Wednesday, November 2, 2016

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BOPO BABE: CHOOSELIFEWARRIOR

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Danielle, known as @chooselifewarrior is best known for, I think, breaking down eating disorder recovery stereotypes and fighting fatphobia. Dani found the body positive community when she started her Instagram page 3 years a go.

"I was first inspired by an account called @honorcurves and began posting about 6 months into having Chooselifewarrior. It initially started as a recovering eating disorder quote based account. It has evolved so many times and in so many ways since then. Before social media I didn't even know what body positivity was - I absolutely hated myself. Social Media and the ability to find women who empowered and inspired me was the changing moment."

I asked her how she came up with the name Choose Life Warrior; it makes such a powerful statement on it's own. "Choose Life Warrior is a really personal saying to me. When I had an eating disorder my best friend used to tell me to choose life by making sure I was talking to my support team, eating etc. I added the warrior mainly because fighting through an eating disorder makes you feel strong, powerful and like a warrior."

She is definitely a warrior and fighting through her eating disorder has translated into some radical self love. What are her tips to finding self love and body positivity? "Every day do something that makes you feel good, whatever that is. It can even just be having a food you love, or a shower. Always ask for help if you need it. Never be afraid to tell people if you can't do something if you are too busy. Practice self care every day, take care of yourself as if you're taking care of someone you love in your life. (Online,) follow people who empower you; also, follow people who perhaps push your thoughts and beliefs. Who and what I thought was radical 3 years ago is now so different. Surround your online apps and interaction with positive people who are truly body positive and inclusive. Offline make sure you are surrounding yourself with also body positive and positive people. People who want you to succeed, who believe in you and make you feel good and happy."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: ModernDayRomeo92

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!



Tevin, aka @moderndayromeo92 is an American Eagle Outfitters in store stylist and freelancer with a Stylist where they work on anything from celebrities to editorial shoots. He only recently found the body positive community. Someone suggested that he tag his Easter Sunday outfit with #bopo and within a matter of minutes he received more traffic on his page than ever before. “People responded so well and it made me happy that the comments being made were about confidence - that's a big thing for me. I always want to inspire others to be confident to be the best person they can be for themselves and those around them.”

 He may not have been following the bopo community online, but Tevin has always been an advocate for self love. “I definitely would say I was all about self love and body positivity (before social media). In high school I was a part of the dance program and so much of my life centered around that and although I was big then too I always strived to not let my weight hold me back. I remember the first day being nervous about changing my front of the other guys and my dance instructor giving me tough love and saying get over it.”

Dancing has a central theme in his self love journey. “(In real life) there's no hiding behind angles to contort your body to look a certain way like they do in photos and the words you write with every post don't quite sound the same. But the truth is it 100% better. I use my body (to promote the bopo lifestyle)! I love to dance, in the classroom or on the dance floor and I don't care who watches me! I tell everyone that one of the most liberating things I ever did was take off my shirt at a club and just dance.”

He has quickly fallen into the bopo way of online life. Someone he looks up to in the community is Kelvin Davis of @notoriouslydapper. “I may have fanboyed just a little meeting him in between shows at men's fashion week.”

And like all our bopo babes, he doesn’t let the negative comments he may receive phase him. He said beyond blocking them, they don’t really make a dent in his day. His motto is to “be a pillar of positivity in all aspects; don't feed into negativity, shine your light upon those situations. People will always take notice of a perspective that is of good will! Your body is your body don't let someone else's perception of beauty dictate yours!”

If he’s having a bad body day, something we can all relate to, he turns to family and music. “I do have them a lot more frequently than you'd think. I share those thoughts with my sisters and my boyfriend. Usually a quick dance break helps too and it's great cardio!”

Working in fashion gives him a perfect platform to speak about inclusivity. “I realized that in popularity comes responsibility. From the time I started working at American Eagle Outfitters I made it my responsibility to be an advocate for the guy who isn't the average size sold in store no matter his body type. I wanted to be the guy who makes these guys comfortable with coming in to shop to start building that connection with the brand and them. To look a guy in the eye that I know is feeling discouraged about not finding his size I can share my story my struggles with him. I can be that person they feel they can trust to explain their insecurities and desires for how they want to be perceived.”

Lightning Round

Favorite Happy Song?
  • TAYLOR SWIFT SHAKE IT OFF! I'm a huge Swiftie
What’s a movie that never gets old?
  • Mean Girls! I can recite entire monologues from that movie!
What’s a book you could read repeatedly?
  • The entire Gossip Girl series
Favorite ice cream?
  • Party cake!! (Fun fact I don't really like cake other than in ice cream,ironically my mother and my boyfriend are both bakers!)it.
Favorite brick and mortar store?
  • Macy's Herald Square specifically they have a little more of a selection of brands that feature items in my size!
Favorite online store?
  • American Eagle sadly I have to purchase my size in most items online despite working in the store
Favorite drink?
  • Bulldog it's a frozen margarita with a beer bottle in it!
Do you have any hobbies?
  • I enjoy anything art related. So I paint, draw, sculpt, work on the pottery wheel, act, sing, dance and sometimes write poetry. It keeps me grounded and gives me a peace of mind like no other!

Check out the rest of the series HERE.

Until Next Time,
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: Josie_Landry

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Josie, aka @josie_landry is a self-described “unapologetic activist and ally for body positivity, intersectional feminism, LGBTQ rights, & black lives matter.” She has gained a following of over 2,000 in her short time online.

Just last week, marked Josie’s one year anniversary since starting her transition. It’s been a year since she began living her authentic life. “Transitioning was literally a matter of life or death.  I have always known since I was very little that something wasn’t correct.  As this was quite a long time ago and transgender wasn’t really a well-known topic at the time I struggled a lot to figure myself out.  After years of depression, to the point that I was starting to go on disability from work for months at a time, I was at a rapid decline in mental health.  After many long hours of discussion with my wife, we decided that it was time to go forward with it.

When I was trying to identify myself, the majority of information that I was able to find was from other Trans folks who shared their stories; so I wanted to share mine to both help others and also as kind of a visual diary. Starting my transition last year was a momentous step in my life and it was something that I wanted to document. Somehow along the way it became about body positivity, which is interesting seeing as how the whole idea behind transitioning is to completely transform my body. Somehow along the way I learned to love my body and as it is transforming into the correct body I am learning to love it even more.”
As Josie said, Transgender was not a word I had heard often before Laverne Cox or Caitlyn Jenner became "mainstream". I will admit, I was woefully uneducated. So before we go any further I’d like to provide some education for y’all. 
Transgender people are people who have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs from their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is also an umbrella term: in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine (people who are genderqueer, e.g. bigender, pangender, genderfluid, or agender). 
Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (GID) is the dysphoria (distress) a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. Treatment for a person diagnosed with GID may include psychotherapy or to support the individual's preferred gender through hormone therapy, gender expression and role, or surgery. Though, not all individuals chose to undergo any type of “treatment” or physical change at all.
Being transgender is independent of sexual orientation: transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, etc., or may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable. The term transgender can also be distinguished from intersex, a term that describes people born with physical sex characteristics "that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies." 
Now, back to our bopo babe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: curvycottoncandymane

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Melissa, aka @curvycottoncandymane, started her Instagram page just over a year ago. She quickly got to the heart of the bopo community and has amassed over 24K followers! She grabbed my attention in the sea of bopo babes with her cotton candy colored locks and got me hooked with her positive energy! In the real world, she uses her perky disposition as a school teacher – inspiring young minds every day. She expands her love of teaching to the bopo community, sharing personal stories and her unique style with the world.

“Finding the body positive community on Instagram changed my entire life, and that's no exaggeration. Never before had I ever seen or heard of other women who not only accepted their bodies, but LOVED them! I was awestruck. All I'd been taught previously was that I was supposed to hate my body until it finally conformed to the societal ideal of perfection. And boy did I! My body was enemy #1! The internet connects you with people from all over the globe who are finding ways, despite the garbage being hurled at us from every angle, to celebrate life and beauty in every way. Find and follow those who inspire you personally. Look at as many different bodies as you can. After doing this your stretch marks don't feel as abnormal anymore, your cellulite and rolls become a normal part of being a human, and your purpose in life will become greater than trying to shrink.

My main source of inspiration was Anna @glitterandlazers. I actually knew her from our university days where we lived in the same apartment complex. I'd been following her on instagram for quite some time and she inspired me daily. I began to think, "If she can love herself this much than dammit, so can I!" I had just moved from Utah to Washington and had made some pretty major life changes, the main one being leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt personally empowered and wanted to continue nurturing that new feeling. I was discussing the idea of starting a plus size fashion/bopo instagram account with a cute boy (who is now my amazing boyfriend) and he encouraged me from the moment I brought up the idea. He also happened to be my first follower. :) So buoyed by my new found confidence and some loving encouragement I set my phone on a windowsill and snapped my first picture.”

Over a year after posting that first shot, her body positive journey is going strong.
“It's easy to put on a glossy veneer online and seem like you're body positive 100% of the time. That simply isn't true for most of us. I still have dark days and nights like anyone else. I think it's important to try and be transparent online so that there is no huge disparity between your online content and your real life. I still struggle removing my wrap at the pool, I still struggle wearing short shorts on a hot day in front of a group of people. But the important thing is that I continue to do it and that feeling of inner turmoil decreases every time I do. (My Instagram) keeps me motivated to keep loving myself and (hopefully) it motivates others as well. Body positivity has no end date for me. I won't wake up one day and just be done because I've reached the end. There is no end. It's a continuous path that I must mindfully walk everyday.

I've made it a habit to experience my body at least once a week. I lie in bed naked and run my hands over my bumps and lumps and feel the grooves and wrinkles. Or I stand in front of the mirror and trace my stretch marks. I take photos that are only for me. And it's amazing what a change in attitude can do. I did these same things before out of self-loathing and pity. I do them now as a form of worship and celebration. Positive affirmation is real and powerful. I choose every day to love myself, to love the body I've been blessed with, and to spread that love around in the hopes of inspiring others to love themselves too.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: uominidipeso

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

In the body positive world the main focus is on bodies with breasts; however, male presenting bodies face heavy criticism as well especially if they are larger. Alessandro aka @uominidipeso is on a mission to bring self love into the every day conversation of not only men, but everyone in Italy - nay, the world!

Plus size clothing options are limited enough as an American female, but if you look around for plus size men’s wear - you’ll see the struggle is real. Allesandro says in Italy, it’s hard to find any options at all.

 “Since September I and other 6 Blogger Italian we will be the team with its hashtag #BodyPosiTeamIT with which we will try to expand their circle and help people as possible. Italy is by no means a Body Positive territory as they pretend. Here it is even difficult to get dressed. A woman wearing a size 34 (European 48/American 14) is considered fat and when exposed is covered with criticism and insults. We Bloggers and activists, like you, Italians, every day we try to change something but it's not easy because any event and any proposal always behind the profit.”

When he started his blog and Facebook page in 2014 he said he “immediately realized that with photos and testimony (he) could help a lot of people and it was so.” With the addition of social media into our everyday lives, connecting with like-minded individuals is easier than ever. If you’re looking for self love inspiration, it’s literally just a search away.

“Online you can direct your pictures and messages, and the success is greater because it more precisely strikes a part of the audience who likes the theme. In contrast in real life, for example, when I happened to speak on TV and theater, well not everyone agreed with my words, and it still makes little effort conquer the audience with our ideas.”

“(Body positivity) enters my life every day through the people I meet through conversations with friends and colleagues through Facebook chat between the boys of #BrawnSquad: ZachMiko, Kelvin, Troy Solomon etc .. and undoubtedly Kelvin - NotoriusDapper because we have the same thoughts, we addressed both on the same street and I love his way to show and encourage people towards #bodypositive. Other people can improve their body positivity by using the internet to look for men and women for inspiration, looking for images and phrases that can help and especially by getting in touch with other people across the world living the same situation.

To be part of the community is a great pleasure because it means that something beautiful and positive I'm doing it and it is also a symptom of pride because without knowing I'm helping other people. The goal is to bring more people to this concept to try to change something in our society.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babe: CurvesBecomeHer

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Living in America for most of my life, I have a narrow view of the world as a whole. I wanted to delve into body positivity in countries other than my own. Aarti, aka @curvesbecomeher is part of a small community of body positivity in Asia.

“My inspiration stemmed from being a plus size South Asian and Singaporean. There wasn't enough representation for girls like me. No plus size Indian girls in magazines, few blogs that I could relate to. After a year of deliberation I decided to take matters into my own hands and be the representation I wanted to see. There is still so much work to be done for Asian plus size representation and that fact alone makes it important to maintain my social media accounts. There is progress, but it's moving pretty slowly. As a woman of Indian ethnicity who was born and brought up in Singapore, it's a constant struggle against the patriarchy and the hive mind. Although cosmopolitanism has certainly made its way here and we have all the amenities you have in the West, there are a great deal of traditions and old school ways of doing things that kind of make it hard for women who do not fit into society's rules. Be it India or Singapore, I am disliked simply for being who I am - a fat woman of Colour, a feminist, a woman  who dislikes the invasion of her personal space and choices. The constant obsession with slimness, fairness of skin, diet culture is a big problem. The authority by which strangers and people you know feel they have over you by commenting on your appearance as if it's okay to do so, is a problem. There are a lot of times when I consider moving out of Asia but then again, there needs to be proper representation for this very small budding community of body positive advocates here. I cannot just up and leave.”

Being a unapologetic plus size woman can have its repercussions. She says that bullying based on her body has been happening since she was 11. “I find I have less tolerance for it since being an active member of the bopo community. I avoid people or groups of people who I know will be judgemental - I am not here to justify why I am the way that I am. Sometimes it hits me hard. Which is why I struggle with social anxiety. It's an ongoing process that I would really like to see improvement and I am positive I will get there. I was too shy to take outdoor fashion shoots for the blog in my first year of blogging but I slowly overcame that fear. If people want to stare, go right ahead. What they will see is a confident well dressed plus size woman. Who knows, that might give them something to think about? When random strangers get obnoxious about my form, I do have to watch my tongue and try not to lash out. Instead, I choose to give them a smile as if to say "Yes I'm Fat and I feel good about myself. Your opinion is not going to change that".

Along with her own inner strength and her husband/photographer, the online community is a source of support for her. “There is a wealth of resources on the Internet - reading blogs and articles, reaching out to bopo advocates for advice, relating to the many others who are finding their way as well via Instagram, Facebook groups. My personal self love idols are a combo between Virgie Tovar and Ashleigh Shackleford. Amazing unapologetic fat women of Colour who constantly blow me away with their wisdom. Arming yourself with a body positive library is also a good idea! There is helpful literature out there written by people in the community like The Militant Baker, Marilyn Wann. Creating a little body posi circle of your own is something I have really benefited from.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: AmaScriver

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Ama, aka @amascriver is a freelance writer and community builder based out of Toronto, Ontario Canada. You may have read her work on Bustle, Hello Giggles, or in Paste magazine to name a few. She was also part of the team that ran Fat Girl Food Squad, which went on indefinite hiatus January 2016. Most recently she was featured in the 50th edition of THIS magazine alongside writers such as Margaret Atwood. On top of that, she runs her own blog and social media. If you follow this powerhouse, you will see not only body positive dialogue but some delicious food as well!

Before the days of Instagram, Ama found her body positive inspiration on Tumblr. Specifically Jessica Luxery of Tangled up in Lace. “I remember reading her Tumblr way back in 2009/2010 and just being in awe of her. She would post these incredible selfies and I never thought that I could be as beautiful or fabulous as her.  A lot has changed since then, but I really owe a lot of my body positivity journey to Jessica Luxery because without discovering her Tumblr back then, I really don’t know where I would be right now.”

In a world where being fat and happy is seen as radical, Ama finds her own brand of body positivity by simply existing and showing the world her life. “With my Instagram, it’s just about me living my life and having fun. I think all too often, we don’t think that fat women are allowed to take up space in this world and for me, it’s important to demonstrate (via my Instagram) that I’m out there fat and thriving. This can be anything from eating food to going out with friends or photographing the fun events I get to go to - really I just love to share my story and my world with the people who follow me. I hope that the people who do follow me appreciate it as much as I love sharing it.  It’s not always political but there is meaning behind it. I think it’s important to show fat folks experiencing life - people identify with that because it’s real.”

Being online is a great way to connect with other people who are like you; that can make you feel less alone especially if people are reacting negatively to you just existing. Sometimes taking what you’re learning online into real life can be challenging, but Ama has some thoughts for us.

“I think being body positive online can be done via social media like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook - whichever format works for you - by participating in conversations, hashtags, posting photos or blogs. There are so many ways to get involved online and such a great community of folks. (…) Surround yourself with other incredible fat babes like yourself who are strong, loud, shouty and the most important attribute: supportive. I find that through my fat babe community, I have come across so many great articles, learned about so many great clothing lines and found a great support system for myself - for good days and bad days. The internet is such a great tool for learning, sharing and finding other like-minded folks.

But I think the biggest thing to remember is developing a positive body image isn’t necessarily easy and often takes a lot of work - online or offline. Being body positive offline is learning to celebrate ourselves and our bodies and work to combat the traditional and Western beauty standards. It’s knowing that you have self-worth and gifting ourselves with self-love.  Each and every single day in your body positivity journey (offline) is a daily discovery process, regardless of shape, size or gender. As humans, our bodies are all different, diverse and unique - and that’s okay! Coming to the fundamental understanding that we deserve to feel happy, healthy and loved is the first step is a positive body journey.  From there, everything else is onwards and usually upwards.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Behind the Scenes with BoPo Babes: AmyLoiseW

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

I was introduced to Amy, aka @amyeloisew through another one of our bopo babes – Megan. Coincidentally enough, Amy says that’s how she was introduced to the bopo scene. “I worked with Meg a few years ago and was instantly drawn to how bubbly and lovely she is, and when I found her Instagram a year or so later, and saw her embracing her wobbly bits, I thought maybe I could too. - A few months ago we were shopping together and she told me that I should look at my body as a work of art, if someone were to draw or sculpt me they would take so much time over every little detail and they would put so much love into every lump, bump and other 'flaw' that may be there . It really boosts your confidence to imagine someone pretty much worshipping you!”

She then took her body positive journey online. “There was a swimsuit that I had never let see the light of day, then I wore it in an Instagram post and now I love it and happily skip down the beach in it. I was TERRIFIED when I posted my first picture, and I'm still scared when I post them now. But you (the bopo community) have all made this journey a heck of a lot easier.”

Her main motivation for continuing to post, no matter how scary it is, is to help inspire other men and women into self love. Her future children are in her mind too. “I don’t want to someday have a daughter or son who I have to comfort because they don’t look like people in magazines.”

Being unedited is something that she focuses on in her Instagram posts. She is a self-described “beauty addict” and often posts before and after pictures from her makeup looks. It’s important to know that while someone may not be using Photoshop per se, it is still very easy to manipulate things online and in the media. From makeup to lighting to “flattering” poses, we can still control how our Instagram feed shows us while being #nofilter.

Once she started her self love journey, she says she began to realize how intrinsic diet culture is in our lives. “I didn't notice how surrounded by diet talk I was until I was actively trying to avoid it. I used to follow "fitness" accounts on Instagram. I put fitness in quotation marks because what they actually were were thinspiration accounts. They mentioned nothing about getting fit, being able to move better or being more flexible, they literally focused on whether or not you had a thigh gap. Unfollowing those type of accounts and flooding your feed with a variety of body types really helps you to start to see your own beauty.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: BodyPosiPanda

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

After over two years on Instagram, Megan aka @bodyposipanda has less than 800 posts but over 275,000 followers. She started her account in 2014 and it quickly turned to a body positive account. Since then she has been featured on Daily Mail, Metro, and Huffington Post. She’s been on the cover of New! and Pick Me Up! She modeled for @dearscantilly’s latest lingerie campaign and was interviewed on This Morning. She also has a popular blog and Facebook page.

The voice she started with in her first body positivity post is similar to the one she has today. From 2014: “I'm more focused on being me, and appreciating being me, than trying to look as Kardashian as possible at all times. Because that shit is tiring. And because every woman deserves to feel good in their own skin, and more importantly deserves to feel worth so much more than what they look like.”

Melissa of @yourstruelymelly was the first body positive account she came across, saying she found it on her 1000th crash diet and searching IG for fitspo. She was dealing with years of anorexia, binge eating and exercise addiction. It was the first time she saw someone unabashedly loving themselves, no matter how much space they took up.

“Before I found the body positive community I had no idea that there was an alternative to self hatred and starvation, I just figured that was it. Realising that self love was an option changed my entire life, and I knew I had to turn my account into a body positive one and get the message out there to as many people as I could.”

The way she turned her feed from #fitspo to #bopo, she says is by being cutthroat with who she kept following. “First, get rid of anything that makes you feel shit about yourself - fitspo, thinspo, super beautiful celebrities who you only follow because they're super beautiful but leave you feeling worthless, be RUTHLESS. Then fill your timeline back up with bopo babes, feminist goodness and self love inspiration. Day to day we're bombarded with so much diet culture and photoshopped poison, our social media is one of the only places we can take control of what we see. You can even create a second Instagram account to go to on bad body image days if you like your usual account as it is.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: SamJohnsonWrites

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Sam, aka @samjohnsonwrites is a personal trainer, former fitness competitor, and is going back to school in the fall to become a holistic nutritionist. Her Instagram is filled with food porn and gym selfies, but this is not your typical #fitspo page. What started as a weight loss account turned into obsession which, with the help of diet culture, fostered her eating disorder. Now, she’s using her personal experience and education to spread the message of healthy living from her body to her brain.

“My instagram account actually began as an anonymous weight loss account over 3 years ago; It was very "fitspo - I posted "motivation" pictures of girls with abs, wrote weekly about my weight loss and was constantly posting progress pictures. I was new to fitness and my account was a tool to find my way into the fitness world. I documented my experience with at home workouts, half marathon training, weight lifting, and eventually being on prep for a bikini competition. Throughout everything, my focus was always on weight loss, and competing really pushed me over the edge from being obsessed with weight loss, to struggling with bulimia and orthorexia (an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy) disorder.

My experience led me re-examine my idea of what health and fitness truly was- and it was about so much more than weight loss and abs. It's about eating foods that make you feel great and moving in ways that celebrate and honor your body. With the "fitspo" trend, I feel like that's not a message that's being spread, so I set out to talk about it, and show that you don't need the "perfect body" to be happy, healthy and fit. I'm proud to post my curves and rolls, because this body is so much healthier, mentally and physically, than I ever was when I was dieting and living in the gym. It took a lot of work to come out okay on the other side, and to heal my relationship with food and my body. When I did, I realized that there were probably a lot of other women who struggled the same way I did.”

And that’s when her Instagram shifted into the bopo safe haven it is today. She speaks about her body just as often as she does her mind. She's found a solid community of support on IG, but there was something else that helped her journey - podcasts.

“There’s something about actually hearing someone say the words out loud that helps hammer them into your head. When I was really struggling with body image, I was listening to podcasts constantly: at work, in the car, at home, in the bath, etc. Some of my favorite podcasters are Kaila Prins, Summer Innanen and Maddy Moon.”



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: MsLindsayM

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

If you’re not one of Lindsay, aka @mslindsaym over 25,000 Instagram followers, maybe you’ve used her hashtag #selfiesforselflove or you’re following her page by the same name. Selfies for Self Love has a separate following of over 25,000 and features humans of all shapes and genders. The purpose behind her movement is not only to spread the message of self love, but also to increase diverse representation in media. This quest is something near and dear to Lindsay who’s day job is working in the feminist movement to end violence against women. Intersectional feminist analysis is not only her passion, it is her career and where her formal education is based. Diversity and inclusivity is something that the body positive community could work on, according to her.

“I think we need to acknowledge that the roots of this community come from the fat acceptance movement which was originally created by queer fat femmes, women of colour and people living with disabilities. This movement is about marginalized bodies and when we constantly put thin, white, straight, able-bodied women on a pedestal to represent us, we are doing our history a disservice. I think we got a bit lost in the message of body positivity being for all bodies when it was created by a very specific group of individuals who have faced violence and hatred because of their oppression. While I do want all people to love their bodies we need to be making space for those least allowed to do so, according to societal standards.

Compare this to other movements for example, we don't let straight people run Pride Parades and we don't let White people control Black Lives Matter. Sure we want everyone to be able to have a partner they love, but only queer people are currently being denied that. Yes, all lives matter but currently Black lives are being treated as if they don't by the justice system. Thin people are already accepted by our society, even if they personally don't love their body. They will never face the kind of oppression or discrimination that fat people face in the same way that I as a White person can have empathy for the experience of racism, but I can never truly know how it feels to be the target of racism.

People in positions of privilege are needed as allies, to help us achieve our goals, but never to take over the movement or start to dominate the conversation. As a queer fat femme myself, it hurts me to see this history ignored and for the voices from that community to be pushed out of the centre stage to make room for less marginalized bodies. It makes me sad to see our movement co-opted by people who not only don't know the history but are doing their best to erase it and capitalize on it.

I'd like to see the body positive (and the feminist) community do better around issues of anti-racism and anti-oppression. Sadly, given how long we have been asking for this in the mainstream feminist movement and the lack of results, I don't think this trend will happen any time soon, if at all. In fact, I predict the opposite. I bet you there will be at least one comment that says that I am oppressing people (by saying these things). The people who believe in reverse racism and that we need straight pride parades will not be impressed with my response. But I am tired of not speaking up on this issue and starting to consider moving away from the term body positive in favour of embracing the fat acceptance movement since it is more inter-sectional.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: BrittPysar

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Britt, aka @brittpysar has a self love journey that started offline. When she moved from Vancouver, BC to Hamilton, ON this year she found the change to be a bigger one than expected. Moving across country is already a huge deal, but she found herself following her passion – retail. She finds plenty of opportunities to spread her body positive message at her job.

“I work in retail in a plus size women's store and listening to the way some women talk to/about themselves is heartbreaking but it opens up the opportunity to engage in more meaning conversations about the real problem, which NEWSFLASH, isn't any of our butts or bellies or hips or thighs, the real problem is corporations and conglomerates selling women's bodies and setting a standard that is unattainable for the vast majority of us.”

Not only has her new job provided meaningful conversations with customers, but she says she met an amazing group of women who continually inspire her.

“I work with this group of hilarious, confident, empowering, beautiful and absolutely kick ass women. Working alongside them has changed the way I see myself and other people and has given me this beautifully positive outlook on life. They really are my inspiration. I have never felt such a connection to other humans beings so quickly, and I feel for the first time that I am exactly where I am meant to be.”

Having followed a lot of bopo accounts and being a frequent commenter on their posts, she decided to put herself out there and see what happened. Over 1,000 Instagram posts later, she’s got a following of almost 17K! She’s made quite a splash, I’d say!

Since her online debut, she’s used social media as a tool to meet other babes. “I have found this beautiful community of like minded people who I can share my thoughts with and have open discussions with about important topics. Honestly, I don't think I ever really utilized the hashtag search function on any social media platforms until I started getting serious about having these very real conversations about self love with total strangers. Seeking out people who believe in the same things as you and striking up conversations and friendships is the best way of improving your view on not only your own body, but understanding societies standards for our bodies as well (and why those standards are so unrealistic and damaging).”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ashley Graham is not the role model for me.

Ashley Graham is a beautiful and confident role model for women, as long as you’re under a size 20, are healthy, and love calling yourself curvy.

Graham herself is a successful young woman with great public speaking skills and someone I find incredibly inspiring. I applaud her for overcoming self doubt and body hatred. I think her advice of “speaking life” into your body is hands down some of the best body positive advice I’ve ever heard. She describes speaking life as feeding positive energy into yourself as you think about your body. If you’re constantly saying “my body’s gross,” you’re going to start to believe it. She has had to deal with some fat shaming of her own not only in private I’m sure, but very publicly as well. (ref: Nicole Arbour, Cheryl Tiegs, agent)

Graham is a self-described “body activist” and spreads her battle cry of “#beautybeyondsize” wherever she goes. She has quickly become the most well-known plus sized model in recent history. Graham has been on the cover of Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and Maxim, just to name a few. She’s been backstage at Miss USA, in a music video for DNCE, all over social media, and possibly even in your closets. She’s known for her curves and speaking out against the fashion industry’s label of “plus size.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: FranHayden

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

During her day to day life Fran works as a marketing assistant for a cruise company! She adores the style of the 1950’s and cats. If you met her in public, you’d find a sweet freshly dressed young woman. Online though, Fran, aka @franhayden  is a powerhouse. She has almost 39K followers on Instagram, a popular body positivity blog and a Facebook page. She shares trials and tribulations of her own self love journey as well as encouraging diversity in the community.

Fran told me her own body love was inspired a lot by other body positivity accounts online. “My own body positivity grew out of respect and adoration of others who professed love publicly for their bodies, and supported others in doing so too. The community is a wonderful source


of encouragement and a journey of self-love shouldn't be done alone. Ingrid, @mswink on Instagram and Melissa, @yourstruelysmelly were two of the first plus size bopo babes that I came across, then I discovered Megan, @bodyposipanda - and the rest, as they say, is history. These strong, astounding women have inspired me endlessly and I owe a lot to them for my own bopo journey.”

Following in these women’s footprints, she started her own online presence. She told me she’s never posted of picture of something she didn’t wear in public. Maybe you wouldn’t see her at the grocery store in her underwear, but every other outfit is genuine. Her pin up style can draw attention in real life not to mention just existing as a plus size woman. “It can be difficult to see people give you disapproving looks or whispering about you - but if you hold your head high and make a point of not letting it get to you, it will become second nature.”

Being online, behind a screen makes it easier for people to be hateful. She says she receives more hateful comments online than to her face, but she doesn’t let it get to her. “People are a whole lot more likely to post a negative comment or to bully someone online than they are in real life - sadly, as we spend a large majority of our lives online, we can all be victims of trolling. It can be difficult dealing with online hate, but I tend to block and delete the hurtful comments. They have no place in my life, online or otherwise.”

While most of the hate is online these days, she has been bullied for her size. “I was told by someone that I asked out that they "don't date fat girls", I have been physically harmed because of my size, a friends house was broken into when we were having a party because some people took it upon themselves to bully me, I was bullied at school - you never, ever forget these things and at the time it hurt. But you know, if I can deal with the shitstorms that I've faced in my life, it shows me how strong I am and the potential that I have within me to overcome whatever I set my mind to.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: AshleyTheAdventurer

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Maybe you’ve never heard of my feature this week - Ashley aka @ashleytheadventurer, but she was one of the first accounts I followed that I didn’t know personally. With less than a thousand followers her page is a personal one. She says she’s “not at the level that I would like to be as far as maintenance of my instagram, and I do not have a blog apart from my tumblr.” But as we all know, body positivity is not limited to the curated images you see online. As helpful as Instagram posts are, self love is a real thing that you have to deal with offline as well. Some of the most inspiring voices are quiet ones.

Ashley was bullied for her appearance when she was younger. “Middle school is brutal, I think that is partially why it took until my 16th year to realize my worth. I've been asked my phone number as a joke, before, along with pig noises and giggling directed my way.” She says that changing her perspective helped grow her body positivity. Before the day of Instagram, she was on Tumblr. “The first glimpse of body positivity was through the account chubbybunnies when I was in 10th grade. (I thought) - here were all these beautiful individuals putting themselves out there in vulnerability for thousands of people to see… And some of them actually looked just like me, something I'd never thought possible previously.”

“The Internet was the first medium which really introduced me to body positivity and the idea that I don't have to hate my body. I think that surrounding yourself with those who, not only do not dislike their bodies but actually love and embrace them is extremely important, whether thin or plus size.”

Those women and since then, women on Instagram have been her self love inspirations. “Those out there who decide to love themselves, despite the world (are my idols). Instagram allows me to meet friends who aren't necessarily in my area. It provides be with some serious fashion inspo. Most importantly, it gives me strength. On the rough days, it pushes me to keep going, keep living.”

Being online can provide freedom and solidarity within our created safe space, but as we all know that body positivity doesn’t stop when you shut off your phone. Ashley makes sure that she does not limit her self love to IG posts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: ReadyToStare

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!


Alysse Dalessandro aka @readytostare is a force in the plus size community. She self identifies as “a size inclusive designer, fashion and beauty writer, body positive advocate, plus size fashion blogger, professional speaker, and all-around loudmouth.” She is also the entrepreneur behind the Ready To Stare brand which was one of the first to design plus size body chains. The online boutique now includes jewelry, t-shirts, and other fashion accessories.

According to their website, “Ready to Stare believes in fashion as an act of empowerment and the name itself was inspired by designer Alysse Dalessandro's own experience being fat shamed, harassed, cat-called and bullied for the way she dressed.” Also featured on their website is a blog where Alysse shares look books ranging from daring to easily wearable every day outfits.

No matter what social media account of Alysse’s you browse you will find one underlying theme – unapologetic fierceness lined with positivity. After starting her brand, she realized quickly how much she could affect people just by being herself.

“I started posting selfies when a friend told me that my business was suffering because I wasn't infusing any of myself into it. I was really afraid of my visibility for a long time and posting selfies was so scary for me. Having that outside voice believe in me and tell me that I could do it really helped.”

She started to establish herself as a trusted voice in plus size fashion and body positivity in early 2014. She not only speaks out about body positive issues on her personal sites, but writes for Bustle, The Curvy Fashionista, On The Plus Side & more. She says bloggers like Tiffany of The Fat Shopaholic, Essie Golden, GabiFresh and Jessica Luxury really helped (encourage her visibility) too.

Now, with over 48,300 followers on Instagram she is one of the most visible plus size voices out there. Of course with so many eyes on you, there is bound to be some negativity. Online haters are easy for her to handle as she employs the “read, delete, block, and move on” technique.

In her day to day, dressing loudly and not hiding her body she receives more in her face comments – literally. “I receive hateful comments all the time about the way I dress. People have been rolling down their windows of their car to scream hateful things at me while I am simply existing and thriving in my fat body for years. I refuse to hide my body and that bothers people online and IRL. It makes me sad that someone is that uncomfortable by seeing a confident fat girl that they go through all that effort to try and bring her down but I'm glad I'm not that kind of hateful person.” And even though her desire is to shake it off and let it go, it still affects her from time to time.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: Peach_E_Paige

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!



They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. They enjoy cooking, music, romance, working with their hands. – Maybe instead of writing my own article on Courtney I could just continue to list traits about the Taurus. Of course, that would not only be lazy, but unjust. You need to hear her story.

Courtney, aka @peach_e_paige, recently moved to Lexington, KY to pursue a post secondary education. This involved packing up everything she owned in her car and driving from Florida by herself. She’s working three jobs to keep herself afloat – all of which include her standing on her feet and working with her hands – no desk jobs here!

“Long story short? I am trying to build a future for myself from the ground up so I can earn a degree in Pharmacy/Writing to better help the educational and medical communities around the globe; implementing methods to educate and provide resources for those women without proper tools who have experienced sexual assault, physical assault, and rape so they can properly heal themselves. Also, to rise up against the board of education asking for reformation on how attacks on campus are handled for the attacker and survivor.”

With over 3,000 posts on her Instagram you will find everything from bikini shots and mirror selfies to landscapes and food porn. She calls herself “Pro Body.” Glancing through her feed and only looking at the images though is not seeing the whole picture.

“Originally my account was nothing more than a place to post pictures and words too daring for Facebook. Slowly, as time progressed, it has become much more than a place to dump ideas, but more so to create and inspire. I keep my Instagram account afloat despite all efforts to shut it down at times because it holds me accountable. I try to post something relevant, honest, or emotionally daunting at least 1-3 times a week. My captions are always written first on my phone or laptop before any pictures are shot. I believe there is more of an impact in my wit, wisdom, and truths than there are in my images.”

Littered throughout her captions are comments on society’s view of fatness in regards to health, self love encourage, commentary on internet trolls, and advice on how to live a body positive lifestyle. Health specifically is an area of Courtney’s self love journey that she speaks about openly and regularly. Her relationship with food has been a rocky one.

“My disassociation with healthy eating habits began as early as 7th grade. I distinctly remember a time I was eating at a pizza buffet with friends from my home school association club and my anxiety spiked because all the other girls ate 2 slices, while I ate 7. In order to advert their attention to my choice to eat 7 slices of pizza I challenged the boys to an eating contest. Thirty minutes later I had gorged on 16 slices of pizza, feeling sick, stressed, and ashamed, I went home and threw up. Knowing from then on, I would probably struggle with food but knew of no one to turn to. My obsession with control over my food to help calm my anxiety, cure my loneliness, or channel my rage spiked at the age of 20 when I weighed my heaviest at 405lbs during my time in Memphis, TN. It was not until my visit with a nutritionist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL in the spring of 2015 that I sought proper help for my inability to stop myself from eating excessively.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: Danielle.Bex

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!


Joining us today we have Danielle aka @danielle.bex. With over 8,000 followers it’s safe to guess you might have seen her twirling on your discover page. This software developer's journey to Instagram started by her not wearing pants.

“In November of 2014 I decided to stop wearing pants. I did this because I fell in love with a dress at the local plus size boutique. It was retro, beautiful, and $180. I bought it. At the time I had something like 10 dresses or less in my closet. Most of these dresses I had never worn. I decided that I was not going to wear pants any more for some undetermined amount of time. This was the only way I could force myself to wear my dresses and skirts. It was super scary for me, but I did it.” The owner of this local shop, Jenny posted a few pictures of Danielle on her social media. People left comments in admiration of Danielle’s confidence. She says it was huge deal to her that Jenny thought she was cute enough to an ambassador for her store.

“I later signed up for Gwynnie Bee and my friend complained that she never got to see these cute dresses I wear because I send them back after I wear them. I then decided to start posting photos of myself to Instagram everyday and the rest is history.”

Instagram has played a very big role in her spreading postivity and lucky for us, she doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon. “On the internet I get to be a part of a body positive community. I get to know I am not the only fat girl out there celebrating her body and not caring what society thinks about it.”

“It is important to me to maintain my Instagram because I exist. I think it is important for people to see that their are humans different from themselves who are happy. I think the world on the whole needs to learn that there is no one way to live and single road to happiness. I also love bringing positive vibes into a world that has so much negativity. Instagram gives me a space to smile and know that someone will appreciate it. I might brighten someone's day by just being cute and sharing my story. I dig that.”

Her body positivity and self love agenda is not soley restricted to the internet either.

“I introduce conversations all the time. I talk about self love frequently. I try not to invalidate anyone's feelings. Society is a fucked up place. A size six human can feel they are fat and that is not invalid. It is important for that person to realize that my experience of the world is different from theirs. It is important for them to recognze I have a lot of size discrimination they don't have to deal with. However, they deserve self love just as much as I do. They deserve to wear a bikini and do it with the lights on and be comfortable in summer. I love being able to encourage my friends to feel empowered in their bodies.”

While her feed is littered with her pearly whites, Danielle does have her bad days. She finds that posting a picture on Instagram can sometimes do the trick to turn her day around. “It reminds me on the daily that my struggles are real. There are other wonderful humans who ‘get it’: They have had the mother who put them on diets or had friends who tried to instruct them on eating habits or recognizing that "fat Monica" on Friends was problematic. I am not the only one who sees the problems. I am also not the only one who experiences our wins like Gabourey Sidibe getting a sex scene on Empire (fuck yeah!).”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: Dudzilla

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!



Joining us today we have Rachel aka @dudzilla. With 3,000 posts on Instagram and as many followers, she is a fierce force online. Personally, Rachel and I have been following each other for about four years and I consider her a friend. She is an X-file loving tattooed goddess with two adorable cats, but who is she behind the Starbucks straw?

Rachel does not advertise herself as a body positive account, but sometimes those are the people that I find most inspiring. Her’s is a personal account found popularity, in my opinion because of her wonderful transparency. She shares poetry, fashion, and stories from her everyday life. By day she works in management for a luxury furniture company. She's lovingly described herself as the "resident weird girl" at her work which seems to just mean that she's wearing purple lipstick and tulle sometimes.

As a child and into her teenage years, Rachel was bullied. "My step mom has a lot of body image issues and took those out on me since I was about five. I was also bullied a lot as a kid/teenager, in school. I was lucky enough to meet friends, around 8th grade, who were built similarly to me. That helped me to not feel so isolated and to shake off/invalidate any of the mean comments." She said now, hateful comments online don't really affect her. "I don’t get a lot of it (hate), but when I do, I either just delete the comments or laugh at them. After being bullied as a kid, I kind of lost the ability to let people I don’t know/care about hurt my feelings." I asked her if she ever received any negativity offline. "I carry myself pretty confidently, so most people aren’t comfortable coming up to me, much less insulting me."
She told me that back in the big days of tumblr, there were a few fat positive pages that she followed and eventually submitted to. “My self love journey started by exposing myself to people who looked like me and were happy and thriving. I later found out that a big piece of that was called body positivity.” Now, that she's involved in the Instagram community a few of her bopo inspirations in no particular order (just going through her following list…) include @rahaharawr, @jedetestetori, @thechristinecho, @girthakitt, @tonsablush, @fatshionqueen, @thunderthighssavelives, and @plussize_me. The relationships she's built, especially with fellow women (of all sizes), is what keeps her coming back to IG day after day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Waging War: A Slam Poem

Read the words after the jump.

Friday, March 25, 2016

#thisbody has a mind of its' own

Lane Bryant once again is all over my Facebook feed thanks to a recently banned from TV advertisement. The #thisbody commercial features models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, and Georgia Pratt. The models are shown in a variety of activities, most of them involving little to no clothes, but ranging from kickboxing to breastfeeding.

Just like their prior #imnoangel campaign for Cacique and their #plusisequal campaign, the #thisbody campaign encourages a social media takeover. Lane Bryant once again created merchandise specific to their campaign and a website along with the hashtag. They have their “manifesto” posted on the website which starts “This is my body. I live in it. Love in it. Work it all the way. This body is all me. Every curve, every roll, every inch. This body is with me every day.”

The brand’s CEO and president, Linda Heasley has said, “Our goal is shift the perception from Lane Bryant as a store for plus-size clothing, to Lane Bryant as an inspiring brand for empowered, beautiful, and confident women.”

As a plus size woman, I don’t need a store to help my empowerment. I don’t need a store to make me feel beautiful. I don’t need a store to tell me it’s okay to be confident even though I’m fat.

I need a store where I feel confident shopping. I need a store where I can find affordable well made comfortable clothes. I need a store that will provide the opportunity for me to spend less than $35 for a t-shirt. I need a store that knows what the typical office employee handbook allows you to wear to work and doesn’t just design shirts that need a cardigan over them. I need a store that caters to young women who can’t afford $50 shorts, but are too big for the “teen” plus size lines at Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe. I need a store that wants to be a store for plus-size clothing because there’s just not that many options out there.

This Body is just another brand campaign. This is a multimillion dollar company jumping on the body positivity train to make themselves seem more relatable. I am not against normalizing plus size bodies. I am a huge supporter of the body positivity movement, but for a brand to take on this battle cry as their own is something different. For a brand as large as Lane Bryant to take on this movement as an “important” part of their company, they should be doing more. 

All five models featured in the banned commercial are between 5’9” and 5’11” and wear sizes 14-16. The models on their website show the same size trends as well as the models featured in their previous hashtag campaigns. However, when shopping at Lane Bryant, you can find sizes from 14 (0X) to 36 (5X). So, just like every other clothing brand out there Lane Bryant is putting their slimmest foot forward. For a brand promoting body positivity, why would you not want to make all of your shoppers feel represented?

Lane Bryant is just doing what all advertising has ever done: make people feel like their worth is dependent on a product. They’re not making their clothes any more affordable or accessible; they’re hijacking our bopo message to bring a feeling of community and brand loyalty. Looking toward a clothing company to help empower us is not the way to self love; it never has been and it never will be. Lane Bryant doesn’t need to help plus sized women be normalized for straight sized bodies. Lane Bryant has always been a plus sized company. Their loyalty should be to us – to making plus sized women feel comfortable in their store and in their clothes, not in making everyone else think we’re allowed to exist.


Until Next Time,
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