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

pretty

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!!

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired. It’s Time for a Re-Evolution!

I like bodies.

I think bodies are marvelous.

I love their curious creases and billowing bellies.

I adore their freckles, their moles, their rad wrinkles.

I worship their lovely lumps and hefty humps.

I revel in their sacredness.

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photo by Substantia Jones (Adipositivity)

 

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I am so fucking committed to loving the shit out of myself.

I’ve been to the mountaintop and we are in the midst of a re-evolution. And by that I mean change is coming. A strong wind is picking up speed and new ideas are ripe for implementation.

It's time for aRE-EVOLUTION

I believe we are constantly evolving, and that important movements get impeded by greed and the desire to be the in the limelight. But now we are in a time of recognizing that the isms of our society must be addressed in a more holistic and inclusive way. No more 2nd wave feminism that excludes women of color. No more vilifying fat bodies. No more leaving oppressed peoples out of the conversation.

I adore these drawings by Carol Rosetti.

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The universe must evolve beyond stigma and hate. It must evolve past judgment and stereotyping.

Women are prepared to dismantle the patriarchy and all its hideous cousins — misogyny, racism, homophobia, and ableism.

Fat folks are taking back the “F” word, and refashioning in it into a big “FUCK YOU” needlepoint doily for the dieting society.

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So you see, it’s inevitable. We’ve tried the white, male, cisgender, abled way of doing things for more centuries than I care to count. And it doesn’t work. Well, it works for them. But it sure as fuck doesn’t work for us.

Now is the time for female led, POC (people of color) led, LGBTQ led, and differently abled led, social movements. We must take up space instead of asking for permission.

The oppressed must stand in solidarity if we are ever going to create sustainable social change. And that happens through a sincere desire to learn from one another, and an awareness of our intersectional privilege. And it also requires action.

Sitting on your sofa, watching reality television ain’t gonna change the world.

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I think my colleagues and I are doing a decent job of being inclusive in our activism. It’s not perfect — though it’s a good start. But we need to step up our game. 

When we are inclusive in our activism, we lift everyone up. And that’s the fucking point.

We will encounter struggle and frustration for sure. And the road will be long. But can we at least commit to being collaborative and radical in our approach?

I can.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?

I hope to see you on the road to #ReEvolution!

xo

The Right to Bare Arms

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My ample arms!

My arms are fleshy, plump, and have cellulite on them. They are fat. And they are also beautiful.

Before I evolved into the body-loving woman I am today, I NEVER wore tank tops, even on the hottest summer days. Showing off my arms was the totally off limits. I would wear a sweater or something with sleeves that covered me to at least mid-upper arm. And let me tell you, being hot as fuck is not comfortable.

But one day, about 3 years ago, I decided it was time to conduct a social experiment. My theory was that if I wore a sleeveless garment, that people would stare at me in disgust, which would derail my journey toward self-acceptance. So, in an effort to break free from societal judgement, I did the unthinkable. I wore a tanktop in public.

I wanted to have Gabby's confidence!

I wanted to have Gabby’s confidence!

At first I found myself having a panic attack, wishing I’d brought a sweater with me just in case I chickened out. But then something weird happened. I saw another fat woman in a sleeveless blouse strutting down the street, her meaty arms undulating in rhythm with her steps. I saw in her what I had not been able to see in myself. I witnessed a woman taking up space and wearing a weather-appropriate garment with gusto! And no one batted an eye. Except for me of course.

That was a pivotal moment for me. I decided that the only solution to loving my arms was to show them off more often. Though I knew I wasn’t going to feel sure of myself right away,  I could certainly fake it for the time being. And that’s what I did.

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With Sonya Renee Taylor and Kimberly Nichole at the Body Love Conference 2014.

That experience made me realize that most people aren’t looking at me and they don’t give a rat’s ass what I’m wearing. After a summer of donning tanks and halter tops, I no longer had to fake my comfort. I was comfortable.

For me the lesson is that I’m my own worst critic. When I can abandon perfectionism, even just for an hour, my whole world opens up. I become free. Free to love my arms and to free wear whatever the fuck I want.

I hope you’ll tune in for my upcoming post on plus swimwear, where you’ll see not just my ample arms, but my thunder thighs too!

  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.

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…

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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

3 Surprising Ways to Fight Fat Shaming

Fighting fat shaming can be tough in a society that worships thinness and thinks fat is a four-letter word. But there are ways to make change if you’re willing to try these surprising tactics.

1

Start by accepting yourself. I think it’s impossible to fight against the current culture if you hate yourself. When you believe in the false stereotypes that fat people are lazy, ugly, stupid, and unworthy, how can you possibly have the strength to challenge the powers that be? You can’t. Plain and simple. Until you are at least on the road to self-acceptance, it may be difficult to demand respect. You’ve got to believe that you deserve more, and that your worth is inherent in your humanity. Once you start seeing yourself in a more positive light, then you can begin to question and fight against our society’s twisted ideas of what is acceptable.

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Wicked confidence!

2

Be conscious of advertisements and media that ridicule fat people. This is pretty fucking easy, given that our culture is obsessed with  before and after pictures to fool you into thinking that losing weight will be the answer to all of life’s problems. I hate to break it to you, but fat and thin people alike have problems and challenges that have absolutely nothing to do with the size of their jeans. I know because I’ve been thin and fat many times in my life, and I can assure you that I dealt with the same life circumstances in both bodies. So, when you see advertisements or TV shows that make fun of fat folks, get to work letting them know you are displeased. Write letters and tell anyone who will listen (that’s the power of social media, people) about the discrimination that’s happening right under their oblivious noses. The very act of dissent, regardless of the outcome, is empowering and will inevitably start a dialogue about why we allow this type of blatant oppression to thrive. It’s time to take a stand!

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Fat shaming at its worst. Shame on you PETA.

3

Literally wear your opinions. With a growing social movement toward fat-acceptance, the trend of wearing clothes that challenge people’s perceptions of fat people is ripe and ready for harvest. Whether you decide to wear a crop top to show off your ample belly, or a bodycon dress that hugs your every roll, fashion is an amazing political weapon against fat discrimination. The days of oversized clothes that were meant to make others more comfortable with our large bodies is OVER! Fatshion conveys a lot about how you feel without ever having to utter a word. Changing perceptions can be tough. But the more of us who  unapologetically wear tank tops in the summer that show off our generous arms, the less taboo we make it for other fat folks to do the same. And ultimately, we force the culture to see us, accept us, and respect us.

 

diet industry dropout

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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five

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

Fat Discrimination in the Plus Size Community: Fact or Fiction?

At the urging of some of my followers, I’m going to attempt to explain why there is fat discrimination within the plus size community. This is a recurring theme in many of the articles and blogs I read, and it’s an important issue to explore. At a size 18, and with an hourglass figure, my body type is represented far more in plus fashion than those of my larger counterparts. And, well, that’s not ok. If we are going to change the fashion landscape to be inclusive of different body types, then we can’t leave out our bigger sisters.

fat discrimination

My theory on this is that hourglass shapes (big boobs, big butt, smaller waist) are the kinds of body types that our society can handle because they are reminiscent of sex and beauty icons from the 50’s, like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. They are often over-sexualized so that the idea of being “curvy” can be sold as something visually appealing for men, and aspirational for women. Most aspiring plus size models must fit into this curvy equation to be even be considered for placement in an agency. And while I’m glad larger bodies are making their way into mainstream media, it still leaves out a good part of the population.

MARILYN, DERNIERES SEANCESsophia loren

About two years ago I attended and event with a panel of experts talking about the plus fashion industry. I recall that the panelist all agreed that they thought the plus industry should be just as “good” as the straight size industry. I wanted to know why we weren’t celebrating our real bodies (cellulite, curves, bumps, and rolls), and instead wearing girdles and spanx to tame our figures. The response I got was that it didn’t look professional. Yup, I was stunned too. And very disappointed. Here were my people saying that larger bodies are ok, but only if they fit a very specific description.

plus size spanx

That was when I understood that their was an inherent flaw in the plus fashion movement. There was yet another level of exclusion here. There was now an ideal body type to aspire to for big girls — as if we hadn’t been left out enough. And there was now another barrier to creating accessible, trendy fashion for fat women. And forget about having their bodies represented in advertising.

If you are a fat woman, I’m sure you’ve also noticed it’s difficult to find anything larger than a size 24 in an actual store. You usually have to shop online, which is not only an inconvenience, but also plain disrespectful . My followers have shared their feelings of frustration and isolation with me about not being able to go to a mall and find things to wear off the rack. Because I’m an 18, I can almost always find something in the store, even at stores like the GAP and Old Navy. I had completely forgotten about my sisters wearing sizes 24+ who are still in the struggle. And with Target’s recent announcement that they will only sell their Lilly Pulitzer plus size clothing online, it’s a disheartening situation. “It’s saying, ‘I want your money, but I don’t necessarily want your image,’” said Debbie Dean of Co-Op City. “That’s what it’s saying.” 

lilly pulitzer for target

What I remain confused about is that the plus size market has a lot of spending power. We love to shop! So why are retailers and fashion designers limiting their options to the smaller end of the spectrum? I have no fucking clue. Perhaps they think oppression is the new black.

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My hope is that we do our part to let retailers know with our pocketbooks that we’re not happy. I appreciate that there are some retailers that do carry larger sizes, but they are almost exclusively online:

I think it’s great that these options exist, but some of them are clearly geared toward an older audience, and don’t carry a lot of trendy looks. So, now I’m just waiting for an amazing new designer to help us solve this problem. And we will support the hell out of you!

xo