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.