“His tongue is a paintbrush
And I am the canvas
He fervently works
To create a masterpiece.”
© 2014 Enchanted Zaftig Poetry
Jen McLellan, blogger, body-positive advocate and mentor to plus-size mothers-to-be, recently conducted the Cardboard Courage Project, encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to denounce distorted body standards by stripping down and holding up signs of empowerment.
“Recently women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages came forward to participate with the Cardboard Courage project. This project aims to redefine the beauty standards that the media keeps pushing upon us. By stripping down, these women were empowered to stand courageously behind the messages they held up. Messages of body love, beauty, and strength. This is Cardboard Courage…”
Because of my own body-positive advocacy and continued determination to extinguish fat prejudice, I decided to join in on the project, emphasizing the Enchanted Zaftig motto, “Embrace Your Curves.” I am proud to be amongst such strong, beautiful women!
If you’d like to participate in the next Cardboard Courage Project, sign up for Jen’s newsletter here.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine posted on Facebook that a trip to the mall with her daughter had left her feeling old, outdated and fat. This friend is far from any of those adjectives. In fact, she’s beautiful, vivacious and perfectly shaped – not to mention she possesses an inner passion for life that touches all of those around her.
Her frustration with the shopping experience stemmed from several factors: 1.) She’d been shopping at a posh, overpriced mall in a pretentious part of town that caters to the wealthy and unrealistic. 2.) She’d been shopping with her 15-year-old daughter, who is tall, willowy and, as of yet, lacks the curves of a grown woman. And 3.) She’d been trying on clothes that should have fit her right, but, in her opinion, didn’t. “Victoria’s Secret makes nothing for a curvy body, at all. I tried on a bunch of dresses, and if it fit me on the top, it was too big everywhere else. If the everywhere-else fit, it didn’t fit my top.”
A mother-daughter shopping adventure that should have been fun and fulfilling, ended with my friend crying in the parking lot. Even though she admitted later that she felt ridiculous about it, she also admitted that she’s in a place right now where she can’t quite embrace her curves and would like to get back to a body weight that she’s comfortable with. To most anyone, she would never be viewed as fat, not even for an instant; the curves she possesses are beautiful reminders that she has two lovely children and a blessed, abundant life for which she can feel proud of. But her self-doubt rightfully belongs to her. She is entitled to own that emotion, and I respect this and don’t wish to diminish or in any way invalidate her frustration.
What struck me the most after reading her Facebook post is that, personally, I don’t experience the shopping mall dilemma. A woman who has been thin most of her life and finds herself carrying a few extra pounds will undoubtedly feel disheartened by the fact that the clothing size which once fit her perfectly now doesn’t fit right, if at all. But a woman who has been overweight in varying degrees for the majority of her life doesn’t feel as disheartened, because she’s learned and accepted over time not to be delusional about the clothes shopping experience. She’s stopped searching for a particular fashion trend, style or size and is simply searching for whatever will “do the trick,” hoping it won’t result in the dreaded potato-sack. Sadly, when you have lowered expectations, disappointment doesn’t come around as often. But it does make finding that perfect dress, blouse or bra that much more rewarding.
With shops like Lane Bryant and online specialty stores offering a vast range of sizes, finding flattering jeans, cute dresses and bras with the right fit has become much more attainable. Yesterday, I stopped into a Lane Bryant location I had not been to before and was surprised to see an entirely new look and layout: fashion-worthy blouses and slacks on strategically-placed chrome racks; bras and panties in every cut and style displayed beneath decorative chandeliers. Gone was the department store look. In its stead was a specialty boutique that resembled Victoria’s Secret – only with more abundance, realism and accessibility. Although, in my opinion, Lane Bryant would be better off sticking to its own unique branding technique, offering us plump women a pleasant place to shop where we’re both welcomed and accepted is something to give accolades for.
So to my beautiful friend who faced the disappointing shopping experience yesterday: I have compassion for you. I have compassion for every woman who finds herself without a familiar size at her favorite clothing boutique. I understand the difficulty in accepting your reflection in the dressing room mirror, even though it’s never as monstrous and unforgiving as you give it credit for. But know that there’s hope for finding an equilibrium of peace with your body. Look beyond the norm… think outside the box… become creative in your shopping endeavors. Don’t put too much stock in the pretentious, high-couture malls, where reality is shamefully skewed.
Getting to that place of embracing your curves is a journey not likely to be accomplished overnight, and it may even be exhausting and seem implausible. But have faith – once you arrive at it, the liberation is tangible.
As though if I didn’t have legs, I would roll around or need to be tethered to something to keep me from floating away.
I am not discouraged by this, mind you. When I look at pictures of myself, I don’t cringe and think, “Oh God, I look so fat. I look so ugly. I look so horrible. I need to lose 10 pounds/20 pounds/50 pounds. I need to do something with my hair. I need to wear better makeup. I need to wear better clothes. I need to never go out. I need to never let someone take my picture.”
No, when I look at pictures of myself, I simply think, “Wow. I’m round.”
Hips. Thighs. Belly. Breasts. Head.
Round and wide.
And when I’m standing next to someone, they look so very un-round compared to me.
Does that make me wish to be un-round, too?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of round is:
: well filled out: plump, shapely : complete, full : direct in utterance: brought to completion or perfection : presented with life-like fullness or vividness :
Conversely, antonyms of round include: inadequate, small, low, weak, haggard, waspish.
It is true that I carry a lot of weight around. And it is true that my short legs don’t quite keep up with others. But neither of those aspects prevent me from being active or enjoying life. And I would much prefer to see photos of myself next to the un-rounds, than to be left with no visual documentation of my activities and achievements at all.
This is me:
Vivid, full, direct, complete.
– Stella Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams)
What happens between a man and a woman in the dark makes everything else in the world seem unimportant… Such truth in a phrase!
Shutting the blinds, pulling the curtains, locking the door, falling into your lover’s embrace.
What a liberating moment!
The stresses and demands of the world, of everyday life, diminish and wash away like dirt beneath a cleansing spout. Even in the darkness of a bedroom, there is emanating light and rejuvenation as two breathless souls intertwine in a choreographed dance of emotion and salaciousness.
It is intrinsic. It is instinctual. It is perfect harmony, untouched by outside influence.
What happens between a man and a woman in the dark makes everything else in the world seem unimportant…
When combined, the effect is magical; medicinal.
Never underestimate the restorative power of carnality.
I have discovered many friends lately, some very close to me, who are experiencing a profound and often difficult transition in their lives. This poem was written for you ~ and for everyone going through a life transformation.
In the innermost depths of Autumn,
In the interminable upswirl of leaves and earth,
Comes transition, change, an inevitable onset of life’s temporary slumber.
Different from Spring, this season brings with it the aroma of mortality and decay;
It is pungent and evident and swirls purposefully through the crisp, cool air that we breathe.
Yet with this decay, with this impending introduction to winter’s death,
Appears an opportunity for reawakening –
For rebuilding, refocusing and reexamining;
Like the accumulation of fallen leaves, we gather past thoughts, emotions and memories
And toss them together in a flickering pyre of flames
Proffering them to the earth like an organic offering on the altar of transformation.
By purging them from our bodies, minds and souls, we henceforth allow sufficient space
For a tiny seed of rebirth to germinate within us,
Slowly cultivating in the fertile soul of our acceptance and determination,
Preparing itself for bloom in the restorative sunlight of Spring.
© 2012 Enchanted Zaftig
Do you know what I love?
Do you know what I love even more?
When the surprise comes from a friend and involves creativity with a motif that is near-and-dear to my heart!
A few days ago, I received a very special package in the mail containing precious zaftig goods from sculptor and napkin-doodler extraordinaire, Adam Schultz. As many of you are aware, I have been a great admirer of Adam’s work for years. His astute ability to capture the essence and beauty of the abundant female form, in both sculpture and ink sketches, is enlightening and crucial to the body-acceptance movement.
I am pleased and proud to promote his work. As Adam himself states, he is changing the world, “one collector at a time.” I like to think that I am changing the world, one reader at a time. Together, we are making an impact towards ending body shame and changing social prejudice.
Some time ago, Adam began to sketch abundant female forms on cocktail and dinner napkins while dining out in various restaurants across the country. Popularity over these paper creations grew, and he now offers these one-of-a-kind sketches to the general public. Visit adamsnapkins.com to view an array of his zaftig napkin illustrations, all of which are unique, hand-drawn, autographed and looking for collectors to love and appreciate them.
I know I will love and appreciate mine!
Viva la zaftig!
SPECIAL OFFER: Now through October 1, 2013, be automatically entered to win a beautiful bronze sculpture from Adam with every purchase of an Adam Napkin!