Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2020-03-30

Worm Composting aka Vermiculture: Fun Family Activity!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bevin @ 8:09 pm

My mom first showed me worm composing aka vermiculture when I was a teenager. I didn’t help much back then except to sometimes put the kitchen scraps in the bin, but it was really fun to see the worms enjoying meals that were otherwise waste.

Nowadays I’m living down the street from mom and helping her out with a fresh crop of worms! Vermiculture is a quality, fun family project!

Mom has used worm compost in her gardens on and off since the 70s. She has anecdotal evidence that the compost helps plants grow exponentially bigger than with miracle grow based on the results of her smaller worm composting last year.

Worm composing is essentially keeping worms as working pets. You create the right environment for them, feed them the correct scraps and in time have incredibly nutrient dense compost to put into gardens.

We have learned a lot in the past four months and I wanted to share some of our key learnings.

Plastic storage bins that are roughly this size have been most effective for us. We tried bigger bins and those didn’t fare as well as the more shallow bins.

Drill holes too small for the worms to wiggle out of about 2 inches apart so that air can get in and water can drain out. Holes on the bottommost part of the bin and around the top side of the bin are sufficient.

Drill holes near the top of the bin for air. My mom said these holes were too close together.
Drill holes in the bottommost parts where water will otherwise pool.

Lay down a layer of paper scraps, fertilizer and a bit of soil for grit, approximately 2 inches high total and well mixed.

Add in kitchen scraps. No citrus, meat or trash. Veggie ends, banana peels, coffee grounds (mom opens up her kcups and dumps the coffee out), tea bags made with paper filters, apple cores. Those kinds of things. I hold onto veggie ends for making bone broth but anything else ends up scraps for the worms. We learned that the worms did not like old bread or gluten free matzo. They loved the leftover flowers from dead hydrangeas but not the stems (they ate them clean like rib bones).

Next add in red worms. You can get them from a bait store or oder them online as my mom originally did. They multiply in the bins so start with 30 or so per bin.

Then a layer of leaves for insulation, and a layer of newspaper for insulation. Then a good amount of water so it’s damp but not drippy.

Set the bins someplace where they won’t freeze in the winter and maybe out of the light of the sun. Under a deck, in a corner of the garage or a shed are great spots. Set them on top of a tray (we used old plastic bin lids) so that you can catch the compost “tea” that drains out. This is great for adding nutrients to plants! We have many bottles of it after this winter.

You’ll need to visit the worms about every 3-4 weeks to add more kitchen scraps, more water, drain the tea off the drip trays and make sure the worms are doing okay (this is how we learned they were rejecting bread and matzo). Eventually, a few months later, you can go in and pull out the “worm casings” as mom calls it. That’s the nutrient rich soil.

Sorting through looking for worm friends!

It’s such a great opportunity to teach children about reducing waste, gardening, worm lifecycles and also it’s really fun and rewarding to have worms doing dirty work for you!

We’re using this time to expand our worm composting since, due to quarantine, we’re making the garden bigger. So as we go through and pull out casings for the garden we are creating additional bins and moving some of the worms into the new bins.

I didn’t get too terribly specific here since there are lots of resources and how to videos on the web and you tube. Wanted to share how fun and rewarding this project is and introduce you to this awesome adventure!

Hydrangeas that sprouted inside the worm bins! Excited!

2020-01-23

I’m Not Broken

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Bevin @ 3:00 pm

The other day my friend Matie asked whether Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide was still available somewhere. As is my practice when I know something’s on my blog I popped over, only to realize my website was down.

This is the sixth time I’ve had a catastrophic site is down issue with a WordPress site. (Hackers, theme errors, you name it.) I know now the value of a great webhost because DreamHost was able to help me get it back up and running from the back end and I still had my archives.

I had to leave my previous theme because those were the errors that shut down the site. Though I’ve correctly added a new header and customized this theme it’s still not working and the site still kinda looks broken even though it’s not fundamentally broken. (Kinda like my heart and my spirit this past year.)

I’m still here. The website is still here. I want to keep the archives up because I know this blog platform has helped folks on their journeys. I also still have some bloggin’ in me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how different my life is from the recent posts up here. I am now single, after planning a wedding pretty publicly. I now live on the Olympic Penninsula in Washington State. The short version is that I couldn’t afford to keep living in LA–I tried my darndest. I got a sublet down the street from my mom and am typing this while looking at the forest and some cute birds that are visiting.

I’m still teaching Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics, the class I created to sweep the margins of mainstream fitness and make aerobics for anyone of any body. I have a lot less touring and in person classes to offer for lack of capital and financial support. I remain committed to my weekly online class and have a small group of regulars who send me sweaty triumphant post aerobics pics that I treasure.

I’m on Episode 20 of my podcast and through a lot of life tumult keep putting out a new episode every Friday morning. It’s a lot about self care and weathering the storms of life and sharing the wisdom of my incredible friends. I think of it as a party where I get to introduce all of my friends to one another.

Right after I moved my main email I use with friends (it begins with iheart) stopped working. Google won’t let me log into it to fix it even though I have the password. So if you tried to email me and it bounced back, that’s why. Try me at queerfatfemme at gmail (which also wasn’t working for awhile because of forwarding failure but now is back up).

I have to wonder if people have tried to email me and it bounced or tried to come to my site and it wasn’t working (no idea how long). Or tried to text me at my old New Jersey phone number and no response.

I assure you, in spite of technical difficulties, in spite of all the things. I’m still kicking. At least aerobically kicking.

Knock me down 9 times I get up 10.

If you find value in what I do, my podcast, my instagram motivation or just love that this blog and Fat Kid Dance Party exist and want to see them move forward in the world, please be encouraged to donate!

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Love y’all. Thanks for continuing to show up. <3

2019-08-13

All Kinds of Bachelorettes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Bevin @ 12:53 pm

For those of you who don’t already know, six months ago my fiance decided to end our relationship. It was a huge surprise to me, since a showy proposal 13 months before and a plan for a big wedding was already in the works.

Six months out and I’m still reeling from the change that comes from the break-up of a long-term partnership, the cancelation of a hotly anticipated wedding and making rent in a house that made sense when I lived with someone / I’m still looking for a roommate.

I know “this too shall pass” and I’ll talk more about the emotional fall out in the next epsiode of my podcast. In the meantime, I’ve been deeply reconnecting with my friends and my loved ones.

Rachael, one of my besties and Bride Squad members, flew out to join me at the Glowing Goddess Getaway couples retreat in May. Originally I was scheduled to teach aerobics with my fiance. After we broke up, the GGG leadership told me ABSOLUTELY bring my bestie as my “couple” because they are inclusive by core ethics. Rach and I had the BEST TIME.

One of the best things about a break-up before a wedding is that I had already done the work to whittle down my closest friends into a “Bride Squad” (the cute designation I was using to refer to my bridal party). I dumped the traditional bridesmaids and maid/matron of honor for a gender neutral non-hierarchical group of folks who had been there for me throughout my young adult and adult life.

Having that Bride Squad? It was who was on SPEED DIAL during the last couple difficult months together and in the aftermath of the shock of a break-up. Originally they were meant to be there to support my transition into married life, but now they helped support my transition into my fresh singlehood.

This is the second time I’ve been engaged and not gotten married. I’m beginning to think playing online poker is more of a sure bet (and there is a lot you can learn from poker champs; Live Boeree’s TED Talk is an example).

Both times I was engaged I had to curtail the amount of folks in my Bride Squad due to my fiance and wanting to have even numbers on each side of the aisle. (I think we had 3 each for my first wedding to an introvert and in this past wedding we each had a dozen.)

To be honest, though, I think getting divorced or going through a major break-up you kind of need your squad more than ever. And it hasn’t just been my Bride Squad who has lifted me up these past few months, it’s dozens of my dear friends. Checking in on me, showing up for me, sending me cards, inviting me for dinner.

My friends Elizabeth and Priscilla showed up as my “Cheer Up Cherubs” to take me out to dinner while my ex and I were still living together. Love them!

I got to thinking, what if instead of having a Bride Squad I just had a Bevin Squad? Folks who show up for me, whether they even know me in real life or not. I’ve had tons of support and cards from folks who only know me from the encouraging words I post on the internet.

And the truth is, I have a beautiful lodge with a deposit on it, Dollywood adjacent. My mom put down the deposit and she doesn’t have much and I’m grateful for it. I don’t want it to go to waste. Without the limitations of a wedding, I could throw a much more modestly budgeted but possibly more fun and exciting gratitude party for everyone who loves me and has helped me through this extremely difficult time. And, anyone can be in my Bevin Squad for that because I don’t have to balance the aisle!

Most importantly. I have been engaged twice but NEVER HAD A BACHELORETTE PARTY. This must be remedied. Honestly, I’d rather celebrate my singlehood/non-married life while I’m living it and focus on creating the marriage I want when I find the right person.

East Coast Babes: I’ll be having a sweet, self-care focused Bachelorette at the Glowing Goddess Getaway in the Berkshires, MA on Sept 13-15. West Coast Babes, I know I’ll have a pool party and a trip to a rage room to break some wedding china Late Fall.

2018-09-27

My Big Fat Non Traditional Way of Dealing with Wedding Invites

About 10 months ago Dara asked me to marry her. I said YES of course! We knew we wanted a solid year and change to plan our dream destination wedding weekend/week and set out to find the best venue for our size wedding in the Smoky Mountains near Dollywood. It’s one of our favorite places in the world and saying “I Do” on a mountaintop felt totally right.

We found the venue and worked a solid month on our Save the Date document. It’s epic because we’re planning a long weekend of shenanigans with an optional week long stay for folks who want to help us get set up and do a little hiking (with the local chapter of Fat Girls Hiking!) and exploring.

 

I figured since almost everyone was going to have to travel for our wedding we would just settle into a destination wedding. It’s also kind of great because I really want to have quality time with everyone at my wedding and not just swirl past my loved ones at a party.

Dara and I are planning on a hundred people to start with, which is both a lot of people and hardly enough. Instead of compromising on an invite list we split the guest count in half. She went through her Facebook friends list in one cross country flight, decided who to invite and sent out the save the dates.

I have been working on my invite list for two months and have no idea how to decide between my friends. I think some of this is because I’m going to be a forty year old bride and I’ve lived a lot of life. I have a ton of people I love enough to want to join us on that mountaintop on my special day.

 

We’re planning on a week long stay in a cabin village that surrounds our venue, so it will be a lot like being in a tiny village with folks I love. This is a total dream! 

To go to Dollywood with and take as many pictures as we can at all my favorite Dollywood landmarks wearing vintage fashions. (Seriously this is the one time I can get everyone I love to go to Dollywood with me!) To go to the Smoky Mountain Adventure Dinner Theater, to celebrate our big Steel Magnolias BBQ themed rehearsal dinner, to be part of our epic shenanigans. To take our commemorative drone photo, Dara is inspired by a big beer commercial she’s obsessed with.

We’re getting a couple of llamas to come to the spiritual wedding for pics and emotional support!

My heart is kind of broken about choosing between people I love!

Dara is starting to doubt that I want to marry her because it has been taking me so long to send out invites! This is not my intention! I would marry her in our backyard right now if that was our option (but we both want the epic party)! My mom keeps asking me when I’m going to send them out and one of my Bride Squad just said to me, “Yo, B, you gotta send out that save the date!”

Processing about my wedding is helping me figure out what’s important to me and I thought I’d share with you about how I’m moving through this. And the unconventional way I’m choosing to resolve it!

  1. I’m Asking for a Hell YES!

This is my Year of Ask and Receive and frankly, asking people to show up for me is an area of growth! I have SO MUCH to celebrate this year and it feels overwhelming to ask folks to be part of it!

I’m turning 40!

My blog turns 10 in November!

I’m launching my Fat Kid Dance Party Workout Videos and I want a hella great launch party!

I’m having an epic Bachelez Party in Vegas on Dolly Parton’s birthday—January 19th weekend!

I’m launching my first Self Care Camp festival next summer outside Seattle, something that’s been on my heart for a long time. (That link is a video from my first planning meeting with Leo about Self Care Camp.)

I’m starting up Fat Kid Dance Party retreats in 2019. One is a Fat Mermaid Content Creator Retreat, another will be a FKDP Healing Retreat.

I have a lot of gratitude for the amount of people I love who have really shown up for me in my life and I think some folks are going to be drawn to certain events over others.

I feel like some are likely more into a big camping festival like Self Care Camp vs a Vegas weekend or luxury cabins in Tennessee. Some are more about the closeness we can get at a retreat of only a few people. And some don’t have a lot of money, time or attention to offer and could pop into a 40th birthday party in my backyard a little easier.

What it comes down to: I am asking people for a Hell Yes. I know it’s a lot financially to ask to go to a mountaintop long weekend/week long thing and I want folks to really want to be there and be high vibe.

Otherwise there are so many other ways we can celebrate and I need help making those things happen, too! One of Dara’s besties, someone she had asked to be in her Broom Squad (what we’re calling our bridal parties—Bride Squad and Broom Squad), actually told us he would rather not come to the mountaintop because it was just too many people and interacting for his introvert heart. We received that and understood!

2. Money Stuff

Because talking openly about money helps bust up capitalist shame!

If I had unlimited income, we would just have a 400 person wedding and I wouldn’t even think about it. I have always seen myself as a bit of a Fozzywig character (if you’re familiar with the Muppet Christmas Carol you’d know the generous holiday party throwing Fozzie the Bear I’m talking about).

I have some friends who got married at the same stage of life we are at, invited 300 people to their wedding, 200 said yes and with their plus ones suddenly they had a 400 person wedding. I have some friends who expected 250 yeses to their wedding and ended up with 350 but turned no one away. (It wasn’t a seated dinner so that helped the flexibility.)

We are limited to 225 by our venue but we are starting with 100 because that’s what we can realistically afford. I’m still working without an income and building up Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics so we remain a one income family.

To be honest, the only reason we can afford to throw a wedding at all right now is that our moms both pledged to front our baseline budget and we are supplementing what we can. Praying that FKDP blows up once the workout videos are released so we can include more folks. Having a venue with flexibility that will allow us to increase our invite count as we have more resources was actually a great choice for us.

But it leaves me still pretty restricted about who can come to our wedding. 

And I also have so many different ways to connect this year and next, in different geographic spaces that I don’t want folks to feel like they need to trek to the Smokies and rent a luxury cabin in order to connect. Come camp with me at Self Care Camp next August instead!

3. Family

All of those “should” invites got dropped from my list pretty early on. I processed with my mom about it and she agreed, which really helped validate my thoughts. Which were basically, if a member of my birth family isn’t in my life, I’m not really interested in bringing them to the mountaintop. If they want to celebrate my wedding I have a ton of flexibility about who I can invite to my bridal shower. Which will be in California, and a lot more accessible to them! They are also completely invited to throw one for me! I figure the more the merrier in terms of occasions to celebrate this marriage!

There’s a swath of my family that can’t attend my wedding because it conflicts with my eldest cousin’s daughter’s graduation from high school (I cannot believe she’s already graduating) which sucks and I actually have a lot of grief around them not being part of my wedding. But the siren song of the Dogwood blossoms in the Smokies call me to be a Spring bride and our venue only had the availability for that particular weekend.

4. My Unconventional Solutions

Ticketing and Wait List

I am pretty comfortable doing things unconventionally and here’s what I’m doing. Instead of ranking people into an A list, B list and C list of invites, I’m just inviting whoever I want to invite. If they can RSVP with a Hell Yes, hopefully book a cabin with a 25% down payment (we can help facilitate shared cabins, we know who you’ll jive with) they’re on the list. Once I hit the cap of my 50 invites I’ll put folks on a wait list and slot them in as we have more resources to invite more people. This includes plus ones!

I’m pretty positive there will be more room as time goes on, I’m pretty positive that people whose income is wildly uncertain as mine has been the last few years will still be able to make those last minute calls. (I’ve missed a lot of weddings I would have wanted to attend because of funds; I’ve also attended a few as last minute guest because I could make it work and they had a slot open up.)

There’s definitely part of me who believes it’s kinda rude to invite people to an event but not hold space for them no matter what (since that’s what I want to do in my heart). I polled my facebook friends about it a couple months ago and it illuminated me about who felt it was rude.

One of the people who went to the mat to say that choice was rude ended up doing a hella rude thing to me shortly thereafter so I am taking those rude sayers with a gran of salt. My favorite thing I learned in therapy about criticism—“Consider the source.”

It feels like the easiest thing for my heart to do it this way and then I can stop stressing about who to include and who I might alienate. I’ve been told “The people that matter won’t mind and the people who mind won’t matter.”

Splitting up invites

Another unconventional thing I’m doing is inviting people to my Bridal Shower and Bachelez Party who are not on the invite list for the wedding. I feel like those things are the more the merrier. Plus there are plenty of weddings where I would have preferred to attend the Bachie and NOT the ceremony, and I’m super open to people making that choice with my festivities!

I’m undecided what is going to happen for my 40th birthday and unwilling to let my wedding festivities outshine the celebration that I have lived a full 40 years and became this fabulous! First of all, my value isn’t in my partnership or the legal recognition of same. And second of all I defied a lot of odds to make it this far and this fabulous at 40 so there you go.

More wedding processing to come, including whether and how to have my wedding gown custom made!

Meet Bevin!

Filed under: Video — Bevin @ 6:31 pm

Hey everybody!

I have a fabulous intro video, if you want to know more about me, check it out!

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2018-06-04

Bevin’s Rx to Increase Your Capacity this Summer—Number 1: Grab the text books

Counting the weeks until the launch of the Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics video for the wider public, I wanted to talk through how we can increase our capacity. What I’ve learned is that it’s not how many hours we have in the day (they are finite) it is how we use them. And the best way I’ve found to use them well is to do the inner work that keeps me from achieving my dreams.

There is so much great healing available to you this summer just by curating your beach bag / pool bag / commute bag / waiting for your kid while they’re in a class bag. I’m excited to share with you my top picks to thrive and heal this summer!

[This post includes affiliate links to Amazon–if you buy literally anything from clicking on my links to enter Amazon I get a referral credit and I appreciate the support!]

With the Seattle class of Fat Kid Dance Party in May–taking a picture with Jes’ book to tell her that Seattle was ready for her tour stop!

First is Landwhale by Jes Baker.

Jes is the first person to tell you she doesn’t have it all figured out. But her second book is so raw and real it creates empathetic realizations. A memoir titled after a reclaimed name lobbed at her by trolls on the internet, we journey with Jes as an internationally known thought leader in body acceptance who charmingly screws things up and makes peace with her mind and body. Her chapter about how she realized her father was the root of her body dysmorphia, digging into how his cycle of dieting and gaining weight and his judgment of her body created work she must do to make peace with her body. She reflects on how many different kinds of movement she tried to lose weight and how choosing no movement at all was an important pause for her to heal her relationship with exercise.

You’ll find yourself in her stories. Jes looks deep inside the history of her fat body and explores where many of her painful moments can connect her closer to liberation. Bonus for people who like to know other characters of the book, I show up about 2/3 of the way through the book during a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

Photo by Kristen Frantz

Second is The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor.

This is the book I will use as a textbook for anything I teach in the future and have already assigned to my intern Asher to read.

It is an incredible reflection about how oppression of all kinds, including body oppression, intersects on our body and interrupts our peace. Sonya is a well-known expert in finding body peace for a reason. She gets it. Her premise about Radical Self Acceptance is that we are all born self loving and that we are taught what keeps us separate from that. How our media perpetuates body terrorism. How we can develop resilience to body terrorism and heal our relationships with our bodies.

This book is so valuable! Definitely throw your journal and a pen in the beach bag along with this book because you will want to do her journal prompts. Do the work and achieve a more peaceful relationship with your body. Increase your capacity by unlearning what limits you!

Me and Amber Rae at one of her book launch events!

Third is Choose Wonder over Worry by Amber Rae.

Amber was called to write this book (she returns to the topic of needing to write this book and what blocked her from doing it many times as a teaching tool). It is so accessible and fast absorbing. I finished her 4 hour and ten minute audio book in one day.

It was an immersive seminar about how to create that pivotal pause between our thoughts and our action. The thing we’ve learned from thought leaders like Mike Dooley, Shaman Durek, Louise Hay, Iyanla Vanzant, and Wayne Dyer is that our thoughts create our reality. Amber gives dozens of pieces of practical application shifting yourself back into a positive mindset.

Without spiritually bypassing, she knows how to create a new and easier reality by embracing what each emotion we don’t like can teach us. Feeling jealousy, imposter syndrome, or shame is yucky but Amber tells us how to become BFF with our shame in order to let it disappear. At a $25 cover price the peace of mind afforded by this book is worth 100 times that value. You deserve to feel good.

I am excited to dive back into the work of Amber’s book and do the journal prompts.

Since I find learning and healing happens more for me in a group, I’m offering a special Beta Group Coaching Process for four weeks using Amber’s book as our text. We’ll do the work of meeting ourselves in our journals and convene to talk about our revelations, our resistance, and I’ll work with all of you to open up what’s blocked.

I’m releasing the tickets for the 8 person coaching group to my email list first. I’ll post the link to sign up here on Wednesday. Here it is!

2018-05-18

Five Steps to Help Me Get Clear About What I Want

I put up an instagram square last week testing engagement around some upcoming tour dates for Fat Kid Dance Party. I’ve been touring since the end of February and I’ve been so many places. Seattle, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, Tuscon, Austin, San Jose, Knoxville, and back to Seattle. Washington, DC and Chicago are scheduled–please go buy tickets!

The circle up after class that I’m doing now is so tender! Finding venues that are affordable enough to have the time to really connect after class is a priority for me! Photos in this post by Jess Milligan.

When I say “testing engagement” that’s just fancy start-up speak for “Hey is anybody out there?” It’s helpful because when I look at my calendar, what is already on my plate and what I’m trying to accomplish, I tend to gravitate towards max efficiency. My inclination is to find out if there are folks out there who might overlap with where I’ll be anyway and make it happen. This is how I ended up in Austin on a random Monday, I was there for a retreat anyway and it helped offset the cost of the trip. But max efficiency doesn’t always align with what I want, or what I have capacity for!

The response was pretty amazing in quantity but it was not geographically specific. There are folks all over who want me to tour in their towns, which is fabulous, but it is also heartwrenching for me! I’m a recovering people pleaser and I want to make everyone happy. And I’m not going to Utah anytime soon!

The whole group in San Jose!

In people pleaser recovery we learn that what we must ultimately do is the work of knowing what is in our heart, what makes us sing, and what we want. I learned from Jeffrey Marsh that we do not need to be “nice” (doing what other people think we “should” or saying what they want to hear), but we can be kind. We can kindly say, “Hey, this isn’t right for me right now.” And we can be kind to ourselves and let go of the need for other’s approval.

After I heard from folks about where they were going to be able to attend class I took a next step and created a google form. This way when I do make it to Utah I can reach those couple folks who want it and make sure they know I’m coming. And I can keep gathering info about engagement over time by having it on my website and it can help with planning as I have more capacity and more income to hire staff to increase my capacity.

Dawn came all the way from Santa Rose to San Jose (this is a 90+ minute drive in traffic) to take the class and won MVP from me for coming the farthest!

This week I devoured my friend Amber Rae’s new book Choose Wonder Over Worry on audio and had a major aha moment. She taught about the method of making a list of what you want to work on and then listing what you REALLY want. Then *gasp/heartbreak* dropping the other things you also want so you can focus on what you REALLY want first. She nailed this for me—I always WANT TO DO ALL THE THINGS but my capacity and income do not yet support doing all the things.

When I sit down and figure out what I really want in the next few weeks—it is to have a killer launch of the new FKDP website and workout videos. The tour helps that, but it also hinders it. When I travel my work capacity diminishes. I want to get lots of social media shareables and help all the folks in my networks and my audience of kindred spirits to have what they need to make this workout video wildly successful.


I considered, briefly, just putting the workout video up for sale and not doing a “launch plan.” Launch plan is start-up speak for all the things you plan to do to get as many people as possible to buy something right away. It involves a lot of media planning, sometimes it is events and sometimes tours, social media shares, lots of asking and receiving.*

Me and Amber (left) and Lauren right after we filmed Amber naked in a field of blue bonnetts reading the introduction to her book.

Watching these past couple months as Amber dialed in and executed a huge launch plan has been so inspirational that I just need to try! I’d rather swing and miss doing something my heart really wants than play it safe and play it small and just casually drop this workout video that could really change people’s lives.

Every time I think of playing small I remember Tr*mp is in office and it is not time to dim our lights, it’s time to shine! The more I shine and put my healing work in the world, the more I heal other folks who will then also shine and put their good work in the world! We need more people who are fully expressed! (I talked more about being fully expressed on my email list this week!)

Because I took the time to get clear on what I really want, it helps me plan my tour this summer. Portland and Seattle are definitely happening in July, Cleveland and Atlanta are definitely happening in August, and the other “efficiency” tour stops aren’t happening. My desire to max efficiency often overrides what I really want! And it takes a lot of effort to take a tour stop to a new place and trying to find and engage that new audience is more work I know I need to apply to my launch. So I’ll go more places in the Fall!

Practicing taking up space and NOT playing small at Fat Kid Dance Party!

I was trying to make something work while I’ll be on vacation with Dara’s family at the Jersey Shore but she asked me to just focus on being on vacation not on tour. And in my priorities being a loving and supportive partner is much higher than work!

Here are some things I do when I need to know what I REALLY want:

1. Journal, free form, from my heart to the page for ten minutes

2. Make a list of what I want and then really think through my capacity, recreate the list in priority order and grieve** my lack of capacity

3. Process with a friend—regardless of what they “think” usually when I talk through something I can feel in my body what lights me up versus what makes me feel tight/anxious

4. I pray for clarity—just a simple ask for clarity “Please show me my next right move”

5. Meditation daily—seriously helps me stay clear and on my path

Being clear about what you want serves everyone in your life! If you’re a parent, showing your kids how to make decisions that align with what they want by modeling how you make decisions about your priorities is a killer life skill that will keep them on their true path and help them not become people pleasers. When you know what you want the people in your life don’t have to guess about what you need or want. It helps you set boundaries! It keeps your drama low and less of a time suck.

For folks who are bummed I’m not touring to their town anytime soon I’m planning a retreat for November 2-4 weekend. I wanted to create an opportunity for folks who want an immersive Fat Kid Dance Party experience. It’s for ALL size people and a chance to take class three days in a row (the joy meter from that alone will be on and poppin’). Additionally we’ll be working through our barriers to self care and creating tangible action plans. For more info see this video and if you want to have the first chance to buy tickets when they go on sale, fill out this form.

The workout video launch is happening early July. If you want to get access to your videos on June 15th, barring any post-production delays, as part of the soft launch, it is your last opportunity to buy the workout videos now! They cost less at pre-sale than they will full price so if you’re thinking of getting them as a gift and want the discount, get it now! I’m closing down pre-sales on May 24th.

*To be honest I have no idea what a launch plan really looks like so if you’ve done one please send me a copy so I can use a template!
**For real, my expectations create a need to grieve sometimes!

2018-05-13

Gender and Size Inclusive Activewear, Swimwear and Underwear Brand TomBoyX!

This is a sponsored post by TomboyX, but all the words are mine and my mom’s!

It’s pretty special to be a queer person with a Lesbian mom. It’s nice to have that in common, even as my mom and I are as different as you can imagine a Glitter Mega Femme and a Tomboy can be (or, in astrology speak I’m a Capricorn and she’s a Cancer–we are literally opposite signs). Last year on a visit to mom in her Lesbian village in the woods deep outside of Seattle, she proudly showed me her TomBoyX bathing suit covered in jelly fish. She has never been this excited about a bathing suit in my whole life, so I knew it had to be special.

This whole outfit is still available at their website. Top here, shorts here. Photo by Jessica Hinkle.

She showed up to my workout video shoot a couple weeks ago with her latest TomboyX bathing suit as a wardrobe option and it was a great fit for the style! I had no idea their bathing suits could be used as activewear and my mom had so much to say about TomboyX that I thought a blog post was in order.

I asked TomboyX if they would partner with me to surprise my mom, Marianne, with a $300 gift card for Mother’s Day and they said yes! We went on a shopping spree together this weekend and she shared with me all the things she loves about TomboyX.

First of all, the combinations Activewear/Swimwear pieces. Mom likes the Activewear 9″ shorts for swimming and working out. How great that they offer different length shorts!

We bought her these in black for working out! (She’s an avid recumbent biker.)

She’s between their XL and 2X sizes. For working out on land she likes the bigger size, since she doesn’t like to wear things tight. If she’s planning to use a piece as a bathing suit she likes the fit to be clingy, and in her experience if she mostly wears the suit in the water it stretches a bit over time.

TomboyX goes up to a 4X in their clothing and starts at an XS–way to go covering a big spread in sizes, TomboyX! They’re also made in living wage factories, are constructed so they’re not bulky or ride up (no bulky flies like in traditional men’s underwear), and they have a love at first wear guarantee!

She bought a pair in the Octopus print to mix and match with the Navy/Orange set she already has!

The swim tops come in sleeveless, cap sleeve and long sleeve styles, which I think make them more gender inclusive and helps make being out swimming more accessible for more folks who are comfortable with more modesty, want different sun exposure, need a more masculine gender presentation in a suit, etc… My mom has psoriasis and the sun is good for it! She doesn’t let shame get in the way of her healing and gives it to the sun! Photo by Jessica Hinkle.

Mom got the Octopus print top to go with the activewear shorts for swimming.

On to underwear! Mom swears by their undies.

She lives in a tiny house, so she can’t have a huge underwear collection. But what she does have is mostly TomboyX!

Mom wears the XL in the 6″ Boxer Briefs. She has found the 2X gets too baggy for her overtime. The fabric is really soft “Like an old tee shirt for your butt and your thighs,” she says.

Because of her psoriasis it’s important for her to keep from getting damp and having the extended length boxer briefs keeps things from getting damp. It’s also chafe protection!

Only some of their underwear has rainbow on them but wouldn’t these be cute peeking over jeans in the Pride Parade?

She got the 6″ fly skull underwear as it was her favorite new print.

Mom is trying new things with this gift card! She bought the Micromodal Pajama Pants and was quick to point out she will be wearing this as just walking around town pants. I asked her how she would style it for her Pacific North West lifestyle and she said with a black and white plaid flannel shirt and a puffy vest. She got a 2X in those.

Mom got the TomboyX Army tee to rep the brand because she loves it and identifies as a Tomboy. She got this as a 2X!

She’s going to try out their bras now! She got an XL in the soft bra.

I asked her what she would want to tell the designers at TomboyX and she said to bring back this Tomboy print and more prints like it. She likes the graphic aesthetic of the older prints!

Thank you so much TomboyX for helping me delight and surprise my mom for Mother’s Day! If you ever need a model to represent age diversity, Mom isn’t far from Seattle where y’all are based!

2018-05-11

Three Methods I Use to Have an Easier Experience with Life

One of the best things I have ever done for my mental health is to adopt the world view of Pronoia. This is the assumption that everything in the Universe is aligning to my benefit. It’s described as the opposite of paranoia. (The term was coined by Rob Brezny, spelled out in this great and giant book.)

Last weekend when Dara and I were looking at wedding venues near Dollywood in the Smoky Mountains, we realized we have different ways of dealing with potential homophobia. We were originally going to talk on the phone to potential venues about whether they were friendly to host a Queer Wedding. I decided instead to utilize my gut instincts. I find, in general, if I assume people are going to be loving and kind to me, most folks rise to that occasion.

Dara, however, was definitely steeling herself for some potential discrimination.

This is a great example of the dichotomy between paranoia (Dara being afraid we would experience homophobia) and Pronoia (me assuming that people will be kind and loving).

I’m not giving you a blanket idea of how to deal with oppression in general, I’m just offering what works for me as a Queer Fat Femme in a heterosexually centered fatphobic society. I still loudly remark at the end of a movie when heterosexuality is reinforced, I still notice overt oppression against me as a queer fat woman with an exaggerated gender presentation. I see and experience all the ways in which this world is not built for human size diversity.

However, in general, I find when I assume strangers are intending to be loving and kind it makes my experience of living in an oppressive world a lot easier for me.

I acknowledge my White privilege in this. I grew up poor but I learned how to class pass early on and that does affect how I experience the world and overt or covert oppression. People of Color, Black folks, trans and gender non conforming folks, disabled folks, poor folks, older folks and other oppressed people have different experiences than I do.

Pronoia helps me keep my brain decluttered from other people’s judgments. I could spend a lot of time micro analyzing how strangers look at me or if I hear an audible sigh from someone seated next to me on a plane. Most of the time I assume their looks and sounds don’t have anything to do with me or my size. Maybe that’s not true, but probably it is true the majority of the time.

What I’ve noticed is that most people are so concerned with themselves they aren’t thinking about me. And when they are thinking about me or overtly judging or oppressing me, what I think about is how hard it must be in their own head. Because most folks who are pointing a finger have three pointed back at them, and generally those folks have a really nasty, self hating and judgmental internal dialogue.

It doesn’t mean that I’m bulletproof. I still have that coding in my brain that makes me feel conspicuous when I’m standing up in the aisle of an airplane waiting for the flight attendant to move because I can’t really squish around her. I’m reminded sometimes that I’m fat in public when I’m eating, but I’ve long lost the shame around being fat. I don’t think a lot of thin people have the same coding. Some do and if they feel shame around eating in public or standing in the aisle of an airplane worrying about their perceived size—that shame is from Fatphobia. Fatphobia affects everyone, no matter their size, but the oppression lands on the fat people not the thin ones.

We are really excited to have a destination wedding in the Smoky Mountains! We get to share a favorite place of ours with all of our friends and family!

I find it helpful to think of oppression as systemic and not something everyone is intending to promote in their unconscious actions. The wedding coordinators at the venues we were looking at, if they had any hesitation about us as a queer couple or didn’t know how to be “cool” around us about our Gay Wedding, that was a result of systemic oppression. Systemic oppression doesn’t excuse bad behavior or overt oppression but it does help me assume best intentions from people on the ground doing the best they can with what they have.

Engaging in Pronoia helps my mental health. When I assume the world is ultimately a kind place, when I don’t assume people are judging me (or thinking of me at all), when I don’t get caught up in shame and defensiveness, I’m just happier.

This is the type of thinking I hope to impart on all of the small children in my life through my example because they really learn mostly by example. We could use a generation that is exposed to kinder methods of self talk and compassion for self and others.

Here are some things I do that help support my Pronoia:

1. I treat it like a practice.
I lived in NYC for a long time and it taught me how to walk through the world and pay very little attention to how people are reacting to me. I also generally work to stay in a self loving and compassionate place which helps me feel more loving and compassionate towards others and assume they are reflecting that back to me. Pronoia in action.

2. I assume best intentions.
Impact is more important than intent. But in general, the impact of oppression on me is lessened when I can get to the compassion place. It also helps me not notice oppression against me and sometimes that’s just easier for me to exist within. Pronoia is about me living my best and most peaceful life and not about what someone’s intentions actually are.

3. I pray for it.
A very successful real estate agent I met at a conference a couple months ago taught me a practice she does every morning. She visualizes everyone on her path that day working in her favor, even folks she doesn’t know. She then holds gratitude for that. I haven’t started doing it every day but I do it every time I go to the airport because flying while fat is difficult and I can always use people (and spirit guides) working behind the scenes on my behalf.

Oppression leaves a lot of scars, especially when you’ve experienced repeated oppression, hurt and judgment. It can be really hard to move into Pronoia! If it appeals to you, I suggest taking one tiny baby step towards it by using only one of my tips above at a time and slowly incorporating it into your life. Like a couple minutes a day of intentional practice to start, It took me many years to get to where I am now!

The wedding coordinators we met with were a mixed bag. The first one was great, enthusiastic about our wedding but at one point late in the visit, when we asked about having the restrooms be gender neutral, made the effort to reassure us that she believes all people in love who want to make a life commitment should get to. The second place we visited was immediately off my list because it was sold to us differently over the phone than what they deliver for services. But I still didn’t get a real friendly vibe off the proprietor. But maybe he was having indigestion and not about us being homos, I don’t know.

The wedding venue we ultimately selected had both the coordinator and her assistant at our site visit. They never blinked about our queerness, the gender neutral restrooms were an easy yes for them and they are already thinking about beautiful signage. And they were both overtly excited about our wedding plans—we’re really excited to work with them.

This is where we’re going to get hitched!

2018-05-06

How My Year of Ask Project Helped Me Create an Incredible First Workout Video!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”—African Proverb

Last week I filmed the first workout video for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and these words never hit so close to home. For those of you who have been reading my blog for any part of the last ten years, you know I’m on a healing journey. Healing from origins I can identify and some I cannot. The process of healing, I believe, is awakening to who you really are at your essence.

Somewhere along the line, I absorbed the idea that if I didn’t allow people to help me I could take full credit for my success. This idea showed up most glaringly in the need to control and a paralyzing fear of making the wrong decisions. I also truly hated feedback and couldn’t distinguish between loving concern and criticism.

I asked Music Supervisor Lauren Ross to wear a Bikini Kill shirt to the shoot because they donated the use of “Rebel Girl” to the video!

In the process of creating the video shoot I absolutely had to ask for help. I wanted a product that looked better than what I could film on my own and I felt like my audience deserved a truly kick-ass workout video. There are a lot of slick videos to choose from for people buying into the idea that you must be striving to reduce your weight in order to be worthy. I wanted something that stands up against the razzle dazzle afforded by the billlion dollar diet industry.

The evening after the shoot I reflected that this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t harder than taking the bar in two states, or law school. It was certainly a difficult personal milestone, yet a million times more fun than passing the bar and getting a JD! I’d rather be doing this for sure.

All photos in this post by Jessica Hinkle, the fabulous stylist and indie designer. Check out her Proud Mary Fashion booth at RuPaul’s Drag Con this weekend!

The first big hurdle was, of course, the crowd fund. Asking for the amount of money I needed to create the thing I wanted was daunting. To be honest, I was simultaneously shocked and encouraged when it funded on the very date it ended!

I chose IndieGoGo because I was going to create something no matter how much the crowd fund brought in but I was glad that I got the opportunity to really hit one out of the park. (IGG lets you keep any money you raise, whereas Kickstarter is all or nothing funding.) I knew my crew needed to be diverse because that’s the kind of company I’m building. I believe that there is strength in diverse life experiences and perspectives and I strive to live my values as much as possible.

Marcy, Emily, my cousin Sooz and my Fiance Supreme, Dara.

I put out a call on a Women in Motion Pictures email list a friend tipped me off to (more help!) and I got a flood of responses by women who were interested in making it happen. I had no idea how to sift through them.

I asked for my friend Marcy Guevara-Prete’s help as an Executive Producer at that point because I knew she could help me make these choices and guide me through the process. She’s a TV Producer and celebrity stylist!

Marcy said to watch reels so, while on a visit with my mom in the woods outside Seattle, we tucked in and watched a lot of reels. Including some super boring reels and some that were experimental lesbian art. And some that looked expensive but were made on a small budget—-that was what I was aiming for.

I sent follow-up emails to everyone I was interested in, and asked Emily Aguilar to come meet with me because her response was the best of everyone. (I also had an intuitive hit about her.) She responded to my first email with a spreadsheet of a proposed budget and two possible locations to achieve the look I said I wanted. I loved how organized she was from the jump. Marcy and I met with Emily and I was so glad I had asked for Marcy’s help because she knew the right questions to ask to get a sense about whether Emily was up for the scope of this project. Four workout videos is not a small creation!

I cast the video as diverse as I possibly could, pursuant to my aforementioned values and also, I want people to see representations of themselves! I asked my mom to fly down for my shoot and I’m glad she did. She repped for double knee replacement recovery and older folks. I had queer, straight, cisgender, trans, nonbinary, size diversity and as much other visible diversity as I could get. I want more!

Cast includes my mom, McKay Nield, Manny Moreno, Drew Spencer, Chelsea Algarin, Whitney Brown, Drea Lara and Melba Martinez!

The music for the video was a long slog! My biggest complaint about slick aerobics videos is the terrible music. I wanted to try for really great music because my audience deserves the jams! I happened to sit next to Lauren Ross at a Shabbat dinner and she turned out to do licensing for two of my favorite songs, Hot Topic and Rebel Girl.

Lauren donated her time as Music Supervisor and secured rights to a bunch of other great songs I’m excited for you to jam out to! My friends Rick Sorkin, Austin Bisnow of MAGIC GIANT and friend of a few friends Mary Lambert all donated songs as well. To fill in the gaps I got my friend JD Samson to compose beats for the videos. Here’s the Spotify playlist of all the songs we used for the video! Please go dig deep into those awesome artists who believed in and supported FKDP!

The location was a gorgeous DTLA loft run by a really cool artist named Jonathan who was jazzed about the project. The process of planning and executing a shoot is not unlike running a major event and of course we had last minute snafoos that all worked out in the end.

Two days before the shoot I extended the time rental for the location because I could get a chalk artist to donate her time but she could only come at 8AM not at 10AM when we got the location. What a great choice I made to extend the rental because we needed that extra time and the chalk art looks incredible.

Thank you Kelly Phelan, one of my beloved regulars at Fat Kid Dance Party here in LA!

I arrived at 8 to get hair and make-up done by the incredibly talented Amanda Bourne. One thing I’ve always had a hard time with about getting my make-up done is that I don’t look like “me” and trying to describe what my make-up looks like to Amanda involved referencing Miss Piggy as my gender. It worked, I think it’s my favorite make-up I’ve ever had! I looked great. She also came backing with a wind machine to cool us off between takes and a whole roll of paper towels for blotting.

Never fear, we have some scenes where we’re all sweaty, especially by the end of the 60 minute standing workout video.

Amanda taking a selfie with my assistant Kristen! She’s serving as my LA hype person–her gender is some kind of Glitter Mermaid Unicorn Baby and we have a lot of overlap except she’s straight! It’s really fun to have her as my first assistant and build on her strengths to make FKDP continually more awesome and tour more places!

We started shooting at 10. My intern Asher Tessier was on hand as a PA and I realized pretty quickly we needed more PAs than just one. Thank goodness I had thought to hire my assistant Kristen to be on hand for the day and my beloved Fiance Supreme Dara pitched in as both PA getting lunch and motivational speaker/dancer to raise flagging energy by the end of the day.

The outfits were amazing for the shoot, mostly because Marcy the Executive Producer is also a celebrity stylist and got the hook-up from Torrid. I am so obsessed with the rose print set I wore in our stretching video!!! Thank you Torrid!!!

And thank you Marcy, who thought about bringing earrings which do, as she so aptly said, “Elevate a look.” Wait til you see the parrot earrings matching the chair in the chair workout!

My cast was incredible. It’s not a joke to film 8 hours of working out and by the end of the day my mom’s fitbit had 15,000 steps and I don’t think it picked up on the chair video. I flew my friend Drew down from Portland, OR to be part of it and I was so glad I did because there’s nothing like performing again with someone you performed with 13 years ago to bring out silliness and fun.

My cousin was the camera operator. Sooz is in the camera union and shoots TV shows, having worked her way up from a PA and later shooting commercials. She borrowed lenses from a friend that are used on a prime time TV show and the shots looks incredible. She also brought along a friend, Chris, to help shoot. I was just so overwhelmed and happy that the people who came on set and participated in making the video wildly over delivered because they cared about the project.

Emily’s friend Lauren ran sound and by the end of the day I was wondering how the crew of film and TV even handle the physical toll it takes on their bodies, since she was sitting on the floor for every take running sound.

It was Marcy’s idea to shoot a couple numbers that were “big party scenes” to make it look more like a party! We couldn’t have had this amount of shooting in one day if we had that big of a cast but it was really fun to end the day with a bunch of friends and in a huge formation! It also enabled me to do a “Diva Walk” like they have at the end of Richard Simmons videos.

I always love a Sweatin’ to the Oldies video, especially because he cast fat people. The bummer is at the end during the diva walk down a train of people on either side it says their name and how much weight they’ve lost. This reinforces that fat people are only valuable if they are engaged in weight loss pursuit. I think everyone is valuable exactly as they are, unconditionally.

I’ve got a couple ideas about how I’m turning that on its head and I’m excited for you to be introduced to the cast and crew “Fat Kid Dance Party Style.”

I’ll know next week a likely release date and will update over on the IndieGoGo site first!

Drew, Dara and Asher!

2018 is my Year of Ask (and Receive!) as I’m pushing through my discomfort around asking and receiving. I’m so grateful to anyone out there who had anything to do with making this shoot happen. It was truly one of the best days of my life and certainly the best working day of my life. Thank you for helping me make my dreams come true!

Through May 24th you can still purchase the videos at the discounted pre sale price through Indie GoGo. You will receive the videos before they are available to the general public, and the general public pays a higher price! It pays to be an early adopter.

P.S. There is a viral video about Fat Kid Dance Party that was just released by Brut! Would you be so kind as to watch it, share it, like/love it and comment? It really helps amplify the message that all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are!

I have four looks, one for each video! I’ll do a post about each look, but here the top is Torrid and the bottoms are SuperFit Hero, both brands donated these clothes to support Fat Kid Dance Party! Both fit true to size and are comfortable and resilient.

2018-04-12

Three Strategies I Use to Combat Fear-Based Procrastination

I have been working on the production of the Fat Kid Dance Party workout video in some form for nine months. (I believe that fundraising to produce a project counts as production work though I’m sure there’s some industry distinction.) We shoot the video in two weeks and I’m really excited. And terrified. And engaging in some fear-based procrastination.

Decision making is really hard for me sometimes. My perfectionism flares hard when I’m up against a deadline. Suddenly I’m afraid of everything being wrong and it makes even minor decisions seem like they will destroy everything good that exists in the world if I choose incorrectly.

This is not unlike college when every decision about every paragraph in my 20 page papers seemed unsurmountable until I was hard pressed by procrastination. Only now do I understand this to be fear-based procrastination and that I do it as a coping mechanism.

Here’s the location we chose and some of the dreamy natural light. All photos by Emily Aguilar, the Director/Producer/Editor of all four workout videos.

I am having to approach my art in a new way and it is difficult for me to adapt to change. But I can love myself through this difficulty and I know by the time I do my next video production I will understand the process more and will have swifter clarity on my decisions.

So even though rationally I am lovingly accepting of my fear-based procrastination, it’s not making the overwhelm, stress and freak-out go away. Emotionally I feel a hot mess!

Here’s the advice my rational brain is giving my lizard brain.

1. Self Care Stretches Time.
I love this advice! My friend Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist said this to her and I repeat it like a mantra. It’s like that adage it takes money to make money. If it costs you $200 to do self care that enables you to make $800 you’re still netting $600. If meditating in my hot tub helps me be even 5% more chill in a day I will produce more because I’ll feel less fear based procrastination.

We are going to incorporate the cool chairs in the space in the chair-based aerobics video! The background is a chalkboard!!

2. Step Away From The Project.
In the same vein, stepping away from a project generally allows creativity and inspiraton to flow back in. Like when you cut off circulation in a limb with a bandage and you release it all the blood goes rushing back to the limb. When I get into stress and overwhelm I am just not as productive.

This morning, stressing over what music to commission to use for when I teach the line dance during my workout video, I wasn’t making any progress on that decision. I cried real tears on the phone with a friend and we decided I needed to take a break. I went to the grocery store and overhead I heard a song that inspired me to know how to direct my composer to create the right beat.

It’s usually best for me when I step away and do something sensory, like be in nature or go swimming so I get my brain into a different state. But, hey, I’ll take inspo from the grocery store!

We did not choose this space because it was up a rickety flight of stairs. No thanks! But we did take a couple bonus photos which are always useful for my social media.

3. Talk to friends.
I have the inclination when I’m overwhelmed to wall off other humans and not talk to them, instead just focusing on work. But I actually get work done faster when I connect to another human.

When I take time to talk things through with people (aka processing, which I normally don’t love) I suddenly gain new clarity and get better perspective. Even today telling McKay how I was feeling and having them mirror to me that they were also feeling overwhelmed by decision-making validated my feelings! Like maybe it’s not me maybe it’s Mercury Retrograde and it’s just hard right now and it’ll get easier.

Or maybe the other person can help you find new ways of doing things that help you make it easier. Or connect you with Big Freedia’s people so you can successfully license Peanut Butter. Or maybe the other person wants to buy the workout videos, which happen to still be available for sale through IndieGoGo’s perpetual funding situation, and thus help create the production to add cool stuff to level up the experience.

I want to end this note on a big positive because it’s just who I am. So here’s what I’m celebrating:

1. My Executive Producer Marcy scored a MAJOR clothing sponsor and the outfits are going to be so cute! I can’t wait to share about it!
2. I get to hire a chalkboard artist to do a Fat Kid Dance Party design on a chalkboard for the background of one of the workout videos!!
3. Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics was mentioned in the New York Times this morning!! I was interviewed for a piece about being a plus size bride. I gave some advice for using that time to get more positive about your body as it is rather than having to change it!

2018-04-06

My Uphill Battle to Interrupt Fatphobia with Tee Shirts

A few weeks ago I was at a three day seminar about building up businesses. I won a tee shirt from her merch table and I went to go pick it up. The business guru had about a dozen shirt designs and several styles to choose from. However, when I went to select my shirt there was no choice available for me because there wasn’t even a unisex shirt that came in a size that fit me.

This is not an unusual experience for me, or for many fat folks. It sucks to feel left out of the inventory of 95% of stores. I don’t like this feeling and I totally don’t want this experience for my customers for Fat Kid Dance Party. I’m interrupting fatphobia and it’s an experience where fat people are centered!

PDX tour stop day two!

I started Fat Kid Dance Party by thinking about who was left behind in dance aerobics. I started my tee shirt journey from the same mustard seed. Who is left behind with traditional tee shirts?

In justice circles, the general call is for shirts that go up to size 6X. This is difficult to find but I basically made it my mission to do it. I feel especially hurt by so-called intersectional feminist stores that don’t carry plus sizes, or barely make it to a 2X. I wanted to create a different experience for my customers.

It is really hard to find a size inclusive line of tee shirt blanks. Different size bodies need different fit configurations and a unisex shirt isn’t particularly comfortable for me as a person with boobs. Even a unisex size 2X basically only fits up to a size 24W. It’s not enough. If you’re in justice movements and you want to validate intersectionality, you need to offer a size range that includes fat people.

Me and Jake in Seattle!

“Women’s” cut shirts are almost never truly size inclusive, a 2X in that cut tends to fit someone who is more like a size 14 not a size 24. Plus size bodies require a different fit and most shirt manufacturers are lazy about it. Often people printing shirts for their merch aren’t focused on inclusion and aren’t accommodating actual human diversity. (I would say a full 15% of attendees at that business seminar wouldn’t have been able to fit a single shirt at the merch mall.)

I hunted around last August for my sized to 6X tee shirt blank solution and luckily Rachel Kacenjar was already creating that.

Rachel has been designing and curating plus size clothes for well over a decade. She was on the hunt for a really good plus size tee shirt blank and knew she needed to design one. A bigger neckhole, a better shape. She found a manufacturer whose minimum order was $50,000 and by cobbling together orders (mine was $1,000, I’m sure other folks had more) and doing the labor of fulfilling all of those sub-orders, she managed to get it done.

With Julia who won my MVP for “traveled the longest to get to class” award in Minneapolis!

It was no small feat, Rachel had lengthy back and forth with the manufacturer to get the fit right and we didn’t get our shirts until the beginning of February. However, the shirts are incredible and so worth the wait!!

I worked on tee shirt designs with Genuine Valentine, a tee shirt company that primarily serves non-binary and queer folks and their allies. GV is a print on demand tee shirt service so as orders come in they are printed and fulfilled by a behind-the-scenes third party. That third party only allows you to buy their blanks and they only go up to 4X in unisex.

Minneapolis!

Fat folks have likely experienced a vendor charging more for a 2X or above tee shirt! True, it costs more to produce because of slightly more fabric and I have experienced the customer annoyance of having to pay $3-$10 more than a thin person. Not surprisingly, the slow as molasses manufacturer charged $2 additionally between the 1X shirts and the 5/6X shirts.

Since my primary goal is to interrupt fatphobia for my customers as much as I can, I just calculated what my cost for all the shirts was and divided it by the number of shirts to determine my cost. I also extended the same price to the print on demand shirts so the cost of all shirts is evenly absorbed.

The nice thing about Genuine Valentine as the home for my online print on demand tee shirt sales is that I can easily do kids shirts and non plus size. (It’s referred to as “straight size” isn’t that funny?) I included some wording in the description letting customers know extended plus sizes are available through my website.

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The shirts are made in the USA in ethical factory, screen printed by queers of color, graphic designed by a non-binary person and in every way as diverse as I could make them. The shirt material is really soft and I love mine. Best tee shirt I’ve ever owned, actually. I LOVE that the printing takes up a lot of space on the tee shirt because the best part of having a larger body is more landscape for art! Tattoos! Clothing! More landscape looks great decorated! #moreismore

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Yay tee shirts helping me interrupt fatphobia—YET—having two sources for shirts is so confusing! I’m still working on the customer experience buying them online. Anyone anywhere can buy the print on demand shirts through Genuine Valentine, but how to get the internet the limited edition fat 4 fat designed babe adorned version?

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Since I got the shirts printed by Stuzo clothing I have been selling them in person at Fat Kid Dance Party classes and on my tour! It is validating and exciting to see my shirts out in the wild! I love the shirts so much I bought all the stock that Rachel the designer had left of them and am printing a fresh run.

My dream is to have people go up to people they see in a Fat Kid Dance Party shirt or with an enamel pin, water bottle or whatever and high five for self care! (Jazz hands are the no touch high five if you don’t like high fiving!)

Jenny, Dara (in the non crop top version from Genuine Valentine), Kristen and I didn’t plan to all wear the Self Loving AF crop tops at the same time.

The beautiful Fat Kid Dance Party website is still under construction. Once that’s done I’ll have a merch section. In the meantime I’ve struggled figuring out how to sell my on hand special plus size shirts in a temporary capacity without confusing things too much with the side piece that is the print on demand option. But nevertheless I persist and I’ve heard that if you’re not embarrassed by your first iteration you waited too long to launch.

I really know how to do a Facebook live sale like a QVC show! I’m excited to sell some of my cute fat vintage hoard and all the tee shirts I have on hand! I’ve been going live weekly with the Plus Bus for several months selling plus size clothing and love doing it!

So if you want a tee shirt, tune in live on my Facebook at 6PM PDT on Monday, April 9, 2018! Turn on notifications so you get reminded when I go live every day to talk about loving yourself more!

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