On Lipstick, Style, and Identity

As most of you may know, yesterday was National Lipstick Day. While I am certainly not a beauty blogger, lipstick is a way that I express myself and often correlates to my stylistic choices. I guess you could say that I have a certain aesthetic, but I often don’t know how to describe it. Usually my aesthetic involves a statement lips color and a dress, but I feel that still gives me a lot of wiggle room to get creative and I LOVE that. My relationship with lipstick has been a fairly recent development and very much relates to my journey to becoming unapologetically me. I worked at a small cosmetics retailer through high school and would very rarely wear lipstick in fear of standing out or drawing attention to myself, which is definitely not something that I wanted to do in high school. I was already the tallest and fattest girl in my grade–there was no need to draw more attention to myself. Even through college I would steer clear of anything that could potentially draw attention to myself mostly because when I spoke up in class and my classmates heard my eastern Kentucky accent, I knew that would be enough to make a lasting impression. My 23rd year was a formative year for me, lots had changed in a very little time and if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that it was a pivotal time in my life. I was newly single after being a serial monogamist for years, I was discovering a socialization beyond college into adulthood, I was dealing with mental illness, and I was finding myself. I very quickly found comfort in wearing a bold red matte lip and donning my vintage style cat eye glasses. Pinup fashion has always been a huge inspiration of mine, but I’ve never been fully committed to it because I feel that my style varies so often. Some days I want to be the alt girl I always wanted to be in high school and wear dark green lipstick, some days I just want to wear mint green lipstick for no reason, some days I want to be soft and naturally feminine in pastel pink. My persona can be easily altered with the change of my lipstick and it lets me explore the many sides that make me…me. I once read an article about how red lipstick was being used as a ‘mask’ by many women. I can’t pinpoint this article at the moment, but I remember discovering it when I was first introduced to the Body Positive movement and, correlatively, coming out of my shell, stepping out of my comfort zone, and wearing red lipstick. Lipstick has never been a mask for me; it’s been a medium of expression. It makes me feel beautiful, sexy, edgy, feminine, confident. I do feel like there is a huge societal pressure for plus sized women to be feminine–if you’re not feminine and you don’t put effort into your look then several stereotypes associated with being fat come into play. The thing about that is there are many days that I go without wearing makeup of any kind and I still feel the same sense of confidence–something that I never would have done in high school or my early twenties. My femininity is part of my identity, but it is not my identity. My style is part of my identity, but it is not my identity. It is my agency, the way that I choose to put myself out there. So I’ll keep wearing brightly printed dresses, my red lipstick, and putting myself out there. I wore this fun and fruity dress by Rachel Antonoff for Gwynnie Bee to a concert last night and got a lot of compliments. Instead of shying away from attention, I’m able to be myself in the best of ways now and not worry about how others perceive me. Being authentically you is always enough and this is how I choose to do so.

Dress-Rachel Antonoff for Gwynnie Bee, Shoes-Toms, Bag-Jessica Simpson
I LIVE for the details of this dress. The back slit and the buttons ❤

XO,

Shelby

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A Letter to the Dating Fat Girl

This was posted on Yes Louisville as my first contributing piece. I thought that I would share it here as well.

Dating in this city, and in this era, is interesting to say the least. I always refer to Louisville as a small, big city because I’m constantly meeting new people, but also continually running into people I already know. Being from a town that has a population of nearly 6,000 people, I’m used to everyone knowing my business and vice versa.

Louisville is where I found myself, found my voice, and found my confidence.

It’s also where I’ve had most of my dating experience and gratefully learned a lot about myself through dating with the freedom of privately doing so. When the components of your location, your age, your use of online dating apps, your size, your outlook and place in life all coincide, dating can be a stressful and questionable experience.

Yes, I did mention my size.

I am fat. I have always been fat and probably always will be fat and I do not see fat as a bad word or a negative trait when describing myself. Being fat has never stopped me from trying to find love in the city, but it has contributed to a lot of my dating anxiety. With the common use of apps such as Tinder and Bumble, dating is a game of initial attraction and although Body Positivity is a well-known buzzword currently, I feel that many still judge a potential partner based on size.

While discussing this with my friends, I’ve noticed that this is a common anxiety and that the first date is always the most anxiety-inducing moment of the process. After the matching, the texting, the flirting, the setting up a time to meet in your very busy schedules, the first date is the lasting impression and pivotal to establishing a relationship. I penned this letter after almost 8 years of dating as a fat girl in this city:

A letter to the dating fat girl,

First dates used to be my worst nightmare. Anxiety-ridden early 20’s me was constantly worried about the first impression, especially concerning my weight. Okay, obviously these people knew what I look like because photos, but being fatter in real life (especially in contrast to them) often lead to less than stellar experiences. These days, after many pep talks to myself in the mirror, the idea of a first meeting doesn’t faze me. Sure, nervous excitement is a thing, but I never feel negatively about myself when it comes to being fatter in real life. In fact, I am usually more concerned with men talking over me or interrupting me or boring me on the first date (i.e. a date that I had earlier this year where my date constantly tried to one up me.) So, the purpose of this letter: in the past I’ve often heard “I don’t see how you put yourself out there like that” or something along those lines. And the answer is simply that I have nothing to be afraid of and neither do you. Know what you want and don’t settle for less, engage with the people you’re with openly, and don’t doubt yourself. You’re magic and soon someone will realize how true that is. In my case, after many horrible, mediocre, and sometimes amazing first dates, it’s all been worth it in the journey of finding my person.

Please feel free to reach out to me via any of my socials if you’d like to discuss further. I’m on Instagram @fleurdefat or @meowficent_ & you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fleurdefat/ or on my blog https://fleurdefat.wordpress.com/ . You can also feel free to email me at fleurdefat@gmail.com.

XO,

Shelby

In There Like Swimwear

Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons. Sure, it’s hot and you’re sweating and you would sacrifice almost anything for air conditioning, BUT patio weather, quarry/pool hangs, and being a real life mermaid compensate for the heat. Being fat since kindergarten and LOVING to be on a beach/near any body of water makes one eerily aware of how people view you in a swimsuit.

lil baby swim
Shelby (left), age 6, probably feeling self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit

Yes, I felt EXTREMELY self-conscious being in a one piece swimsuit in public up until three years ago when I made my first (and only up until today) fatkini purchase. With the rising popularity of the term and the inspirational photos on Instagram capturing fat people owning their bodies, I was ready to do the same. There are some really cute plus size swimwear options out there, but damn, do they really expect you to pay $50+ for both pieces SEPARATELY? (The answer is, yes. Yes, they do.) This isn’t just a plus size problem I’ve learned. Companies often price bikini pieces separately and they’re often hella expensive. My first fatkini came from Torrid and I bought it on sale (I believe that the combined total was $70.) Paying $70 for something that barely provides coverage is still mind boggling to me, but so is paying $50 for a bra and I still do that so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Three years later and both pieces are still holding up really well and I get a lot of wear out of them. The construction of the top provides mega support, which is much needed when swimming with big boobs. It still makes me feel like a million bucks. This suit was an investment for me and well worth the money.

Swimsuit 2
 Top From Torrid; Pants from Macy’s, INC Brand

I’ve only purchased one swimsuit after my fatkini in the past three years and that was from Target, specifically the Ava & Viv brand. For $40, I bought what I thought was a cute enough one piece swimsuit. For $40, I got what I paid for and the shelf bra of the swimsuit provides very little support. So, I decided to do some shopping around on the interwebz today and compose a miniature shopping guide with what I found.

Waiting this late in the season has its pros and cons. Pro: almost all swimwear is on sale. Con: the selection of sizes varies. I got an email from ELOQUII stating that they were having a swim sale so I decided to peruse and I wasn’t disappointed. Today their swim is 50% off when you use code ‘YAY’ at checkout. They have a good selection of both two piece and one piece swimsuits ranging from $120 for a one piece and approximately $180 for a combined two pieces. I rarely spend that much on clothing, but ELOQUII has really high quality pieces and I see buying a piece from there as an investment. The suit I found/fell in love with is on sale for $60 and luckily my size is still available, but sizes are limited.

Eloquii
If this isn’t the most ‘me’ swimsuit then I don’t know what is. Get it here: https://www.eloquii.com/tie-front-one-piece-swimsuit/1635766.html?dwvar_1635766_colorCode=2

Next I decided to visit Forever 21’s website in hopes of finding cheaper and lower quality options and I wasn’t disappointed there either.  My concerns when it comes to purchasing from Forever 21 Plus are that the clothing will change after one wash or that the piece will not be long enough in the torso for me. (I’m all torso and no legs.) Luckily there’s the option to return or sell on Poshmark if the time for that option elapses. They’re also having a sale on their swim and I found an adorable two piece for a combined $13, YES, $13 for a swimsuit. I am concerned about the support, or lack thereof, in the top, but feel that it’s worth a $13 chance.

Forever 21
Get the swimsuit here: https://www.forever21.com/us/shop/catalog/product/plus/plus_size-swimwear/2000262963

Lastly, I decided to check out where I got my beloved fatkini, Torrid. While their pieces are often expensive, they are almost always having a sale. For example, today they are having buy one get one 50% off, which is perfect if you’re planning to buy a fatkini. Most of their swimsuit tops have a built-in bra and that alone is a huge perk for me. I found several pieces that I LOVED, but decided not to buy from there today. I’ll still link to my favorite suit. I did notice that quite a few of their most common sizes are limited.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 4.37.56 PM
Get the swimsuit here: https://www.torrid.com/product/white-floral-push-up-strapless-peplum-midkini/11168557.html?cgid=swim-all#sz=60&start=46

Do you have a body? Is it in a bikini? Then you have a bikini body. Rock it. Own it. *Insert whatever other cliche phrases make you feel yourself here.* As always, if you’d like to discuss any content from today’s post, comment or email me at fleurdefat@gmail.com. Please follow me on Instagram @fleurdefat and like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fleurdefat/.

XO,

Shelby

Another Plus Size Style Blog?

In a world where everyone has a blog, why am I starting now? Specifically, why am I choosing to write about plus size style?

I discovered the Body Positive movement via Instagram 4 years ago. This is important to why I’m doing this and why I’m now in the place to do this. My 22nd year was a pivotal year for me. I was recovering from a crippling depressive episode brought on by an abusive relationship and family trauma, going to college and working, maintaining a relationship and friendships, and trying to find my place as the small fish in the big pond that is Louisville. I’m from an extremely small eastern Kentucky town where everyone knows your name (and if they don’t know mine, they definitely know my dad’s.) Through everything and starting at a young age, my style has always been part of my agency and how I express myself.  I am by no means a fashionista and will never consider myself as such; that is why I’m very specifically calling myself a style blogger. While I do recognize my privilege as a cis white woman, I’m definitely not wealthy. My agency in style comes from how I put outfits together, how I know I can rock a $4 dress from Goodwill that was made before I was born, how I can say with confidence that I have style. In the beginning of my discovery of Body Positivity as I know it, important conversations around “self-love” and “body confidence” were happening, often these conversations were based in style and fashion.  This especially interested me. Growing up I was taught to “dress for my body type” and most of the time I thought that meant to cover up every part of my body that I didn’t like which was, well, every part of my body. Seeing other people disband this myth empowered me to do so as well. As time progressed, I realized that this was a very surface-level approach to Body Positivity and that the movement was so much more than that. I met one of my very best friends through the Body Positivity movement via Instagram. We were part of a local Fat Positive group for a while, we’ve grown together tremendously, and we’re still growing. I’m still growing. All of this has been key to why I’m using this platform and my voice to hopefully help people with their own growth and developing voice. I will go ahead and blatantly state this: Body Positivity and Fat Acceptance are so much more than posting cute photos with inspirational captions (something that I often do.) It’s political. My fat body is political. I acknowledge that my size 24, 5’11, white self has a tremendous amount of privilege.

I’m here because I’m ready to do this. I’m ready to put myself out there in a way that is a little scary. I’ve found myself and I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m not saying that there are no bad days, but I’m confident in my abilities as a person, partner, friend, employee, daughter, writer, and now style blogger.

So, if you’re ready for some authentic writing about plus size style with scant amounts of discourse on Body Positivity, mental health, and the city that I love, welcome. I’m glad you’re here. Please feel free to contact me anytime via email at fleurdefat@gmail.com, follow me on Instagram @fleurdefat, and like me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fleurdefat.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to read.

XO,

Shelby