The following is a brief compendium of Size Acceptance advice I have picked-up along the way. There are so many beautiful humyns doing this work; many starting well before me, who truly paved the way for my own voice to feel safe enough to come forth – I am grateful for their bold activism in the face of a fat-shaming world.

I dedicate this list of 7 Body Positive tips to those individuals enacting warrior goddess supremehood daily; you inspire me to continue visibilising the Size Acceptance Movement from my perspective…

 

1. Break through the myth of “dressing for your shape!”

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 5.42.22 PM8e916938f9f4b2ef65ea8782851846cb

 

This great cartoon “PSA” that went viral last summer is forever etched in my brain, and pretty much says it all! Also, the rise of the “fatkini” trend has been growing ever-stronger and exponentially I’d say – even gaining mainstream media features. Bottom line: dispel the ongoing fashion myth that because your body is a certain size or shape, then you must only wear what is “socially acceptable” in that category. fucking false – rock whatever you want!

 

2. Rock the “Visible Belly Outline” (#VBO)

tumblr_nieoroPDvd1qkw8xro1_500  tumblr_nj4jt9sMvG1qbonjoo7_1280

[RELATED POST: 10 Favorite #Fatshion Inspired Looks] 

Rocking the VBO, celebrated joyously on fyeahvbo.tumblr.com, is a newer phenomenon for me personally, which I have been exploring, but one that womyn worldwide are already OWNING! Not only is wearing a crop top that shows skin a thing of-the-now, so is allowing the tummy to be highlighted within high-waisted skirts or form-fitting dresses and jeans – hiding it or covering it up with a baggy shirt or sweater is only ok if by personal styling choice (hey, the spirit of the 90s is alive in Oakland for sure) rather than because of shame.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 4.54.01 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 7.48.34 PM

 

3. Divorce meaning, value, and worth from label size, as it is a fake trap!

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 6.42.15 PM    tumblr_nhz4neV06K1trx44po1_500

 

My closet is filled with a range of sizes, depending upon the store politics, brand, or even the era the clothing was designed in – I’ve found much vintage often honors and accentuates curves, as do many coveted burgeoning body positive indie brands specifically geared toward the mission of Size Acceptance (*although some larger sizes still can be limited or nonexistent). Also: remember my first-ever article for WYV?! In it I rocked a fierce wool sweater with rainbow pastel colors woven-in, featuring a skull and crossbones – I personally think it looked BOMB – it is made by the illustrious Top Shop and mine is a US size 6 (*insert: shock and awe here* – to freak potential fashion snobs out even more I will also let you know I purchased it basically new for less than $20 at a “Crossroads” thrift store! mwahahah)! It fit comfortably after a bit of intentional stretching and first-time wear; all of which I allowed myself to dream possible rather than being limited by the stupid tag – plus I just HAD to have it. Here are a couple of my other favorite looks:

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.27.21 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.30.01 PM

{*I remember vividly being a teen surrounded by stupid little moose insignias aka Abercrombie & Fitch attire – this brand certainly did not include my size. I specifically recall once attempting shamefully to squeeze into a size “large” shirt and feeling so wrong about myself in the process – meanwhile I also realized that some of my very thin friends even wore a size large in Abercrombie standards. More than that though, I remember with almost perfect visceral sensation, the feeling of needing to shop alone and explicitly sneak around the corner in the tiny mall in New Hampshire to literally one of my only options at the time: Lane Bryant (don’t even get me started on how bleak that fashion reality was/is; that’s a whole other article). While there I would try to find some way to assert my own individual quirky style amidst horribly pleated pants and blousy tops fit not even fit for my 85 year old future self! I even remember making sure nobody I knew was walking past as I entered and exited, and always made sure to drape my coat over the blatantly labeled shopping bag – later, when cute outfits had been successfully achieved because of my own styling skills I had honed, and my size 0 peers complimented me on a particular outfit, asking where I got it, I distinctly remember lying (I also had confusion that they thought my body could even fit in the same clothes theirs did). I would never reveal my shame to them , even if I was unconsciously wearing it right on my boldy-colored sleeve.}

4. Continue perpetuating the wide-spread visibilizing of fat bodies as a form of political activism.

img1425497208157 (1)

@gabifresh instagram account

 

 

“Since fat bodies are so politicized, dressing them becomes a political act; I’ve talked to a lot of fat girls who choose to wear loud outfits precisely because they want to be visible in a world that tells them they should hide.” -Gabi Fresh

 

5. Look at all clothing with a creative eye; not as it is exactly presented on the rack!

10931128_794412139691_7591942091479856872_n

image source: @somewhere_under_the_rainbow instagram account

…As in: Have no fear to purposefully rip some seams or cut off sleeves to achieve your ideal fit! I am shown in the middle here with friends; fat activist Virgie Tovar, left, and Halmoni Vintage owner Natasha Harden, right. Note: Virgie’s DELICIOUS looking donut dress – she made it herself out of two sweatshirts and “minimal sewing!” Not only is it truly fabulous, but it’s one “gluten-free” donut experience I can endorse! Recently she boomed social media with this self-made fatkini:

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.08.05 PM

image source: @virgietovar instagram account

Virgie made this epic donut swimsuit out of two pairs of leggings (noticing a frosted theme here, making me hungry) and I say: WERK womyn!!! Turns out there are actually many blogs, YouTube channels, and Pinterest boards that instruct on “DIY fashion hacks” a.k.a. tricks of the trade that may work for your body too!

 [RELATED POST: From Bikinis To Brains]

6. Exude the confidence, brilliance, and self-love that help you rock from inside out!

tumblr_nirpz6bpJS1sphpgdo10_1280

 

 

– even if you’re at the point I have been at and sometimes re-visit of “faking it until you’re making it”…

I think there is truth the fact that exuding self-love even when you’re still on the journey toward it can help bring that into actuality. In this way, one is creating her/his/zir/their own reality – the one you wish to see is actually being lived out…and let me tell you, that ish is contagious! *It is important to highlight here that my message is not about perpetuating the mainstream myth of “beauty” back into the body positive community, which I see happening over and over again, but it is to assert that there IS BEAUTY in LITERALLY EVERYTHING and EVERYONE – that means EVERY BODY. Having what is traditionally conceptualized as “beautiful” facial features makes me no more beautiful than some one with a bigger nose or wider eyes or a unibrow (*hello – Frida!) or acne and so on… I feel honored to be in a position of power to leverage my voice and my body and have them heard and seen, but I am not comfortable being put on some sort of prettiness pedastal. (and no this has nothing to do with how flyyyyy I find my own self, but it comes from knowing that what I have to offer the word, my truest gifts and passions, do not come from what is presented on the surface of my skin.)

tumblr_nirpz6bpJS1sphpgdo7_1280

(*check out  Proud Mary fashion’s stellar lookbook!)

 

7. Take back the word Fat!

(….just like so many such as myself have taken back the word Queer)!

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.00.35 PM

@sdfatswap instagram account

 

 

IMG_5760

Image: Rachel Otis; at Fatty Winter Wonderland clothing swap.

 

Both of these photographs, which were taken at Fat Clothing Swaps in San Diego and Oakland, speak to the fact that much healing and reclamation of self (spirit and body) occurs in fat community with support. I cannot wait to attend another local swap, which I will certainly be writing about. As I type I’m also realizing that it was because of this Photography job, that I now have the ability to #WearMyVoice for all of us in this forum!

[RELATED POST: Fatty Winter Wonderland: A Fat Positive Clothing Swap]

I used to cringe and attempt to shrink when any one used to allude to my larger size, let alone call me fat. Working as a nanny for so many years, it has been interesting dealing with this concept with children – and fascinating to see how fat phobia trickles down from adults to the youngest of children, and oozes out in unexpected ways. What I find interesting, is that every time a child has called me fat in the past, myself or another adult has corrected them with some sense of, “Rachel’s not fat, she’s beautiful.” Now, however, I am able to utilize these as teaching moments to assert; “I am fat, and that’s ok, and I am beautiful.”  For example, a little girl I nannied in the past said to me, “You have FAT arms!” I responded enthusiastically without skipping a beat, “Thanks! You have skinnier arms! Isn’t it cool that everyone’s body’s are so different? It would be so boring if we were all the same!” I would be completely lying and therefore not serving my ultimate message of self acceptance if I didn’t say there are bumps along the path. For example, another child I nannied screamed “Fatso” at me during pretend play in a mean tone. For that moment, I was snapped back into my shame from the past, which still haunts me in the present, and often unable to speak about it to anyone….until now. I was able to take a moment to breath, ground in my adult body, and tell this child that using fat in a mean way could hurt people’s feelings, and that being fat is ok, being skinny is ok, and so is being anywhere in between. 

Comments