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

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!

2018-04-06

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!

2017-07-26

Overcoming Stereotypes and Busting Out My Own Style

When I was eleven years old, I remember vividly the relief of exiting the school bus while girls viciously taunted me. This time the impetus was not my fat, my usual crime. It was having the audacity to wear a half ponytail with several different colored fuzzy ponytail holders on it—and the fuzzy ponytail holders did not match. I was in middle school and my greatest longing in the world was to fit in and go unnoticed. On that excruciating bus ride, filled with shame and regret for my bold choice, I learned that I better not try to have fun with my style. Folks who have been bullied on a bus know how endless the ride can feel, and how painful it is to endure taunting, staring straight ahead pretending it doesn’t bother you.

Fitting in when you’re already wearing adult sizes in sixth grade is basically impossible, especially in the early nineties. Plus size fashion is limited today, but before online shopping and Torrid in the mall, we had nothing but boring career wear to work with. The idea of looking like the typical American pre-teen girl, with her Guess jeans, hypercolor tee shirts and high top name brand shoes was my dream but I neither had the funds or access to make that dream happen.

As I absorbed the other lies I was taught about being a fat woman—that I was not sexually attractive, I better not wear anything revealing and I should try not to draw attention to myself—I lost any desire to discover my own style and perform my gender. Performing gender is a way of showing your internal gender identity externally—usually through clothes, accessories, and maybe make-up.

When I got to college and started the coming out process, I let the same kind of limiting beliefs affect how I presented myself. Due to femmephobia and anti-butch sentiment in my collegiate LGBT community, I learned that having a strong expression of masculine or feminine gender was not acceptable and it was better to lean towards an a-gender or hippy outdoorsy look. I thought that in order to get a girlfriend and be attractive I should be as androgynous as possible. This was kind of a relief because shopping in the men’s department at Old Navy made it marginally easier to find clothes that fit me (this is before Old Navy carried plus size women’s clothes).

I never actually pulled off androgyny, my inherent Femme presentation busted through no matter how many times I heard the term “Lipstick Lesbian” thrown around in a derisive way.

When I moved to Philadelphia for law school I fell into what I like to call the “right” crowd. These friends were supportive, believed I was a babe in a fat body and wildly applauded all of the new things I was doing to express my style and my gender. I began slow, in cute dresses, wearing sleeveless tops, showing cleavage.

Going sleeveless was a revolution for me. I had always believed that stereotype that a fat person I shouldn’t show off my arms, I have no idea how that rule came to be. Arm fat isn’t dangerous, it’s just a benign part of your body. It took a lot of work to get comfortable going out without sleeves on, but having that “right crowd” was really helpful to develop my confidence.

As I began performing on stage first as a drag king and then as a dual drag king/Femme queen I began really pushing the gender envelope. Leaning into different gender presentations I began to figure out what was expressing who I was and what I felt an inherent aversion to.

Far beyond fitting into the standard American womanhood, whatever that is, my actual gender expression is a sort of exaggerated femininity. Like Dolly Parton and Miss Piggy, I feel the most myself in bright make-up, big hair and sexy clothes.

Many queer women (and people) cannot relate to the standards of beauty and femininity that society promotes. Queer folks come in all shapes, sizes and gender presentations and the standards of beauty are not representative of actual human diversity.

Legendary storyteller Shonda Rhimes is partnering with Dove to shift the power of media representation from Hollywood into the hands of real women. Using an all female crew, Dove is helping open up the conversation about the effects of gender stereotypes. Meet Kylee!

Kylee Howell’s story is the second film from Dove Real Beauty Productions and empowers others to find their real beauty. It is a powerful message of non-conformity, self-assurance and shedding the narrow definitions of beauty imposed on herself and other women in her community. It also has a really sweet message from her mom.

I love this video—Kylee is a dapper stylish barber who had to unlearn gender stereotypes to become herself.

Quentin Crisp said, “Style is being yourself on purpose.” I really believe that you have to let go of everyone else’s expectations of you and fitting into stereotypes in order to truly discover your own style. This is so difficult in a culture that commodifies insecurity and prizes fitting in. Thank goodness for the internet and the ability to see so many gorgeous people out there working their own looks, their own gender and their own idea of how to be a woman/man/limitless gender they want.

If you have been struggling to overcome stereotypes and let your unique beauty shine, I highly recommend figuring out who the “right” group is for you. When you’re feeling good, write down who your body positive, supportive, style encouraging friends are. Who in your life believes in an expansive definition of beauty? Write it down and put that list someplace you can see it next time you need encouragement, or some folks to go out with wearing your first sleeveless top (or whatever your equivalent of a sleeveless top may be).

When I walk into the room doing my style and not stereotypes, I’m writing the conversation instead of landing in a narrative laid out by stereotypes. I am showing people I am bold, I take risks, and I am confident. I know now that fuzzy ponytail holder thing I was rocking in sixth grade was a stylish risk and it was fiercely nonconforming.

Photo by Jes Baker.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

2016-07-21

Thigh Chafing aka Chub Rub Prevention in Bathing Suits!

I got the following question in my comments about a topic I’m very passionate about–thigh chafing aka chub rub prevention!

What about swimming? How do we go swimming with bikini bottoms but still prevent the chafing?

I’m so glad you asked! I’ve never actually found swimming to cause chub rub for me, but I have definitely had moments at pool parties and beaches where I needed to surreptitiously apply chub rub prevention for out of the water wandering and socializing. It’s hard to find a clandestine spot to rub something between your thighs out at the beach, and you don’t want to wait until it’s too late!

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I decided to try out my current three top choices for chub rub prevention in the water. I tried each one doing the same activity and determined the results.

The activity–aqua jogging for 35-45 minutes, then walking around the pool 10-15 times to find out if I felt chafing coming on. I feel like aqua jogging is about as vigorous and thigh chafy as you might get in the water, since it is pretty consistent thigh rubbing when jogging.

BANDELETTES

You may have already read my write-up about Bandelettes, these super sexy lace bands that go around the thigh and stay up all day to prevent chub rub. Totally the answer to the “what do I wear on a date when I don’t want to be wearing bicycle shorts under my dress for sexy times” question. They are also just an amazing layering piece because they are cute and when they peek out from under a short skirt it is hot.

I grabbed a pair and tried them on the first day. They worked great! I was actually pretty dubious because after a super long, sweaty day (10+ hours in outdoor NYC muggy heat) Bandelettes are soggy and not in great shape. Maybe it’s pool water, maybe it was that they were a brand new pair, but they worked like a charm! Even the walk around the pool didn’t disrupt their staying power on my thighs.

My Grandmother thought they were so sexy she made me pose for photographs. It’s kind of weird when your Grandmother says you look sexy but I’ll take that over diet talk any day.

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Full disclosure, I get an affiliate bonus of 10% of all orders of Bandelettes made through my site. Please know I wouldn’t affiliate if I didn’t believe in them. (All of my Bandelettes money is going towards my tea business.)

BODY GLIDE

Body Glide has been my go to thigh chafing boo for over ten years. We’re still going strong, I love that it comes in a stick glide on formula, makes it so easy to apply and take on the go. I was kind of worried about it enduring the pool water but it seemed okay.

After my walk around the pool I felt the nervous sensation that my thighs were no longer as protected as they could be and that I would typically go to the restroom and apply more if I felt that way and were going to try to walk around any more than I had.

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CHAMOIS BUTT’R

I had this tube of Chamois Butt’r, a chafing prevention potion meant for cyclists, hanging out from my last foray into thigh chafe prevention experimentation. I have been enjoying it because I feel like I can pile it on a little thicker than the stick applicators. I had high hopes for this one lasting in the water (after all, chafe prevention prevents sweat from creating chafing conditions) and it didn’t disappoint. Similar to the Body Glide, I felt a little nervous after my out of the water walking around the pool was over but it held on and I remained chafe free.

So that’s what I have for swimming-related chafe prevention! Do you have a chafe prevention modality you love? Comment below or on my instagram, facebook fan page or twitter. I love adding new thigh chafing prevention modalities to my hit list!

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2015-08-20

More Thigh Chafing (aka Chub Rub) Prevention and Treatment Strategies

One of the blog posts that continues to get the most traffic for me is my original post about thigh chafing prevention. The summer is hot and sweaty, if you have any fat at all in your thighs regardless of your gender you may be prone to getting uncomfortable rashes between your legs. You can also get rashes anywhere skin touches and gets sweaty like under bellies or arms. I have heard reports from men who wear jeans that they can get chub rub on the parts of their thighs that meet above the leg holes.

thighchafingbandeletteThis is me in Bandelettes.

Finding great prevention for chub rub revolutionized my wardrobe because I never thought I could wear dresses. Chub rub prevention allows me such versatility!

Chub rub potions are also great for helping your arms when you wear sequins, like on formal gowns!

Early this summer I officiated Mackenzi’s wedding and I used my tried and true Body Glide and it gave me a zit on my inner thigh! That was almost worse than chub rub because it hurt a lot and very high maintenance–if it got infected it would be even worse, so I had to keep it really clean and disinfect it a lot.

11053231_10153211931949213_2568513953323858205_nMackenzi’s gorgeous sequined wedding dress definitely required some chafing prevention on her arms, too!

This prompted me to do a new round of testing potions for chub rub prevention and treatment. The results are below!

Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick. This one is my favorite of the new sticks for friction defense. I love it and it works. Not as long as the Chamois Butt’r, but definitely good for a reapplication or a couple of hours out and about. It goes on smooth and it’s pretty inexpensive. Bonus that it is scent-free. Buy a couple and keep the second one in your purse or your beach bag for reapplication!

Chamois Butt’r. This is a potion used by bikers to prevent chafing and is so far my favorite of a chub rub preventative measure that is not in stick form. I found it really easy for applying (it’s a clear cream, so you squeeze out a bit and rub it on). I tend to use it before I leave the house and it lasts several hours. When I find myself really sweaty and needing to reapply, I grab whatever stick I have in my purse. I can’t tell if it has a fragrance, so scent sensitive folks should check the ingredients!

Paceline-Chamois-Buttr-8oz-Tube

Anti Monkey Butt Powder. Victoria gave me some to try (she swears by it) and I thought it was fiddly. Pros: It smells nice (if you are into scent) and for a powder I think it’s better than corn starch alone because it has the calamine in it. It is very very soft, which is nice. Cons: It is totally difficult to put on without getting pink powder all over your bathroom. Victoria says she does it in her tub. It’s hard to reapply. I didn’t feel 100% confident in it so I didn’t try it for an extensive walking around time. My vote is to skip it unless you really like powder forms of chafing prevention.

I’m still wearing Bandelettes whenever I want something sexy in the land of chub rub prevention. Let me assure you, bending over wearing lacy chub rub prevention in Bandelettes form is hot and provocative. I now get a 10% commission whenever you buy Bandelettes through the links on my blog! (I have so far used my commission to buy fatkinis.)

Here are my Bandelettes pro tips:

*Tuck them up onto your thigh fat, I use that with thigh highs with the same latex gripper material and it works really well to hold up.

*Be consistent with the orientation you use for them when you re-use. For example, I use the seam as a guide and keep that on the middle of my outer thigh every time so the Bandelettes are grabbing at the same point each time I wear them.

*Use them on a clean thigh as much as possible (i.e. don’t use a chub rub cream and then use the Bandelettes, it kind of deteriorates the latex faster).

I get a few uses out of each pair before I need to replace them by being pretty tender with them.

briansweddingwithbrianActively using Body Glide on my upper arms here to prevent sequin rash during Brian’s wedding in February. I officiated that one, too!

Many thanks to my friends who gave me the recommendations to try these new formulas! Anything new and good in the land of chub rub prevention and treatment you’ve found? Leave a comment!

Remember everyone’s body chemistry is different so certain things work better or worse for folks! And everyone has differently shaped bodies and sometimes that changes up how chub rub prevention works best!

2015-01-28

Why Plus Model Tess Holliday’s Media Blitz is an Important Moment for Fat People Everywhere

So the other day I got a phone call from a reporter friend of mine at the New York Daily News (one of the big dailies in NYC) doing an article about plus size model Tess Holliday (formerly known as Tess Munster) being signed to a modeling agency. Tess is unusual because she’s only 5’4″ and a size 22–much different proportions than the standard for plus size models. By the way, even though plus size models are modeling clothing worn by women of lots of different shapes and sizes, the “industry standard” is under size 14 and 5’8″ or taller.

tessCNNTess Holliday on TV! Source: Tess Holliday Facebook.

I did the interview with the New York Daily News and my quote is good and meaty. Here it is.

“It’s astounding the reach she has and how many people respond to her,” said QueerFatFemme blogger Bevin Branlandingham. “She created a movement around being a plus-size model.

“It’s radical to have an agency willing to stand behind someone and push the envelope about what way models have to look. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. A good model has more to do with how she works in front of a camera then what her height and weight proportions are.”

Since that article came out on Saturday the media has been blowing up about Tess getting signed! I got an excited text from the reporter, Pearl Gabel, that it was the third most popular article on the Daily News’ website! Since the Daily News article came out I’ve seen Tess in People Magazine, Buzzfeed, CNN and just learned she was on Inside Edition!

During my brief interview with the Daily News I had a lot more to say than what my quote could fit, so here are my thoughts on why it’s important that Tess was signed by an agency and the resulting media storm.

tesscuteShe’s so cute! Source: Tess Holliday facebook page.

Fat comes in lots of shapes, and my fat looks really different than someone else who may be the same size as me. And it definitely looks different than a standard plus size model. It’s really refreshing to hear of a modeling agency willing to take a chance on a model who doesn’t fit into the industry standard.

So why does the modeling industry matter in all of this? Shouldn’t we be moving away from more superficial representations of bodies?

I was steeped in this issue when I was working at Re/Dress in its Brooklyn incarnation, 2008-2011. Then-owner Deb partnered with Plus Model Magazine to do a model search for a size 18+ model. I resisted at first, not feeling great about modeling as an industry and Re/Dress as an indie store helping supporting it. I remember a long conversation with Deb while we were sorting clothing on the racks talking about this. (Plus size processing was one of the best things about being a Shop Girl at Re/Dress.)

I came around 180 degrees watching the model contest unfold. There was of course an essay contest in addition to the photos for the entries. As folks who love people who love their bodies we really looked for people who had body positivity as part of their ethic. Seeing how excited people get about modeling and models, I thought it was a great way to use that excitement to feed in messages of body positivity. Additionally, it’s really fun to dress up and look pretty, especially if you’re in a non-normative body that is historically marginalized.

We ended up selecting a regular customer of ours who was so glamorous and gorgeous and, like Tess Holiday, gives amazing face in front of the camera. Audrey Lea Curry, who later went on to co-star in the erstwhile awesome show Big Sexy with my friend and fellow Re/Dress shop girl Leslie Medlik, was the model and won cash and prizes, including a spread in Plus Model Magazine featuring Re/Dress clothing and shot by amazing plus size model and photographer Velvet D’Amour.

audreyplusmodelmagA page from the Plus Model Magazine spread. Photos by Velvet D’Amour.

The plus model industry and size positive movement has been pushing the issue of representation in the fashion industry for a long time and it’s really heartwarming to see a shift happening in this moment. I remember ten years ago mainstream plus brands were barely starting to use standard size plus size models in their advertising. And today mostly you get the really pretty, “curvy” models. I love brands, like Domino Dollhouse, that have been using bigger plus size models all along and work to support them.

I first heard about Tess Holliday when she was modeling for Domino Dollhouse. I got to meet the designer, Tracy Broxterman, at an indie trunk show at the closing of the Re/Dress Brooklyn incarnation. (Re/Dress has since retained an online store and has a storefront in Cleveland, and is now owned by the fabulous indie designer Rachel Kacenjar of Cupcake and Cuddlebunny fame.*)

tess-holliday-anthonyevansPhoto by Anthony Evans.

What I love most about Tess’s media blitz is that not only is there a non-standard plus model in the industry making huge waves, she’s also tattooed and pierced! Tess has been staying on message about believing in herself in spite of what people told her. This quote from the People Magazine online article is really inspirational:

“I’ve just kept doing this stuff recently, thinking, ‘Thank God I didn’t give up,’ ” says the Los Angeles-based Holliday, who had to overcome many detractors to get where she is today.

“I found out about plus-size modeling when I was 15, and I went to an audition in Atlanta. They told me that I was too short and I was too big, and I would never model. But I’m very hardheaded!”

I can definitely relate to being bullied and using that spitfire to rise above the lies people told me about my body and loving myself anyway. Tess didn’t just stick to plus modeling in spite of being told no at that audition, she also began a movement called Eff Your Beauty Standards in order to empower other fat folks. I think it’s amazing when plus models, who could just stay a pretty face in front of the camera, get political with size activism and empower others.

The modeling agency (MiLk Model Management) said that they were driven to sign Tess because of her social media following. I think it was Tess’s inspirational movement that has been a big part of her prolific social media presence that helped get her that deal.

Tess Holliday’s Instagram is a very satisfying feed to follow. Lots of gorgeous Tess shots, of course, but also glamorous behind the scenes of a modeling career and regular every day stuff like hanging out with her babetown Australian fiance and her son. And it’s always a good moment for me when Tess is in her underwear. Swoon!!

tesshollidayforpowdermagazineHeidi CalvertI adore Tess’s vintage aesthetic and her fatshions. Photo by Heidi Calvert for Powder Magazine.

Our society’s ridiculous notions of beauty are being thwarted a bit right now, because of this event and the media avalanche. This is a big story. People who read it who haven’t heard about size activism might have their minds stretched. The modeling industry is seeing that people respond well to non-normative body shapes.

The more people who share about Tess and talk about how great it is to have actual plus size diversity in modeling the more we can catalyze a bigger societal shift towards body acceptance. So share this blog post, or a media piece you appreciate about it. (I’m especially fond of the Buzzfeed article because it shows lots of Tess’s followers using the #effyourbeautystandards hashtag being empowered!)

Fat allies, this is your time, too, tell your people about Tess and let them know that it matters to you that this is representing change in an industry that oppresses bodies. Remember my mantra, All bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are!

And be sure to write your favorite plus size manufacturers to ask them to use models of all plus sizes so we can be sure that MiLK model management and other agencies that follow suit have jobs to send these models on! And support the indie designers that have been using plus models of all sizes all along!

I would love to see this change mean more gateways for other non-normative bodies, ages, ethnicities, genders, body hair status, etc…

20150117_182554-MOTIONI also want to give a shout out to my bestie Mackenzi’s new women’s clothing boutique in Astoria, Queens, Lockwood Style, carrying sizes 0-24! The inventory is really diverse and there’s a lot of turnover in styles. It just opened as the sister store to her Lockwood home and gift store next door. It’s worth a trip to Astoria if you find yourself in NYC shopping while fat! The dress I was trying on was from Cabiria Style, an indie local plus size designer carried at Lockwood.

*If you’re suffering from cold this winter I highly recommend fleece lined leggings, and Re/Dress online is having a Winter layers sale right now. I just bought some in pink and black. Use code LAYERUP for $5 off each piece. I secretly wanted to buy this $98 vintage nightie but for now just practical layers, I will when I am a rich lesbian.

**PS. Be sure to check out Domino Dollhouse’s Valentine’s lingerie line featuring Tess Holliday!

***PPS. Read this article from Huffington Post last week about my friend Sophie Spinelle’s body positive feminist pin-up photography business. I love the title of the article so much! These Pin-Up Photos From ‘Shameless Photography’ Show That Every Body Is Gorgeous. Congratulations Sophie!

o-SHAMELESS-PHOTOGRAPHY-900Bra burning pin-ups is the way to go!

2013-09-12

Marimacho Clothing New York Fashion Week Show Spring/Summer 2014

When I was asked to attend Marimacho clothing’s New York Fashion Week debut last weekend, I was thrilled! This is a company that is focused on sustainability–creating garments that are long-lasting, quality pieces that are meant to be investment pieces in wardrobes. Not just disposable fashion that you wear for one season or less, these are pieces made in New York City at a woman-owned business and not in sweat shops.

I have mixed feelings about NYFW. On the one hand, I see it as a celebration of art and a series of gallery shows about what people are doing with textiles, fabric and human bodies. But on the other of course fashion is an industry, extremely consumerist and the human bodies they focus on only represent about 5% of actual human bodies.

Unlike most of the participants in NYFW, Marimacho designs clothing for folks underrepresented in mainstream masculine fashion. “Classic fashion for the unconventionally masculine.” Their show featured models from a variety of gender origins and current presentations. Though lacking chubby models on the runway I was impressed at everything they had going on along the masculine/androgynous spectrum.

I’ve always preferred personal style over fashion and trends, and Marimacho’s selection this season shows off a variety of statement pieces as well as wardrobe staples.

My favorite pieces included these masculine harem pants. Seriously, harem pants have challenged me as a thing for years but on a masculine person there’s something so weird that it’s magical.

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Photo by Architects.

I also think there’s going to be a time when every dapper queer is going to get a Marimacho suit.

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This is the Short Suit with the Tuxedo Shirt underneath. Photo by Architects.

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Photo by Manny Zoom.

As an event producer I need to give a shout out to the amazing installation art, lighting and DJs that were part of the event!

Folks really brought it out in terms of style for the event!

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I was extra feeling this overalls/mesh shirt/leather vest situation.

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I wore a dress I’ve had forever but haven’t hauled out in awhile.

Does it ever happen to you that you see someone you think you know and then you realize, “I don’t actually know them they are famous, I know them from TV?” That happened to me at the media meet and greet before the runway show. I spy this hot butch with cool blue glasses from the side and I’m all, “Whose that?” and then I realized it was Lea Delaria from Orange is the New Black (and decades of being a queer comedian).

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Photo by Manny Zoom.

Check out Marimacho’s website, which will soon have their Spring/Summer 2014 collection available!

2013-08-23

New Strategy for Thigh Chafing aka Chub Rub: Butt Paste

I’m in an anonymous fellowship for family and friends of alcoholics and it has happened a few times where a friend has come up to me after a meeting and said in hushed tones, “So, I was googling [insert search term here] and I found your blog!” I mean, as anonymous as you try to be I’m pretty recognizable and I use my real first name. So. It’s always really funny what brings people to the site, and thigh chafing (or chub rub) is a pretty common entry point.

Latergram from last night.
Me in a dress on a summer adventure, saved by the magic of chub rub prevention.

I laughed and responded to my friend that I’m sort of an intrepid explorer of the ways to improve access to fashion and comfort in the summertime. She is on the thin side and it is always a good reminder that thigh chafing can affect lots of people with lots of different bodies–and you can never tell what someone’s body really looks like in clothing. The bodily equivalent to “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” See also, Lessons from the Nudie Workshop.

All that is to say that people bring up thigh chafing to me all the time and I’m ever exploring ways to prevent and treat chub rub. This summer I talked about it briefly to a couple of folks and I was given the tip that this all-natural diaper rash cream called Butt Paste is great at preventing chub rub.

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Using solvents for thigh chafing prevention (I do a whole run down on the various types I know of in my living document The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Preventing Thigh Chafing aka Chub Rub) is totally dependent on your own body chemistry, some work better than others. But I thought this was a great choice because it’s natural (or as “natural” as something that is marketed as all natural can be) and it works for prevention as well as treatment.

It comes in lots of sizes, and I found Butt Paste in 2 oz for $5.99 on Amazon. There is also a Maximum Strength Butt Paste. According to some of the online reviews folks prefer it because it is natural, effective and has a pleasant slight vanilla scent and most other diaper rash creams smell like medicine. Apparently the maximum strength is also good treatment if your chafing has gotten to the point of open sores.

I’ve added this product to the big Thigh Chafing post. A reader also posted her review/recommendation for a new shorts solution in the comments section if you want to check that out.

2013-07-10

Flower Bois, Summer Trend in Butch Fashion

Nicky pointed out to me at the last WHAM BAM! that floral prints are all the rage in the queer scene–especially for the masculine of center crowd. “Flower bois,” they said (pronounced “bwah” here). “They’re everywhere.”

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DJ Average Jo at WHAM BAM! The next WHAM BAM is July 14th (the last one until Labor Day). Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

They were right. I’ve been seeing it everywhere. Florals are all over menswear. I love it, especially because it’s a little gender bendy. It’s the same reason I love pink on butches–it’s one of my favorite colors and I like butches. Together, it is pleasing. I love a bold floral print and I love seeing it on my fashionable friends.

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I was really feeling the floral blazer on the queer to the far right in this photo. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

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Alex, one of the most fashionable men I know, to the left in floral and Leo, who overheard the discussion of flower bois, wearing a floral tie to the right. All at Nicky’s fortieth birthday. Also pictured, Randee Riot and Utah.

Florals are “on trend” this year so they are widely available, which kind of explains why we’re seeing so much of it in the queer circles but, still, it takes something pretty rad to tip like this in the queer community. So, because I love masculine of center florals, I present a shopping round-up to encourage more!

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Grey Geometric Mixed Floral Print shirt from Topman is a floral masterpiece. Goes from XXS-XXL but not sure how roomy of an XXL they offer.

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This rust floral bowtie from Fox and Brie is a great way to add a floral without going overboard if you’re hesitant to go full-print.

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Or if you want to be all hipster about it, try a floral snapback cap! But be sure to wear it hipster style, sort of popping up off your head like you’re an old-timey 1950s child.

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Wear your hat like this for full effect. (I actually really like this style of cap wearing.) Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

It’s important to note the difference between cheese ball Hawaiin shirt and florals that are pushing the line of loud without going over. I am all for the cheese ball print if that’s your style but you have to know how to pull that off so that it looks stylish on purpose and not the shirt equivalent of socks with sandals.

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This Brooksfield short sleeve floral is a nice version of the classic loud shirt in pastel colors.

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This Tallia Woven Floral Shirt is long sleeved and has a nice tight floral pattern. Goes all the way up to 5XLT at Macy’s!

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And a bold floral in a black and white graphic tee (size S-L, $28) for those who are a little shy about adding color. I think this is the Avory Agony* response to the floral trend.

I had a hard time finding budget-friendly florals on trend but since summer is already heated up look for sales racks and clearance items, and know all these florals will hit the Marshall’s/TJ Maxx/Ross circuit in the next few months. Also vintage is full of florals, so that gives one something to hunt around for and are definitely more of a bargain if you know how to cull a thrift store (or etsy or ebay).

*Avory is a stylish dear friend who wears predominantly black and white. Like if the dreamiest Robert Smith clone in your high school grew up to have impeccable fashion taste but maintained their goth kid roots.

2013-05-14

Shabby Apple Review and Giveaway!

Shabby Apple reached out to me as a fat style blogger person to find out if I was interested in doing a review and giveaway. I had never looked at their site before, but was delighted to find a lot of dresses in the style of vintage clothing, many of which are available in plus size.

Their sizing is specific to their site, I checked out their size chart and saw that their “WL” was what would fit my measurements, and I ordered their “Boss” dress to see how it would look on me. I will be honest, I was completely dubious. The website doesn’t use plus size models so I didn’t know how it would look on me. The description made it sound like it might not fit me; they suggest larger busted customers go up a size in this dress and I was ordering the largest size they had. I figure with the surplice bust if it didn’t fit well it would at least be one of those dresses I could spill out of in a slutty sort of way. When I got the dress I was very surprised.

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Photo by Gizelle Peters from Rebel Cupcake.

The dress is a great stretch cotton, which looks structured but actually is incredibly comfortable. I wiggled in easily and had plenty of room. The arms are a little tight but seem to be breaking in on the second wear. I think it fits really well and looks classic retro pin-up. I actually loved it so much I might get another one in black and experiment with going down a size to get more cleavage out of it.

There are a lot of other vintage clothing style dresses in plus sizes (and straight sizes, too) on the Shabby Apple site. Check it out!

Shabby Apple is offering a $50 gift certificate to the winner of a giveaway. To enter, make sure you’re a fan of Queer Fat Femme on Facebook and comment below. I’ll select one random winner by random number generator on May 21st at noon and will email the winner.

P.S. I wrote Six Questions to Ask When Hiring An Attorney if you’re ever curious what you need to ask when you need to do that!

2013-05-03

Plus Size Vintage Clothing, Dresses, Jumpsuits, Blazers for Sale sizes L-4X

Hey readership! I have a giant stash of vintage (mostly) I collected around the country thinking I was going to do more pop-up shops than I ended up doing. I have it all neatly photographed in an album right here, but I’d love to highlight some of the gems for Spring for you below. Each photo on flickr shows the measurements, which is the best way to shop. It all ranges in price from ten bucks to forty, most around $25 or $30.

This one is not vintage, it’s from Torrid. I bought it off a babe but the bust is a little too small to work for me. Best for a size 24/26 babe who has a smaller chest. (Pinned behind the size 1X/2X model to show shape.) $25
2X/3X Torrid Garden Party Dress $25 (#20)

This vintage purple jumpsuit is a dream! The bust is up to 44″ with up to 38″ waist. $40. Magical.
XL/1X Vintage Purple Jumpsuit $40 (#34)

I made my friend Elisabeth try this on and it looks great and would be the perfect wedding guest dress! Size 1X/2X. $38
1X/2X Vintage Teal Sheer Sleeved Dress $38 (#9)

This sweet Springtime pastel wrap dress is going to make someone’s garden dreams come true. The rare wrap dress that covers up the yabbos. 1X/2X. $32
1X/2X Cotton Pastel Vintage Wrap Dress $32 (#35)

Who is the gender queerdo who wants to layer with this bizarre sweater situation? It’s roomy, bust and waist stretch all the way up to 60″ and would look great both with many things under it (think dress shirt, bowtie, hoodie, sparkly tube top, flannel shirt, or freeballin,’ as some of my genderfluid friends call that time you don’t wear a bra or anything. $20
2X-5X FREE WHEELING VEST purple $25 #29

Plum surplice dress so great for Spring! XL/1X (up to 42″ bust). $25
XL/1X Plum Surplice Dress $25 (#12)

This mod 80s blazer is foxy and 4X (pinned behind model to show shape of garment but it’s big)! $25
4X Mod 80s Blazer $30 (#23)

There are a whole bunch of pieces in the album! Take a look and email me with the number(s) you’re interested in. $5 shipping in US, free shipping for 2 or more items!

2013-03-11

Plus Size Underwear for All Gender Presentations

I wrote a guest post at Autostraddle about Plus Size Underwear! Peek under skirts and pants and find out how to be well-dressed underneath your clothes! I write from the perspective of how I wear and buy underwear, but I also have a hearty section of what I like to see on masculine of center folks (though I don’t wear that kind of underwear).

Plus Size Underwear for All Gender Presentations

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Peeking under a skirt. A little Bevin on Devin action. Photo by Courtney Trouble.

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