Get the Look:
ASOS Curve Soft Blazer in Elephant Print, $67, ASOS
ASOS Curve Soft Shorts in Elephant Print, $48, ASOS
ASOS 90's Crop Top, $13, ASOS
Calvin Klein Loafers (Similar), $48, ASOS
This outfit is part of a series I did for Bustle: "7 'Fat Girls Can't Wear That' Rules Debunked" to disprove the particular rule that "fat girls can't wear crop tops." Because I so often talk about breaking the plus-size fashion no-nos, I thought it might be fun to do a shoot revolving around putting those words into action, and Bustle was kind enough to let me do so. Normally my articles (either on this blog or for them) always get some form of backlash from fat shamers or dedicated gym-goers who assume I never leave my bed or generic cyber bullies. But I was a bit surprised at some of the comments surrounding this particular article:
While I thought the first was uncalled for, I get the commenters point to an extent. And that's why I often try writing articles that feature a variety of women and celebrate all body types. I.E.: a roundup of 17 plus-size women of unique builds talking about their favorite rules to break or overall style tips. I know that all body types are different, and that not everyone will like the same styles, but this particular article was just meant to be me giving visual back-up to some of the things I so often talk about. It's easy to say "break the rules, love yourself!" because I believe in the words to my core, but I don't always back those suggestions up with photos of myself doing so, and so this article provided the perfect platform to do so.
The second comment mostly made me sad. It distresses me when people say this would never work on me because that just proves that we've been so influenced by negativity and cruel judgment, that we've begun to think that as plus-size people we cannot pull off the same things our straight-size counterparts can. I reiterate, I understand not everyone will like the same trends or fashions or styles, but I always think it's important to try things. It's important to break free from the comfort zone. And I hope someday more women of all sizes gain the confidence they need to experiment with their wardrobes, but more importantly, to love themselves.
It was the third comment that was supremely troubling, though. Whenever someone starts a rant with "not to be another asshole" and ends with "cut back on the cheeseburgers, not saying it with hate, saying it constructively," well, you know they're not going to be pleasant. The commenter began by saying that she understands that some people are large because of genetics or disease, but proceeded to claim that "some" -- no doubt referring to myself -- have gotten to our weights because we don't do anything. And if we have time to try on different looks, we should have time exercise and stop eating cheeseburgers.
I don't know how many times I need to express that I have never written with the intent to promote an "unhealthy" lifestyle. I am an educated person. I understand the importance of exercising, of keeping active, of eating a variety of foods with ample nutrition. I've gone through periods of my life of working out religiously and only eating vegetables and protein to periods of exercising only a few times a month (if that) and yes, consuming large portions of chocolate and bacon. But regardless of my diet or work-out regimen, I will always be a large woman. I have massive bone structure (courtesy of my father) and am 5'10" tall, and my Hispanic roots (courtesy of my mother) are responsible for a more voluptuous figure. The only time I managed to get thin was when I developed an eating disorder, so you'll forgive me if I'd rather not go that route again. I also have a slow metabolism and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and both these things make gaining weight all the easier.
I do, however, have plus-size friends (similar to my size and much larger) who are far more fit than I have ever been, and that some of my thin friends have ever been as well. I firmly believe that a person's size does not always correlate to their fitness levels. A blogger I really love, Nicolette Mason, once told me she'd challenge anyone who claimed she was unhealthy and unfit to a race. She's one of the most active people I know, and is plus-size. There are unfit and fit people of all sizes. But fitness is not a determinant of character. Actions, words, personality -- those things are far more important.
Though I don't think the third commenter deserves an explanation, I say this all because I am exhausted. I am exhausted of people assuming they know my lifestyle, my eating habits, how much I exercise, or what kind of person I am, based on a photograph. Quite frankly, it is no one's business but mine. Sometimes I wake up and want to spend the day on the elliptical machine and have a big salad. Sometimes I wake up and want to stay in bed watching Star Trek and snacking on my favorite goodies. Contrary to the commenter's criticism, though, I do not spend the entirety of my life consuming cheeseburgers -- but I wouldn't judge anyone who did, and sometimes, I wish I could live in such a way because it'd be a hell of a lot more fun than dealing with some of the grim realities of the real world.
I am a writer. I am a journalist. I am a student. I am a traveler. I am a girlfriend and friend and daughter and sister. I enjoy keeping busy, keeping my mind and body occupied, because otherwise I begin feeling useless and a nuisance even to myself. I love the elliptical machine. I eat chocolate and kale and burgers and celery. I do not define myself by my weight or the time I spend in the gym, but rather, by the person I am and hope to be. I love people for who they are, as well, not for what they look like. I admire basic and random acts of kindness and compassion.
For the most part, I've gotten to a point where faceless voices filled with bile at the other end of a screen do not affect me, but sometimes -- sometimes they do. Because they're a reminder of all the hate in this world, and subsequently, of why I so often wish I could have nothing to do with it.
I want to thank the commenters that followed this one, the fourth person in particular for offering defense, caring and sensibility. My main comfort when it comes to these situations is knowing there will always be at least one person willing to offer me a basic act of kindness with no expectation in return. I thank the fifth commenter for a sweet response. And I thank the sixth, for reminding me that even if just one person likes your writing -- appreciates your work -- it's always worth doing.
And a thank you to this person -- someone willing to be kind to a stranger -- whose email could not have come at a better time: