3 Surprising Ways to Fight Fat Shaming

Fighting fat shaming can be tough in a society that worships thinness and thinks fat is a four-letter word. But there are ways to make change if you’re willing to try these surprising tactics.

1

Start by accepting yourself. I think it’s impossible to fight against the current culture if you hate yourself. When you believe in the false stereotypes that fat people are lazy, ugly, stupid, and unworthy, how can you possibly have the strength to challenge the powers that be? You can’t. Plain and simple. Until you are at least on the road to self-acceptance, it may be difficult to demand respect. You’ve got to believe that you deserve more, and that your worth is inherent in your humanity. Once you start seeing yourself in a more positive light, then you can begin to question and fight against our society’s twisted ideas of what is acceptable.

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Wicked confidence!

2

Be conscious of advertisements and media that ridicule fat people. This is pretty fucking easy, given that our culture is obsessed with  before and after pictures to fool you into thinking that losing weight will be the answer to all of life’s problems. I hate to break it to you, but fat and thin people alike have problems and challenges that have absolutely nothing to do with the size of their jeans. I know because I’ve been thin and fat many times in my life, and I can assure you that I dealt with the same life circumstances in both bodies. So, when you see advertisements or TV shows that make fun of fat folks, get to work letting them know you are displeased. Write letters and tell anyone who will listen (that’s the power of social media, people) about the discrimination that’s happening right under their oblivious noses. The very act of dissent, regardless of the outcome, is empowering and will inevitably start a dialogue about why we allow this type of blatant oppression to thrive. It’s time to take a stand!

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Fat shaming at its worst. Shame on you PETA.

3

Literally wear your opinions. With a growing social movement toward fat-acceptance, the trend of wearing clothes that challenge people’s perceptions of fat people is ripe and ready for harvest. Whether you decide to wear a crop top to show off your ample belly, or a bodycon dress that hugs your every roll, fashion is an amazing political weapon against fat discrimination. The days of oversized clothes that were meant to make others more comfortable with our large bodies is OVER! Fatshion conveys a lot about how you feel without ever having to utter a word. Changing perceptions can be tough. But the more of us who  unapologetically wear tank tops in the summer that show off our generous arms, the less taboo we make it for other fat folks to do the same. And ultimately, we force the culture to see us, accept us, and respect us.

 

diet industry dropout

xo

7 Things I love About Being a Confident Fat Chick

First things first.Three years ago I could not have imagined writing this. But all my self-lovin’ work has paid off and I can actually see the good in my body now.

one

When I wear a fabulous, over the top outfit, people pay me compliments, and never mention my size or weight. It’s as though my confidence puts them at ease. And that’s a win for fatties everywhere!

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two

Hanging out with other confident fat chicks is so fun! We get each other’s jokes and share tips on how to prevent chub rub whilst soaking in a hot tub.

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three

Fat chicks give the best hugs. All that soft flesh feels like being in the womb. Seriously.

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four

I take up space. No matter where I am, my body is unapologetically present and proud.

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five

When I’m in yoga class, I love to see the expression of my teacher and other students as my flexible body holds  challenging poses. I’m unintentionally teaching women that you can be active at any size.

pia yoga 

six

You’ll never hear me complaining about being on a diet, because duh, I don’t do those anymore.

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seven

I use my hard earned confidence to help other women begin to embrace themselves, no matter what size they are.

pia conference pic

I send you love, light, and encouragement as you travel the road of self-acceptance!

xo

My Fall Fashion Wishlist: Neutrals With a Twist

Fall is my absolute favorite season for fashion. But the heat in Los Angeles doesn’t seem to want to quit. I’m so ready for cool sunny days, funky boots, a chic trench coat, oversized sweaters, boyfriend jeans, and tons of fabulous jewelry! What I love most is all the layering you can do in the fall. Mixing textures and neutral tones with subtle pops color is my goal for autumn style. Below is my wish list with links to where you can find these dynamic, yet versatile pieces!

 

asos white top

I am obsessed with white shirts right now. They are such an easy go to when you don’t know what to wear. This one from Asos Curve is adorable. I love the small button up collar which would look amazing with a statement necklace or one of my famous headwraps.

stella sutton 3 stella sutton 2 stella sutton 1

The Sutton White Stone necklace from Stella & Dot is giving me life! It’s a gorgeous and versatile statement necklace that you can dress up or down. I’d wear with a t-shirt and some boyfriend jeans for an instant style upgrade. The versatility of this necklace more than makes up for it’s price tag.

asos black pants

Also from Asos Curve are these black peg pants, which have my much required pockets. These days, if it doesn’t have pockets, I’m not that interested. Pockets just feel good, right?  Anyway, I love how this looks with heels, but I don’t do heels anymore, as you know. I would pair them flats, chuck taylors, or booties.

naot sky bootnaot sky 1    naot sky 2

I am a boot freak. Plain and simple. But my feet have deteriorated as a result of arthritis and fibromyalgia, and so my choices for stylish, comfortable boots has diminished by leaps and bounds. So when I found these beauties by Naot, I was wowed! Yes, they have a slight wedge, but it’s low and the toe box curves up for all day comfort. They are a bit spendy, but I think I’m worth it!

wet seal acid wash shirt

A shirt like this would normally be too trendy for me. I actually wore acid wash jeans in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I was in high school. Frankly, I hoped I’d never live to see the trend again. But it seems that designers are paying homage to styles gone by with modern interpretations of decades old designs. I really love this shirt from Wet Seal Plus. It has the kind of texture that gives an outfit that edge and interest. You can pair this acid wash button up with with loads of things, even with more denim. Yes, please!

forever 21 leopard scarf photo (1)

I adore scarves. I wear them in so many ways. They are by far my favorite must have accessory of all time. If you only owned 10 pieces of clothing period, I would advise having a leopard print scarf.  Animal print is practically a neutral, according to stylist, Melinda Mann. But it does so with ridiculous style and grace.  I wear them as regal head wraps over my curly locks; around my neck and shoulders in 12 different ways; as thick belts;  gauzy skirts and; flowy dresses in the summer.  You can score this one for under ten bucks at Forever 21.  Go. Buy. It. Now.

forever 21 boyfriend jeans

If you don’t own a pair of boyfriend jeans you’re missing out. For a long time I avoided this trend because I didn’t think they’d look good on my fat frame. I was so used to buying fitted jeans that “flattered curvy figures” until my stylist/ bestie helped me see things in a whole new light.  She let me borrow her favorite pair (I’m so lucky we wear the same size) and showed me how to make them work. My world was turned upside down! Think outside the box and try these super affordable ones from Forever 21.

dkny trench macys

What would autumn be without a fabulous coat? It doesn’t get super cold in Southern California, so I probably won’t need a parka. This fucking hot trench by DKNY at Macy’smodeled by the oh so sexy Denise Bidot, is probably at the top of my fall wish list. It’s a bit hard to tell, but the color is midnight blue.  I love black and blue together — it’s so sophisticated and unusual.  The price tag of $189 is a bit off-putting, but I think I can convince myself it’s a “good investment.”

Suffice to say that I’m socking away some cash so I can afford to indulge myself a bit this fall season. I figure 3-4 of these pieces will be enough to inspire me. I can’t wait to see where this goes…Follow me on instagram @mixedfatchick to see how I creative I can get with these knockout neutrals!

Love, light, & happy shopping,

Pia

The Vilification of Fat Bodies: How Society Disses Us

 bacchus

Centuries  ago, being fat meant you were wealthy. You had more than enough food to go around.  And if you were poor, food was not plentiful and so you were thin.  Body size was one of many ways to assess class.

Today, we gauge people’s personal worth and right to respect by the size of their body. Thin bodies having superior privilege to fat ones.  I could dissect the various reasons we got here, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. And I want to talk about other shit.

 thin = goodfat=bad

I will, however, break down the reasons I think society has vilified fat.

We can’t always identify people’s socioeconomic status by looking at them. Rich people wear t-shirts and jeans just like the rest of us.  As a regular person walking down the street, I have no idea if they’re carrying an Amex Gold card in their wallet or an EBT card.  I can’t tell a real Gucci from Cucci.  And if we lived in a utopia where shit like that didn’t matter, then I wouldn’t have to write this article.

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But it does matter. Because we’ve decided it does.

Just like we’ve arbitrarily decided that thin is good and fat is bad. It could just have easily been the other way around.  If instead of diets being forced onto women 50 + years ago, we decided that having rolls of gorgeous fat was aspirational, then right now I’d be writing an article about the plight of thin people.

This whole deal is about money, oppression, and class.

The private sector is concerned with making money at any cost. And if that means oppressing an entire group of people, then so be it.  The health industry in conjunction with the diet industry, have created a powerful monopoly on people’s self-worth. They’ve capitalized on people’s egos. Most of us want to feel like we’re on top of the world — beautiful, smart, worthy.  So what happens when you start selling the idea that worth can be bought?  You make a shit ton of money.

I can do it

I’ve spent my fair share of money on diet programs, pills, shakes, and books meant to inspire me into action and hopefully, thinspired bliss.  I searched long and hard for the route to my “goal weight” and hoped for an esteemed place in my thin-centric culture. I would regularly visualize what my head would look like on a thin body, and what that meant for my life.  I can tell you that wearing expensive clothes, traveling first class, and having hot men fawn all over me was part of the dream. But when I did get thin, I still had to go to my crappy job, travel economy, and meet disenchanting male suitors.

My head on J Lo's body.

My head on J Lo’s body.

What had gone wrong? Why didn’t my life magically change? I was pissed.  This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with my shitty self-esteem.

Years of therapy later, I know that my shitty self-esteem stemmed from over exposure to media that blatantly told me and others in as many ways as possible, that my body was undesirable, lazy, and in need of change. Those messages were supported by family members and peers who had also been exposed to the hateful propaganda.

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As a result of this negative messaging, generations of people, particularly women, are now trying to either recover from the damage that years of self-hatred have had on them, or they still believe in The Big Lie — that attaining a thin body will transform both your internal and external circumstances for the better.

And we’ve rewarded thin people with access to exclusive clubs, clothing, and experiences that validate their hard work.

Having been medically classified as fat for a good part of my life gives me license to say that fat is normal. Lots of people are fat. They are also accomplished, funny, sexy, successful, hard-working, athletic, and happy.

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What do non-fat people get out of hating fat people? What is the fear of seeing our bodies represented in media in a positive way? Is the fear that fatties will destroy the status quo by affirming that our bodies are just as valuable as thinner ones? I fucking hope so.

And I hope that as a result, the billion dollar diet industry will lose its stronghold on desperate consumers, willing to buy the next great thing in order to just be fucking accepted.

And that would be fine with me.

Fat is descriptor, not a life sentence. I am fat and my life is fucking great. I see my beauty and my relevance in the world.

I'm on the far right. Fat and happy and sexy as fuck.

I’m on the far right. Fat and happy and sexy as fuck.

I hope we can change hearts and minds so that we can focus on eradicating things that matter, like poverty, hunger, racism, classism, homophobia, diseases, and pointless wars.

That’s about all I have to say on the matter — for now.

In solidarity,

Pia

Learning to Love My Totally Imperfect Ass

I’m a Black woman who yearns for a better ass.  It wasn’t always flat.  It used to be high and round and lovely.  But about 11 years ago I had a nasty fall on some steps, and my butt literally landed where the tread meets the risers.  It was incredibly painful, but I never went to see a doctor because I figured the pain would eventually go away. And it did. At least for a while.

But years later I began to notice that the shape of my butt was different, disfigured — there was a deep indentation that spanned the width of it, creating four quadrants, if you will.  I finally went to see a doctor who told me that scar tissue had formed under the skin to protect the area when I injured it.

That made sense to me.  So, I asked how it could be removed. I wanted my round ass back ASAP.  Apparently, it can’t.  I was upset, but not deterred.

My next stop was to see a plastic surgeon. I explained the problem to him and he began to tell me about all the other things that were “wrong” with my body.  And he too, said there was no way to get my ass back to it’s former loveliness.  I was humiliated and defeated.

In the years that followed, I visited massage therapists that specialized in myofascial release.  But the treatments were painful and yielded no results. Just more pain and more shame.

In addition to the shame I felt about my ass, the scar tissue was also painful and had begun to impact  the function of other parts of my body.  I was truly devastated.

I think the other part of the shame is cultural. In our society, Black women are often expected to have round, shapely asses, which are supposed to somehow validate their Blackness and attractiveness.  Which is why I feel like an anomaly.  My mom and sister both have amazing asses (and my mom is 72).  In truth, I have girlfriends of all colors and ethnicities who have amazing bootys, and I secretly wish I had one too.

The ass of my dreams.

A few years ago I began seeing a chiropractor to help me with my back, and I shared with her my “ass story.”  She reiterated what the other doctors had said, but was hopeful that she could help decrease the pain for me. I visit her once a week and my pain has been reduced significantly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the pain relief. But I still struggle with accepting the shape of my highly irregular, 38-year old, dented ass!  No amount of stair-stepping or squats will ever make the scar tissue disappear.  This is the ass I have and I need to find a way to love it.

Wearing fitted clothing on the lower party of my body is difficult for me without feeling insecure.  In the last year or so, I’ve tried to love my ass for what it is. I’m simply not there yet.

I know I’m not unique in struggling to love parts of my body. My hope is that having the courage to share my story with you, will allow you to do the same thing. And perhaps even inspire me to accept myself more fully.

My healing will be a journey that will last my whole lifetime.  However, I vow to all of you that I will be more consistent in speaking kindly of my body, because she deserves it.  I will caress my ass, look at her in the mirror, and declare her perfect!

In solidarity,
Pia

8 Reasons I Loved The Body Love Conference

This first weekend of April I was in Tucson, presenting at the first ever annual Body Love Conference, conceived by Jes Baker of The Militant Baker, and executed by dozens of dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic speakers. For those of you who don’t know about this epic event, it was a one-day conference featuring some of the biggest names in body positive movement. I am still reeling from the ridiculous amount of positivity, strength and sisterhood that took place in such a short time span.



There are 8 reasons why I loved the Body Love Conference:

1.  It reinforced what I already knew — that I have a gift for connecting with people through my unique humor and honesty. My talk was entitled “Expanding Definitions of Beauty: Redefining the Thin White Ideal.” While I was giving my presentation I felt the audience’s energy, their spirits enthusiastic and thirsty for inspiration. Having women come up to me after my presentation and throughout the day, telling me that I impacted them deeply with my talk, was the best gift I could have asked for. When we are in alignment with the Universe and do what we are called to do, it isn’t work, it’s magic! You can view my rousing presentation here.

My presentation with some wonderful women present

2.  It was the biggest display of mutual respect, uplifting messages and sense of connection with women that I have ever felt. Four hundred people (mostly women and a few men) came from as far as Vienna, Austria to participate in what was an epic event.The loads of volunteers that worked to make this event happen were an integral part of what made the conference such a positive environment. They seriously kicked ass!


 With my new pal Michelle 
  
              With the awesome volunteers
3.  I got to meet fellow body loving activists in person who I only previously knew through social media. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to embrace women I only ever communicated with on Instagram and Facebook. Finally we were face to face, and we didn’t need emoticons to express ourselves. Our smiles were real, and the powerful high-fives echoed in the halls.
Blogger Jamie West and I
4.  I got to meet and hug the incomparable Jes Baker. This was one of those moments I will never forget.  In my head, Jes had a sweet, not quite high-pitched voice. So when she embraced me enthusiastically and kissed me on the cheek, and said “Yes. This is so gooood,” in the sexiest Kathleen Turner voice ever, I kinda lost it. I could feel strength come through her words, and was willing to do whatever she asked of me.  It was that powerful. Seriously. I wish you’d been there.

Jes and I. Aren’t we cute?

5.  I witnessed the powerful story of Tess Munster during her very moving keynote address. The plus size model raised the roof as she recounted her volatile upbringing in Mississippi with vulnerability and humor.  She paid homage to her mother — her biggest role model — who Skyped in to to hear her daughter speak.  She made us all cry and cheer and believe that anything is possible! I was already a big fan of Tess, but to hear her story of survival and overcoming great odds really made me fall in love with her. She is a true asset to the body positive movement.
Tess doin’ her thing 

6.  There was a nice representation of women of color presenters, speaking on various topics. The conversation around body image has largely been led by White cisgender women.  So it was a very pleasant surprise to be in good company with Sonya Renee Taylor and Kymberly Nichole among others. I was able to attend both their sessions and was psyched at the turnout for each.  They were able to bring their unique activism to the changing landscape of the body positivity movement. I hope next year’s conference will include more women of color, including Latinas and Asians.

From left to right: Sonya Renee, Kymberly Nichole, Me

7.  I was introduced to Tucson, a city that surprised me with it’s cultural diversity, community oriented population and delicious food. Everywhere I went, folks were friendly and laid back.  I even got to enjoy drinks and super yummy pork tacos at the famous Hotel Congress, with its rustic interior and old-timey charm.  I hope to get back there again before too long.

The bar at the Hotel Congress

8. I was so lucky to have met the other amazing women who presented at the conference. We shared our stories with one another, without judgment or fear. There was an instant bond among us despite the fact that we’d only spent two days together. But it was real. We exchanged ideas and hugs in equal measure, so happy to be a part of the grassroots movement we’ve all helped to cultivate.

Photographer Liora K. introducing me to Photographer Jade Beall


I am forever grateful to Jes Baker for bringing together women of different ages, races, abilities, genders, occupations and walks of life, who shared a common goal: to love and accept themselves fully. The bonding that took place last weekend was easy and fluid. The genuine smiles on the faces of the attendees were an invitation to chat and connect. Every single person I met had a unique story, a perspective to share or advice to offer. Be sure to check out the full list of speakers and their contact info here.

My biggest take away can best be summed up in the photo below.

YES WE ARE.

In solidarity,
Pia



How Posing in a Swimsuit Changed Me Forever

I want to thank Jessica Peterson, designer of Sorella Swim for the opportunity to be a part of the Sisters of All Sizes campaign.  I’ve done many photo shoots, but this one was by far the most challenging and empowering.  



As a fat woman of color, my body is far from society’s ideal of beauty. For years I struggled with my weight and above all my self-esteem.  I really thought that having a thin body would dissolve all my problems, but I was wrong.  I’ve been thin more than a few times in my 38 years, and it only ever lasted for a few months because the real problem was that I still didn’t love myself and I still had the same life problems.

About 3 years ago I began a journey toward self-acceptance that has materialized into seeing my body in a very different way. I did lots of research on fat-acceptance, body diversity and feminism and eventually started my own website and blog to help other women like me begin to embrace themselves fully.

Since then I have met some amazing women and men who have supported me and pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone.  And I’m so grateful to all of them. 

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go through with the Sorella Swim shoot.  I was already hesitant, but when I walked onto the set and realized that I was the largest model, I began to panic.  If I had been fully dressed, I probably would have been at ease.  But stripping down to what felt like near nakedness was altogether different.  


After hair and make-up, we had to get into our suits and I started to freak out. I pulled my dear friend and fellow model Melinda aside.

“I can’t do this. I cannot do this.  I’m so huge and everyone else is so small.” My voice wavered as I gripped her arm.

Melinda told me to relax.  She reminded me that I wasn’t just doing this to overcome my own fears, but to empower other women who look like me as well.  

I understood her point, but was still scared shitless.  I had to do a lot of positive self-talk that day.  I was going to have implement the “fake it til’ ya make it” strategy to get through the shoot.  So that’s what I did. 


I changed into the suit and stepped out of the bathroom for Jessica and Delia to see me.  My heart was pounding and I expected them to jump back, and wonder if they’d made the right decision.  But they both smiled and told me I looked great.  I wasn’t sure I believed them, but I just kept faking it.  

Before the group shots, we did individual photos and I was called first, of course. The Universe has a very twisted sense of humor!  Before I got in front of the camera, I got a quick pep talk from photographer Michael Anthony. I told him that I was afraid and that I was going to need a lot of support.  He was so kind and comforting, telling me that I was going to be great and he had my back. I trusted him, and off I went.  

Yes, I have cellulite and a tummy with multiple rolls, and I’m beautiful. 

The first minute was absolute torture.  The lights were bright, and the cellulite on my thighs was in plain view for the entire crew to see.  But Michael Anthony continued to put me at ease, encouraging me. I began to relax and eventually found myself getting more and more comfortable.  I started posing and channeling the the beauty that exists inside all of us.  I kept thinking of the women who would see this campaign and be grateful that I had the courage to represent them.  I was facing my fears head on and it felt good.  

From left to right: Melinda, Neidy, Lornalitz, Krista, Pia

I thought the group photos would be less scary, but then I realized that there were going to be small bodies next to my large one, and that my body would be under tremendous scrutiny when the photos were released to the public. But I channeled my energy in the same way as before, realizing that the ideas about body diversity that I write about were coming true, and I was an integral part of it. It was that thought which gave me the strength to continue and to model my ass off — pun intended.

Mid-shoot Delia pulled me aside to tell me that Jessica was so impressed with me. I was so touched by that. I think she must have sensed my trepidation. Thanks Jessica!

The Sorella Swim Sisters of All Sizes campaign has had a huge impact on the way I see my body.  I am grateful to Michael Anthony for releasing untouched photos of us so that people can see what real bodies look like. All the bodies in that shoot are beautiful, including mine. 

This experience made me put my money where my mouth is. All the positive body talk in the world is meaningless unless I truly believe it myself. Now when I tell other women to love their bodies — to set themselves free, I can speak from multiple experiences of having to walk the walk. 

I love how the suit looks great on all of us!

All bodies are good bodies and that’s the truth. When more clothing companies and designers realize that all women want to feel beautiful, regardless of their size, they will do what Jessica has done — create a garment that makes all of us feel included and special. Yes, big girls like to shop and be chic too!

Thank you to Jessica, Delia (DDH PR), Michael Anthony, Melinda, Krista, Neidy, Lornalitz, Rich Magana’s hair and make-up team and DTLA Studios for their commitment to making this happen. I am forever grateful and forever changed. 

In solidarity,
Pia