Clean Eating is Just Code for Diet & Me No Likey

For the last few years I’ve been seeing the phrase “clean eating” become the latest craze in Dietlandia . And what in the holy hell is that? I mean, really, isn’t clean eating just a regular ‘ole diet dressed up in a jazzy new outfit? It’s like calling water “that wet stuff.”

The clean eating craze has given voice to lots of instagramers who take photos of their clean food, which include mostly fruits, veggies, and protein. There is little to no fat in sight. Except for avocados. They love avocados.

body  positive affirmations (3)

Unfortunately, I think clean eating is a dangerous business, especially for those with eating disorders. It suggests that food and eating are a moral issue — that there is good food and bad food. If you eat the former, you are good. And if logic follows, if you eat the latter, you are bad. What an awful assault on our individual choices and worth!

I fucking HATE diet culture. It is responsible for so much self-hate and it breeds competition in the worst possible sense. I am officially calling it out as a not-so-undercover attempt to rebrand weight loss propaganda. And this bish ain’t havin’ it.

xo

 

Plus Size Pageantry & The Feminist Who Had It All Wrong

I was a judge for the California Plus America Pageant over the weekend. Pageant Director, Danielle Zavala, asked me come on board and I’m still trying to figure out why she chose me. I’m a body positive lipstick feminist with a penchant for colorful mumus and comfy flats I can wear all day. And I had serious doubts about how my politics would align with judging women based on their beauty. I loved watching Miss America when I was a little girl, but as I got older, I began to see the whole thing as a patriarchal construct meant to keep women focused on seeing beauty as their only source of worth. 

But I also wanted to challenge my preconceived notions about the pageant business because I know a couple of women who have competed and I respect them very much. So I emailed Danielle and told her I would be honored to be a judge, and it was the truth. I was committed to keeping an open mind.

On Saturday morning I showed up at the Embassy Suites hotel and met my five fellow judges, including 15-year old Smile Juneja, the reigning Miss America Outstanding Teen. Smile is a bright and well-spoken young woman who impressed me with her poise and self-confidence.

Judges from left to right: Michael Anthony Hermogeno, Maryam

 Ahmadinia, Smile Suneja, Sherry Lee Meredith, Me, Gio  Messale



I also had the privilege of meeting one of the winners from last year’s pageant, Charlet InthavongxayShe and my friend, Melissa Rose (who was also a winner last year), are two of the kindest, and most service oriented people I’ve ever met. They were so open and positive about their experiences, using their titles to do good in the community. Reconnecting with Melissa and meeting Charlet was yet another step in challenging my views over the weekend. 
 

Charlet on the left & Melissa on the right.

Danielle explained all the rules to the judges, most importantly that we were not allowed to fraternize with the delegates. The delegates are the pageant contestants.  I didn’t know that’s what they were called. I like it. It sounds very official!The individual interviews took place soon after. As I read the delegates’ bios, my thinking shifted even more. The contestants included PhD candidates, single mothers who took in foster kids, a school teacher and a poised teenager with great ambitions! This is NOT what I was expecting. I honestly thought the delegates were going to be ditzy girls who spent hours at the tanning salon and used the word “like” five times in a sentence. But I was dead wrong.  

Perhaps my narrow thinking needed to be checked. I mean, how different was plus size pageantry from plus size modeling?  I know plenty of plus models, including myself, who also have other careers in industries like engineering, social justice and medicine. So, discovering that the delegates were bright and ambitious shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did — in the best possible way.

As the delegates sat before us, answering all sorts of interesting questions, I found myself having a lot of fun.  One of my favorite questions from judge Maryam Ahmadinia, was “How would you describe the color red to a blind person?”  It was such a good question, I wish I’d thought of it myself! I think I asked something corny like, “If you were banished to a deserted island for life, which person would you take with you?”  I’m new at this. Be nice.

During those interviews, the women were nervous but witty, shy but eloquent. They were funny and snarky and intelligent. And their platforms were impressive too. From autism awareness to domestic violence prevention, the causes were noble and their champions passionate. Many of them had been active in their causes long before they’d considered being in pageants. I know. Pretty cool, huh?

Later that night, we witnessed the delegates having fun at the red carpet event and fundraiser.  As I watched them do the “Wobble” and laugh with one another, it helped me see yet another side to them.  They were women of all ages, ethnicities and plus size body types, bonding with one another and letting the stress of the interviews wash away. I so wanted to dance with them and tell them how awesome I thought they all were, but we weren’t allowed to fraternize until the pageant was over. 

The next night was the evening wear competition and the crowning ceremony at the LA Convention Center. This was an opportunity for the delegates to impress us with their style and personality as they sashayed down the runway, their fleshy arms undulating in perfect rhythm. Their smiles were big, their fashion choices bold, and their personalities very evident. It was such fun and I found myself cheering them all on, wishing they could all win!  I was proud of them for loving their bodies and wearing dresses that said “Fuck you world.  I’ll wear whatever the fuck I want!” I saw many of them empowered and confident. I witnessed such beauty and grace.  I wish plus size pageants had existed when I was struggling with my body image as a teenager and young woman. These women proved me wrong and I’ve never felt better about not being right.  


As plus size women, we are all breaking barriers when we participate in activities that let the world know we are not ashamed of our bodies and that we are capable of so much more than the media gives us credit for. Contrary to popular belief, we are not lazy and unmotivated. We are smart, savvy role models who can recite the Greek alphabet while feeding the homeless and kicking ass.  So there.  

I think the biggest lesson I learned through this journey is that feminism has many faces. The way we choose to lift up women is not singular in nature. There are as many ways to express it as there are women in the world. The plus size delegates were a brand of feminism that I had yet to encounter. But now I can store it in my cadre of experiences, and recall it when I find myself judging something which I know nothing about.

And I would be remiss if I did not congratulate this year’s deserving winners:

                  Queanna Moore – Mrs California Plus America 2014
Chera Lenise – Ms California Plus America 2014

Lia Freeman – Miss California Plus America 2014

Emily Grace Fluke -Teen California Plus America 2014


Left to right: Emily, Lia, host Marcy Guevara, Queanna, Chera



And finally, thank you Danielle, for asking me to be a part of this wonderfully eye-opening occasion. Your hard work paid off in so many ways. I am forever changed. XOXO

In solidarity,
Pia

HAS THE PLUS SIZE CONTINGENCY GONE ROGUE?

I’m a plus size woman, and I celebrate my body to the best of my ability.  I also encourage other plus size women to embrace themselves.  What I don’t understand is why there seems to be so much anger and hatred toward our thin counterparts.  I see posts on

Facebook dogging thin women and describing them as less than women because they don’t have “curves.”  The term “real women” has been misused and I’m guilty of it too.  How did we get here?  Didn’t we start this revolution with the intention of feeling better about ourselves?  When did we decide that tearing down others was a good way to do it?  I’m publicly declaring that I disagree with this tactic.  I’m sure the media is eating up this bullshit.  I can see the headline now: “Fat Women Destroy Thin Women in Hateful Display of Rivalry.” 


I understand the struggle that plus size women have gone through to be recognized as

beauty equals in the media.  It’s real and it’s valid.    But what I also see happening is a case of oppressing the oppressor—a dangerous game in which victims use the same sickening tactics their intimidators used against them to feel better about themselves.  Do we not see the sheer insanity in this twisted charade?  I would challenge you to think about what you choose to share on social media.  I think it’s great to see examples of diverse women in media who don’t represent traditional standards of beauty.  We are trying to change the landscape of what is available to us, and we’ve done a good job, and there is much further to go.  But in the meantime I pose the following to you:

  1. Many thin women we see in the media suffer from poor body image, even if we don’t hear about it. We don’t need to make things more painful for them by being hateful.  That’s just stupid. 
  2. Thin does not equal the enemy.
  3. Some women are naturally thin.  Get over it.
  4. The term “Real Woman” should be extinguished.  Unless of course we use it to describe women who are doing good in the world, lifting up others and making useful contributions.  
  5. Breed positivity and be an example of love and acceptance in the world.  Your daughters, sisters, mothers and aunts will thank you for it.

I hope this article stirs up lots of discussion.   Let’s talk about it.  Share your thoughts and remember not to tear down others in the process. 

Peace and blessings,
Pia

Nearly Naked Plus Size Models Strut at Fashion Weekend

I am so freakin’ excited I can’t stand it!  As I was researching a topic for this week’s blog, I came across an article on Brazil’s recent Plus Size Fashion Weekend, featuring women with hips, breasts, cellulite and real curves strutting their stuff on the runway in not much more than their bras and panties!  I was immensely inspired and simply had to share it with you.  These women make me proud to be a feminine creature, with my own unique set of dips and dimples!  The fashion show, which is the biggest in Brazil, was created by journalist Renata Poskus Vaz.  The plus size journalist has a blog of her own, called Mulherao, where she is an advocate of plus size women.  The Fashion Weekend has been instrumental in the growth of the plus size industry in Brazil.  

It’s interesting to compare the body types of these Brazilian models with what we are used to seeing in the U.S. market.  Plus models, like Fluvia Lacerda, Tara Lynn and Denise Bidot seem to have firmer, more toned figures.  Is the Plus Size Modeling industry perhaps a bit hypocritical?  I don’t know.  I suspect there’s a some photo-shopping going on there as well.  Yes, there are great strides being made, but there is still a great amount of pressure on plus models to be keep in shape, and yet not get too small. Don’t get me wrong, I think Fluvia, Tara and Denise have bangin’ bodies. I’m simply offering that plus size models and women who have some jiggle in their wiggle are just as beautiful and just as worthy.  I hope we continue to see progress in this area, so that young girls and women everywhere will begin to celebrate their bodies, instead of hating them.  As plus size bloggers, we have a responsibility to embrace all types of beauty.  And I think collectively, we’re doing a great job.  There is always much to discuss, and like anything else worth pursuing, there is always more progress to make.  So, let’s support one another and keep creating forums where we can talk about creating a world in which a woman’s worth is not determined by her dress size, but by virtue of her value as a human being.  Keep on keepin’ on!

Ciao for Niao,
Pia


CELLULITE–Embrace It Already!!

I don’t know about you, but I’m so freakin’ tired of reading about magical cellulite creams that will remove so called unsightly skin dimpling.  The fact is, 95% of women have cellulite. That’s right, pretty much all women have those fatty deposits that cause our skin to look a bit uneven.  Models and actresses have it, but we don’t see it because their photos get airbrushed.  We have been sold a bill of goods by the media and cosmetic companies that want us to buy their useless products.  




They want us to believe that we are ugly and unworthy because we have cellulite. They want us to believe that if we use their special potions, that our lives will become improve drastically.  It’s total BULL For years they have caused women to feel less than for what is a normal occurrence. The reason women are prone to cellulite is because we tend to have thinner skin and carry more fat than men do. It’s just a fact. Although cellulite may be more prominent on heavier women, it does not necessarily go away if you lose weight. It can be genetic too. Accept the fact that you are like the majority of women and you’ll save yourself the agony of hating your thighs, butt, stomach, arms, blah, blah, blah!!  So, it’s fine to keep on exercising and eating well.  It’s good to be kind to your body.  But don’t make yourself crazy trying to rid yourself of what makes you a woman.  Embrace it and you will empower yourself and others.