Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This year's conference is looking to be quite amazing, and y'know what? I can't take credit for a damn thing.

While I've been holed up in my room typing my life away (I hear they call it writing a book), a group of dedicated (and slightly masochistic) local leaders have created an amazing event happening on June 6th. They get every high-five and thank you this year; not I.  So if you see them make sure to hug 'em hard. You can high-five me for the book though when it comes out on October 27th. That, I will accept.

Why regional? Since realizing that we needed a HELL of a lot more time to put a larger national/headliner conference together adequately, this group of kick-ass people stepped up to produce a regional (read: much smaller with most speakers from surrounding areas) Body Love Conference and ever since I've jumped in to help tie up the lose ends a few weeks to go,  I've been getting increasingly pumped.

Here's what you need to know:

  • It's Saturday June 6th, 2015. Tucson, Az.
  • Yes, it will be really hot here. No, it will not kill you.
  • It's at the Pima Community College Center of the Arts (You know it as Pima West Campus)
  • This is a no-frills, one day event. Everything has been kept simple and accessible.
  • Tickets are $25 for adults, and are free for teens. (Tickets here)
  • Speaking of: TEENS (aged 12+) ARE INVITED and even have their own specialized track. (Free tickets here)
  • There will be free daycare if needed!
  • This year is FAR more inclusive than last. We're making progress. 
  • Lunch is an additional $10 if you're interested
  • The Best Western is our "host hotel" (best karaoke in Tucson- ask anyone)
  • There will be a pool party the night before (Fri) and everyone is invited (Tickets here.)
  • There will be a performance Revue the night of (Sat) and everyone is also invited.(Tickets here)
  • A few of the many topics covered: How to change the world by loving your body, teaching children body positivity, yoga for all bodies, partnering with teens for a revolution, breast cancer survival (panel), body positivity with a Star Wars twist (yes, this), self-esteem through spoken word, #BlackLivesMatter, Burlesque, post-birth bodies, intergenerational femininity, Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (panel), bullying and suicide prevention, and belly dancing!
  • I'll be SPEAKING. YAY.
  • Complete website is here
  • Tucson is rad, make sure to eat a bunch of burritos if you're an out-of-towner, and 


All other questions can be sent here!


Guys. I have to tell you something. I have the greatest fucking friends.

They're people who give a shit, do something about it, believe in being awesome human beings and making the world a better place.

One of the people I get mushy about is my gal pal Lizz who started CandyStrike; a bitchin' clothing site for babes of all sizes. I support the shit out of this woman, not only because I love her (and have for 6 years) but because she's doing clothing right. Inclusive. Honest. Original. And intentional. And it's not easy to be a small indie designer, but she keeps on making amazing clothing because she knows it's important.

Also she was the first (and only one) to put fat models on the runway here in Tucson. Soooooo...props to this woman.

She JUST LAUNCHED her new line of crop tops, pencil skirts and skater skirts + dresses, all with her original designs on them. Which of course, includes booze bottles, cats, skulls, ravens, and... death moths. Oh, and all with unbelievable stretch. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better.

Things to know: she's having a pre-sale which means that she sends in a huge order (special for you so it doesn't sell out) and you get 15% off (with the code NEWCHAP15) because: awesome. This goes until the 23rd of this month. So go. Now.

Imma just leave these images here and if you're into the designs, hit her up. Or, if you just want to let her know she's doing an amazing job... you can do that too. Send her internet high-fives, digital kisses, or whatever. We need more people like her in this world.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Most plus size retailers would have us believing that anyone over a size 28 is plain outta luck. Yet when I walk down the street I don’t see women size 28+ flaunting their beautiful naked bodies…. so that must mean (GASP) they also need clothes to wear!!!! Shocking, I know. Fat people need clothing. Fat WOMEN need clothing. They need clothing that doesn't come from a men's big and tall store (though, let’s be honest all of us look stellar in an over-sized button up).

So this one is for my fat babes size 28+. The plus size clothing industry leaves you behind way too often. You deserve to feel amazing in everything you put on your body.

1.) Cato Fashions – Cato is actual cute, trendy clothes for fat girls, and best of all they are CHEAP! I’m especially impressed by their small but very very awesome “extended sizes” section where you can find super cute shorts like the ones below up to size 34… for $15!!!!

2.) Ulla Popken – With sizes up to 38, Ulla Popken is a great place to shop for career staples and modest dresses. Though most of the clothes are priced around $50, there is a really great “outlet” section of the website where you can find plenty of cute things for a steal!

3.) SWAK Designs – Gorgeous clothes that are everything an on-trend fat girl could want, SWAK (which stands for “sealed with a kiss”) goes up to size 6X/34 and has lots of pieces that hover around $25 so you’re sure to find something totally fashionable for just the right price!!!!

4.) IGIGI – With sizes up to 32 Igigi is on point with their florals and curve hugging wrap dresses. What I love most about this brand is that they don’t shy away from actually showing off the bodies that their clothes are on. You can sign up here to save 15% off your order!

5.) Making It Big – With sizes from 22-48 (1X-8X), making it big truly caters to the larger plus size woman. They have petite and long styles in their pants, and I’ve heard from several people that their quality is excellent. This brand is a bit more expensive than some others, but would be a great place for staple pieces like a great pair of jeans.

6.) FullBeauty – Formerly OneStopPlus, this store is like an online department store for plus size clothing. With brands like Jessica LondonWoman WithinRoaman’s, and Ellos, you've got plenty to pick from! Make sure you check out the Outlet section of the site for great deals. Everything listed below is available up to size 40 or larger.

7.) Big On Batik – Some of the prints on this site are pretty wild, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it because they've got the cutest most relaxed summer dresses. Most of their dresses utilize smocking which makes them stretchy and flowy. They carry sizes 1X-8X and have some of the cutest models ever!

8.) EShakti – With adorable and well made pieces, Eshakti carries timeless dresses, skirts, and tops that you able to customize. You can add sleeves, change the length, etc all for a small fee. Carries up to size 36.

Honorable mentions:
Catherine’s | Kiyonna | Love Your Peaches

Thanks for joining me !!! I will try to add to this post every time I hear about a new store that carries sizes 28 and up, and you can also check out the post featuring independent designers. Many independent designers do carry extended sizes, so be sure to take a peek! See you next time.


OMG I'M SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS POST! Many of these retailers fall outside my area of "expertise" (though I do love EShakti), so I'm thrilled to share this on The Militant Baker! I left in all of Fat Girl Flow's affiliate links (like the ones found in some of my posts- all biz shiz here) which means that if you purchase anything through the click, you're supporting a kick ass blogger and she can keep on producing the content her readers want. EVERYONE WINS!

Thanks to FGF for putting together such a BAD ASS list of clothing companies that include larger bodies because everyone deserves a great wardrobe if they want it! You can read about more plus companies on her blog here!

If YOU have any suggestions, leave them in the comments (on the blog) that way anyone who finds this in the future will have even more resources!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


It's really difficult (NAY, I SAY IMPOSSIBLE) to navigate the body activism world without having kick ass people who get it and are there to support you. I'm serious. This challenging-the-status-quo shit is rough and often met with so much push back that almost all of us think at some point (or repeatedly): OMGisthisevenworthit? Spoiler: I think it is. And it's doable when you've got an army of bad-ass babes (and dudes- check out Andrew Walen and Bruce Sturgell) that are in your corner. Add the fact that they're brilliant, kind, and incredible humans all around? Well, shit. If I'm not a lucky bitch, I dunno who is.

These are 13 activists out of the many that I dearly and personally love. You might know some of them (some of you might know of them all) but for those who don't... I insist that you follow these people. They all offer something different and will enrich your life in ways you never dreamed! And that's a promise.

I've included three sections for your reading convenience: why I love them so you become acquainted, where you know them from so you can put the name to the face, and reasons to follow them forever if they're you're jam. So cancel all your plans. I just compiled enough body love links to keep you busy for days.

Amanda Trusty

Why I love her: I've written about Amanda once already. She sent me a care package once that basically made me believe in humanity again and reaffirmed how important it is to support each other. I love her so hard. I also had the chance to have margaritas last time we were both in NYC and got to hear about her amazing "Restore Your Roar" camp in Hawaii (I'm there for 2016!), her separation from competitive dance and both her fears and her dreams. Mush.

You know her from: her viral video where she danced to Katy Perry's "Roar" and gave you goosebumps while stripping off labels that the world had given her. Know her more. Amanda is good for the soul.

Follow if: You want to read the raw honest letters to the world that you thought about writing but never got around to because: vulnerability is hard. You want to see the body love world from the perspective of a Broadway dancer that finally caught on to the bullshit and decided to teach dance in Hawaii instead. You need more sunshine-y, positive, Mahalo-ing in your life.

Virgie Tovar

Why I love her: There are a may things I love about Virgie: one is how fun and gentle her voice is while talking about the fiercest shit in the world. If you see pictures of her you'd almost expect a roaring lion to come out of her mouth every time she opened it. Not true. It's more like a playful kitten. She's also a leading expert on sexuality, fat politics and body image with the degree to back it up. When she talks, you should listen.

You know her from: championing the #Fatkini hashtag last year (frreal, follow this bitch's Instagram. It's so good), her #LoseHateNotWeight hashtag, her Hot and Heavy book on Amazon, and her general internet badassery that knows no bounds.

Follow if: You feel like you need more brightly colored, donut printed spandex in your life. You want to give diet culture the middle finger while wearing some serious bling. You need general inspiration on how to be fanciful, fabulous and fucking fierce. You value self-care and want to see inspiring examples of it. You want to hear a roar and a purr simultaneously.

Melissa Fabello

Why I love her: Melissa is my hardest girl crush even though we're both enamored/in love/in relationships with extraordinary fellas. But if we weren't... well. Wishful thinking on my end. 

My boyfriend is strangely okay with this.

All silliness aside, Melissa is finishing her PhD at Widner in Human Sexuality Studies, speaks, travels, makes a shit ton of YouTube videos, is an editor for Everyday Feminism, loves her cat as much as I love mine (maybe more- it's debatable) and basically rules the world. We're also weirdly connected to the point where she knows when to send lovely texts when I need them most. BE STILL MY HEART.

You know her from: Her kick-ass vlogging, her million podcast interviews, her visibility in all things related to eating disorders, and her writing on Everyday Feminism which includes her viral post "Let's Talk About Thin Privilege."

Follow if: you want some real talk about feminism, eating disorders, sexuality and how they all intersect. You need to hear some fat advocacy coming out of a thin person's mouth to remind you that weight stigma hurts us all. It's been a while since you've had a mind blowing braingasm.

Sonya Renee

Why I love her: Sonya is one of the best things to have come out of the conference that happened last year. Not only was she a part of the "terrific trio" (with Tess and *Bob*) but she also gave the most life changing lecture I've ever heard. This woman is power. I just saw her perform spoken word last month as well, and I cried. I cried so hard. All the tears of understanding, sadness, and joy.

Sonya has been doing activism for over a decade and is HUGELY popular but she always finds time for fellow activists and was there to guide me through the working transition, is always kind with redirection, and never turns down a chance to have hard conversations because they make the world a better place. Oh, and she's fun as fuck.

You know her from: Her newly renovated website The Body Is Not An Apology, her YouTube video performances, and her writing all over teh web.

Follow if: you want to witness the embodiment of power. You believe in all encompassing restorative justice. You don't want to shy away from the real issues of today, but instead face them head on with education, compassion, and a solution. You want real change.

Lindsey Averill

Why I love her: I met Lindsey in LA while interviewing for the Fattitude Documentary. I had won the lottery that day (apparently) and was able to stay with both Lindsey and her best friend/creative partner Viri for the night. What ensued was wine, sushi, and the most incredible dinner conversation later that night. We all nerded out over body politics, fat camps memories, personal history and world solutions and this continued long after I went to bed. Warm, welcoming, wonderful people; Lindsey being all of those things.

You know her from: Lindsey is an activist, writer and filmmaker- she is half of the mastermind behind the upcoming documentary Fattitude which had a successful Kickstarter She's also known for her honest writing about being stalked by online trolls and kicking-ass anyways, and her general killer writing online. 

Follow if: you're a pop culture junkie who also thinks critically. You want to read honesty in approachable form. You like to keep tabs on everyone within the body activism and want updates on her interviews with them. You think smiling while punching Patriarchy in the face is the way to go.

Kelli Jean

Why I love her: Kelli is an artist, film maker, model, and educator based in Australia and this bitch is fearless. I met her through an interview I was writing for the for Volup2 after she finished a documentary about fat femme synchronized swimmers and enjoyed every moment. Her politics are fierce and I especially love how many photo shoots she has done; all cheeky, poignant, and amazing. I'm a big fan of images as a form of protest (obvs) and hers are especially great.

You know her from:  Her documentary Aquaporko!, her widely publicized collaboration with dance company Force Majeure "Nothing to Lose" in which fat bodies are radically portrayed, and of course her fantastical modeling.

Follow if: The word "Obeast" makes you giddy inside. You want to watch interviews about fat politics in a sexy accent. You believe that brazen women who make no apologies will change the world.

Jade Beall

Why I love her: What are the chances of having several body activists together in TUCSON?  I'm fortunate and I know it. Jade has become a close friend over the years and she often saves my sanity with her incredible energy, understanding and dance studio. It's so valuable to sit down with someone you love and be able to share the difficulties of the work with someone who gets it. AND THEN YOU GET TO HUG THEM AFTER.

Jade is the zen-ist ass kicker I know. A moment with her heals all the wounds the world creates and that kind of energy? It's priceless.

You know her from:  her flooding of the entire world with images of unaltered mothers bodies. You also know her from her wildly successful crowd funding campaign that created The Bodies of Mothers book and catapulted her into international spotlight. She's also the talent behind many visual campaigns that we've collaborated on including: #EmpowerALLBodies, Body Love Can Span Generations, and #LoveTheMirror.

Follow if: you identify with the words: sisterhood, juiciness, and tribe. You're struggling with your post-birth body and the fact that it didn't bounce back as society demands. You think you're alone in this. You need a gentle reminder that you're allowed to feel beautiful. You want a reason to believe that humans can be good and life is a blessing.

Maysoon Zayid 

Why I love her: Guys, I'll be honest. The rest of these are frrreal friendships/love affairs but Maysoon and I's relationship doesn't go beyond a Twitter post where she said "I need more rabble rousers in my life @militant_baker:) #Shero" and I died of happiness for a (loooooong) moment. But even though that's the case, I'm still going to include her here because I think she's one of the most important voices currently out there and I FUCKING LOVE HER GUTS. So there.

You know her from: Maysoon is a lot of things: a comedian, an actress, a visibility activist and I'm gonna also say- "compassion advocate." She recently released a video challenging the Oscars to  slow their roll and cast "disabled actors as themselves.' You might also know her from "Don't Mess With the Zohan."

Follow if: you think "I've Got 99 Problems... Palsy is Just One" is the best TED talk title ever. You think that disability visibility is key in the body love world. You believe that compassion is the best way to approach hate. You want to laugh about the hard shit, because: life.

Adiba Nelson

Why I love her: She's another fellow Tucsonan, and so much love for this ballsy lady. She's currently the brains behind the Body Love Conference's social media (which is how I got to know her), but is also a blogger who's been writing for years, a contributor for a local website, a blogger for Huffington Post, a burgeoning burlesque dancer, a childrens book writer and someone who literally gives zero fucks. Adiba is resilient.

You know her from: You might know her from the #EmpowerALLBodies campaign that came out. Or maybe the #LoveTheMirror shoot? She was even part of the Expose project. Adiba is also obviously wildly photogenic. She is a body acceptance activist and has a special place in her heart for disability visibility, as she wants her daughter to grow up knowing she's perfect just the way she is. Watch for this one- she's on the rise and full of power.

Follow if: you wanna be the person who gets to pat themselves on the back and say "I've followed her since the beginning." You think fashion is a part of body love too. You like loud mouthed mommas.

Stacy Bias

Why I love her: I have a confession: I thought Stacy was too cool for me. So much so that I had to talk myself up seven times before reaching out to say "Hi. I'm Jes and I like you...?" When it was emphatically reciprocated I pretended like I always knew that would be the case but, nah, I always thought Stacy Bias was too cool for me. And she probably is.

You know her from: I found her through her "Good Fatty Archetype" illustration on Everyday Feminism and fell in love with the buttons it pushed and uncomfortable thoughts it forced me to process. This chick is fucking brilliant and I also am in love with hearing her post-Portland move/"American in London" stories because... someday I want that to be me.

Follow if: You think the world is best explained through illustrations. You want to be challenged to think beyond Body Love 101. You need someone to point out the shit you never thought about. You wanna internet stalk cool people.

Website //  Blog //  Twitter 

Louise Green

Why I love her: I don't remember how I met Louise. It's been that long. Somewhere on the internet somehow, but since then she's become a core member of my ReachOutToThesePeopleFirst group. Louise is a personal trainer and "fathlete" (fat + athlete) and I'm really glad she was my intro to body positive athleticism. She doesn't push. She doesn't use fitness as a determinate of worth. She simply loves the strength it gives her and is available to guide anyone interested into that world. She works in a highly fatphobic realm as a fitness expert, and is a limitless motherfucker.

You know her from: Her well loved "This is What an Athlete Looks Like" as well as a really great compilation of messages from plus-size athletes. She also pioneered an amazing plus-size exercise dvd that's the most inclusive thing I've ever seen when it comes to ability levels. 

Follow if: You want to go to a fitness retreat in Mexico with rad ladies full of love. You believe that "all sweat is equal." You want to explore movement without the pressure to change your body. You love Vancouver accents.

Marilyn Wann

Why I love her: She's an unapologetic fatty who's here to make the world a better place for large bodies and for those who are also advocating for them. I met Marilyn IRL at an event in San Jose that I was speaking at and was thrilled to chat afterwards with this trailblazing radical. She's hella fun, supportive, and muchly loved by the "Bay Area Fats." Respect.

You know her from: Her boundary busting book Fat!So?. Marilyn published this before body acceptance was trending and, honestly- paved the way for books like mine. After years of zine production, she compiled her genius into one book and if you haven't read it... change that.

Follow if: you think that radical politics are whats required to squash fat stigma and you're not afraid to say SQUASH. You love OG fat activists. You refer to your flabby arms as "Bingo Wings." You like controversial Facebook threads. You really fucking love pink.

Denise Jolly

Why I love her: Denise is one of those people who is socially conscious, holds space for people, loves to unpack social issues, and gives back to all communities. A single conversation with this beautiful self-aware woman will leave you changed. We set up a day date while I was in San Francisco and without ever meeting, I jumped in her car and we spent hours adventuring and talking about anything and everything wonderful.  Brain sex. That's what I called it I think. Sexy proof here.

You know her from: She is the lady behind the #BeBeautiful campaign (which includes the fearless subway photo) and the Madonna inspired image. She is also an educator, writer and performs brilliant spoken word.

Follow if: you want more compassion and vulnerability in your life. You communicate best through poetry. You want to see the whole picture. You like people that give really good hugs.


God. There are so many more. SAM DYLAN FINCH (of Let's Queer Things Up!) who writes wonderfully about living in the non-binary world, transgender topics, and mental health real talk. He's a contributor in my upcoming book (as are several of the others!) and I'm so honored. Also Lizz Denneau who runs an amazing plus clothing company and is a bestie of 6 years, Marianne Kirby (her xoJane articles are here and epic), Whitney Thore (omg so many hugs for this brave fucking woman), Ragen Chastain (who's no bullshit blog is ever so current and hilarious), Hanne Blank (who is my boo and an incredible author) and Jen of Plus Size Birth (who focuses on support and resources for all pregnancy things)... and these are just the ones I have a personal connection with. There are so many, and all of them blow my mind and turn my heart to mush on the daily.

Here's the great and amazing thing: we're all first and foremost- people. So we have different experiences, different focuses, and different areas of expertise. There isn't a THIS IS FOR EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD kind of approach to body "love" (in fact this is just a word I use) or acceptance and its great to introduce these activists because they can offer so many options. Find the ones that connect with you. Follow them. Love them. Get to know them. And allow them to be first and foremost: people. Everyone "brands" themselves in some way to connect with the world and make a bookmark for our work, but don't let this get in the way of remembering that every person on this list is dedicated to authentically shifting the paradigm that we live in because we all believe in happiness, respect and ultimately- love.

I'll leave you to this blissful happy post, with all the links your heart could desire.


Sunday, May 3, 2015


Isabel Foxen Duke, Mellissa Fabello, Virgie Tovar, Diane Bondy, I are five of ELEVEN people that are going to be chattin' with y'all about body love within the Adore Your Body Telesummit starting on May 9th. Wahoo!

Things to know:

* It's on teh web so you can listen in while lounging nude and drinking champagne! (Which is what I plan to do, duh.)

*We've all given our time so it's completely fuckin' free w
hich makes me happier than you'd believe. Zero dollars. All the empowerment. YES to that equation.

* It's full of my favorite people who KNOW THEIR SHIT when it comes to this subject. I signed up and plan on listening/learning too.

* You have to sign up to get the emails so make sure you do that here!

(Thanks Erica for putting this together... you're a bad-ass.!!!)

From the website:

I'm new to this kind of event: what the heck is a telesummit?!?

A telesummit is a virtual educational event, where you can get information through lectures or interviews held over the phone or online. Easily accessed, when you want. You could listen in clad in your PJs!

O.K., So, when exactly is this telesummit happening?

May 9th through May 19th. When you share your email, you'll receive a link to access one, short (25-40 minute) interview daily. We'll email it to you. One a day. Like a multivitamin. You can listen to the interviews when it suits you.

And what exactly is the Adore Your Body Telesummitabout?

The Adore Your Body Telesummit is about fostering body image positivity through sharing stories about body image struggle, and techniques for changing the way we think about our bodies. Each contributor will reveal their top 3 best practices for staying in an affectionate relationship with the body. That's 33 unique tips!

Is there a cost for this event?

Nope! It's complimentary.

Oh, wait--can I sign up, even if May 9th has passed?

Heck, yeah! You'll get all the daily announcements with links, and the interviews you've missed too.

I noticed that all the speakers are women. Is this event relevant to men too?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! I intend to organize another event focusing specifically on men, LGBT, and other marginalized voices in this space. The advice of the contributors transcends these boundaries, though. Please sign up!

So, y'all, whatcha waitin' for? Sign up here and I'll see you in yr inbox soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2015


You may not know this (unless you follow my Instagram), but I do A LOT of speaking. I tour the country delivering the lecture "Change the World, Love Your Body: The Social Impact of Body Love" and I'll be real: it's my favorite thing. Speaking is what allows me to continue activism full time while connecting with the most amazing individuals in real life. Speaking has been a combination of instigating laughter, wiping away tears, and listening to touching stories. OH AND HUGS. SO MANY HUGS.

Not surprising I love it, right?


The Program:

"In her brilliantly, irreverent and updated presentation, "Change the World, Love Your Body"Baker explores the state of our current body image issues. She shares effective ways for participates to individually reframe the way they perceive themselves, and clearly illustrates how implementing these actions will positively affect our lives as global citizens. 

Baker informs each person that you can in fact "change the world by loving your body" and teaches us that by learning to love yourself as you are, you will become part of a revolution that will transform the way societies think and operate on an international scale."

(Well, that's the short, newsletter version anyway! If you want to read the longer version, you can! Click here.)


How do I get you to come speak in my town?

I'm asked this a lot, and I have good news: IT'S EASY! I often speak at Universities, so if you're a student here's what you do: Print out this page. Take it to (or email it to) your Campus Activities, Student Union, Diversity group, Women's/LGBT or Multicultural Department and say WE NEED THIS CHICK AND HER MINI SKIRTS HERE NOW. They will then contact MacRae Speakers and take it from there!

I just recently spoke at a Unitarian church in Rochester and it was AWESOME. If you're not a student or University employee, you can still book me! Just skip the hard stuff and email Kevin directly at kmacrae@macraespeakers.com. He's the guy with the Boston accent that makes everything easy for all of us. I love him.

Here's ALL his contact deets including the website:
MacRae Speakers & Entertainment, LLC.
Kevin R. MacRae, President


I want more info!

Well okay then! You can find my upcoming lectures, bio, Tedx talk, Today Show interview, full lecture description, other presentations and more on my Book Me page. Of course if you have any questions before contacting Kevin, you can email me at themilitantbaker@gmail.com.

I would LOVE to meet you, hug you, explain how you can kick-start your body love journey, and talk about important shit that I don't get a chance to anywhere else. Whaddya say? Lets meet up soon!

Thursday, April 23, 2015


April 23, 2015
Linda Heasley, CEO
c/o Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant Headquarters
3344 Morse Crossing
Columbus, OH 43219

Dear Linda,

I'd love to take a second of your time and share my thoughts about the #ImNoAngel campaign with you.

We met a couple of months ago in NYC along with a dozen other bloggers and your Chief Marketing Officer. We gathered to discuss how Lane Bryant can better serve the plus-size community and it turned into a passionate discussion where those in attendance openly requested more diversity both on the catwalk and online. That, and less Sharkbite dresses, wink wink. I left the lunch inspired and looking forward to what Lane Bryant would produce next. Truthfully? While it's absolutely gorgeous, I expected more than the #ImNoAngel campaign.

Even though I was disappointed, I’ve been reading the responses with great interest since your launch; observing those who applaud the images saying FINALLY, and others who are saying We want more. It’s been fascinating to say the least. What has interested me the most though, is watching some individuals quickly become frustrated with those who demand representation. Individuals asking “for more” are often told to stop "whining" about a "first world problem" and many defended the campaign saying that fashion figures are supposed to be aspirational and not necessarily representational. Many of these comments were visibly supported by your company via social media.

This seems to conflict, however, with your ultimate intention. You were quoted as saying:

"Our '#ImNoAngel' campaign is designed to empower ALL women to love every part of herself. Lane Bryant firmly believes that she is sexy and we want to encourage her to confidently show it, in her own way." 

Personally, I question how empowering these images can be for “all women.” #ImNoAngel only shows ONE shape while redefining the sexy plus women; that shape being the traditional hourglass: a body with a waistline considerably smaller than a larger bust and hips. This is almost always (and is, in this case) accompanied by a flat belly. This shape is ubiquitous in plus-size modeling and some say that only showing one type of body isn’t an issue (after all, at least they’re plus-sized and on the F train, right?!?), but I disagree and would like to share with you a little bit about diversity and why it’s more important than you think.

We’re all aware that only a miniscule percentage (a whopping 5%) of body types are positively represented in the media. What some of us don’t realize is how monumentally this affects us and our wellbeing.

When we, as a society, fail to include diverse bodies in our media, the message becomes clear to those excluded: you are unworthy of taking up space. It’s a powerful message that settles into the core of those who aren’t represented. #ImNoAngel, seemingly attempts to convey empowerment for plus-sized women, but instead has continued to perpetuate this exact same message. This time, though, with a specialized addition for the bodies not pictured: not only are you unworthy of taking up space, but you are also not invited to feel sexy.

Given that the majority of your customers (and plus women in general) don't see themselves represented in #ImNoAngel… this campaign seems to be an empowerment “backfire.”

When a person is constantly bombarded by images of one "ideal" body (plus or otherwise) it wreaks havoc on their psyche. The continual exposure mentally trains them to believe that only ONE body is worthy and this unfortunate social conditioning is one of the largest contributors to low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other severe body image related issues- all of which affect daily living. Visible diversity is a solution to these problems, and asking for it is anything but egotistical. It’s absolutely necessary.

I'd like to also point out that exclusionary images cause more than just personal pain. They also cause negative reactions from others that can turn into harassment, bullying and general hatred. Because we haven’t been given a positive framework within which to process “alternative” plus bodies, when presented with models of varying shapes feelin’ all sexy and shit (like the images that follow) the public’s knee-jerk reaction is almost always negative. No doubt, this post will receive its fair share of ghastly remarks and this response is directly linked to the fact that we've been conditioned to believe that only one kind of body deserves to be seen as sexy. Anyone that breaks this rule is met with animosity. Bummer, man.

The cool thing though? This reaction can be eventually disappear if companies like Lane Bryant were to step outside their comfort zone and do something radical like: incorporate body diversity. It’s critical that we #EmpowerALLBodies, and it's more important to do so than we think.

Of course you can't represent every type of body when you have six models (trust me, I know- #EmpowerALLBodies isn't perfect either), but what Lane Bryant can do... is a little bit better. You’ve presented the “ideal” plus body: hourglass, perceivably "healthy", cellulite free, able bodied, cis-gender, and "conventionally" beautiful. And while I appreciate your conscious inclusion of varying skin tones (and Elly's scar), I’m going to ask you to consider including some of the following next time: cellulite; 90% of women have it. Bellies; many plus women don't have flat torsos. All abilities; we’re all inherently sexy. Transgender women; they're "all woman" too. Small boobs and wide waists; we're not all "proportional." Stretch marks and wrinkles; they're trophies of a life lived. And this is just the beginning! I’ve taken the liberty of creating some inclusionary images with Jade Beall, reminiscent of yours. These photos highlight all of these things mentioned above… and y’know what? I find them sexy as hell. I believe that constructive criticism is an important part of making progress, but I also believe that when you attach a solution you've got a game changer! Hopefully these can be a game changer for you. Now, I realize that you are a company with financial motives (and that change is often met with resistance), but if you’re truly interested in empowering all women and joining the body positive conversation, I strongly suggest you consider widening your definition of sexy.

I want to be clear: the models you chose are not wrong or unworthy of being photographed. They're beautiful, they exist in the real world, they are valuable and I’m so happy that some identify with their presence. But they are not the whole story.

Linda, as the head of the largest plus-size retailer, you have the opportunity to tell the WHOLE story. You have the platform. You have the financial backing. And after meeting your team, I know you have employees who are interested in taking the conversation in a new direction. So let’s work together to make that happen! Whaddyasay?

All the love (body and otherwise),

P.S. I'm happy to consult at any time and I know a lot of other bad-ass babes that would love to do the same! At the end of the day, we're all in this hot mess together, y'know?

P.P.S. Lemme at your social media accounts already. Someone needs to address the big issues in a big way and I'm DEFINITELY your gal.

GREAT NEWS! Lane Bryant has responded! 

Linda said "Yes, we can do even more in supporting women, pushing body confidence and self-esteem amplification as well as making inclusiveness more a part of the norm. Over the many decades that I have been active in Women’s Issues and Concerns, I have come to appreciate that Feminist issues are in fact Humanist issues.  We together can make this world better for so many." 

This reinforces everything I believe: Maybe it's possible to NOT shut down those who have the ability to reach individuals that we can't, but to still approach them with honesty and ask for change. If we are honest with ourselves about how change is best achieved in this fucked up world, we'll acknowledge that utopian ideals will always be the goal, but the steps towards this will be slow and anything but perfect. This is how all giant movements go, and there is still an overwhelming amount of societal pushback when it comes to visible body acceptance. Sometimes, the most effective way of creating change is by breaking down old walls and dismantling social issues from the inside out and I fully plan on doing this whenever the opportunity arises. Lane Bryant reaches many women who are still unfamiliar with the concept of body love and I'm hoping that their small (or large?) changes will bring this idea to light for those who find me too radical or abrasive;) Will we see this change? I don't know. Retail has had a long standing relationship with Exclusivity, but I'm hopeful.

If you have any suggestions on what YOU feel needs to be represented in their future campaigns, you can email me at themilitantbaker@gmail.com. I’ll be sure to pass them along.

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