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.”

Friday, July 8, 2016

My White Privilege

"All lives matter," a post from a Facebook "friend" starts. I read the post, really trying to listen to what the writer is saying. My fingers hover over the keyboard before typing furiously trying to clarify and explain this "friend's" erroneous statements. I read my comment, I reread my comment. My heart beats fast as I scan for anything that could be argued against. I must only present facts, things that can be proven. I must not make a typo or misspeak in any way lest they misunderstand. I hit send and my heart pounds. I stare at the open Facebook tab in the background waiting for those notification numbers to start popping up. Will I lose a "friend" today?
And to the #alllivesmatter people - it's not either or.

I am a white woman and I am scared to stand up for what I believe in - equal rights for every human. I'm scared for the threats I may receive, for the hate I may get. I stop myself and think - if I'm scared in my white body, how terrifying must it be to have darker skin? How absolutely exhausting is it to carry around that weight with you for simply existing?

I am no expert. I am not in a position to tell anyone how to fix the systemic racism in our country. I am not in a position to discuss gun laws or murder prevention. I am not in a position to speak from the perspective of any other situation than my own. I am not knowledgeable enough or conceited enough to think I have all the answers.

What I do know is that it's not up to any POC to educate white people on how to help, but it is on us to help. As a person with a white privileged voice, I have to speak out. There is a lot of scary and confusing things happening in America right now, but it's so important that you're paying attention. This does affect you, no matter your skin tone.

A cry I've heard from so many is "How can I help?" So, here's what I'm doing. I don't know if it's right and it doesn't feel like it's enough. I'm open to any suggestions. Like I said, I'm not an expert, but I know I need to be doing something.

  • Back Up
    • Acknowledge that you, a white person, don't know what it's like to be a POC. Believe experiences people share with you. Believe their feelings of uncertainity and unsafety.
  • Educate yourself. 
    • Diversify your news sources. Find outlets other than CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. Read opinion pieces and social media from people who are there live on the ground. Do you research. Arm yourself with knowledge. Read everything. Don't believe just one person, don't believe just me.
  • Use your voice. 
    • As a white person, you are in a position where other white people are more likely to listen to you. Use this privilege as a power. Correct people when you hear them telling the story wrong. Comment on Facebook statuses. Speak out when you hear someone misspeak even when it's uncomfortable. Don't stand for racist jokes, don't allow casual racism to be part of your conversations. Show up for POC. We are all in this together at the end of the day and until ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬, ALL lives do not.
  • Raise your voice. 
    • Don't let yourselves become desensitized to murder. Every day there's a new horror, this does not make it okay. Do not become indifferent. 
Some good resources: How White Silence HarmsWhite People Who Love Black CultureWhite AlliesMisconceptions. Any others welcome, including book/movie suggestions. Please leave in the comments below.

UPDATE 7/15/16

I asked for literary recommendations on my Facebook in order to help education myself. I wanted to pass along the information to you.

So far: How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, Progress and Poverty by Henry George, Frederick Douglass' slave narratives, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The People's History by Howard Zinn, and  Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates.

Short readings: "Black Men in Public Spaces" by Brent Staples. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy Macintosh.



To my friends - I'm sorry this took me so long. I didn't know how to help. I didn't know if my voice mattered and I didn't want to step over yours. I am here for you. I will be standing with you until equal is truly equal. If you have any criticisms on my own actions, please tell me. I want to be on the right side of history. It is not your responsibility to put me there, but I am open to any advice you do wish to share. I will share your truths whenever you want. My blog is a safe and open space for anyone that wants to share their story. I love you. I'm sorry we're failing you.

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!).”