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. 

img_4056

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.
13590405_2774457795934726_1125142255746515690_n.png

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.

Comp Lopez2.png
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.
12778829_2664016513645522_807531489644854108_o

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.

13268298_2726849877362185_293202920072458694_o

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.


14310375_1248121531917034_6915086049758355566_o

Photo Credit: Galerie Sille

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

All over the world!

 Comp Lopez.png

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.

FullSizeRender[2].jpg

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

Make sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

 

 

Swimsuits Just For Us: Plus-size Fashion from Summer to Fall

Summer never truly ends in southern states like Texas or Florida. So, what is a plus-size girl to do when you want your wardrobe to match the beautiful sunny weather, provide comfort, and be fashionable? The answer is Swimsuits Just For Us.

IMG_0273

Their mission is to create beautiful swimwear pieces for plus-size/full-figured women without sacrificing style or comfort.  And, I am absolutely in love with their swimdresses. They translate so well from summer to fall fashion when places like Austin, Texas still have hot and sunny days.

The Delta Burke Waterfall Halter Swimdress is perfect for its color, pattern, and design. The black and white printed bust area gives just enough pop while the black dress bottom drapes my curvy figure perfectly.

IMG_0270

Pair this beautiful swimdress with white jean shorts and take a stroll in the Zilker Botanical Gardens or slip them off to take a dip in the famous Barton Springs Pool. While there, don’t forget to snap some pictures against the tropical backgrounds located near the waterfall of the garden. You will truly feel like an island princess.

IMG_0271

I will certainly be looking to Swimsuits Just For Us (SJ4US) for other swimwear pieces like their cover-ups, swimsuit rompers, and aqua fitness wear. Pieces like these are versatile and fashionable. Who doesn’t love the idea of getting more for your buck?

And, I was so elated when I found that SJ4US also carries sizes 28W-32W. There aren’t that many plus-size brands that carry sizes beyond 24-26, which is not only limiting but discouraging. SJ4US creates “Plus-size swimwear made to fit your body!” As a plus-size model and body posi advocate, I am all about fashion at any size.

IMG_0272

You can shop at SJ4US here.

Don’t forget to follow them on Twitter & Instagram: @SJ4uS.

Photographer: Tommy Kim

 

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.

FullSizeRender_14

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.

FullSizeRender_13

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.

IMG_9406

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.

FullSizeRenderIMG_9336

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

I AM SLINK

I’ve just entered into the running with Slink Jeans LOVE YOUR BODY MODEL SEARCH for a one year modeling contract. If you support me and the body positve movement, please go vote for my video submission. Thanks to Tommy Kim for the video he put together! And no matter what, I AM SLINK ( Sexy. Loveable. Intelligent. Noticeable. Kind.) & YOU can be too! 😉 ❤ Visit Slink to cast your vote for me! ONLY ONE DAY LEFT!!

XOXO Chica Rosita

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show vs #ImNoAngel

In the wake of the positive body image movement, plus-size fashion powerhouse Lane Bryant took note and created the social media movement #ImNoAngel campaign.

There have been many criticisms regarding the campaign from the body image community. In response, blogger The Militant Baker spearheaded the #ImNoModel campaign. Lane Bryant has been called out not only by the blog community, but also its customers for their lack of body diversity. Many of their models are on the lower spectrum of the plus-size range while customers question Lane Bryant’s commitment to its clientele that range from sizes 14-28.

When Lane Bryant hosted a live chat via twitter earlier this month, there was plenty to be said.

One tweet read, “I really want to know when we will see campaigns with models size 22+ if they are going to be called body pos campaigns”.

lanebryant 1

They also took some serious heat when people took to twitter after the Lane Bryant lingerie commercial aired right after the Victoria Secret Fashion Show 2015.

imnoangel twitter 1imnoangel twitter 6imnoangel twitter 7imnoangel twitter 4imnoangel twitter 2

Let’s look at some of these responses.

One of the arguments is that the #ImNoAngel campaign is anti-body positive. Lane Bryant prompted its followers to take to social media and post pictures while the Victoria’s Secret Fashion (VSF) show aired with the hastag #ImNoAngel. The disagreement here is that those opposed find that the tactic was offensive because it somehow shames the VSF show supermodels for their bodies. On the opposite side, the response to VSF show with the #ImNoAngel is simply pointing out that plus-size women, rather models, are continuing to be marginalized by the fashion industry.

In all, I think Lane Bryant really just wanted power in numbers to create an awareness that huge fashion industry brands like Victoria’s Secret continue to exclude women of larger sizes and diverse body types in their ads, runway, and clothing. However, Lane Bryant took a similar hit when its customers called the powerhouse out for its lack of body diversity mentioned above.

Additionally, twitter users called out the #ImNoAngel campaign for shaming a group of women (VS models) for their hard work in maintaining their bodies. “Those girls seriously work hard as hell for the bodies they have so your #ImNoAngel is pretty tacky.”

Okay, so yeah, they probably work really hard to maintain their physique. That’s great for them. They love their bodies and they deserve to feel beautiful and empowered. But, Ashley Graham, Denise Bidot, Rosie Mercado, and so many other plus-size models work their butts off too. You see constant photos of them working out, biking, on the beach, or doing something really physically active on their social media pages. They work just as hard for their bodies too.

As I scrolled through the twitter feed with the #ImNoAngel campaign that caused an uproar during the TV air of the VSF show, I didn’t a single body-shaming picture or phrase toward the VSF show models. All I saw was a bunch of big beautiful women taking selfies with the #ImNoAngel tagged on. Frankly, I had to dig for them  since so many of the above showcased twitter backlash overshadowed them. People were so concerned with how uncomfortable they were with seeing a plus-size model on TV right after seeing a mirage of skinny supermodels. When you think about it, who’s the one with the real problem here? I mean some of these comments were just plain mean, no real substance or argument to debate like this one:

imnoangel twitter 7

But, it wasn’t all bad. Here are some positive tweets regarding the #ImNoAngel campaign.

imnoangel twitter 8imnoangel twitter 9imnoangel twitter 3imnoangel twitter 5

The Lane Bryant commercial  that aired after the VSF show was purposeful. It pissed off a lot of people. Its intent was to create awareness about a large group of women ignored in the media and fashion industry. Our society has a problem with fat confident people. Heck, people have a problem with an average size woman on TV. When you really look at Ashley Graham and the other Lane Bryant models, they actually fall under the average women’s sizes in America (12-14).

There is much room for Lane Bryant as well as other plus-size brands to improve on their end. There is no doubt about that, but at least they offer a platform for their customers voices to be heard. Victoria’s Secret has continually ignored its larger size clientele even after petitions to add plus-sizes to their brand have failed to gain their attention.

Whether good or bad, you have to admit Lane Bryant provoked an even larger conversation regarding the fashion industry and its continued lack of including women of all sizes.

To Photoshop or Not to Photoshop? That is the Question

I was recently on a hiatus from the blogging world since my life has become a bit chaotic juggling work and school. I found this break to be much needed, but I was getting anxious about my involvement in the positive body image movement.

I kept thinking I wasn’t contributing enough or bringing awareness at a level that I should be. This self-criticism allowed me to see that I am a work-in-progress. Everything from my modeling, blogging, school, and work isn’t perfect, and I have to consistently remind myself that it is okay to stand back and focus on other areas.

Before my hiatus, I did another photo-shoot with Solight Photography.With every photo shoot, I get stronger and more determined. It was the first pin-up themed shoot I modeled for, and it was good for me. It allowed me to gain experience, but also believe that I am a person whose beauty is just a radiant, just as cute, just as fun, and exciting as those shown throw classic pin-up photos.

Sheiladownload-WM-4

While Shellie, the photographer, and I have worked together, it never ceases to be a unique experience for us. We experiment, we improvise, we learn. We trade stories and feed off of each other’s positive energy. I think for me what is just as rewarding as the end result, or perhaps even better, is the connection you make with the person you are creating this work with. If you’re not comfortable, if you don’t wholly trust their vision, and allow them to expose you, it will show. I trust Shellie wholeheartedly. I know what her aim is to enhance the already natural beauty of a woman.

When Shellie uses any photo-editing it is always done judiciously. I have no shame in revealing my body without the glitz and glam as is evident in my #rockthecrop photo series from my previous blog. I feel that photo-editing can be used wisely and with clear intent and purpose to enhance lighting, remove a blemish, color correct, etc. However, it can be used for malicious and cruel intents masquerading as “health concerns” such as #projectharpoon or #thinnerbeauty. I decided only to include a link to Thinner Beauty’s page rather than include a photo they manipulated unjustly. I want to continue to bring awareness that their page is still up an running, but I do not want to give their work anymore attention because that’s what they want. They want these warped pictures to be spread. Let’s not give them that. Instead let’s work on other ways to contribute to the body image movement and spread a message of body acceptance.

The argument on what constitutes a just use of photo-editing versus a heinous one is up for debate, but it is clear that #projectharpoon and #thinnerbeauty creators and contributors were in it to spread hate and discrimination against fat people and the positive body image movement.

I want to end this piece with some photos from my pin-up series. My body’s shape has not been manipulated. I am a size 18/20, curvy, busty, and I have rolls and cellulite like many women. The distribution of fat in my body is different than yours, and you will be happy to know that I am healthy.

flowery crop

bw gazebo

bw pin up crop  pin up crop

Sheiladownload-WM-33

XOXO Chica Rosita

The Belly: The New Erogenous Zone

As I recently watched Trainwreck by the brilliant, funny, and badass Amy Schumer, I was inspired to write about the belly. Actually, pretty much any other body part other than breasts, butt, and the vagina. As these are the most glorified erogenous zones of the female anatomy in our media, Inside Amy Schumer made this comedic music video in response to the hyper sexualized video vixen of our pop culture.

Check it out:

If this doesn’t make you think twice about the butt, I don’t know what will. Personally, I find that there is nothing wrong with glorifying the female body, but my version is inclusive. All female bodies are worthy of admiration and sex appeal. However, there is something to be said about the functional uses of these erogenous zones. You may like my butt and my boobs, but they serve more of a purpose than just sex.

I recently read this article from Men’s Health that shed some light on why men are fixated on these erogenous zones, specifically the rear end.  I’ve read similar articles with studies referenced about why men love curvier women and they conclude that procreation plays a big factor. I can see why the hourglass figure would be appealing to the male specimen in search to procreate. The full breasts and child-bearing hips indicate a female body in condition to give birth and provide childcare. But, the butt? What’s with that?

Growing up in a Mexican-American culture, a woman’s nalgas are something of praise and criticism. They can be too big (nalgona), too small (nalgitas), too lumpy (nalgas de queso), not proportioned, and the list goes on and on. While studies indicate that men love curvier women, culture and society’s beauty standards have a huge influence in the type of female physical features you should be attracted to. She can have an hourglass shape, but wait…she can’t be fat! The distribution of that fat has to be perfect, and that to me is ridiculous. It calls to mind the Barbie beauty standard: tiniest waist, huge boobs, full hips, but not too curvy. Not fat!

And, as I watching Trainwreck, laughing my ass off, I noticed Amy’s character was gorgeous and a lot like me. She ate what she wanted to eat, drank alcohol, and wasn’t a supermodel thin leading lady. To me, Amy is not fat. She has fat, but Amy is not fat. And even Amy, beautiful body and all, is fat-shamed.

For these reasons and so many more, I want to glorify the  belly. I want to glorify the chubby arms, the thick legs, the nalgonas.

With a quick internet search, I was able to find many websites and social media pages dedicated to lovers of bbws, curvy women, thick women, and the list goes on. There is, however, a stigma attached to these pages and its followers. The first thing that comes to mind is “it’s a fetish”; it’s something abnormal to be sexually attracted to a woman with a belly, something taboo. However, as referenced by Men’s Health article, The Science of Why You’re an Ass Man, there is something animalistic about having sex by mounting the rear end, almost forbidden, taboo.  Yet, we find it socially and culturally acceptable to glorify the ass, but not the belly.

As the positive body image movement is thriving, there is change. Plus-size bloggers, models, fashion industry leaders, magazine editors, and big women in general are taking a stand. They are channeling their voice, their power to advocate for bodies that have cellulite, rolls, stretchmark’s, big arms, thick thighs, and other attributes previously deemed undesirable for a woman’s body. In the wake of this  movement, men and women are finding a safe haven to love their bodies. And, while there is much change to society’s beauty standards to be made, it’s a step in the right direction.

 love is
XOXO Chica Rosita