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

6 Reasons to Love Your Stretchmarks

These aren’t mine, but they are beautiful!
 
Women are told that stretchmarks are ugly and that we should use expensive creams to get rid of them.  I was sold on the idea that my stretchmarks were inherently bad and that getting rid of them would enhance my beauty.  I actually tried some of these so called “miracle cures” years ago with no results. I felt desperate and unattractive. That was then. This is now.  
Don’t let this be you.

I have a lot of stretchmarks — mostly from having an eating disorder that had my body going up and down in weight many pounds at a time.  With every 20-30 pounds gained and lost, a new set of stripes would appear on my hips breasts, and stomach.  I used to cringe at those marks as they altered the texture of my skin.  I still don’t love them 100%, but I’m really trying.  And here’s why:
  1. I earned these motherfucking stripes god dammit!  My stretchmarks are a steady reminder of where I’ve been.  When I look down at them, I see a girl who used to hate her body and cover it up in shame.  I see a woman who has evolved into having a more positive relationship with her body.  My marks tell a rich story, with lots of twists and turns.  These stripes are sacred now.  They are mine.
  2. They’re perfectly normalA lot of people have them;  both men and women, fat and thin. I am not unique!
  3. Stretchmarks are like fingerprints: No two sets are exactly the same.  How cool is that?
  4. I get to tell advertisers to fuck off.  I LOVE doing that.  No more selling me shit I don’t need.  I no longer have to be manipulated into believing that parts of my sacred body are ugly.  So next time I see an ad for stretch mark diminishers, I’m going to scream “NO THANKS MOTHER FUCKERS!”
  5. They’re kind of cute. I know it doesn’t feel like it right this second, but I’m going to give it some time.  I will be nice to my stretchmarks and tell them that I love them.
  6. I have an opportunity to set a good example for the women and girls in my life. It’s not what we say that has impact, it’s what we do.  So I will be brave and show the people in my life that stretchmarks are not scars to be hidden, but badges of honor to be worn with pride!

Here are some links to sites that celebrate stretch marks:
http://stretchmarksarebeautiful.tumblr.com/
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/stretch-marks
Google search
 

In solidarity,
Pia

My Interview with Chenese Lewis

I met Chenese Lewis about a month ago at the POSH LA fashion event in Los Angeles.  I knew who she was immediately–who doesn’t? I passed her in the hallway just outside the main room.  She smiled at me and said, “I know you!  You’re a blogger right?  It’s so nice to finally meet you.” Then she gave a me big hug.   I was astounded she knew who I was and even more surprised at her genuine positivity.  I emailed her few weeks later to ask her for an interview, and she obliged. What I learned is that Ms. Lewis is a no nonsense southern belle with tons of ambition, a big message and an even bigger heart.  

ME:  You recently celebrated 5 years on the air with Plus Model Radio. How did the idea come about–how did it all start?  


CL:  Well I moved to LA to pursue a career in modeling and acting. But a couple of years after I got out here, somebody told me about hosting classes and maybe that was something I was interested in getting into to add to what I was already doing.  So I went to the class and I loved it and I was great at it.  And I was just looking for a way to practice my skills and find a platform for myself.  So I approached Maddy with Plus Model Magazine. I was already part of the magazine as the empowerment editor.  It was an easy sell.  They said they had been thinking about that since podcasts were getting more and more popular. They just didn’t know who was a going to do it. The very first episode had over a thousand listeners. So it was successful from day one.

ME:  That’s pretty amazing! On that note, what’s been your favorite interview so far?

CL: Hmmmm. That’s a tough one.  I really like when I interview someone I look up to.  I mostly interview people in the plus size community, but I also do interview celebrities.  So when I can interview a celebrity I’ve admired, that’s really exciting.  I’ve had the opportunity to interview Kimberly Locke from American Idol on the show.  Also Emme and Mia Tyler.  It was exciting that they were willing to do my podcast and second that I had the opportunity to use my platform to promote them as well. So it was a win win situation.

ME:  Let me ask you about Love Your Body day and NOW (National Organization for Women). How did that idea come about?  




CL:  The Love Your Body Day concept came about way before I even got involved. After I moved to Los Angeles and I was looking for ways to promote myself, somebody mentioned to me that NOW had this event.  So I did some research, went to the local chapter to join and it just so happened the Hollywood chapter, when they were brand new and forming, they were looking for people to take leadership roles to build the chapter. So I told them I was already doing things in the area of positive body image and empowering plus size women and that I wanted to be part of the Love Your Body Day initiative.  They were like, that’s great. Anything you want to do we support you.  So I created the event on my own and it went on for six years.  It grew bigger and bigger every year. I had celebrity hosts. I had fashion shows.  I don’t do it anymore, but Love Your Body Day still happens.


ME:  Who have been some of your idols in Hollywood?

CL:  I really look up to Oprah, as I’m sure everyone does.  She inspires me not only with her business sense, but as a philanthropist as well.  I love Queen Latifah as well and how she shaped her career as far as her size not being the forefront of her career.  Because I’m heavy into the plus size community but I also like to do mainstream things even more.  Because I’m plus size wherever I go.  It doesn’t have to be a plus size event or focus. I just want to be able to do business and have opportunities like everybody else.

ME:  Where do you see the future of plus size fashion in 5 years? We’ve already seen so many strides and have many more options than we did 5 or 10 years ago.  Where do you see it going?

CL:  I see it booming.  There are still parts of the market that are untapped.  There is still room for emerging designers.  You know it’s still room to grow and be in the forefront and be in mainstream magazines.  I think it’s going to continue to boom and continue to be a striving industry.  I would also love to see more plus size women in leading roles. On TV and movies and we’re starting to see that now with Melissa McCarthy in lead roles. And she’s opening the door for more to happen—for more opportunities with her success.  I’m an actor myself, so I’m always looking for projects and working on creating some as well.


ME:  You are an ambassador for BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association).  Why are you passionate about that?



CL:  Well, the exposure I got from Love Your Body Day was so massive that it exposed me to new people and a new audience.  I was my own PR person and I was able to get lots of press, especially in 2010 when I did the nude Love Your Body Day shoot with model Whitney Thompson. That skyrocketed and gave us international press. With the press coverage, one of the communities that discovered me was the eating disorder community.  I already had a relationship with the (NEDA) National Eating Disorders Associationand I wanted to do more with them, but I guess they already had spokeswomen in place so they didn’t have a fit for me.  So someone from the NEDA introduced me to the founder of BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association) and we immediately clicked. Not because I had the disorder, but just to be a positive role model. Prior to that I had no idea what binge eating was. I never had an eating disorder personally. One of the things that eating disorder stems from is lack of confidence and poor body image.  When I found out that binge eating is the most common eating disorder among plus size women, I was shocked because prior to this I didn’t know a plus size women could have an eating disorder because I have such a strong plus size following.  So this is actually something great to promote because it appeals to my demographic.





ME:  Were you always a really confident person and comfortable with your body image?

CL: Always!  I’m originally from Louisiana—I’m from the south so part of my environmentwas that they appreciate a fuller figure with the southern cuisine [she laughs].  I’m African-American so culturally we prefer a curvier more fuller shape. [And growing up] my parents didn’t belittle me because of my weight.  ou know at a young age my mom told me I was smart and beautiful and that if anyone had anything negative to say about me, to ignore them.  I remember her telling me that in elementary school, so it really impacted me.  I was very blessed to be in a situation and an environment where I didn’t think anything was wrong with me because I didn’t have negative feedback.  You only think something is wrong with you if somebody is telling you negative things.  But if you don’t have anything to question you don’t have those feelings.  So I never had those feelings.  I got positive feedback in school—I was popular.  I didn’t have negativity period.

ME:  You were blessed. I know so many women who didn’t have that. They had parents who would comfort them with food and then the next minute tell them they needed to be on a diet. Between that and the messages we see in the media it’s hard.  I really appreciate your story.
 
CL:  I know I’m very blessed.  Maybe that’s why I’m able to be such a good spokesperson for this area because I have so much confidence I have enough to share. 

ME:  Well, I love it!  I know you travel a lot. How do you balance your personal life and your career?

CL:  [She chuckles] It’s not really balance.  I’m still young, I’m not married and I don’t have any kids. So I feel this is the prime time for me to focus on my career.  I do want kids and a family in the future, but I’m only 33 years old. So I still have time. 



ME:  You have plenty of time. So, what do you have coming down the pipeline? What’s next for you?

CL:  Well I have some major stuff coming up but I can’t give it a way just yet.  But maybe in a couple of months.

ME:  Can you give us a tiny little hint?

CL:  Well it has something to do with television.  So I should have a super-duper major exciting announcement. But besides that I’m always traveling, hosting plus size events, being a part of the

plus size community. And now I’m getting into the natural hair too.  So that’s even more things added to my schedule.  You know I just love to interact with people.  I’m southern, so I never meet a stranger. I love to talk, shake hands and take pictures—just spread some positivity and love to everybody.  

ME:  And you do it beautifully.  Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.  I’m excited to write about you and to let people know what a positive role model you are.  Not just for plus size women, not just for Black women, but for all women.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you! 

To learn more about Chenese Lewis visit her at:

www.cheneselewis.com
www.plusmodelradio.com
facebook.com/CheneseLewis
@CheneseLewis on Twitter

43 Grey Hairs And Counting. Rude.

Just when did it become okay for grey hair to just show up unannounced on my glorious afro? I mean, they’ve fucking packed serious luggage — this is not a weekend visit.  My grey hair has a lazy-boy, ESPN Deluxe cable package and fucking PBR’s on ice.  

Uh. Rude.

I doth protest.

Just when I’m getting comfortable with my fat, Winter arrives earlier than expected, in all it’s white splendor.  Er, grey dreariness.  
I have been plucking my grey hair.  There.  I said it.  I can feel my fellow feminists shaking their heads in dismay.  I feel like a soldier who’s deserted. Here I am, encouraging all of you to embrace yourselves no matter what, while I find a new patriarchal mandate to obsess about.  That’s just great.

This feminism thing, it’s kinda hard.  As in all things, I aim for perfection (one of my many vices, or virtues, or vices. I don’t know). So feeling like a C-average feminist is totally humiliating. But I figure honesty is still the best policy when it comes to my blog. So maybe my comrades will give me a pass on this one (fingers crossed).

These grey hairs, they aren’t ugly.  They’re just surprising.  And I know I can’t keep plucking them.  At this rate, and despite how much hair I have, I could be bald in a couple of years. And that, I am not ready for.   

Plus I always imagined I’d have a perfect grey fro, like model Renee Davis.  My coiffed curls framing my face in sophisticated style, making me look demure and cosmopolitan.  

This is how my grey hair DOESN’T look.

Yeah.  It hasn’t gone down like that.  It grows in disparate directions, staying close to the crown, and tries to hide behind the other hairs, so I can’t find it and pluck it.  Sometimes I win, and am washed over with the weird pleasure that only popping a pimple can rival. But other times I get frustrated,  give up and let them live another day.  

This dance, however, is getting laborious and dull.  I figure I have two options:

  1. Dye my hair, or
  2. Let it do what it do.
As tempting as it is to dye my hair, (and I’ve been thinking of doing it for a bold fashion statement), I don’t want to succumb to the pressure that accompanies women in their late 30’s and early 40’s, living in Los Angeles. The kind of pressure that would have me at the salon every 4-6 weeks for a $150 touch up.  Do you know what I could do with $150 dollars?  I can buy 2 pairs of designer leather flats at Nordstrom Rack.  

Shoe shopping heaven. 

I guess it’s an easier decision that I thought. Thank God for my shoe obsession.

Ciao for Niao,
Pia

10 Ways to Look Skinny, And Other Bullsh*t!

Don’t  you just love picking up a fashion magazine and reading those scintillating words on the cover?

Dress 10 Pounds Thinner

7 Steps To Dress Yourself Skinny

How to Look Slimmer Instantly!


My Exact Shape & Size!  Really?  Oh, Yay.

Looks Like We’ve Been Reduced to Fruit.  I’m Hungry.
Holy Shit, Batman!  It’s even endorsed by NBC. 

These headlines suggest–no–demand that as women we should hate our bodies and that they are inherently bad.  Even great magazines like Marie Claire, who I see as more progressive in terms of their content, still lack size diversity on their pages.  

A friend shared this with me recently and I love it:
I randomly received an issue of Redbook in the mail a couple of weeks ago (which I never subscribed to–weirdness), and the cover features a very slender, very blonde, Rebecca Romijn.  The headline reads: 

How She Got a Flat Belly After Twins 

(No Tummy Tuck!)

Wow.  Now that is amazing!  I mean after all, it’s not like she’s rich and has a personal trainer or anything. Is that supposed to be an inspiring article?  I’m totally confused here.  Because the women I know who have had kids mostly have stretch marks and beautiful bellies that reflect the tiny miracles they’ve brought into the world.  They don’t have the time or the energy to get their pre-baby figures back, which by the way, society practically demands of women.  

Lovely and Amazing
I’m fed up with mainstream fashion and women’s magazines.  They have the power to change the world and the way that women are perceived, but rather they choose to manipulate and make money off the insecurities of their readers.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s just bad behavior.  I’d much rather read and support these magazines:



       




If you want things to change, then stop buying and reading mainstream magazines.  Let them feel the weight (pun intended) of their oppressive tactics blow up in their faces.  Stand up and say NO!  We have choices. Make good ones, and watch the world change.  Keep doing the same thing (buying magazines that make you feel inferior) and you’ll get the same result–frustration, anger, intimidation and self-loathing.  The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  
BOYCOTT MAINSTREAM MAGAZINES!!

Or engage in some other act of defiance.  Women are powerful, especially in numbers.  

Feminist Naomi Wolf said it best:

“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”

Where do YOU stand?

ciao for niao,
pia

Who You Callin’ a Fat Bitch?

Last week on my Facebook page  I asked the question, How do you feel about the word fat? or bitch? or for that matter, fat bitch? Does it offend you or empower you? Or neither?”  The responses were very interesting and I thought it was worth exploring a bit more. 

I recently changed the name of my blog from Curvy Sexy Chic to Chronicles of a Mixed Fat Chick (though I also considered Mixed Fat Bitch).  I had and still have mixed feelings about the words “fat” and “bitch” or the idea of using them both to describe me.   Historically, the word “fat” has been used used to marginalize people of size and make them feel less than human. But as you know, people like Jes Baker (The Militant Baker) and Rachele (The Nearsighted Owl), and many other bloggers are taking back the word “fat” and giving it new meaning. Does it still mean someone who has extra adipose tissue? YES!  Some say that by calling ourselves fat and really dissecting the meaning and the context of the word, we can begin to see it simply as a descriptor, neither good nor bad. In some cases, it’s actually a good thing!  



As for the word “bitch,” the responses were mixed.  Some thought it was OK if used playfully, while others found it offensive altogether.  Admittedly, I use the word rather a lot, and use it to describe everything from people (male and female) to situations to inanimate objects–sometimes playfully and at other times in anger.

Now I want to share some of the responses from the Facebook survey.  Not all the women who posted responses were fat, by the way.  

  • I definitely wouldn’t consider it a term of endearment…
  • I have come to love the word fat and my fatness in and of itself. In its definitive essence fat is merely a descriptor, just like being tall or having brown hair. It’s only a pejorative term because of years of re-appropriation and misuse.
  • Personally, I don’t know a woman at any size that has truly managed to stop thinking about herself as fat, so I’ve tried to accept that my body is a certain shape, that some will find it beautiful, and some disgusting, and I can’t control that.
  •  I wouldn’t call myself that. When/if I’ve said it about myself have been in moments if self-hatred. Or like poking fun first before anyone else can. But I don’t think I’ve ever said fat bitch. Ill say “my fat ass knows I don’t need that slice of pie” hmmm pie. Also just so we clear I WILL always have that slice of pie…
  •  I love to walk into a store and ask where the fat section is LOL, I also call myself fat girl, it throws people off and they back peddle – normally I end up with the “Oh you aren’t fat” and I counter with “You are sweet but I do look in the mirror every day and you know what? I own this!” As for the Bitch part… well everyone just knows that I own that word as well. I use those words and own them because I am not going to let myself be brought down because of the words that come out of someone else’s mouth
  • I think that both words are hurtful and playful depending on how they are used and by whom. And I think that is wrong. I think fat should be just a descriptive word but in my reality it is not. I call myself fat and it does not make me feel bad about myself but if someone else says it to me (especially a thinner someone) it is hurtful. That may be wrong but that is how it is for me. Bitch on the other hand is constantly changing for me. In my youth, bitch was just another word. We threw it around like it was nothing. These days it is dependent on who says it and how, again. I do describe myself as a bitch at times (although more often now I say I am an asshole). Its the one word equivalent of saying I’m going to respect myself and stand up for myself and not take your shit. And usually it works out that way. But I don’t much care for someone calling me a bitch in anger (such as ‘you fat bitch’). I know it is a double standard. I know. 


ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES


I’m so encouraged that there was such a big response (pun intended) to these questions. Opening up a dialogue and sharing ideas is important.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, really.  In truth it’s a daily struggle to accept myself as I am.  I think many women feel this way.  I want things to change so that the next generation of young girls can avoid the hideous ridicule and infliction of twisted beauty standards the media has thrust upon us.  I will continue to be honest and share my thoughts with you and ask the important questions.  

Women are powerful and we can create lasting change, but we must be committed.  I would love to hear from you about what you’re doing to create change!

Ciao for Niao,

Pia


Why I’m OK at 200+ Pounds

I wondered whether or not I wanted to tell the world (or at least the people who read my blog) how much I weigh.  I’ve ranted on and on about tossing your scales and that the number doesn’t define you in any relevant way.  But in truth, there is a part of me that feels exposed and vulnerable at the thought of highlighting it for public consumption.  I have no idea whether people will be inspired, appalled or just not give a rat’s ass.  I’ve started this journey, and I keep moving forward in hopes of encouraging other folks to be at peace with their bodies.  I post photos and encouraging quotes on my FB page, and get lots of LIKES and lovely comments.  But I can’t talk the talk and not walk the walk.  



You’ve seen me in a bathing suit and cheered me on when I posted a blog on why I love my thighs.  So why is it so scary that I should tell you that I weigh over 200 pounds? Perhaps it’s because it is a further act of defiance that will set me free.  And to be set free from something  that you have known intimately for years (even if it’s painful) can be scary shit because it’s uncharted territory. It’s like being in an abusive relationship where you convince yourself that you don’t deserve better.  Who would you be outside the realm of that familiar, yet hurtfuul relationship?  Same idea.

So declaring my number to the world is a way for me to be an activist in the struggle toward size acceptance.  I must do my part if what I want is a broader cultural definition of beauty.  I cannot sit on the sidelines and whine about why I detest advertisements for cellulite cream and anti-aging potions without actually backing it up with some kind of action.


I think the other reason I want to share it is that there are so many of you whose daily moods are based on what the number on the scale reads.  And I get it, because I’ve been there too.  If the number was low, that meant I was a good girl, and worthy of love and success.  If the number was high (in my distorted opinion) then I was useless, lazy, fat and ugly.  It was a terrible way to live. In fact, it wasn’t living at all.  Being a slave to that number kept me from living the life of my dreams. I missed out on so many incredible experiences that I can never get back.  


Do I have regret?  Yes and no.  

I wish today’s Pia could go back and tell Pia of 20 years ago that she was amazing, lovely, smart and perfectly imperfect. But then I realize that this journey is mine, and the painful experiences I’ve had around my self-image are part of what make me who I am today: A mostly confident, kind, compassionate, attractive and intelligent woman, who wants to help others transform their self-hatred into self-acceptance and eventually love.  


If you’re feeling brave, or just want to shout from the rooftops how much you weigh, join the movement by leaving a comment here and/or on my Facebook page for the world to see.  Help break down the myths around traditional beauty standards and say ‘fuck you’ to the media for feeding us bullshit.  Claim your space in this world and take no prisoners!

Ciao for Niao,
Pia

www.curvysexychic.com
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