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.

"I think it probably looks a lot more glamorous and easy online than it actually is."

She believes that internet is a great tool for body positivity because it gives you greater access/exposure to bodies that look like your own. It can be a double edged sword however. Rachel told me "I think it probably looks a lot more glamorous and easy online than it actually is. There are a lot of bad body image issues that happen in real life, which I don’t often talk about. I think that it’s important for BoPo specific accounts (to speak out about their body issues). I think there’s a lot of strength in vulnerability, and if your presence isn’t to help empower other people, why even associate yourself with body positivity?"

When asked about how body positivity affected her life, she delves into great general self love advice. "I think that body positivity opens up a bigger door, which is: What are the things that I’ve been taught are right or wrong since childhood? Are those things valid? Do I really agree with them at my core? If not, I throw them out." What are some ideas she's thrown out you ask? "Specific to the concept of body positivity… the idea that it’s okay if I’m fat, as long as I’m healthy. No one owes health to anyone and people prioritize health differently. What clothing/etc. looks good on me and on others. Being critical of others in general, especially when it comes to their appearance. The idea that I will be happier if I lose weight."

Body positivity has also changed the way she interacts with others. "I am extremely complimentary towards others, especially those that are not 'conventionally attractive.' I point out, in person, how wonderful certain (physical and otherwise) qualities are in people. If we’re close enough, I also question them when they say mean things about themselves and try to help them see why there’s no benefit to that behavior."

Even with self love and acceptance, we all have bad body days. Her advice is self care, which can mean different things for everyone. Her own brand of self care includes taking a bath, reading, listening to records, shopping, writing poetry, and doing nice things for others. 

Something she’d love to see in the future of body positivity is more of variety to shapes and sizes. “Due to some crazy life changes/stress, I have lost a lot of weight over the last year and a half. I am now a size 16/18, but was a size 26/28 at my largest, and could very well be there again someday. Throughout that time, I didn’t feel as represented in the community.” We both agree that we feel this is the norm for the mainstream bopo community, which obviously gets the most exposure; however, she thinks she’s cultivated a good, versatile group of people to follow (size/race/etc). All in all, “this is not a popularity contest. We will grow stronger from learning and growing from each other. The more we connect with one another, the better this community will be.”

Lightning Round

What’s your favorite good mood song?
  • Magic by Pilot

What’s a movie that never get’s old?

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

What’s a book you could read repeatedly?

  • Dirty Pretty Things by Michael Faudet.

Favorite ice cream?

  • Cookies & Cream or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Favorite brick and mortar store?

  • Old Navy.

Favorite online store?

  • Probably ASOS.

Favorite drink?

  • Water, coffee, tea – in that order.

Do you have any hobbies?

  • Collecting all the things! Records, books, pins, tattoos, etc.
And if you're looking to throw her a themed birthday party, Mad Men all the way.

Until Next Time,
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