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!

14 Women’s Horrifying Fat Discrimination Stories

A recent article in the Huffington Post explored the fat discrimination experiences of 14 different women.  The women are young and old, black and white, tall and short.  Their stories are as different as each woman, but equally humiliating in their psychological effects on the victims.  The question is, why is this shit even happening?  How do we deal with this kind of abuse and prejudice in this day and age?  Though some would disagree, fat discrimination is in fact a civil rights issue.  


Kristina, 38 years old, from New York shared this story:

“In 2000, I had lap band surgery. I have lost over 100 pounds. I am exactly who I was the day prior to surgery as I am today.  My level of confidence may have increased a bit, but my outgoing, happy, carefree personality has not changed. Everyone else has changed.
People hold the door for me when I enter or exit a building. More people say hi to me. When I randomly chat with people while waiting on a line, they are more likely to engage in a full conversation instead of giving a quick answer. Men approach me, despite me telling them I am married an[d] uninterested. Life as the “thick girl” vs. the “fat girl” is huge. Every day, I see how differently I am treated. Every day I know how people react to people who are severely overweight … But no matter what people are, they all react to fat people the same — as lazy, unwilling, ugly members of society. I was never lazy, never unwilling and always productive.”

Patti, 52 years old, from Indiana:

“I have been waiting 30 years to tell my story! I applied for a clerical job fresh out of college at a local optometrist’s office that had advertised an opening. I had a stellar interview, as far as the line of questioning went. As we were wrapping up, the optometrist’s wife, who was conducting my interview, gazed past me and said “You know, we have VERY small hallways here.” My naïveté prevented a good comeback, although I’ve thought of many since then! Mind you, I was probably a size 18 (while she was likely size 2).”

How is it that perfect strangers have the audacity to make such comments and be so obvious in their discrimination?  If Patti were Black and the interviewer said” You know, we’re pretty much a White office here,”  there would be an outrage–the company would be sued.  We must, as a society, demand that all people, including fat people, be treated with respect and dignity.

I know a lot of fat people–hell I’m one of them. And they are smart and stupid, ambitious and lazy, pretty and ugly, nice and mean.  I also I know a lot of skinny people who are smart and stupid, ambitious and lazy, pretty and ugly, nice and mean.  Just as the color of one’s skin is not a measure of one’s worth, neither is the size of their jeans.  

Enough is enough!  I look forward to your comments.

Ciao for Niao,
Pia