Elly's kick-ass music video caught my eye last night (thanks Carrie!), and as I was about to share it via social media, an email from the bitchin' babe herself popped into my inbox. She shared the video with me and explained the reason for it's creation... and I just knew that y'all needed the story too. You can't see me, but I'm giving her a standing slow clap right now, not only for making a fabulous body positive video- but also for being able to sift through a strangers bullshit and publicly say- NOT UH. Your rules are not my rules. It's so fucking hard to do, and she's a great example of giving societal expectations the finger... with style. And oh dear god, how I LOVE her style.
This chick is amazing, and she brings the global body love hard. Read and watch it for yourself.
I'm Elly Kellner.
I am a singer-songwriter and creative human being from the Netherlands.
I've been playing music since I was a child and love performing in small, intimate venues where the audience can take a seat and get the chance to really hear my music and words; they get to really see me as I am. I write from my own experience and more recently I've also started writing about things like binge eating and child abuse; trying to get closer to my own core at the same time as approaching other topics in a light and humoristic way. It's wonderful to have people come up to me after a show and hear how they were touched in one way or another.
After a recent concert a man and woman waved at me and told me how beautiful my songs were. Then swiftly their feedback switched to my choice of clothing. I was a bit surprised as the places I perform tend to focus on the music rather than looks. Though I have received smiles and positive comments about my nice dresses in the past, haha! So I was a little bit in shock but still open to hear where this was going. First I listened, in the hopes of learning something, but in the end I just stood there crying...
Two strangers told me they were very distracted by my dress, was the back of the dress longer than the front!? And what sort of a legging was that!? And those shoes!? They assured me they only bothered to tell me all this because they thought my music was really good. But if only I wore a small heel, spike heels weren't necessary, but a small heel and a sleeve then I would have been so much bigger in the music business already. The way I was dressed now distracted them too much from my music. I could take Ella Fitzgerald as an example. She was a big lady too and she wore beautiful garments!
My head was filling up with words and feelings, but mostly shock. Thoughts went from left to right: "I love Ella Fitzgerald! But her style is not mine, Yes the back of the dress is longer than the front - it's fashionable apparently, I chose this dress today without a sleeve yes, I'm trying to come out of my shell more and trying to love my arms more even if they give me so much pain, These shoes are really comfy and hip!, I didn't even show cleavage today! Hang on...I've just played my songs for you passionately, my arms and hands have been hurting from chronic pain whilst I played the guitar for YOU, and now you're telling me to cover up my arms. You love the songs but you want the arms that play them to be covered up!? There's nothing wrong with my legging, it was black and now I bleached it and it's a lovely rusty orange colour; I love that colour!! I used to wear big unshapely clothes, would you rather I go back to that? I've only started wearing dresses since a couple of years, it took me ages to feel comfortable in them and now I just LOVE them! Why are you talking nonsense to me and...who are you to judge like that?"
In my head I was justifying my clothes, my arms...but I seemed to be in shock and couldn't quite respond back in that moment, so I started crying. I am not afraid of being vulnerable; if someone says things that touch me it's ok if they see that, whether it be negative or positive. Looking back on it now I realise I've heard this sort of nonsense talk before. When I was thirteen my father told me I was fat when I wasn't and he told me nonsense like "If you bite your nails you'll never find a job" etc. Once you start believing what people tell you -about YOU- that might just be the end of your self-esteem. That worked when I was a child but not anymore. Do I NEED to cover up my arms? Nonsense! I can wear whatever I want.
Inside I am and I will remain just a girl. I am overweight, I suffer from chronic pains, I exercise, I eat healthy, I eat unhealthy, I go from black-white to grey and all the colours of the rainbow, I love wearing dresses in my own way, I sometimes wear make-up and sometimes I don't. I'm totally allowed to be here. Finding Jes and the Militant Baker website a year ago sparked something inside of me. I decided to just start experimenting with clothes and wear whatever I want and it makes me a very happy girl!
Still...I couldn't quite get rid of that strange experience at the theatre and decided to write a song about it... My retrospective response after all. Then I wanted my friends to join me in dance... Then it was suddenly called 'Ellybellyrep'... Then I wanted to make a video for it, so that's what I did...
The song 'Deugdelijk' (Decent) is in Dutch but I added English subtitles to it. I approached it with humor but my message is clear:
"This is my body, I am thankful that I have one and I am the one that decides what clothes I put on it. Everybody gets to be themselves!"