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.

2

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.

Glamour-1

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.

love-your-fat

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

3 Reasons I Avoid Talking About My Sugar Addiction

I’m a sugar addict. I am.  When sugar gets into my system, I get high.  And then I need more. And more. And….Ugh!

I don’t like talking about my sugar addiction for three reasons:

  1. It’s very real, but conflicts with my position on dieting, and my disdain for food/body policing.
  2. I’m not sure I can stop, and that frightens me because it completely affects my fibromyalgia and arthritis. Let me be clear, I am talking about MY health, NOT yours.
  3. I don’t want you to judge me.  Yes, I can be that insecure.

So, in order to tackle this issue, I’ve decided honesty is the best policy.  I’ve given up sugar three times in my life, for periods ranging from two months to a year, and I had lots of help. It felt so good, and my body was grateful. If you want to know what I did, you can email me and I would be happy to share more. But for the purposes of this post, it’s irrelevant.

Processed sugar is one of those substances that is in so many of the foods we eat, that it requires a lot of awareness and intentionality to avoid it. I know, I know — I should eat more veggies and just stop with the sugar.  But it’s not that simple for me.  Sugar behaves like heroin in my body.  At first it soothes, then it gives me a spurt of energy, followed by an awful crash that can only be avoided by eating more sugar. And so, I do.  The cycle is beyond vicious. It’s insane.

When I was diagnosed with arthritis two years ago, and fibromyalgia a year later, the first thing my doctor’s told me was to eliminate sugar because it causes inflammation.  It made sense, and I thought that having a doctor tell me would change my behavior, but it hasn’t.  Why? Because I’m an addict who fools herself into believing she can control the controller. And I’ve proved to myself thousands of times that I will always lose this battle.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Why should you care?

Well, I know a lot of people who deal with this addiction, fat, thin and in between. And I want them to know they’re not alone. They may be size acceptance activists like me, who are struggling with the moral dilemma of having a sugar or food addiction and not wanting to fall into the misogynistic trap of fad diets. You guys know I spent many years dieting, and I’m so over it (mostly).  But this isn’t about weight loss, it’s about continuing to do something that I know is harming my body. It’s like if I kept dipping my toe into boiling water and burning the fuck out of it, but doing it anyway because I just can’t help myself.  Yes, it’s that crazy.  It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Which, by the way, is the definition of insanity. The definition of addiction.

I talk to my close girlfriends and my husband about this issue regularly, but I’m tired of thinking about it now. I simply want to let go of it so that in it’s place, a peaceful, spiritually sound woman can emerge. I want to make space for more important things, like working to create a world in which women of all sizes, ages, colors, orientations, and abilities are free to use their goddess-given gifts without fear of being judged on their appearance.

Is that so bad? 

This inner work is never done and it’s hard.  But I know it’s worth it. So, I don’t have any hard and fast answers to my sugar problem, but I just wanted to acknowledge on a public level that I struggle too. And I want to remind myself and you, that body positivity takes so many formsI can love my body at it’s current weight, and still aim for better health.
 

 That’s me!!

I’m so grateful for the Health At Every Size campaign, which proves to me that even at 230 pounds, I can achieve my health and fitness goals without having to ever lose a pound. I want to improve my downward facing dog because it would feel fucking awesome to push my body that much.  I want to wear a tight yoga top and matching pants that hug my every roll, and celebrate my shape as I move into a headstand. I want to give up sugar so my body won’t hurt so damn much.

That’s all.

In solidarity,
Pia

Working Braless Whilst Vibing to Ravi Shankar is Just How I Roll

It’s how I like to work.  I write best when I’m super relaxed and letting the rest of the world become  a distant, calming buzz in the background. I hate to be bound up and tight. I put on my favorite cotton caftan and trod barefoot to my home office retreat, where I am beckoned by my ASUS to let my long fingers glide along the dusty keyboard until they are done.

While lying on my chiropractor’s table today, I had time to think about blog post ideas.  If only I’d written them down. 

I guess I’ll just have to wing this one.

Um….

Let’s see.  Well, I feel really proud of all the inner work I’ve done toward healing my relationship with my body. It is a commitment every single day. But, I find it completely unavoidable to be reminded that my fat body type is the butt of stupid sitcom punchlines and the worst nightmare of every human in Los Angeles, including me (sometimes).

I’m tired, ya’ll.

I am a woman. I am a woman of color. I am a fat woman of color.  I am living in a city where billboards donning, thin, white women with perky tits and quarter size nipples try to entice me into getting the fat sucked out of my ass for just $99 down.  It’s fucking tempting.

As some of you know, I had liposuction when I was 23.  I was about the same size as I am today (230 pounds and a size 18), and I hated myself something serious.  I desperately believed, with my early 20’s, brainwashed, depressed, confused heart, that my life was going to be beyond my wildest dreams if I could just be thin. So, 11 pounds of fat sucked out of my thighs, butt and stomach later, I was ready to see my name up in lights.

It did’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped. It’s kind of a long story that I’ll have to share another time. I promise.

My point is that I have plenty of white patriarchal forces that are trying to inhibit my calling as an activist and a writer who won’t obey.  But I’m like, fuck the patriarchy.  Cuz I’m a badass mixed fat bitch who takes up space when she dares to, and  is working on not apologizing for it.

So, the other day, when I was scolded by a male co-worker/pal for apologizing way too much in a particular situation, I was mortified.  It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Proud, fat, feminist Pia? Apologizing too much?  Shit balls.

It took me some quiet reflective time to really think about what had transpired.  Maybe I wasn’t such a badass. Perhaps I was a disappointment to my fellow feministas. How could I, a self-proclaimed taker-up of space, find myself in such a quandary.

Or, maybe I was being a little harsh with myself. Probably. Yes. Pretty sure. Yeah. I think.

I am not Audre Lorde.  Not even Audre Lorde was Audre Lorde.  I mean, she was fuckin’ awesome, but I’m guessing she had her bad days too.

I find it very hard to break a pattern that I’ve been married to for most of my life. Especially when that pattern is encouraged in many areas of my life. And while I’m pleased I can identify the dirty bugger, self-awareness isn’t the only step in my quest to become free from the mental slavery to perfectionism and people-pleasing. I need to practice.  I have to try things that feel uncomfortable in order for them to become second nature. I have decided that my apologizing episode only proves that I’m human and that there is always room for improvement.

Today, on my way to the chiropractor’s office, I held my head up high as I walked alongside the bustling street with the kind of confidence and fearlessness that encourages me to keep going on this healing adventure. Some days I feel fucking great, and other days are shit.  But I press on, grateful for the path that my sisters have paved. Thank you Audre, Gloria, Rosa, Sojourner, Harriet, Frida, Bell, Hillary and Michelle.

In solidarity,
Pia

The Fat Girl Diet Debate & How I Fucked Up

So, here’s the thing.  I’ve spent at least 20 years of my life on a diet and I’m not sure I ever want to be on one again.  That’s why you will see me posting cute memes like the one below.  And my point is that if you don’t want to lose weight or ever be on a diet again, you don’t have to.  You don’t have to let the media and our culture force you into believing that your life will be awesome when you get to a size 2, when you are perfectly happy and free as a size 22.

But lately I’ve been seeing a lot of plus size women posting photos of themselves working out and sharing their weight loss stories on social media. I admit it irritated me initially because I felt like my fellow fatties were quitting the “team” and going over to the dark side along with Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah. It was as though they’d all been sucked into the dieting vortex, never to show off their their round bellies again.

Jhud before & after

I felt, well, abandoned.

But then I began reading the nasty messages (traitor, hater, you think you’re hot, etc.) that my fellow chubsters were writing on the weight loss posts, and that made me angry.

Why?  Because we have choices.  And yours are not the same as mine. They are also not better or worse than mine.  And what you do with your body is none of my fucking business.

I think I can feel my hypocrisy lifting just a little bit as I write this.  Yes, I do feel lighter. Aaaaahhh…

Women’s bodies are constantly being policed, and I certainly don’t want to be a part of that oppression. Hell, I’ve been a victim of it.  I cannot, in good conscience, criticize another woman because she is making decisions based on what she feels is best for her body. Especially if it in no way negatively impacts others. 

Not to mention, that one day I may decide that I want to lose some weight or begin an exercise regimen again.  And I should be able to do that without comment at all. I don’t need to be glorified or denounced for what I choose to do with my body.  

This is an official apology to anyone who has ever felt that I made them feel less than part of the body positive movement because they choose to lose weight.  My bad.  I get it.  You do you and ‘Imma do me! We can all be a part of this very important movement, no matter what we look like or what choices we make for ourselves.  All our voices count.

Ciao for niao,
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