Dumped On New Year’s Eve For Being Fat, I Clapped Back With A Photo Shoot

Early morning on December 31st, I was shopping at the grocery store picking out some fresh veggies, fruit, and some eggs to make my boyfriend and I breakfast. I get a text to come back to the hotel. That text was the beginning of the end. A couple of hours later, my eyes bloodshot red from crying, the radio cranked up to Selena’s “Como La Flor”, I was driving two and a half hours back home. I had been dumped hours before New Year’s Eve.

I had made the trip to go see my boyfriend out of town. I had packed some cookware to make him breakfast in our hotel. I took days deciding what dress to wear with the right shoes, jewelry, and hairstyle before my trip. I had spent time and money planning this important holiday getaway with the man I loved only to never see it come to fruition.

Now, breaking up on a birthday or holiday isn’t a unique experience. Countless horror stories about Valentine’s Day or anniversary breakups are out there for the world to read about. Just do a google search. But, what is unique about my horrifying experience was everything that led up to that breakup because I was dumped for being fat. I was dumped for my appearance. Here’s the twist. I am a self-proclaimed “Fat Babe”. I am a plus-size model and body positive advocate. So, how in the world did I end up with a fatphobic boyfriend?

In late 2017, I started dating my now ex-boyfriend. We met on a dating app for curvy/plus-size women and the men who love them. Sounds cliché, but I thought what the hell! I had been on other dating apps earlier that year and found that there were many men who were interested in me for…sex. There were many men who wanted to have sex with me because I was fat and confident, but not for dating. And, dating apps can be notorious hook-up hubs, so it was a huge let down when I ran into men with a fat fetish.

When I started my profile on this new app for curvy/plus-size women, it seemed promising. I thought to myself, “the men on here should know what they’re getting right?” I never pretended to be anyone else other than myself. I was honest about my body type, height, hair color, and posted several pictures of myself, some full body and some selfies.

I received a message from this really cute guy. From his description and pictures, I could tell he was tall, athletic, and had great style. His profile was different from the rest. He talked about how he was looking for serious dating to a relationship. He was 33, which was close to my age, 30, and how he was an avid reader and liked to write poetry. We started talking and every day I learned something new about him like he was a soccer coach, a single dad, and that he had interests in screenwriting. We had so many things in common that I thought this is too good to be true. Then, the questions about my body came after an exchange of pictures.

“How big is your tummy?” to “what kind of workouts do you do for your butt?” I immediately called him out. I asked him why that was relevant. I am a beautiful person inside and out, so how could that possibly matter? We went back and forth and he was clearly upset that I had a problem with his question. He felt entitled to this information. The conversation ended with a last message from him that he hated me for making him feel this way and that our demise was my fault. It made me feel terrible, and I didn’t message him. I thought to myself, “this is over and it sucks.” You invest so much time talking to someone and you feel crushed when things do not work out. Not only did they not work out, it was a blow to me as a plus-size woman. I took a chance to put myself out there on an app that felt safe for me because I am a fat. And, to encounter a man who judged me by my body size and shape felt all too familiar.

I stopped interacting on the app with other guys, and I didn’t message my now ex. He waited four days before messaging me. He talked about how much he liked me and how let down he was that I did not reach out to him first. We talked for about an hour and decided to continue talking. The problem with that conversation is that while we reconciled after a heated argument, our talk did not address the biggest issue. He still had a problem with me being fat.

Fast forward two and a half months later, I found myself facing the ugly truth. My boyfriend was dumping me because I could not be what he wanted me to be. Throughout our long-distance relationship, he made comments about my hair style, fashion choices, and even devalued my thoughts and opinions.

I cried. I got angry. I even tried being his friend in hopes that we would get back together. I brought myself down so low that I had no place to go but up. I decided that part of my healing process required something that I could physically do to channel my emotions in a positive way. And, the answer was right there. I am a plus-size model. I take pictures often for many reasons, and I was going to prove to myself that all the “flaws” he pointed out about me were beautiful and part of my identity.

On our first date, I wore one of my favorite Selena tees with some black leggings, cute black booties, and hoop earrings. After spending a weekend together and returning home, he messaged me. He pointed out the fact that he didn’t like what I wore on our first date. He said my Selena tee was not sexy enough and that I looked more like I was going to the store versus a date. He proceeded to tell me that, in the future, he expected me to only wear these shirts at home or to the grocery store.

I love Selena! She is one of the most iconic Latino figures in the world, and I’ve been dancing and singing to her songs since I was a little girl. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez changed the way many Tejanas like myself envisioned themselves in the world. My love for her is part of my identity. Her music, style, and entrepreneurial spirit have influenced the woman I am today. And, I think Selena and her fans would agree that you can rock your Selena tee anywhere you go and look damn good!

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And, my now ex, wasn’t done with his list of criticisms. Next was my shoe choice. Since he had seen pictures of my modeling portfolio, he expected me to look exactly like the woman in those pictures 24/7. No kidding. He had a problem with my boots. They weren’t sexy enough according to him. Well, what do you think now? These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they did when they walked all over you and out of your life. Boy bye!

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Then, there were my glasses. On my second trip, I was expected to leave the glasses at home and wear contacts. And, like a docile girlfriend, I purchased a year’s worth of contact lenses after my eye exam. I hardly go anywhere without my glasses except for casting calls and photo shoots. I’ve been wearing them since I was a teenager and I think they are cute. They are a part of me.

My lovely hair was next on the list. He hated the fact that I wore my hair straight most of the time, which is my natural hair type. But, most of all, he loathed the bangs. He said they covered up my face too much, and he said, “You’re trying to be like Selena with those bangs. I want to see your beautiful face. I love you not Selena.” He made statements like these often, which is common for people who are passive-aggressive. He tried to convince me to change something about myself like my hair style, which I purposely chose because I loved it. He justified this by calling me beautiful and saying “I love you.” The problem with this statement is that he did not love me. When you love someone, you love them for who they are, as they stand, bangs and all. And, if Selena could rock them bangs like a boss babe then so can I.

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And, of course, there was the issue with my weight. I remember a phone conversation where he told me that he wanted me to lose the weight to be “healthy” so that I could live a long life. What he failed to acknowledge was that I was already perfectly healthy at the size and weight I am. This was something I made him aware of because I do get my annual checkups. But, he persisted and I clearly remember him using the words, “you just need to tone up and get rid of the unwanted fat.” And, there it is, that word, “unwanted”. I was unwanted for being fat. I was unwanted for my sense of fashion and hair style. I was unwanted for my shoe selection. I was unwanted for speaking my mind. I was unwanted for just being me.

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It is no wonder he dumped me. All the signs were there from the very beginning. And, I want to give a clear answer as to why a person like me, a body positive warrior, a plus-size model, could allow such blatant disrespect, but I cannot. Perhaps I was lonely. Maybe I was feeling the pressure of finding a partner to finally settle down, get married, and have kids, that I scarified my dignity in the process. Maybe it was because I had such a horrible year in dating that I wanted to cling onto anyone for comfort. What I do know is that I did not feel sexy, beautiful, or worthy when I was with him. I was not respected when I was with him. I did not respect myself when I was with him. And, recognizing these truths now made it very clear to me that I still have much work to do on my journey toward self-love and body acceptance. I allowed a man to wipe away three years of hard work to love myself in two months, and that is unacceptable. I hold him accountable and I hold myself accountable.

And, my hope is that my story helps someone else from continuing to be in an unhealthy relationship. I felt ashamed admitting that I was in this relationship because I am a pretty open book on social media. I post about body positive activism and self-love frequently. And, I consider myself an active member of a movement for fat acceptance. I felt like a hypocrite. And, this is me owning up to my poor choice, my wrong choice, in a partner. And, I want my story to reach men as well. The ridiculous expectations placed on women have consequences. They perpetuate gender roles; they can cause emotional and physical harm through eating disorders, suicide attempts, depression, and this is wrong.

I don’t think a photo shoot will fix everything. And, it will not completely heal me from this breakup. But, it’s a good start to show myself and show the world who I am as I stand.

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Miss Shelo

IG: @miss.shelo

Photographer: Tommy Kim

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Facing Your Fashion Fears: From Street to Chic

As a plus-size woman, I was limited on what to wear. Whether it’s avoiding horizontal stripes, or being encouraged to wear all black because it’s “slimming”, many of us have these parameters drilled into our head that our wardrobe reflects what’s called “safe pieces”.

Wearing clothing shouldn’t be revolutionary. Rather, it’s a form of expression of your personality and style. And as an ambassador for an apparel brand, Artista Apparel, I decided to take my active wear from street to chic.

First, the circus pants by Artista Apparel are dance/yoga pants designed for style and comfort. They aren’t like leggings that form tightly to your body and curves. While I am definitely the first to flaunt my curves, it is not the only thing I consider when putting an outfit together. I think about style, comfort, and confidence when I put together an outfit.

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A big girl wearing baggy pants? Isn’t that going to hide a curvy figure rather than accentuate it? I think the end results prove that as a curvy woman, my figure will look lovely even in clothing that may be deemed to make me look bigger and, therefore, unflattering according to societal standards. Pairing the black and red Aztec print circus pants with a black crop top, heels, and a bomber jacket elevate the look to an edgy high fashion ensemble.

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The black snakeskin crop top offers a little peek-a-boo at the midriff, which I am perfectly comfortable with and actually really love. The thought of having any sliver of my tummy peek out seemed like a horrendous idea, and one I avoided at all costs. Now, I think it’s actually kind of cute.

With the right accessories, you can certainly take pieces that would normally be seen as serving one purpose and see their versatility. I wanted to showcase how versatile these pieces from Artista Apparel can be, and show the quality and return on investment in these pieces. Additionally, I wanted to challenge myself and wear pieces that are normally off limits for plus-size women because when it comes to fashion and style there should be limitless possibilities.

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Photography: Tommy Kim http://www.tommykim.net

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Crop Top: Black Snakeskin Crop Top – Artista Apparel

Pants: Black & Red Aztec Print Circus Pants – Artista Apparel

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Body Positive Artist Susan Ruiter & Two Curvy Ladies

Last winter, I commissioned a painting from artist Susan Ruiter. I found her work on Instagram and fell immediately in love. The way she paints women: curvy, round, happy, sassy. All the words that can describe what it is to be a big beautiful woman in the world and the way we move are what Susan captures so perfectly.

 I knew I had to have one of her paintings. I reached out to Susan with full trust in her craft. I asked her to draw inspiration from a series of pin-up photos of myself in a polka dot bathing suit. The result was just magic: two wonderful, beautiful, and curvy ladies.

I wake up every morning to these beautiful ladies. Even if I am in a rush, I always catch them out of the corner of my eye. There are days where I stand in front of this painting and just stare. It is truly a wonderful feeling to know that I could inspire such beautiful art. 

The two ladies are a reminder that I exist outside of my routine, outside of these four walls. I exist in a world where I move beautifully. 

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I like to see the ‘two ladies’, as Susan calls them, as two parts of me. We always have two sides to ourselves, intriguing, similar in some ways, but inherently different.

 Photo Credit: Solight Photography

As a supporter of body positive artists, I wanted to know more about Susan and her process. Below is an interview conducted with Susan.

 

 As a child, did you have an interest in art?

Not especially in art. But I was very creative. I loved drawing, painting, making clothes etc.

What draws you to paint women?

I like to draw people and animals and love round shapes (curves), humor and color. The combination of these made me start drawing the colorful, happy ladies. And I was inspired by Botero, a Colombian artist.
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Where do you draw inspiration from?

From daily life. I can get inspired from a walk through town, from magazines, pictures. Anything.
When you have a commission piece, like mine, where do you start? What is the process?

If possible I visit your home or company, so I can see your interior and talk about your wishes. If I do I bring along some paintings, it’s so you can see what size and colors you would like the painting to have. Then, we talk about: What colors you would like, if you would like a personal touch (car, animal, company logo, daughter)? Etc.

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After this, I make a few sketches and mail them to you so you can tell me what you do or do not like, and if you wish to change anything. When you agree with the sketch, I start with the actual painting. It takes about 8 – 16 weeks before it’s done. When the painting is finished, I mail a picture. Again you can tell me if you’d like anything different. When you’re happy with the painting as it is, I varnish the painting and bring/send it to you.

Is the painting I commissioned your first one to make its way to the U.S.?

Yes, your ladies were the first to travel this far. Since then, I had another one commissioned for the U.S. and shipped one to Australia.
What has been a highlight in your experience being an artist?

Opening my own gallery in Vlaardingen (town near Rotterdam), were I have a workspace as well.
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I feel that often an artist’s work reflects part of them. What would you say about your paintings reflects who you are as a person, artist, or woman?

My paintings reflect me as a person. I draw confident women who enjoy life. That’s how I like to see myself as well.
Many body positive advocates and plus-size bloggers are very familiar with your work. How has the response been to your work?

Are they? I did have a lot of positive reactions, one of my favorites is: “Your view on confident, curvy women is inspiring.” And I loved your response to your commissioned work too! You said: “I love it, it is a reminder to me that I’m beautiful every morning.”
A Dutch plus-size magazine placed an article about me once and I’m currently in contact with a plus-size magazine in Canada/U.S. about placing an article.

What are some of your favorite artists?

Botero, Lita Cabelut, Nico Vrielink
What would you say to young artists who are starting out?

Find your own way and stay true to yourself.
Your artwork is certainly making an impact on the body positive community. What message or beliefs do you hope comes across in your work?

Enjoy life and love who you are. Confidence is the most beautiful thing you can wear.

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What future projects do you have in mind with your artwork?

I just had the first bronze statue of one of my ladies made and I hope to make more in the future. I keep trying new things in paintings, to keep developing myself.


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Photo Credit: Galerie Sille

What parts of the world would you like your art to be showcased?

All over the world!

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It is not hard to see why Susan’s work is so captivating and even more at how wonderful she is. Celebrating the beauty of the female body, its curves, its movement, its existence, is imperative. We need to see the celebration of plus-size, curvy bodies. We need to be reminded just like I am every morning that big is beautiful.

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Read more about Susan and view her work at her website.

Make sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

 

 

I went to a Plus-Size Pool Party in LA and guess what happened?

Last weekend I attended the second stop of the Golden Confidence Pool Party tour in L.A. Created by blogger and model Essie Golden, the #goldenconfidence hashtag has taken social media by storm. Women around the world are posting pictures in two-piece swimwear, body-hugging dresses, and any fashion piece that was previously deemed off limits for plus-size women. It is certainly empowering women everywhere and here is proof of that.

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I started off low-key, sipping on my drink and eating some delicious tacos away from the large crowd. I had planned my outfit perfectly and couldn’t wait to show it off, but I was in that familiar place. Remember  your first party, the first school dance, or any social function where you have on the perfect beautiful dress, but you just can’t seem to summon up the courage to dance, talk to the boy you like, or be a social butterfly? Well, that familiar feeling crept in as my friend and I shied away on the top deck.

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But soon enough the fear started fading away as we took selfies. And, guess what? No one was looking at the two big girls taking selfies in their swimsuits.

Everyone was eating, laughing, dancing, taking selfies, and checking out each other’s outfits. Let me say this about the fashion at the party, #SLAY ! You can check out some of the amazing looks captured by Cosmopolitan.com here.

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Thanks to City Chic and Essie Golden, I was one of five best dressed at the event along with @bougie_chic , @jazzmynejay , & @cocoscurvycloset . Dare I say ultimate #squadgoals?

And, look who was featured in Cosmopolitan.com? Read the article here.

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Essie Golden’s pool party inspired me to form a community for body positive and plus-size women in Austin, TX. I told Cosmopolitan.com that women should feel like this anywhere they go. More importantly, I felt free. Free to wear what I want, wherever, dance, and just be me.

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Get the look at Artista Active Wear. I am wearing Halter Monokini in Amethyst Mermaid.