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

2013-06-18

Plus Size Pageant Documentary–There She Is and some questions for my readership about being fat and expressing gender

I was asked by the filmmakers of a new documentary released yesterday to watch a sneak preview. I was cuddled up in a cabin in the woods with a bunch of my queer besties and it seemed like the perfect activity for a rainy day. Now that it’s released world-wide for free on the internet, I want to share it with my readership.

From the press kit: “There She Is follows two plus size pageant queens as they prepare for an upcoming pageant. They discuss their lives as plus size women, including how they feel when others’ perceptions of their appearance clash with their own. The film challenges the viewer to examine his/her own definition of beauty and the ways in which it affects our everyday lives.”

It’s very fat acceptance 101 but also very human. It’s full of pretty dresses and watching girls do make-up (one of my favorite things to watch).

I have some thoughts about the film, so read on for my feelings or you can watch the movie and then read what I have to say. I’d love to hear your reactions, too.

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I accidentally bought an evangelical christian guide to retreat planning when at the used book sale.

Here is the full film (about 20 minutes long)–the link to the website is here.

Or just watch the trailer:

I feel strongly that pageants can be a great thing for people. I think beauty, make-up, hair and clothes are art forms that are derided by mainstream culture as “frivolous” but can be very empowering. I think aesthetic arts are actually really helpful ways of reclaiming your body from what society expects from you. This is assuming that one understands that make-up/hair/etc are optional parts of aesthetic life and not compulsory. So I went into this documentary on the side of the contestants because I know beauty pageants are actually really fun hobbies/pursuits for folks.

I competed for the title of Miss LEZ and talk more about my pageant thoughts in this post.

A couple of things struck me about this movie. The first was that the blonde subject spoke about not wanting to run out to the grocery store without doing her hair, make-up and wearing cute clothes because she felt an unspoken expectation not to appear like a “fat slob.” I actually struggle with this myself. I challenge myself all the time to appear outside (and sometimes in photos on this blog) without wearing make-up. Sometimes I just physically don’t feel comfortable not wearing make-up and I am not sure if that’s because I just like to present a version of myself that is more in line with my vision or if it because I feel pressure to make myself more palatable for the outside world as a fat, queer person. I think it’s likely a bit of both, though I do work really hard to not let other people’s perceptions of me affect what and how I do things. I also never truly feel “in my gender” if I’m not wearing false eyelashes, red lipstick and some killer outfit.

I also was curious about the subject who talked about her weight loss at the end. It was actually kind of a bummer because as a fat loving person who is self loving I secretly want a fat acceptance narrative to not involve weight loss goals, but at the same time it’s unrealistic to expect fat people to not participate in ways of bodily self-determination. I rarely pursue weight loss goals myself but certainly make choices with regards to food and exercise that sometimes have a by product of weight loss.

I was curious and confused about the brunette’s reaction to her weight loss. In some ways I felt like her engagement was a byproduct of it from a man who wouldn’t otherwise accept her. (I.e. “It’s okay if you’re fat as long as you’re trying to lose weight.”) But I had a hard time understanding whether I was perceiving that correctly.

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Cuddled up watching the documentary.

For me, I try to make weight loss value-neutral and not focus on the scale about success. I focus on how my body is feeling. I don’t think losing weight will change who I am inside and suddenly make myself love me more. I’ve known enough formerly fat but still self-loathing people to know that’s not a narrative that works, you have to love yourself from the inside first regardless of how big your body is. As a body liberation activist, I also work really hard to not mind other people’s weight loss positively or negatively. I won’t judge them for it and I won’t celebrate it. I want to know if the person is feeling good in their body.

I’m wondering from readers what they feel like about wearing make-up, whether they find it compulsory, if they feel comfortable in public spaces or specifically queer spaces without it (if they are a make-up identified person)?

In what ways do you feel “in your gender,” and how does that present? How does that differ from day to day, moment to moment?

How do you respond to weight loss in your life? Are there ways that you make it value-neutral?

2013-02-13

FAT SEX WEEK: Single for Lyfe Lifestyle with Mads Dudebabemodel

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work, so long as Sizzling Stylez doesn’t offend your IT department.)

Mads Dudebabemodel, a Portland-based queer style icon, is the only person I’ve ever followed on the instagram just because of babeliness. (“Stop/don’t stop shamelessly flirting with me on the internet,” they said.) I noted that they declared that they were “Single for Lyfe” identified and I thought this was a great topic during the time of year when our culture strongly pushes couplehood. I want you to imagine that me and Mads are chilling, Bevin-as-Queer-Oprah style in a couple of fabulous fat-friendly chairs and having a proper talk show interview.

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BEVIN: Tell me about your Single for Lyfe Lifestyle. What does that entail and how did you get there?

MADS: Being single has become an identity of mine. I choose to focus on my friendships and chosen family and build those relationships to fulfill the many roles that a primary romantic relationship might traditionally fill. I don’t give up on romance or love, but channel those desires differently with different people. As a queer person, I have chosen to live my life the way I want with whatever gender and sexuality I choose to inhabit at any given time in my life. The same goes for choosing to be single and have relationships in whatever way I want to and when I want to. Fuck the formula we are taught about how relationships should play out and look.

Being queer has allowed me to explore the possibilities of being single 4 lyfe, but also being a polyamorous person has helped me come to singlehood. An important factor of being poly is realizing that one person cannot fulfill all of your needs. Having multiple lovers and relationships may be more fitting. I feel the same way not only about dates, but about friendships and chosen family. Why would I put so much effort into one primary relationship to be my chosen family, companion, etc. when I have all these rad people in my life to help support one another and give lots of love to?

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So many rad dudebabe friends.

I have been single for about three and half years and single for lyfe identified for about 6 months. Even when I wasn’t single, I was attracted to the single life and admired people who were so independent and did whatever the fuck they wanted. During the time I’ve been single, I have dated people, thought about having primary (or “serious”) relationships, and had some heartbreak. In my last major heartbreak, I had this amazing community surrounding me and supporting me immediately. It kind of shook me and woke me up to those willing to do so much for me in a time of emotional need. Processing the relationships in my life, I came to the conclusion that being single could be my radical form of love. I would invest my time in my community and take care of one another like I have felt and still feel taken care of. I would still fuck people, still date people, if I felt like it, but let them know that I wasn’t interested in becoming their girlfriend. I am fulfilled by my independence and receive lots of social and emotional needs from friends and chosen family. Also, I’ve learned from heartbreaks about not giving so much of yourself to one person who you haven’t even known for very long. I live a little bit of a guarded love life, but as I get to know people, I open up more and more. I like it that way.

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Pro tip: Animals are great ways to extend the amount of accessorizing you can do in one outfit.

BEVIN: What’s the most empowering thing about the Single For Lyfe Lifestyle?

MADS: I can do whatever the fuck I want. I fuck who I want. I date who I want. I go out when I want and where I want and I don’t have to answer to nobody. Obviously, caring for others and having boundaries help to alleviate any drama that may come with doing whatever the fuck I want. I also consider myself to be pretty communicative about what’s going on, but ultimately it’s about what best fits my needs at any given moment. If someone has a problem with the way I do things, they don’t have to be a part of it. It’s all about me and keeping myself happy!

Also I live in a house full of single ladies… we have lots of fun and empower one another with being alone, but never lonely.

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P.S. That shirt says “I’m Fat Let’s Party!”

BEVIN: Are there any parts of the Single for Lyfe Lifestyle that are challenging? How do you meet those challenges?

MADS: Sure. Not getting laid can really suck. There are definitely times when I’m not dating anybody or not interested in fucking anybody. But those “dry spells” can be times to put efforts in other outlets and other people who you aren’t fucking. My last dry spell I rediscovered how great I am at fucking myself. I mean, there’s a difference between a quick diddle and really getting down and dirty with yourself…

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Pin-up perfection! I need this on my wall!

I also find it challenging to meet people who I want to date who understand what kind of relationship I may want with them. Just because I don’t want to be your girlfriend does not mean I don’t care about you. I can be a very thoughtful and romantic date if someone gives me the chance and I’m into it. I’m just more about sharing the fun sexy aspects of life with a date. I am into one night stands, short flings, but also steady dates. Also, finding people who respect the way you date can be a bit of a challenge. I may be a slut, but I am also a lady. So treat me like a lady, if you’re lucky… you can treat me like a slut. I have met people who get me and those people do exist!

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BEVIN: I noticed on instagram that you are a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. What strategies or attitudes do you employ in order to take the best and leave the rest from a holiday that’s all about the cultural mandate of couplehood? What do you do to reclaim VDay from that cultural mandate?

MADS: I LOVE Valentine’s Day!!! It is my favorite holiday. I think some of that had to with my biological family always celebrating it together. It wasn’t about celebrating love with one person, it’s about all the people you love! I also like the aesthetic of Valentine’s day (hearts, pink, lace, etc.) It’s fun to break the stereotype of being this single gurl who doesn’t do relationships, but still is really romantic and lovey dovey! I seriously am so in love with so many people in my life. Just cuz I ain’t fuckin them doesn’t mean I don’t want to celebrate our love too. I like to make Valentine’s for lots of people in my life and this year I am having a slutty house party blow out on Valentine’s Day that is gonna be FIERCE. Also, making Valentine’s Day a slut holiday is the funnest.

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BEVIN: What’s one thing that people (at any size but especially fat folks) can do to feel more comfortable having sex in their bodies?

MADS: One thing that has helped me, as a fat person, is loving people of all body types as sex partners and that includes people who have a similar body type as me. I mean honestly, I would have sex with myself in a second.

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BEVIN: I know you get a lot of your mad style from thrift shopping. Do you have some tips my readers can use to thrift more effectively?

MADS: Whenever you thrift, buy things that make you think of your fashionista friends and give it to them. More than likely, the next time they are thrifting they will see things that remind them of you and you will not only have hot fashions, but meaningful gifts too! Also, clothing swaps rule.

Thank you MADS! You’re a smoking hot babe and a total inspiration! Mads is in development with filmmaker pal Cathleen Arnerich, called MadsTV. It is a queer dating/fashion/party gurl advice web show featuring Mads with guest appearances by other rad queers!

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2012-11-21

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket

I recorded a pre-Thanksgiving episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket.

Here’s the new episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket, I talk about Dolly Parton, my hair getting me closer to God and, you know, tea.

2011-05-29

Hot Piece of Hipster: Summer Genderqueer Hair

I think a lot about hair. I just had a discussion with a friend of mine about why we have no overlap in the folks we sleep with though we are both 32 year old queer fat femmes who live in the same borough. Given how small the community we queers roll in, I have overlap with friends of mine all over the country. This friend said she has a thing for people with bad hair and I said “Aha! That’s it! I only date people with good hair.” It’s really the very first thing I notice about someone when I am attracted. Hair, style, tattoos in that order.

So when my friend Max Voltage from Portland asked my opinion about good genderqueer summer hair looks I was totally into the task of compiling favorites. And with Max’s permission I repost my email below so that you out there looking for summer genderqueer hairstyles might benefit from my research. (And for those of you who do not start out with hair like Max, I’ve thrown a few favorites that I didn’t suggest to Max below.)

Here’s a picture of Max’s hair, I took it from a bizarre angle at Hey Queen in April while Max was in Brooklyn on tour:

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Here’s a picture of Max from a less extreme angle:

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Here’s what I wrote to Max:

First I considered your hair strengths. Your hair is really good as it is, though I totally understand wanting to do something different for the summer. But you have this very distinct look about you, with the sexy sideswept bangs that works really well with your face shape and I think any cut for you should enable you to keep that sideswept bang situation in your repertoire, even if most of the time you change it up.*

Maybe it’s the weather or something like that, but for the summer in general one keeps in mind getting the hair off the neck for cooling off purposes and humidity (at least on the east coast, not sure about Portlandia summertime humidity). So I looked for cuts that keep the length in the front but got some of the hair off the neck. I poked around my good haired friends on Facebook, my favorite style blogs and then did a search for genderqueer on tumblr.

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Photo by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

When you asked me for summertime hair, I immediately thought about my friend Nic Switch. They are a genderqueer porn actor and starred in my queer retelling of the Outsiders as Pony Boy. Hair was an important factor in our casting (the whole cast had great hair). Attached are two photos of Nic, one from the front and from the side.

I like that Nic keeps their hair longish on the sides (which is still shorter for you) and combs it forward while instead of just having the generic genderqueer fauxhawk (yawn) Nic does a bit of a pompadour/duck tail lift. The lift also has some good height to it.

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Obvy this would involve some product, and product is helpful for anti-humidity.

Now that we’ve gone into nouveau greaser territory I must also taut the pompadour. Pomps come in all sizes these days and I love a casual summer swoosh above the head. With the length of the sidesweep you’ve got good pompabilities. The pomp would also enable you to keep some of the length on the sides though cutting most of it to maximize summer comfort. Attached is a photo of Jessie Dress, my femme friend who is rocking a hot genderqueer pomp these days. You could do something similar, a little to the side which would maintain a bit of the signature sideswept Max look. You could also optionally have fancy curly sideburns. This would require a more heavy-duty hair product along the pomade spectrum.

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[As an aside, I cannot blog about pompabilities without shouting out my pal Alix of the Inverted Eye who sports my favorite queer pompadour.]

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Me, Ains to the left and Alix to the right at Rebel Cupcake/Hot Box collision in Oakland.

Eric from True Blood has some damn sexy hair. His hair is a side part and swept up with some lingering strands towards the face. His hair is also even longer on the sides but clean cut around the base of the head (no rat tail). It’s not quite hipster sexy, it’s just traditional fashionable boy sexy but I think it could work well for you.

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The last look I attached is some damn sexy summer sidesweep. If you kept your sideswept bangs and maybe deepened the part a bit toward the side (What side do you part on? Left? Right?) and cut the back part off, cleaning up the base of it, you could get this look. It’s dramatic and awesome.

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I found this look on one of my favorite style blogs, Ironing Board Collective. I want to be their fat style correspondent!

Also, are you open to color? I think a few highlights of a honey brown, just something a bit lighter than the brown you have now would make a huge difference in your look, brightening it up for summertime.

***
I know I was specifically researching for Max’s needs, but I need to throw some honorable mention summer looks for other folks who don’t have the length situation Max does.

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DAAAAAAAANG. Lafayette is looking so hot this summer in this season four True Blood promo photo.

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Danielle is a hot Texan.

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When I thought of good short hairstyles I immediately thought of the gorgeous creatures in this photo I stumbled upon on tumblr a few months ago. The hair sculptures are amaaaaaaaaazing. I know the hats are all wintercore or whatever, but I ache to find out who these folks are and how they work their summer looks.

Maybe next I’ll do my round up of how I beat the humidity and heat with my own long, thick mane.

*I think hair is an important part of branding. Max is an event producer, performance artist, and violinist. Branding/hair is something to consider.

2009-11-03

Hair Bling!

This year I started getting really into hair bling. It all began when I first got my bouffant, around Halloween 2008. I accidentally let my hair grow out (read: got laid off so I stopped being able to afford regular cuts) and I finally went in to see Carla, my hairdresser at Balance Salon in Jersey City. She convinced me to keep the length, did my cut and then passed me off to a fellow stylist to give me a bouffant. “It’s like an open marriage, I’m just going to watch.”

That bouffant changed my life. Having been traumatized by tangles in my hair at an early age I was afraid of teasing it. Spending 10 minutes working out tangles every now and again is so worth it to have high hair. Sometimes I use a bumpit but never when my hair is truly close to Jesus.

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Big hair means a big place to stick fancy things in. I am really into hair bling of all kinds. I even have a line of hair bling at Re/Dress, priced really low, the proceeds of which help feed my hair bling habits.

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Actual hair bling I made, friend bought at store, and wore out in the wild.

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Actual hair bling part of my habit, modeled by Jessie Dress. It’s a turkey dinner.

I think anyone can use hair bling. If you don’t have a lot of hair, stick a clip on a headband and put it on your head. Poof! It’s like a mini hat, only, you know, a bird.

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Dapper Dandies can use hair bling to add a little flavor to their hats.

Here you’ll see a gorgeous purple leather fascinator clipped to a grey hat modeled by Eddie Adonis, of the Charm City Boys in Baltimore. They’re hosting the International Drag KingCommunity Extravaganza in October 2010.

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I was doing some personal shopping for him to add sparkle to his wardrobe for IDKE in Tuscon.

My friend Sarah Deragon makes some elaborate and extremely fancy hair bling. Her stuff blows my mind. I got this hot pink feathered number and wore it on a night on the town (Sister Spit the Next Generation tour) and then at work the next day. Hair fascinators do not have to be just for going out!

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If you love the stuff in Sarah’s store Looks Good From the Front, leave me a comment here with your dream hair bling (specific flower? specific woodland creature?). The most creative answer gets a coupon to use in the Looks Good from the Front Etsy shop.

And for those of you in the New York City area, in my capacity as the reigning Miss Re/Dress NYC, I am hosting a craft fair! My line of hair bling will be there, as well as a trillion other great vendors! Come support your community and arts for the holidays!

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2008-12-31

Survival Skills

I was walking my Shih Tzu Macy the other day through my neighborhood in Jersey City when we came across a stranger. He was another little white Shih Tzu, with no collar or leash. Macy, ever our ambassador to all friendly furry creatures, asked him what he was up to. She was unable to communicate with me what his exact business was in the street on a dark snowy NYC night, but I was able to pick him up, determine he was warm and smelled entirely too good to be a stray. There’s no way I could just leave him on the street, in case he got hit by a car or fell prey to any other Shih Tzu dangers lurking about.

We took him home, where I made a little sign advertising that I’d found a white dog with my phone number. I figured if it was me, as soon as I realized Macy was gone I would flip out and scour the neighborhood–a few signs near where he was found would probably bring them out.

It took about an hour, my plan worked and little Gizmo was reunited with his family. Macy was a little annoyed that he spent the whole time at my apartment hanging out with me on the sofa and not playing with her, but we felt good about having done a good deed.

I told my gay boy BFF Brian about this, saying It’s not like he’s going to be able to fend for himself on the streets. What survival skills does a Shih Tzu have?

“Well, I think looking cute and being able to convince strangers to take you home and feed you until your people come get you is a survival skill.”

And he is absolutely right. Being able to recognize when you need help and being open and available to receiving help is absolutely a survival skill.

This was brought into stark Femme relief for me during part 2 of my 3 part 30th birthday party celebrations, right after the Shih Tzu incident. I threw a party called “Ascots and Bouffants” at my friend Muse’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Muse was kind enough to host the party and was stressed about learning how to bouffant her hair. I offered to do her hair for her, having learned from my hair dresser in November (much to my intense joy).

This was the result after I did my own bouffant process using the technique from my stylist.

However, I have thick, long hair and Muse has fine, shoulder-length hair. It never occurred to me that my technique wouldn’t work on Muse. I started working the backcomb action on her hair and this is what she looked part way through the process.

The results were less than ideal and disappointing for both of us, as we both wanted her to have fabulous high hair for my party.

Just as we made the revelation, my fabulous and gorgeous friend Bryn showed up (who Muse doesn’t know very well). She’s a hair dresser by trade and I instantly knew what we needed to do. Bryn!! I hollered. Can you fix this?

It took about 20 minutes, during which time I began to circulate and welcome guests. And the end result was a fabulous looking and very relieved Muse. By thinking fast and on my feet, I was able to make big hair happen for her, even though I wasn’t able to do it myself.

Asking for help is a crucial skill for Femmes. There are so many things we can learn from each other. Almost everything I know about fatshion, beauty, make-up, self-esteem, and all the things in life I enjoy I’ve learned from my Femme sisters.

It is important to remember that vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. Being open to showing people who you really are and articulating your needs is a great way to interact with people and make real, genuine connections. Had I been too proud to admit defeat when I realized 10 minutes into Muse’s bouffant that I was not going to achieve the result we were after, she would have been stuck with hair she hated and I would have been stuck with a nagging feeling of letting her down that would have dampened the spirit of my party. Being at a point in my life and my confidence where I can ask my friends for help when I need it without being stuck in a feedback loop of shame or worrying about not seeming self-assured actually makes me more confident.

Even if I don’t have a skill, I can get access to it pretty easily through my networks. And just like that Shih Tzu we found, I know I’ll never really be out on the street long enough for my fur to get cold.

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