29 December 2012

Listen To The Sea Cow

Fat Acceptance

I must say, nothing aggravates me more than hearing someone say, "You have such a pretty face, if only you were thinner," or, "At least she's got a beautiful face," whether in reference to me or any voluptuous woman.  While I respect that not everyone will find beauty in pudge, it's absurd to essentially insult someone with a backhanded compliment.  Like the manatee (a.k.a. sea cow) says, it's perfectly possible and common to be fat and beautiful.  I know many gorgeous plus-size women who aren't attractive simply for their faces, but for their bodies as well (and sometimes MORE SO for their bodies).  The whole "at least you have a nice face" thing is tired and over-used, and quite frankly, untrue.  Seriously, listen to the sea cow.

Death To Fat Assumptions

Fat Pride

From a fellow pro-plus-size blogger.

I couldn't resist posting it.  And though I personally embrace the "cushion for the pushin'" aspect of my pudginess, I certainly don't approve of the assumptions that go hand in hand with fatness...especially the idea that being overweight is synonymous with desperate, or that a fat woman is solely attractive for her ass.

28 December 2012

Sneak Peak: A Plus-Size Model And A Thin One CAN Take Fabuluous Photos

Courtesy of Jay Photographics 

If you all recall, I took up some qualms with an anti-plus-size blogger a few weeks back for several reasons.  One of those reasons was that she claimed a plus-size model and a thin one shouldn't ever pose together in photos.  In fact, she was disgusted at the images Plus-Size Model Magazine posted featuring two women of opposite body types.  I've been thinking about this a lot.  The truth is, it's rare to see a thin model and a full figured one paired together for anything, let alone a high fashion shoot.  I don't think this has anything to do with the photos not looking glamorous enough, but rather that it's just not something agencies or companies consider appealing or crowd inducing.  Most brands are targeted at either thin women or plus-size ones, rarely both or those in between.  But combining body types CAN work.  And honestly, if done more, I think it could lead to better results for brands and shops looking to attract a broader range of shoppers.

Courtesy of Jay Photographics 

To prove this, I partook in a photo shoot with my closest friend, who happens to be seven sizes smaller than me.  She's always weighed in the lower 100s, whereas I've usually stayed in the lower 200s.  And I promise you...we got some gorgeous shots, the 100 pound difference between us adding a kind of special that you don't see enough in photo shoots.  Here you're seeing two shots, one from our "Princesses in Woodstock" section and another from the evening wear portion.  We had several outfit changes, but in the end whether we were dressed as Alice and Snow White or rocking the glam, the photos were lovely.

Our photographers, the same wonderful ladies who did the shoot of me in November, were exceedingly encouraging and a delight to work with.  This goes to show that there are photographers out there who love shooting all types of people, whether they are thin, chunky, tall, short, broad shouldered or busty.  There are photographers out there willing to capture every type of beauty -- because there is beauty in every body type.  Part of the reason I so enjoyed this shoot was obviously because I was being photographed with my best friend, who has been in my life for a decade and whom I love dearly.  But whether this was the case or not, the point still stands: curvy and skinny CAN mix.

Quote Of The Day

Courtesy of @Photocuisine

You know who you are:

"I'm just eating cheese.  My friend got me an assortment of French cheeses and I'm orgasming with every pound I gain."

Oh...the wonders of good cheese.

25 December 2012

A Christmas Observation

Top model in Iowa

Feliz Navidad dearest cyberspace!  I'd like to wish everyone an amazing holiday -- one filled with love and friendship and joy and, of course, a ton of food!  I've made it to Florida to spend Christmas with my family (for all you North Eastern-ers, I'll be back up there soon experiencing the chill along with you), which consists of 30 Colombian relatives to be exact (resulting in a loud, intense couple of days but nevertheless amusing times), and in the past few days I've noticed something: the closer you get to the ocean the more body conscious people get.  I shouldn't be surprised...it makes sense.  Beach = supposed necessity for "beach bod."  I've never been to L.A. but I imagine it isn't much more different than Miami in this sense.  New York City isn't at all a beach destination, but I suppose it is an island after all so that counts for something.  And the Jersey Shore, where I had the misfortune of spending 13 years of life, is most certainly a "everyone should be skinny" sort-of-place (well, skinny AND orange)...

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The question is WHY?  Why is it that we associate being near the beach with having to look a certain way?  Obviously people want to look their best in their bikinis or swim trunks, but who ever said one's best has to mean everyone fits into XS swimwear?  I remember being in Spain, at a nude beach in Valencia (for the record, while I support the existence of nude beaches, never forget that not everyone there is going to be your type) and thinking that if we were all in the states, 70 percent of the people rocking their birthday suits on the Spanish sands wouldn't have even gotten so far as to take off their tee shirts.  Every possible body type was visible -- totally visible -- and in a way, it was beautiful.  If you take away the raunchiness of it all, seeing a group of people strip away societal pressures and constraints in order to allow themselves to be in such a natural state out in the open just isn't something you'd see in this massive land mass west of the Atlantic...especially not at a beach.  Our psyches over here are programmed to think that if you aren't thin, you're automatically unattractive, and certainly not attractive enough to wear a two-piece.

I've never spent much time in the Midwest, and only limited amounts of time in the southern states, but if movies get anything right, the farther away you get from the ocean, the less inclined people are to worry about how their bodies look in a swimsuit.  Perhaps this is because no one ever has a need for a swimsuit out in Oklahoma, but maybe it's also because the whole center of the country didn't grow up with the dreaded beach bod mentality.  I read an article about how the overall average size for women in the states is a 14, but in New York and L.A. it's a 6.  This all makes me want to spend more time traveling through the middle section of the country -- I have a feeling that it's entirely under-rated.

Most of this is purely based on observation, but it got me thinking about the vast differences you see between countries when it comes to social constructs surrounding body images, and then I realized it isn't even just between countries where differences become obvious, it's within the same country.  I'm sure America isn't the only place where this is seen, but perhaps geography, culture or weather create a certain divide.  I acknowledge that part of the reason I'm not the biggest fan of the states is because of its body image dilemma, but maybe I've been too quick to judge.  Maybe all I need to do to get a different glimpse of things is head westward, stopping somewhere halfway between the Atlantic and Pacific.

22 December 2012

How Marina Diamandis Got Me Thinking

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I love Marina Diamandis.  Seriously, I LOVE her.  She's one of those people who isn't afraid to be different, and not in the Lady Gaga sort of way.  Everything from her fashion sense to the way she is so honest with the media to her lyrics with song titles like "Bubblegum Bitch".  Not often a fan of modern pop, I was skeptical when a friend of mine told me to check out her band Marina and the Diamonds, but the tunes are catchy and ring of female empowerment, and her interview with Glamour rings of body and self-image empowerment as well.  This curvy and busty but slender punk-chic beauty is all for taking control of your appearance -- looking how you want to look, dressing how you want to dress and simply being who you want to be...actually, that sounds simple but we all know it's really not.

Back in April, Marina told Glamour that she has become self-assured, trusting her instincts and representing her own ideas.  This is something I think we all struggle with, and I know as a plus-size woman it's often difficult to come out and say "I love my body this way."  People just assume if you're bigger you are unhappy with your body, that you MUST want to lose weight.  Speaking about your ideals when you know so many around you are against them is never easy, so it's always encouraging and hopeful to see someone who does so proudly.

Though Marina focused her most recent album on love and what we all think that four-letter word is supposed to be, she also questioned identity and thought about body image whilst producing it.  "I changed my look so radically," she said.  "I was interested in the power of image - it's what pop stars are built on. And how weak that image simultaneously is.  For example, you take it all off when you go to bed at night."  It's interesting, that.  I don't think it's just pop stars who are built on image -- I think sadly a ton of people judge others based on aesthetics and apparel.  We all know that to be true, and I myself am guilty of it constantly.  But like she said, all it takes to create an image is to change what you're wearing, and almost just as easily you can remove it and be someone totally different.  It seems to be, though, that her message is that we should judge people by their stripped down selves -- by who they are before bed, when the makeup comes off and the clothes are thrown to the ground.  Clothes don't make a person (as much as I may love my dresses), makeup certainly doesn't (as much as I find amusement in experimenting with different shades of lipstick) and body type doesn't either (as much as I tend to automatically love curvy women).  You've all heard it before...judging a book by its cover doesn't ever work out.  So why would we allow ourselves to be judged by our covers in turn?

The final piece of Marina's interview that really hit home for me was her take on how our perceptions of ourselves change when we are around people who disapprove of us.  "I think when you're with the wrong person in a relationship, you start to see yourself differently," she said.  "I felt very ugly when I was with a certain person because he made me feel ugly inside. He wouldn't even touch me in public. And when I look back at those photos I feel like kind of sad because I looked just fine."  I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed friends and relatives either become exceedingly self-conscious when they're with a significant other or a friend or a relative who makes them feel inadequate, ugly or useless.  I can't tell you how many times the opposite happens, and you see someone in an amazing relationship whose confidence and self-worth skyrockets from being around someone supportive and loving.  This is why when it comes down to it, your self-worth and aesthetic confidence should come from you.  From knowing what you have to offer -- from knowing you are beautiful and thus becoming bold -- from being yourself and feeling pride in that fact.

I'm lucky.  I have friends who tell me I am beautiful every day.  My boyfriend is one of the most loving people I've ever known, and consistently showers me with compliments.  But at the end of the day, as much as I love my friends or my family or my boyfriend...I love myself too.  And self-love, like the darling Marina says, makes all the difference...starting with making YOU feel way better about...well, everything.

21 December 2012

The-Most-Nearly-Perfect-Specimen-Of-Womanhood

Perfect Woman 1912

How would you define the perfect woman? Would she be tall or short? Curvy or slender? Brunette or blonde?  Should the concept of a "perfect woman" even exist...or a perfect anything really?

Women are held to nearly impossible standards these days -- the goal essentially being to look like a Victoria's Secret Angel. I'm not going to lie...those angels are stunning, and I think a large percentage of people would concur. Any one of them could probably win the Miss Universe contest. Any one of them probably possesses the "sexiest woman alive" tagline in several thousand minds throughout the globe. Actually, hasn't the current angel Miranda Kerr been dubbed sexiest woman alive by umpteen-several magazines and cyber-fashion gurus? What's interesting though, is that a century ago, this wouldn't have been the case -- not even close.

A friend of mine sent me an article today titled "1912's Perfect Woman Was From Brooklyn, Weighed 171 Lbs, Had Pear-Shaped Body" posted by Gothamist. The title tells it all, doesn't it? Exactly 100 years ago Miss Elsie Scheel of Cornell University was voted the "most nearly perfect specimen of womanhood" out of 400 co-eds. The 24-year-old was the now-average height of 5'7", weighed 171 pounds and would be about a size 12/14 by today's measurements. These days, she most definitely wouldn't be selected to model lingerie alongside Cameron Russell, but back then she was the icon of beauty, of sex appeal, and as the crowning title suggests, of womanhood.

Unfortunately there's no photo attached to the article other than the sketch depictions, the measurement image used to give a basic idea of her body type as sizing has changed since 1912. But you get the idea. She was a curvy, voluptuous woman, and she was appreciated and even awarded for it. What I find even more touching is that she seems to have been incredibly confident, saying she achieved her aesthetic perfection by "sane living... I have eaten only what I wanted and when I wanted it." She wasn't afraid to say that she loved indulging in hearty meats, especially beefsteak, even though it was 1912 and it wasn't until the 1920s that women were even allowed attendance at Cornell's famous beefsteak dinners. She knew no fear. She was never ill. She lived a long and healthy life despite fitting into 2012's feared and shunned "overweight" category. If you ask me, she would be a hell of a role model for women today. Heck, for men too.  And not simply because she was curvy.

Scheel was nicknamed the Venus of Cornell. For those of you who weren't as into Roman mythology as I was growing up, Venus was the goddess of beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. The common misconception is that Venus was all about the sex -- but that just isn't so. She was intelligent, poised, ambitious -- as was Scheel. Miss Scheel wasn't just beautiful, she was brilliant. Her ivy-league education cultivated her knowledge of horticulture, though she would have preferred to be a mechanical engineer had her gender been allowed to partake in such a hands-on profession. An early pioneer of women's rights and a self-proclaimed suffragette (somewhat ironic, however, considering she was okay with being called a specimen, which I will address momentarily), she told the Sunday Morning Times, "Women should be able to exact as much from the men they marry as the men demand of them, and if they must continue to passively accept men as they are, then the race will degenerate." Miss Scheel was undoubtedly clever, courageous in speaking her mind, bold in showcasing a uniqueness, ready to tackle anything that she didn't deem morally correct. She could do it all. And she could do it all whilst weighing 171 pounds and wearing a size 14 -- numbers that to me don't seem that large at all, but I know for a fact many people in my immediate vicinity would cringe at.

But despite being pleased to hear that a plus-size woman used to be considered the emblem of beauty, I do have qualms with her reigning title.  What is a most-nearly perfect specimen?  And why should a most-nearly specimen exist?  This does go to show that though the common consensus of what is beautiful and womanly changes through time, the shallowness of needing to title someone perfect in order to admire and aspire to look like someone else has always existed.  Today, those Victoria's Secret angels are what Miss Scheel was back then...supposed "perfection..." or as near to perfection as a human can possibly be, thus the "most-nearly" description.  It does make me sad to think that we always seem to need this idea of perfection...as if it even exists.  Isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder?  Who defines perfection?  Who selected Miss Scheel as the perfect specimen?  Some gray-haired, beer-bellied, septuagenarian deans probably.  The fact that she is referred to as a specimen furthers my irritability regarding the matter, and though she was great because she was intelligent and brave and confident AND curvy, this idea of perfection is one I hope to see dissipate.  The idea that we need to be anything other than ourselves...

All that aside, however, it's fascinating how everything changes so much over time. In 1912, the thoughts of cell phones or hybrid cars would have probably seemed outrageous and impossible. I'm betting the thought that women should be pressured to weigh teeny amounts and squeeze into a size 2 would have seemed just as absurd. But today it's all we know. I can't remember ever not feeling that pressure, any more than I can really remember not having a cell phone. It's this innate part of our lives that so many people don't bother to question because they've simply accepted it for what it is -- a societal norm. The status quo. The way things are. But why does it have to be? Just because it is doesn't mean it's right. Pressuring anyone to be something they aren't is never right. We are the way we are, in my opinion, because it's the way we are supposed to be. If we were all supposed to be 100 lbs, we simply would be. There would be no physical differences among us. Everyone would look like Blake Lively or Naomi Campbell.

For a while now (my guess is 50 years or so) skinny has been the way to be, but that doesn't mean it always will be. People get bored. People get bored and make new cars, new phones, new computers, new devices that can blow up the whole planet. So who's to say people won't get bored of trying to live up to the image of a VS angel?  Who's to say people won't get tired of trying to be like other people.  If they don't, however, who's to say someday women won't want to be more like Miss Scheel? Like that size 14 gal who learned all she could, stood up for what she thought was right and did it all while eating a whole lot of beef -- and aspire to be like her not just because of her body or hair or clothes, but because of her mind.

20 December 2012

Chubby Girls Love Chocolate&Wine

Wine and Chocolate

Today is the first of many Christmas celebrations I will be partaking in. The perks of having divorced parents and family spread from the tri-state region to southern Florida to the other side of the Atlantic are primarily that you get to have something like a dozen Christmas meals and a whole lot of presents. Call me materialistic, but I LOVE presents! Luckily enough, my family loves giving presents, so I've just been given a Dooney&Burke bag, a Calvin Klein Jacket and black, leather boots. Though my wardrobe has been blessed during this first festivity, the present I most enjoyed was my 1-pound box of Sweet Expressions chocolates accompanied by a 1.5 liter bottle of strawberry sinfrandale. This wonderfully assorted box has everything from salted caramel chocolates to banana filled truffles to peppermint bark patties to dark chocolate, raspberry jelly-filled pops.

As usual, however, my little brother attempted to make my joy short-lived with his skinny-centric 13-year-old mindset. Not a fan of my blog or plus-size acceptance, he started going on and on about the obesity crisis in Ameria and how I'm not helping by stuffing myself with chocolate and then writing about it. Granted, he is 13 and doesn't really know anything behind weight/genes/health/science. But it got me thinking...what do I really want to convey in this blog?

I said in my very first post that I'm not a proponent of child obesity or any such thing. To be honest, I'm not a proponent of anything in particular other than a person's right to choose how they look, what they eat and do whatever they want to frikin do. To my pubescent brother, being skinny is everything. He wants to be skinny. He wants his girlfriend to be skinny. He wants skinny friends. Just because I'm not like that doesn't mean I don't think he is perfectly entitled to feel this way and want these things (even if he does voice the things he wants and feels in a very sarcastic, rude fashion). Of course, no one says anything negative to him regarding his perceptions because he is entitled to them and they are the norm. Conversely, if I voice appreciation for fat, an absurdly but not surprisingly large amount of people will say something negative. But like my little brother, I am entitled to my perceptions. I think this is my main point in covering plus-size news and voicing my own love of all things plus-size -- the point that beauty and sex appeal and physical satisfaction are all individual, personal needs, desires and ideals. What is sexy to one person isn't necessarily sexy to another. What tastes delicious to me may not taste delicious to you. Someone may adore spending hours in the gym each day, I don't. I may relish in eating all those yummy chocolates you see above with my sweet, sparkling wine, but not everyone would.

My ramblings and writings focus on plus-size topics because quite frankly, these are the ones I most relate to and enjoy speaking about. I love hearing about plus-size ladies gaining recognition. I love fat pride. I love BBW modeling. I love FOOD. My love affair with such things is one I also want to express and create a gateway for because let's face it, there aren't nearly as many magazines or blogs or books or television shows dedicated to fat women as there are to skinny ones -- and this isn't something I'm ok with. Though I don't see it ever being equal per say, I enjoy being able to create just another small place larger ladies and lovers thereof can feel they're being appreciated, desired, loved. I'm taking the opportunity to say all this now, well, because my little brother was also talking about the impending end of the world in just over 24 hours (this should probably show he isn't really one to listen to), but in the event that something does happen (it won't) I just want to say thank you to all those who've read, commented and followed for being a part of Big&Beautiful&Bold. And I want to get everything out in the open point blank. Do I think fat is beautiful? Yes. Do I expect everyone in the world to feel this way? No. Do I think everyone is entitled to look the way they want? Yes. That right there is my biggest point, and my biggest hope is that someday a chubby chick will go through life without receiving a single negative comment, bitchy stare or teeny-bopper torture. Well, that, and that someday I can eat my whole box of chocolates and drink my bottle of wine with no snarky criticism following it.

19 December 2012

Urban Outfitters May Not Make Plus-Sizes, But Their L's Are WorthSqueezing Into

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I'd Love To Be Chic...But I'm Too Goofy At Heart

I must say...I love the way pencil skirts accentuate curves&pudge.  Especially when they're velvet!

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A Little Audrey Hepburn, A Little Blaire Waldorf, A LOT Of Me

Trippy H&M Dress + 1920s Hat = My attempt at living in an old movie.

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Me And My Fatkini

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I've just gotten back the rest of my photos from the shoot I did a couple of weeks ago.  I would like to dedicate my fatkini shots to all those out there who ever said bigger girls can't wear bikinis.  I want to tell them that I am beautiful, and I LOVE every inch of my plus-size body -- from my cellulite to my stretch marks to my belly rolls.  These so-called "flaws" aren't flaws at all.  They encompass a part of my body and thus of myself.  Without these things I wouldn't really be me.  I have no desire to be smaller.  I have no desire to be tighter or more muscular or get myself some abs.  THIS IS ME.  I'm no one to judge.  I have no right to tell people, skinny or fat, how to feel or what to think or what to want in regards to body image.  But I do have the right to tell you all that what you see above, including my thick tummy, jiggly thighs and chunky cheeks, is my perception of beauty.  And anyone who really doesn't like it, well, you're free to click away from my page.  No one's forcing you to visit a blog dedicated to promoting pudge.  But for all those of you who are more open-minded and appreciate varying types of beauty and aesthetic attraction, thanks for stopping by ;)

17 December 2012

Gok Wan Makes Plus-Size Gals Some Super Sexy Lingerie

As usual, the Huffington Post never fails at delivering the latest news in the world of curvesGok Wan, the fashion expert and blogger for the Post has taken a stab at designing plus-size lingerie.  Don't be fooled by the photos of the non plus-size model.  We all know plus-size models aren't ever THAT big.  But for all you curvy chicks out there, once you ignore the fact that the women in the photos aren't emblematic of the customers Wan seeks to attract, you'll surely find something that catches your eye.

His line is basically comprised of retro meets vintage meets Romantic period meets I Love Lucy sort-of-designs.  Considering I adore the 60s and the 20s and Nathaniel Hawthorene AND Lucille Ball, I'm already a big fan on Wan's lingerie.  Sure, he's got some things I don't approve of, like shape-wear (a concept that makes no sense to me...how do people expect to encourage big women to show off their bodies by giving them apparel designed to hide any evidence of fat?) but for the most part it's all wonderfully classy/fun/all around wonderous.

The designs resulted from a collaboration with SLiNK Magazine and SimplyBe, three lovers and proponents of plus-size acceptance.  What I most like about the line is that it actually carries a wide range of sizes, from 14 to 32.  From my observations thus far, plus-size divisions of stores, both online and at shopping centers, usually carry sizes 12 to 20.  And really, a 20 isn't that big!  I mean, I'm a 16 and I can barely find my size at most retailers that claim to carry plus-sizes.  But Gok Wan seems to want to cater to the actual BBW -- not the 6'2" size 12 model who looks just as thin as a 5'5" size 2 gal.

Though I would have loved to see BBWs rocking these lingerie items on Wan's site and on SimplyBe, I cannot deny Michelle from Milk Model Management looks lovely in them.  But I must admit, I think putting Plump Princess or Sailor Rose in them would've been a much better marketing plan!

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