Finding self-confidence and a style identity as a fat babe in a world that's constantly labeling us as 'before' pictures can seem to be a near-impossible task.
We live in a society that generally glorifies thin body types as perfection, while labeling plus sizers as people who need to be "fixed". I don't have a thigh gap; in fact, mine are full of cellulite. My hips are wide, my booty is enormous, I have a belly, my arms are big and I weigh a solid 300lbs, yet people stop me on the street constantly to compliment me on my style. This is how I found the courage to come out from underneath baggy, shapeless clothes and embrace my curves, "flaws" and all.
Step 1: Stop Bullying Yourself
I'd often catch myself looking at my body and thinking that it was ugly, or gross, or too big/too celluiltey/too stretch mark'd. I realized that I was constantly bashing my body; that I was bullying it and making myself feel worse. To remedy this, I decided to stop allowing myself to use negative words when thinking about my body. Whenever I did slip up and have those thoughts, I'd make myself go back and compliment myself instead. My inner dialogue went something like, "Ugh nothing fits me right, I feel so ugly.. but my butt looks really good in these jeans, and I have such a nice smile." It felt silly at first, but when I kept it up I saw that it was really starting to improve my outlook not only on my body, but on life in general.
Step 2: Realize Your Worth
It's so easy to get caught up on body image; our society teaches us that it's tightly connected to our self-worth, which just isn't true. Part of gaining the self-confidence to rock the edgy fashion trends I want to (sheer! crop tops! short shorts!) was realizing that I have so much more to offer the world than my appearance. I wrote a list of all the things at which I'm excellent and kept it taped to my mirror, so that every morning, I'd be reminded that I have value as a person, and an identity beyond the word "fat".
Step 3: "Fat" Is Not A Bad Word
All my life, people have hurled weight-related insults at me. I've been called a whale, a pig, tubby, a chubbers, fat; every time someone called me one of those, it stung me deeply and left me feeling insecure for days. Realizing that "fat" isn't synonymous with "ugly" was a big game-changer for me. I AM fat. So what? "Fat" and "beautiful" aren't mutually-exclusive adjectives; I can be both. When I feel down, I scroll through body-positive hashtags on Tumblr and Instagram. Seeing all those photos and posts of fat babes absolutely killing it always reminds me that being fat doesn't automatically equate to being unattractive.
Step 4: You Don't Owe Anyone "Flattering"
I unapologetically rock crop tops and sheer blouses with nothing but a bra underneath. I go sleeveless, I wear short shorts.. I participate in whatever fashion trends I feel like participating in, because no one owes anyone "flattering"; being yourself is enough, without body shapers, without long-sleeves and pants, without covering up and hiding your body to make other people more comfortable. YOU have to be happy with YOURSELF and not live for other people. I used to wear baggy sweaters in 90 degree weather because I didn't want people to see my fat arms, my rolls, my chub. Now, my comfort and happiness is my #1 priority- I no longer care what people think about my cellulite, fat, etc., and that's such a powerful, liberating feeling. My mantra is: If people don't like the way I look, they don't have to look at me. Some people won't like the way you look. You're going to have haters; that's just part of life. universal popularity is unattainable, so instead of trying for it, you'd might as well make yourself happy.
Step 5: Go For It!
Body acceptance/love is a process that takes time and work, but when you're feeling up to it, I dare you to try out new trends that go out of your comfort zone. The first time I went out in public in a sleeveless dress, I was terrified and insecure. The second time wasn't as bad, and now I don't even think twice about it. When you go out of your fashion comfort zone and the world doesn't end, you'll feel unstoppable!
Self-confidence doesn't always come easily, but cutting out negative self-talk, taking stock of your true value, realizing that "fat" isn't an insult or synonymous with "ugly", and forcing myself to step out of my #fatshion comfort zone helped me to be able to love myself for who I am, stretch marks and all. Because we live in a society that glorifies skinny regardless of health, people will always try to make fat people feel badly about themselves, perhaps even more so if they have the *audacity* to be both fat AND happy. Being confident and secure in yourself makes it easier to let negative comments roll off, as the fabulous Jinkx Monsoon would say, like water off a duck's back. So, get out there, be large and become your own brand of fatshionista!