7 ways Cosmo can undo their back-contouring video debacle

Dear “Beauty” People at Cosmo,

Your recent video featuring a tutorial on back contouring was majorly fu*ked up. Congratulations, you’ve just shamed an entire generation of vulnerable, young women and girls into worrying about the shape of their back bones. Well done.

 

“Back contouring is officially a thing and THIS is how to do it,” says the description of the video. Reminder: it’s only a “thing,” because YOU decided it was. You made an intentional decision to contribute to the low-self esteem of  young women with body-image issues and eating disorders.

The company overview description on your Facebook page says: “Cosmopolitan is the best-selling young women’s magazine in the U.S., a bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 17 million readers a month.”

Fearless females?

Uh, last time I checked, fearless females only contoured their backs with makeup when playing super sheroes in the movies.

And also, haven’t you heard about this thing called, Body Positivity?  See, it  started out as a grass roots movement for people with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and poor body-image to claim their worth, beauty, and space in a world that tells them they should strive for unattainable physical perfection. But in the past few years, it’s been co-opted by large corporations who’ve mainstreamed the idea so they can make money off the hard work of those that pioneered the movement so many years ago. But I digress.

Let’s get to the matter at hand. You did bad. And you can fix it. Here’s how:

  1. Apologize profusely.
  2. Destroy the tutorial video and remove from all websites. Promise never to pull that shit again.
  3. Hire a diverse staff IMMEDIATELY, that would know better than to put this tom-foolery out into the Universe.
  4. Feature more girls and women of color, women of size, women who are differently-abled, and transgender folks on the cover and inside pages of your magazine.
  5. Stop photo-shopping your images. That’s so 2015.
  6. Use your platform to bring attention to underrepresented bodies and voices.
  7. You’ve been around since 1886, for heaven’s sake! Ok, you didn’t become a women’s magazine until the 1960’s, but still, this is 2016. Get it together.

Look, I know this letter seems harsh, but sometimes you just gotta let folks know what’s up. And what’s up, is that you owe us more than that. Every woman I know has read Cosmo at some point her life. It has sparked many a conversation about our periods, and led to good, safe sex for many of us all over the world. You taught us about anorexia and bulimia. And we thank you. Which is why we’re confused about that awful video!

I challenge you to do better, now that you know better. I encourage you take this opportunity to grow. And finally, I ask that that you surprise the shit out of us by actually implementing some the above changes.

Sincerely,

Pia Schiavo-Campo
Body Positive Activist, Writer, and Speaker

How the Body Positive Movement Unintentionally Shames People Who Choose to Lose Weight

I began my journey to body positivity (BP) and self-acceptance almost six years ago. It’s been a wild ride, with lots of bumps and bruises. But mostly it’s been an amazing experience resulting in the formation of a wonderful community of advocates and friends. And I’m proud to say that I’ve allowed my views to change and grow as I’ve learned more about inclusivity and the importance of hearing one another with an open heart and mind.

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Admittedly, I’ve also witnessed and been a part of shaming people in the BP community who openly express their desire to lose weight. The pervading thought seems to be that BP folks who want to lose weight are inherently self-hating and thus negate all the strides the movement has made to be seen and heard. That, and we tend to internalize the choices of others as an attack on us. I get that the space we’ve created is so special and hard-won, that we’ve become very protective of it. But we must remember that this movement is based on the idea that ALL bodies are GOOD bodies. The BP movement is about learning to love and accept our bodies and those of others without judgment. So, if we shun people who make a personal decision to lose weight (for whatever reason), then we are hypocrites. Me included.

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I know plenty of women who have learned to love themselves because of the movement, and still want to lose weight and do what feels right for their bodies — and it’s OK!  I’m a firm believer in health being something you define for yourself. As I’ve said before, there are people who are fat and healthy, and fat and unhealthy. The same goes for thin people. So if you are fat (or thin), and you don’t feel good in your body, then do whatever you need to do to feel good. Don’t let anyone, not even the BP movement, shame you into staying where you don’t want to be. By the same token, abstain from judging those folks who choose not to lose weight.

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I’m bringing this divisive topic up because I’ve had conversations with many women in the movement who are expressing a desire to lose weight for their own personal reasons, but feel afraid to share it for fear of banishment from a movement that purports to be inclusive.

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Let me remind you that people have all sorts of reasons for why they want to lose weight, and frankly, it’s their business. Hell, I’m thinking about losing weight because my plantar fascitis is getting increasingly worse (I’ve tried everything, including orthotics and special shoes, but to no avail). And 30 pounds ago, I didn’t experience this problem (for someone who loves to dance, it’s a real bummer). Let me also say that at my current weight I can do yoga,  have great cholesterol levels, and my blood pressure is normal. So yes, I have health in many areas, but not in others (my feet hurt!!!). And I want to feel fully vibrant: physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s my God-given right, and it’s no ones’ business but my own.

Side note: For those of you who do want to lose weight, I hope you’ll do it sanely and healthily.

My ultimate desire is that the body-positivity movement embrace all forms of self-love and wellness. It may look different for each of us, but at the end of the day, all most of us really want is to feel our best and to be accepted without fear of judgement. Your thin body is no better than mine. My fat body is not more worthy than yours. And my desire to lose a few pounds so I can dance without achy feet is no reflection of your personal choices.

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Being inclusive can only strengthen our cause. So, can we just open our hearts and mind a little more and make space for everyone to feel supported and seen? I sure hope so.

xo

Why Do We Have to Be Pretty All the Fucking Time?

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When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do before getting out of bed is to decide what I’m going to wear that day. I scan my overflowing closet in my mind’s eye, carefully matching (or in my case, not matching) the pieces I think will work together. Next, my thoughts wander to the perfect lipstick color and how best to style my unwieldy mane.

Yes, admittedly my first few thoughts upon waking are about how I look. And I’m kinda over it.

So why do I do it?

The simple answer — habit. The complicated answer — I have been brainwashed by a media that is largely influenced by making a business out of ugly-shaming me. Like so many of you reading this, I get frustrated by the constant pressure that I have to be pretty just to go to the grocery store, or to work, or to socialize.

And let me also say that I love having fun in fashion. But in my heart of hearts, I know that sometimes I’m doing it so I can feel like I’m enough.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve been sold a heaping load of stinking bullshit.

As a society, we have intentionally decided that pretty is the thing you should be, but you can never really get. It’s a total setup. And it absolutely requires you to be vigilant about the kinds of messages you allow yourself to hear. I know, you’re probably thinking, well, Pia, tell us how to do that so we can go and fucking do it.”

First, a teeny bit about my experience. My rocky road to healing only really started when I began making the kinds of environmental changes that created a safe space in which I could begin to experience worth beyond my appearance. And as I always say, I have not yet arrived. The journey is in the healing, and the healing is in the journey.

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Social media was the turning point in my recovery. All of a sudden I had access to resources and support for how to move past my eating disorder and begin accepting my exhausted self. I met fierce activists, proud fatties, plus size designers, chubby bloggers, thin allies, and now dear friends, all of whom have had an impact on my healing.

And I let myself be raw. I told my truth so that the collective energy  from these relationships began to kindle my spirit. I summoned a strength I never knew I had. I allowed my  thick, light-deprived thighs to bask in the sun’s warmth, aware that no one at all gave me a second glance.

Instead of reading mainstream magazines, I began to read blogs that celebrated larger bodies. Rather than hold onto old jeans that no longer fit me, I embraced the amazing options in plus size clothing and found a style that took into account my fluffy proportions AND my personal style.  I made a conscious choice to surround myself with images, words, and relationships that supported my work towards self-acceptance.

I became part of a revolution to take back my life, my choices, and my dignity. And in the process I became me — a mixed fat chick who fights for justice whilst eating gluten-free donuts. Because I’m allergic to gluten. Not because I give a fuck about carbs.

Ya know, I really want to not be writing about this in five years. I hope there won’t be a need.

In the meantime, bombard yourself  with positive messages with the same energy you were using to beat yourself up. It takes effort and planning to make fundamental changes in your thinking and your behaviors. Don’t worry, there is no race to the finish line. Take all the time you need, and celebrate the victories — big and small — along the way.

Sending much love, light, and healing to you!

xo

 

P.S. I have an amazing E-Course coming later this summer. Stay tuned!!

You Asked, I Answered: 3 Big Reasons I Write My Blog

This post is inspired by one of my followers, Becky B. Thanks for the inspiration!

I began blogging about four and a half years ago under the name Curvy, Sexy, Chic. At the time, I was eager and excited to get my ideas out into the world. I was pissed off that curvy girls were getting little to no attention, and I wanted to be part of the solution. One of my missteps was that I subscribed to the idea that curvy bodies were better than thin bodies. I had no idea that this was exactly the wrong way to go about creating real change, and this type of thinking was harmful for all women. I also wrote about plus fashion and loving yourself, but not with the same unapologetic, in-your-face approach I use today. Still, it was great to be writing. There are many reasons why I write Chronicles of a Mixed Fat Chick. These are just a few:

1I HAVE A GIFT. I haven’t always been able to say that with confidence, but now I believe it’s true. For the most part, when I write, I come alive! I am always eager to ignite something in you so that you begin to have dialogue with yourself and others about issues that I think are relevant and pressing. I can recall being inspired by professors in college who spoke my language and said things in such a way that I had to know more. I was completely engaged and totally on fire! To have a gift and not use it is to sell yourself, and the world, short. And so, I use my gift and am grateful for those who read my shit and either get it, or challenge me. I’m up for all of it!

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2SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN. I am lucky enough to live in a society that allows free speech. I can pretty much say whatever the fuck I want to say, and not worry that my government is going imprison me. That said, I cannot keep silent. Not when there is injustice and pain and fuckery abounding. For so many years of my life, I was silent. I never said no, and the thought of saying anything that would ruffle feathers was out of the question. I think that years of people pleasing and self-doubt finally caught up with me and I exploded!

I realized it was time to speak my truth without fear of consequence. And as cliche as it sounds, the truth has set me free in so many ways. It has allowed me to appreciate my gifts and to trust my intuition. The gift of my voice has blessed me with all kinds of amazing experiences and people. I think back and wonder who I would be if I had remained safely tucked away in silence, and it’s not a pretty picture. Today, I can say with gusto that I am a funny, kind, intelligent, curious, creative, fat woman of color who loves herself and her life. YAYMEN!!

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3

WE NEED EACH OTHER. I am clear that my purpose is to spread love and light. I am clear that my honesty is appealing. I write about uncomfortable shit so that both you AND I can get more comfortable with it. My readers are very much my inspiration. The emails I get from you touch me so deeply and remind me of all the reasons I do this work. Seriously, THANK YOU! When I’m feeling crappy, you lift me up. And when you’re feeling crappy, I try to do the same. We’re basically in an intimate relationship, where we both take risks and hope for the best. And our relationship has been one of the most marvelous of my life. It is because you give, that I find the courage to give. People sometimes tell me that I’m helping to change the world. But I think it’s all of us doing it. We are both ready for the day when our bodies are no longer a question of public opinion and we can make peace with our wrinkles and cellulite. 

together we can make a difference

To answer Becky’s question, “when you started blogging, what were you wanting to accomplish, what are you thinking, and have you accomplished what you set out to do? Has your thought process changed regarding what you want to accomplish with your blog?” 

I think my journey is about being open to experiences and knowing that as I grow and learn, that my thought process will inevitably change. And I try to not judge that. At times I’ve felt I was leaving people behind because my opinions were changing. But I realize that it’s simply part of my own evolution as a writer, an activist, and a human being. Ultimately, what I hope to accomplish is the creation of a space where we can all experience unfettered self-acceptance.

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.

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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.

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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…

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Photo by Substantia Jones

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Photo by Substantia Jones

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

xo

7 Things I love About Being a Confident Fat Chick

First things first.Three years ago I could not have imagined writing this. But all my self-lovin’ work has paid off and I can actually see the good in my body now.

one

When I wear a fabulous, over the top outfit, people pay me compliments, and never mention my size or weight. It’s as though my confidence puts them at ease. And that’s a win for fatties everywhere!

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two

Hanging out with other confident fat chicks is so fun! We get each other’s jokes and share tips on how to prevent chub rub whilst soaking in a hot tub.

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three

Fat chicks give the best hugs. All that soft flesh feels like being in the womb. Seriously.

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four

I take up space. No matter where I am, my body is unapologetically present and proud.

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When I’m in yoga class, I love to see the expression of my teacher and other students as my flexible body holds  challenging poses. I’m unintentionally teaching women that you can be active at any size.

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six

You’ll never hear me complaining about being on a diet, because duh, I don’t do those anymore.

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seven

I use my hard earned confidence to help other women begin to embrace themselves, no matter what size they are.

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I send you love, light, and encouragement as you travel the road of self-acceptance!

xo