I Hold My Stomach in Sometimes

Am I body love failure? No.

What I am is brainwashed from years of exposure to advertisements that promise a flat stomach in 10 days. It is so ingrained in my subconscious that I often hold my stomach in without realizing it.

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I HATE these ads!!!

Today, as I walked back to my office from my lunch break, I caught a glimpse of myself in a storefront window and noticed the top roll of my stomach protruding under my t-shirt. Suddenly I stood up straighter and did my best to tuck in my tummy. In that moment I was aware of my embarrassment about my by body being so big and so exposed. And then I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed, because duh, I’m a body-positive activist!

I think about this shit all day — what Melinda Alexander calls “Getting Free.” So, when stuff like the tummy incident happens I feel like I’ve been set way back. It feels like being punched in the face after having trained in the ring for years.

The truth is, I have not come to terms with the size and shape of my stomach. It’s the biggest it’s ever been. For the most part, I almost always had a pretty small waist and stomach, giving me an hourglass figure that made my body acceptable by mainstream standards. But not anymore. It’s big enough that I just can’t hide it, or disguise it, or manipulate it. And though I’ve made peace with many of my body parts, this one is especially hard for me.

Pia model

This is me 3.5 years and 45 pounds ago.

Anyone feel me?

I know so many fat women who own their big bellies and wear clothes that accentuate them. I am not one of those women. Part of me wants to be at peace, and the other part of me just wants to have a small tummy again so I don’t have to overcome another hurdle.

The reason I share this with you is because I promised myself I would be honest and upfront about my own body image struggles. My friend Jen at Plus Size Birth just posted something I resonate with on this topic too.

Thank you for seeing me and accepting me the way I see and accept you.

Perhaps I need a pair of high waisted Spanx.

Or an affirmation…

Or to surround myself with images of large bellied women reveling in their gorgeous glory…

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Photo by Substantia Jones

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Photo by Substantia Jones

Or maybe some combination of all those ideas until I start feeling better.

xo

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

Being Fat in SoCal Can Cause Self-Body Hate

Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I spent a few days in San Diego to relax and get away from L.A.. For the most part it was fine, save for the sweltering heat and massive crowds.  But nevertheless, it was a vacation and I’m grateful for it.  

What I did notice, however, was the extraordinary number of very thin, fit people in the city. I’m not sure I saw one fat woman who wasn’t a tourist.  And my experiences in restaurants around the city supported my theory that being fat in Southern California is fucking hard.




One evening, in the Gas Lamp district, we stumbled upon the only restaurant that wasn’t overflowing with drunken fools. So, Thai food on 4th of July it was!  We were seated and I immediately realized that the chairs were so narrow that the low arms were actually cutting into my hips like a vice.  I looked around to see if anyone else in the restaurant looked uncomfortable, but they seemed at ease in their small bodies. 

I was really pissed off, and if I hadn’t been super hungry, I think I might suggested leaving the restaurant.  But I’d been grumpy for a good part of the day, and I felt my husband needed a reprieve from my complaining. So, I ate my noodles and kept my mouth shut.  




But after we left, and got back to our hotel, I wish I’d said something to the management about the chairs not being accommodating for anyone over a size 12.  The frustration I felt when my body was squished into that tiny seat kept me from being present with my husband and enjoying an evening out.  I don’t know if it was intentional, and I’d like to think that they just picked the chairs because they looked cool.  But I couldn’t help thinking that it was my responsibility to say something, so that other fat people visiting the restaurant wouldn’t have to feel the shame and humiliation that I did.  

The next day, while dining at another restaurant, I experienced the same thing on a tiny fucking stool.  The elegant, thick, wood stools were beautiful and made a bold statement alongside the marble communal tables. We sat down and my ample buttocks spilled over the seat and the very low back.  I couldn’t believe this was happening again.  I looked around to see if other types of chairs were available, but they weren’t.  Even my husband, who has an adorably small ass, commented on the discomfort of the seats.    

This is how I felt.


Not a few minutes later, a very tall, fat man came in with his family and I watched as he struggled to insert himself between the table and the stool (which by the way were bolted to the ground, so that adjusting oneself was completely impossible).  It took him a good minute to finally squeeze in, and I felt his pain. Resentment boiled inside me when I realized that I was spending my hard earned money in a restaurant that clearly was not meant to accommodate fatties.  And how dumb is that? Obviously I like to eat, so why not make my visit comfortable.

Was this coincidence or a carefully thought out plot to shame fat people?  



I’m still not sure, but the experiences I had left an indelible mark on my heart.  It triggered me so much that I began to think of diets and how I could lose 50 pounds in a week.  I even asked my husband if he wished I were thin! And that is not something I ever do.  I’m lucky I have an amazing husband who said, “I want you to be you. Besides, living in SoCal is not a reflection of the rest of the world.  It’s fake.”

I realize that I have the advantage of living in a place that has pretty awesome weather year round. But it comes with the sacrifice of being constantly reminded of my size. Whether it’s a billboard for $99 down for liposuction, or teeny tiny chairs in a restaurant — to be a person of size in a part of the country obsessed with thinness, is not a simple task.



I’m back home in my safe space, as I write this.  And though there is still some lingering anger, I know I have a voice and that I can do something about what I feel. No, I’m not going on a diet. I’m planning to call both restaurants and let them know their chairs are not size friendly and suggest they offer different seating options. And I plan to use the power of Yelp to leave my fat mark on their exclusive establishments.  



Signing off for now, until I’m back with another chronicle of my life as a mixed fat chick!

In solidarity,
Pia

www.chroniclesofamixedfatchick.com