Politicizing Plus-Size Fashion with Blogger Brooklyn Boobala

Posted by on October 21, 2013

Walk into almost any department store and head to the plus-size section. What do you find? Nine times out of ten you’re going to be looking at some dumpy, shapeless sweaters and sad, tapered pants with elastic waistbands. Essentially, you’re going to find a lot of frumpy, poor-fitting clothes that vaguely remind you of your great grandmother. Plus-size clothes are so matronly for one simple reason: designers believe that plus-size women should be invisible. Society sends a similar message to the elderly, as well, that if you’re above a certain age, you do not deserve to be noticed and you do not deserve interesting and innovative fashion. Retailers consistently tell plus-size women that they are not as good as their thin customers. And it needs to stop.

Katy M., 34, a resident of Brooklyn, refuses to let society shame her figure, and she will not allow her body to be ignored. In fact, Katy tries to push the fashion envelope as much as she can to combat this sick trend of fat-shaming that permeates our society. “I wear dresses like most people wear jeans,” says Katy. “They’re fancy, effortless, and comfortable. People wonder why I’m always dressed up, but considering the stereotype of fat people wearing dumpy dresses and matronly attire, I think I’m part of a really great push for fashion to fit any figure.”

Katy, the owner of a Brooklyn-based business, blogs about her life, fashion, feminism, and cats at Brooklyn Boobala, which she created as a safe space for her to learn her true self-worth and how to love herself.

Katy says that she is endlessly inspired by the world around her and that she tries to stay creative no matter what is happening in her life. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Katy says that she is endlessly inspired by the world around her and that she tries to stay creative no matter what is happening in her life. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Like so many of the other plus-size fashion bloggers that we have featured, Katy finds her biggest fashion inspirations from other plus-size women who take the time to share their “Outfit of the Day” (OotD) images online, usually via Tumblr. Katy also admires high fashion and couture from afar, and she loves to see punk fashion icon Beth Ditto rock a great designer dress.

Since plus-size options are few and far between, Katy says it's important to be crafty and to think outside the box. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Since plus-size options are few and far between, Katy says it’s important to be crafty and to think outside the box. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Jane: What advice would you give to plus-size women who are struggling to find clothes that inspire them while shopping?

Katy: It’s really hard to find clothing in size fat. Especially within a budget. I’m so blessed that at this point in my life I can blow a wad on clothes and really feel out my options. I suggest visiting the Tumblr tags for fatshion to see what strikes your fancy. You might find a brand that has a style that speaks to you – whether it’s pin-up or super casual or gothic Lolita. Experimenting is key, but I know that takes money. If you get online and start poking around, you may find some plus size swaps or thrift shops with plus size selections. Strength in numbers, y’all. Make fat friends, even if it’s just online. You’ll start to see more of yourself being represented, and you’ll start noticing styles and outfits that really speak to you.

Jane: What’s the best shopping experience that you’ve ever had?

Katy: I remember my first time walking into Lee Lee’s Valise in Brooklyn. Lisa, the owner, told me why she wanted to create a boutique for plus size women. It had everything to do with her experiences as a plus size woman shopping. We shared horror stories, and then I went and bought up a bunch of her pretty dresses! Same goes for Re/Dress, a vintage/thrift plus size shop in Brooklyn that has since closed down [ed note: Re/Dress now has a new location in Cleveland].

Jane: Do you feel that these plus-size-centric shops tend to provide a more positive shopping experience overall?

Katy: The opening of these shops seemed in direct correlation to the lack of representation these women felt in the retail industry, and a need to create a safe space for fat women to shop. Because it’s true, it’s really hard to be a fat woman shopping. When I go shopping with my skinny friends, I get a lot of looks. I’ve even gotten an, “Oh, no, we don’t go up to your size,” or “Hmm, no, you won’t fit into that,” to which I’ve always shrugged and gone on to look at earrings or purses. I’ve learned to not let it get to me, but I must say…for years, shopping was torture. Pure torture. The looks, the comments, the fitting room girl’s unwanted critiques, the constant suggestion that I buy Spanx…I mean, I’m trying to spend my money. Why won’t someone make things for me so I can spend my money? Gah!

Being fat and visible means you’re out there, exposed to opinions, harassment, and critiques. Katy says that her fatshion is political. She glams it up and hams it up, all in the name of equal representation. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Being fat and visible means you’re out there, exposed to opinions, harassment, and critiques. Katy says that her fatshion is political. She glams it up and hams it up, all in the name of equal representation. Credit: Brooklyn Boobala

Jane: What’s your favorite piece in your wardrobe?

Katy: It’s very hard to choose a favorite piece, because I’ve so painstakingly built my wardrobe from such limited options. I have a lace dress that is so cute I want to cry. One of my go-to formal dresses is a vintage IGIGI from eons ago. It’s a silky fabric with a silhouette floral pattern and when I wear it, I feel like a goddess.

Jane: Would you say that that is a goal of fashion? To feel empowered?

Katy: I’d say that is the ultimate goal of fashion – feeling personally and bodily empowered to the point of bursting at the seams with joy in your own appearance, no matter what you look like, and no matter what society labels you.

If you want to dress like Katy, she recommends trying out the IGIGI Keira Beaded Dress, with which she would wear all of her favorite gold jewelry – particularly, her deer antler and fox rings and her gaudy Victorian-esque earrings. Katy says that she would then top off the ensemble with some cute gold shoes and a clutch, and get ready to hit the town – sparkling!

As far as Katy’s future, she plans to continue being fat, fatshionable, and unapologetic, all while fighting for visibility and representation by talking about these topics. “Fat is not a dirty word,” says Katy. “I’m tired of being treated as though this is my temporary form – that I’m trying to lose weight or get surgery. Nope. This is me. I am me. Take it or leave it. I’m quite happy, living a full life, with a thriving business, good friends, good lookin’ fellas, and nothing in my way but society and its stupid ideals!”

If you want to contact Katy or see some more of her awesome ensembles, check in with her on her blog – Brooklyn Boobala.

Read more

Tags: , , ,

comments
share   Share

How Do You Describe Yourself? Plus-size? Curvy? Full-Figured?

Posted by on October 18, 2013

I recently came across a Huffington Post Style article about how more plus-size women prefer the term “curvy” over plus-size.

This statistic comes from a poll that the retailer Sonsi facilitated on their website. This poll asked 1,000 women which term they preferred and the results came in somewhat split with respondents saying 28 percent prefer “curvy,” 25 percent prefer “plus-size,” and 25 percent prefer “full-figured.”

All of those terms basically mean the same thing to me, so personally I do not have any preference. When I’m discussing fashion, I usually use the term “plus-size,” since that is the official fashion terminology for a US size 14+, whereas the official terminology for women US size 0-12 is “standard-size.” However, when I’m just describing my physical body, I don’t specify at all. It’s simply my body. It’s larger than some and smaller than some, but it’s just my body. I don’t feel a need to throw “curvy” or “full-figured” in front of it.

Nadia Aboulhosn

Curvy, plus-size, full-figured… no matter what word you use, Nadia Aboulhosn looks incredible. Credit: Nadia Aboulhosn

Read more

Tags: , , , , ,

comments
share   Share

7 Plus-size Models Who Advocate Body Positivity

Posted by on October 17, 2013

Trying to challenge societal beauty norms ain’t easy. It’s a challenge that any plus-size woman has definitely faced at one point or another, however, these seven plus-size models use their visibility as a stage for positive change in the fashion industry and increased size acceptance. These plus-size models exude confidence and beauty, even on Twitter!

1. Robyn Lawley

Lawley, 24, became really well-known after announcing that she was going to be the very first plus-sized model to star in a high-end designer’s campaign. Thus, Lawley became the face of Ralph Lauren. She has also been the cover model for Marie Claire, Vogue Italia, Australian Vogue, and Elle France.  She also has a passion for food and healthy living and her food blog, Robyn Lawley Eats, earned her a book deal with Random House.

Read more

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

comments
share   Share

The Launch of the Body Positive Magazine VERILY and Other Female-Centric Indie Publications

Posted by on October 16, 2013

It’s not always easy being unapologetically proud of your body, especially when that body is not the ideal. However, my body is and always will be secondary to my self-esteem because I am not reliant on a small waist-line or jiggle-free thighs to feel good about myself.

There are so many outlets that tell women that they’re not good enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, or even worse, that they’re too smart, too funny, too confident. You have to perfectly straddle the fence between slut and saint, brainiac and bimbo, to be appreciated as the ideal, and that’s just where our personalities are concerned.

The battle against a woman’s appearance is even more alarming and unattainable, especially when you add in the overwhelming prevalence of photoshop.

Photoshopped image

Congratulations, not even Jessica Alba looks like Jessica Alba. FYI, this would be rated as an ‘under 30 percent’ alteration job. Via: The Collective

Read more

Tags: , , ,

comments
share   Share

Ignoring Fashion Rules with the Sparkly Nezetta Plus-size Dress

Posted by on October 15, 2013

I distinctly remember watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model in which there was a plus-size contestant (I’m 90 percent sure it was Toccara Jones) who had been put in a shiny, sparkly dress for one of the shoots. There were the usual criticisms, such as not enough smeyesing, etc., and then there was a long discussion about how this dress was a poor choice for this shoot on the stylist’s part, especially for the plus-size contestant, since shiny fabrics always make you look bigger when you’re photographed.

Personally, I am a huge fan of shiny fabrics and of anything that sparkles. Therefore, when I see a great plus-size dress with a subtle gold glimmer like the Nezetta Cocktail Dress in Navy/Gold, there are no so-called fashion rules that are going to stop me from rocking it.

The Nezetta dress comes in black and gold too.

The Nezetta dress comes in black and gold too.

I picked this dress out with the intention of wearing it for some slightly fancier evenings out and I daresay it fit the bill. I wanted to really glam this dress up, but it could easily be dressed down for a slightly more casual evening out if you paired it with a motorcycle jacket and a pair of short, chunky ankle boots. The cute belt is included with the dress, but it could easily be worn without the belt as well, although I personally love the little gold detail at the waist.

The Nezetta dress also comes in a black/gold combination if you’re looking for a different color palette.

The ruched draping actually elongates your form and makes your legs look longer.

The ruched draping actually elongates your form and makes your legs look longer.

The ruching up the front of the dress and the back of the dress gives a body-con look, which is very trendy (and dare I say “sexy”), but the material has a decent amount of stretch, so it is still very comfortable.

The Nezetta dress is fully-lined, like most IGIGI dresses, so you don't have to worry about showing any panty lines or wobbly bits.

The Nezetta dress is fully-lined, like most IGIGI dresses, so you don’t have to worry about showing any panty lines or wobbly bits.

In honor of this sparkly, shiny plus-size dress, I decided to put together a few other fashion rules that us plus-size ladies are told we can’t pull off, along with a true-or-false analysis.

1. Don’t wear clingy fabrics. FALSE – If you want to really show off your curves, a clingy material is the easiest way to do that. If you’re feeling particularly self-conscious about not wanting to show any lumps or bumps, the easiest way to camouflage that is with well-placed ruching,lined garments, and shapewear.

2. Big patterns make you look larger. FALSE – Big patterns make a big statement. Depending on where the pattern falls on your figure, they can actually be incredibly flattering, and even if they aren’t strictly flattering, there is nothing that says you can’t wear a crazy, funky, geometric pattern just because you like it.

3. Stay away from skinny jeans. FALSE -  Skinny jeans are awesome. They are cute, comfy, and are basically made to be worn with tunics that are perfect for tucking into jeans, so they are absolutely perfect for fall. They are not the unequivocally most flattering jean style for everyone, but does that mean you can’t still wear them and look awesome? Nope.

4. Any intentionally oversized garments will just make you look larger. FALSE – It will look like you’re wearing an oversized garment. Oversized styles are really in right now and they essentially look the same on everyone. Are they the absolutely most flattering styles in the world? No, but if worn with the right accessories and coordinating pieces, they can look incredibly chic.

The boat neckline with the below-knee length and slight cling brought to mind a blinged-out Audrey Hepburn vibe for me so I paired it with a true, red lip and black pumps.

The boat neckline with the below-knee length and slight cling brought to mind a blinged-out Audrey Hepburn vibe for me so I paired it with a true, red lip and black pumps.

Whenever you’re feeling a little insecure or unsure about a new outfit that you’re putting together, the only really important question that you need to worry about is: “Does this make me feel beautiful?” Because if that is true, nothing else really matters. If you’re really struggling, however, you can always hit me up on Twitter or Instagram and send me some awesome selfies.

Read more

Tags: , , ,

comments
share   Share