Tag Archives: Zaftig

I Woke Up Like This

Last Spring, a friend brought to my attention the existence of a photography project called I Woke Up Like This and suggested that I consider participating in it. Conducting some research, I learned that the mission of the project is to remove criticism from the perception of our bodies by witnessing the vulnerability, beauty and imperfections of other bodies. As a social experiment, the project strives to weave individual stories with the narratives of these photographs, connecting viewers and participants on a mutual journey to find empathy, self-awareness and self-love.

I was happy to discover that Jillian Powers, the project’s creator, was traveling to Denver to meet participants who were willing to strip naked and expose their most vulnerable selves, sans makeup or fancy hairdos, for the camera. Of course, I immediately expressed my interest. A chance to further the fat-positive cause AND be a part of a social project pioneered by an award-winning portrait photographer? Yes, please! Where do I sign up?

I knew that by participating, it would mean removing all of my clothing in front of strangers. I also knew that there would be conversations surrounding body image and self-esteem. What I didn’t anticipate from the experience was having to face my own vulnerability; I am imperfect, I am fat, I am covered in stretch marks and cellulite and dimpled body parts. Being stark naked in a photo shoot with doors and windows wide open and strangers nearby managed to push a few unexpected insecurities to the surface.

Yet, despite those fleeting thoughts of self-doubt, I remained positive and uplifted. I gleaned something extremely valuable from that afternoon spent in front of Jillian’s professional camera lens: the realization that I am, without apology, a perfectly imperfect human being. Every single one of us is. And it’s crucial, absolutely crucial, that we remember that.

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Interview with Jillian Powers

/// BEFORE SHOOT ///

What level is your self-esteem at from 1-10?
Nine.

That’s awesome!
I worked to get here.  It didn’t come easily.

Are you nervous?
Not as nervous as I thought I’d be. I was more nervous thinking about coming here, then I got here and it feels more exciting. More exciting than nervous.

Why did you want to participate in this project?
It’s an important project. I believe in positive body image, spreading the word of respecting yourself and loving yourself. That includes me. I’m still a work in progress myself. This project is an opportunity to be a part of a bigger picture. To be able to spread this message to the world.

With all the blogs, social media interaction, and so on…body positivity is important to me.

/// AFTER THE SHOOT ///

What is your self-esteem level now?
Nine point five.

How did the shoot affect your self-esteem?
It definitely lifted it, because I don’t look at pictures of myself naked. I don’t even own a full-length mirror. I’m not afraid to be naked, or see myself naked. It’s just fascinating to see myself through your lens.

How has your body affected your self-esteem throughout your life?
By third grade, I was wearing a bra – not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. No one else in my grade was wearing a bra at that point.

How did that make you feel?
Very self-conscious. I felt like a bit of a freak. I definitely felt fat. I was already getting the curvy hips, the belly. And most of my friends were thin. Limber. Athletic. All my friends could do cartwheels. Everything I tried to do in respect to that with my body just wasn’t on the same page. My body was holding me back from doing physical things.

What did that teach you about being fat when you were little?
I started finding other parts of satisfaction in my life. I turned to creative paths, things that didn’t require my physical body to be limber and fit and accomplishing physical tasks. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t active; I participated in physical games and sports and ran around with friends. I was a very active kid. I just always felt like I couldn’t get to that level of athleticism that others could reach.

How old where you when you first began negative self-talk?
I would say sixth grade, eleven or twelve year old. It was my first year attending public school, and I didn’t have to wear a uniform. I felt out of place. I didn’t know how to dress right. I wasn’t popular. Boys only liked me because of my boobs. Girls didn’t like me because of my boobs. It was the first year I experienced bullying.

You run a body positivity blog, tell me how that began?
I went through a divorce about five years ago now, and my marriage had been very emotionally damaging to me. When I finally made the decision to get out of the marriage, I found a renewed sense of self that I had not experienced for decades, and I wanted to express that.

What caused that new sense of self?
When I was married, my husband was a negative, dominating personality in the relationship. Emotionally, he was overbearing, belittled me, made me feel stupid. Verbally, he made little jabs that consistently put me down. He never outright complained about my weight, but we did not have a close, intimate relationship like a husband and wife should have. It wasn’t satisfying, and it wasn’t loving. He didn’t treat me like he desired me, there was no romance between us. Eventually, the verbal and emotional abuse wore me down.

How did that make you feel about your body?
Prior to the divorce, I did not like my body. I liked myself as a person but I was ashamed of my body. I sort of retreated into myself, wore baggy clothing to hide all the rolls and the curves. I just didn’t want to acknowledge my own body. When I left the marriage, I realized that I wasn’t actually the person he’d manipulated me into believing I was. I was better than that. And I knew that I could love my whole self, body and all.

Do you have children?
Yes, I have a son, he’s sixteen. Before this project, I sat down and told him what it entails – that it’s going to be online, in a book, etc. The first thing he said to me was, “GOOD! We need more of that.”

What is the biggest struggle you’ve faced in your life thus far?
Being comfortable in my own skin. I think I’m almost there. My biggest hope is to inspire people to be comfortable in their own skin. It opens up a whole other pathway to happiness. Discovering your own inner and outer beauty is the key. I’ve had many friends through the years tell me they look up to me because I don’t come off as someone with low self-esteem. I don’t worry about what other people think about me, for the most part. I don’t make decisions based on what other people might think of me.

Are you a feminist, and why?
Yes. I know that there are a lot of women who claim not to be feminists because there can be negative attitude surrounding it – that feminists are aggressive, man-hating, don’t want to be mothers, etc., and I don’t think that’s it at all. It’s making sure that all women are seen as vital people in this world. Women have just as big a part in this world as men do. I’m not a man hater, and I’m not afraid of being sexual. Femininity to me is being strong with who you are, embracing who you are. It’s being a mother, it’s being a businessperson, it’s being whatever you wanna be. Whoever you wanna be. Not letting anyone tell you you’re not good enough or don’t have the right skills or that you’re not smart enough because of your gender.

Any last words for the readers?
My mantra is that I try to live an extraordinary life, even through ordinary circumstances.

 

For more information on I Woke Up Like This or to participate in the project, visit http://www.iwultproject.com/join-the-movement/

 

 

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I Am Not Fat, I Am Me

Call me delusional, or call me in denial, but I do not think of myself as fat.

Of course, I AM fat. I wear a dress size that can’t be found in most specialty boutiques or clothing stores. I have folds of flesh that encircle my body – a mid-section that’s hefty, breasts that are heavy, arms that are flabby, hips that are beefy. I have flesh-colored stretch marks that arc across my belly and ripples of cellulite that dimple my thighs and buttocks. I sport a double-chin and chubby cheeks and a body shaped like an apple. When I bend over to pull weeds or work on something at ground-level, I often find it difficult to breathe because my belly pushes up against my breasts, which push against my diaphragm, which cuts off my oxygen intake. Sometimes, my back hurts. Sometimes, the pain is in my feet or my ankles or my hips. I’m not always 100% comfortable, even in my sleep. Although this can be attributed to my weight, it can also be attributed to physical exertion and the slow aging of my body, which is inevitably creeping up on me.

But still, I do not think of myself as fat. Let me rephrase: I do not think of myself as ONLY fat.

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In my every day life, being overweight is irrelevant. I am an active, involved, fully capable woman who chooses activity over laziness (except for those moments when I’m feeling lazy, and then I indulge in that laziness, because I can, and I have a right to.) I work full-time at a rather demanding job, raise a teenage son, tend to a house and a yard, go to arts and cultural events, find interest in the creative endeavors of others, participate in social gatherings, visit with friends, explore the city where I live and get involved in the community when I can. I also spend quality time nurturing and caring for my interpersonal relationships and showering my partner with lots of love and sex.

Recently, I overheard a woman at work complaining about her personal weight gain and how life has become more difficult and uncomfortable for her, because she can’t find any clothes that fit right in her closet, and drinking a beverage while sitting in a recliner is even a challenge now because her breasts get in the way. In her griping, she said, “I don’t know how Holly does it.” Meaning, me.

My immediate, though unspoken, response was: “I just do it.”

No one can call me a couch potato. It’s rare that you’ll even find the television on in my house. Yet strangely, I experience frequent twinges of guilt when I do sit quietly with a notebook or my computer, because I feel that I should be up and about, cleaning, gardening, walking, being productive in a more physical, tangible way. As a result, I don’t write or post blogs often enough, and my creativity suffers. For instance, right now, as I type this, my mind is thinking of a dozen other things I should be attending to – a dozen other things more important than this, which is false.

So, you see, I don’t think of myself as fat. I am much more than that. I am the woman with a body and a mind that allow her to  accomplish tremendous feats, even in the everyday – planting perennials, visiting galleries, writing poetry, taking walks, cooking meals, indulging in sensual pleasures.

My daily mantra has always been this:

“to live an extraordinary life, even through ordinary circumstances” 

So you see… I don’t have time to ponder my weight.

How would I get anything done?

 

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On Becoming A Pin-up Girl (Part II)

“The reason you don’t see a good representation of full-figured women on our website or in our studio is because, more often than not, those women won’t give us permission to do so […] and they are the very subjects who look the best in boudoir photographs.”

~ Melissa Lazar, deBoudoir, LLC 

How unfortunate to experience a moment of liberation and beauty and yet be too embarrassed to share the results! Zaftig ladies, why not allow your captured moment to be shared with other women who might, as a result, feel uplifted by your show of courage? Or, better yet, be inspired themselves to shed their hesitations, slip into something cute and sexy and embrace their femininity for an afternoon ~ or for an eternity, even? 

This is why, when asked by Melissa while perusing my portfolio if I would give deBoudoir permission to use some of my photos on their website, I replied with an exuberant, “YES!” Because if there is even a slight chance that I might inspire women of size while simultaneously breaking down societal walls of prejudice and shame, then by all means… let me contribute!

 

 

(On a side note: As of yet, I do not have the bulk of photos from this shoot, but as soon as they are available to me, I will post more. So stay tuned!)

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Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, Musings and Thoughts, Visual Delights

Your Worth

Never settle
For the man who purports to adore you
Who worships and reveres you and touches you in the darkness
But hesitates to proclaim his affection for you in the daylight.
For you are worth far more than that, Beautiful One.
… You are worth the moon and the stars and an entire symphony of song
You are worth the adoration of a man who will delight in your presence
Fully and completely, without reservation.
You are worth LOVE.

©2011 Enchanted Zaftig

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Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, Poetry and Prose, Visual Delights

The Art of Juan Alcantara

Lately, I have been blessed with unexpected opportunities to connect with several amazing zaftig artists.

Juan Alcantara, creator of the provocative and lovely “Bottoms Up (Reprised)” painting which decorates the header of my blog here, recently connected with me via the internet. I’ve since had the great pleasure of corresponding with him and viewing more of his work, which I am delighted to share with you.

Red Headed Beauty

Tan Line

 
Juan appreciates the zaftig form without apology and displays his admiration in bold and exceptional ways. Even in quick sketches, he captures the innate beauty of each woman he draws.
 

Well, It's About Time

What?

Lovely Woman

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

 

“I believe that inside every skinny woman there is a round, plump, full-figured woman just waiting to get out. Or at least there should be.”  ~ Juan Alcantara 

 

For further examples of Juan’s work, including non-zaftig illustrations and paintings, visit Juan Alcantara.

 

 

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Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, Visual Delights

Visit Us On Facebook!

 

Come join our community!

Browse through zaftig art, poems, discussions, musings, humor, links to zaftig-related pages and articles… there’s much to share!

Underwater Study ~ Howard Schatz

 

Rain ~ Michale Parkes

Post your own thoughts, questions and creations ~ whatever is on your mind ~ whatever inspires you.

Interaction is welcomed and encouraged, so be sure to stop by and say hello!

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Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, About, Poetry and Prose, Visual Delights

You Don’t Have To Love Me Because I’m Fat

Something’s been nagging at me lately.

The sentiment that plus-size women should automatically be respected and adored by every person in the universe simply because they are big, bold and beautiful. 

Sound odd coming from me?

As I encounter websites, blogs and social networking groups highlighting full-figured women, I’m amazed and confused at how many seem to DEMAND this kind of attention, as though females of a plump nature are supreme beings, deserving of everyone’s exaltation.

Of course we all want to be adored. But regardless of weight, ethnicity, intelligence, sexual orientation or wealth, no one falls into a supreme being category. Part of the beautiful complexity of human nature is that we possess individual thoughts, propensities and desires ~ oftentimes quite unique from others. Where one man might feel sexual attraction towards a thin woman with small breasts, his neighbor might prefer ladies who are overweight with large breasts. To each his own.

What causes attraction cannot be placed into a single equation ~ we are all unique and driven by different factors. And although we may be influenced by our environment and our companions, who we are and what ignites our senses remains tied to the inner fabric of our individual existence.

I believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion ~ so long as it’s based on intelligence, not ignorance.

Although I am happy in my own skin and relishing life as a full-figured woman, I by no means expect every person I encounter to appreciate my figure. That would be extremely presumptuous and vain of me, would it not? The challenge is ensuring that I am not negatively judged by my outward appearance ~ that I am awarded respect and the chance to express my qualities on equal ground with others. As with any human being of a different religion, ethnicity or body type, I strive for tolerance and acceptance. I strive for equality because I am no less capable.

I expect respect from others because I offer it, not because I feel I am entitled to it.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Love the skin you are in. Embrace your glorious curves and know that your positive attitude will flow from your inner core like a fountain, touching others.

Sustain your integrity and graciously accept love from others.

But never DEMAND adoration, ladies. For it is a gift ~ not an obligation. ♥

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Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, Musings and Thoughts, Visual Delights