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

2018-04-06

My Uphill Battle to Interrupt Fatphobia with Tee Shirts

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

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

PDX tour stop day two!

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

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

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

Me and Jake in Seattle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minneapolis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016-02-15

Beth Ditto has a new Fashion Line!

New plus size fashion has been given unto us… and it is good!

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One of my very favorite wardrobe staples is the sweater face dress I bought from Beth Ditto’s first fashion line, a collaboration with Evans in the UK. For those of you who don’t know Beth Ditto, she’s probably the most famous queer fat femme out there, rising to fame as the lead singer of Gossip, has her own awesome solo music projects and wrote a memoir with Michelle Tea.

I consider that sweater dress an investment piece–I spent a bunch of money on it, I adore it and will continue to wear year after year. I always make a huge impression when I wear it.

Beth’s first line for Evans was so killer and I still regret not buying the Domino dress! At the time I was working for Re/Dress in Brooklyn and Deb, the owner, coordinated a big purchase from Evans so we could all share the shipping. I think each of the shop girls bought a piece!

I was so excited to hear that Beth was working on a new line and it launched Monday at 3AM Pacific Time! First thing I did this morning was browse the collection.

This time Beth is doing it herself as an indie designer–no corporation. Everything is made in factories in NYC and she’s gotten input from her designer friends to help put it together. Beth says herself these are investment pieces, and she’s right. They are priced like indie designer pieces but from what I can tell via the internet look totally worth it. Timeless and well conceived. I can’t wait to hear from folks their feedback about the fit and fabric!

loladressbethdittoWhen I am a rich lesbian I will buy the Lola dress in Lipstick Traces. I LOVE the cut and the color and fabric pattern design.

As my readers know I’m in the middle of my transition from NYC to LA so since I’m living off savings and working on new career prospects I don’t have the cash to plunk down on all of the jumpsuits and dresses I want to add to my life. I thought I would aspirationally shop on this post to perhaps inspire my readers to buy some of her pieces so she can be wildly successful with this venture and continue to make clothes that I can buy when my transition period is over and I am a rich lesbian.

04_185-815x1024I LOVE this Modern Love Jumpsuit in Liquid Black. I just think wearing a sheer silver lamé jumpsuit with great underwear out to an event with exceptional shoes sounds like an amazing experience. New item on my bucket list!

timessquarejumpsuitbethdittoThe Modern Love Jumpsuit is also in this Times Square pattern. Adore it!

ninadressbethdittoWhile my first choice dress from the collection is the Lola, I’m kind of dying over the Nina dress! I think it’s so versatile, I think it could be a good fancy work dress, a great cocktail party dress, a great red carpet dress. And if I were giving Hillary Clinton a make-over I would put her in this dress. The only reason it’s not my top choice for aspirational shopping is because I have a dress that is a similar cut and color combination.

04-01-Bubble-color-eatyourmakeup_1024x1024The Double Bubble Dress in Eat Your Make-up (comes in a couple of other colors as well) is on top of my list to twin with Kelli Jean Drinkwater, my queer fat femme friend from Sydney Australia. Because when I’m a rich lesbian I’ll fly her to LA so we can twin in whatever we want!

bethdittoleighdressBoth the Leigh Dress and the Kim oversize shirt look sooo comfortable. I have a dress that is sleeveless with a similar drape, big and flowy, and it is perfect in hot weather. Casually glamorous.

Working at Re/Dress for the three years it was open in Brooklyn and being a body positive activist for over fourteen years has put me in contact with so many indie plus designers. Doing this work is truly a labor of love, has a lot of overhead and rarely yields a profit that lets anyone live high on the hog. I love to support indie designers and think that it’s worth it to spend your money on a quality garment that’s well made. As plus size consumers we have way more corporate options than ever before and sometimes you need/want a pair of $13 jeggings from Forever 21. But I think that prioritizing our investment piece spending to indie designers who support the mission that all bodies are worthy of great fashion and style is super important!

Readers! If you get one of Beth’s pieces tell me how the fit is and what you loved about it in the comments, on my Facebook fan page or on instagram!

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2013-01-04

2013 Intention and New Year’s Eve Look!

Oh, New Year’s Eve came and went and it was a blast and a half. It’s amazing how hard it is to get people to be willing to work on New Year’s Eve. Typically I have a pretty big posse of folks who want to do cash nightlife gigs, especially if it involves getting paid to dress scandalously, but it’s a lot harder on NYE. I, personally, LOVE working on NYE, love having only one place to go, having already set in stone my plan far ahead of time. I’m a Capricorn, it’s my way.

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I also love creating a space without a ton of ridiculous noisemakers. (When Nicky texted me about getting them I was like, “That’s not my style.” She brought some of those popper confetti things anyway.) All photos in this post are by Kelsey Dickey.

My outfit was also pre-determined with the help of Catherines! Catherines asked if I wanted to try out a social occasion look and I said, sure! I was delighted at the amount of vavavoom I was able to score. My outfit was perfectly glamorous and magical.

My two main considerations for plus size party girl New Year’s Eve look were WOW factor and versatility. Number one, I was in charge of counting down to midnight so there’s a moment where eyes are on me. And then also I was going to have to bustle around taking care of party host things like the champagne toast, the weirdly long bathroom line, and all the other trouble shooting I won’t get into but I broke three nails that night and hauled 20 bags of ice while wearing a pin-up wiggle dress. Also, since the Yes Ma’am venue is partially outdoors (I LOVE our “chatio”) I needed to be able to be comfortable chatting outside without having to grab my coat from the coat check.

I selected the Valentina Illusion dress by Kiyonna from the Social Occasion category at Catherines and I was super thrilled with it! I have liked Kiyonna’s designs for a long time and it is fabulous that Catherines has them available. The shipping was really fast and the 3X fit me perfectly.

For a New Year’s Eve wiggle dress I define “fitting perfectly” as a comfortable purple sausage casing.

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I lament I didn’t get a good full-length shot with our photographer but it was a wild party and there wasn’t room for a long shot!

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My co-hosts also looked amazing and I like how Nicky, DJ Average Jo and I are intentionally matchy matchy here.

Catherines also hooked me up with an outerwear piece to complete the look. The Purple Wool Capelet was PERFECT for flouncing back and forth to the chatio. It also buttons in this way that the cleavage still shows when you’re wearing it, an important consideration for WOW factor.

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I took the capelet for a pre-NYE test-run to brunch. This photo is not by Kelsey.

I also love this piece under a coat, because I find that no coat really keeps me warm enough in winter, I usually need a wool layer under my down coat. But because the fur collar is so girthy I don’t need a scarf!

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The cold chatio, with the table for the NY Toy Collective.

Thanks to Catherines I had a really magical fashion New Year’s Eve and am super thankful!

Yes Ma’am’s third party was so great. I was thrilled and touched that so many of my friends came through, what a great crowd to spend the first moments of this brand new baby year with!

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I also love to talk about New Year’s Revoltions/Intentions on my blog and I’ve finally settled on mine, only a few days late. (I got sick and am still recovering.)

This year I’ve decided to “Know My Own Strength.” I struggled with choosing this as an intention for a minute because I wondered if it was going to incite the Goddess to rain down shit upon me the way she did during my Saturn Return. I know I never get any challenge that I’m not actually strong enough for. Also, it’s one of the major emerging themes in the memoir I’m writing, that I didn’t know my own strength. I’m learning a lot from the process of writing the book and some of the stuff I’m learning are things I didn’t realize about myself. Like how much I never really knew my own strength. So I am imagining a 2013 where I meet challenges head-on, knowing I have everything I need to meet them.

Leaning into challenges helps to keep me sane and peaceful in the face of anything. Including the ever important ability to ask for help when I need it!

I hope your NYE was everything you hoped, taught you something about yourself (I sure learned some stuff) and had elements of WOW and glamour and glitter and that your 2013 intention setting has you ready to love yourself right in the coming year!

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