options than five years ago as they sneak out of the fat girl closet.  But I don’t ever mean to suggest that the light at the end of the journey-toward-weight-acceptance-tunnel is actually visible.  Like Trilby points out, plus-size ladies still can’t shop at stores like American Apparel or Marc Jacobs.  They still aren’t able to rock Zara’s Faux Leather Frill dress, which doesn’t come in anything over an L, or the Alexander McQueen Black Dragnofly and Flower Knit Leggings (also at the L limit, a letter which may stand for large but could still really only fit a size 8).  Voluptuous ladies who could have the luxury of shopping anywhere they want, or have the confidence to wear anything they want, can’t actually do so regardless of having the means or the sass.  There's no such thing as a butt too wide or a belly too fat, only clothes not made big enough.

Ragini Nag Rao \

You’d think relentless “0 is not a size” campaigns accompanied by statistics proving time and time again that the average woman is a size 14 would provoke retailers and designers to have a reality check.  Trilby asks, “Who are they designing for?” – and really, that’s THE question.  Most women aren’t a size 0, and you’d think common sense would suggest that designing for women of all sizes would only help business and possibly tarnish any negative stigma designers and retailers bring upon themselves by choosing to make clothes that only fit a 6’1”, 130 pound model.  But I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that people lack common sense.

I may be chunky but I know I’m just around the technical average size of women in the country.  A 16 isn’t really that big considering I’m 5’9”, but even so, I find it extraordinarily difficult to buy clothing anywhere that isn’t specifically designed for the larger lady.  Most of the time, pants refuse to cover my ass or I get stuck in tops as I try to pull them over my boobs, and while I can actually find this comically amusing, I can't just be naked all the time because things don't fit properly (though how much more fun would that be?).  My best friend is a size 4, and I envy the ease with which she walks into absolutely any store and finds whatever garment she wants in her size.  I wouldn't want to be skinny like her, but I would want the stores she shops at to be friendly to my fat.  I don't want to lose weight, especially not so I can fit into some teeny jeggings.  I LIKE my body.  I like my rolls and wobbly bits, which is why I wish I could find more clothes to show them off.

Ragini Nag Rao

All this makes me think of Ragini Nag Rao (as you can probably tell because all the photos here are of her), who I will probably dedicate a full post to soon.  Her blog A Curious Fancy holds dozens of photos of her dressed in some of the cutest, most daring ensembles I’ve ever seen a plus-size girl in.  I don’t know where Ragini actually shops, but I wish we could sneak a peak at her little black retail book.  At least it’s proof that finding fashionable, adorable, sexy, etc. options for chunky chicks isn’t impossible or limited to three or four stores…but I do wait in expectation to see the day that Zara or Urban Outfitters or American Apparel wake up and realize that they’re missing out on a hell of a lot of business, because there are a hell of lot of plus-size women longing to shop at their stores.  I long for the day I can go to Zara and not rip their jeans every time I try to fit into them -- again, I actually find this pretty hilarious but unfortunately it makes it so I end up paying for something I can't even purchase.  Sorry people, I have a massive ass, and would really appreciate some aptly-fitted trousers that both cover it and make it look as nice as I happen to think it is.

29 November 2012

Beauty...And That Means...?

Plus-size magazine SLiNK's recent "Beauty Issue" asked a pretty hefty question: what is beauty?  SLiNK may be geared toward women size 14 and up, but they've long been trying to tear apart this idea that plus-size models and their thin counterparts can't mix.  I've always thought of SLiNK as the plus-size magazine for all women, as opposed to just chunky chicks like me, because it does often try to blend all shapes, sizes, colors and cliques into the type of product that a size 2 grunge-chic gal could relate to just as much as a size 20 preppy princess.

So this is why I wasn't surprised when they proposed this deceivingly small, three-word question -- a question that despite looking tiny on paper is actually a huge, existential query that loads of people ask themselves at some point or another.  I've both asked people this before and had it asked to me.  I've spent misty spring mornings contemplating such a question while snuggled under the covers.  I've talked to my best friend about it time and time again.  But the answer isn't simple.  It's not something any two people ever agree upon 100 percent. It can't be, because perception of beauty is dependent on each individual. Yes, yes, all that "eye of the beholder" stuff.

What I think most people do agree on, at least when it comes to beauty of human beings, is the relationship between internal and external traits.  We all know there is no shortage of those who focus predominantly on the external part -- people who want to look like this and that, wear so and so's designer line and usually be very, very thin.  To those people, beauty is a white, spotless, Lysol-drenched, tile floor.  Beauty is cliche perfection, which to me simply translates to boring and unoriginal. Then there are the opposites -- those who believe beauty is purely an internal thing, one based on having a genuine, interesting, loving, caring, [insert adjective here] heart, soul and mind.  A beautiful person is one who incites deep thought and emotion -- one who loves and gives and never takes.  Of course, both of these have many variations; like I said, there is no one solid answer.

If I were to try to explain my perception of beauty, it's more an ability to translate something on the inside to the outside.  In relation to people, those I think are most beautiful are the ones who are clever and lovely and interesting and soulful on an internal level, but at the right moments, are able to project these traits to the outside.  I don't mean being pretentious or loudly proclaiming that they're awesome.  In fact, it's sort of the opposite, something subtle and unexpected.  I've come across it in the people who don't say much, but when they do, it reflects everything they are on the inside.  This isn't a rule or a concrete definition.  I could never even try to create one of those for this loaded word.  But it's definitely something I've noticed.

My thoughts on finding beauty in people are much different than my thoughts on finding beauty anywhere else.  I think it's a lot easier to find things that are beautiful when it doesn't have anything to do with Homo sapiens.  It's easier to find things that take your breath away, or make you smile, or incite giggles, or stop you mid-step.  I'm not saying it's so easy that it'll happen all the time.  But I think I've encountered much more beauty when I separate myself from humanity.  Beauty out there could be the blue glow of a lunar eclipse, the feeling you get when you're ill and your pet somehow knows and keeps you company, the smell in the air after it's rained for a few days straight, the graffiti-covered walls on a random street, the pair of birds in your nest fighting playfully over a couple of seeds.  The definition is still just as intangible to me when I'm thinking of it in terms of the outside world, but the feeling of it is so much more inclined to make itself known.

I don't know what beauty is any more than anyone else does, but I can say that for me it's far more emotional than aesthetic.  It's not something instantly perceivable by the eye, but rather inwardly digested by the soul.  As far as SLiNK's question goes, I obviously don't have an answer.  But I do know that thinking of the type of combination they are proposing, the kind where plus-size women and skinny women and all those in between are able to pose together and model together and be photographed together, does make me feel that six-letter word.

Big&Beautiful&Bold And Fractal Fish Graphics Present To You: ChubbyJournalist-Girl!

Whenever there is fear in the hearts of the large and lardy, whenever evil in the form of diet troupes, exercise fiends or health critics casts a shadow over our land, one girl…one chubby girl, will take a stand!

Her powers include but are not limited to:
  1. Sticking up for any and every plus-size boy, girl, man or woman who's being bullied or made to feel worthless.

  2. Bashing the ignorant, uninformed, judgmental enemies of pudgy princes and princesses, and threatening such foes with the inescapable magnitude of her bottom.

  3. Charming sources into giving her stories by means of contagious double-chinned giggling.

  4. The ability to consume mass amounts of food whenever and if ever is necessary.

  5. Providing the world with images of real, plus-size women who take risks with their wardrobes, defend their chunky allies and aren’t afraid to broadcast their confidence.

  6. A total lack of inhibitions when it comes to blatant public fatness – i.e.: dancing badly, showing off her rolls and a superhuman ability to squeeze into anything up to three sizes too small.

  7. Seducing enemies with her cocoa butter meets Ben&Jerry’s aroma, only to give them a piece of her mind once they’re trapped.

  8. Putting straight any false health claim, negative sexual assumption or archaic stereotype made in regards to being overweight.

  9. Seeking out fellow plus-size bloggers, models, celebrities, authors or any such person/organization that support the advancement of plus-size acceptance and the evolution of a jiggle-fied world, where any chunky lady or stud can walk the streets unashamed.

  10. All in all, supporting and spreading the cause for being big&beautiful&bold.
So when you’re in need of a porky pal, a corpulent compadre, a pro-plus-size proponent, someone to share in the love of being round…do not fear, Chubby Journalist-Girl is here!

28 November 2012

Why Are Plus-Size Mannequins So Disproportional?


I am all in favor of stores using plus-size mannequins in order to appeal to varied shoppers. Like I've said before, the average woman in America is just not a size 2, but rather a 14. I don't care how good an outfit looks on a teeny mannequin with boy hips and no ta-tas. I don't look like that so unfortunately no matter how phenomenal something may look on that asexual piece of plastic, it doesn't really help me at all.

In the past couple of years a few stores here and there have adopted larger mannequins, mainly JCPenny. But the problem is every time I see such a mannequin that is supposed to attract those over a size 12, said pieces of plastic look like body builders gone wrong. Their shoulders are way too wide, their arms too skinny, their bellies square, their heads the size of a peanut and their fingers the shape of extra large Italian sausages (the ones you get at the grocery store, not the kind you find in Rome). They look like what you'd get if you took a fat woman, made her drink loads of protein powder until a third of her fat turned to muscle and then used a shrinking machine to reduce the size of her face to something that should belong to a child.   Actually, that's inaccurate, because the figure doesn't even look like a woman at all, but rather a highly unattractive male -- one who is supposed to make a women's size 24 pair of jeans looks good.

Today someone posted the above photo on the forum Reddit with a caption that asked, "Anyone else horrified that they make obese mannequins too now?" The comment received an overload of commentary, both positive and negative. Blatant diet fiends were obviously in agreement, bashing overweight people as a whole and openly saying things like, "Fat people hide behind a safety net of health problems to justify the way they look. Why can't they just admit they pig out on donuts?" The ignorance of this statement is almost laughable. If these people knew even a smidge about medicine, they'd know that illnesses like polycystic ovaries or glandular abnormalities can cause people to become overweight whether they eat donuts or not. But regardless, if someone wants to eat donuts and be fat whose business is it to judge? There were of course many positive reactions to the mannequin, and several people defended the use of plus-size mannequins being used in stores. They saw this as a journey toward weight acceptance and praised whatever business used that mannequin for taking a risk. But like me, there were some who just couldn't believe that THAT plastic doll is supposed to be emblematic of an actual human being.

Sorry but I don't know anyone who looks like that. And I'm disturbed by the fact that someone somewhere thinks plus-size means looking half like a body builder and half like someone whose suffered serious physical mutations from radiation poisoning. Fat people don't look like this! Usually if someone is fat, they are most definitely not square are butch looking. Chances are they are soft and round and have youthful features. If someone made a mannequin of me and had it look like that I would be immensely offended. And if I went to a store and saw that thing wearing a dress, I wouldn't think, "Oh this will look good on me because it looks good on this creature."

I guess what I am saying is that while the idea of plus-size mannequin usage is a good one, and certainly a beneficial one for the advancement of plus-size acceptance, portraying plus-size people as these deformed things is definitely NOT good or useful. It gives the wrong impression of what plus-size looks like. It gives the wrong impression of what fat is. I don't doubt that whoever put this mannequin up in their store had good intentions, but truly what they need is to find a new mannequin maker who has actually seen a fat chick, because whoever made this obviously lives in some scary skinny-centric universe and has only ever heard about fat people from story books or on the radio.

Big Women, Gay Men: A Different Sorta Love

Oh Huffington Post, how I love you. You must be my favorite newspaper in the world. Time and time again you feature plus-size bloggers and columnists whose witty banter and unique perspectives on large lady news and culture always amuse and amaze me. Yesterday I came across another new article called "A Plus-Size Woman Out With A Gay Man: Don't Assume You Know Her" by the blogger Amelia, and instantly started giggling. Like Amelia says, stereotypes come from somewhere -- and the "fat woman & gay man beard/fag hag" cliche stems from the fact that chunky ladies and gay men seem to gravitate toward each other...but unlike the stereotype assumes, this has nothing to do with seeking feigned intimacy or sex. It's just something that happens, sort of like the cheerleader falling for the meat head jock.

I for one certainly fit this cliche in high school. Somewhere right around sophomore year I reached an all-time peak in my weight. I was around 230 pounds and a good three inches shorter than I am now. I didn't consciously make a decision to seek out gay friends, but it did end up happening. The town I grew up in (heaven for the white, wealthy, racist, bigoted suburbia lover, but hell for anyone with an actual personality) was definitely not friendly toward anyone who didn't fit their goal in creating a sterile utopia, and its high school epitomized that. If you were punk or goth, you were pretty much guaranteed a slushee in the face (no this doesn't just happen on Glee). If you were black, well, certain members of the football team would probably be beating you up in the parking lot with no consequence whatsoever. If you were gay...forget about it -- that pretty much gave everyone license to haze you. And if you were fat, or not even fat, but just somewhat overweight, you were pretty much in the same boat. Suffice to say...I hated high school. I had a few close friends who helped in getting through it, though, and as I think about it in retrospect, they were all either equally or more pudgy, closeted bisexual girls or openly gay boys who had it way worse in terms of teasing and torture.

In her article, Amelia talks to Ashley Fink, the proud and loud plus-size actress best known as her role as Lauren Zizes on Glee and publicly best friends with fellow castmate Chris Colfer (or Kurt as you may know him). Amelia and Ashley essentially came to the conclusion that the bond that often arises between fat girls and gay men comes from the fact that both are used to a hell of a lot of public criticism, especially during teenage years. Thus, they’re drawn to each other because they already have the common ground of being picked on and bullied. And when it comes to big girls, hanging out with fellow females could put them at risk of being the "victim." They will always be the fat girl in the group, the one who can't share clothes or often shop at the same stores. By hanging out with gay boys, there is no need to shop at the same stores anyway and body comparisons aren't really possible. Ashley also brings up that for her, it's much easier to stay true to herself around gay guys; she doesn't feel judged or pressured into being some sort of Hollywood princess. She can just chill out and have fun.

Another point the gals bring up is that both fat women (though maybe this is relevant to all women) and gay men have complicated relationships with straight men as they grow older, and so it's easier to cultivate the friendship between each other instead. In reference to the girlfriends/wives of straight men, she said, "They've not understood how their boyfriend can be totally in love with me as a friend. They act like I'm competition." But then there's gay men..."There is something about being 100-percent yourself without the worry of the sexual attraction." Though I don't think this is something fat-girl specific, it is definitely true. Friendly relationships between straight men and women get harder to maintain as you get older and start dating seriously or tying the knot. I mean...it's nearly impossible for friendships to stay the same once someone is married and we all know that. So perhaps continuing to bond with gay men is just simpler...and perhaps more fun too.

I must admit it bitterly pains me to hear the rumor-mill spouting out BS about gay men and fat women using each other for sex or intimacy, as though they couldn't possibly get sex or intimacy from anyone else. Amelia brings up that most of the articles she's found on the subject are written by very thin women and are all along the lines of, "those poor souls, they have no one but each other." Right. Obviously no straight man would ever want to date a fat chick when he could have a skinny one. And yeah, clearly there are so few gay or bisexual men in the world that they won't ever have a partner. How absurd are those comments? I'm getting twitchy just writing about them. Yes, gay men and fat women often have close friendships. No, this doesn't mean they are f***ing each other. Gasps. Breathes out. It's true that big women may have to wait longer to find men who like fat and gay men may have to wait longer to find guys who like penises than thin women or straight men would wait to find partners, but this is simply something else that brings the two together. Clearly there is a relationship that grows between chunky ladies and gay guys, but has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe this is because fat girls and gay boys enjoy each other's company? As Fink says in her Twitter description, "Life is all about finding people who are your kind of crazy."

27 November 2012

Sailor Rose, You Make Me Smile

Lizzie, a.k.a. Sailor Rose, is one of my favorite BBW models along with Plump Princess. Because I really haven't gone into much detail regarding the BBW community, I will do so now.  BBWs (or Big, Beautiful Women) are those plus-size ladies who are openly proud of their pudge and often model online.  Their modeling is usually for the world of cyberspace as they are often considered too big to be "regular" plus-size models. Lizzie for instance, models for VaVaVoom BBWs, a BBW modeling site founded by Reenaye Starr (a 400-pound model, blogger and webmaster).

On a sexual level, the acronym BBW is commonly used to describe women who get turned on by being big, and consider their chunky bodies incredibly hott.  However, all it really stands for is big, attractive ladies, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sex or fat fetishism or morbid obesity (though, of course, it can).  The term itself was actually coined by Carole Shaw, the founder of BBW Magazine in 1979, one of the longest-running plus-size fashion magazines out there.

Going back to Lizzie, the punk-chic English beauty whose career as a BBW is relatively new, she's a great example of a BBW model who loves her body and has no qualms with showing it to the world.  The start of her modeling career is explored in the documentary My Big Fat Fetish.  The documentary is a decently un-biased look at the BBW world -- from those who are simply chunky and love it, to those who actively gain weight for modeling/sexual purposes as well as a look into the modeling industry as a whole.  In the film, Lizzie is only having her first photo shoot with Reenaye, but it's really interesting to watch them work.  Both ladies are extra large and lovely, and seem totally confident in their bodies.  Reenaye has no problem taking off her shirt, and Lizzie poses proudly and porkily in front of the camera.  Reenaye dubs Lizzie "Sailor Rose", and chooses to launch her career due to her unique, rocker-esque look which includes piercings, big, funky hair and a general 80s grunge feel to her overall aesthetic.

I've brought this all up for several reasons: 1: The BBW world has been growing (no pun intended) online for years, but doesn't really have much exposure anywhere other than on the sites dedicated to it.  Because I focus on plus-size news, fashion, celebrity and lifestyle, I think it's really important to send a shout out to those ladies who, despite not being too known by anyone other than their immediate fans, are doing something pretty awesome.  They're taking the "radical fats" idea that Bethany Rutter proposed in the Huffington Post article and bringing it to new heights.  Not only do they wear whatever they want, they put themselves in an extremely vulnerable position and model for a world that's still very skinny-centric.  It's pretty impressive.  2: Tomorrow I am doing my very first photo shoot...ever.  Jay Ehrnstrom of Jay Photographics will be taking some pictures of me for my "Positively Plus" section of Big&Beautiful&Bold.  The problem is that I'm super camera shy.  I clam up in front of a camera, and so in light of this I've turned to the BBW models who are ridiculously confident and beautiful and light up when being photographed.  3: While I think that plus-size models (meaning those a bit over a size 12) are becoming more popular and renowned in recent years, I think BBWs still have a long way to go before they have the recognition that Tara Lynn or Whitney Thompson have.  But if we slowly start acknowledging that they exist, and that what they are doing is seriously big and beautiful and bold, we might be helping them come out of the internet shadows and a smidge more into the public stratosphere, or at least the blogosphere.

Liebster Award

Ahh! My day was off to a lovely start today (no cake pop theft on the subway).  It’s snowing, my train to school was on time for once, and I got the notification from the lovely Jessica at Product Hoochie saying she’d nominated me for the Liebster Award.  I must admit I had no idea there were this many Wordpress awards out there, but I am so flattered and honored that this fellow curvy gal who also happens to be a very talented blogger thought Big&Beautiful&Bold was worthy.  Thanks Jessica!

The Liebster Award was started in Germany in order to give lesser-known bloggers some recognition. You receive this award from a fellow blogger that feels your blog is both worthy and important to them.

So here are the rules:

1) Post eleven facts about yourself.
2) Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for people you’ve nominated.
3) Choose eleven people to give this award to (with fewer than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
4) Go to their page and tell them.
5) Remember, no tag backs.

Some Random Facts About Me:
  1. I have a recurring nightmare that I’m Alice and I get stuck in Wonderland.

  2. I haven’t set foot in a gym in over a year.

  3. I’m a romantic.

  4. I never wear jeans – not because I don’t think I look good in them or I can’t find ones that fit – simply because I find them constricting and think dresses are better.

  5. Root beer floats are one of my favorite things in the world.

  6. I often pretend I am in a 1950s movie.

  7. I like my belly.

  8. I blame romantic comedies for people’s false expectations of love.

  9. I watch Girls and feel depressed every time.

  10. The opening scene of Newsroom always makes me smile.

  11. I have a boyfriend and a best friend all in one (sorry, I had to slip in a mushy fact somewhere).
Answers To Jessica’s Questions:
  1. Why did you start blogging: I’ve always wanted to have a blog, and in fact I tried blogging a few times before.  But I realized that plus-size news, fashion and anecdotes are something I truly care about and enjoy writing.  And I guess I’m cocky enough to think people would like reading what I have to say

  2. What is your “day job”: I’m finishing up my BA at N.Y.U. and interning at Marie Claire.

  3. What is your least favorite current fashion trend: Fur. I just don’t get it.

  4. What is the one thing you do that other people think is fantastic: Probably giggle – I often go on and on and can’t stop.

  5. What was your biggest adventure: I decided to spend a year abroad, mainly in Spain and the Czech Republic.  It was the best year of my life.

  6. What is your favorite cosmetic product: Rimmel lipstick – any shade!

  7. What perfume do you like most: I like Secret’s cocoa butter spray – it may not technically be perfume but it’s all I use.

  8. Who is your favorite person: Does it have to be a real person?  In that case my boyfriend/best-friend/editor/therapist.

  9. What is your favorite book: A tie between The Little Prince and Into the Wild.

  10. What product would you love to try but you think it is too expensive: I’d really like to try more MAC products – preferably the lipsticks

  11. What beauty product do you think would change the world:  Hmm I don’t really think any one thing can change the world, but I think if I had to pick a product it would be hair dye, particularly odd, bright colors.  I think if more people dye their hair in a funky way it’d be a good way of showing they like showing individuality.
My Questions to You:

  1. What is your favorite thing to write about?

  2. How did you get interested in blogging?

  3. What is your favorite food?

  4. Are you happy with how you look?

  5. Who is your favorite musician/band/artist/etc.?

  6. If you could marry any celebrity, who would it be?

  7. Who is your favorite plus-size celebrity/public figure/person?

  8. Do you like animals?

  9. If you could have any profession in the world, what would it be?

  10. Where would you go if you could go anywhere?

  11. Who is your favorite real person?
Bloggers I’m Nominating:

Saturn’s Existence

Curvy Girl Makeover

Belittle the Bullies

Curvy Culture

My Daily Beauty Blog

4-Legged Friends Blog

Product Hoochie

Cheap and Chic

Turtle and Robot


It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Writing

26 November 2012

What Type Of Fat Girl Are You?

I consider myself a pretty confident curvy gal. Surprise surprise. I mean, that's what gave me the courage to start Big&Beautiful&Bold in the first place. Something I often do if I'm at a loss for a story idea is turn to good old Google to see what the latest news in the plus-size community is. Today I came across a great article by Huffington Post blogger Bethany Rutter entitled "It Ain't Easy Being Rad: The Three Types of Plus-Size Women." Bethany essentially grouped chubby chicks into three categories: conservative fats, moderate fats and radicals.
  • Conservative Fats: those who DO NOT like their bodies. They don't care for fashion, shy away from anything that makes them look remotely big and are permamently self-conscious and inherently self-loathing.

  • Moderate Fats: those who have some interest in style, but only if/when things are appropriate for their bodies. They believe in finding "flattering" apparel, and are not often experimental with their wardrobes.

  • Radicals: those who are self-loving and proud of it. They wear anything ane everything, from stripes to tight dresses to Hipster patterns.
Bethany couldn't be more right. If I had to narrow down the types of chubby women I've been around my whole life, they'd all fit into one of these categories. Hell, I've fit into all these categories at one point or another. If you'd told me during high school that I'd write a blog about loving your fat and use a bikini photo of myself as the background I would've quickly said, "No F-ing way!" If you'd told me this two years ago, I still probably would've had some skepticism. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I'm at a place now where I'd definitely be categorized as a radical. I wear whatever I want, whether this means a tight striped dress, a pencil skirt, Urban Outfitters' jeggings or bright neon shirts (well maybe not neon, but this isn't because I'm scared of my belly showing, I just think neon is sort of tacky). Just today I purchased this trippy-looking, multi-colored fall dress from H&M that is pretty body-hugging, and I couldn't care less if my stomach blatantly bulges through it. Nor do I mind that my tookus looks ginormous in the velvet, burgundy leggings I bought from American Apparel to wear with it (I got a size L but their larges are a normal size M).

The only part of Bethany's post I took issue with came at the end when she writes, "The problem is that there are so many radical fats, and so little provision for us. It seems so much of the plus-size fashion market caters to conservative and moderate fats, not believing there are many, many girls out there dying to rock a VBO (visible belly outline) or expose some chubby thighs in a mini skirt." I fully agree that there are loads of radical fats out there, but I think there are plenty of stores that cater to us. Personally some of my favorites are ModCloth, ASOS, Forever 21, Torrid and H&M. All of these carry at least a 14, and most of them go up into the early 20s. Granted, there aren't nearly as many fashionable stores for plus-size ladies as there are for people size 10 and smaller. But I think it's fairly easy these days for a big gal to wear just about all the things a skinny one would -- from bikinis to mini-dresses to tight jeans to striped outfits to neon. This sort of article always makes me happy though -- hurray for fellow fat radicals! Now on to converting some of those conservatives or moderates (giggles evily).

Most Inspiring Blogger Award

I was extremely surprised and humbled when I opened a message from Sylvie at Sylvie's Fashion Secrets letting me know that she'd nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Sylvie was one of the first people to write me and give me positive feedback on Big&Beautiful&Bold, and I couldn't be more honored that she considers my blog an inspiration.  Thanks Sylvie!

To accept the award, the rules are:
  • Link back to the person who nominated you

  • Post the award image to your page

  • Tell 7 things about yourself

  • Nominate 15 other blogs

  • Let them know they are nominated
Here are 7 honest facts about me:
  • I'm graduating university in May after spending four years studying journalism and literature.

  • If I could have any job in the world, I'd be a burlesque dancer.  But realistically speaking, I'd like to be a feature writer for a magazine like Marie Claire or Rolling Stone (yes I know they are very different).

  • My favorite food is probably sushi.

  • I've been over a size 12 since I was 12.

  • I can honestly say I love my curves.

  • I spend more time reading than actually partaking in human interraction.

  • If I was going to turn lesbian for anyone, it'd probably be Nina Dobrev.
Below are 15 bloggers who have inspired and amazed me, plus made my day on more than one occasion:

  1. My Daily Beauty Blog

  2. It's Alright, Ma, I'm Only Writing

  3. I Love Green Inspiration

  4. Le Zoe Musings

  5. The Better Man Projects

  6. Kittenhood

  7. Sylvie's Fashion Secrets

  8. Curvy Girl Makeover

  9. Belittle the Bullies

  10. Erzullie

  11. Canadian Hiking Photography

  12. Rubenesque Smoothie's Blog

  13. Cake & Shoes

  14. Curvy Culture

  15. Herbert Dancy's Blog
Good luck everyone!

25 November 2012

Packing On The Holiday Pudge

We’re plunging into the tri-fecta -- that time of year when three major holidays hit us back to back at full force and with buckets full of food. Stage 1 is complete: Thanksgiving. Everyone knows that besides the whole “let’s give thanks for how lucky we’ve been this year” thing, the whole point of Thanksgiving is to gobble up turkey and stuffing and ham and sweet potatoes and a whole lot of dessert. Next up are Christmas (slash Hanukkah or Kwanza or whatever other holiday you may celebrate) followed by New Year’s. These are three days that might supposedly have big, deep, important meanings and metaphors attached to them, but which in reality are largely about the food. And with that, of course, comes a good extra 10 or 15 pounds of winter weight by the end of it all.

This year I am proposing something new. I know women go through post-December depression after they realize they can’t fit into their skinny jeans. But that all seems so pointless. If you’re worried about having to pull out the fat pants or maternity-sized wardrobe out of the bottom of the closet, you’re not going to enjoy the holidays. You’re going to be counting calories, eating slowly and cautiously and staying away from that cheesecake you know you’re secreting coveting. And you’re going to be miserable and sullen and grouchy and a huge pain in the ass. Why not just embrace the opportunities that this season allots for mass amounts of gluttony (you know it doesn't really count as a deadly sin this time of year anyway) and say screw it? Eat what you want, even if that’s a plate full of carbs. And if/when you put on some weight, don’t be embarrassed. Don’t wear grandma pants or your boyfriend’s XL hoodie -- wear whatever you would normally wear if you hadn’t put on the weight. So what if you look a little pudgy? You have to be confident and embrace it, otherwise you will blatantly look upset about being a little fat, and that is when people will start judging and staring. If you do just as you would pre-Christmas-pooch, no one will give a damn because you obviously don’t.

I used to fear winter weight gain with as much fervor as I fear spiders or Voldemort when I was 11. I used to count every single calorie and make sure I was keeping it all in the 1500 region. Most tragically, I used to prohibit myself from digging into that rice pudding or tiramisu accompanied by a delightful cappuccino. In sum, I was an idiot. It’s been a good two years since I’ve done that, and in all honesty, I have such a better time at holiday dinners. We have enough stress going on in our lives without adding superfluous worries. So this Christmas, show off your new body, wear that pencil skirt, walk around in your boy shorts and embrace whatever fun curves the new year brings. If you grow it, please please please don't be afraid to SHOW IT.

24 November 2012

Positively Plus: This Is Christina

I've known the lovely Christina for over a decade now, and though our friendship has had its highs and lows (mainly due my silly 11-year-old self who essentially broke up with her in order to try joining the popular crowd -- which I soon realized I actually wanted no part of), she's been a solid part of my life since the 5th grade.  Our bodies have gone through the same sort of ordeals, from what seemed like skyrocketing pubescent weight gain to the unnecessary dieting of teenage girls.  But now we've both found ourselves happy with our bodies and our curves...finally!

I thought what better to celebrate this new found self-love than to do a photo shoot channeling her prettiness -- and besides, we never turn down an opportunity to have a pseudo fashion show.  Though unfortunately I lack a proper studio and thus we had to take these in the guest bedroom, I think her style and infectious personality come across adequately -- she's such a fun-loving, intelligent and sassy young woman with a ridiculously loud laugh that no one can ignore, but that once you're around enough you can't help but love, and I had an incredibly fun afternoon turning her into my own personal doll.  You're beautiful darling!

23 November 2012

Plus-Size Magazine App Comes To The i-World

Swoons, faints, falls over! Plus-Size Magazine and Ma-Grande-Taille have combined to make something wondrous – the first plus-size magazine app.  Available on the Apple Store for $1.99 a month, Curvissime (really love the Italian-esque name btw) will cover everything from plus-size celebrity news to real stories from chubby ladies to plus-size fashion.  Well, essentially what I’m trying to do, they’ve done on an app.

The monthly magazine will include interviews with chunky icons, exclusive articles and high definition photography.  I cannot wait to download this on my iPhone.

It really makes me so happy to hear positive news about the plus-size community.  With so much trash circulating that so-and-so is too fat, or this designer won’t make clothes until this celebrity looses weight, it’s so refreshing when amidst all the garbage you find one piece of good news.  I remember almost falling over when Marie Claire hired plus-size columnist/blogger Nicolette Mason, and today I am just as thrilled.  Though I have the impending doom sort of feeling that Curvissime won’t be the most successful thing in the world, I do think it’s the start of something beautiful (no reference to Porcupine Tree although their music can be rather soothing).

The reality (which I proudly state for all those pudge haters) is that plus-size acceptance, be it through fashion or celebrity or art, is happening…and maybe all it takes is one little app taking a step toward something really BIG.

Chubby, Taken & Ready For Some Bacon

Dpcted makes the best t-shirts!

Fernando's Fat Fetish

Too many people spend their time criticizing those who are overweight, unaware of how beautiful a bigger body can be.  But not Fernando Botero.  My Colombian roots may encourage me to take any opportunity to mention talented and prominent Colombian figures known for something other than drug trafficking (yes, yes, we produce a lot of cocaine, etc.), but Colombian or not, there is no doubt that Botero is remarkable.  The 80-year-old figurative artist is known throughout the world for his “fat fetish.”  I don’t know if fetish is the right word or not, but time and time again he paints, draws and sculpts images of very large men, women, children, animals and even fruit.  His interest in the obese and over-sized is apparent, and it manifests itself into meticulous, jaw-dropping artwork – often meticulous, jaw-dropping naked fat ladies, hairy vaginas and all.

When asked why he focuses his art on fatness, Botero once said, “I fatten my characters to give them sensuality. I’m not interested in fat people for the sake of fat people.”  Botero doesn’t identify himself as a fat activist or a weight acceptance spokesperson or anything like that.  He simply, and to put it bluntly, thinks fat adds sex appeal to a character.  When he paints fat people, he includes all the “imperfections” associated with pudge – from cellulite to stretch marks to an overall jiggle-fied texture.  But these so-called imperfections are never the basis of any of his works.  The emphasis is always on the fat itself – the look of it – the softness, the curvature and the warmth one associates with a fat body.  And if you look to the photos above, there is undoubtedly a sensuality that accompanies the images.  It isn’t simply because naked women are sexy as a general rule.  It’s that the way he paints them, the way he paints their fat, is sexy.  It’s beautiful.  He doesn’t make them look like tubs of unattractive lard, but like stunningly sensual muses.  I can imagine a Romeo reciting poetry to one of these women, or an operatic show dedicated in their honor, or an entire philharmonic performance put on for them.

Botero knows what many people fail to realize: fat is sexy.  No, this doesn’t mean every fat person is sexy, just as not every skinny person is.  When it comes down to it, as I’ve said before, attraction is based on individual preference.  What amazes me about Botero, and what makes me respect him immensely, is that he has always been forthcoming about his fascination with fat.  He has always openly admitted to finding attraction in rolls and wobbles, even at times when the mass media seemed most obsessed with thinness.  He’s never been ashamed or embarrassed, and people have been drawn to this for decades.  It’s why he just sold his fat horse sculpture for nearly a million dollars at the New York Gallery.  It’s why thousands of people travel to Medellin each year to tour his museum, particularly the fat garden, which is filled with dozens of enormous sculptures (seriously enormous, not just because the subjects are chunky).  Botero is a rebel of sorts – he has always challenged the idea that “skinny is better.”  He has always said, “f**k it,” to the media and painted exactly what he wants.  And he’s been esteemed, admired and famed for it.  He’s become a part of history books, artistic books and even coined the style, “Boterismo.”  All for the love of fat.

22 November 2012

Careful Deception: Concealing Your Hanger

Definition of hanger: when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both – also an amalgam of hungry and angry used to describe the feeling you get when you are out at a restaurant and have been waiting over an hour to get the meal that you have ordered (Urban Dictionary).

I often battle the sob-inducing stomach pangs of hanger: when I have nine hours of back to back classes, when I don’t have enough time to make myself a decent dinner and thus go to bed on a banana and Cookie Crisps, after long flights filled with gag-inducing airplane food and when I wake up in general.  It’s awful.  I don’t mean to act as though I don’t have enough food.  I’m by no means starving or facing an economic inability to go on shopping sprees at Trader Joes.  But I get hungry easily – I always thought I had a slow metabolism and thus putting on weight is as easy as unwrapping a container of Milanos.  But I’m beginning to wonder whether my metabolism is in fact fast, and if it is, perhaps that is the reason I am hungry all the time (or maybe I’m just fat at heart).

Anywho, people don’t like being around those who are hangry any more than they like being around those who are bitchy or rude or pretentious (and you certainly get many such people in the world).  Unfortunately, when the hanger sets in I become these things – well, hopefully not pretentious.  I’m irritable, moody, quick to snap, sarcastic, and have a terrible tendency to scrunch my nose and squint my eyes at anyone who crosses my path.  I am perfectly aware of the fact that I am probably the least fun person to be around when suffering from hanger.

It was especially obvious when I woke up this morning.  It’d been a good 13 hours since I’d eaten, and I wasn’t really supposed to eat much breakfast so as to save room for the impending Thanksgiving feast (four hours to go and counting).  And so I was hangry as hell.  My belly hurt, I was feeling dizzy, and my petulance was particularly present.  It got me thinking about ways to conceal hanger – just as people often conceal their innate bitchiness until they know someone well.  I came up with three solutions:
  • Constantly sneak savory snacks (it’s easy to slip an Oreo or Nutter Butter snack pack or a mini Pringles container into a purse or pocket) so stock up and constantly carry something you can take nibbles of through the day.

  • Put one of your favorite peppy songs on repeat for a good 20 minutes.  This morning I listened to a solid half hour of Deer Tick’s “Ashamed,” and felt a whole lot better.

  • Keep some loose M&Ms or some variation in your pocket or bag as well.  I find a small intake of chocolate when I’m pissed off really takes the edge off the pissy side of my personality.
So far, my solutions have been keeping me sane as I count the minutes down to dinner.  This may be one of my favorite holidays, but the lead up to it is always nearly impossible to bear. #fatgirlproblems

The Top 10 Things I Am Thankful For This Year

In an attempt to be optimistic, and because Thanksgiving and the eating that come with it always make me happy:
  1. The fact that I’ve been lucky enough to have a surplus of food all year.
  2. The fact that I will be eating a surplus of food today.
  3. The love I finally feel for my body, my curves, my pudge, my wobbly bits, myself.
  4. The hope I have that someday there will be such a thing as a Fat Parade.
  5. My boyfriend who supports me in everything I do and this morning said to me, “Having each other can help us both fulfill our dreams rather than hinder them.”
  6. My family, who even though we argue and disagree on 80 percent of important life matters is there for me when it counts.
  7. The few close friends I have come to realize have been there in my life for a solid decade and whether we talk every day or once a year we can always pick up where we left off.
  8. My dog, who despite being 15 and having a recent hospitalization is still alive and kicking (literally). His name is Cookie…clearly I’ve always had a thing for food.
  9. Being hired as a Marie Claire intern, which I will start after the winter holidays.
  10. Being able to say I am never f***ing dieting again!

21 November 2012

Screw Winter, Let's Buy A Bikini


Who says you can't buy bikinis in late November? I'm going to be spending the holidays in Florida, so actually I needed to get a bikini anyway. But even if I was just going to stay in the winter wonderland that New York will soon become, I would still purchase this retro swimsuit from ModCloth. The Beach Blanket Bingo Two-Piece is available in plus sizes, and I'm proud to say I've just purchased it in a 16.

It's funny, I never used to wear bikinis. I let myself believe that chunky girls just weren't supposed to parade their half naked bods. But this past summer I got my first teeny bikini after seeing the size 18 fashion blogger Gabi Gregg's swimsuit photos. She gave me the inspiration I needed to buy a bikini and walk around the beach confidently. Come Christmas in Florida if I get any dirty looks I'm simply telling the culprits to shut their eyes if they don't like it.

Tweeting Trolls Need To Back Off Adele

Something I truly cannot stand is when bored little teeny boppers have nothing better to do than sit at their computers logged into four different types of social media, bashing and bullying celebrities or public figures whom they will never meet and truly know nothing about. This past summer, Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy fell victims to this, and I guarantee you most of the people teasing and mocking the fact that Swift would date a Kennedy or a Kennedy would date the often-romanced country-pop singer have no clue who the Kennedy's even are. I doubt they know that JFK was the only president ever to have won a Pulitzer (if they even know he was a president), or that Joseph P. Kennedy refinanced a ton of classic Hollywood films and had an affair with Gloria Swanson (not that they'd know who she was either). Lately (I guess not lately considering vapidly shallow people always take the opportunity to pick on anyone remotely different, but especially lately), Twitter fiends have been at work doing their best to humiliate Adele, who gave birth last month.

Adele has always been the subject of aesthetic controversy. The fact that she's been in the the double digit sizes since her launch into the spotlight has been criticized time and time again, and not even just by bored pre-teens. Everyone knows Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld said Adele was a "little too fat." He may have tried to cover his rudeness up by adding that she has a beautiful face, but the comment was out there and the insult was cause for media frenzy. Luckily but not surprisingly because he's a prime example of intellectual, physical and comedic perfection, Anderson Cooper came to the defense, along with several other thousand Adele fans. Ironically, Lady Gaga gained 30 pounds and told Stylist, "Adele is bigger than me, how come nobody says anything about it? She’s so wonderful and I think her confidence is something I have to match. She has set the bar very high for a lot of woman." Though she too sugar coated a back handed insult with praise, how funny is it that she'd think no one says anything about Adele? How did she not hear about Lagerfeld's comments? Or the other craptastic comments people say about Adele on a daily basis.

Then Adele gave birth, and if anyone was naive enough (I'm pretty sure I was) to think people would back off, reality was quite a blow. After the baby came, Twitter exploded with obscene, morally astounding comments like that by @PerfFemale, who posed the question of whether the child was "fat and handicapped?" Adding, "Just murder it already lol." Then Joan Rivers didn't help matters by posting, "Congratulations to Adele on the birth of her 68 pound 8 ounces bouncing baby boy." Are you kidding me? Pass me a bucket please, because these people seriously make me want to vomit.

I think part of the reason for so much negativity surrounding the singer is that tabloids take any opportunity to post unflattering pictures of her. If you compare the photos above, both taken whilst she was pregnant, obviously the first is stunningly pristine. But if you sneak attack anyone while they're in sweats and have probably just gotten out of bed, they're not going to be ready for a photo shoot. Lady Gaga had one thing right though, Adele radiates confidence and has a remarkable ability to withstand public bullying. Her immediate response when Lagerfeld happened was, "I represent the majority of women and I am very proud of that." I like to consider myself proudly plump, but I don't know if I could handle the media and the Twitter trolls with the same grace.

20 November 2012

Positively Plus: This Is Brittany

Brittany is beautiful.  In fact, she's so beautiful that sometimes it's difficult to stare at her for too long without going a little star struck in the retinas.  Not to mention the fact that she has this giggle and perpetual smile that make it difficult not to break out in laughter by her side, accompanied by a skin tone that is envy-worthy.  Oh and she's a ridiculously talented writer whose witty articles regarding music or travel or the crazy shit people do never cease to captivate me.

The lovely Brit Brit allowed me do a photo shoot of her after I informed her about Big&Beautiful&Bold.  She's one of the best examples I can fathom of a gorgeous, curvy gal who is also brilliantly talented and intelligent and pleasantly sarcastic.  Thank you darling for taking the time to let me show the world how purty and magnificently curvy you are!  I hope this is the first of many future shoots of big and beautiful women who are proud of their bodies and not afraid to be stylish and sassy and sexy.

Note: Most of the apparel featured in this shoot was purchased at either Torrid or Forever 21.

Why Are Plus-Size Models Always Naked? Um, Because They're Awesome!

Last week Huffington Post blogger and plus-size stylist Chastity Garner Valentine posted a piece entitled, "Plus-Size Models: Why Are They Always Naked?"  My immediate internal response was, "Oh Chastity, because they're beautiful."  Then I read her piece, and well, my initial response still holds.

Ms. Chastity's observation is that more often than not, the plus-size models who gain mass media coverage are those who pose naked for magazines or blogs or newspapers, etc. As a fashion lover, she says she wishes more plus-size models appeared in high-fashion apparel.  While I agree with her and I would love to see Tara Lynn or  Whitney Thompson rocking an Alexander McQueen dress, plus-size models don't just do nudes.  Just those two models alone have done a large amount of clothed shoots.  And actually, I don't think Whitney has ever done a nude besides her finale photo shoot for America's Next Top Model.  As for Tara Lynn, she is often styled in retro swimsuits or hip work apparel or sexy night wear (has anyone seen her French Elle shoot?).

Just because there have been a couple widely received and media-frenzy inducing nude photo shoots of plus-size models doesn't mean this is all they do.  And I for one am not remotely bothered by the fact that these nudes exist in the first place.  These women are stunning, and not just in the face.  Their bodies are jaw dropping,so why shouldn't they be allowed to show them?  No one would complain if Kate Moss or Ann Ward paraded their naked selves around, so why should it be any different for their voluptuous counterparts?

Chastity provided a few reasons as to why it might be more common for a photographer to shoot a plus-size model naked than he/she would a size 4 model: stylists don't know where to find plus-size clothing, stylists don't know how to style someone over a size 8 and magazines don't really care about plus-size fashion, but simply want attention for photographing naked fat girls.  Not only do I think this is a complete underestimate of stylists, but I also think it bashes the magazine industry as a whole.  Though she does site Marie Claire and Plus Model Magazine as magazines that cater to the plus-size woman, these are definitely not the only two media outlets which do so.  Elle, O Magazine, Vogue, iVillage and Seventeen have all done some form of plus-size fashion shoot, article or simply an inclusion of someone fat and fabulous.  And to say stylists as a whole simply don't know how to shoot plus-size models, well, is this really their fault?  I totally acknowledge that the plus-size modeling world isn't remotely as big as the multi-billion-dollar 0-6-based modeling industry, so obviously stylists are more used to handling mini models.  I would never take this to mean NONE of them care about plus fashion; they simply don't have the experience to be good at it.

While I admire Chastity for delving into the fact that yes, plus-size models are sometimes naked, they are definitely not always naked.  Perhaps they become well known for a particular nude shoot, but if that's what it takes to make it in the industry, I applaud them for their bravery and confidence.  I'm certain that it is more difficult to make it as a 12+ model, and honestly, if you have to do a nude with frikin Vogue Italia to get your name out there, why not?

Bitch, Give Me Back My Cake Pop

I woke up half an hour early today with the sole purpose of stopping at Starbucks to attain my perfect fall combo: a peppermint mocha and a salted caramel cake pop.  Yes, I know it's not exactly traditional to eat cake pops at 7 a.m. but it was cold and I was cranky and well, I like cake pops.

I boarded the N train headed downtown, cake pop and coffee in hand, so excited to start my day with a sugary treat, which would hopefully wake me up and prepare me for the 12-hour day ahead of me.  But as we stopped at the Union Square station and I unwrapped my cake pop, what looked like the female version of Snoop Dog snatched it out of my hand and fled the train.  This is not a lie.  The gold-chained bitch literally stole my cake pop.  Normally I would chase after her -- I mean you don't just steal another girl's morning dessert.  But before I knew it she was gone and the train was moving along its path, unaware of the tragedy that had just occurred.

Now I'm cake pop-less and completely not ready to face the day. #fatgirlproblems

19 November 2012

Tis The Season To Be Curvy

Ahh that wonderful time of year is near -- snow will soon be falling, Christmas trees will be sprouting all around, ice skating at Central Park will commence and thousands of shoppers will struggle to find the perfect holiday dress.  Normally I procrastinate so much that I am rushing around the mall on Christmas Eve and it takes me hours of shuffling through the crowds and the lines to finally find a suitable garment.  By the end of my endeavors I am left exhausted, cranky, famished and quite frankly, pissed off.  But this year I am way ahead of myself; I've found the perfect holiday dress, and more than a month early (though I'm not sure if I'm saving it for Christmas or New Year's).

I have to extend my sincerest gratitude to Marie Claire this season, because they covered this wondrous dress in their plus-size winter wear section.  As soon as I saw the photo in the October issue I knew it had to be mine.  I've long been a fan of ASOS's curve department, but never have I found something quite so lovely yet refreshingly minimalistic.  I've purchased their "Dolly Skater Dress in Gold Brocade," (see first image) and I really can't wait to try it on.  I think it's the first time I've ever been excited about a holiday outfit, so thank you Marie Claire and ASOS for your fantastic incorporation of plus-size fashion!

Side Note: Though I instantly fell in love with the gold dress, it was a hard girly battle to choose between that and the others: "Skater Dress in Sequin and Lace" and "ASOS Curve Dress with All Over Embellishment." But for all those curvy gals out there in need of holiday apparel, please consider purchasing them since sadly I could only get one :p

Christina Aguilera: 1999 vs. 2012

Can anyone seriously deny she looks better now?  I may not be the biggest Christina fan, and quite frankly I despise The Voice. But all this backlash she has been receiving since her appearance at the AMAs this year is absurd.  She's proudly become the spokesperson for "Big and Beautiful Dating," which must mean she likes her new body, and why shouldn't she?  I mean, the woman has given birth, and she still looks pretty fantastic.  Coincidentally, isn't it awesome there is a dating site dedicated to pudge lovers?  Anywho, I for one thinks she looks gosh darn good.  All she needs now is to have a few less tanning sessions and she'd be absolute perfection.

Is Being Big Really THAT Much More Dangerous Than Rock Climbing?

I know the supposed health risks that arise from obesity. Sure, diabetes, premature immobilization, heart failure, breast cancer if you’re a woman, etc. etc. etc., are all possible. I’m aware of the statistics and the so-called facts. But in case no one noticed, skinny people get all these illnesses and mishaps as well. I have a 20-year-old cousin who has been diabetic since she hit puberty, and no, she was never fat. My best friend who is 21 has had arthritis since high school, and she’s also been a size four since then. My aunt currently has breast cancer and she never weighed a pound over 140 her whole life (wow, realization that I know a lot of ill people). I’m not uneducated or naive, and thus I know being seriously overweight can increase the likelihood of various health problems. But you know what, most overweight/obese individuals don’t choose to be that way. Most of them either have a health problem that caused the extra pudge to begin with, like polycystic ovaries, or glandular anomalies. Most fat adults really can’t help it, and if I hear one more accusation that being fat is ALWAYS a choice, that person is going to receive some serious backlash on my behalf.

If an adult chooses to be fat – if a woman says, “Hey I frikin like my body this way so deal with it,” people need to back off. What happened to individualism? What happened to managing one’s body, as one deems appropriate? If someone wants to tattoo their canvas from head to toe, it’s rare that said person would be told again and again that they’ve destroyed themselves; has anyone heard of Kat Von D? If a French rock climber (cough cough Alain Robert) scales skyscrapers without any equipment and risks death every single time, being deemed “the French Spider-Man” people rejoice and praise and say, “Wow, isn’t he adventurous!” If someone wants to go gold digging in the sub-zero Alaskan seas and make a damn TV show about it, thousands of people watch in suspense, admiring the way the stars dance with death. But if a woman says, “I want to be fat,” doctors and critics and bored housewives protest and say, “Doesn’t she know how unhealthy and unattractive that is?” As if climbing a skyscraper without any gear or plunging yourself into an arctic ocean don’t pose even more immediate health risks? Erm, pretty sure if you fall off a 60-story building you’re dead, and if you stay in that icy ocean too long you’re going to get hypothermia or lose a toe.

Firstly, attractiveness is a matter of preference. The definition of the word itself is “pleasing, appealing to the senses.” Last time I checked, we all have varying sensory experiences to things. I might really love dunking my Oreos in peanut butter, but I’m well aware some people find the combination repulsive. I might be in love with pineapple pizza, but does every other single human being in the world feel the same? The same goes for attraction. I’ve spent years struggling to see the appeal of Russell Brand, but I’m sure several thousand women in the world would bitch me out for it. I do, however, think curvaceous, voluptuous women are attractive, and I know people who would both agree and disagree with said statement. If your personal preference is being thin or buff or built or to look like the spokesperson for a fitness center, that is your choice. If mine is to look like someone who eats a lot of ice cream (I admit I have quite a serious relationship with Chunky Monkey) it’s my damn choice. If I like the fact that I am a size 14 as opposed to a four, leave me the hell alone, because it is my given choice. Or if a woman who is bigger than me, say a size 18, and posts a bikini picture of herself on her blog, stop complaining and see it as what it is – a beautiful woman who loves her body and isn’t afraid to speak against weight discrimination.

Which leads me to point two – weight discrimination in and of itself. If you ask me, someone who receives pleasure out of taunting of bullying fat people is just as bad as a homophobe or a racist. It’s the same concept, isn’t it? You’re honing in on an aspect of people you don’t happen to like and making them miserable for it. Organizations have been developed to fight against weight discrimination just as they’ve been developed to fight against other hate crimes. The National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) is doing everything it can to make this world more bearable for fat people. Side note, I really think what we need is a “Fat Parade.” Going back to the “I’m not naive” comment, I don’t believe we will ever fully be in the kind of world where a gay man or a fat girl never receive a hurtful comment or a taunting stare. But I can’t stand it when people speak out against organizations and movements that are aimed at the betterment of society. For all those out there who have nothing better to do than say how unattractive obesity is and that if it were up to you, fat people would all enroll in gyms, please find something better to do with your lives. And P.S.: go grow a heart.

Rant complete.

18 November 2012

I Want To Be A Burlesque Babe

I’m studying to be a writer – a journalist, reporter, novelist…something involving a written splurging of words and thoughts. But if I could be anything—if I could have any career, profession, lifestyle, etc.—I’d be a burlesque dancer. Laugh, mock, ROTFL. I understand the probabilities of ever being said type of dancer equate to those of acquiring political candidacy (not that I would ever want to). Yet I cannot help wishing I could be Christina Aguilera side by side with Cher in 2010, or Blair Waldorf circa 2007 when she wooed the bachelor boy billionaire Chuck Bass with her hidden burlesque talents. Of course I can’t dance, and this poses a bit of pickle.

I am solid evidence that stereotypes aren’t always true. Regardless of coming from a Colombian family in which everyone (and I mean everyone, even the lanky, awkward per-pubescent boys) can dance, I may as well be Lena Dunham. Seriously, it’s like they’ve all been trained by Shakira herself. I guess it’s the other side of my gene pool, the one that’s mixed European, particularly Swedish, that prevents me from being able to move my hips or shake my ass without it looking like I’m a guest star on a Comedy Central skit. I mean, really, most burlesque dancers are just not Eastern European.

The appeal of burlesque, however, is not something I can suddenly force to evaporate. It’s a relatively new career goal, one I discovered at the New York Burlesque Festival back in October. As I watched dozens of lovely ladies dance elegantly whilst also stripping swankily, something I didn’t know was possible, I was mesmerized, intrigued and quite honestly, turned on. There were women of all sizes, of course, but the ones I found most talented were those who were voluptuous and plus-size, or more than plus-size. They shook their curves in the audience’s faces, showcased their cellulite and stretch marks, and jiggled proudly for the world to see...well, for Brooklyn to see. And they were incredible. I’m aware of the fact that they’ve probably been dancing for years, with hours upon hours of practice. But in that moment I was so envious, so amazed, so enveloped. And I wished I had the confidence and poise to do what they do.

To be frank, I have been practicing. Well, no, that’s not frank at all. Mostly I’ve just been trying on sexy outfits paired with thigh-high sheer tights and rocking out to Florence and the Machine in my living room. See photo. In doing that, silly and pathetic as it may sound, I realized my awkwardness and clumsiness would probably hinder my career prospects as a burlesque girl. Then again, burlesque was originally intended to cause laughter. In the 16th and 17th centuries burlesque shows were put on as comedic performances to please Italian nobles. Shame I don't know of any Italian nobles willing to see an uncoordinated chunky girl dance badly.

I think of other dancers, those at my university or those in professional companies, and for the most part they all fit a certain diagram. Let’s be honest, ballet, hip-hop and pop music all tend to incorporate very thin dancers in their routines. Burlesque is the only style of dance I’ve ever seen live that caters to all shapes and sizes, often favoring bigger gals. I may not ever be a burlesque dancer (sobs) but since that fated October night when I spontaneously attended the festival with my roommate who I’m pretty sure only knew about burlesque because of said Gossip Girl episode I mentioned initially, I fell in love. I fell in love with the costumes, the jazz, the rockabilly feel of the audience and the performers, the hair wear, and the women who got up there and showed off their beautiful bodies. This is probably why I spent something like $130 on the retro, 50s Sea Breeze Beauty dress from My Fancy Fetish. Well that, and the five cans of hard cider. Not that I regret it, it made for an excellent Halloween costume and I’m pretty sure once it’s warm outside I’m just going to wear it all the time and pretend I’m Marilyn Monroe.

15 November 2012

Gabourey Sidibe Makes Me Happy

When Precious was released, everyone was star struck by Gabourey Sidibe. Here was a young woman who wasn't just curvy, she was flat out big. I remember watching the movie and being dazzled by her acting, and when I proceeded to watch her being interviewed, I was charmed by her contagious giggle and ability to pull off neon eyeshadow. I've been wondering when she is going to rock Hollywood yet again with another five-star performance, so I did a brief Google search and came across a recent article Lauren Berninger from the Huffington Post did on her: "'Precious' Star Gabourey Sidibe's Monday-Brand Confidence."

Gabourey speaks freely about how difficult it was for her to reach a point of confidence -- as someone who never received a compliment growing up, it took her into her second decade of life to be able to fly her freak flag proudly. And honestly, I can't imagine anyone who picked on her for being fat or called her ugly when she was a teenager isn't kicking themselves now. Yet despite her fame, her probable fortune and the fact that she's been on the cover of a dozen major magazines, tabloids still try guessing at her weight for fun. I was appalled to read the following:

"Gabourey tells a story of walking into CVS one day and seeing herself on the cover of a tabloid that was guessing her weight (while she was buying a candy bar, no less!). But what was she going to do, cry in the middle of CVS and end up on the cover of another tabloid? She had to keep going. 'You need confidence that will sustain you,' she says." I'm amazed and confused by this situation -- amazed at her ability to maintain sheer, beautiful confidence despite trashy tabloids trying to get her down, and confused that the trashy tabloid didn't realize she's damn beautiful and proud of it.

The sad reality is that even as we grow up, whether we achieve stardom or not, people will always be cruel. I have no doubt that skinny women in the spotlight are often bashed for looking emmaciated or accused of eating disorders. How many times has Keira Knightley admitted to trying to gain weight but simply not been able to because of her metabolism? Some people will find any "fault" or imperfection in our aesthetics, and all there is to be done about that is maintain your confidence.

At the end of the interview, Gabourey said, "I am ambitious for the continuation of my happiness." This is all one can strive to do. Strive to find a place within yourself that makes you happy. Strive to find the career or lack there of if that makes you happy. Strive to find yourself, because that's probably the only thing that'll ever get you close to happy. And if you are fat and beautiful, say you're proud of it, because there is no reason not to, tabloid publicity or not.

How Folk Music Is Like Being Fat

Folk music and being fat -- not two things you'd necessarily pair together, right? Recently I wrote a story for GeNYU on how "new folk" is entering the mainstream, with artists like Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers making bank on the iTunes best-seller list. My goal with the article was to discover the why. Folk music was the soundtrack to the 1960s and the counterculture movement, and now five decades later we're seeing a resurgence of artists trying to get that same honest, simple sound. So…why?

My ultimate conclusion, with the help of Clayton Severson, the Iowan heartthrob who was kind enough to let me interview him, along with my incredibly helpful singer/songwriter boyfriend, is that GenY (generation aged 18-29) is craving authenticity. We've come to a point where everything, from the clothes we wear to the music we listen to on the radio to the models we aspire to look like, have all been carefully selected for us by the industries. And those artists and models and designers have been made to look a certain way because that's what is supposedly appealing to us. To be honest, I can't tell you the difference between Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Kesha. Their faces may be different, but body wise they're just about identical, and the same goes for their sound -- and they're the ones on Top 20 lists time and time again. BUT slowly new folk is making its debut, and maybe it's because we're getting tired of the fact that everyone sounds the same and looks the same and wears the same meat outfits or sits in the same giant eggs.

Music can sometimes help give insight on even the most sensitive topics -- it can help us understand the big, scary, unanswered questions we have, or if not understand, at least relate to someone who is equally confused. I think folk music does that more than any other genre because it's so much about people: i.e. folks. It's about genuineness, emotion, real human feelings -- the scary ones, the spectacular ones, the ones that stop us in our tracks because they are simply that overwhelming. And maybe the reason folk is coming back is because slowly people want something real. They want something that's not made to sound overproduced and perfect, because humans aren't overproduced and perfect. This is what has led me to believe folk music is like being fat.

I've been trying to come up with reasons as to why all of a sudden more and more stores carry plus-sizes, and why the BBW industry is having so much online success. Why now? Plus-sizes have been around for ages. BBWs have been modeling online for way more than a decade. But now plus-size models are really starting to make it big commercially, and stores 20-somethings love are finally carrying sizes 1X-4X. Could it be that just as we are craving authenticity in our music, we are also craving authenticity in our fashion/our models/our role models? Hell if I know, but maybe. Truly I don't think people are suddenly just fatter, or that something radical has happened and everyone suddenly thinks being fat is ok. But slowly, perhaps what is becoming acceptable is to be satisfied with normality -- to be satisfied with the fact that you're over a size 12 because in reality, the average woman is most definitely over a size 12.

I remember road-tripping this summer, and thinking that if I heard "Call Me Maybe" one more time I was going to drive the car off the road. I hate that I'm so pretentious about my music tastes, but really, does anyone have any sort of emotional response to that song? I want to hear something that sounds like it could stand for something, something that I can relate to -- just as I want to see a fat model parading herself around a runway proudly because I can relate to that. I can relate to wondering, "what's wrong with being normal?"

In that same folk article I wrote, I interviewed About.com's folk music guide, Kim Ruehl, who told me that folk music started seeing more widespread interest after 9/11. “People wanted to connect with each other, connect with where they came from, focus on what’s simple, what really matters,” she said. “It was toward the end of the Bush administration when people my age and younger started wondering if we’d ever live in a world again where we could trust our government or each other.”

I couldn't have agreed more with her. People want to feel they can trust -- it's a natural human instinct. I wouldn't trust Katy Perry because quite frankly she hasn't put out that kind of image. But I might be inclined to trust Laura Gibson. In the same way, I wouldn't trust a model who has let herself be photo-shopped into looking practically non-existent, but I would most definitely trust one who lets a photographer shoot her just as she is, curves, rolls, bulges and all.

14 November 2012

Plump Princess

Because I will talk about her a lot -- this is Courtney, otherwise known as Plump Princess.  I kind of love her.  If Big&Beautiful&Bold were ever to have a spokesperson she would be it.  She's a BBW model, an active gainer, and an online celebrity.  This is a young woman who loves her body so much that she wants more of it, and I find that pretty amazing.

And may I just add, that first photo melts my heart.  I know it's supposed to be funny: "Oh look, I'm so fat I've ripped my stocking," but her face just makes me want to give my biggest possible smile and run in the streets cheering with a sign that says, "I'm fat and I love it."  The world needs more of her.

Ralph Goes Plus

I can't imagine most people would consider size 12 to be "big" per say -- or maybe I only think that because I'm bigger.  But these days, size 12 and up is what's considered plus size.  I don't really have a problem with this; it's a step in the right direction really.  You start calling things "plus size" or label sections of your store "12 and up" and people might get the memo that it's ok not to have hips the size of a 10-year-old boy.

I started thinking about this recently when Ralph Lauren announced they'd hired their first plus-size model.  Ok, so maybe it's not that recently.  It was September; but time doesn't have much meaning when you're in university.  Semesters are your time clock, so half a semester ago doesn't really seem very long ago.  Anyway, my time-managing skills, and lack there of, aside, Ralph hired Robyn Lawley, the Aussie hottie, as the summer was coming to a close, and thus far she seems to have done pretty well for herself -- from being written about in the Huffington Post to being Australian Elle's cover girl.  I'm pretty pleased with good old RL. Though it may not be my brand of choice, it's definitely my 50-year-old sister's.  This isn't an insult or anything.  I'm not saying Ralph Lauren is ONLY appropriate for 50-something year-olds.  My big sister is, at times, decently stylish.  And on occasion I find a RL top or two  that sparks my interest and could easily be paired with the more 20-something skirt from Urban Outfitters or H&M.

But back to the gorgeous, sun-tanned Robyn.  A friend of mine was recently going on about how awful it is that Robyn is one of the new faces of the plus-size world.  Where are her hips?  Where are her tree trunk-esque thighs? Why didn't they pick someone with breasts?  She went on and on about how offensive it is that someone who is tall and a size 12 could ever be considered "big."  It occurred to me that she was discriminating against Robyn in the same way my fourth grade nemesis discriminated against me because I couldn't shop at Limited Too.  And to me, that is certainly not what being a BBW is about.

Robyn Lawley is undoubtedly beautiful.  I find her more beautiful than any of the Victoria's Secret angels, or anyone I've ever seen on America's Next Top Model.  And her body is damn fantastic.  She goes in at the right places, and comes out at the perfect ones too.  She isn't "skinny" nor is she "fat."  She's pretty average size wise, and what the hell is wrong with that?  Ralph Lauren did something many companies and brands are still afraid to do -- they catered to the average-sized woman.   Most women aren't a size 0, and most aren't a size 20. While I may love being bigger, I can still appreciate beautiful women of all sizes.  I can still appreciate Robyn's stunning facial features and her unfairly long legs.

If you ask me, and though you're not necessarily asking I will tell you anyway, what more brands need to do is this.  Weight acceptance isn't going to happen overnight.  Sure, a few centuries ago, bigger women were a status symbol -- royals with dozens of suitors who found their fat to be emblematic of their wealth.  But it's 2012 and things have changed.  We've had increases in eating disorders worldwide because women are striving to be skinny.  If more models like Robyn become the faces of well known brands, the message that being average-sized is ok will spread.  And eventually, if more models like my beloved Plump Princess make it big, the message that being plus-size (REALLY plus-sized), might spread as well. The civil rights movement didn't happen overnight.  Gay marriage didn't happen overnight (and it hasn't even fully happened yet).  One can't expect the stigma of being fat to dissolve overnight either.  But slowly, I hope, it will dissipate.  And as long as women who look more like your best friend and less like a photo shopped mannequin come into the social spectrum, we might be ok after all.
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