Wishing you a zazzy 2021

In 2021, I am taking body positivity to a new level. Mid December, I launched The Zazzy Zaftig online boutique, catering to women of larger sizes. Our specialty is vintage and upcycled fashions for the discerning plus size woman. Our mission is to bring you body positive, woman affirming, planet friendly fashion offerings.

The Zazzy Zaftig did a soft launch on Etsy and Depop this December.

Too often, when one walks into a consignment shop, resale shop or thrift store, you’re convinced life stops at at a size XL dress and a size 10 shoe. That’s simply not the case. There are fabulous, stylish gently used, new-with-tags and upcycled pieces available. At The Zazzy Zaftig, my mission is to find them and bring them to you.

For a few years now, I’ve wanted to create a fashion venture. I decided on resale for a few reasons.

  1. Global supply chains of fast fashion rely on the labor of woman and children for their profit margins. Even if a global brand does check working conditions, the fact of the matter is that Third World labor is the bulk of the fashion workforce of fast fashion.
  2. Transporting and manufacturing fast fashion pieces globally taxes the environment. Offering high quality resale and upcycled pieces to the community gives us all the opportunity to lessen our carbon footprint.
  3. Great style is timeless. Fashions and fads change.

Here’s a look at some of our offerings on Pinterest!

I hope you check out some of our great pieces! For checking out this blog, get $5 off your order of $40 or more with the code : BLOGSALE

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheZazzyZaftig?coupon=BLOGSALE

Reclaiming “Fat” on Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is here.

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Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

It think it’s time to reclaim the word “fat” this Fat Tuesday.  The “fat” of Fat Tuesday is happy.  It’s a last hurrah before a long fast.  It’s the celebration of bounty.  It’s excess and indulgence.  It’s happy.  In the case of “Fat Tuesday”  we are supposed to be happy.

I’m not defending obesity.  I’m not minimizing the diseases that obesity exacerbates.  I just want to complicate “fat” a bit.  Instead of saying “She (or) he is fat,” as if it’s an existential state, inherent to the person, like character or temperament, can we be more compassionate AND clinical?  “She (or) he is experiencing obesity.”

Indeed, obesity and the struggle with it is an experience.  If you’ve ever combed through a Ross rack at midnight trying to find a decent plus size dress, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever watched  plus-size loved ones yo-yo diet and cycle through success and failure, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever been starved for something in your life (love, attention, respect) and found a short-term substitute at the bottom of a pint of ice cream in the middle of the night, you’ve had part of the obesity experience.

I’ve been every size from a 6 to a 20W, and even when I was thin, I wasn’t happy.  I was panicked about regaining the weight.  It made shopping easier, sure, and I felt noticed.  However, keeping the weight off was my entire life.  It was a full-time job on top of the job I already had.  Thinness is not happiness.  Happiness is happiness.  We all struggle with happiness, thin or fat.

The word “fat” has bedeviled me my whole life.  “Pretty for a fat girl,” “too fat”, “too fat for the role,”–just a few of the many things I’ve heard.  Behind that “f” word “fat” is another “f” word, that often follows close by and is implied, “failure”.  Being “fat”, or more compassionately, experiencing “fatness” does not mean you are a failure.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or lack will power. We ALL experience failure.  The pitfall is making experiences into identities.

Many of those who have been conditioned to be ashamed of their fatness have also been conditioned to hide.  How many of us retreat to the back row of a group photo because we don’t care to be seen from the neck down?  Too many.

Fat tropes have been around for centuries.  I think of Shakespeare’s Falstaff, that repulsive, yet humorous fat Flemish drunkard (who’m I’ve actually auditioned to play).  How many times have I auditioned for characters destined to be the butt of a joke, just because I wear plus size clothes?  So many.  Too many.

It’s time to get past the fat tropes and complicate “fat”.  It’s not a state of being, a character defect or a joke.  It’s a medical condition that needs attention and also compassion.  My takeaway from all of this is that “fatness” doesn’t preclude happiness.  You have a right to be happy, fat or thin.  However, we each have to claim and create space for our happiness.  Part of happiness is treating ourselves well, no matter how others speak about us.  The word “fat” needs complicating and compassion at the same time.

I wish you a fun, happy Fat Tuesday–fat with joy, fat with happiness, fat with hope that the best is yet to come.   Celebrate you, who are you are now, today.

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The Heart of the Matter

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Photo by Suvan Chowdhury on Pexels.com

One of the biggest and most persistent criticisms of the body positivity movement is the notion that it promotes obesity and in turn, poor health.  Yes, there are strong correlations of high BMIs with heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and even depression.  “Fat and happy” is often a myth.

The reason that I am strongly body positive is that I want to feel good about myself as I make lifestyle changes that support my overall health.  I have always had a higher BMI.  “Skinny” is not in my genes, but “healthy” can be in my habits and my choices.

To that end, I want to remind women everywhere that February is Heart Health Month.  Heart disease the leading cause of death for women, according to the FDA.

According to the FDA, heart attacks manifest differently in women than in men:

The signs of a heart attack can be different for women than they are for men.

  • Heavy ache in your chest or back between your shoulder blades
  • Sharp pain in your upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unusual or unexplained tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling sick to your stomach

You can have a heart attack without experiencing chest pain or pressure. Women may also experience back pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, and nausea or vomiting.

Whether you’re lithe or voluptuous, ladies, please schedule a heart check up if you haven’t had one in awhile.  That saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is true.  You only have one heart.  Take care of it for a long, healthy life.

Assess your risk here.

From my big heart to yours, I wish you all a Happy Heart Health Month.  Keep your hearts happy and beating strong.

Bubbling Over with Body Positive Joy!

When Yi asked me to climb on her conference room table, I didn’t hesitate.

This past week, Yi Zhou, founder of Global Intuition, a fast-rising international fashion brand, invited me to her headquarters in Beverly Hills for a body positive photo shoot.

Yi is a Chinese multimedia artist who has lived in Rome from the age of eight and studied between London and Paris with degrees in Political Science and Economics.  Her innovative work has been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennal, Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival.  Global in reach, she founded her creative strategy digital production company, Yi Zhou Studio, in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  In late 2017, she brought her creative vision to LA  as a strategic partner of Cinemoi Network, Royal Yacht. She is currently developing her first feature film as writer and director.

I had the privilege of meeting Yi through What Women Want Show about a year ago as she was preparing her Fred Segal show.  I was extremely impressed by Yi’s drive, ambition and poise.  Yi’s brand is called Global Intuition and I can see why.  Working with Yi, she has a global outlook and also a strong sense of what makes others look and feel good.  My shoot with Yi was fun, collaborative and inspiring.

Here’s your first look–Body Positive and Bubbles!

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Body Positive and Bubbles.  Photo by Yi Zhou of Global Intuition.

Yi and I discussed what intuition is and why it’s important for women, and really everyone, to trust their intuition .  Intuition seems to power much of what she does and how she works.

Video Courtesy of Yi Zhou, Global Intuition

My biggest take away from spending time with Yi this week was that joy and intuition  make everything we do better!  If you bring a joyful heart to whatever you are doing, and trust your hunches, you can accomplish so much.  Trust your intution and let your joy bubble over!

 

In Body, Embody

We have to embody the world we want to see.  If we want less hate, less judgment and more compassion, then we have to hug more.  We have to smile more.  We have to shake hands more.

embodySometimes, though, it’s hard to be “in” our bodies.  Our society privileges the mental and we become mental.  We experience a trauma and we numb out.  Our emotions rattle us.  We want an escape from pain, instead of just feeling the pain and moving through it.  It’s hard to embody our ideals of love and compassion when it’s just hard to be in our bodies.

Yesterday, I was in an unfamiliar part of town and due to some circumstances beyond my control, I spent some extra time in the neighborhood, so I decided to get a massage to make use of the time.  Like I’ve mentioned in some of my prior posts, I’ve been dealing with big girl life stuff and I am still carrying a great deal of tension.  It shows up in my body. Even though I have a regular meditation regimen and a decent exercise regimen, my pent up stress, like me, is stubborn.  Getting a massage gives me the opportunity to understand what stress my body is still holding onto.

A valued person in my life told me that I was the most sensitive person he knew and that I did a great job of hiding how sensitive I actually am.  I didn’t get what he meant until yesterday, when as I was getting the massage a flood of thoughts and images, some not fun and relaxing, danced in my brain.

Ultimately, we have to embody self-forgivenesss and self-acceptance and self-love.  I have to forgive myself for the mistakes I put my body through.  I have to accept who I am today–not try and revivify or reconstruct who I was ten years ago.  I have to love my injuries, both emotional and physical, enough to heal them.

One of the tasks of an actor is to embody a character.  Not all humans walk and talk the same way.  Not everyone holds tension in the same place.  Not everyone has the same center of gravity.  The ancient Greeks created a whole theory of personalities based on bodily awareness.  Chekhov, one of the greats of the acting world, thought every human being has a “leading center” of their body, from which their urges and actions come from.

I am still learning where my actions and urges come from and that’s because it’s my business, literally, as an actor to do so.  As we live and experience, our character is shaped and re-shaped hopefully for the better.  Have you checked in with your body?  What are you embodying?

 

 

 

 

Pleasure Matters

When was the last time you thoroughly enjoyed something, fully present, with abandon?  So many of us would have a hard time identifying a moment, simply because we’re mired in work and doing and being stressed out.  Are you guilty?  I am!

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity (1).pngIn the new year, I’m making my pleasure a priority.  What’s giving me life?  What’s feeding my spirit?  What gives me joy?  All of those things are my priorities right now.  Too often, as we starve ourselves of calories, we also starve ourselves of plain old fun.  Do something fun for the sake of doing it.  See how you feel.

We should be on a steady diet of fun and love!  What is life without the pleasures of life?  This week, I challenge you to make a list of 100 things that give you pleasure and if you can’t fill that list up, discover 100 things that give you joy.  I’ll share parts of mine soon!

Your Opinion of Me is None of My Business

Your opinion of me is none of my business.

That was one of my biggest lessons and pains in the last two years.  What other people think of me doesn’t matter.  It’s hard to get people to change their opinions or what they think they “know”.  At the end of the day, what you think of you matters, because that’s the springboard of change.  Only you can change you.  No one’s opinion is going to change you.

copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of body positivityToo often, we’re weighed down emotionally by other’s opinions.  And most people’s opinions are only partially informed at best, and too often, projections of their own insecurity at worst.

Most of of my life has been an act of translation.  I’m left handed, so I learned early how to adapt.  I know what to use my left hand for and what to use my right hand for.  Even in my adulthood though, I’m flexible enough to experiment.  Last week I learned that eating with my right hand slows me down and that helps me to take more time to enjoy what I’m eating.

People’s opinions still matter to me, but they matter less.  What used to mortify me now just annoys me.  People’s attempts to shame stick less.  Opinions are like assholes–everyone has one.  That doesn’t mean you have to show it to everyone.  After a lot of opinions from a lot of assholes, you realize that no one has a unique opinion.  Opinions and biases are shared, for better and worse.

It’s a long road to get out of the approval trap, to seek fulfillment in lieu of validation.  You may not always do everything “right”.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everything may not be the “way it’s supposed to be” or ideal.  Ideals aren’t real.  The reality of you is so much important that the ideas you want others to have of you.

Try to be kind to yourself and be flexible.  Adapt to your needs, not someone else’s projection of what you could or should be.

Choose Happiness. Choose Cheese.

“If only….”

How often do we say that to ourselves, “If only I had____,”  or “If only _________would happen”?

Today is the day to stop waiting for something or someone.  There are no ideal circumstances. Most of life is dusted with a bit of chaos.  It’s how we respond to the chaos and the fragmentation that’s important.

It’s not about being saccharine or blindly optimistic.  It’s about owning what’s your’s–your issues and concerns–and not carrying what doesn’t belong to you.  You can’t control what other people think or feel.  You can control who you hang out with, how you spend your time, etc.

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Photo by NastyaSensei Sens on Pexels.com

Today, choose some happiness for yourself.  For me this is trying a new cheese, butterkase.  Yes, it sounds a bit decadent.  I hope it is.  I saw it in the sales bin and took a small sample home.  I love cheese, but I also love the adventure of trying something new, something atypical–tasting a different culture.  I may not be ready this moment to hop a plane to Europe and sample some fromage, but I can still trek to my grocery store for a little adventure.

This may sound cheesy, but so often we get into ruts–the same old, same old–and that causes us some unhappiness.  Life gets blah…That’s when it’s time to try something new and it doesn’t have to be big…it could be as small as piece of gourmet cheese.

So often, food causes us stress and unhappiness.  We treat food as the enemy.  We buy into draconian eating do-s and don’ts that suck the joy out of eating.  Frankly, we are so privileged–we have more food than ever, little risk of famine and we still manage to take the joy out of eating.

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We need to replace our “if only-s” with “what if-s”.  That opens up so much more possibility and frankly, fun!  Happiness is choice.  Don’t wait on your happiness.  Choose it today and everyday.

Fears Separate Us from Our Prosperity

It’s amazing to me how much we buy based on our insecurity.  We buy creams to “correct” wrinkles.  We buy makeup to hide “flaws”.  We spend money on all sorts of costly cosmetic treatments to beat aging.  We buy into diet program after diet program to keep weight off, instead of dealing with the “why” of the weight.

Copy of body positivity (2)I think all of this buying into what we “should” look like or how we appear is more than vanity.  It belied a great amount of fear and insecurity–fears of over not being seen, fear of being out-of-control, fear of being judged and disrespected.

A few days ago, I was hanging out in a very tony area of Los Angeles, catching lunch between meetings at a casual lunch spot.  Every fear I mentioned above got triggered.  I noticed right when my plus size self walked in, it was like I was immediately out of place.  It was like no one saw me.  This area is high traffic for tourists, but there was no line after the lunch rush.  I sat for at least 10 min before a waiter approached me and then another 15 min just to get the glass of water I had asked for.  No one bothered to refill it.  Meanwhile, the lithe couple that was seated next to me five minutes after I arrived were served with much more attentiveness.  Newsflash:  the svelte woman ordered the same food I did–veggie quiche and a lightly dressed side salad.

It’s hard not to feel out of place sometimes.  I felt completely unseen at this lunch spot.  Normally, this would be the stuff of Yelp reviews, but instead of dumping my anger on Yelp, I wanted to see where that anger was coming from. So here it is:

I fear being unseen as a plus size woman in the world.  I fear having assumptions made about my self-care.  I fear having assumptions made about my personal finances due to my size.  I fear being made to feel out-of-place.  I fear being judged for how I appear to the world.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Though I was angry at how I was treated, I am grateful because I took a moment to understand where that anger was coming from instead of just being another unhappy, indignant customer.

And…that’s why it’s so easy to sell diet culture to the masses.  Most women are plus sized and they’re told they’re “less than”.  We fear being left out so we buy into the useless pills, the cosmetic offerings of the moment, all to push back against that fear of not mattering.  Just for today, take a moment before you whip out your credit card and ask yourself if you’re making a fear-based purchase, especially if it’s in regards to your appearance.  What made your feel that way and why?

Separating women from their hard-earned money (pay gap and all) is a means of controlling women.  Don’t let someone profit from your fear and insecurity.  Walk through world, proud, no matter what…even when tony tourist spots treat you like shit.

Where Are You Now?

It’s so hard to stay in the moment.  It’s easy to obsess over the past or ruminate about the future–the should-s, the could-s, the would-s–but the present is a very elusive thing.  For me, part of being more body positive is getting more present, heavy or not, plus size or not.  Copy of body positivity (1).png

There’s a lot of gifts in the present if we choose to accept them.  We are so used to an instant gratification culture that if the small changes we are making in our food and exercise routines aren’t noticed by others, we can get very discouraged.  The struggle is in the small steps, one step at a time, day after day.  Today, I chose not to drink my calories.  I stuck to water. I was present to my body today, instead of just shoving food in my mouth to make the hunger go away.

Think about the times that someone’s extended compassion to you.  You’ve probably felt their presence, that their focus and attention was on you.  It’s likely that you haven’t felt someone’s compassion while they were scrolling through the alerts on their phone.  We have to extend that presence and mindfulness to ourselves.  Before eating just to get the task over with and move on, what compassion can we extend to our bodies?

Likewise, we’re not the same people we were a year ago or even yesterday.  It’s sometimes hard to be honest with ourselves about where we truly are, instead focusing too much on where we’d like to be.  Have a moment of compassion for yourself today.  Say, “this is who I am today,” without judgement, without apologies.  Accepting is one of the biggest roadblocks, but it’s one that has to be dealt with.

Where are you now?

 

Keep it Simple

Take a deep breath…and now another….and another…another.  Now, tell yourself how you really feel.

It may surprise you.  Too often, we have a lot of external markers of being a “good person”, a good wife, a good business partner, a good…whatever.  There’s a lot of expectations that we take on and try to accommodate and negotiate.  It’s painful when those expectations are in conflict with each.  How often, though, do we acknowledge when those expectations are in conflict with what we really want or need? We make a lot of dirty bargain to get ahead, to get closer and those pile up, until the weight of our decisions, a pattern or self-neglect and self-abuse, becomes habit.

Does life feel dry?  Does it feel like things aren’t moving, no matter how hard and consistently you push?  The problem may be YOU, but not that you’re inherently flawed or unworthy or unequipped.  The problem may be that you’re repeating effort just to repeat effort and get your gold star for the day.

If life is feeling dry, ask yourself when was the last time you did a little self care, whatever that is for you.  So many of us are excellent caregivers, good friends, listeners, helpers, and we fail ourselves in the self care department.  It’s time to turn some attention back on you.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity (1) The notion of “self care” has become very Instagram-able.  Self care, though, doesn’t have to be expensive, hedonistic, excessive or even complicated.  If the idea of self-care stresses you out, that’s not self care.  Can you get a few moments with yourself today, where someone is not asking you for something?  Would listening to your favorite music as you work be a viable option for you?

Self care is a great idea; it’s a necessary idea.  As ideas popularize, we are asked to “buy into” them.  If money is a stressor, you don’t have to buy your self care.  In fact, you should try not to.  Spend a few minutes identifying areas of your life where you don’t feel whole or nurtured or perhaps you feel frantic and unsettled.  That’s where you probably need self care the most.  Then, find the smallest ways possible to bring some care of yourself to those areas.  Start small.

Sometimes, we discount the smallest, simplest solutions because they seem too easy or not big enough to be consequential.  Experiment, even if it seems silly.  At least with silly experiments you might get a good laugh.  Keep your self-care simple, actionable and look forward to your discoveries.

 

That One Special Picture

You know that person that uses the same picture from ten years ago on all their social media profiles?  That picture than shows them 15 pounds lighter, not as wrinkled, and probably at a wedding or some other special occasion where they are made up or dressed to the nines?  That person may have a body image issue or at least a problem living in the NOW.  That person may or may not be you, but many people have this issue.

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It’s heartbreaking to me that many people choose a photo from their more distant past as their profile photos.  It’s like they can’t accept or acknowledge fully where they are today.  Our whole personhood is not dictated by one image.  There’s no perfect image of us.  We change each day.  Too many of us privilege that “one special photo” of us and can’t stop to appreciate the beauty of our maturation, the beauty of our experience.  Some are even ashamed to put up a more current photo because of how they think others will react to their picture.

The next time you’re tempted to put up a photo from your not-too-recent-past as a profile photo, question your motives.  Are you trying to escape what you perceive to be your shortcomings in the present?  Do you feel the pressures of ageism?  Do you feel like the past was somehow better? Our social profiles are now the face we show to the world.  Less and less, we interact in person.  Computing has diminished the need to go to coffee with someone.  We can chat through a small window.  We don’t have to give someone our full attention if we don’t care to.  That small chat window also tricks us into believing that we somehow “save face”.  We can project that idealized version of ourselves from 10 or 15 years ago without much consequence.

It’s time to embrace who we are today, with our wrinkles and cellulite, with all the “flaws”.  We are more than one image, frozen in time.  We are living, breathing, maturing, evolving persons and we should all celebrate who we are NOW, today.