Fat, Black, Muslim, and Stylish as Hell: An Interview with Fashion Blogger Leah Vernon

_DSC3664

Photo by Reel Clever Films

I discovered Leah Vernon’s Instagram a few weeks ago and was wowed by her style. Her vibrant and bold approach to fashion struck a chord with me immediately. She is a fat, Black, Muslim woman with a strong voice in a society obsessed with thinness, whiteness, and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Talk about facing multiple forms of oppression! Vernon is always covered from head to toe, as required by her religion. She wears a hijab daily, which she sometimes substitutes for a fabulous head wrap or turban. But that doesn’t stop her from experimenting with fashion. I adore her creativity and personal style. The truth is, this fashion femme fatale just can’t be ignored!

Leah is the creator behind the blogs Beauty and the Muse and LeahVDaily. She is a 20-something style/fashion blogger, plus model, freelance writer, novelist, and body-positive activist from Detroit. She was inspired to start blogging in 2013 because there wasn’t enough diverse representation of real beauty in the media. Her goals are to continue to spread style and self-love to underrepresented groups, and to spark a fashion revolution!

_MGL1572 (1)

Photo by Remy Roman

MFC: When and why did you start blogging? What inspired the name Beauty and the Muse?

LV: I started blogging in the early 2000’s, three separate times actually, and didn’t know what I was doing and failed miserably. Haha. On the fourth try, I started blogging in 2013. My friends had forced me to create an Instagram account and after telling them ‘hell nah’, I finally caved in. I was feeling depressed because I had injured myself pretty badly at work. The sun was shining through my window when I woke up one day. I began scrolling through my IG timeline and saw Essie Golden looking bad as fuck in an army fatigue inspired getup. At that moment, I was like I can do that, too. I wanna slay!

In the next moment, the name Beauty and the Muse came out of nowhere. “That’s my blog name,” I said to myself. In my world, I have a split personality. There’s the beauty part, where it’s slayage and Gaga glam all the time. Then there’s the muse part, where I’m quiet, thoughtful, educated, and always seeking some answer to the world’s secrets.

Basically, I started blogging because I needed a creative outlet to express myself. As a fat, Black, Muslim woman, we are often times hidden from mainstream media and even within our very communities. I was tired of being overlooked and stuffed into a square. So, I made a conscious decision to bust out.

Detroit-Plus-Size-Style-blogger-muslim-girl-Eid-style

Photo by Reel Clever Films

MFC: Do you consider yourself a feminist? How does that tie into your religious beliefs, if at all?

LV: Interesting question. I’m not going to lie. Over the past few years my views of feminism have changed greatly. At first, I didn’t get it. I thought that all feminism equated to was women having the right to show off their boobs in public and be sexually free. But as I started to actually learn and meet other feminists in real life, my views started to sway.

At this moment, I think that feminism is whatever a woman wants it to be, but it’s mainly compromised of wanting and deserving equality and inclusion. And sometimes feminism is in the eye of the beholder when we start getting down to the smaller details. It’d be a little different fundamentally from an atheist feminist point of view versus a Muslim or a Hindu feminist point of view. I don’t claim to be a ‘feminist’. But if wanting inclusion across the board equates to being one, then yes, I am. Lol.

DSC04045 (1)

MFC: Do you think feminism and fashion can exist simultaneously?

LV: I’m a fat, Black , Muslim from Detroit who models… Anything is possible. Haha. I feel like in this time and age fashion is used to express so many different movements. So feminism and fashion can exist. Religion and fashion can exist. Culture and fashion can exist.

_DSC5259

Photo by Brooklyn Cashmere

MFC: You have great style, and you take big risks. Do you ever feel limited knowing that you need to cover your body? And is that challenging during the hot summer months?

LV: When I was younger and didn’t know myself or my fashion capabilities, I used to think that covering my body was an issue. That I could never mix the two: fashionable and covered! They didn’t show that in the media. If I wasn’t out there wearing booty shorts, then I could never be confident and cute.

When you truly start to be comfortable with who you are and what you’re doing in life, and not caring what others think, things become a lot easier. When I started being creative with my head scarves/turbans and my makeup and my ridiculous outfits, I had people from all walks of life coming up to me, a fat Muslim, asking me how they can do it, too. So, now, I’m never limited. When you have true style and imagination, nothing can limit you. Nothing.

And as for dressing in the summer for a Muslim girl, you get used to the heat. But you dress accordingly. Lighter fabrics and less layering.

MFC: What does body positivity mean to you as a Black, Muslim woman of size?

LV: I rep the body positivity movement because to me, it means inclusion of all sized bodies regardless of whether they are naked, covered, lumpy, thin, pale, or Black. It means freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it, unapologetically.

Plus-Size-Detroit-Style-Blogger-Society-Plus-Model

MFC: What do you want the people who are reading this right now to know about you?

LV: I want the readers to stop being afraid of failure, of looking stupid in front of people who really don’t matter, of speaking out on human injustices. I want them to wear what they feel like with confidence and poise. I want them to embrace their perfections as well as their imperfections  — inside and out. I want them to stop believing what the media says or shows all the time, because most of the time its skewed.

MFC: Where can we find you on social media/web?

http://www.beautyandthemuse.net
FB: http://www.facebook.com/Beautyandthemuse
Youtube: Leahvdaily
IG: @Lvernon2000 (www.instagram.com/Lvernon2000)
Email: Lvernon20@yahoo.com

 

Thank you, Leah. You are a body-positive Queen, who slays and slays and slays!

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

3 Reasons to Stop Body Shaming Celebrities

jessica-simpson-from-fat-to-thin

Jessica Simpson being body- policed by the media.  Photo courtesy of Hollyzood.com

I occasionally find myself silently, and sometimes not to silently,  judging and policing the bodies of celebrities. Perhaps the barrage of perfectly polished images of celebs in the media has brainwashed me successfully. But I bear some of the responsibility too.  I can consciously choose not read rag mags and look for cellulite on Jessica Simpson’s upper thighs.  I can walk away when my co-worker wants to gossip about Beyonce’s boobs. And sometimes I do. But sometimes, I just can’t help myself. I want to judge the way I’ve been judged. I want to inflict pain where I’ve been injured.  I just for once, want a pretty, thin woman to feel the shame  and insecurity I’ve felt. And so, on occasion, I indulge in the kind of exchanges that afterwards make me feel dirty.

I admit it. This body-positive activist and speaker fucks up now and again.

 

judge

It’s important for me have this awareness and to expose it. When we hide behind our dirty secrets, we live in fear and resentment. And then it becomes easier and easier to be complacent. We get comfortable in our negativity and reproach for others. And we think to ourselves, everyone else is doing it, so it’s no big deal. As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news: IT’S A BIG FUCKING DEAL. And here’s why:

 1

Celebrities are people too. We think that money and fame dilute a person’s humanness, making them immune to hurt feeling and humiliation. But it doesn’t. It does the opposite. It tests humanness and then sells it for public consumption. And boy do we eat it up. As someone who has the tiniest bit of visibility in the body-positive movement, I’ve experienced my fair share of push back from internet trolls. As much as we know that a 16-year old bored teenager is behind most of the fanfare, it still stings. Because it triggers something painful that happened to us in the past. It may have been your brother calling you ‘thunder thighs,’ or your dad offering helpful diet tips when you were 12. It doesn’t matter. The point is, if we want things to be really different, if we want to raise our daughters to not worry about their pot bellies, then the buck stops with us. Gossip magazines exist because you buy them. Stop buying them. Please. It takes action to create change. Be a warrior.

 

jades_belly-500x746

Pot bellies are beautiful!

2

We need more diversity in the media. This is not new information, and yet it needs to be said. People of size are rarely depicted in positive ways in film and television. They are often the butt of stupid jokes, the fat best friend, or perhaps even the pretty chubby girl who loses weight and gets the guy. BORING! We must take some radical action to make sure that fat folks, and even non-thin folks, have the opportunity to take roles that don’t revolve around their body size. Because guess what? We have talent too. And the world is missing out on some seriously gifted people because of our obsession with thinness as perfection. Let us be bold and try something new. Let’s put big bodies on screen and watch the world change.

 

Gabourey-Sidibe-1

3

Celebrities have power. They do. They have influence, which is the stuff of revolution. Imagine if a fat actress had the support of millions of viewers. They wrote letters letting the network know just how much they love her. They create fan pages and create buzz. Imagine her dimpled arms highlighted on the cover of Vogue. All of a sudden she’s breaking down barriers and is the star of her own show, where she wears crop tops and body hugging dresses in bright shades. She begins to normalize large bodies on TV. We see her over and over, and after a while, we forget she is fat. We see a talented actress, who moves us. We see her inner beauty AND her outer beauty. We see ourselves in her. And then…who knows?

 

Best-Dressed-3.001-575x322

Photo courtesy of Daily Venus Diva.

 

In solidarity,

xo

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

My Interview with Velvet D’amour

Velvet, Velvet, Velvet.  There are no words to fully describe the divaliciousness of this woman.  I was recently lucky enough to interview the fashion photographer, founder of Vol Up 2 magazine, model and size acceptance activist.  She was in her Paris home, taking a break from editing some photos from a recent London photo shoot, when we made time to chat.  I had been following Velvet online for the last couple of years, and was so inspired by her beauty, honesty, confidence, grace, wit, and humor.  Needless to say that when she agreed to be interviewed by me, I was over the moon. I was also a nervous wreck.  I had no idea what to expect.  Could the seemingly cool diva end up being elusive and aloof?  Nope.  Not a chance in hell.  Here’s what she told me…
ME:  How did you begin in the modeling industry?
VDA: I was emulating mainstream (straight size) work in my photos and it ended up getting me the jobs because my book was so different than what the other plus size girls had. And my style was more outrageous and more editorial than what mainstream plus girls had in their books. And that ended up resonating with Galliano and Gaultier and got me on my way.  
ME: That’s quite a story!  I started my blog a few years ago and you were one of the people I looked to for inspiration. I so appreciate that. 
VDA: Thanks…you know, I’m happy to have been around a long time.  It’s great to see it all evolve.  In the early days there was like only one magazine that was really fetishy–Dimensions. There was also BBW magazine, Radiance, and other more feminist underground, wheat germy magazines.  I remember I was dating a body builder at the time and in our mailbox would be Muscle Mania and then there would be BBW.  It was so funny.
ME: What changes do you see happening in the media now in terms of our acceptance of plus size women and who we can look up to?
VDA: I think the most amazing thing is that’s come from us.  It’s not like one day the media said, let’s let the fatties in.  I think we, especially as bloggers, saw there was nothing available and created our own movement. Then the media saw there was money to be made off it and thus they let one or two token people in. But I think we have a long way to go in diversifying media in general.  It’s very much a grassroots effort and I applaud all the women who have partaken in it.
VDA: The difficulty is there were bigger models back in the day, but now we have “plus models” with agencies who consider a size 10 plus size.  That can do womens’ heads in in a big way.  And yet, there are women like Fluvia, Denise, and Clementine who are getting in. But they are women who primarily have socially acceptable fat, with lots of tits and ass, versus an apple shaped woman, or women who don’t have such “pretty fat.”  It would be nice to see the plus size industry itself be accommodating to all different sorts of body shapes and all different sorts of ages.  I like to show in Vol Up 2 (her magazine) not just plus people, but older women, differently- abled women and different ethnicities.  More efforts need to be made to push diversity.
People sometimes talk about the health issue. They ask me if I am I promoting obesity. But they never talk about the psychological or sociological issues of how people feel about themselves.  It doesn’t really matter…There are women who are a size two who hate their bodies, and size 24 women who hate their bodies too.  There needs to be an across the board effort to help women. The more diversity we see within in media, the better able people will be able to accept themselves and love themselves.  My message is all about diversity.
ME:  What projects do you have in the pipeline?
VDA:  Mainly I’m trying to make Vol Up 2 work, which is an enormous effort because it’s me myself and I for the most part doing everything. I’m hoping to expand to add a little section called Vol Up 2 TV, where I’m interviewing the models who I’m shooting.  And doing music videos starring plus size women. I think readers would appreciate seeing people in motion.  I’m doing my best on my own to make it happen.  It’s a challenge.
ME: Thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. I look forward to seeing what’s next for you.
After the interview, Velvet asked me to be a contributing writer for Vol Up 2.  I happily accepted. Keep your eyes peeled for my first article coming soon!  Below are some links to Velvet’s social media and website. Enjoy!

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

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