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

2018-01-29

What People Are Saying About Fat Kid Dance Party and How You Can Help Launch The Next Stage!

The pre-sale for the first aerobics video ends on Thursday, February 1! I’m 74% funded and thought that I would let some of my class regulars and participants do some of the recommending!

“The Fat Kid Dance Party experience is unlike any other work out I have tried, and I have tried many! As a veteran of places like Jazzercise and SoulCycle, what Bevin offers is a healing love note to your body. It’s like a work out for your mind and physique. I love her rhetoric and how she infuses her class with messages of social justice, body positivity and absolute self love”
Marcy Guevara-Prete

Click here to grab a video four pack, a guided body love meditation and affirmations, or a whole workout accessory pack!

The inspiration from this photo was the cover of a Sweatin’ to the Oldies VHS I found at a yard sale. This pic is on my vision board now.

“I’m so grateful to have found your class! I’ve been working on loving my body the way it is for a while now but it’s all been very cerebral like like reading, podcasts, etc… It’s really nice to have a fitness/movement class to physically go to that supports my body love journey. I also really appreciate the community I’ve met there so far, people of all sizes in an inclusive and supportive environment…and class is SO FUN!”
–Laurel Hitchin

Click here to expand your body love journey!

This is from the number (to a Big Freedia/RuPaul song) where we reclaim our jiggle for healing! Photo by Shoog McDaniel.

“I go to school in Los Angeles and have tried going to the gym there. As a fat, trans boy it was always daunting to be surrounded by cis athletic bodies. I would constantly compare myself to them and it became a harmful, destructive cycle. I heard about Fat Kid Dance Party once I decided to join EVERYBODY and the class has been life-changing. To be in a room that supports not only my identity but my body shape WHILE allowing me to work at bettering my physical well being in a healthy mindset is something I never believed I was worthy of having. Bevin has taught me how to proudly take up space in this world through big movements and amazing music and for that I am eternally grateful.”
–Asher Tessier

Click here to join the party!

Class photo! (Halloween edition, but costumes are literally always celebrated!) Photo by Shoog McDaniel.

“I used to tell myself that I didn’t dance – and I believed it. I saw myself as awkward and without any mastery of physicality. My body just did what it wanted. Facing my fears at my first Fat Kid Dance Party class, I found myself having a blast learning how to do all the 90s moves I couldn’t figure out how to do myself in high school. After coming back multiple times I learned that I could climb through my bedroom window (after accidentally locking myself out) without hurting myself. Yay – newfound agility! I had never experienced joyful sweating until FKDP. Now, I frequently give myself mid day dance breaks and express myself through movement at home, work, everywhere!”
–Kate E. McCracken

Click here to become an early adopter of a fitness revolution!

Fat Kid Dance Party is for all ages, sizes and abilities to heal from body oppression! Photo by McKay!

“I truly look forward to exercising at Fat Kid Dance Party. I always feel better while I’m there and afterwards.

As I get older, I see less of my friends at the gym and usually feel a little out of place as the oldest one in the group. FKDP takes away that anxiety. Everyone in the class is supportive and Bevin makes all of us feel welcome and comfortable.

I love that Bevin combines movement through simple routines so the brain is exercised as much as the body. She incorporates somatic healing into the movements which is subtle yet highly effective. At some point in most of the classes, I will feel an overwhelming sense of emotional release to the point of tears–GOOD tears. Bevin has the ability to make everyone in the room feel comfortable and worthy. She inspires us to cheer each other on and to embrace any awkwardness as a good thing that represents change towards something new and healthy. FKDP is a safe space to let go of troubles and anxieties and embrace self care and healing while doing fun routines to fabulous music!”
–Jennifer

Click here to learn somatic healing dance moves!

Photo by Shoog McDaniel

“FKDP has helped me rediscover joyful movement. I walk all day for work, and FKDP helps remind me that I can move around, dance and let go of the negative energy that often comes with getting paid to do physical labor. I love it!”
–Sonya Mendoza

Click here to show your support for my work to make the world safe for people to love themselves!

THANK YOU to all of my beloved regulars who show up weekly (or more!) to party and heal together. It’s such a special class and I’m so honored to be part of people’s self care practice. Please join us!!

P.S. If you want to come to the in person party check out this page–I’ll be keeping it updated as I add new classes, special events and tour stops!

2017-06-12

Two Important Weeks for Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression)

At the beginning of March I debuted my dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). I have been pouring so much heart, soul, muscles and hustles into this class! Most of the time I have between three and nine folks in the room and we have a fabulous time. I have two special classes coming up this week and next that I wanted to especially highlight for followers who are in LA, visiting LA or friends of mine who keep meaning to come to class.

The totally optional post class selfie has become a ritual I enjoy!

My class is 50 minutes long, 7PM Thursdays at EVERYBODY gym in Glassell Park, Northeast LA. Price is $14 a la carte and gets cheaper with class packages! A mash-up of dance aerobics, line dancing, sing alongs and unbridled enthusiasm, Fat Kid Dance Party is an act of dance floor reclamation. If you’ve ever been called “too much,” “too fat,” or felt too awkward to dance, this is the supportive class for you. More about my class later in the post.

June 15th I am partnering with The Plus Bus, our local LA plus size resale store, to sponsor a meet and mingle after class. Come sweat at 7PM and mingle from 8-9 in the cute EVERYBODY patio! The Plus Bus will bring over a rack of clothes and some water, and you’ll get to meet new people who are also interested in busting up body oppression. Fat community is hard to find most places, and LA can seem so body obsessed that it’s hard to believe there are other body positive warriors out here. But there are! I love connecting people and wanted to facilitate a way for folks to meet by attending my aerobics class so here goes*! Connect on the Facebook event page (pro tip–will be an easy way to social media link up with the folks you meet).

June 22nd Pop Sugar is coming to class to cover it for their website! I’m both thrilled and terrified about this! Part of learning to be an aerobics instructor is studying other aerobics instructors–their moves but more so their teaching style. Whenever I go cruising you tube I inevitably find a Pop Sugar aerobics dance combo from some slick instructor. It’s extremely cool to have Pop Sugar visiting class. Real talk (it’s my blog, so it’s always real talk) I feel kind of odd about plugging press coming to class. Honestly, I would love for them to see the class full of enthusiastic folks of all sizes and have that translated to their readership. Hopefully the folks who read Pop Sugar will want to come to our gym and support it with memberships and class packages! And folks who have never really thought about Health at Every Size who see the feature might be inspired to lace up their sneakers and try it.

More about my class:

There are four rules for Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression).
RULE NUMBER ONE: There’s no wrong way to do Fat Kid Dance Party.** I teach at a low-impact cardio level and offer variations and free dance to raise the cardio for folks who need more to sweat and I offer chairs that are rated up to 500 pounds for folks who want to work out from a chair. All my numbers have flamboyant arms, you’ll get a workout from a chair, too!

My friend T does Ironmans and broke a deep sweat in class with me so I know it’s working for all levels!

RULE NUMBER TWO: We cheer for awkward! If you feel awkward at any time, just say, “I feel awkward” and we’ll all cheer.*** Also, if you go right when I go left or whatever, you’re just making my choreography look more complicated and that makes me look good!

RULE NUMBER THREE: If you want to sing, go ahead. If you can’t sing, sing loud!

RULE NUMBER FOUR: We high five for self care! When we see someone getting water, we high five! When we feel good about movement we’re doing, we high five! Everyone gets a high five for showing up!

I go through the rules during our stretching. I use a stretching modality at the beginning of class that helps to improve mobility, reduce chronic pain and engages all of the muscles in the body. We generally stretch to a Stevie Nicks song and a New Wave song. They rotate every class.

We warm up with a 3-4 song dance combination I teach step by step. I have a cheer dance combo we use all Missy Elliott songs, a drag queen number, a boy band combo (boy in this instance means non-threatening masculinity not determined based on assigned sex at birth), a pop princess combo based on Mariah and Britney, and I just unveiled a confidence routine to all Beyoncé songs.

Each class has a line dance, mostly because I always watch in awe at line dancers but don’t feel confident enough to be awkward and screw up a bunch in front of strangers. But in a safe(r) space like my class we learn the dance first with a slower song then up the tempo a touch and do it on four walls. I pick a real line dance from out in the world of country, oldies, soul and other line dance genres and apply it to whatever songs I want. So far my favorite has been the Step in the Name of Love to Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.”

The rest of class is made up of one-off numbers. I am an artist first and foremost so there’s a lot more to each number than just movements–my years of body positive workshops have infused all over the place.

We do somatic taking up space exercises based on actual research to Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star.” We talk about prison abolition and racial justice with “White Lines” a song that is totally still relevant thirty years later. I do a walking meditation about healing your past bullying and stepping into your light to Erika Jayne’s “How Many Fucks Do I Give?” We heal high school trauma with Gossip’s “Move in the Right Direction.” We do Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” based on a James Baldwin quote I live by.

Plus Dolly Parton, Pointer Sisters, Vanilla Ice, and still more to come. Mary Lambert’s new overtly queer single “Your Name” will be in a class really soon. We end each class with a cool down and a thank you to our queer and social justice ancestors who did all the work so that we have spaces like EVERYBODY and can heal together.

I am doing my Reiki Master training right now and I have learned lots of ways to put Reiki in the room and in the class content so it is at once a movement class and energy healing!

Jenny declared herself a “regular” after her first class (she found out about it when my friend Jes Baker of The Militant Baker posted it on Instagram) and is my first actual regular who comes to class all the time! I feel honored to have a regular.

If someone had told me two years ago that I was going to move to LA and become an aerobics instructor I would have laughed them out of the room. But then I decided to move to LA and when I heard about the new all bodies are good bodies/gender inclusive gym EVERYBODY opening just six minutes from my house I was so confused as to how to participate. I figured I could give body positive workshops like I had been doing for fifteen years. But then I was in the back of an “all levels” dance aerobics class at Heartbeat House struggling to keep up and realized that I could probably turn all of my drag performance and queer dance party production skills into my own class. A class that is actually for all levels not just for folks who can hop around the room like a graceful gazelle.

Actual quotes from people who have taken my class:
“I broke out into a deep sweat but my joints don’t hurt!”
“I feel significantly more joyful than I did before class.”
“This is like somatic therapy! I wish I could send my clients to your class but I want it for myself.” (Said a therapist with good boundaries.)

I hope you all can make it to this very unique healing modality some Thursday to come!! And if you’re interested in a Saturday evening class sometime, or maybe want to visit LA and need an excuse, I am thinking about doing a special event late Summer/Fall. Clickie on this form and let me know what dates would work best for you!

*If you’re doing body positive work in LA and want to partner up to do an after class hang out, get in touch!
**Borrowed phrasing from Glenn Marla’s brilliant, “There’s no wrong way to have a body.”
***Adapted modality from Kelli Dunham’s Queer Memoir series, where they cheer when an author says they feel nervous. It’s great permission giving for folks who aren’t used to speaking in front of a crowd.
****Since I’m an artist first and foremost, my own process is infused in the class all the time, including my friends I want to continue to connect to who have passed on. I honor my friend Amanda every time we practice the Boot Scootin’ Boogie to The Judd’s “Why Not Me,” a song we bonded over a lot. And I honor my friend Taueret in every class because she and I shared a deep love for cheesy 80s aerobics. She would love this class.

2017-04-11

FAT SEX WEEK XXL: Curvy Rope Bottoming

Welcome one and all (who are knowingly entering into this adult-themed conversation)! This is Fat Sex Week XXL, the second edition of QueerFatFemme.com Fat Sex Week where I explore many facets of fat sex. Named for Magic Mike XXL, which was even better than the first Magic Mike, I’m hoping this edition is louder and fatter than ever before! Check this tag for all of the posts!

I know so many people for whom kink and BDSM have been their gateways to body acceptance. I’ve been to lots of parties and seen rope suspension, whether for art or kink (or both!) and there is definitely an overwhelming amount of suspension that privileges young, thin, White bodies.

Evie Vane is an author whose forthcoming book, Better Bondage for Every Body, excerpted below, seeks to provide the support needed to diversify the rope bottoming scene.

For folks who don’t know, rope bottoming is the experience of being tied up. When you’re doing the tying, you’re the rope top! Not everyone who rope bottoms is a bottom all the time and likewise with topping.

Below are several excerpts from the chapter “For Curvy Rope Bottoms” in Better Bondage for Every Body (out in May).

The photos of fat rope bottoms in suspension in the book are really beautiful.

***

As deviant as the rope world is, its public face often seems to share mainstream views about body image. Just look at FetLife’s Kinky & Popular page, all the rope groups on Facebook, bondage photos published in magazines and books…more often than not, the rope bottoms are thin, young, very flexible women—in other words, not representative of the majority of rope bottoms, who have a wide range of body types, whose ages run the gamut, and who include men and transgender people.

This is not to judge thin, young, bendy women, by the way, who deserve to be who they are without being shamed or judged, just like everyone else… This book is one small effort that I hope will take root and grow until every rope bottom sees their beauty.

Model: Terri F.
Bondage by Zetsu Nawa and Demonsix
Photos by Retrotie
Hair and makeup by Anastasia Panagiotidis

***

Bri Burning offers this: “The biggest challenge I’ve faced being a rope bottom is the doubt of tops—whether that be doubt in my body and what it can do, or insecurities in their own skills.” That last part brings up another part of the challenge: incorrect assumptions about the limitations and capabilities of larger bodies. “I’m a very curvy woman who is extremely flexible,” Bri continues. “[But] most people assume that I can’t stay in stress positions for long or can’t bend a certain way.”

Let’s be clear: Flexibility is not related to size. Curvy bottoms run the gamut from having very limited flexibility to having very high flexibility, the same way noncurvy rope bottoms
do. (See Chapter 12 on ties for limited range of motion if you fall into the former category.) As Starberry says, “There may be some things I can’t do, but those are my limitations and not necessarily due to weight.”

***

“An educated top is your biggest ally,” Kurious says. “Ask the questions…‘Have you ever tied up a big [person]? What do you do differently with someone my size versus someone that is half my weight?…Will you be prepared to catch me if I am falling?’”

If you just can’t find an educated top, consider creating
one! Do your own research and educate your partner. Learn together. “There are always workarounds to an uncomfortable tie,” WyldOrchi_soumi says. “My top has added wraps or changed the point of the primary pull, and it has made all the difference. Also, a good wrap clearing or cleaning can make a huge difference when you have a lot of fleshiness under those wraps. Hurts like a bitch in the moment but is worth the extra minutes I can hold the tie.”

Model: Terri F.
Bondage by Zetsu Nawa and Demonsix
Photos by Retrotie
Hair and makeup by Anastasia Panagiotidis

***
Learning how to tie and even self-suspend can be helpful as well. “Self-tying has helped me the most physically and mentally to rope bottom,” thisgirl_m says. “I’ve gained knowledge about the technicalities of the ties that allows me to judge the safety of the ties I am in. I have learned my body’s ‘normal’ in rope so I able to tell if something is causing me harm.” Gnethys adds, “If someone tells you you’re too fat to fly, nothing will shut them up faster than self-suspending in front of them.”

***
If you are wildly intrigued by rope bottoming, here are some great resources:

If you’re interested in topping for the first time, start with the Topping Book. Likewise, if you’ve never bottomed, start with the Bottoming Book.

Evie Vane’s previous book, The Little Guide to Getting Tied Up, is available now.

Better Bondage for Every Body
is coming out in May. Sign up on Evie’s email list to find out when you can get it!

Here’s Evie’s YouTube channel with rope bottoming videos.

Remember, all bodies are worthy of love/sex/rope bondage exactly as they are!

2017-04-04

FAT SEX WEEK XXL: Six People Tell You Why Curvy Girl Sex Is Awesome

Welcome one and all (who are knowingly entering into this adult-themed conversation)! This is Fat Sex Week XXL, the second edition of QueerFatFemme.com Fat Sex Week where I explore many facets of fat sex. Named for Magic Mike XXL, which was even better than the first Magic Mike, I’m hoping this edition is louder and fatter than ever before! Check this tag for all of the posts!

There’s a new book on the market called Curvy Girl Sex: 101 Body-Positive Positions to Empower Your Sex Life. Written by Elle Chase, it’s a huge collection of sex positions to help empower your sex life.

April Flores Pin-Up magic is all over this book. Photo by Nick Holmes.

Let’s first talk about why this is important–fat people are taught that we’re not fuckable. All oppressed people are taught to not take up space and that we should be as invisible as possible. When we try so hard to not take up space it’s actually very physically and psychologically disempowering.* In a society that doesn’t see fat bodies as valuable and the porn that celebrates diverse body size is considered fetish, most fat folks have to go through a ton of self work to empower ourselves enough to thoroughly enjoy sex.

There’s a lot of scaffolding that goes in to feeling free and embodied enough for body oppressed people to have an orgasm, it’s wonderful when work that centers fat pleasure arrives on the scene to help!

Curvy Girl Sex has so much to offer for folks of all sexualities, genders and sizes to improve their sex lives! I decided to interview a sampling of folks about what they loved about the book.

Photo by Nick Holmes.

I’ll go first! It serves as a gorgeous coffee table book full of hot pin-up photos of April Flores. An award-winning trailblazing sex performer; she’s my favorite porn star. She won the very first BBW award at the mainstream porn awards that they ever gave out, then won it again. She is overtly political, not just being a sexy fat woman in porn but also doing it with an empowering message to her fans. I was on her radio show (that links to a porn radio station website) for Fat Sex Week last week and we talked for an hour about fat sex, body positivity and having your best life. We had radio phone callers! One of them identified as Sub Matt. I’m now friends** with April Flores and in real life she’s totally fun, smart and great to hang out with.

This was literally the first thing I thought when I saw the cover of Curvy Girl Sex, “April Flores is the exact right choice for this cover. A Queer, Fat, Latina history making sex performer.” I think everyone loves a coffee table book of pin-ups and maybe it should be a book of fat sex positions with April Flores as the pin-up?

I have had a sex positive household for my entire adult life, so we have had Curvy Girl Sex out in the living room while I’ve been working on Fat Sex Week and it’s been a great conversation starter.

From a design standpoint, it’s a beautiful book in a bright yellow that would look great as a pop of color, too.

World-renowned Sexpert Tristan Taormino loves the key guide in Curvy Girl Sex. “I have a bad back and I can tell at a glance which positions are the ones I should be sure to try.”

Here’s an excerpt from the book that shows how the key guide is used for each position. The keys include suitable for pregnant women, strap-on friendly, easier on the back, easier on the knees, etc… I love that each illustration for the key images is a plump body.

My partner Dara said that Curvy Girl Sex is smart and a great example of intersectionality.

The author of the book, Elle Chase: “I think what makes this book most valuable is that it can be used for ANY body, not just ‘curvy.’ The positions are terrific for people with mobility issues, people who have chronic pain, people of all gender identities and even average sized folks. It’s an all-purpose, permission giving positions book for anyone with a body, with or without body-image issues.”

My friend Dari said he loved that the book has a whole section on car sex! Car sex is hard in a fat body it’s helpful to know that Elle figured that out.

Author Elle Chase, photo by Nick Holmes.

From the book: “Stop the negative thoughts by focusing on what’s happening in the moment and on what kind of pleasure you can or are giving your partner, then revel in your ability to be present and in your pleasure at the same time as your partner—that’s no small feat!”

Click here to check out a pdf of the Whoopie Pie position the page that excerpt is from.

The Yoni massage on page 151 is really optimum foreplay for my friend Katy. She’s a fat sex blogger and we spent a lot of time during our hang out talking about this book. “As a fat woman who has been sexually abused I have a weird connection to my pussy. I have to actively envision it being pleasured. Yoni massage is actually what I need to feel that skin and remember these nerve endings because due to trauma I had to so actively choose to ignore, forget and disconnect from them. I really like that inclusion because that’s new to me and empowering!”

Katy can also vouch for the Slip N Slide position on Page 123 being very satisfying.

We both agree the book is missing an essay or something from April Flores! I asked her what she thinks is the most valuable thing about this book and she said the representation for fat women! Look through the sex book section at your local feminist sex toy store and the percentage of women of size is nothing like the actual percentage of larger bodies in the population. Our sexuality matters and our representation matters!

Photo by Nick Holmes.

Consider grabbing a copy of Curvy Girl Sex to help you empower your sex life!

*I do a whole aerobics number for Fat Kid Dance Party about teaching people physical ways of embodying the idea of taking up space and healing by taking up space! 7:30PM on Thursdays at EVERYBODY in Los Angeles.
**My friend H. Alan Scott says in Hollywood being “Friends” with someone means they are in your phone and you can text them right now.

PS: I am soliciting a volunteer to transcribe the video in my previous post with Sparklez to make it more accessible–if you’re available shoot me an email QueerFatFemme at Gmail!

2017-03-30

FAT SEX WEEK XXL: Meet Fancy Feast Who Made Fat Sex Into a Career

Welcome one and all (who are knowingly entering into this adult-themed conversation)! This is Fat Sex Week XXL, the second edition of QueerFatFemme.com Fat Sex Week where I explore many facets of fat sex. Named for Magic Mike XXL, which was even better than the first Magic Mike, I’m hoping this edition is louder and fatter than ever before! Check this tag for all of the posts!

Rebel Cupcake was a monthly body positive queer dance party and cabaret in Brooklyn I produced. It was at a divey club/bar called Sugarland with the triple threat of sound system, lights and a stage and it was all mine one night a month. I think that a performance sets an energetic stage for a specific experience; I wanted to produce empowering acts that made people feel good about being weirdos. I began every night with an hour or so of 90s R&B and Riot Grrrl music for mingling, then had a brief stage show, then cleared the chairs for a dance party. The shows were about 15 minutes but some nights were longer, like the staged reading of the beauty shop scene from Steel Magnolias. I booked burlesque, Bearlesque, butchlesque, drag queens/kings/gender performers, live music, belly dance, poetry (only knock your socks off great poetry, it was a nightclub), fire performance, readings and whatever else I found in the realm of body positive/weirdo positive/queer and fat performance realm.

Fancy Feast fit right in with the unicorns.

I used to have to hustle every single month to book a stage kitten. I was always relying on the kindness of last minute serendipity. Somehow I would find someone who willing to wear a cute outfit and be on stage picking up clothes from the previous performers in exchange for drink tickets. Fancy Feast walked into Re/Dress, the vintage plus size and resale clothing boutique I worked at, she said she had taken a burlesque class at the New York School of Burlesque (it’s a real thing) and she volunteered to stage kitten if I ever needed one. It was as though the Goddess heard my plea to get someone consistently available to fill this role and here she was.

“We fear not being beautiful.”

After a couple of months and a theme that would work for her (I curated the show themes very thoughtfully) I gave her a slot. She was great, but what was even better was watching her develop as a performer over time. Fancy Feast works really hard and she’s very smart, she thinks things through. She’s always improving. She also has a lot of fun on stage and she owns her body. That, to me, is ultimate sexy right there. It literally doesn’t matter what your body looks like, to me it is how you embody yourself fully that makes you hot on stage.

On being fat on stage: “I walk in the fat one and I get to choose how I walk out.” Photo by David Byrd.

Fancy has flown to the top since her glitter beginnings at Rebel Cupcake. She’s been Miss Coney Island (which is a big deal in New York City and a perfect title for her) and is well-recognized. And now there’s a documentary about her!!!

If you are interested in hearing a smart woman talk about owning her body, performing erotic dance, selling sex toys, living a very realistic NYC performance artist life, subverting beauty standards, and finding a place to express yourself while being weird or exaggerated, you should watch this documentary.

On performing to a not body positive crowd: “I don’t want to walk into a room and know everyone is going to agree with me.” Photo by Ellen Stagg.

Or if you want to be inspired as an artist by another artist’s practice, watch this documentary.

Or if you just want to watch a hot fat woman take her clothes off a lot, watch this documentary.

Glitter spank at Rebel Cupcake, photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Maybe a little bit of all of those things? Leon Chase made this amazing one hour film about what it’s like to be a fat burlesque artist and sex educator, but from the very one of a kind perspective of Fancy Feast.

Fancy Feast also often said yes to other random gigs I had. Go-go dancing at my off-shoot dance party (no performance) Yes Ma’am. Here I am with co-founders and co-producers DJ Average Jo and Nicky Cutler and Fancy Feast is working it even though we were in an art gallery and didn’t know what exactly to use as a go-go box.

I make a brief appearance as Bevin Branlandingham of Rebel Cupcake (major points for spelling my name correctly, Leon). He chose the exact right photos and video clip for Rebel Cupcake. Me in a “Yes Fats Yes Femmes” glitter tank top of my own creation in a still shot with Fancy Feast, and a video of me recreating a gif of a Glitter Spank I saw on Tumblr. Using Fancy Feast’s ass.

Kate Bornstein & her amazing partner Barbara Carellas performed at my Rebel Cupcake second anniversary party. Fancy Feast, as Stage Kitten, was called upon to hold Auntie Kate’s umbrella. Sometimes volunteering has its own glamour! (I’m similarly briefly in a documentary about Kate Bornstein, while introducing her and Barbara at Rebel Cupcake. That documentary is also quite incredible.) Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

People who feel weird among other folks will identify strongly with Fancy Feast. For her and me being weird is a really beautiful thing. You know, being the swan among the ducks, looking for other swans. It just feels so good to me to watch someone on TV (well, chromecasted from youtube) who is reflecting what I believe about all bodies being valuable. About sex being a normal part of human communication that should not be shamed. That glitter is a really important part of self expression.

“Ugly is not the worst thing you can be. Being boring is. Be ugly, not boring.”

Fancy Feast is more than 100% of the time working to advance fat sex, at least by being a fat presence in multiple facets of the sex industry. I felt like it was remarkably appropriate to kick off Fat Sex Week XXL celebrating this incredible documentary. Grab some popcorn and watch it!

Follow Fancy on Twitter @fancyburlyq on Instagram @fancyfeastburlesque and find her on Facebook as Fancy Feast!

2017-03-28

General Life Update

Beloved readers, here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. Anyone following me on Instagram probably knows about what doozies life has been hurling at me lately.

Me and Dara at the Cuties fundraising carnival on Sunday. Their fundraiser is going on for a few more days, you can still donate to this vital safe(r) space for queers in LA!

Your Girl is Getting Great Press

I’ve had a couple of fabulous interviews come out in the last week!

Fat Sex Week XXL is coming! It starts on Thursday and I’ve already gotten press about it. I love serendipitous press. I was nominated as a Sex Hero and I was already thinking about another Fat Sex Week because a lot of great content was floating my way and poof! Check out this fabulous chat between me and Noah Michelson Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Voices about fat sex, why Fat Sex Week matters and what you can expect! (Spoiler: Fat Sex Week is always fatter than a regular week.) What an honor to be called a Sex Hero!

Me, April Flores and Tristan Taormino, also big time sex heroes!

I’ve been telling everyone about Jeffrey Marsh’s incredible book How to Be You (seriously should be required reading in high school) and so admire their work helping people to love themselves. Jeffrey and I have such in sync life purposes.

I was totally thrilled to be interviewed for their new Facebook fan page. We had such a beautiful conversation about how I came to be a body liberation activist and how my turning points to love myself came about. Check it out here and be sure to like their page! (Like my fan page while you’re at it! I’m always popping in great articles and self empowerment.)

I Started Fat Kid Dance Party

A month ago I launched my new dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). When I heard about EVERYBODY the new body positive gender inclusive gym opening up just six minutes from my house I had to figure out how to get involved. I started taking dance aerobics in LA and was frustrated that the classes were so fast-paced and not really open to all levels, even though they said they were. So I decided to do it my way. I had been producing body positive queer dance parties, this just meant that I was not only Femmecee and Producer but I was the choreographer and DJ, too.

This is what a gender neutral locker room looks like! Now if only they would install in a make-up mirror/vanity for the Femmes of all genders who want to put on their face/take well-lit selfies.

I spend hours on this every week as I learn this new art form and healing modality. I’m so excited how I’ve been able to use the concepts I’ve incorporated in the workshops I teach about body positivity into lessons during aerobics numbers. It is a very unique class and, I think, very healing with high joy vibrations. I’m getting great feedback from folks coming (bring friends, it’s so much fun in a group). Last week we did a cheer dance routine to all Missy Elliot songs, we did an aerobics dance for peace, a Prince song exploring body postures that give confidence, a 90s dance retrospective to Vanilla Ice and more. Every Thursday at 7:30PM! When you sign up online ahead of time, your check-in at the gym will be very fast.

My philosophy is if I would go to a dance party wearing it, I can use it to teach class. I love wearing overtly political shirts to teach aerobics. You can grab this and many other fabulous shirts/tanks/onesies from Genuine Valentine!

Since I often use exercise to prevent depression, I think my partner Dara genuinely believes I am going to be a happier person because I’m an aerobics instructor. Using an actual line of factual reasoning from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde.

We’re Finally Moving

My beloved Grandmother POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) on January 26, exactly a year after our lease on our little house in LA began. Two days later our landlady told us she was selling our house. Things here haven’t ever been great—it’s an old house and took a lot of work to become comfortable. We put heart and soul into it and even did a very DIY remodel of the attic to create a Mariah Carey closet for my clothes and Femme accoutrements.

Photo by Jes Baker of the Militant Baker. I’m still working every weekday monitoring her social media.

Our landlady used to live in the house behind ours that shares our driveway and while she was there with her grown children it was chaotic but not awful. We even had some really sweet holiday gatherings for Seder and the High Holidays in the courtyard between our houses. However, she moved out in October with her son and things got way worse. Basically, her daughter is selling meth and we suspect that at times have been cooking it. (Based on tells, like rotten egg smells, SO MUCH GARBAGE, etc…)

This is the Epic High Holiday. I used glitter burlap to artfully cover their weird pile of junk that included three old TVs (one was a big screen) that sat there for months until they cleaned it out and immediately replaced it with a broken down convertible that is now collecting a different pile of junk. But this pic is a great example of that old adage “When life hands you a pile of junk in the middle of your event space, break out the dreamy twinkle lights and glitter burlap.” Photo by Rick Sorkin.

I’m a person who believes really strongly in body autonomy and people getting to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do to them. That’s why I don’t shade fat people who make choices about weight loss and that’s why I don’t shade folks who use whatever drugs they want. However, one of the first things I learned as a young adult was “Never trust a tweaker.” That’s really stuck with me and I keep my distance. I also work hard at a 12 Step program for families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts and I know the realities of that life very well. It’s been hard to have that energy so close by, the Trigger Train is making all stops.


The foot traffic next to our house has been rough. Imagine strangers constantly streaming past your living room and kitchen windows. It’s like having a coffee shop open up but not exactly coffee. The worst part is Macy, my dog, now has cancer and I highly suspect it’s from the stress and energy of the people passing. If you’re not a spiritual person, from an earthly logic place any dog would get stressed by so much foot traffic. From a spiritual place we had Syd, our energy healer, come by to do a healing for Macy and Biscuit Reynolds and she described the energy of the person walking by as being “hit by wasps.”

Things got to the biggest breaking point when we were up in San Francisco for my friend Amanda’s memorial. The folks in the back house had a party and someone was screaming about a gun. 9 cop cars and 2 helicopters later our pet sitters left Macy alone in the house overnight and I just hit my own breaking point. I knew I couldn’t be present for a memorial while scrambling to coordinate pet care from afar. We turned around and drove home the next morning. (Only one arrest, they are very good at hiding their drugs and guns.)

Anyway, we’re happy to have finally found a place! It was a difficult search. I’ll write a post about it in the future, but we were looking at a leap in rent no matter whether we got a smaller 2 bedroom house or a bigger 3 bedroom house. We could say yes to this paradise in Eagle Rock because it is well set-up for a room to be an occasional air bnb, which will help with our rent jump until Bevin’s Tea becomes wildly successful. And once we get the motor fixed, we will have a hot tub! Healing Oasis!! Thank you to everyone who sent us good vibes, woo, and prayers that we would find a great place!

I’m Throwing Myself into Spiritual Work and Grieving

Clinging to anything leads to suffering. I know that intellectually but I struggle with that a lot in grieving. I’m definitely still mourning my Grandmother big time but without a lot of capacity to do so because of the new aerobics class, house chaos and the moving. I’m also grieving all the stuff I wanted to do in our current house to bring it to fruition that I don’t get to finish.

I have been struggling to stay in faith these past two months about finding a place that works for us, and trust that something better was coming along. Many thanks to Alex, my fabulous psychic, for the pep talk that there was something better.

A quick trip to Sacramento last week while Dara attended a conference was just what I needed. My bestie and soul sister Spunky just moved to a fabulous new apartment in Sacramento. We toasted to NOT SETTLING and trusting the Universe to always deliver bigger and better with change.

Energy healing, going to an astrologer, card reader or psychic, or attending a class like a sound bath meditation, yoga or any of the Heal classes at EVERYBODY is a combination of therapy and spiritual practice. I have been throwing myself into all of these things because I know they help and will help me keep my energy moving. Grieving is part of life, and as someone with a lot of losses I want to do my best to process it and still really LIVE. It’s hard to live when you’re stuck in grief and sadness. This blog is a chronicle of my relentless pursuit of joy and I believe you can have joy no matter what, but that you gotta look at and acknowledge your darkness and sadness in order for it to pass.

When I know I’m not processing my grief enough it is really helpful to throw myself into healing modalities. It’s a thing you can do helps to turn on a spigot and let all the feelings out. About a month after Grandmother POTSA, I realized I was constantly in classes and environments where people were guiding me in taking deep breaths.

I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Danielle’s classes at EVERYBODY. They are strengthening, Barre, and yoga infused and so great. A three pound weight packs a bigger punch than you think!

If you feel so moved, take a deep breath right now. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, four times. This Four by Four breath I learned from Tara Magalski, is a real savior in centering.

The next big spiritual work I am going to do is to let strangers pack my house. I will leave my current house with Macy and Biscuit Reynolds on Sunday, let Dara supervise the packers we are paying to pack up our house, and come back with the pets on Monday to the new place. We both have had a lot of work taking up our time, we knew getting packers was essential to our being able to move quickly. Dara said I should just leave and let her handle it (she admitted later it was both a gift for my sanity and it will be easier for her without me around).

California is gorgeous right now. Due to all the rain this Winter the wildflowers (and bugs) are poppin! The hills look like they’re painted orange but these are just swaths of flowers. So beautiful.

I’m a controlling Capricorn and have serious issues with people moving my stuff around but I also know this will open up my capacity to write more and get more done. I can heal more folks and do more work in the world if I learn let other people do things that bring me stress. Plus, my friend Katy is in town and was just going to chill at her pet friendly hotel all day and invited me along. Yes please, Universe, I will accept this gift and learn these lessons while being a fat babe at the pool with Katy.

Bevin’s Tea is Still Brewing

I’m still hustling my tea business, though much of my business development was put on the shelf in October when Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Right now I’m kind of a low-key tea dealer, selling to my friends and folks through my blog. Soon I’ll launch on Etsy, once I have the photos done and new labels designed. I am thinking about investing in a fancy label printer and I’m also deepening my work as a healer so that the blends become even more powerful energy healing. I want to return to blogging the process of developing a product based business, because the more work I do with Marie Forleo’s B-School the more I realize how much I benefit from reading other people’s small business journeys.

Got to hang out with Jes Baker a couple weeks ago when she was in town for a speaking gig at a college!

So, beloved readers, get ready for the launch of Fat Sex Week XXL on Thursday! It’s going to be fatter and louder than ever before. For now catch up on the last Fat Sex Week!

2017-03-27

Why Feud: Bette and Joan is One of the Most Fabulous Shows on TV Right Now

Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story, is back with a new series on FX. Feud: Bette and Joan follows the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford while they film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, a horror movie released in 1962. Starring Jessica Lange as Joan and Susan Sarandon as Bette, Feud confronts and explores ageism and sexism in a way I have never seen on TV before and I am LIVING for it. We can learn so much about the effects of body currency by watching this show.

Joan Crawford is obsessed with preventing aging in scene after scene. In the first episode her in-home aesthetician is hustling hard at softening and tightening the skin on her neck while telling Joan there’s nothing to be done about the neck, really. Joan is often staring in the mirror with disappointment, rushing out of the dailies for Baby Jane because she hates how the lighting reflects her visual age. Joan famously said, as is repeated in the show, that twin hazards of fame were alcoholism and loneliness and her alcoholism is very well featured on the show.

Bette Davis is not immune to the sexism and ageism in Hollywood, either. Much like Joan, acting roles were drying up for her because Hollywood studios weren’t producing movies for women their age. This is explained in back story how the two women who were famously feuding came to work on this film together. In the first episode Joan hunts through library books for a story that could be a script with a strong character for her.

OUTFITS. I’m getting so many ideas for my fatshion bucket list for vintage looks to recreate from this show. Especially that dressing gown Joan wears on the set of Baby Jane. This show is my gender.

Joan Crawford’s grief at the aging process is made so much worse by her investment in a system of body currency. This term was coined by Jes Baker of The Militant Baker, and it describes the value placed on certain bodies based on oppressions and privileges. In our society, body size, ability, age, gender presentation, race and a whole slew of other variables receive a certain value. This is why a lot of fat hatred is rooted in fear—if people give up their body currency they will lose some sort of access to privilege, or they are constantly in fear themselves of getting fat and losing their privilege. But we can choose whether we are invested in this system or not, relieving ourselves from that constant source of terror. It’s helpful to remember that the system of body currency is something we are taught to keep us supporting the billion dollar diet and cosmetic industries who exploit the fear they create.

Joan is in agony over her age and her shifting career. I absolutely love that this show is on TV because it shows so beautifully the true cost of investment in this system in the long run and especially later in life (hello, we are all getting older).

I’m obsessed with the set used for Joan Crawford’s house and love the sumptuous colors and saturated pastels and amazing wallpaper and draperies. This is the second aesthetician we see in her in home spa and I wonder if this is to indicate the first woman was fired because she said things Joan didn’t want to hear about the visual affects of aging?

I think a lot about the effects of sexism and ageism on the women I admire. This includes my beloved Grandmother and my idol Dolly Parton. Grandmother cared very deeply about her looks. She was pretty broke in the earlier part of her life, especially as a single mother in the sixties. In those times her beauty was great currency.

She eventually found success as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, where it’s all image all the time. Aging was hard on her. So was trusting other women. Especially given how many women accused her of sleeping with their husbands before she remarried, simply because she was beautiful and single–“This is what it was like in the sixties, Dear,” as she would say.

I look at Dolly Parton and how she hides more and more of her body, especially her hands. You’ll never see her without something over them. I like to think of it as the “more is more” approach to accessorizing that I prefer, but I always wonder if it is to hide the effects of aging on her hands.

All of Hedda Hopper’s outfits in the show are more is more. I would be such a good mom to that feathery hat.

The men stirring the pot in the feud between Joan and Bette are relying on scarcity and body currency to create the tension between them. It works. Joan and Bette feel like they are fighting over the same few scraps: scripts featuring any roles for older women (few and far between), attention from men, money.

If Joan and Bette divested from body currency, they might be able to be bouyed by one another’s fabulousness. Whenever I’m around other babes who are babing to the max, I feel like more of a babe. I don’t feel overshadowed because I know there’s actually enough light to go around. But Joan and Bette certainly didn’t live like that.

I love that in the telling of the story for the TV show Ryan Murphy uses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell, other actresses of their generation, in documentary interviews about the feud, creating a chorus of women who articulate the experience we see Bette and Joan going through. They talk about how there’s only one “it girl” at a time and how lonely it gets when the roles and attention dry up.

Because Joan Crawford is so invested in the system of body currency she is experiencing multiple, devastating losses. When you divest from the system of body currency, you do not lose when you age. You simply get older and enjoy life more, which ironically, has a pretty amazing effect on you at a cellular level. From what I have learned, the fountain of youth is to not give any fucks about aging.

Ryan Murphy is openly gay so it doesn’t surprise that there’s a great gay subplot.

But you can’t ignore the foundation the patriarchy laid for this feud and there was and still is an actual scarcity of roles for older women actresses. This is where Ryan Murphy is not only doing great social justice work by confronting sexism and ageism in his new series—he is actively interrupting the sexism and ageism by writing a great script for some phenomenal actresses to shine bright. The whole series is sumptuous in its great writing, gorgeous sixties sets, outrageously beautiful clothing and fabulous women actresses. There is even an openly gay character showing what it’s like for gay actors pre-Stonewall.

I lament there is a complete lack of roles for people of color in the series and I definitely think he can do better in that regard. He picks up where Mad Men left off in many ways with the opening credits an homage to the Mad Men opener, attention to vintage detail and casting Kiernan Shipka in the role of B.D. Sherry (Bette’s daughter), whose presence makes you feel like it’s just the next chapter of Sally Draper’s life. In some ways he is using the neural pathways folks already have for Mad Men and other heavy attention to detail vintage series but I wish that more directors working with historical content were willing to use racially revisionist casting reflecting current values the way we see with Hamilton.

So looks like it is a page ripped from Mad Men in the best ways. I miss that show!

Nonetheless, Ryan Murphy’s storytelling is fabulous. Even if you know most of the backstory for the show, the way he tells the story is the real delight. When you get to the end of Episode Four (which aired last night), just note the way he sets up the scene where Joan finds out about the Oscar nominations. It’s absolutely perfect.

Catch-up with Feud on demand as well as online with a cable subscriber login.

2017-03-24

Meet Iris and Virginia, the Cuties behind Cuties

Hey everybody! I am so thrilled to introduce you to my pals Iris and Virginia! I met them through their monthly pop-up gathering Queers, Coffee and Donuts and am so appreciative of all of the work they do to create fabulous parties.

Virginia (left) and Iris (right).

I love gender inclusive body positive community space. Being explicit about this gathering principle helps people feel at ease in new social circles. When I was planning my move to LA many people complained about a dearth of queer community events and spaces, but thanks to Iris and Virginia’s hard work, there’s a thriving new crowd about to inhabit a permanent brick and mortar space–Cuties coffee bar!

Not even a year ago we lost 49 gathered at a gay nightclub in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Not long after that was the Ghostship fire in Oakland, where queers were gathered in an underground space and 36 lost their lives. I think now more than ever brick and mortar gathering spaces that are funded and able to have safety protocols are so important for marginalized communities. We need safe(r) spaces and refuges where we can be ourselves and we need to rise up let our tragedies fuel our commitment to making space and our resistance to oppressors.

As a Femme presenting person I really love being in a majority queer space and hope that folks assume I am queer until proven otherwise. I also hope that in a space that centers gender non conforming identities that folks don’t assume pronouns based on aesthetic assumptions. Iris once joked, “Every time someone asks a Femme presenting person their pronoun preference, an angel gets its wings.”

The fundraising video for Cuties is groundbreaking! An example of how all media can work to be in solidarity with gender non conforming and trans folks–put people’s names and preferred gender pronouns! (You have to watch it!)

The first Cuties event I went to was a pool party with donut floaties! Here I am with my friends Dari and T!

Read below the vision behind Cuties coffee bar. If you have a few bucks to help create this vital gathering space, please donate. Perks include pronoun pins! A great accessory and fabulous gift! And if you don’t, please share about this on social media. Folks all over should know that this is happening.

Here’s my interview with Iris and Virginia, my questions are in bold:

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what background you bring to the Cuties coffee bar?

Iris is a genderfluid queer femme who has a background in costume design and the arts. Virginia is a transgender woman who started two online businesses. Her most recent business Tonx was an online subscription service for coffee which sold to Blue Bottle. We’re both from Virginia and we both love hosting. Creating a business around hosting and serving folks seemed very natural to us.

Cooper is their incredibly cute and sweet cat.

Did you start your events before or after you decided to open the coffee bar?

The coffee bar idea came first! We knew the process of finding a location and building out the coffee bar would take time. We also knew that we wanted to provide space and start building community right away so we came up with idea of “Queers, Coffee and Donuts.” It’s a monthly event where all folks on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and allies can congregate in a low-pressure social environment. There’s no agenda other than inclusion, good strong coffee and delicious homemade donuts.

What has been the part of Cuties that has made you the most proud?

Seeing how loving and supportive this community can truly be makes us incredibly proud. We love watching people connect at events we host. We’ve seen people find new partners, friends, roommates, collaborators… you name it. People are even finding jobs through one another! Our goal with Cuties from the start has been to connect the queer community in LA in a way that’s inclusive and supportive and it seems to be working! Seeing the results fills us up and keeps us moving forward.

What are the challenges you’ve been experiencing with the build out and starting a brick and mortar business?

Everything always takes a lot longer than you think! We had some delays in getting into our space which threw our timeline off but we just put our energy into fundraising and creating more events for the community. We also imagine that there will be some delays with the buildout but we’re trying to schedule padding into our timeline to accommodate for those. It’s a struggle to let go of challenges that come up that we can’t control but over the past year we’ve really seen the power of persistence and incremental work. Even when it doesn’t feel like you’re making progress even the smallest step makes a difference in the long run.

What’s your vision for a day in the life of the Cuties coffee bar?

It’s early. Still dark out. We lift up the security gate and get the shop ready for the morning rush. Sleepy LACC students wander in before their first classes as the sun comes up, folks stop by after morning meditation at Against the Stream, people from the neighborhood come in for their morning pick me up. Slowly as the morning rush dissolves folks start settling in a bit. We have a slow, steady stream of everyone on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum (including allies) coming in and getting served. The afternoon shifts into evening. Some folks are out front in the vestibules cozied up on a date, tables are moved aside and chairs are set up inside and a screening of short films by queer filmmakers or maybe it’s a continuing sex education class or perhaps a Queer Mermaid Meetup. We close up shop after a full day happy knowing that our community had a safer and welcoming space where they could be themselves.

What informed the decision to open in East Hollywood?

The process of finding a space took us almost a full year. We were looking all over the city and saw hundreds of spaces. It was a very Goldilocks experience: this space is too small, this space is too large, this space is too expensive, this space doesn’t have enough infrastructure. The space in East Hollywood seemed to have a lot that was just right. The building is older and has some nice vintage details including dusty rose bricks and white moulding. The space is around 1,200 square feet and fit our budget. It was previously a coffee shop so there’s adequate electricity as well as some good plumbing already in place. We also love the location because we’re right behind LACC, a block away from a Buddhist meditation center. The Braille Institute and the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical center are both close too. While our goal is to center and support queer & trans folks our business is going to be kept afloat by the neighborhood around us.

Dari drinking coffee at Queers, Coffee and Donuts.

What’s on the menu for Cuties?

We’re starting small! You’ll be able to get some pastries and donuts with your coffee. Since so many of our community members are vegan and gluten free we’re featuring goodies from Erin McKenna’s Bakery. We’ve been serving their donuts at Queers, Coffee & Donuts monthly and they are a great option for folks who can’t have Virginia’s very glutinous and decidedly non-vegan donuts. Eventually we’ll start adding some grab and go items like breakfast bagels and sandwiches.

I have noticed that a lot of coffee bars in LA don’t have space for fliers (for real!). Since you’re a community space, what’s your vision for fliers/community message board?

In the shop we’re planning on having nooks for fliers for like events and classes but also informational pamphlets about PrEP or safer sex practices. There will also be bulletin board for people to share services, roommate requests, and more. We’re also excited to feature zines from queer & trans creators and have them on a rack for purchase. The flier nooks, bulletin board and zine racks will be positioned so folks will see them when they pick up their drinks. We’re also dedicated to keeping those resources up to date. It’s such a bummer to see a flyer for a cool event only to find out it was last weekend! We’ll also continue with our promotion of community events and services through our social media accounts and through our newsletter the “Cuties Weekly Brief.”

Check out the IndieGogo for Cuties right at this link (and seriously watch the video even without sound–you’ll see what I’m talking about with groundbreaking pronouns in the subtitles)!

Follow Cuties on Facebook!

Upcoming events for Cuties:

Queer Carnival fundraiser in the new space Sunday, March 26thTristan Taormino is doing a spanking booth, there’s a Shibari tutorial and lots of other fun, and I’m working the door!

Queers, Coffee and Donuts April 9th

I love that Cuties events often encourage optional costumes and Iris will always bring the fabulous costume to other events–like my birthday party! Pictured here with Tristan.

2016-05-04

Six Reasons Why I Love Aqua Jog

Hey there! I’m doing a pre sale for my Reiki Infused Tea Line now through May 10th. I have some important financial goals for the sale that also affect this website–I really need to move my blog to a new host and install a new theme because of these ongoing back end buggy issues that are not yet fully resolved. I also need to begin the build out for the website for my tea line, so this is all very tied together. The whole project will cost thousands of bucks, but I’m tackling it one thing at a time. The tea is delicious and supports me living my dream to support my art and activism through healing work. Please consider buying a tin for you or a gift, or sharing about the sale on social media!

sixreasonsiloveaquajog

I approach all exercise from a Health at Every Size approach. Since this term has been co-opted by so many folks, I’ll tell you what it means to me. It means that all people, no matter what their size, should be able to have access to good, nutritious food and should have access to move in ways that make them feel good in and about their body. Health at Every Size to me includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The way I feed and move my body affects all of those things for me.

Given that I am in a state of transition, having moved to the West Coast recently, it was super important that I find ways to move my body. There was a while where working on the house was all about the body–the renovations on my attic were so corporeal. In my last update on the transition post I talked about how I started swimming in the local pools. I am okay to swim laps but I find it a little boring. Really using a HAES approach means I want to be excited about the exercise I’m doing.

Since the local community pools have lap swimming and recreational swimming together and very few rules about what you have to be doing in the lanes, you can totally do aqua jogging instead of just swimming laps. Once I realized that I went for it.

I started aqua jogging at a class at my former gym the Bed Stuy YMCA. It’s taught by a community volunteer every morning at 9AM who has a spinal issue that really benefits from her exercising a lot but does not allow her to exercise on dry land. Aqua jogging takes water aerobics to a new level. Other than aqua boot camp (also at the Bed Stuy Y) I have not felt such a complete workout from water aerobics.

Here are all the reasons I love to aqua jog:

1. Working out in water is great low impact high resistance activity.
For folks who are recovering from injuries or who have tender bodies for a variety of reasons, the pool is awesome for movement. As an efficiency loving Capricorn, I also appreciate that I can work out in a pool and get more results than from the same period of time on land. Also, if you are the kind of athlete who is often nursing injuries that keep you from staying in shape, aqua jog is a great tool in your repertoire to help!

grandmotherspool

2. The movements are really easy and help you diversify your workout so you don’t get bored.
Here’s a basic primer on aqua jogging. It includes instructions on how to do it if you don’t have any equipment.
This is not the workout I do but it is one to consider using the shallow end for part of it.

I learned to aqua jog from my instructor in Brooklyn so I do different movements based on what I learned from her, including backwards jogging, cycling, and different arm movement intervals with water weights. There are SO many videos on you tube to learn techniques for aqua jogging. I work hard not to link any videos or web content that have a weight loss focus because that is not the tone for my blog. (No shade to anyone who has weight loss goals–you do you!) If you can “take what you like and leave the rest,” there’s a lot out there to sift through in aqua exercises. I couldn’t find any videos that did what Dinette does but if I ever do find them I’ll come back and edit this post to include them.

3. You can listen to music.
When I was aqua jogging at my Grandmother’s pool it was amazing because I just threw on a Spotify playlist of songs I could sing along to and would enjoy working out to. Since she doesn’t have a clock outside I timed my workout based on how many songs it took to get to 35 minutes or more. (My personal workout timing goal is 35 minutes or more. On days I don’t feel like going past it I don’t, on days I have more energy I just keep going.)

waterdumbellWhen I finally got my dumbbells to add to my aqua jog workouts it felt so nice to get back to them! I didn’t realize how much I missed having my dumbbells after I moved away from the Bed Stuy Y!

4. It helps save your hair!
Swimming is great but I have high maintenance, tender, color-treated hair. (I’m not naturally Ginger Spice haired–my pals Garnier Nutrisse and 20 vol + bleach help me look this fabulous.) It is really difficult to keep hair dry even in a swim cap. “It is a fact that no swim cap can keep your hair 100% dry every time” says Swimcapsguide.com. The best you can do is a harm reduction approach to keep it kinda dry.

Mine is a cutie pie vintage rubber hat. When I’m swimming I manage to get about 50% of my hair wet which is better than no protection. I also have a classic Speedo cap (they come in so many colors) I got when my vintage swim cap was on a moving truck going from Coast to coast. The same exact results from swimming–about 50% hair wet.

Thus I prefer to work out with my head above water 100% of the time and aqua jogging helps me do that. I still wear the cap in the community pool because of splashing children and sloppy swimmers in adjacent lanes. My hair stays 100% dry that way. At Grandmother’s when I was just using a top knot to keep my hair out of the water it got damp around the hairline by my neck.

5. It’s easy to mix in ab and core work to an aqua jog routine.
I find it way easier to do sit-ups and crunches in the water than on dry land. This helps me strengthen my core and helps to alleviate back pain and lots of other barriers to dry land exercise. I do a version of this without the barbell under my knees.

aquajogequipment

6. The equipment is pretty inexpensive and not a barrier to activity.
I did aqua jogging with no equipment for the first three workouts in our local pool and that proved to me I was serious about moving forward. I get paid a gift card every few months thanks to thoughtful blog readers (THANK YOU!!!) who buy their Amazon products through my affiliate links. Even if you don’t buy what I link, if you buy anything at all I get a tiny percentage commission and then that comes in the form of a gift card. I keep a link on the sidebar in case you’re ever interested. I usually use the money for something I want to try for my blog, so this time I bought aqua jog equipment.

I totally love what I got. In my Brooklyn aqua jog class we used water weights and floatation belts, so I got a six piece aqua fitness pack that included those plus some resistance gloves for only $29. I was nervous about the floatation belt being too small (some of the ones they had at the YMCA were not made for a plus size waist), but this one had plenty of room to spare on me and my waist is about a size 22/24.

The kit even comes with a routine! I’ve incorporated some of those moves into my workout and enjoy it!

I’ve used the weights and the gloves to jog and prefer what I can do with weights but the gloves are a good alternative for certain exercises.

aquaglovesThese are the gloves that came with it–kind of like having duck feet for your hands.

Another alternative piece of equipment I found in my aqua jog class that some of the folks brought in addition to what the YMCA supplied was Aqua Runners which provides more leg resistance for a harder workout. I look forward to stepping up my game (pun intended) at a later date with these $25 babies. They come in lavender!

It can be a little bit hard to be the fatty at the pool swimming laps and it can be even a little bit harder being the fatty at the pool doing weird water exercise with weird equipment. However, I try to mitigate my intimidation by not concerning myself with what people think, recognizing that every young person that sees a hot fat girl with tattoos and a pin-up girl bathing suit and vintage swim cap doing her thing and working out is possibly empowered. And also, because my self care is waaaaaay more important to me than what people’s judgments are.

As Prince said, “I don’t really care so much what people say about me because it usually is a reflection of who they are.”

PurpleReignVery excited about my Prince memorial teas (one caffeinated tea and one herbal tisane) and the wisdom they will include is going to be a prototype of how I will do the wisdom component for my teas in the future.

2016-03-08

LA Week 6: The First Doctor’s Appointment is so Stressful

I kind of accidentally started titling my LA transition posts about the week I was in rather than the week I had passed. It always bugged me a little bit. I like the process of earning time passed rather than counting time passing. It’s also kind of like how annoyed I am that Time Warner makes me pay for the month of internet service ahead of time instead of like credit cards and electric bills you pay after the month has passed and the service has earned its money or whatever. This adventure just turned six weeks old on Saturday!

eaglerocklumberWe went to a lumber yard that was playing Adele in the warehouse. Also, I love love love the old vintage signs all over LA.

The biggest thing that happened last week was enrolling in B-School! I earned enough money through pre-sales and donations to take a big chunk out of it (saving lots more than I’ll need for materials because I might need to order stuff expedited and I’m not yet selling enough to buy in deep bulk) and the remainder left to pay for B-School was the equivalent of less than one month’s expenses here in LA. I’ve had lots of times where I had no idea how I was going to pay for next month’s expenses and I have at least three month’s savings still. I am feeling really called to this B-School experience and really have faith that what I learn will make my business flourish–before I use up my savings. So thank you thank you thank you to all who pre-ordered and who donated and who shared the page. I cannot wait to show you how great my teas are and keep you updated about the progress of building this business!

Last week Dara and I doubled down on making progress in the Mariah Carey closet attic renovation. We spent all of Thursday afternoon and Friday during the day working on walling up the sides of the attic. We have this beautiful stand-up space that slopes pretty steeply and I realized that the unusable space would be better off walled up. Boy was that an adventure. After the whole rennovation is over I’ll do a recap DIY blog post like all those people on Pinterest do and show you how we did everything.

femmeswithpowertoolsMe wielding a power tool!

atticinprogressProgress!

The very first moment I stepped into the attic when we saw the house I immediately saw the vision for the Mariah Carey closet. But having never taken on any home renovation projects I didn’t vision for the HOW. Luckily, Dara’s friend Dari and his wife Jen came over last weekend and Dari gave us a prescription for how to wall up the sides.

Jen kept me company while I continued to paint the ceiling and looked really cute.

Dari and Jen moved to LA from Brooklyn a little less than a year before us and it was great to hear about their transition process! It made me feel really good to hear what it was like for them to hit the six month mark and realize there were no further boxes and everything was set-up. It also made me feel SOOOO grateful for all of the friends I already have out here. It has been very grounding and reassuring to have people I know visiting and hanging out here. I think if absolutely everything including all of my friends were new it would make my transition even more difficult.

dariandjenWe already had a bunch of friends in common and yet never met in Brooklyn!

I’m actually feeling more settled as the weeks move on. I know our neighborhood pretty well now. We went to the farmer’s market and I found the humane farm to market meat I wanted to find! I made my first pork shoulder and bone broth. (That link is my go-to recipe from my health coach Vic, and my additions are a bunch of green onions/scallions and more salt than you think. My bone broth game is on point.) OMG it feels good to be getting back to how I like to cook! I never realized how much work it was to set-up a kitchen and I definitely thought it would be easier and cheaper and faster to get microwave safe plates I enjoy from thrift stores but that is actually not going as swiftly as I’d hoped.

My guacamole game is getting stronger! My friend Lauren suggested white onions, chopped ridiculously fine (I used a tiny chopper appliance) and garlic salt and so far that has been the best batch of guacamole yet! The next one I made had too much onion, not chopped as fine and was not as good. I’m still soliciting guacamole recipes so if you have one, leave it in the comments!

We have done a lot of weird clean-out projects here, a few weeks ago I cleaned out the cellar and found epic amounts of scrap wood in varied condition (we used a lot of it in the attic). Right now we’re using the cellar for deep storage–my mom is retiring and sent me all of my childhood ephemera. I’m choosing not to deal with it just yet. Before I could use the cellar for deep storage I needed to clean it out so there I was hauling wood and sweeping a hundred years of dust out.

bevininthecellar Pro tip: Tie up your hair or you will get weird dust all up in your hair.

Ideally folks have just one big life change at a time. I’ve talked to lots of friends about THE CALL, when their parents or guardians make a big life change and call to say “You need to get your crap childhood artifacts out of my garage/attic/basement crawl space.” Not everyone has living parents or family they are in contact with in that way, but for those of us who do, it is a rite of passage.

I went through all of that stuff on one visit to my mom about six or seven years ago. I thought I got it down to about six rubbermaid tubs but there were several cardboard boxes that I didn’t know about underneath my mom’s house and it all came when the moving truck with my mom’s hand me down furniture arrived and is now in the cellar. It’s big emotional life work, to go through and decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially if you have experienced trauma as a child. So I am doing what I do well, and saying what is urgent isn’t important and what is important isn’t urgent and choosing to go through it slowly and not right now.

Because right now, Dara and I are planning our first Seder.

My friend Bridget and I had a great conversation where she told me her strategy to get settled into the Fox Den (her gorgeous Jersey City apartment) was to have a party where people were flying in for St. Patrick’s Day. That way it put enough pressure on her to get her apartment together.

constructiondaraDara is nervous about the ceiling of the attic (it’s a stand-up in the middle with some slopes that are prone to head hitting if you’re not careful). She loves wearing this hard hat up there. Plus it’s cute, she’s a fox!

I realized Dara and I unintentionally did that by saying to her out of state brothers, their kids/wives and her mom that we would host Seder dinner when they visit LA the week of March 20th. I’m very very excited about this, I love planning and executing major events, throwing parties and cooking for people. I also love encouraging Dara’s engagement with her Jewish cultural heritage and I love making things fun. We are going to have the most fun Seder ever. (As an aside, the last thing Dara’s Dad, Mel, ever said to me privately before he passed was after the family’s skype Seder dinner that I would be hosting Seder for the family soon enough… I know we will do Mel proud!)

One of the things I keep saying as I do stuff I am not enjoying to set up the house is that I can’t wait to throw parties here because that is fun for me. Methodically measuring wood, screwing things in until my hands cramp and painting until I get calluses on my hands is not that fun for me, but I know we’ve got to get this all done before the Barlins descend on us.

andymoviesMy friend Andy loaned us some movies and, more importantly, a saw! Totally saved our butts! Andy is going on tour with Chris Pureka soon, you can get the album pre-sale for the next 10 days, I hear it is great! I’ve loved Chris’ stuff as they’ve evolved as an artist.

So because of this deadline we realized we have had to be more strategic about getting stuff in order rather than just kind of picking at different parts of the house as we were doing. Dara declared this and she’s right, we need to finish the attic so my clothes can move out of the office and upstairs and then we can turn the office into the staging area and set up our living room at last.

In all of this, I am so in awe of my Virgo friends who move into a place and are unpacked and set up in a week. Virgos are the organized meticulous Zodiac sign. I have a Virgo rising, I may appear so organized and methodical but on the inside I’m not so much.

My friend Holly from Brooklyn & previously the Bay Area was in town last weekend. She moved to a new apartment with her sweetie Topher just before New Year’s Eve and she is a Virgo. So their progress was fast and furious AND it still felt reassuring that she said she had dropped wads of cash at IKEA every week for a couple of months getting set up. Having not had the wads of cash to get all that we need to make things work just yet is hard but we have no shortage of things to do in the meantime.

lissainstallationLast weekend I went to my friend Lissa’s installation as the Senior Minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Pasadena. She’s the youngest Senior Minister of a large congregation and her congregation’s first female and openly queer Senior Minister. Red lipstick on the pulpit! I’m so proud of her! It’s so amazing to watch your friends flourish!! I’ve known Lissa for a long long time and it’s so great to see her living her dreams!

I hosted my first small dinner party here on Friday night when our friends Anne and Susanna were in town. Anne is Macy’s second family, she’s been her primary dog sitter for years and years. As someone who loves her dog and loves to travel, having a home she can go to where I know she has as much or more fun than she would with me feels so reassuring. Honestly, Anne was a big reason I was having pause leaving Brooklyn! And then she decided to move to Boston! She just got there last month.

Having Anne over was a big priority so Macy could get some Anne time on the couch. Macy was so excited to see her she actually fell off the couch because she wasn’t looking where she was going!

meannesusannadaraOnce the attic is done all the stuff on the staging area goes in the office and we install IKEA blinds over the windows instead of our temporary privacy drapes.

It’s so humbling and vulnerable to have people over to your house when things aren’t set up yet. I served dinner and didn’t realize I only have three dinner plates. (Again, working on only having things that spark joy, but a slow roll to getting plates apparently.) So Dara ate off of a really interesting platter we have.

I had my first doctor’s appointment with Kaiser. I went with Kaiser after I lost my health insurance in NY for failure to re-apply or something I didn’t realized I had to do because I didn’t get mail about it. I had Kaiser before when I was a kid and I like the concept of getting all of my specialists and doctors in one place. It’s the closest to universal health care I’ve ever experienced. Anyway, Kaiser called me and kind of pushed me to see a doctor right away for an intro visit. I felt kind of adult about it, since many times I’ve not seen my PCP until I had an illness. I figured this way if I need a prescription for an illness I could call her and maybe get it. I asked the Kaiser representative who called me for someone LGBT friendly just on a whim in case they had that and they did!

It was stressful, though, going to see a “health” practitioner for the first time. Not knowing if they were going to be fatphobic or not. I want a doctor who treats me as a human and not as a number on a scale. I wore a full face of make-up because that makes me feel better, and I was ready to recite to the doctor things about health at every size.

bevinatthedrFull face of make-up at the doctor.

I got nervous in the room waiting for her because there were not just one but three posters about weight loss stuff. They have SIX weight loss/”health” programs, and I’ll say I feel glad for it if simply because by offering them for free they are taking money away from the billion dollar diet industry. You can give Oprah your money at Weight Watchers (right now I’m not paying any money for Oprah things, she can just take her billions from toxic diet culture she doesn’t need my money), or you can get free nutrition counseling on the phone from Kaiser or one of the other five programs. Or, you can love your body as it is and work on your overall health and wellness and learning to be in loving communication with your body about what it needs because your size doesn’t need to change for you to be a whole, worthy human being. That’s the tactic I’ve been using and my happiness is pretty great.

ANYWAY, my new LGBT friendly doctor who might be younger than me didn’t mention my weight once and just did regular stuff asking about my family health history. I also got a tetanus shot because of working on the attic and those rusty nails.

Kaiser has a whole medical center in Hollywood (near the Scientology hive), and the one annoying part is that they charge you for parking in addition to your co-pays. But otherwise everything was pretty seamless.

After Kaiser, I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts in Hollywood. It’s the closest one to our house (about 15 minutes away) until the one in Atwater opens up later this month. Dara and I love Dunkin, East Coast nostalgia, she loves their coffee, they have almond milk and endless flavors and solid iced tea. We have always had this thing since we got back together about “I love you a latte.” So I bought her a latte because we had been fighty on Wednesday.

I definitely don’t want to be a blogger who only reports the good stuff and acts like my relationship is perfect all the time. It’s not. We struggle and we work on our communication and sometimes we get into dumb fights over why the dishes aren’t clean enough. Wednesday was such a day (so ironic since I had just posted about those strategies we used to strengthen rather than stress out our relationship during our move). On Thursday, after my doctor’s appointment and before we headed into the attic, I wanted to start off on a solid “I love you let’s have fun together” foot, so I went to Dunkin and got her a latte. And as I pulled up to the house I saw her in the doorway, she had flowers in her hands for me! We were both on the same page about wanting to be in a good space with each other and make this project fun!

Which was great, because our muscles were soooo sore by Friday night. Progress!

dariteachesdara

2015-07-13

An Open Letter to Oprah about Crop Tops and Body Positivity

This is a letter I wrote to Oprah Magazine in response to a call for reader input in the August 2015 issue. It is in response to the totally banal and fatphobic response to a reader question in O Magazine that folks should wear crop tops “If (and only if) they have flat stomachs.” I generally skim or skip the style and beauty content in O Magazine every month because it’s written towards folks who are seeking a more neutral style than I am looking for. But given the deep internet controversy I thought this was a great time to offer Oprah some unsolicited advice about how she could be doing better.

Since posts are better with photos of lots of folks with different bodies, I have asked my friends to be part of a crop top army, their photos and links are throughout this post.

IMAG0213If I had a Bevin Magazine and I did it like Oprah with my photo on every cover this is what my cover could look like one month.

Dear Oprah:

I am writing this from the place of being very steeped in Oprah culture. Like many folks, I am a longtime fan. Growing up watching your talk show at my babysitters and getting more interested in your message of self-improvement once I got to college in the late 90s. I remember saving up to buy an Iyanla Vanzant book I saw on your show. I’ve always identified strongly with you and your interview style, my friends even started calling me “The Queer Oprah” about a decade ago because of my way of asking the right follow-up questions and getting deep into someone’s story, similar to your skillset. I like to ask questions until I really understand something and walk through the world with curiosity, which I believe you do as well and what makes you so good at what you do. I buy all the book club books. I’ve had a subscription to O Magazine for several years, and maintain a hoard of back issues for reference.

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Photo of Laura Luna, one of my favorite folks on social media. Her insights and vulnerabilities and fun are very inspirational. Here are her words as a caption to this photo. I highly recommend an instagram follow! “That time at #amc2015 when I got pulled up on stage by @leahrosegallegos from @lascafeteras to share a dance and everything around me felt magical cos femmes and a little of LA in Detroit and how because of seeing so many brilliant fats strutting their stuff at the conference I felt safe and even a little liberated to wear this outfit and dance dance dance in front of what seemed like a sea of people.#femme #queer #qpoc #qwoc #femmesofcolorvisibility #fat #xicana #latina #femmeofcolor #fatvanity #pocbodyposi #effyourbeautystandards #fatpoc.” Photo was taken at the Allied Media Conference by Ara Howrani.

Ever since you started OWN, I’ve been an even stronger fan, your spiritual programming really resonates with my eclectic mix of spirituality. I kept cable much longer than I could afford to because I wanted to continue to have access to OWN. (Because it streams online the parade of spiritual thought leaders on Super Soul Sunday is still part of my life, but if you made Next Chapter and Iyanla Fix My Life available for purchase like Bravo does with their shows I would be a very happy camper who doesn’t have cable.)

I say all of that to position what I’m about to say from a place of love and constructive feedback. I get what you do in the world, I get where you have been going recently, and I think you can do a whole lot better when it comes to talking about people’s bodies.

The original instagram post that started it all, according to news reports.

You were at the forefront of diet culture for decades, folks watched you openly struggle with controlling your body. Your value for your body echoed the dominant culture, that you should be thin. I think it’s important to recognize that the diet focus you had for many years influenced people, and caused harm by reiterating body shame and body hatred for all of the people watching who view you as a role model.

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Photo of Amanda Joy. Check out her art website and her instagram!

People change and people evolve, and I’ve noticed in the past few years much less emphasis on dieting in the Oprahverse–that has been a welcome shift.

I hated my body for so many years. So when I watched you dieting growing up, I identified with feelings of futility and wanting to try yet another thing to control my body. I hated myself so much that it consumed me. More often than not, my idle thoughts were spent berating myself, rather than focusing on bigger ideas or being open to seeing the world around me. I didn’t know how to be present. I was always focused on the future, the thin body I would one day have that would solve all of my problems. Or I was focused on the past, my failures, and deep depression.

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My friend Chavon modeling for Booty and the Geek. In Chavon’s spare time she makes geeky themed frames and journals, check them out on instagram.

Ironically, though the Oprah show reiterated my body hatred, it was an Oprah Book Club selection that helped me begin my journey to stop hating myself. Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone featured a fat main character who hated herself so completely I felt shame for identifying with her so strongly, and vowed to work to stop hating myself.

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Photo of Pizzacupcake, one half of the duo GAYMOUS, showing the important relative to the crop top–the side belly cut out. You can buy the incredible GAYMOUS EP here. (Their Let’s Pretend We Don’t Have Feelings video is also worth watching!) Photo by Danielle Billingsley.

It would be years until I got to the stop hating my body part of that journey, but once I did I was free to open my mind up to the world and step into an activist role working to help all people realize that they are worthy of love no matter what their body looks like. I really believe that my purpose in life was blocked and my spirituality was not accessible to me when I let myself stay obsessed with hating my body and myself. A big part of my spiritual awakening happened because I was able to love and inhabit my body, realizing that I was here in the body I was given for a purpose. Part of that purpose is to help folks heal the shame of a society steeped in body currency. (Body currency is a term coined by Jes Baker that I explain in this post.)

11202448_914884111888521_3032253831620096736_nI just started wearing crop tops this year. I’ve been slow to start wearing crop tops, even though I’ve been rocking a fatkini for a couple of years. I am forever indebted to my queer fat femme style icons for doing it for so long and helping me learn that it’s okay to flaunt and love your belly at any size. Photo by my friend Anne at Rebel Cupcake in June, 2015.

Now I’m present. I love my body and it frees me up to really inhabit this life. To focus on my purpose. To enjoy the world this time around. To have so much fun that it makes up for the years of depression, self-loathing and misery.

Fringe shorts on the Fire Island Ferry! Heading to Cherry Grove! 🍒

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Speaking of fun, press play on this video and see how much fun I’m having in my Diet Industry Dropout crop top!

The body shaming response to a reader’s question about whether she could wear a crop top, “If (and only if)” she has a flat stomach is causing public outrage for good reason. This is a chance to get on the right side of history. More and more folks are deciding to love their bodies and wear whatever they want to display those bodies.

I was disappointed that the public response from O Magazine (as printed on People.com) was trite and shallow. “We support, encourage and empower all women to look great, feel confident and live their best lives – in this case, we could have expressed it better. We appreciate the feedback and will be more mindful going forward.” Actually, doing what you did caused harm to folks, much like the constant diet chatter caused harm on the Oprah show. Not just “could have done better” but how about instead of being just mindful you really do something different?

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This is Al Benkin. “I’m a otherly abled gender non conforming queer working artist. I am a proud She. My bramd is Beautiful Mutant Art aka Mutantland.” You can follow Al on instagram!

This is an opportunity to move forward with utilizing your platform to include body positivity. I think you can acknowledge that every person has humanity–do all humans deserve dignity regardless of their body’s appearance? Can you be open to the fact that our culture creates a hierarchy of bodies and that race, class, gender, gender presentation, sexuality, culturally approved beauty, amount of cellulite, body hair, age, ability and a ton of other factors ranks us and pits us against each other?

That keeping us hating our bodies and focused on dieting is a way to hypnotize us while folks who have their body currency on lock (white, thin, straight, wealthy men) use it to profit off of us?

This is a chance for you to use your clout to actually change our culture. You are a thought leader. What you amplify in your media makes a difference in people’s lives. You know from your experience on the diet roller coaster that body shame does not help people lose weight. It simply helps people hate themselves.

IMG_4486Photo of Jenna Riot, amazing femme DJ and style icon! Jenna’s instagram is here. More fun than the Kardashians.

Here are some ideas I suggest to adopt throughout the Oprah media platforms, including O Magazine, Oprah.com, and the Oprah Winfrey Network programming.

1. You can talk about nutrition and body love from the perspective of “all bodies are good bodies.” You can do this from a place of knowing that working to eat in alignment with the comfortable functioning of our body and movement for so many great, body loving reasons don’t necessarily have to be focused on an outcome of weight loss. That weight has nothing to do with people’s value. You can do a whole show about Health at Every Size!

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Photo of very talented performance artist Shane Shane by Odalys Diaz. I love Shane Shane’s FANCY belly tattoo.

2. Continue to suggest foods, eating patterns and physical movement that is focused on nourishing the body. You totally do this about half the time. (The other half of the time is printing a bunch of intense dessert and indulgent food recipes. Both are great! Both can be about celebrating food and bodies.) When you do this, try to not assign value to the food and movement you talk about.

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Photo of Kelly Higgins, self identified body positive straight girl. (I definitely think fatkinis are cousins of the crop top.)

3. How about a lifestyle show about people loving their bodies? Doing loving movement at every size. Getting various body positive activists to work with folks one on one on the show to help them work through their body shame. I have a lot of ideas for shows celebrating body love. There is so much fun to be had celebrating body love!

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Marina wore her first crop top last week! Here’s her tumblr.

4. Place a thematic emphasis throughout the Oprahverse on body love and healing aimed at young people. I imagine how different my life would have been if the Oprah Show had talked about body positivity and loving your body where it is at when I was an adolescent instead of making me want to go on a liquid diet. It would have been so freeing. It can still be so freeing to so many teens if you make this turn now.

You know who should be wearing crop tops? Everyone who wants to be wearing crop tops. Non-normative bodies wearing crop tops are important because they help make the world safer and easier for other folks to feel comfortable in their bodies. I’d love to see you in a crop top, Oprah. I don’t care what condition your belly is in, I know it is beautiful.

xoxo,

Bevin

P.S. I want to mention in this letter, because it’s an open letter, that it’s important to talk about the fact that just because people with all bodies CAN wear crop tops they don’t have to. It’s okay to be somewhere on the body love journey (or fashion preference journey) to not wear crop tops. No one should feel shame about their body love journey because they’re not ready to Rock the Crop.

Side note: How amazing would it be that, instead of the shallow “We’ll try to do better!” statement they actually issued, Oprah instead issued an apology with a promise that she’ll be on a future cover of Oprah Magazine wearing a “Diet Industry Drop Out” crop top?

Just saying.

11747402_10155735014085702_614776046_oPhoto of Jacqueline Mary by Courtney Trouble. Jacqueline wrote a great guest post about how to be a good ally to her crippled arm. She also is a DIY smut artist inclusive of all bodies, the link here is totally not safe for work: Heartless Productions.

2015-06-25

Be a Great Ally to Fat Folks by Getting Neutral about Food

Nothing bums me out faster when I’m about to eat some food than someone commenting about food. Like this, “Oh I’m being SO BAD! I NEVER eat cupcakes!” Or “I really SHOULDN’T EAT THIS!” Or “I wish I could eat THAT but it would make me SO FAT!” Or “You’re lucky you can eat whatever you WANT I will blow up like a BALOON!!!”

If you want to watch a hilarious send up of this phenomenon check out this Amy Schumer skit. Where everything they eat is the bad thing, not killing a gerbil for fun.

551535_10153123306043749_7782605515862982091_nFood can be so confusing! Who knows what is a “good” food or a “bad” food–the media is always changing their mind!

Listen, I get it. We live in a fatphobic society where all bodies are vilified. Either you’re fat or you COULD get fat. Living in fear of being fat in a fatphobic society brings out the worst in people. Food is super threatening and triggering of all of those perpetuated fears. We have this contradictory culture in America where we hate on fat bodies yet have all this food that is normalized in the American diet that actually can cause weight gain. Where commercials on TV cycle between McDonalds and Coca-Cola and Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. What a mind fuck.

Words are SO powerful. When you speak something again and again to yourself or out loud, you are creating truth. I learned early on in my journey to love myself that language was one of the first things to change in order to shift your consciousness. When people shit talk food and bodies, it erodes self-confidence, body love and food enjoyment.

I think the best thing we can do, as fat folks and folks working in solidarity with us, is to refuse to participate in the system of body currency perpetuated by society. A system of body currency, where certain bodies are privileged over other bodies, creates competition, body hatred, feelings of never being enough, endless fear about body change. Body currency doesn’t just affect fat folks, it affects folks with any non-normative body–people of color, older people (we are literally all aging), disabled folks (we are literally all only temporarily able bodied), trans* folks, etc… I learned about body currency from the brilliant Jes Baker of The Militant Baker. Her analysis of why people hate Tess (Munster) Holliday and other fat happy people is totally spot on.

551438_10153458325913223_472698898048493744_nCelebrating a wedding with fancy friends with all different genders and bodies! Photo by Emily Huber of Seeing Through the Hands massage, a favorite body positive massage therapist here in Brooklyn.

Checking out of a system of body currency means assigning no hierarchical value to your body and no hierarchical value to other bodies. It means you love your body AND you leave lots of space for loving all the other kinds of bodies out there.

So you’re sitting around the lunch room at work, out to dinner with friends, at a BBQ at your parents’ house and suddenly everyone is talking about their food being SO BAD, or “I was SO GOOD, I only had three pieces of turkey bacon.” I mean. How alienating. All these people are doing is making food the enemy and turning the top soil of body hatred.

Body hatred for the fat people around them who just sit silently and assume everyone in the room is judging their bodies. Body hatred for the little kids around them are absorbing all of that food shame and body hatred like SPONGES. Body hatred for the people around them who are just trying to enjoy their burgers and don’t want to think about anything but their food enjoyment.

So what do you do when you’re surrounded by the I’M SO BADs of the world?

10277472_10153405563288749_6914403281423525504_nMe and one of my favorite fat folks with whom to enjoy food, Devon Devine of the SF party Hard French.

When I’m in situations like that with people judging food I have a variety of responses. I’m secure in my body and have a deep analysis of the fatphobia in our culture so I’m fairly resilient to the commentary. I’m also a fat person whose reputation and activism often precedes her so I feel confident piping up with something educational in the moment.

Here are some scripts that I employ:

“Hey, I try to be neutral about food because I think all bodies are good bodies.”

“Hey I’m worried about commenting about the value of food and body insecurity in front of these little ears nearby. I’d love to help them love bodies of all sizes so they don’t end up with food or body issues.”

“Cultivating a culture of food enjoyment is really important to me. I would love to enjoy this delicious food instead of assigning value to it!”

1798876_10153291498942464_5151942065411462089_nJack Dawson wearing a gorgeous outfit. I freaking love the pop of color on the sunglasses and the tie pattern over the shirt and the pocket square. Killing it.

My friend Jack Dawson sent a dispatch from their fatphobic corporate office life that I LOVE. “My female coworkers regularly express their appreciation for me because ‘Jack is SO nice, Jack never judges what I eat, even when I’m sooo unhealthy!’ Pretty much every day at lunch time I find myself saying some version of ‘I actually think that everyone is the boss of their own body and I support people in making whatever choices they want with their bodies, so it’s great that you’re eating what feels good for you today!’ In response to some kind of ‘Don’t judge me!’ or ‘I’m so bad!’ comment from coworkers.”

Being an ally to fat folks is especially important when you are a person of thin privilege. People get especially fatphobic around folks who they don’t perceive as marginalized in that way. My bestie Rachael calls it being a secret agent on behalf of fat folks, so when people hear you speaking truth to the all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are party line, they are taken by surprise and also sinks in a little better.

10421425_10102336927006350_7030431944225492207_nThis photo was of the time I introduced my friend Leo to Jack Dawson, who we started calling “New Leo” because they both resemble a young Leonardo DiCaprio and also Leo moved away. Photo by my health coach Vic.

If you want to go a little deeper than these scripts, try to create a lifestyle where you are actually neutral about food! I find this a wonderful daily challenge as a person who is fat and proud, who knows what kinds of food I am sensitive to and the effect they have on my body. (I have a chronic digestive disease that is wildly affected by the food I eat.) In my internal monologue, I could say, “I’m being so bad I’m eating this gluteny piece of wedding cake!” But instead I just think to myself, “I am making a choice about participating in the food-centered nature of this celebration and I accept the physical consequences that will surely develop tomorrow. I’ll take a probiotic about it and I will make different choices tomorrow.” Sometimes replacing an internal monologue with something very long that actually explains your feelings and what is happening in a neutral way is really effective in changing the way you think.

I work with my partner on this all the time, too. She is on a super low sugar anti-cancer diet after her experience with breast cancer. (We intend her to be “one and done” with cancer, so we’re employing lots of holistic ways in which we can keep her cancer free.) I cook 90% of her food so I work hard to make sure she eats in alignment with her body and her spiritual guidance around her body.

Dara is an external processor so listening to her process externally about her food choices gives me the opportunity to support her with reframing her language to be food neutral. It’s also helpful, too, that as a Body Liberation coach I can coach her into how she talks about food so it isn’t loaded with shame when she wants to have some sugar or whatever. Life is for living and life is for pleasure–everything in balance.

It’s important to me, as a fat person who is dating a person with thin privilege, that she knows her privilege and works with me 100% of the time on team Stepping out of Body Currency. (Which she does, Dara is amazing.) I’ve dated fat and thin people who were not 100% body positive and it was really shitty. It’s not about her eating sugar or not, I don’t care if she does, it’s just about how you use language to express your feelings about food and whether that language is perpetuating body currency.

10996651_10153116129793749_5950987657574205891_nI love Dara a lot, she is super supportive and open to new ways of speaking and being in the world. I feel so grateful to have such a wonderful partner in adventure.

In the words of Nicki Minaj “Life is a journey, I just want to enjoy the ride.” I can’t enjoy my food around folks who are shit talking food. So I do my best to create environments where food enjoyment is valued and food is value-neutral. I invite you to join me, life is much more fun this way!!

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