The Fat and the Skinny on Body Positive Comic Artist & Illustrator Tatiana Gill

I first saw the fat illustrations of Tatiana Gill on instagram some time last year. The undulating bellies, textured stretchmarks, and hairy legs of the fat super sheroes she draws jumped off the screen at me, delighting me with their unabashed sass and sparkle.

When this past June, my husband gifted me one of Tatiana’s comic books (and had it autographed),  I was ecstatic! Her quirky style and positive representation of diverse women is intoxicating. I set out to discover more about the Seattle-based badass behind the fabulous drawings. Specifically, I was interested in her journey toward body positivity and what inspires her to draw women of color as the subjects of some of her work.

carterc3c

Olympian, Michelle Carter

Pia: Were you ever a dieter or body-obsessor?

Tatiana: Yes I was, in fact it was my self hate and obsessive dieting in my teens and 20’s that led me to attempt body acceptance. If I’d been able to diet in moderation, perhaps I’d still do it like so many of my friends. But every time I started weighing myself and counting calories, I immediately went into obsessive thinking and wound up engaging in self-harm like eating disorders and drugs. It was healthier for me to try not to think about any of it and accept the way I was. But until I discovered the body positive movement, I never truly accepted the way I am.

3bpc

P: What has your body positive journey been like?

T: It’s been a long road full of ups and downs. I have always liked bigger women aesthetically, but was ashamed of my own weight. I didn’t know anyone who was vocal about NOT being ashamed of their body. Then a few years ago I discovered the body positive movement, and immediately jumped on the bandwagon! It has been such a solace and inspiration for me. It’s also been an incredible boost to my mental health to realize I don’t have to be ashamed – I have lots of options from acceptance to pride.

body love

P: When and why did you begin drawing large bodies?

T: In my 20’s – the 1990’s – I began drawing larger bodies than what is in mainstream media, adding a belly or a fat roll here and there. I was motivated out of aesthetics for what I found beautiful. In 2013 I gained a lot of weight and felt very ashamed – but also angry that I was so ashamed, when I believe that all bodies are good bodies. I have always wanted to see people like me in the media, and in reaction to my shame, I was inspired to draw even larger bodies than before. I began really looking in the mirror and using reference photos to draw larger bodies, including visible belly outlines, cellulite, and double chins. I began taking the heroines I admire – TV stars and comic characters – and drawing them with larger bodies.

mushroom queen

I had been living in a bubble of white privilege and now that I realize how bad the problem is, representation seems more important than ever.

P: What inspired you to begin drawing fat women doing cool shit?

T: It felt like divine inspiration! I was creating the change I wanted to see in the world. My drawings have always been aspirational – I draw women I find beautiful, sexy, heroic, interesting. I was so tried of only one body type being presented in the mainstream media, and realized I could start to fill that hole with my own work.

math is rad

P: What motivates you to illustrate women of color? Was that a conscious decision?

T: I don’t think it started as a conscious decision, I was drawing people in my life and in the world around me. My sisters are of Korean descent and that helped me notice the lack of representation of people of color. It became more of a conscious decision when, thanks to social media and some high profile cases like Trayvon Martin, I started to realize how rampant racism is in our society. I had been living in a bubble of white privilege and now that I realize how bad the problem is, representation seems more important than ever.

gabi fresh

Gabi Fresh

P: What has the response been like from women of color who have seen or been the subject of your work?

T: It has been very positive – one friend sent me a video of her friend, a woman of color, reading my book and laughing with delight and saying ‘this is my favorite thing!’ And I was so excited when Gabi Fresh, one of my first body positive role models, wrote that she loved a drawing I made inspired by her. At comic cons where so many of the comics are of white people, occasionally a woman of color will zoom in on my ‘Plus’ book and stop to check it out. At times like that I really feel stoked that I can use my drawing skills in a positive way.

unicorn babe

P: Do you consider yourself an ally to fat women of color? If so, why?

TG: I do, and I aspire to be a better one. Thinking about this question shone a light on the ways I could be more politically active. I believe fat women of color are incredibly beautiful, valid, and should be cherished and celebrated. I think that all people are equals and should be treated as such. The fact that fat women of color rarely see themselves represented as heroines or stars in movies, TV, comics, and magazines sucks. We all deserve representation.

summerfun

P: Do you have any future projects the horizon?

TG: I don’t have long term plans currently, I tend to get struck by inspiration and follow my nose. I am currently drawing a comic about birth control, which I think is an important public health issue. I plan to keep making body-positive drawings of larger women, and I’d like to make more art embracing body positivity for all genders. I hope to make more art celebrating race equality, sexual orientation equality, gender equality, mental and physical health, self-care, and working through obstacles like trauma, anxiety, and addiction.

Where can people find you online?

My website is tatianagill.com
Facebook artist page https://www.facebook.com/tatianagill
Instagram @rupeegroupie
Twitter @tats_tweets
Tumblr http://tatianagill.tumblr.com/

 
I’m so thrilled to have an ally and a pal in Tatiana Gill. Keep up the great work — we need you!

xo

#IAmEnough©: Sharing my Path to Self-Acceptance on Good Morning America

GMA2This past Tuesday I was incredibly blessed to have been interviewed alongside my sister on America’s favorite morning show. Good Morning America  produced a great segment in which I shared my journey toward self-acceptance, and how it contrasts with my sister’s path. We both found self-love in very different ways. Hers was a diet and fitness journey. The strict diets never made me feel good, so I abandoned them years ago. My journey has been about embracing my large body and recognizing the beauty and strength I have no matter my size. I’m happy to know that there are many different paths to freedom and living your truth.

On Tuesday morning, at 8:45am, I stood in Times Square in polka dot yoga pants and a clingy “Ohmazing” tank from Lineage Wear (thank you so much Katie!) – my thunder thighs, voluptuous arms, and visible belly outline on display for the world to see. And I felt so damn good! (P.S. I’m at my heaviest weight ever, and have never felt more free.) I was claiming my space unapologetically as a fat, brown, afro-wearing woman. Describing it in words simply doesn’t do it justice. Let’s just say it was a #BlackGirlMagic moment!

144121_1117

As I stood soaking up the energy of NYC (a.k.a. the center of the universe) surrounded by soaring skyscrapers, blinking billboards and a curious crowd, I took a few moments to let the reality of the experience set in. Here I am, 40 years old, finally living my dreams, and in a visibly fat body. Yes, it is possible!

You guys know I come from a history of self-hate and insecurity. So, to be feeling amazing in my skin with the world watching was truly one of the best experiences of my life. I hope it has helped to set others free – that has been my goal all along.

144121_1100

For nearly six years I’ve been writing about my tumultuous journey toward accepting my body and realizing how amazing it is. I’ve come to understand that my body tells the story of so many women and men who inhabit large bodies but have felt unseen and unworthy. I know now that my voice is my gift. And the Universe needs all of us to lean into who we really are.  Were it not for my years of dieting and self-loathing, I would not be who I am today. And who I am today is a strong, smart, confident, mixed fat chick, with a talent for inspiring others. I am joyful! And as far as I’ve come, I still have so much more to learn and experience. So bring it, Universe!

144121_1056

144121_1081

Before the live segment in Times Square we did a Facebook Live event where we talked to  panel of women on what body positivity meant us. Among the panelists were fellow body positive activists Alysse D’Alessandro and Essie Golden, who represented beautifully on the show. Y’all are awesome! I also met other wonderful women, including Dana Suchow who is a body-posi tiger!

IMG_8282

I have so many people to thank, beginning with my sister Mara Schiavocampo, whose idea it was to pitch the segment to GMA. I also want to give a big shout out to producers Danielle and Alison – thank you for allowing me to show the world who I am and how body positivity has transformed my life. You are both class acts! And I can’t forget hair and makeup mavens Juanita and Lisa, who hooked me up and with whom I had a wonderful connection.

Until next time, remember #iamenough ©.

xo

You are enough, You have enough, You do enough.

You are enough,you have enough,you do enough

I’ll keep this brief.

We are constantly told that we aren’t doing enough — that we should achieve more, want more, be more, get more. The truth is, you have everything you need. You are everything you need. You are doing your best right now.

So print this image out and put it where you can see it everyday as a reminder of your enoughness!

xo

 

 

My Virgo Style: Bohemian Bling

7

I’m a Virgo. But does my personal style match the characteristics of my zodiac sign? Let’s see…

original_virgo

Well, I’m definitely those things, but I’d like to  think there is more to me than my perfectionism.  I’m also creative, generous, and humorous. I have a penchant for bright colors, bold patterns, and comfort, above all. Below are some pics of me reveling in my favorite new dress and some dope accessories. I felt so free and so good in my body. Thank you to my friend Michelle of Glitter in the Dirt for taking these photos of me.

IMG_20150530_172105

4

5

11

6

IMG_20150530_172125

As a Virgo, I am all about the details. Perhaps that explains my obsession with jewelry! I think of my style as Bohemian Bling. I love flowy tops, funky printed kimonos, and comfy dresses with pockets. And I add my personal twist with unique jewelry. I’m currently coveting almost everything from Stella & Dot, which carries gorgeous, well made pieces for almost every style. And half the line is under $50, which makes it pretty accessible. And from time to time, I hit up Forever 21, because they have trendy pieces for not a lot of money. But my favorite is acquiring unique pieces during my travels abroad. It’s such a wonderful reminder of  my trip every time I wear that piece. It’s a wearable memory!

Although Virgos are known for being sophisticated and elegant, I must say, I’m a total goofball! A good laugh will always set me free from the bondage of fear and anger. It’s why I surround myself with people who are funny and also enjoy laughing. It heals the soul like almost nothing else can.

8

2

GGGRRRRRRR!

Told ya I’m a goofball.

9

I found this awesome meme on Facebook and shared it with my #untamedstyle sisters. According to the chart, I’m the Princess of Lost Moons. I love that name so much! There is almost nothing as divine as a night sky full of sparkling stars and a velvet moon.  Look at the chart and tell me your tarot card name!

10

 I hope you get some solid inspiration from this post and realize that radical ideas are all around you. Don’t be afraid to experiment, even if it’s not in sync with your sign. And let the ideas that come to you be an extension of  how you feel about yourself. Find something magical to wear, and it may be just the push you need to begin your journey toward body-freedom and self-acceptance.  Check out these awesome zodiac inspired posts by my untamed style sisters: Glitter in the Dirt, Curves Become Her, Curves a la Mode, SweetLeigh Sewn, Cid Style File, and Margot Meanie.

xo

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.

unusual-tips-to-lose-body-fat-and-get-a-flat-stomach-1-728

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…

p970379784-2

Photo by Substantia Jones

adipos19

Photo by Substantia Jones

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

xo

Tiny Houses, Turning 40, & Clearing the Clutter

When I first started writing this post, it was going to be called, “5 Soul Changing Events of 2014.” I started writing it, and it was basically a boring recap of what I’ve already written about this year. And it felt like a major cop-out given that I haven’t written a post in over a month. So, I changed my mind, which happens often, as you know.

boring-screenwriters

I’d rather tell you all about 2015, and what’s to come.

There are a few things that will happen in 2015 for sure. For one, I’ll be turning 40! And I can’t tell you how excited I am about it. My 30’s have been so full of growth and change, I can hardly recognize myself. Getting older has been a wonderful experience for me. I trust my instincts more and care less and less about what others think of me. Talk about a weight (pun intended) off my shoulders.  I’m quite certain that 40 promises to take that self-confidence and carefree attitude to the next level. YAY ME!!

forever 39

As I’ve reminisced over the events of the last year, I realize just how much I miss my creative self. Don’t get me wrong, writing is a wonderfully creative outlet, and I plan to continue doing it well into the future. What I haven’t spent much time doing is cultivating my crafty/DIY side. I have so many projects on my Pinterest boards that are just waiting to come to life. And so, while I don’t really like resolutions per se (they’re way to fraught with pressure and expectation), one of my goals in 2015 is to give myself time to get my hands dirty and start making things again.

repurposed tray

My other obsession has been tiny houses, a movement that has increased in popularity in the last few years. The idea being that you downsize your living quarters to the bare minimum, owning only what you really need and love. Some folks move into places as small as 150 square feet! That’s not something my hubby and I are prepared to do, but we agree it’s time to purge and let go of the stuff that’s bogging us down. Between the two of us, we have more collections than an antique shop. It’s embarrassing to admit, but we have a 5 bedroom house (3 bedrooms are tiny) and every inch is filled to the brim. It’s a bit fucking much. I look forward to being clutter free in 2015!

Clutter-is-a-weight

And finally, I hope to rid myself of virtual clutter in 2015. I’m as addicted to social media as the next gal. And it has taken up so much of my brain space, leaving little room for my own thoughts and feelings to fully develop. I love the connectivity  aspect of social media, but I’m not that interested in watching the latest YouTube video of cats tucking in babies. Yeah, it’s cute. But really, I can’t. I’m done. One way I plan to cut the clutter is to unfollow a lot of Facebook “friends.” I want to know what my close friends and family are up to. I want to see pictures of their kids and their moments of joy. I want to scroll less and live more.

social media clutter

I feel really good about 2015. I anticipate lots of joy and adventure, allowing myself to really be free. My life is so good, and I never want to forget that.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of new year celebrations. May your 2015 be full of hope and possibility!

Fireworks_2

xo

Instagrtam Trolls Try to Shame the Body Positive Movement Without Success

I’m quite active on Instagram, and I love that we can use it as a tool for body positive activism.  Women donning crop tops and fatkinis make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  They are freeing themselves from our diet culture and thin-centric society by being bold and unabashed about their rolls, stretchmarks and cellulite!  I use emoticons and encouraging words to support them on their journeys toward self-love. 

And on occasion, I  post selfies in solidarity. 

Today I posted this picture of myself with the hashtag #bellyrealness created by Michelle of  Zaftig Times. 

And most of the comments were uplifting and full of love. But, the Instagram trolls always seem to  try and shame us out of our self-acceptance.  Below are some examples of the comments I’ve received.

 

So, how do we stay positive when folks like these want to shut us down?  You post this instead:

When I first starting getting these kinds of comments, I was so upset. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be so hurtful.  But I realized it’s not about me.  It’s about them. It’s about the self-hate they haven’t dealt with. It’s about having too much free time on their hands. It’s about hiding behind the veil of Instagram so they don’t have to actually dialogue with anyone. More often than not, I now have compassion for these broken souls. Most of them have only a handful of followers (who are equally lost) and I always report and block them because I don’t tolerate hate.

And then, I move on to bigger and better things. Pun intended.

In solidarity,
Pia