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PLUS SIZE COSPLAY: LUNA LOVEGOOD


Welcome to my first foray into the world of cosplay! It has been something I've been infatuated with for years but have always watched from the sidelines; never daring to try to represent characters because it seemed to me that the ultimate cosplay success would lie in crafting both the perfect outfit and having "the perfect body" (read: a thin body to match the most popular character's physique). 

But Disneybounding ignited some sort of fire inside of me and I decided that I was ready to do more than just watch.

With this fire (okay fine, obsession) fueling my creativity, I started to ruminate about which character I would dress up as if I released the idea of reaching my definition of perfection. The answer came immediately. The peculiar, luminous, perceptive and loyal Luna Lovegood OF COURSE.

This gal is undoubtedly my favorite Harry Potter character, closely followed by Neville. Quite frankly, I think they would be perfect together but as it turns out, that narrative wasn't up to me. Doesn't stop me from dreaming though.

Here's the thing: comparatively, there aren't a ton of plus size cosplayers (though I recommend you follow the hashtag #plussizecosplay because the ones that are out there are killing it) so naturally, guidance is scarce... and unless you can sew (I most definitely cannot), recreating a specific look can be challenging.

LUCKILY FOR YOU I found a way to make some serious Luna magic work for us plus babes!

I've linked each piece below and included notes on how I made this Spectrespecks-donning Luna Lovegood look (inspired by train scene from the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie) a reality!


This outfit took a lot of digging for a few tricky items + a little finagling (y'know, because making sure you can return plus clothing easily/for free is critical when shopping online... so hello Amazon Prime) but TA-DA! It is possible and absolutely worth it.





I've linked each piece that I used above to a pre-made item that you can purchase (there are some affiliate links included which supports this cosplay post so thanks in advance if you love the items!) but I've also included notes and DIY options (I love an excellent + inexpensive hack) below if you want alternative choices or to make something yourself!




Notes and alternative options:

  • Wigs: The wig I used was super affordable ($12.99) and did the job just fine but I would likely try this longer version with a middle part next time. If you're a wig aficionado and have recommendations for wigs that you personally adore, I would LOVE to hear them!

  • Spectrespecks: You can purchase Spectrespecks if you'd like but you can also make them by downloading this free cut-out and putting them together yourself!

  • Sweater options: I chose this sweater based on the chunky knit and large buttons... and also because it seemed impossible to find a mauve tweed coat that wasn't $983 in my size. It came in a super generous XL with tons of stretch (I normally wear a 3x at least) and was everything I wanted except for the fact that it came in a "neon peach" color. I removed the buttons and boiled it with this Rit DyeMore in Royal Purple (made for synthetic fabrics) for twenty minutes on my stovetop. It came out a splotchy purple/mauve/pink which I felt was a very Luna-esque outcome.

    You could of course carefully dye it for a bit less time (read: in a bigger pot with more consistent stirring) and reach a smoother mauve color.


    Other plus size options 
    I found that don't require boiling include: this maroon + chunky pullover sweater, this purple + high-low sweater dress, and this pink + tweed jacket.

  • The wand: Hell, it's possible to make her wand yourself if you're up for it as well! I definitely wasn't.

  • Radish/dirigible plum earringsI made my own earrings with bakable Polymer clay using this tutorial. Instead of buying glaze I just added some acrylic paint (including a little orange because: dirigible plums) and sealed with a spray-on, matte Rustoleum sealant I just happened to have in the house. I love them and would highly recommend trying it yourself. If you don't feel like making them, there are tons of pre-made options on Etsy!

  • The Quibbler: You can buy a pre-made Quibbler if you like but I highly recommend making it yourself because you can for under $1 each. Here's a high-res link for the cover which (in addition to a glue stick and an old magazine) is all you really need! 

    Ask for it to be printed out at exactly 11x17" (as in- that size WITH the white already edges cut off) and use a glue stick to adhere it to any regular size magazine you have lying around the house! 
    Fold the cover in half, rub a glue stick all over your magazine, line it up and press it down! You can find the visual how-to in my Instagram Story highlights under "Luna"!

  • Luna's skirt: I defaulted to this Colorful CowCow dress because I knew it would fit and the print was not only similar enough but it also included cats. Their dresses come up to a generous 5x and while I normally order a 2/3x, I wore a 1x for this shoot. Similar to her original skirt, stretchy AF, affordable ($19.99) and hella cute! They also have a skirt only option if you prefer or you can get an "Official Magical Luna" custom skirt (that's totally out of my price range) made here. Real talk: I ordered a black dress and was sent a blue one. I decided to make it work but this is the part where it's really nice that they're easily returnable.

  • Makeup: While Luna always seems to have a bare face, I used this tutorial and this tutorial to create wider, more "doe-like" eyes. (I would have searched for "protuberant eye makeup", but I sincerely doubt I would have had much luck.)





And of course, we need a side-by-side for both reference AND fun.

I have to mention that it was impossible for me to recreate her "curious" facial expression from this top photo even though we tried our best. We tried our best 49 times in fact, but no luck. So, let's just call it a "surprise gift" that you get a little bit of a Luna pose AND a slightly sassy Jes smirk. How does that sound?


I really do love the ultimate outcome and can't tell you how much of a blast my partner and I had while putting it together.

Now, I would love to know who YOU would cosplay as! Who is your first choice!?!

Additionally, for all those plus size cosplayers out there that are already killing it - any tips, tricks or recommendations you'd like to share with us?

We're ALL ears!

WHY I'VE CHOSEN BODY LIBERATION OVER BODY LOVE


You may have noticed that my blog headline (and personal messaging) changed a year or two ago from "Lose the Bullshit. Love Your Body" to "Lose the Bullshit. Liberate Your Body." This was a purposeful word change that, to this day, I still support wholeheartedly.

I’ve long preached the importance of body love, the proposed goal of falling head over heels with your physical appearance and celebrating it for how it looks regardless of how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into society’s definition of beauty. Body love asks you to achieve a 180-degree mental change; instead of “hating” your physical self, it insists that you can adore it for the way it looks regardless of what others may say. 

In theory, it’s a lovely thought—worshiping your body because it’s yours, because our beauty-centric culture is designed to be exclusive—to reject complete assimilation seems like the ultimate victory.

What I have come to realize, though, is that asking someone to achieve body love can quickly become another unattainable prerequisite, much like the desire to change our body into what is deemed desirable. 

When we focus solely on learning to “love our bodies,” there is a possibility that we are simply replacing the obsessive hatred around them with an equally obsessive love.

And hell yeah! That’s progress, right? Love is so much more desirable than hate; trading one negative emotion out for another more positive feeling is a glorious stepping stone.

But body obsession is still body obsession.

The popularity of body positivity over the last few years has morphed into something I often refer to as Lisa Frank BoPo: a strain of rainbow-colored body empowerment, covered in sparkles, which is purposefully vague so that it ignores larger body issues like racism, ableism, and the inaccurate equation of fat equaling unhealthy. Its messaging reflects the fuzzy feeling you get when remembering your Trapper Keeper, covered in adorable technicolor leopards, from elementary school. 

In this way, it completely ignores the reality that even though we do have enormous power over our thoughts and can change the way we view our bodies, therefore changing social norms, we still live in a world that challenges (and actively attacks) our power every single day. It takes that fact and tries to distract you with something that has “more positive vibes,” not making space for daily issues that marginalized bodies face no matter how many inspirational quotes they read.

Because we live in this world, we cannot realistically escape this bigotry (which manifests itself for fat bodies in lack of health care, inaccessible cities and events, harassment, the tragic act of suicide and more). 

To propose that you absolutely can love your body, and if you don’t it’s because you’re not trying hard enough makes those who are affected by oppression daily feel like they’re somehow failing at this movement that is allegedly supposed to offer freedom.

It’s not always possible to love your body. And it’s not something I want to ask of anyone any longer.

I have been working instead on using language that respects and acknowledges these very real barriers and find myself feeling more at home with the concept of “body liberation.”

Today I had a conversation via text with a good friend and this concept really hit home for both of us:


"Body love" comes with responsibility

It, in essence, holds you responsible for your willpower or lack thereof. It puts the onus on you to master the ability to unlearn old lies. It binds us with the opposite requirements of self-hatred, but it’s still binding us. When we tell each other to love your body and with the implication that if you don’t, you just need to try harder. We’re not necessarily empowering anyone; we’re just regurgitating logic we learned from weight loss and from diet culture.

Liberation is freedom from all outside expectations, even our own. Liberation is not having to love your body all the time. Liberation is not asking permission to be included in society’s ideal of beauty. Liberation is bucking the concept of beauty as currency altogether. Liberation is recognizing the systemic issues that surround us and acknowledging that perhaps we’re not able to fix them all on our own. Liberation is personally giving ourselves permission to live life.

Liberation is slowly learning how to become the best version of our whole selves—body included, yes. But it is no longer a requirement on our checklist of self-improvement to learn to love it.

In the end, I have found that the less I try to force myself to love my body, the less I hate it

That, for me, is all I can ask for.

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This is a partial excerpt from Landwhale (which if you haven't read already, what are you doing with your life?!? *wink wink*) as well as additional + current conversations I've been having with friends, journalists, and radio personalities. I hope it's as useful for you as it has been for me.



P.S. You can find my full interview with Bitch magazine in their Travel Edition which I highly recommend purchasing, simply because it's my favorite periodical.

PLUS SIZE STYLE ICON (DISNEYBOUND EDITION): WINNIE THE POOH


If you love Disneybounding, stick around because you are in the right place. If you haven't heard of Disneybounding? Then you DEFINITELY need to stick around because I'm about to introduce you to your brand new, favorite obsession.

Kelsey Borresen says it best:

For the uninitiated, Disneybounding is a subtler, more fashion-forward way for fans to show their love for Disney. Instead of wearing full-on costumes as cosplayers do, Disneybounders dress up in stylish, everyday outfits (known as Disneybounds) that are simply inspired by a particular character. 


The term Disneybound is accredited to blogger Leslie Kay who runs Disneybound.co and she has created an enormous community of people who emulate their favorite characters using everyday streetwear. 

This became 1.) a necessity since Disneyland doesn't allow anyone over the age of 14 to wear a "real costume" (understandable from a liability standpoint) and 2.) a wonderful challenge to see how much of your character's personality you can infuse into your outfit without really "dressing up" like them.

I love a good challenge. And crop tops. And Winnie the Pooh. Obviously, Disneybounding was going to happen this year.


(Side note: props to the Disney photographers for making all the photos they took of us look like they had a honey filter on them.)

There aren't any "real rules" when it comes to Disneybounding but I have a feeling that my Winnie the Pooh ears were a little on the nose. I, in all honesty, wasn't planning on wearing them the entire time (just for a couple pictures) but the second I walked into the theme park with Bevin and saw hundreds of tourists rocking enormous mouse ears covered in sequins I decided that my chubby little cubby ears were definitely not a crime.

The greatest part of this dress-up trend? Plus gals (though drastically underrepresented in the community - more on that later) can participate too! Below I put together seven different Pooh inspired outfits for you to rock at Disneyland, Disneyworld, brunch, on vacation or at the grocery store. In other words, wherever you goddamn want.

Word to the wise: don't miss the plus size Disney resources at the end of this post- you're gonna want them. Trust me.


The outfit I linked to below is the one I wore for my first Disneybounding excursion and it was not only comfortable but so cute that several tourists stopped us to ask if they could take a picture with me. I'm a Leo and live for pictures so I obviously said yes.

The "Jes as Winnie the Pooh" look
Wrap crop-top (goes up to a 4x - I ordered a 4x and could have sized down)

The skirt linked here was the one I brought with me to LA and while it would have worked just fine, the A. A. Milne Gods smiled down on me the day I visited The Plus Bus where they gifted me the perfect mustard skirt from Eloquii to wear instead. The only skirt I could find online that closely resembles the one I wore is this mustard skirt from Forever 21 Plus... BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

While researching yellow plus skirts I also found these babies that not only go up to 5x but come WITH SHORTS attached inside! Your call, but I say go with the skorty-skirts. Chub rub is a bitch.

The "Winnie Goes To Brunch" look


The "Winnie Goes on an Adventure" look
Red cold shoulder tee (< 3x) |  Alt tee option | Honey Pot cross-shoulder bag
Bee necklace | Mustard Maryjane shoes Mid-rise pants (< 30)

The "Winnie is on Summer Vacation" look


The "Winnie is Stylish AF" look


The "Winnie is a Super Babe" look

The "Winnie of Your Rom-Com Dreams" look






In summary? The merry-go-round was surprisingly fat-friendly (the biggest barrier was the height of the horses so if that's an issue for ya, try grabbing a shorter one- there are many), Winnie was darling, Tigger proposed, I consoled Eeyore and then we took a picture of me pretending to eat honey that ended up WAY more seductive than intended.



Now I have to know: if you were to Disneybound, who would you go as? Lemme know below! And/or HAVE you Disneybounded? If so post that shit in the comment section- I can always use more inspiration! 

KATE, ANTHONY AND THE LITTLE THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP ON A DAILY BASIS


It's been almost four years since Robin Williams passed away, but I remember losing him it like it was yesterday.

At the time, I was working as a BHT in a psych-social rehabilitation program for adults with serious mental illness and the morning that the headlines hit, we gathered in a circle for that day's check-in. This was a normal routine for us; each day our agency started with a "team meeting" where we would discuss personal recovery updates, practice bite-sized therapeutic practices, and implement other related mental health exercises. 

The room was uncharacteristically somber and the topic organically centered around the "gentle, kind" man who "seemingly had everything" that was no longer with us. I had already read everything that journalists had written online, but it's a different experience to talk to a room full of resilient individuals who identify with debilitating mental illness - most of whom have had near-suicidal experiences themselves. I wanted to know more about what they had to say than anyone else.

There were stories of personal connection, tears of understanding, voices that spoke to overcoming their personal barriers, and the grief that comes when you know that mental illness affects so many... even those who seemed to be as successful as one could be. We all felt the feelings of loss as well as the heart-rending reminder that not only have we been there too but might find ourselves in a state of hopelessness again. Brains have a way of hijacking our wellbeing even when you're doing the "work"... this was something every person in our seated circle knew far too well.

Similar feelings have no doubt resurfaced for many with the news of losing Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain within a few days of each other. We often find ourselves at a loss when it comes to addressing these events; simultaneously pondering how to talk about it and also wondering what more we "could have done" to halt these kinds of situations before they happen. The harrowing reality is that we may never be able to put a complete stop to something so ubiquitous and painful.

But there are ways to attempt to lessen the burden that so many carry.

Yes, we need to universally destigmatize mental illness, make resources readily available for all (it's important to acknowledge that both Kate and Anthony had privilege/financial access to many resources and that we also need to be thinking about/working for those who don't have these tools in their reach) and have more conversations that unite us in our common experiences. These are large, societal shifts that are being worked on as we speak. If you're one of the people currently doing this work, thank you.

There are also other smaller ways to help; things we can do on a daily basis. My dear friend Sonya Renee Taylor described these kinds of actions beautifully:
"We all need each other more than any of us wants to admit. We must show up more than we have known before. Perhaps more than anyone has ever done for us. We must practice a radical vulnerability with each other. It will not always work. Some of us simply cannot stay. But we owe it to each other to try. Have you asked someone you care about any of these? If not, try asking?
  • Can I hold you while you cry?
  • Can I rub your back, feet, shoulders?
  • Can I make you some tea?
  • Can I tell you why you matter?
  • Can I call some therapists for you?
  • Can I stay with you a few nights?
  • Can I listen while you tell me what hurts?
  • Can I take you on a walk or drive?
  • Can I wash these dishes and tidy up for you?
  • Can I remind you to take your meds?
  • Can I call your family for you?
  • Can I make you dinner/lunch/breakfast and eat with you?
  • Can I make a safety plan with you? 
  • Can I call you every 2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes?
  • Can I send someone to be with you?
  • Can I run you some bath water?
  • Can I take your kids for a few hours/overnight?
  • Can I get you some groceries?
  • Can I come with you to some appointments?
  • Can I sing to you?
  • Can I hold your hand?
We can send more than love and light. We can try harder for each other and ourselves. Let's make love tangible. Sometimes it is enough to get to another sunrise."


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JUST IN CASE YOU NEED THEM:
A few clickable articles I've written about brains + mental health over the years:

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I'll leave you with Ijeoma Oluo's words of wisdom (that she kindly allowed me to syndicate here) just in case they speak to you:

"Please try to remember that if you are battling depression, your brain is often telling you horrible lies.
You aren't depressed because you are bad or because you don't deserve happiness. Depression picks whomever it wants no matter how funny or kind or talented or loved you are. And depression will lie to you and say that you are none of those things.
It is unfair as fuck, but if you are depressed, you haven't done anything to deserve it and you have nothing to be ashamed of.
You are worth fighting for. And I'm so grateful that you're fighting. And I say that knowing that you shouldn't have to fight this hard, that it's deeply unfair and cruel that you have to. And I know that sometimes your best efforts will have little impact on an illness that often doesn't give a fuck about how hard you are trying. You have every right to be upset and hurt and angry and exhausted about that.
But I am going to ask you, beg you, to fight anyway, because the world really is better with you in it. And because you deserve to win. You deserve to be here in less pain. You deserve life."

Here for you, 


P.S. If you have a mental illness, have you ever made a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan)? If not, I'd highly suggest that you fill one out when you have the spoons available. It's a "self-management and recovery system developed by a group of people who had mental health difficulties and who were struggling to incorporate wellness tools and strategies into their lives." It was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland and you can learn more about it + download it here. 10/10 recommend!

GIVEAWAY | WIN A LANDWHALE GIFT BOX!


Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass is one of the biggest projects I've undertaken and the endeavor that I am most proud of for finishing. Real talk: it was a BEAST to write and I ended up booking three therapy sessions a week while writing a few of the chapters. (If you're wondering where my book advance went, you can bet the majority went straight into my therapist's bank account. No regrets.)

It contains essays that highlight every raw, honest and brutal truth I've experienced while living a fat body and truth be told, as I was writing it I found myself wanting to censor the hardest topics because sometimes it's really hard to be so open about the things that hurt the most. But every time I felt like holding back I would reread the advice that Ijeoma Oluo gave me (which also became the dedication) that reads:

We have tried to prove to the thin world that we are worthy for far too long. If you are going to be brave, be brave for the fat people.


So each time I felt compelled to shrink away from the difficult emotions, I pushed my (very valid) fears aside and wrote what felt impossible to put into words... all in hopes that you would feel some solidarity in the stories I share. That you would, for once, feel like you're very much NOT alone.

I also love to package heavy feels with cute accessories (don't come for me, it's my favorite thing!) and this brings us to today's giveaway: the Landwhale Gift Box!


Giveaways are often gifts from other companies I love but this one is particularly special because that "company"... is little ol' ME! This is a present from me to you and I'm so happy I'm able to do this!

Things to know: No matter what, there will always be a chance for everyone to enter at least once without having to "like" or "follow" anything. If you want to be an overachiever beyond that, it's up to you. Like and follow away. (I'd HIGHLY recommend subscribing to my newsletter if you haven't yet... you'll always hear about the rad shit first!)

AND, of course, if you think giveaways are bullshit, you're allowed to skip everything all together and just come back for my next post which will likely be about that time I fulfilled a lifelong dream by Disneybounding as Winnie The Pooh. It's gonna be an epic post. Either way, you're a grown ass adult and you get to make your own decisions, mmkay?


This super special Landwhale Gift Box includes:

  • A signed copy of Landwhale
  • A limited edition Landwhale enamel pin 
  • A mini Landwhale sunscreen bottle (for beach or poolside reading!) and
  • the CUTEST heart-shaped sunnies!

TWO of you will win this box and I can't wait to ship it your way! Open to everyone, international readers included!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BEST OF LUCK AND SENDING LOVE YOUR WAY!

THE LANDWHALE BOOK TOUR!



There are no words to fully explain how thrilled I am to announce that the Landwhale BOOK TOUR IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING! It's not only happening, but it's also going to be fucking incredible

This tour was nothing more than a dream a few months ago and now that dream has come true... all thanks to Dia & Co. These rad plus babes have been SO supportive of my work for years (we also did a fun Q&A here if you'd like to take a look) and when they signed on in support of making this tour happen I danced around my house for a solid hour. True story. (I also cried tears of happiness if we're going to be completely honest.)

There are seven stops in total, with the first being a launch party in Tucson and then I'll be making my way around the states and here's the best part: I'm going to be joined by brilliant, bad-ass, fat babes at each location and there will not only be a stellar panel conversation about topics covered in Landwhale but the opportunity for you all to ask questions and then have your books signed with a big fat hug afterwards if you're into that kind of thing!

For details on who will be there and to RSVP (I can't wait to see you!), just click on your cities link and let me know you're coming! You can also find all this information and more about the book on the Landwhale website.

May 8th | Tucson, AZ
May 11th | Raleigh, NC
May 16th | Seattle, WA
May 17th | Portland, OR
May 24th | Los Angeles, CA
May 29th | Cleveland, OH
BUT WAIT! Did you know: Limited edition Landwhale pins are available RIGHT NOW for purchase? Join the hundreds of other pin owners who are reclaiming the coolest creature ever with this adorable pin! Landwhales UNITE!

I can't wait to hear your stories, talk about some really important subjects and party HARD with you all!

SEE YOU SOON!

P.S. You can pre-order the book NOW if you'd like! Just click here!
P.P.S. You can also sign up for my newsletter and then rest easy, knowing that you'll never miss another goddamn thing!
P.P.P.S. Did you read Landwhale and love it? I'd be honored if you shared some of that love and leave a review on Amazon so more hearts and hands can read it too!
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