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

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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2015-11-30

Queer and Indie Holiday Gift Guide!

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It’s Cyber Monday again (I kind of still hate that it’s a thing now but it’s a thing now). I believe in putting a dam in Capitalism wherever possible. If I have some wealth, I am going to redirect it to prioritize helping the lives of small businesses, especially those run by queers and POC. I don’t want my gift money going to increase some bottom line on the New York Stock Exchange.

I figure if you’re going to participate in gift giving, I’m super into connecting people to small businesses. I’m also into giving people good gift ideas because I love to shop. I have some ideas for literally anyone on your list.

My holiday gift guide this year is not compensated–I included small businesses owned by folks I know and indie businesses suggested by my followers who commented on my instagram and facebook posts asking for their favorites. Every now and again a proprietor sends me a sample of something or a discount. Many thanks to my friends Lexi and Jamison who helped me come up with some of these ideas, too!

My astrologer once told me that money is energy in 3D form and I totally believe in being mindful about putting your energy out there, especially when you’re doing holiday shopping. So here is a big list of possible holiday gifts for all kinds of folks on your list, enjoy!

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Jewelry & Adornments

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I am so into Stitch Prism Jewelry this year. Handmade by KellyAnne Mifflin, the jewelry is aesthetically gorgeous woo. Maybe you just want something pretty, I love the designs so much! Maybe you want something energetically supportive–it is so powerful to wear crystals on your body. I bought a necklace at their booth at a craft fair after asking which stones I needed have hovering over my heart while traveling.
KellyAnne makes custom work, custom chain sizes, too. I have a custom Capricorn necklace with additional stones that I love. They are also great about “Hey I have this piece from you and need the chain reworked” so if you’re nervous about chain length for your gift recipient you can always get it amended. Also consider a gift card for a custom piece!

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Leather Coven! I bought the above-pictured Medusa harness from them after my holiday gift guide last year and it fits so well! Seriously, getting a custom, hand made piece of art is such a marvelous experience. Mateo is a leatherworking genius and I love their stuff! You can style it in lots of ways–wear it over your clothes for a baller accessory, wear it over an undergarment to amplify sexy, and if you want to really go for deep sexy wear nothing under it!

For a simpler style I love the Sebastian Harness for only $41.40 (pictured above, modeled by Mateo) and I am deeply coveting the new Elektra crop top that just came out this Fall. They take Etsy gift cards if you are unsure of the measurements of your loved ones. If you’re ready for their Cyber Monday deal, for today only CYBERME20 for 20% off!

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I love Chubby Cartwheels so much. (This is the brand behind my beloved Diet Industry Dropout crop top.) I think it can be hard to buy other people clothes, but as a Fat Femme, I love when my lovers buy me great lingerie. How about these Chubby Cartwheels All Around Mesh Undies? I feel like they work well for folks who love lingerie and folks who just love to be comfy. Both sexy and cozy. (I would count this as loungerie.) At $18 and sizes 1X-5X I think it’s a great choice. If you don’t know your sweetie’s size, go check out their underwear drawer, find a couple pairs you know they enjoy and scope the size tag! And if you’re really unsure, email Shawna, the babe behind the brand, and say “It’s a Torrid 2X, what size is that for your garments?” A lot of fat femmes know what a Torrid 2X fits like and can translate.

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Speaking of fab fatties, I also gotta shout out Rachel Cupcake’s Re/Dress. Every time I’ve bought online it comes really fast. They have all these AMAZING microfiber bright print leggings for $28. If you’re shopping for a babe who is size 14-26, the leggings fit that whole size range so you can’t go wrong. I love a bold print legging, it goes with my easy tunic tops and I don’t have to think about how to really wear an outfit. Also, it puts me in touch with my inner Peg Bundy.

Collartips

Dapper and Swag’s Livery and Adornments has some very fabulous Collar Tips. My well-dressed dapper friend Lexi says Collar Tips are her new favorite accessory. Dapper and Swag has this great Nautical themed collar tip for only $15! I also love the stag antler ones.

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Project TransAction (in their words) is an eco-conscious, artist driven, independent leatherwork and screen printing company in Boston, MA. We use only top quality American cowhide and source our hardware from small – often family owned and operated – US companies. All of the inks, dyes, and finishes that we use on our leather are water based, and our screen cleaning products are biodegradable. All of our work is 100% Quality and Satisfaction Guaranteed. We aren’t satisfied until you are. Right now I’m obsessed with how good leather suspenders look and really want a pair for Dara. Their base price is $85 for leather suspenders and they have so much great leather to choose from. This is another item to order custom sized. If you want to go pricier these Distressed Brown Leather Suspenders (swoon) are $150.

It can be so hard to find a belt that fits for a larger or smaller than average person! Project Transaction also sell really cute custom belts like this Gears and Cogs belt for the nerd in your life. Find Project Transaction on Facebook and Instagram! Get 15% off with Promo Code WINTER and free holiday shipping!

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Kelly Horrigan Handmade makes such great earrings, shoulder bling, necklaces, wall hangings, etc… From Kelly: At least 75% of the leather used at KHH | KELLY HORRIGAN HANDMADE is repurposed from high quality scrap leather. We strive to make sustainable choices whenever possible. I love the Diamond Teal Peacock earrings so much. This Python Necklace is so baller. Kelly makes a lot of things in hot pink and I am very into bright leather. Receive 15% off when you use code HANDMADE at checkout.

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Wild Fancy Design has some of the coolest jewelry for your favorite witch, feminist or queer. The Dandy Unicorn collar tip shown above is $33. Yes Homo necklace is $25. Or how about flagging with a Switch pin for $16? With code DARKSKIES you can get 15% off through December 31st!

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Deliciousness & Potions

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Do you know a tea lover? The Plum Deluxe folks have an amazing tea of the month club with a hand-blended seasonal tea exclusive for their tea of the month members. They sent me a sampler of their tea to check it out for my Lesbian Tea Basket series and I’m prepping a video about all that. I looooved the seasonal sample they sent from an autumn monthly delivery. In fact, my dog groomer Sequinette came over and asked for a “seasonal” tea and boy was I a proud lesbian busting out my tea of the month for the moment. (And it was delicious!) You should definitely consider the gift of a tea of the month! They do the gift subscriptions in 3, 6 and 12 month increments, either one tea at a time ($10 per month) or two teas at a time ($16 per month). As a tea lover who loves to sample new tea, I would be super into this gift.

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(Hint hint if any of my loved ones are reading this and want to buy me this tea of the month club gift please go for it, email address is queerfatfemme@gmail.com I will update them with my address as I make my way cross country.)

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Gemly and Fern is the potion arm of Stitch Prism, which is really great. Such great potions to choose from if you have a loved one going through it: Deep Self Love, Heal Through This, and Mercury Retrograde Support Potion.

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As someone who has food sensitivities I have learned to rely heavily on my cooking skills. I have definitely leveled up my cooking game and doing so, relying on high quality great spices. I’ve also learned that high quality delicious salt can transform any vegetable. (I have more than five types of salt right now and I feel really great about it.) My friend Lexi suggested Penzey’s, a local spice shop located in Boston and Missouri, for cute gift ideas for literally anyone who cooks. The Sunny Paris seasoning, is salt free. It is pricey but it is definitely because of the dried shallots inside. Lexi shared it with me and it smells delicious. And for $10 for 1/2 cup it will help jazz up pretty much anything. Jamison and I used the Buttermilk Ranch spice mix on chicken the last time I visited their home and it was out of this world. The Sandwich Sprinkle is also recommended from the Lexi/Jamison household. They also have gift cards and gift boxes, and all the salts.

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Kids & Pets

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Queer kid’s coloring books! Jacinta Bunnell has a whole line of them for the gaybies and small children in your life! The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book is only $12.95 Sixty-four page coloring book illustrating twenty-six words that highlight memorable victories and collective moments in LGBTQP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Pansexual) culture. Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon Coloring Book is only $10. There are lots more, check out the store!

dumplin

If you know a high school or middle school-aged person consider the gift of this amazing young adult book I just finished, Dumplin. I definitely plan to write up a full review on my blog but until I get to it (I will be done moving in 3 weeks, maybe then I will finish my backlog of blog endeavors!) you should know it is a heartwarming tale of a fat but mostly okay with it girl and her coming of age. She lives in a tiny town in Texas and loves Dolly Parton. There’s teenage (hetero)sexuality in it. It was such a great book I had a hard time putting it down.

ruffhauscollar

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Ruff Haus is the pet collar arm of ProjectTransAction and I love their gorgeous work–the prints are so unusual! I especially love the circus horses and polka dot design.

kyleticklepickle

For cats, I have an unusual present that’s pretty cheap. I follow a really cute flat faced cat named Kyle on instagram. Kyle has a big online presence and because his adoption origin story involves his previous mom being killed by domestic violence, his new parents use his online swag to raise money for a pet friendly domestic violence shelter in NYC. This tickle pickle is only $4, stuffed with catnip and I’ve seen many famous instagram cats playing with it so I know it’s a hit among the feline sector. What an amazing win-win, a great stocking stuffer and a donation to benefit a pet friendly DV shelter!

booksandprints
Books & Prints

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Glitter & Grit – Queer art anthology

My writing is featured in a new anthology that is coming out on a limited edition pre-sale run! Glitter and Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy features writing and art by over 60 queer artists, all of whom have worked with Heels on Wheels — the notorious all-femme, DIY touring & community art troupe. (I wrote about my experience touring with Heels on Wheels in this blog post.) To fund this printing, this anthology is on pre-sale Nov 30-Dec 14, only at this link. First 30 books sold @ 20% off – $20 + shipping, next 100 books sold @ 10% off – $23 + shipping. Note that you can select express shipping and get it in time to gift, if you want! This is the kind of thing you’ll want to give other people and you’ll want to give to yourself. STOCKING STUFFER MAGIC for the Femmes and Queers of all genders in your life!

fatactivism-seconddraft-cover

Charlotte Cooper has a new book coming out! Maybe you want to pre-order it and give a card to your friend/relative/partner who needs or wants something like this? In Charlotte’s words: Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is going to be published on 4 January 2016. I picked this date because it is the beginning of the new year weight loss season and the first day back to work for people who have to hustle for a living. I thought that this would be when readers would need something really encouraging about hope and social change at this bleak time of year. Also definitely don’t miss the cute holiday video starring Charlotte!

meandjesbakerthingsnoonewilltellfatgirls

For someone who needs a little more of a body love 101 ride, and someone to walk them through the process of loving your body like a friend I am reading and loving Jes Baker of the Militant Baker‘s Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls. I’m also quoted in it! (What a total honor!!!) That photo above is me and Jes Baker at the book launch in NYC!

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I went to a craft show this weekend and I barely looked at the letterpress booths because I love Panorama Press so much! Queer owned and operated, Madeline makes such amazing beautiful creations. Tons of cards, the amazing California Poppy print above I love so much, and occasionally jewelry. And Don We Now Our Gay Apparel for only $5 is the BEST gay holiday card.

Other Things!


I have had this Ring Thing on my phone for the past year and it’s frickin’ amazing. Here’s the blurb from Zachary, Dara’s friend who runs it and its awesome charitable arm. Never drop your phone again! Ring Thing allows for a comfortable, safe & secure grip for any smart device. Ring Thing can be used for a verticle or horizontal kickstand and rotates 360 degrees & swivels 180 degrees. New phone, new case, no problem, Ring Thing can be peeled off and reused over 100 times!** So if you’re looking to take the perfect selfie or watch a video with ease and comfort, you need a Ring Thing!

This holiday season, you can support Schools That Can (STC) and get your stocking-stuffing-shopping done. Enter the “SchoolsThatCan” coupon and $9 for each RingThing purchase will be donated to STC, helping them provide quality programming, partnerships, and thought leadership to their schools. To learn more about STC and Ring Thing, visit www.GoodForMeLifestyle.com/Fundraising

P.S. Watch a holiday video starring me, Dara and Macy on you tube from the Schools that Can/Ring Thing mash-up last year!

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And I always want to shout out my friend Mackenzi’s great store Lockwood! She has three locations now, one in Astoria, one in Jackson Heights and a clothing store in Astoria that carries sizes 0-24. If you’re a NYC local go shop in her store, I can literally buy all of my presents for everyone there, she curates epically. The webstore has only a fraction of her inventory, but online I love the plates with cute sayings on them, like these for $24.95. Watching Mackenzi work so hard and actualize her dreams is very inspirational for me. Her store has really bloomed over the past 7 years of our friendship!!

2015-01-28

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

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

tessCNNTess Holliday on TV! Source: Tess Holliday Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tess-holliday-anthonyevansPhoto by Anthony Evans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012-12-17

Freelancer Realness and Vintage Clothing for Sale! Sizes Large through 4X!

As a blog reader myself, I know sometimes the question of “What does this blogger do for money” is mysteriously there. For me, finding a career out of a mix of activities is scary and helpful both at once because I’m able to take on big projects like writing a book and also have the flexibility to travel and have adventures to write about. To answer that question about me, I’m a part time lawyer with my own firm, I get a little revenue from blog sponsorships, I teach workshops at colleges and elsewhere, and party promoting is really something I do for the love of my community but it usually works out to about $6 an hour of work for each Rebel Cupcake and it’s too early to tell about Yes Ma’am.

Being a freelancer also means that when I have financial emergencies like my cat getting sick and costing me about $1,000 unexpectedly in October and then the hurricane killing real estate deals for awhile and the standard December/January transactional lawyer slowdown it can result in a shit storm of brokeness. Not having my part time job at Re/Dress, the fabulous vintage and resale store I worked at for three years (may she rest in power and in our hearts) means that these slow-downs are scarier than they ever were before.

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ALF has kidney failure and gets subcutaneous fluids every other day, a cheap pill for his hypertension and way fancy prescription kidney food. I genuinely never believed I would be the kind of cat mom who sticks her baby with a needle but it’s meant to keep him comfortable and not to artificially prolong his life so I’m doing it. Being a single mom is hard! It involves a little bit of wrestling and bribing and making really hard decisions on your own.

I learned a lot by being the kid of a poor/working class single mom in the 80s and 90s. One of those things was how to live on the edge and it does get easier the more practice I get at it as an adult trying to shift career paths towards what I really love to do, which is write books and have adventures and make the world safe for people to love themselves.

And, as a sidebar, if you’re a freelancer in Brooklyn and want a place to go work on Wednesdays, Liz of Rhino Girl Media has coordinated this awesome Queer Co-Working lunch from 11-4 on Wednesdays. I’ve been going for a couple of months and have gotten a date and a new client from it (not the same person). Plus it’s lots of fun.

I’m writing all this both because I think it’s important to talk about money so it is less mysterious and scary, and also to explain why it is that I am selling a ton of vintage pieces on the internet. I’ve amassed a great collection of vintage and resale plus size clothes since Re/Dress closed, mostly because I was going to start a pop-up shop with a friend of mine so we could keep access to this resource going. But, since I’m having a holiday money shit storm, I’ve instead decided to sell it all online. I wish I could have you all here to my home or a store to try on these lovelies and teach you how to style them ferociously, but sadly I cannot. Instead, I hope if any of these strikes your fancy you’ll buy them from me!

The whole set is through this link. The set is organized roughly in size order from largest to smallest (4X-Large). The prices widely vary, from $10 items that are damaged but too fabulous not to sell, to a $50 vintage brown coat with fur collar and cuffs. Most of the vintage dresses are about $30 and the tops are about $20.

1X/2X Light Blue Zip Front Poly Dress $40 (#16)
1X/2X Zip Front Poly $40

XL/1X/2X Blue peplum dress $30 (#7)
XL/1X/2X Blue peplum dress $30

2X/3X Leopard Silk Bomber Jacket $30 #32
2X/3X Leopard Silk Bomber Jacket $30

SEE ALL THE REST HERE!

All items for sale! Email queerfatfemme at gmail dot com with the item number you wish to purchase and I will send you an invoice via paypal.

Shipping is $5 per item, but if you buy 2 items or more I’ll ship them for free!

Each item is described in the first photo (each additional photo is for detail) and, unless otherwise noted in good used condition. All sales are final, please feel free to ask any questions!

1X/2X Vintage Brown Fur Collar & Cuffs Coat $50 (#10)
$50

Please check them out and if you have any questions, email me!

2012-10-25

Book Review: Cheryl B.’s My Awesome Place

I am totally delinquent posting this book review since I read a preview copy from the publisher a couple of months ago during my Summer of Memoir. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a really hard time writing this review because Cheryl B., the author of My Awesome Place, was my friend and she is dead. This is not a spoiler alert, it’s in the first line of the foreward by Sarah Schulman. “Cheryl Burke died of medical malpractice in June 2011 at the age of 38.”

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Cheryl B., Diana Cage, Molly Equality Dykeman, Me and Kelli Dunham at Nerd Love in February 2011, Kelli and Cheryl’s Valentine’s Day show.

But the book is out and Cheryl’s friends and her literary executor put together her memoir work so that it could be published and we can know more about her life. Like what it was like to grow up in Staten Island and New Jersey in an alcoholic home with a controlling mom and a dad who broke a plate of spaghetti over her head when she told him she got into NYU. How she drowned her feelings in alcohol and drugs but also learned how to trust her creative spirit. How she became this amazing poet and performer and made a name for herself in the 90s on the slam poetry scene, touring the country and writing plays.

How she dealt with continuing a relationship with her family even though it wasn’t at all easy. Working through her father’s death. Watching her good friend go through cancer and acting as his caretaker. How she bounced back from a guidance counselor who told her to be a toll taker on the NJ Turnpike and clearly she is a genius artist (that part of the book actually made me angry).

It sounds like everything in the book is heavy stuff. And even though a lot of it is, Cheryl moves through the words with such energy it becomes easy to understand, move through it and laugh a lot. Cheryl’s really well known for her sarcasm and wit and that blankets the book.

I felt like it was such a gift, to get to know her better through this book. I had no idea what she lived through and how she managed to become the caring and wry person I knew. I knew she had been ten years sober but I didn’t know the extent of her survival.

I also enjoyed her journey to her sexuality. It’s trite to say it’s a coming out story, but it is a really compelling path to dating women and starting to have serious girlfriends and then having a boyfriend and navigating people’s reactions and judgments around queerness and bisexuality. I think folks who have experience dating across the gender spectrum will find this aspect very relatable.

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Similarly, she was fat as a teenager she talks about navigating in a world when she went to college and lost all of her weight and got skinny. I wish the book had gone into that more, but it is relevant to her story and dealt with sensitively and not like some kind of narrative where the main character gets skinny and suddenly everything is okay. Everything is certainly not okay with Cheryl when she loses weight.

Her cat is also a central character and I deeply appreciate that aspect. It seems sometimes that Sabrina the cat is the only thing keeping her alive.

Kelli Dunham, my friend and Cheryl’s widow, wrote the afterward about her cancer and finding the support network of her friends.

Cheryl B and Bevin at Speling B for Cheryl B.
Me and Cheryl at the Spelling Bee for Cheryl B. I organized with my fellow Re/Dress Shop Girls. She was heartily nerd identified and this was a great way for folks to show their support for Cheryl both monetarily and spiritually.

Writing this review I had a memory of Cheryl before the spelling bee coming to Re/Dress and changing behind the counter into these black patent leather stiletto boots and I remember thinking “Man, Cheryl is such a bad ass.” And there is a scene in the book where she walks up and down Manhattan in black stiletto boots looking for a job as a cocktail waitress and I thought “Man, Cheryl is such a bad ass.” And maybe that’s the message of this book. Cheryl was a bad ass and you can be, too.

It’s hard to promote a book when the author isn’t around to do a book tour or go on the Today Show or whatever. It’s also really awesome to support small publishers and Topside Press is really awesome and providing a venue for a bunch of queer and trans authors to get their voices heard. Buy Cheryl’s book! (If you order it before the end of Friday you can get a free ebook in addition to the paperback.)

2011-11-29

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 1: Planning

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.

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A previous Lesbian Jack Kerouac adventure in San Francisco.

I have an inspirational calendar above my desk that has stated for November “Open your arms wide and beautiful moments will come to you.”

After a sudden break-up just two weeks before the end of a two month protracted lay-off experience, I decided to embark on an epic journey. My goals for my Gay American Road Trip were to shift my perspective and my energy. I felt very bogged down in sadness and lacking traction in my life, which was very frustrating. Creatively blocked, I hoped new perspective and big skies would clear things and make way for new blank pages in the chapters of my life.

The decision to go on the trip was solidified quickly, just two weeks prior to leaving. Everything fell into place, and with places to stay popping up from friends it didn’t feel nearly as alone as a solo trip might. I also have a very charming and friendly seven year old Shih Tzu dog who loves to nap in the car. It is hard to feel alone when in the company of a canine companion.

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“Macy you can sleep while I drive,” I adulterated classic Melissa Etheridge lyrics as I packed to leave.

I decided to hop out of town right away―literally the day after my last shift at Re/Dress. I was ready for that energy change. Already a difficult nine and a half hour day working retail, adding community sadness and the agita of uncertainty plaguing me and my fellow Shop Girls, I wanted to shed this juju immediately. Since I had a gig go go dancing at Hey Queen on November 19th I knew that my first chance to leave was November 20th. So I did.

The reactions of my friends, advisers and family were similar―overwhelmingly supportive but very concerned for my safety. As a single 32 year old woman traveling through the heartland solo, I need to be vigilant about safety, but strike a balance where safety vigilance did not compromise the feeling of complete and utter freedom the road offers. As a lifelong Girl Scout and devout traveling adventurer I am familiar with both wilderness survival and road survival. I will be offering my safety tips throughout this blog series.

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Getting things in the rearview mirror, somewhere near Reno, Nevada.

I have hit the road before. When I moved across the country at 21 I departed with my college best friend who decided in Minneapolis to take a train back home. So I had already driven halfway across the country by myself and knew what that was like. I’ve driven the two days to Atlanta, GA from Brooklyn and driven back and forth to Michfest several times. I knew my limits and my preferences and I also knew I liked being alone in the car. I definitely would not have gone cross country on a solo road trip if I hadn’t had experience.

Preparing the Car
*Safety tip.* Prior to leaving I did a few crucial things to ensure my car was ready for the road. I have a Toyota Prius, a dream car I bought myself when I was making $80K a year as an attorney in a small firm before I got laid off and tried my hand at living on less than a third of that per year as a part time Shop Girl and part time solo attorney. The solo business has dwindled to about nothing this year and I am looking for a new full-time gig to replace both of those. I have had to scramble like hell to keep making payments on my car but I love it and couldn’t get out of the loan. So why not celebrate all I’ve sacrificed to keep it by taking off on this trip?

I only go to the dealership to get the Prius serviced. They do safety checks every time I go in and I knew I was due for an emissions service (about $200), which would also help with better gas mileage, and when I was there for the service they surprised me with the need for a brake fluid service (another $200). But making sure it was safe for the road was really important to me.

Preparing the Dog
Macy got her shots updated and a fresh rabies vaccine before we left town (the rabies certificate is packed with us). I also treated her preventatively with Frontline for fleas (who knew what she might get exposed to on the road). I bought extra poop bags, brought a full bag of food, some small tupperware to keep a single portion of food in for our overnights, a couple of extra small tupperware for her water needs, some treats and her favorite lamby toy. I also packed a down blanket to put on the seat next to me, which was something she could dig in and also easier to clean off than my interior.

I also researched pet-friendly hotel chains. I knew we would need to spend a couple of nights in hotels and wanted to prepare for Macy’s welcome. Motel 6 is nationwide and La Quinta is located in most of the cities I might need to stop.

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Peaceful La Quinta moment. The one in Ventura had some kind of ambient wave noise and moon you could watch.

As of this publication I have stayed twice in La Quintas and I find them super comfortable and affordable. ($52 and $62 with my AAA discount plus taxes and fees in Salt Lake City, UT and Ventura, CA, respectively when booked online at La Quinta’s website.)

Planning the Trip
I had about 17 days to spend on the road―with my next gig in Brooklyn being Rebel Cupcake on December 8th. I did a gas estimate on gasbuddy.com to find out if I could afford the gas―hey estimated $450 for round trip to Palm Springs, CA, where my fabulous Grandmother lives. I looked at the route and plotted some places in between where I could stay and where I wanted to visit.

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I’ll be honest that the “End of the World” episode of Parks and Recreation that aired in the beginning of November was a great inspiration to me in the conception and the plot of this trip. Characters April and Andy take a spontaneous road trip to watch the sunset in the Grand Canyon. I knew that was a spot I wanted to see― have never been there and it is only a few hours east of my Grandmother. I wanted to visit Austin and Atlanta, Southern cities where I have longtime besties and there are handsome Southern butches to give this freshly single Femme a little hope at the start of a long Winter. (Sometimes even just window shopping is like eating a full meal.)

I also have friends who popped up on Facebook and offered places to stay. My dear fried and co-creator Cam lives about halfway from Chicago to my mom’s place in the Bay Area. I have a lot of friends in Chicago I could count on for a place to rest my weary head.

*Safety Tip.* I am a member of AAA and believe that to be an everyday safety need as a single lady driving around in a city full of potholes late at night. If I need a tow not only are three included in my yearly dues, but it comes with a tow person who is vetted by my auto club. Helpful for peace of mind. And for around $55 a year in Brooklyn, it’s a huge value considering all of the discounts and benefits from membership. I’ve had AAA since I first began driving and my mom added me to her membership and it has saved my ass on many occasions.

To plot the route, I started plugging in addresses on AAA’s online Trip Tik planner. As a member I can save trips on their website when I log in and it was helpful to keep updating it as I confirmed with friends and got their addresses. (I found with google I had to keep updating my route from scratch.)

I copied a calendar from my wall (the inspirational one) to use the grid to fill in travel times and how long I wanted to stay each place. I started working forward from my departure date, filling in the daily hours and miles traveled and writing where I would sleep that night. I knew my comfortable daily travel was 840 miles, but I could do 1,000 if I had some rest the next morning. I also am a big fan of leaving at the crack of dawn so as little night driving happens as possible.

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This is what greeted me at dawn in Illinois.

I didn’t intend to reach anywhere specific for Thanksgiving― wanted to take exactly as long as I could safely to get across the country and back. Not setting deadlines was helpful for that. (Had I been accompanied by a willing co-pilot we could have done it in 3 days.) Luckily I was able to make it to California for Thanksgiving, 5 days after setting foot out of my door in Brooklyn, much to the delight of my mother.

After I worked my way out to California on the calendar, I began working my way back from December 8th counting backward the route it would require to get back to Brooklyn. This way I could see exactly how much fudge time I had in the middle of my route to plan my brief layovers and make my plans to see folks.

I planned a time in the mileage for an oil change around 3800 miles when I knew I had a day off from driving.

I had to drop a lot from my itinerary―honestly this trip could have taken me a full month. I wish I could have gone up to the Pacific Northwest to see pals in Portland, Olympia, Seattle and Victoria. I wish I had longer to soak in New Orleans―a town I very desperately want to spend a chunk of time exploring. But that’s the thing about travel and the open road, there is always more to explore. It’s with an abundant spirit I say I know I’ll be back and I will see more.

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Somewhere in central Wyoming.

I also ordered some travel books and maps and a Trip Tik book from my local AAA office. I really haven’t used them much, though they are great to have as back-ups and good driving tips, local speed regulations and whatnot.

*Safety tip.* Other safety items I always have on hand in my car are a flashlight, spare tire, shoes, car manual, cell phone charger.

So that was how I planned the trip. It took several days to plan, but the planning itself was very invigorating. When I’m not on a computer at my Grandmother’s I’ll post a map of my route.

In sum, I plan to be on the road for 7800 miles and 17 days.

2011-11-09

New Episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket

My friend Fae stopped by today and mentioned she hadn’t seen a new Lesbian Tea Basket recently and I realized it’s because I haven’t posted them to my blog! How negligent.

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Me doing an Outfit of the Day photo in what Leslie deems a “classic model pose.”

Darlings, cozy up to your computers and watch two sorta bummed episodes. I have mentioned previously that my job of three years is ending (second layoff in 3 years–where are the small business bail outs, Obama!?!) and quite suddenly last week my relationship of four months ended. Ironically right after I bought a box of tea, so it’s tea associated.

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Leslie’s version of this pose.

My life is no stranger to upheaval these last few years. Lately I have been sad and feeling my feelings about these unexpected transitions but I also am ultimately hopeful. I’ve also decided to use this precious time while I’m looking for a new day job to take off on a post-layoff, post-break-up road trip. Opening my arms wide to beautiful adventure, seeing all the many dear friends I am so lucky to have scattered across this country and spending a few days in Palm Springs with my gorgeous Grandmother.

Grandmother and Me and Macy

I’m going to do some research for my memoir about my step-mom (with a more in-depth trip to come, hopefully with funding and a documentary camera). I am going to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, hang out in Austin and Atlanta and enjoy life with renewed vigor.

My dog Macy is coming along with me and it is all falling together really well. The Heartbreak MFA suggests throwing yourself into a big art project and this road trip feels like that art project.

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Leslie says this is the “classic fashion blogger” pose. On one leg and staring down at the ground like you’re looking at a puppy.

I’m sure there will be more Lesbian Tea Basketing, but in the meantime please enjoy these newish episodes from this past month!

Lesbian Tea Basket #15: Consolation Tea

Lesbian Tea Basket #16: Lipton’s Herbal Ginger Tea and Sunbeam’s Electric Tea Kettle

I highly recommend this electric tea kettle.

2011-10-16

Solicited Advice: Fat Girls In Your Bed/Fat Girls on Your Arm

I love giving solicited advice. I borrowed an advice request from Taueret (AfroTitty over on the Tumblrzzzz) and gave the following advice.

Dear AfroTitty:

hi you ARE sexy but i also have a real question for your queer bodypositive self. i’m talking to this girl who is cute and awesome and also fat, which i think is hot. what do i say when she says she says she’s fat in a sad way? like we just met so i think it’d be creepy to be like hell yeah girl and it’s awesome but also it feels wrong to say no you’re not when i LIKE that about her and there’s nothing wrong with it! help me be sensitive i have no people skills

sundubu

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AfroTitty at Hey Queen.

*Note from Afrotitty: I got this question a couple days ago and my brain has been a little occupied with navigating the new addition to my personal pronoun roster, so I decided to pass it on my fat comrade, Bevin [QueerFatFemme.com] who is also an expert on getting fat girls into your bed/arms*

Dear sundubu:

Thank you so much for your compliment about Afrotitty. She IS sexy.

I am Afrotitty’s friend and co-worker at Re/Dress NYC and I am also a queer body positive identified person. Congratulations on talking to an awesome cute fat girl! The thrill of someone new and rad is really among one of life’s best feelings.

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Door queens at Hey Queen! Hana on the right looking ferocious!

Also, go you for coming from a body positive and fat positive space! Fat is awesome! Fat is also a loaded word with a lot of stigma around it that many people do not find empowering. When I say “Hi Fat friend!” to my pals they know I am saying Fat in a way that celebrates and takes back that word. Body empowerment is special and bonding and I find this like the verbal equivalent to a loving belly bump greeting.

I had a really interesting wake-up call recently when my new girlfriend said “You’re not Fat!” to me when I was talking about my fat. I was like “Uh, yes I am. This is my identity and a big part of my politics.” She has dated lots of Fat Femmes but not a Fat Femme who loved her body and had body politics. I had to remind myself to have compassion for her in the journey to understanding the body politics I have been working on for over a decade. She loves my body and is very vocal about it, but sometimes it’s odd to see someone have that visceral bad reaction to the words I throw around because I am used to being in my radical fat queer communities.

That said, remember when you thought Fat was a disempowering word and maybe you weren’t okay with it? If you can put yourself in that position it will enable you to have some compassion for the long journey your cute awesome fat crush is only just beginning. That is IF she chooses to begin it. Lots and lots of folks on the fat spectrum learn about body positivity and don’t choose to love themselves. This is really difficult work, loving yourself and your body in a world that is hostile to all bodies. Stay open and compassionate to the fact that she might need to come around and might never come around.

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Nogga and Topher at Hey Queen!

In the meantime, you can gently tell her when she uses the term Fat in a derogatory way or is engaging in body shame (or looks at you in shock when you use the word Fat in a positive way) that you think that ALL bodies are valuable and that Fat is an empowering word that describes your body (or if you are not Fat, describes bodies you find attractive and worthy). Also, it is really helpful for people of all bodies to get compliments.

Also, I want to give you some extra support around learning how to be sensitive in interpersonal relations. It is hard! I am a loud, bold, high intensity person and often I have really flunked at sensitivity. But just *wanting* to be sensitive is a good first step. It’s a lot of work to learn and I am still doing it.

So, anyway, sundubu, I wish you the best of luck with this cute awesome fat girl and I hope you get really well laid.

xoxo,

Bevin

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Me and Princess Tiny and the Meats at Hey Queen.

2011-09-30

Consolation Cupcakes

Hi friends. It’s been a weird few months here at QFF headquarters. First there were three deaths right in a row this Spring, last month a sudden accident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene claimed the life of a close family friend of mine. On top of this, the closing of Re/Dress NYC, my workplace and home to much of my politics and community.

Yesterday our pals around the corner from One Girl Cookies brought us consolation cupcakes.

Me and Leslie
Like I said to Leslie after we heard the news, “At least Re/Dress gave us each other.”

The announcement was made yesterday but I’ve already known for a bit and had to keep it under my hat, which has been hard since right now I’m dealing with the eventual loss of health insurance and the only steady income I have. (The rest of my income comes from my sometimes flagging solo law practice, speaking gigs, and performance opportunities, all of which provide sporadic income and require an intense hustle that actually takes away from my productivity and artistic energy.)

So it is a shock and brings up a lot of fear and first chakra stuff. But luckily fear is just a feeling, it’s not reality. I’m at a place personally where I know that. I’ve been laid off once before, almost three years ago to the day. This year has provided me lots of opportunities to deepen my spiritual practice and a friend mentioned yesterday “Wow, you’re talking a lot more about the Goddess lately.” My response? I don’t see much of a choice. Not to get too woo, but honestly the only security I’ve ever found in my complicated life is my choice to believe in a loving higher power.

Feelings of grief and loss bring up for me the desire to focus more on the right now of life. So I’ve had this Everyday Glitter post brewing and share it with you as a celebration of the gorgeous everyday-ness that even a steady monthly beat of sad news can’t take away.

Everyday Glitter #1: Artist Dates
One of the things The Artist’s Way teaches is to take yourself on a weekly artist date. I slacked off over the summer and just started again with a vengeance. (I highly suggest doing the 12 week Arist’s Way program to anyone, BTW.)

Sunday found me roaming Cobble Hill on my artist’s date and I remembered bookmarking a soda fountain the charming and articulate plus fashion blogger Nicolette Mason talked about on her blog, the Brooklyn Farmacy. A quick mobile phone google of Nicolette’s site found the address on her write-up and I popped in with a copy of Oprah magazine and settled in for a treat.

It’s a legit old school soda fountain with waitresses in vintage frocks and scarves in their hair and a really nice Brooklynite dude serving up old fashioned treats.

Purple cow
My mom used to make me Purple Cows when I was a little kid, this one is grape soda and I subbed coconut ice cream for vanilla. It was really delicious.

Everyday Glitter #2: Puppy Watch

One of the coolest things about living in a densely populated area is that puppy watching is a daily thing. All number of adorable pooches are walked regularly. I’ve started parking myself on this bench near Re/Dress on my lunch walks to puppy watch. Sometimes when I’m working from home I take a break and sit on my stoop with Macy

Macy stoop

I mean, cute puppies make me feel better about pretty much everything.

Everyday Glitter #3: Style Emails!

Ever since Big Sexy premiered the Re/Dress NYC Tumblr Ask Box has been blowing up. I’ve actually really enjoyed answering people’s questions, especially this one about hiding a fat stomach. You can check my advicelets out over there!

Everyday Glitter #4: New! Big! Projects!
On Sunday I went over to Governor’s Island to discuss my curating an area as part of a big free art festival on Governor’s Island next May. I’m super excited about it. It’s going to be a body liberation / size acceptance interactive & multi-artist installation. I’m really excited to take my existing performance curatorial skills and do something bigger.

Governor’s Island is a great place to go chill out during the summer. It’s huge, there are bike rentals, parks, lots of grass, the ferries run frequently and are free. I had a lot of fun exploring everything and Danielle, my tour guide (and the person who recruited me to curate) knows the nooks and crannies of the island.

Governor's Island
Photo by Danny McL.

And Leslie and myself are tossing around ideas about how we can take her expertise in wardrobe and styling, my event planning experience and mash them up to a resale shopping experience. I’ll of course keep my readers updated, and you can keep tabs on Double Chin Win on the website.

Everyday Glitter #5: Fall Layers
Crisp Autumn air means more opportunities to wear weird rock vests and stifling stretch polyester vintage dresses. I found a brown fur rock vest at Re/Dress yesterday. I can’t wait to kick leaves and buy a new pair of Ariat Fatbaby Boots for the winter.

Everyday Glitter #6: Suri’s Burn Book
Hysterical fashion commentary told from the point of view of Suri Cruise on the fashions of celebrity babies.

Everyday Glitter #7: You!
As though on cue from the universe, the last week while I’ve been privately stewing on this news and brewing the what nexts for my life, I’ve gotten an influx of fan mail, had some really meaningful interactions with fans at the store, and other synchronous events to remind me that making my art is super important and is a two-way street. I create because I feel compelled to create, but it really does mean a lot to me that it means a lot to you.

Here’s to moving ahead in faith that what I’m meant to be doing next enables me to keep doing what I’m passionate about, helping the world become safe for folks to love themselves, regardless of their differences.

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The sky is not the clouds.

2011-08-31

Fatting Around The Premier Party for TLC’s “Big Sexy”

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My dear friend Leslie is on a new show on TLC called Big Sexy*. It follows the lives of five New York City women aged 24-30something who are all plus size and work in the thin-centric fashion industry. Big Sexy premiered last night and has two more episodes that air on Tuesday nights at 10PM. I’m sure the first episode will re-run a few times this week.

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Me and Big Sexy star Audrey.

Leslie and her fellow cast mates organized a viewing party for their friends and family at a big sports bar in Times Square.

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It was studded with the NYC plus size fashion glitterati. From my perch on the third floor I spied Monif C. (whose fashions were all over the fashion show and Nikki’s photos on the show), GabiFresh

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Wilbur of SK Wilbur Designs. (and his mom!)

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Plus size stylist Steffany Bready Edwards.

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Local celebrity Glenn Marla kept screaming “Curvy girls rock! Big is beautiful!” In the spirit of the evening. Glenn didn’t think the show was “overwhelmingly offensive.”

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Mackenzi, who shares a name with a lot of the stars of Toddlers and Tiaras.

It was also very Times Square realness, which is a different experience from typical Manhattan nightlife for those of us who live in NYC and rarely go near tourist-packed Times Square. This German tourist told me that she wouldn’t know I was a lesbian if she just looked at me. Mackenzi told her “She even goes to Michfest!” Femme invisibility strikes again!

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This other tourist wanted me and Audrey to pose in a photo with him so I asked Audrey to act like a tourist with me, thumbs-up style.

The cast worked hard to make the party happen, getting various sponsors including this vodka. We had $5 drinks all night (I enjoyed the Big Sexy Tini) and while outside on a smoke break with Mac I noticed that the vodka was low calorie via this giant billboard. Not that you could tell in the beverages, or that it really mattered since each drink was made with sugary mixers.

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It supposedly has electrolytes.

I brought my girlfriend Cougar, and it was really fun to point out all of the outfits the girls on the show were wearing that they bought from Re/Dress. Three of the five cast members got their New York Fashion Week outfits from our store.

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After being single for so long it’s fun to have a plus one who really likes going out.

I was excited to finally see the show, having heard about the concept since Summer 2010. I was impressed at how it turned out. I was especially happy to see all of the fat positivity that managed to seep through the editing for TV/entertainment process. They made the cast seem very relatable.

Big Sexy Premiere

Things I loved about the show:

Seeing Re/Dress (the store Leslie and I work at)–it looked great, fun and huge, which is hard to convey to folks when they haven’t been to our warehouse-sized store in real life.

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Tiffany asked her ex-boyfriend whether he dumped her because she was fat and he said “No, it was because you’re crazy.”

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Tiffany.

Tiffany dressing down a boy who said he only did it to fat girls when he’s drunk.

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Heather making fun of self-identified wizards who want to date fat girls.

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Leslie delivering clever lines like “Double chin win.”

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Leslie and Audrey shopping at Pat Fields and discussing using dresses made for thin women as accessories.

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Nikki and her BF.

Audrey admitting to being a 24 year old virgin, which I thought was a brave choice, especially contrasted to many other reality shows that make it seem like everyone is having sex by high school in our society. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 21 and had graduated from college and I think being a late bloomer was a good choice for me, but something I had a lot of shame about when I was living it.

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I wasn’t thrilled with the show’s depiction of the BBW party the cast attended. I thought they portrayed the women who attended as dowdy and desperate, which I didn’t think was fair. I also thought they were policing the sexuality of the women participating in the thunder thighs contest–sure it’s not the classiest portrayal of sexuality but I think policing bodies of any kind is disempowering to everyone involved. Body shaming is certainly more degrading than participating in something sexual and fun that might be bringing a lot of empowerment to the women who are involved.

In that same vein, I think all bodies should be celebrated and my body liberation politics cringe when I hear the show’s tag line “Once you go big you never go twig.” Everyone deserves love and dignity, no matter their size.

Of course since this is a queer blog I have to comment on the lack of queer content in the show so far. I did offer to be Leslie’s gay bestie on the show, but so far the production company hasn’t taken me up on the offer. I imagine myself to be like NeNe’s friend Dwight, but stealth queer in appearance, at least to German tourists.

And you have to talk about commercials. As someone who has considered a couple of different reality show projects, one of the concerns that is always brought up is “Will all of the commercials be weight loss commercials juxtaposing our fat positive message with interests capitalizing on insecurity?” I noted in the first commercial break a long commercial for Weight Watchers.

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But then the next break had a commercial (that elicited cheers from the crowd) for Lane Bryant/Cacique.

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And later on there was a pizza rolls commercial. So I think it really spanned the weight-related commercial spectrum.

Overall, though, I love the show and I can’t wait to see the next two episodes. I hope it continues to talk about the real frustrations and triumphs of living big and sexy in New York City!

*The name stumped me for awhile until I was told that Big Sexy is something that fat girls get cat-called with. Here’s hoping we can reclaim that from cat calls by saying Hey Big Sexy to each other.

2011-07-14

The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Preventing Chub Rub aka Thigh Chafing

New additions to this post added August 23, 2013! See the bottom!

My mailbag yielded this great question from a reader.

Hi Bevin,

I have a bit of a sensitive question. On your blog, you’ve got all these pictures of you wearing FABULOUS dresses…but what do you do to prevent chaffing? (Or is this not a problem for you?)

(I did a search at your blog before I asked. I hope it’s not too personal!)

Thanks for your blog–it’s fantastic!

–An amateur queer fat femme!

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Camping at FemmeCamp! It got fancy.

Dear Amateur Queer Fat Femme:

Thank you so much for your question and the compliment! I’m so excited to be a resource for you and others. In fact, I have never addressed the timely and relevant issue of chub rub on this blog. (Chub rub is also known as thigh chafing, summertime thigh sweat issues, fat thigh rubbing and the like. But I like chub rub.)

When I was a baby Femme I didn’t think I would ever get to wear dresses all the time for two reasons: the mysterious chaffing between my thighs that made wearing them excruciating, especially in the summer, and my aversion to carrying purses.

And then something magical happened. When I was about 22 I discovered there was a name for this mysterious chafe, and it was chub rub. And there are numerous solutions for it! Also around the same time I discovered a purse I absolutely fell in love with that made me want to carry a purse. And once I had the freedom to carry more things than a wallet and my keys (like femmenabling items like lipstick, hand sanitizer, safer sex supplies and chub rub solutions) I decided there was no going back with this Femme thing, I was all in.

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This is a replica of the purse I fell in love with and carried to death. I used to collect Marilyn Monroe purses, though this one is a photo of another blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield.

So, how to solve the issue of chub rub? First of all, I want to say this is not just a problem for fat people. This is a problem for lots of folks of all sizes who wear pants and who wear dresses. Chub rub is a pervasive fashion issue. Luckily, fat femmes have each others’ backs and we’ve been swapping these solutions for years. Here are some methods I know about, starting with the two I prefer.

First is wearing shorts under your clothes. Not just any shorts, tight fitting shorts. Bike shorts help some.

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Mackenzi found some bike shorts she swears by from Target in the athletic wear section this summer. Here she is in front of her amazing store! It has a brand new ecommerce site so go visit and buy lots of gifts and housewares from her and support a queer fat femme owned business!

I use shaping garments for my shorts-under-dress solution. The best I ever found were from Lane Bryant about 9 years ago. I am grateful that when I worked there I bought a bunch so now they’re only just getting tattered. I have never found such good quality and comfort in a shaping garment since. I think you can get some good ones still from the girdle section of your local department store.

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Me & Sarah Jenny. Sometimes you’re wearing something so clingy that a full-body shaper situation helps to keep the dress aligned. I’m one of those people that doesn’t buy into the thought that shapewear actually makes you look any thinner, I think it just moves your fat around so dresses might fit a little bit differently than if you were freefatting.

This Macy’s light control girl short is exactly the shapewear I am talking about and about half the cost of the ones I bought at LB (that have lasted years). I think shapewear can be a great investment if it isn’t Spanx. Those disintegrate far too quickly and I find them a poor value.

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Me, Leslie and our friend Kwame at a Fourth of July BBQ wearing dresses in the heat. I am freefatting.

I have tried the Lipo in a Box brand (unfortunate name for shapewear) and I found their shorts bunchy and fiddly but they will do the job in a pinch.

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Coordinating tights/leggings/teggings are also a great chub rub solution along the lines of shorts-under-dresses.

If the idea of shorts under dresses sounds hot, well, it usually is (which is why you want shapewear that breathes). So I love the option to use a specialty cream or lotion to ease the chub rub.

My brand of choice is Bodyglide. You can get it online or at running stores because runners chafe, too. I walk right into the running store, buy it, and I’m sure the staff knows that I am a fat girl in their store for the chub rub cream. I use Bodyglide to both prevent chub rub and treat it when it has already happened.

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I think body chemistry has a lot to do with how and whether a certain cream or lotion will work on you, but other friends have suggested:

*Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel, which you can get at drug stores in the ladycare aisle. I don’t love it because I like the ease of the stick application of Bodyglide.

*Raw Shea Butter Lotion, the brand I prefer is Nubian Heritage. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha turned me onto this brand and it is my very favorite, both scented and unscented versions. But I use it as body lotion and not chub rub cream.

*Deodorant. You’re putting it under your arms already, try it on your thighs?

*Silky Underwear Dusting Powder by LUSH I love LUSH from the bottom of my heart and my coworker Afrotitty suggested it to me as a sweet-smelling solution. I have some, I’ll try it.

Macy and My Block
Paparazzi moment! Meeting up with my friends Brian and Arnulfo for brunch on 4th of July. Photo taken by Arnie while I was on the phone with Brian and Macy was taking care of business. I’m wearing my favorite denim mini skirt that is actually a skooter (shorts built-in under a skirt that you can’t see are there–different from the kind where it’s just a front flap and you can see the shorts in the back, I hate those). I’ve gone hiking in these, climbed trees, clambered over rocks and walked for miles and miles with no worry about chub rub.

So, AQFF, I hope this list helps you grab those dresses from your closet and wear them comfortably through the rest of this summer and the rest of the times in your life you want to wear dresses!!

P.S. Anytime you purchase anything using the Amazon referral link on QFF.com I get a referral bonus and stash it away to buy myself fun stuff like books and toys. I appreciate it greatly. Thanks to whoever bought a lot of stuff in January!


Here are a couple more additions to our arsenal of thigh chafing prevention!

Bandelettes! 6″ bands of lace that grab onto your thigh fat and prevent chafing. My whole review of them is at this link! $14.99 and a bargain!

Here’s a great natural remedy for the chafing when it happens–a coconut oil calendula infusion! Take about an ounce of coconut oil and melt it, add some calendula (available wherever loose herbs are sold) and simmer for about 20 minutes. Then let it cool and rub it between your thighs for relief. Coconut oil is also another idea for chafe prevention.

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

Again, all chafe prevention creams and oils really depend on how your body chemistry works with them. If you have other methods not mentioned I’d love to hear about them!

2011-07-01

My Relationship Status is Newsworthy!!

Filed under: Queer Oprah,Video — Tags: , , , , — Bevin @ 5:59 pm

OMG!

I am on News 12 New York in a piece about businesses with gay employees that offer health insurance. Re/Dress was selected and as an employee who is gay and has health insurance, the newscaster asked me “Will you and your partner be getting married?” And I said “I want News 12 viewers to know I am single.”

Anyway, they said in the report, “Bevin Branlandingham, who is single, doesn’t want to get married for insurance.” And then I talk about how getting divorced is expensive so you shouldn’t get married for health insurance.

I am going to try to somehow get a copy of this news report for my own digital media library, but in the meantime try clicking this link to News 12:

BK companies working out health benefits for same-sex couples

It might give you some hooey about being a subscriber to a cable provider but I was able to work around it by going to “Top Stories.” It’s dated June 30, 2011 and dateline: Boerum Hill.

So far no one who saw me on the news has contacted me about a marriage proposal, but I’m still hopeful. Though I’m not sure I am so interested in dating the News 12 viewer crowd. No offense.

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Photo by Dee Dean Leitner

But the real question is, when my relationship status changes, do I give News 12 the exclusive or do I go straight to TMZ?

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