67 ways Denise Bidot SLAYS (Or How to Model 101)

Goddess-like in many a ways, denisebidot is here to SLAY!

So often we receive messages asking HOW CAN I BE A PLUS SIZE MODEL? I think images speak louder then words, probably the photographer in me, but in running through these images your questions may be answered in some capacity.

Yes, Denise definitely has more 'typical' model looks, so certainly the way she carries her weight in an hourglass fashion and the timeless beauty in her full lips and wide eyes make her obvious 'model-material' but what sets a model apart is having a muse-like quality. Acting is a significant part of that. What distinguishes a pretty face from a supermodel starts with attitude, someone who is pleasant to work with, easy-going and hardworking, someone who takes their job seriously, yet understands what a gift making a living as a model is, and someone who makes the image come ALIVE with emotion.

Standing facing the camera with your hand on your hip is indeed one way to strike a pose, and often works in a more catalog type shoot, but as VOLUP2 concentrates more on Editorial fashion, what we seek in a model is the capacity to emote, offer an energy that captivates the viewer and makes them wonder. Modeling is bringing a garment or accessory to life through you, it is more then being a pretty face and Denise is one model you want to study before your next shoot and take notes. How one crosses an arm over the body, or the arch in the neck, looking away, versus directly into the camera, or vice versa, these are all very subtle yet important attitudes which emanate emotion and set a direction for the image. 

Have a look at how Denise gets the job done with style and grace...

Photography NICK FINOCHI

Photo Captured by Chelzea

Photo Captured by Chelzea

Photo Captured by Chelzea

Photo Heather Hazzan

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Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Heather Hazzan

Denise Bidot by Heather Hazzan

Photo Rafael Clemente

Photo Rafael Clemente

Photo Nikki Gomez

Photo Nikki Gomez

Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Velvet d'Amour

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Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Jessica Lucassi

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Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Velvet d'Amour

Photo Velvet d'Amour 

Photo Francisco Lachowski

Photo Velvet d'Amour

Join Denise's movement THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO BE A WOMAN at http://www.thereisnowrongwaytobeawoman.com/

129 Miraculous MERMAID tattoos!

by Peter SAVIERI

                    !!!MERMAID FEVER!!!

Who doesn't love a mermaid/man?!

I have done my best to research credits for each and every artist, but would love it if anyone happens to be familiar with any of the artists whose work we have not been able to credit, could inform us, so we can give everyone the acknowledgement they so richly deserve.

Enjoy!

by Rachel FAUL

by Kanesha BRYANT

by SRG

by George BARBIER

by Steven Universe Tattoo 

by Heather ROSE

by Susanne KONIG

by GNIGHTIRENE

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by Artist Unknown

by Felipe KROSS 

by

by Jonas LIMA Tatt

by Kate PUGSLEY

by Rita NOUVELLE

by Artist Unknown

By Sam SMITH Tattoo

by Dani BIANCO Tattoo

by Nikki Andrews FARINO

by Russell JONES

by Paul DELACROIX

by Rubens CANTUNI

 by BOMBAYFOOR

by Artist Unknown 

Angelina Duplisea, is the creator of this artwork. The work is based on Rebecca Mears(Beccabae)..jpg

by Angelina DUPLISEA (The work is based on Rebecca Mears.)

by Artist Unknown

by Jonas LIMA Tattoo

by Artist Unknown

by Sandra CUNHA 

by Artist Unknown

by Ahmet CAMBAZ 

by Adrian BASCUR  

by Jonas LIMAS 

by Blake INOBI 

by Artist Unknown 

by Artist Unknown

by BOMBAY FOOR

by Artist Unknwon

by SURFLANDA

by THE POPPY TREE

 by Kristina KOZY

by Artist Unknown

by @This_Might_Hurt

by Artist Unknown

by Ly ALEISTER 

by Carol Mariath

by Artist  Unknown

by Hiasmyn L. TATUAGEM 

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by Jasmine Rebecca Art

by Hibrys

by Fawn GEHWEILER 

by RAFACIERA 

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by LAZERLIZ 

by Artist Unknown

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by Carla E. AUSTIN

by Artist Unknown

by El Tattoo

by June Jung

by Artist Unknown

by Susanne König

by Artist Unknown

by Paula SGARBI 

by Elisabeth MARKOV  

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Bruce LENNON 

by Artist Unknown

by Artist  Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

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by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Unknown Artist

by Sunset Tattoo NZ

by LAZERLIZ

by Artist Unknown

by Marla Moon

by Russell VAN SCHAICK

by TATTRX

by Paula SGARBI 

by TATICOMPTON 

by Sarah WYMAN

by Milton REISTATUADOR  

by Artist Unknown

by SUFLANDA 

by Jackie Dunn SMITH

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Eleanoir RIGBY

by Kristina KOZ  

by Artist Unknown

by YEMANJA

by Phillip WOLVES

by Artist Unknown

by Jean-Baptiste MONGE

by Artist Unknown

by Jackie Rabbit Tattoo

by Sanne VAGHI 

by Artist Unknown

by Dawnii FANTANA 

by Le NOU Tattoo

by Artist Unknown

by Liana HEE

 

by Diane Marlee

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

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by Artist Unknown

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by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Artist Unknown

by Robert KLINE

by Artist Unknown

by Bill WOGGON

by Mizushima NIOU 

by Unknown Artist

The ultimate PLUS SIZE HASHTAG guide!!!

What are some of the hashtag's out there that you may use to help get your body positive and plus size pics seen and shared?

Let's start with ours volup2 ! lol  #volup2isdiversity You may also throw in #volup2

We promote overall Diversity with an emphasis on curves...  

Photo of model Selini Angelini by Velvet d'Amour

Photo from VOLUP2's NUDE issue of Tess Holliday shot by Revecka Natalia 

The most popular hashtag, hands down, which started a revolution for it's famous founder tessholliday , is #effyourbeautystandards

Photo of Denise Bidot by Victoria Janashvili 

Another great hashtag was created by popular model denisebidot, who also happens to be a wonderful woman, and thus her insightful tag #thereisnowrongwaytobeawoman doesn't surprise me. There is also  #nowrongway  How right she is!

Marie Denee founder of The Curvy Fashionista blog posing for VOLUP2 shot by Stanley Debas 

mariedenee is a gem of a gal, stylin' and has the best blog on everything CURVY! If you want a chance to be seen - use her hashtag #tcfstyle 

VOLUP2 muse Georgina Horne by Velvet d'Amour

London-based Georgina Horne, fullerfigurefullerbust creator of the immensely popular blog- Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, has the hashtag #mybodyisabikinibody as well as having a bikini body, she has a knack to make delicious, healthy food so you can check that out at #fullerfigurefullerbustfood 

Lastly, if George were a SPICE GIRL she'd be SPORTY SPICE! with her inspiring #fullerfigurefullerbustsweating  movement and she just started a killer new Instagram chicksgetfitdone which highlights the fact that fitness is for everyone! So tag your sporty snaps with #chicksgetfitdone to be featured!

Callie Hetherington, as she appeared in VOLUP2's Black and White issue, shot by Velvet d'Amour

calliethorpe is another UK lovely with the sweetest Welsh accent you ever did hear! Her awesome blog is, From the Corners of the Curve, and has led her to much success. She has a delightful new Instagram, theconfidencecorner which is described as, "A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities." which you may be featured in if you add the hashtag #theconfidencecorner 

Megastar theashleygraham began the #beautybeyondsize hashtag

Edith Dohmen for Mart Visser

edithdohmen is a stylist known for her emphasis on the 'inbetweenies', those women considered too big for mainstream high end fashion, and too small to fit in the Plus category.  She hails from the Netherlands and her movement is perfectly summed up in her hashtag #styehasnosize     

Sexy Australian/Italian model stefania_model began the controversial #DropThePlus  movement, as she believes- "Maybe the plus-size label served a purpose to begin with, but it's now time for complete acceptance, for us to all just be called models and to stop the industry pigeonholing us." Her point is further accentuated with her tag #DropTheStigma

honorcurves is a self-love advocate and founder of the popular #honormycurves and #honorcurves 

 margotmeanie started the #alternativecurves hashtag to help "celebrate diverse alternative, quirky, goth and non-mainstream plus size fashion"  Way to go!

World traveling, style guru itsmekellieb created her blog, "And I Get Dressed" and the adjoining hashtag #andigetdressed She is a marketing maven and that definitely shows in her carefully curated site.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Kellie in London and my only regret was not having enough time to get to know her better!

The delightful megastar of the Plus size movement, gabifresh, first made her mark back in 2010 when she was voted to be MTV's first-ever Twitter Jockey. Since then her cutting edge blog GabiFresh has led her far, she coined the well known phrase #fatkini  which went viral and she ended up teaming up with SwimsuitsForAll to create her own line of stunning swimsuits which offers up to size 24 #gabifreshxswimsuitsforall Tag yours! 

Check out VOLUP2's video of Gabi during a Paris visit here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_r7NaF3GGc

 

kerosenedeluxe shot by Velvet d'Amour

 #visiblyplussize is seen as a response to the #droptheplus movement and aims to showcase women who are plus size and proud.

 

Essi Golden for rebdolls

essiegolden is a plus size model who created a movement through her awesome idea of a plus size pool party entitled the 'Golden Confidence Pool Party' on a rooftop in NYC which has since expanded to LA, Miami and New York! The hashtag #goldenconfidence has since been widely used by all!

 virgietovar is a total badass, and as such has been featured in VOLUP2's SUPERNATURAL issue. She created the popular hashtag #losehatenotweight which is well explained in the above photo.

 thecurvysoprano started the  #styleatanysize hashtag. How true!

Canadian beauty jobybach modeling for VOLUP2 shot by maxime_thibodeau

 #thickgirlzrock is great to tag to tout your curves!

 

Many plus size magazines have their own hashtags that can help draw attention to your pics- #slinksquad  #DareToWear  #skorchmagazine #plusmodelmag 

 

 garnerstyle wondrous, queen of style and founder of the go-to blog- Garnerstyle as well as the co-creator of thecurvycon , her hashtag -  #gogogarnerstyle

#imnoangel is a hashtag created by plus size retailer lanebryant as a response to Victoria Secret Angels. The #imnoangel initiative is meant to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. 

Photo of Neiiko by Velvet d'Amour for VOLUP2

#fatsion is another great tag to use when sharing your stylish plus size outfits.

the_publisized is a blog started by plus size model and journalist Mayra Louise whose hashtag #happyisnotadresssize came about "After years of falling in and out of love with my own body, I finally came to the understanding that #happyisnotadresssize 

Photo of nicole_mahany by Velvet d'Amour for VOLUP2 

 #plus_isamust is another awesome hashtag to show Plus Size pride!

 

 fashionforward_plus Cherice Shana is the founder of the #fashionforwardplus movement. Showcase all your trendy plus size threads with this perfect tag.

Johanna shot by Velvet d'Amour for VOLUP2's ECSTASY edition

 #boldncurvy is a great hashtag to highlight your daring looks!

estheralaframboise by Velvet d'Amour    #respectmycurves another Plus size hashtag that says it all!

estheralaframboise by Velvet d'Amour

   #respectmycurves another Plus size hashtag that says it all!

lapecosapreciosa is one of many to use the #lifethrowcurves hashtag. Looking great!

simonemariposa began the brilliant hashtag #WeWearWhatWeWant

flawsofcouture Sashagai began the killer designer apparel, 'Flaws of Couture' which started the #FatConceitedBitch and #TorontosFluffy tag. Love their brash designs!

VOLUP2 blogger amayzin began her own powerful hashtag #BEFEARLESSBEBOLDBEYOU

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khaleesidelrey began the #curvesreign hashtag craze as she believes we all deserve to feel like royalty in our bodies. Her hashtag movement inspired chubbycartwheels Shawna Farmer's gorgeous CURVES REIGN collection for her brilliant brand CHUBBY CARTWHEELS.

Speaking of chubbycartwheels Shawna made a killer Tshirt which sparked it's own hashtag #dietindustrydropout  seen here on hottie softnbratty

 kobi_jae came up with the hashtag #whatfatgirlsACTUALLYwear which asserts body positivity in fashion. Way to go!

anansasims who is the daughter of supermodel Beverly Johnson, used the hashtag #fashionnovacurve as she was sporting fashionnovacurve apparel She also has her own hashtag #sexyisntasizeitsanattitude 

mustangsallytwo shot by Velvet d'Amour

 #fatspiration #fatspo #fatshion are great fat positive tags to post with your curvy pics

 

Popular curve model iskra headed up the #everyBODYisbeautiful hashtag

whitneywaythore the star of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life and the YouTube sensation “A Fat Girl Dancing”, who authored "I Do It With The Lights On" came up with the #nobodyshame hashtag

Lucia Morris  #ucantwearthat by Velvet d'Amour for VOLUP2's REBEL issue

There you have a small slice of all the awesome tags created to celebrate the body positive community! Feel free to add more in the comments so we can make the list even more complete! And have a peek below for more!

 #bodyacceptance #fatbabe #fatvanity #plussizestylewatch  #plusandproud #LoveYourBody #fat #curvy #selflove #MeMyBodyAndLove #NeverTooMuchAlwaysEnough  #allbodiesaregoodbodies  #chubby #selfiesforselflove #radfat #beautyatanysize #fatbabe #takingupspace #bopowarrior #fatgirlscan #fuckfatphobia #bbw #bigarmnoharm  #fatbabepower #fatandhappy #sproutingselflove #pizzasisters4lyfe #ignoretheshould #actuallyplus #bigandbeautiful #glorifyingobesity  #immyownbodygoals #confidenceiskey #fatgirlshiking #curvygirlsvip #idressforme  #unbothered #stopbodyshaming #riotsnotdiets #radicalbodylove #nobodyshame #VBO #thunderthighs #radicalbodylove #wearyourvoice #thebodyisnotanapology #adipositivity #fightfatphobia  #yourfavoritefatgirl #fatandfree #fatactivism #ThisFreeLife  #MyBigFatFabLife #bellylove #selfloveisthebestlove #lovetheskinyourin  #daretobe #girlswithcurves #perfectlyme #plussizemenswear #bopoman #nobs #brawn #bigandtallmodel #bopoman #plussizemalemodel #glamorplus #hatersgonnahate  #noBS #curves #curvespo #curvescan #brawnsquad #happyinyourownskin #ownyourcurves #bodydiversity  #plussizeclothing #Forever21Plus #asoscurve #asoslovescurve  #SpottedInEvans  #rue107 #ruebabe  #rebdolls  #styleoversize #OwnYourCurves #fullbeauty #readytostare  #TorridInsider #extremecurves #curvymodel #thighsfordays #hourglassfigure #bebodyaware #loveyourcurves #plussizemeplz #fatgirlsbewinning #purebodylove #psbloggers #styleissizeless #dreambig #livelovecurves #iembodyme  #LuvMyThick  #CurvyGirlMagic #Killerkurves  #ImNoModel #ImNoModelEither #BoldQueens #psootd #yoursneedsme #flightofthefatgirl #wearethethey  #bigsiscloset #thisisplus #appreciateyourcurves#curveculture #FaceYourCurves #FlauntYourCurves #GiveMeBody #BoldnCurvy #fatpositivelondon #FabUPlus #russianplussize #fatgirlflow #flawlessfatbabes #ronde #zizzifashion #plussizegermany #plussizebeauties #stylefilesplus #instaplus  #aussiecurves #australianpsfashion #17sundays #stylefilesplus #mybodypositive #plussizeunderwear #plusmommy #stopwaitingontheweight #fatgirlshit #plussizebr #amesuascurvas #blogueiraplussize #lookplussize #beyoutiful #plussizeblogueiras #modaplussize#modaplussizebrasil #liveyourcurves #eshakti #curvypinup #chunkylegsfordays #endbodyshaming #beautyisnotgeneric #largeandlovely #plussizecutie #plussizediva #plussizelatina #luvthyself #womanwithin #psfashiongawds #bbwladies #plussizeladies #Thickandproud #pariscurves #diversityinplus #unapologeticallyfat #fatglamlife 

ENJOY! 

15 Poetic Plus Muses (A fine romance)

Muse mjuːz/ noun

1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.

2. a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

APUESTAPRINCESA https://www.instagram.com/apuestaprincesa/

KITTEHINFURS https://www.instagram.com/kittehinfurs/

LVERNON2000 https://www.instagram.com/lvernon2000/ 

FRESHIEISNTCOOL https://www.instagram.com/freshieisntcool/

MEGMODELS https://www.instagram.com/megmodels/

CURVYCAMPBELL https://www.instagram.com/curvycampbell/

AVA.BOUGAINVILLEA https://www.instagram.com/ava.bougainvillea/

AFATTYFOX https://www.instagram.com/afattyfox/

KHALEESIDELRAY https://www.instagram.com/khaleesidelrey/

KATESHAPPINESSOURNEY https://www.instagram.com/kateshappinessjourney/

ERIKALIPPS https://www.instagram.com/erikalipps/

ABEARNAMEDTROY https://www.instagram.com/abearnamedtroy/

LENELYNN_ https://www.instagram.com/lenelynn_/

CHANELLE_MUSTAFA https://www.instagram.com/chanelle_mustafa/

THICKFITANDFABULOUS https://www.instagram.com/thickfitandfabulous/

Tattoo artist Katie McGowan Interview by May Touma

Katie McGowan

I was given a new assignment to interview a lady tattoo artist. I immediately went on the net to Google “Katie McGowan”. I instantly fell in love with Katie! What I loved most about her were her fun and colorful tattoos, her unique fashion sense, her bold lipstick choices and her wicked hairstyles! If we were besties, I would definitely raid her entire wardrobe and her makeup collection. 

Katie has 4 years of tattooing experience under her belt. She has been in the tattoo industry since 2010. She does not consider herself just as a “great female tattoo artist” but as a “great tattoo artist”. I love that statement because Katie is empowering women, especially other lady tattoo artists, by stomping into a male dominated industry, and breaking down gender roles. She is all about supporting and uplifting other female tattoo artists in the industry and that is something worth celebrating!

 

Princess

1) I absolutely love your style! Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?

My fashion inspo comes from many places. Current trends, drag queens, pop stars, queer culture, Barbie, fashion magazines, and women everywhere of all shapes and sizes that I pass in the streets. 

2) Where do you love shopping for your clothes? Why?

Lately I've really been loving modcloth.com because they have new stuff pretty frequently and an excellent selection of plus size pieces. I also enjoy shopping at vintage stores. One of my favorite clothing items is a baggy denim jacket with fringe that I bought from a vintage store in Rome. 

 

3) How do you choose to identify with your physical self and why? (ie: curvy, plus-size, fat etc.)

 I very lovingly refer to myself as "fat." I love calling the plus size section the "fat girl" section because I believe the word "fat" is cute and endearing. I don't have a negative connotation with that word when it's being used in an empowering and uplifting way. 

4) What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their body image?  

There is no exact formula to being "beautiful" or "attractive." Don't believe everything you see on tv or see online. You don't have to fit a certain mold to be beautiful, and most importantly, carrying yourself with confidence is 95% of beauty in my opinion. There is room for all body types and shapes in this world and "non-traditional" beauty is not only empowering, but necessary.

5) Do you have a style icon who inspires you? What about them inspires you?

Betsey Johnson, Ru Paul, pretty much all the Kardashian-Jenners (yes, I'll admit it), Dolly Parton, Parisian women, Coco Chanel, my mom. These people are inspirational to me because they have a genuine love and appreciation for fashion. They respect it and clearly have fun with it. 

6) When did you discover your talent as a tattoo artist? 

I grew up having an interest in art, and I started to draw when I was pretty young. I realized I wanted to be a tattoo artist after I turned 18 and started hanging out my local tattoo shop. 

7) How did you begin your journey into becoming a tattoo artist?

In 2005, after realizing I wanted to become a tattoo artist, I lucked out and scored a job at my local tattoo shop. I started off piercing for five years as a means to get into tattooing. After five years, I began tattooing in 2010. In 2012 I started tattooing at Black Cobra, where I'm still at currently. 

 

8) How would you describe your style as a tattoo artist?

I tattoo a lot of bold, colorful "girly" imagery that has a neo-traditional feel. I love tattooing mandalas, flowers, lady heads, animals, cool shit!

9) What other skill sets should a great tattoo artist have? Why? 

Aside from being able to design and execute a nice tattoo, a "great" tattoo artist should also be able to communicate well with clients and demonstrate excellent bedside manner. Being kind to your clients and having an understanding from the beginning what the client should expect from you design-wise shows that you care about what you do and makes the process a lot smoother. 

11) If a plus size person gets a tattoo and then loses a lot of weight and vice versa, would the tattoo change? Should that even be something people worry about? 

 A lot of that depends on the placement of the tattoo and how much weight is actually gained or lost. It also has to do with genetics and your skin elasticity. That being said, it's been rare when I've encountered a person that has lost or gained so much weight that their tattoo is affected majorly. Typically, tattoos placed on or near the stomach are the most affected. 

12) What are some things people need to know about tattoo expos before attending one? 

Every artist is different as far as how they book appointments for tattoo conventions. Some book up quickly as soon as they announce they are attending, and some prefer to take walk-ups at the show. I prefer to book appointments beforehand so I can have a good idea of what my weekend may be like and what I supplies I should pack.

 Oh, and make sure to not wash your tattoo in the bathroom at the convention center!! Haha, but for real! There are SO many people walking around with germs at the convention and pretty much all of them are touching their fresh tattoos, so you should consider every object in the bathroom there to be way gross. Public restrooms are a nasty place to wash your tattoo! 

13) Would you recommend someone who is getting a tattoo for the first time, to get it at a tattoo expo? Why or why not?

I think it would be fine either way, to go to a convention or going to a shop. A shop may feel a little less hectic and more comfortable than a show, however. 

 

14) You have beautiful tattoos! Can you please share with our readers the story behind your body art?  

I have tattoos for many reasons! Some have a personal meaning behind them, some are just goofy, some are well done, and some aren't. I got several of them just because I thought they would look cool. Most of the tattoos I wear are fun and colorful. I have two black and grey tattoos, and they're both portraits. One is of Morrissey, and there other is of Dolly Parton when she was on the cover of Playboy in the 70's.  

 

15) Can you describe what it is like to be a day in the life of a tattoo artist? 

My morning usually starts around 10:00am. I wake up and draw for my appointments that day, and sometimes I'll wake up a little earlier if I need extra drawing time. I drink an iced latte and eat an Amy's frozen dinner (I keep a variety stocked in my freezer). If I'm in a hurry and skip lunch, I just plan on ordering the #6 (cut in half, add peppers) from Jimmy John's later in the day. I get to the shop shortly before we open at 1:00. I usually do two tattoos a day and leave the shop anywhere from 9pm - midnight. When I get home, I eat dinner, watch nba-tv, play on my phone, and sleep. Tomorrow, repeat. 

 

16) The tattoo industry is a male dominated industry. Do you believe you had to work extra hard to prove yourself as a female tattoo artist? Why or why not?

I get asked this pretty frequently. I don't think I'll ever feel like the industry isn't a "boys' club." There's lots of sexism and womanizing that happens, and it's pretty blatant. I think that a lot of women experience feelings of not being taken as seriously as their male peers. I also believe that women are oftentimes judged first by their appearance and then by their work second. It's so important for women to support each other and hold each other up, as lady tattooers are few and far between, and most of us can share at least one story of how we have felt disadvantaged or disrespected in our industry because of our gender.

17) What advice would you give a new female tattoo artist who is looking to create her own brand and style?

Figure out what you like and what represents you. This may take years, really. So be patient. Once you begin to figure out what your style is, then you can hone in on it and start to develop it, which can take more years. You must love what you're doing to put in all the time! Also, it's important to put yourself out there and promote like crazy! It may seem un-cool at first to promote yourself on social media, but really if you're putting time and energy into self-promotion, that's the ultimate way of showing that you give a shit about yourself and your business!!

18) What would you say helped you the most throughout your journey as a tattoo artist?

What has helped me the most as a ‘tattooer’ is working with other artists that care a lot about their craft. Having co-workers that are talented and create amazing tattoos everyday is a great inspiration. I also love looking at all the amazing tattoos that are being posted on Instagram by so many ‘tattooers’ from all over. Talented female ‘tattooers’ are especially motivating to me!

19) You were on Ink Master Season 6, what is your fondest memory from the show and why?

I thoroughly enjoyed having my hair and makeup done by professionals!!

20) Matt O'Baugh was your mentor on Ink Master, what has he helped you learn during your time on the show? 

Matt O'Baugh handled pressure and anxiety-producing situations on the show very well, and I tried to do the same. He also managed his time really well, so I tried to take a page from him and do that too during the tattoo elimination challenges (since they're timed). 

21) Which shop do you currently tattoo from and where is it located?

Black Cobra, Little Rock, Arkansas

 

22) Are you involved in any future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

I sell prints, stickers, and shirts on my Instagram, and I post all my travel dates for conventions and guest spots on there too!!

23) Where can our readers find more information about you?

Follow me on Instagram: @katietattoos

My snapchat is @katie.tattoos and my website is www.katietattoos.com 

 

INTERVIEW WITH JEN MCLELLAN CHILDBIRTH EDUCATOR AND PLUS SIZE ADVOCATE

Jen McLellan is a published author and certified childbirth educator who advocates for plus size women. She promotes positive information to empower healthy decision making during pregnancy. Within her blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, she helps women navigate the world of plus size pregnancy, shares tips for embracing your body, and laughs along with the adventures of motherhood. Her work has been featured in major publications such as Yahoo Shine, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, and International Doula. In addition she co-authored the Amazon bestseller, The Peachie Moms Guide to Body Love for Moms. Jen is also a skilled patient advocate, professional speaker, wife, and mother to a charismatic 6 year old.

When and why did you decide to start ‘Plus Size Birth’?

When I became pregnant, after the shock and joy wore off, I went online. I searched the internet like most newly pregnant women do, I suppose. The thing is, the internet isn’t a very kind place for fat women. When I Googled, “Plus Size and Pregnant” I read that I would develop all kinds of complications, have a cesarean birth, and that I was a terrible person for wanting to become a mother as a fat woman. I went from being so excited to rather devastated about my circumstances. Yet, I have been a bigger girl for most of my life and had never allowed my size to define me. So I went to water aerobics three times a week, hired a doula, and five months into my pregnancy switched care from an OB-GYN to a midwife. I was determined to NOT let Google search results define me as a pregnant woman or mother. 

As my belly began to grow, so did my love for my body! On August 24, 2010, after a completely healthy pregnancy, I had a natural childbirth and it was the most transformative experience of my life. I not only became a mother on that day, but I developed a love for my body that will never be diminished.

After settling into motherhood for a few months, I felt compelled to share my story. I wanted there to be another narrative out there about what it’s like to be plus size and pregnant. I knew I wasn’t the first plus size woman to have such a healthy and positive experience. Yet stories like mine were difficult to find. So I started my blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, and that soon became the Plus Size Birth website you know today.

What was your experience like as a plus size pregnant woman?

As I shared above, I really worked hard to take good care of my body and connect with a care team who had more belief in my body than I did. I glowed and had never felt more beautiful! 

What resource would you recommend to plus size pregnant women? What do you love most about this resource?

It feels weird to promote myself but I’ve dedicated over five years of my life to developing resources for plus size women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I’ve also become certified as a childbirth educator and have traveled the country speaking to birth professionals about supporting plus size women. I never imagined starting my little blog would develop into my life’s work but I’m incredibly passionate about what I do.

The Plus Size Birth website has images of plus size women who are pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding and babywearing. Birth stories that range from uplifting and empowering to really shocking in regard to how some people are mistreated. I’ve developed a directory list of size friendly doulas and providers as well a lot of supportive and positive resources for plus size women in all stages of motherhood from trying to conceive to well into parenthood.

If you had one piece of advice to offer a plus size pregnant woman, what would you tell her?

The one thing I’ve found can make the biggest impact in a plus size woman’s pregnancy is connecting with a size friendly care provider. That is, a care provider who practices evidence-based, compassionate care. A woman can do everything within her power to have a healthy pregnancy. However, if she connects with a care provider who doesn’t believe in her body’s ability to have a healthy outcome, then she’s often fighting an uphill battle.

This can come into play with a woman being told she will develop complications during her pregnancy. Yes, there are increased risks associated with being plus size and pregnant; however, a woman won’t automatically test positive for something like gestational diabetes just because she weighs more than 200 lbs.

It’s worth the time to really interview your care provider and to ask questions like, “What’s your experience working with women of size?” to make sure you’ve connected with a care provider who doesn’t have a personal bias against people of size. This is so important to me that I have a free resource guide on my website to help women connect with size friendly care providers.


In your opinion, how can care providers be more inclusive when taking on plus size pregnant women as their patients?

It starts with providing individualized care and meeting women where they are! If a woman comes into pregnancy with diabetes, for example, then she has unique needs that need to be met. Yet, most women don’t come into pregnancy with preexisting conditions, therefore, it’s important to follow the trajectory of her pregnancy while treating her with dignity.

This is common practice under the midwifery model of care, however it’s important to note that not all midwives are size friendly. Therefore, it’s important that care providers examine their own personal biases when it comes to caring for larger patients. 

When providers are size friendly they make sure their patients needs are met; from simply having a comfortable place to sit (chairs without arms) to making sure they have the proper equipment (like a large/thigh size blood pressure cuff). With 60% of women in their childbearing years being classified as overweight or obese, it’s time we start supporting women of size with compassion rather than making them feel ashamed.

From personal experience I can share that connecting with a size friendly care provider didn’t just impact my pregnancy and birth but helped me to be more body positive overall! It also made me realize that I deserve to be treated with this kind of care now and forever.    

Why do you think plus size pregnant women receive so much backlash?

Unfortunately, in our culture, it’s still socially acceptable to mistreat and shame people of size. When it comes to pregnancy, if you open up a pregnancy magazine or watch a pregnancy commercial, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who is plus size. It’s not normalized for us anywhere and, as I shared within my story, most of the information you find online is negative.

I believe change comes from sharing more images and stories of plus size pregnancy and birth! That’s how we can help to normalize plus size pregnancy from something that’s stigmatized and criticized to something that simply part of life.

What are some of the challenges you faced being plus sized and pregnant? How did you overcome these challenges?

I have to say that I was lucky. Aside from the messages I read on my Google search, I connected with an incredible care team and had the support I wish for everyone!

Still, I hear countless stories from women who have been mistreated by their care providers. Some women are told they must have a c-section at their first prenatal visit. I’ve even heard from women who have been told their vagina is too fat to birth their baby! It’s outrageous and makes me so upset. 

What do you most enjoy about advocating for plus size pregnant women? Why?

Everything! I love the online community I’ve built and the way the women support one another. I adore the e-mails I receive weekly from women who thank me for the resources I’ve developed. I even enjoy the hard stuff – like supporting women who feel really upset about how their birth turned out or those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy.

I do this work because I know what it can be like to receive outstanding and dignified care. And I sure don’t plan on slowing down until plus size women are treated with more compassion than shame!

Where can our readers find you on social media?
 


Facebook is where I spend most of my time with a community of over 178,700 plus size women! You can find us at https://www.facebook.com/plussizemommymemoirs/ as well as our private Facebook forum - https://www.facebook.com/groups/plussizemommymemoirsforum/. I’m also a big fan of Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/plusmommy/.  



Are there any projects that you have been involved in that you would like to promote to our readers?

I’d love to share that I recently compiled a guide on plus size pregnancy that answers all of the questions I receive daily. From where to find cute maternity clothes to how to love a belly that often looks more like a “B” than a “D”. This guide also answers the questions I wish people would ask more often like; what really are the increased risks, how to reduce risks and what’s a doula. I’m incredibly proud of this resource and would like to offer $5 off to anyone reading this now (use the code volup2)! http://plussizebirth.com/my-plus-size-pregnancy-guide/


MAY TOUMA is a Youth Worker who has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University in Toronto. She is a bit of a rebel who likes to challenge the status quo. She is passionate, boisterous and wears her heart on her sleeve. May has a personal style blog at www.boldlycurvy.blogspot.ca. She loves experimenting and having fun with fashion.

 

Gorda Flor par Helemozão Fotopoesia, Photographe brésilienne

Avant tout, présentez-vous !

Antes de tudo, apresente-se!

Helemozão, femme de la périphérie au parcours atypique, qui poétise ses idées autant que son regard en cherchant sa place au soleil sans piétiner la tête d’autrui.

21 ans, photographe depuis les 4 dernières années, résidente du quartier de Brotas, Salvador – Bahia au Brésil

Mes photographes parlent de ma réalité, de ma vie quotidienne, de ma relation directe ou indirecte avec les espaces que je côtoie ; je parle de mes idéologies, de ma militance. Je cherche à aider les femmes à se libérer des critères établis par la société et à autonomiser l’homme et la femme noirs à travers mes images. Ainsi, j’éternise des moments, en me démontrant à travers les autres, me perdant, me retrouvant, comme faisant presque mon autoportrait.

Helemozão, mulher periférica, que faz corre sem miséria, poetizando no olhar e nas ideias, buscando seu lugar ao sol sem pisar na cabeça de ninguém.

21 anos, fotografa ha 4 anos, moradora do bairro de Brotas, Salvador – BA, Brasil.

Minha fotografia fala da minha realidade, do meu cotidiano, da minha relação direta ou indireta com os espaços que percorro, falo das minhas ideologias, da minha militância. Busco através das minhas imagens e textos ajudar as mulheres se libertarem dos padrões estabelecidos na sociedade, busco o empoderamento do homem e a mulher negra. E assim, vou eternizando momentos, me lendo no outro, me perdendo me encontrando, quase um autorretrato.

Depuis quand faites-vous de la photo et comment cette passion vous est-elle venue ?

Desde quando você tira fotos e como surgiu esta paixão?

Ce qui m’a menée à choisir ma profession était une tentative de faire un investissement, en achetant une caméra photographique. Au début, c’était seulement un passe-temps, mais après avoir commencé à étudier et à me dédier, j’ai compris qu’y échapper n’était plus possible. Je n’ai pas suivi une formation académique à l’université ; j’ai fait un cours technique à l’école Escola de Arte e tecnologia (Oi Kabum) où je suis resté presque 2 ans, à étudier les arts visuels, en général, et la composition photographique. Au début de cette formation, j’ai commencé à étudier ma vie, ma routine, à comprendre que la poésie de la photo ne s’arrête pas après la technique et c’est à ce moment-là que j’ai commencé à écrire mes projets en qualité d’auteure.

O que me levou a escolher minha profissão foi a tentativa de fazer um investimento, que foi comprando uma câmera fotográfica. No começo era só um robe, e depois que comecei a estudar e a me dedicar percebi que eu já não existia mais sem desenhar com a luz, não sou formada em faculdade, fiz um curso técnico da Escola de Arte e tecnologia (Oi Kabum) onde fiquei quase dois anos, estudando arte visual no geral e os componentes da fotografia. No curso comecei a estudar a minha vida, a minha rotina, a entender a poesia da fotografia para além da técnica, e foi ai que comecei a escrever meus projetos autorais.

Comment vous est venue l'idée de cette série "GORDA FLOR, entre curvas e cores" ?

Como surgiu a ideia desta série "GORDA FLOR, entre curvas e flores"?

Les projets qui parlent d’un corps en surpoids sont hors-norme ; cela est advenu après avoir vu la souffrance que ma mère vivait, en étant une femme ronde, une « Mulher Gorda » (une femme ronde) noire qui ne se conformait à aucun critère établi par la société. Dès mon enfance, j’ai vu la lutte par laquelle ma mère menait à cause des stéréotypes, les préconceptions ainsi que la difficulté qu’elle éprouvait pour se trouver des vêtements, la contrainte qu’elle vivait en essayant de perdre du poids et en n’y arrivant pas, les jugements des autres auxquels elle était confrontée. Je savais qu’être une personne en surpoids ne signifiait pas nécessairement que quelqu’un mangeait trop, qu’une personne ne faisait pas d’activité physique ou mangeait seulement de la malbouffe et je devais faire en sorte que le monde comprenne cela.

Os projetos que falam do corpo Gordo, fora dos padrões, surgiu por conta de eu ver o sofrimento de minha mãe, uma Mulher Gorda, Preta que não cabia em nenhuma fôrma estabelecida pela sociedade. Desde de pequena via a luta que minha mãe passava, pelo seu estereotipo, via o preconceito, o quanto era difícil achar roupas, o quando era duro tentar emagrecer e não consegui, o julgamento das pessoas. Eu sabia que ser gordo não significa que necessariamente você come demais, ou que você não faz atividade física, ou que você só come besteira. E eu precisa dizer isso para o mundo.

De quelle manière avez-vous construit ce projet ? Avez-vous fait un travail de repérage ? Connaissiez-vous les personnes auparavant ?

De que maneira você construiu este projeto? Você fez algum trabalho de reconhecimento? Você conhecia as pessoas antes?

Je suis également passée par quelques jugements concernant mon corps en entendant des commentaires tels que : « Cette femme ronde est terrible ! » ; « Vous n’avez pas réussi à trouver la taille de vêtement que vous vouliez ? » ou qu’une pièce vestimentaire ne me servirait pas, qu’elle ne m’irait pas bien, que je dois couvrir mon corps entier car montrer un corps en surpoids, ce n’est pas légal. De plus, j’avais commencé à comprendre ce qu’est la diversité des corps ronds, qu’être ronde ce n’est pas dépasser la taille 54, que nous avons notre diversité et que nous pouvons souffrir de différentes sortes mais qu’au final, nous avions juste besoin de connaître où nous positionner afin de comprendre l’origine des paroles.

Un de ces projets est le « Gorda Flor » (littéralement, la grosse fleur). J’ai pris les premières photos, mais j’en ai perdu une partie dû à un manque d’organisation ; du coup, j’ai refait le tout en collaborant avec une femme de plus.

Também passei por alguns processos de corpo, esta gorda era terrível, não conseguir usar aquela roupa que você desejava, ou ouvir que aquilo não cabe em você, que aquela roupa não fica legal em você, que você precisa cobrir o corpo todo, porque mostrar o corpo gordo não é legal. Também comecei a perceber a diversidade do corpo gordo, que ser gorda não é ser acima de do 54 e que temos nossa diversidade e com isso podemos sofrer de formas diferentes, só precisamos entender em que local estamos para saber nosso local de fala.

Um desses Projetos foi o Gorda Flor. Fiz as primeiras fotos, mas acabei perdendo uma parte delas, por falta de organização e então refiz e agreguei mais uma mulher.

La série est très colorée. Est-ce un choix purement esthétique ?

A sé rie é bem colorida. É uma escolha puramente estética?

Le projet a eu l’appui du Blog Baiana et s’est déroulé dans un des plus beaux lieux de Salvador (BA), le quartier Santo Antonio où l’on peut observer diverses couleurs, des couleurs vibrantes. L’utilisation des couleurs a été incluse pour refléter la diversité des femmes, la tentative de démontrer leur existence. De plus, les couleurs accentuent la joie des mannequins.

O projeto contou com apoio do Blog Baiana, e aconteceu em um dos cenários mais belos de Salvador (BA), o bairro no Santo Antônio, onde podemos encontrar diversas cores, cores vibrantes, a utilização das cores é na ideia de diversidade das mulheres, na tentativa de mostrar sua existência. As cores também mostram a alegria das modelos.

Pouvez-vous nous donner votre définition de "Gorda Flor" ?

Você pode nos dar a definição de "Gorda Flor"?

L’éditorial « Gorda Flor » a pour objectif d’aider et d’autonomiser les femmes en surpoids, à travers la photographie et ce, indépendamment de leur taille et en transmettant comme idée que les courbes sont l’une des forces de la beauté car la place de la femme est là où elle veut être, peu importe sa taille. Le nom « Gorda » est une tentative de déconstruire ce terme qui, pour la plupart du temps, est utilisé de façon péjorative et le « Flor », c’est la fragilité et le fait que tout comme une fleur, la beauté d’une femme est indépendante à sa taille. Le « Gorda Flor » vise à s'étendre et à créer un espace de discussion pour les femmes en surpoids, pour leurs luttes quotidiennes quant au respect et à l’égalité ; pour ces femmes qui sont encore dans un processus d’acceptation de leur corps. Le deuxième éditorial de « Gorda Flor » a réuni cinq filles baianas. J'ai déjà été en contact avec certaines d'entre elles suite à un projet avec une marque visant l'autonomisation des noirs et les corps hors-norme (N Black). Certaines filles étaient hébergées chez cet organisme et d’autres non.

Par contre, le projet a pour but de photographier des filles qui n’ont jamais participé à un éditorial, de donner de la visibilité à celles qui n’en avaient pas afin qu’elles puissent se voir toutes sous un autre angle. Nous savons que dans la mode et avec cette incompréhension des femmes rondes, il y a des critères et des normes qui n’existent pas dans « Gorda Flor ».

O Editorial Gorda Flor tem o objetivo de ajudar a empoderar através da fotografia mulheres gordas, independente do seu manequim, transmitindo a beleza e força das suas curvas, porque o lugar da mulher é onde ela quiser, seja ela gorda ou não. O Nome Gorda é a tentativa de descontruir esse termo que grande parte das vezes é usado de forma pejorativa, e o Flor é a delicadeza, a beleza da mulher independentemente do tamanho da flor. O Gorda Flor pretende ganhar extensão e criar um espaço de discussões sobre as mulheres gordas, suas lutas diárias por respeito e igualdade, mulheres essas, que ainda podem estar em processo de entendimento do seu corpo. Neste segundo Editorial o Gorda Flor contou com a participação de cindo meninas baianas, algumas delas tive o contato a partir de um ensaio de uma marca que visa o empoderamento do negro e do corpo fora dos padrões (N Black), umas já tinham pousada e outras não.

Mas o projeto visa fotografar meninas que nunca participaram de nenhum editorial, dar visibilidade a quem ainda não tem, para que todas consigam se ver, até porque sabemos que a moda plus que vemos não contemplam todas as mulheres gordas, existem padrões para posar, e padrões é uma coisa que não existe no Gorda Flor.

 Traduction (du portugais vers le français) : Tanya-Michelle Contente

Relecture (texte portugais) : Jonas Simberg


blacky.jpg

« Avec son bagage intellectuel axé sur le management d’affaires et la gestion des entreprises, Angélique Marguerite Berthe Diène aka Blacky Gyan dirige A'S de la Perfection, un concept-store éthique et solidaire alliant africanité et modernité : mode, design, photographie, ... et créé par son jeune frère, Stefdekarda et a fondé R Magazine ou la re-naissance de l’Art qui se veut, à travers le monde, être le miroir d'artistes ou d’arts connus mais surtout "inconnus" ou méconnus. Elle est dans une perspective de construire le rêve africain et a, notamment, co-lancé Afro Women Workshops, un regroupement de femmes entrepreneures «africaines» de souche ou de coeur. »

INTERVIEW WITH AKIRA ARMSTRONG CEO OF PRETTY BIG MOVEMENT

Being a plus sized lady myself my attention is always grabbed by any kind of open body positivity which is why I was drawn to writing for VOLUP2. I have also seen your Pretty Big Movement video’s on Facebook and other social media, your ethos is amazing.  I love the idea of a no judgement environment for plus size ladies to dance. 

I love the sense of empowerment dancing brings me, what was your inspiration to start a plus size dance troop?

The thing that inspired me to start a plus size company was the mere fact that there was not a platform for plus size women professional dancers to express their true talent. As a young woman I have always struggled with my weight and overlooked on booking gigs in the entertainment industry because of my size. Therefore, I set out to create my own lane and to pave the way for other fill figured curvy dancers as well.

Would you ever bring out a plus size active ware range based on the cute outfits I have seen the dancers wearing on your website, for all curvy ladies to dance and work out while looking amazing like yourself and your fellow dancers?

I would love to bring out my very own plus size dance active wear. I think it is essential for plus size women to feel sexy even in workout attire. The gear would definitely compliment what you see on my fellow members on my website.

Pretty Big Movement are very well known as part of the body positive movement, are there any thoughts about expanding to other areas, like the UK?

It is my goal to expand my Pretty BIG Movement in the UK if the opportunity presents itself. I am actually working on brand extension in other area in the local tri-state area. My overall goal is to spread Pretty BIG Movement globally.  If given the chance to bring PBM to come and spread the love in the UK I would be on the next flight smoking.

What was it like to work with some other amazing women like Jazmine Sullivan, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé?

Working with Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Jasmin Sullivan was truly a humbling and amazing experience. They are beautiful and talented in their own right. All three of them exude confidence, women empowerment, and sex appeal.

Are you ever nervous performing at such prestigious events like Female Hip Hop Hour Awards and performances for Black Lives Matter?

Honestly, I am always nervous every time I perform but once I step foot on the stage, my nervousness goes right out the window.

When you first started the move your curves workshop did you ever dream it would gain so much popularity?

When I first began my Move your Curves Workshop I started it with the intent to bring awareness to my brand and to instill confidence not just in plus size women but in all women. I did not expect for it to gain so much popularity because my goal is to inspire not to gain numbers. I want to remind women that they are beautiful inside and out.

How have you managed to fit starting your own movement and dance business around being a professional dancer yourself as well as your achievements through studying and choreography credentials?

I've managed to maintain my movement and dance career by prayer. I'm very spiritual and believe that the power of prayer allows me to have balance.

I saw the advertisement for Full Beauty that Pretty Big Movement were a part of, does this mean a clothing collaboration is in the pipeline?

Working with Full Beauty was a great experience. I am always open to work with other plus size brands to collaborate to grow Pretty BIG on a higher level.  There is nothing in the works at the moment. Who knows what the future may hold.

As well as the open auditions and the workshops are there any classes for none professional plus size dancers to join the fun?

The workshops and audition are openfor non dancers to come and express their inner dancer.

Did you ever think that being body positive and encouraging other women to do so would bring you such recognition as a feminist?

I never thought being positive and encouraging other women to do so would bring such recognition as a feminist only because you never how people will perceive you. My intent, is to empower, inspire, and aspire women to be GREAT. As a women we are taught to be strong and confident but we are only human. We breakdown at times. However, Pretty BIG Movement is an outlet created to remind women it's okay to be your true self.


KELLY is both a mother and fiancée, and keeps her own blog at mummybuiz.simplesite.com. She is passionate about the body positive moment, is currently planning her wedding, and spends her free time baking and testing recipes for her family.

Stéphanie : une voix du gospel, mannequin taille plus candidate à élection de Miss Ronde Guadeloupe

Cette guadeloupéenne de 32 ans, en vraie insulaire, aime particulièrement la mer, faire des randonnées aquatiques ou se prélasser tranquillement dans les eaux claires de sa chère île. La chanson est également une de ses grandes passions. Le milieu du gospel l’a vu débuter et elle y a évolué durant de nombreuses années avant de s'adonner à d'autres styles musicaux tels que le reggae, le jazz, la soul, la variété, la soul caribéenne, le zouk. Aujourd’hui, elle cultive une nouvelle passion : le mannequinat. 

Stéphanie, la chanteuse :

 Ses débuts …

« J'ai commencé la musique à l'âge de 13 ans. Nous étions assise, ma sœur jumelle et moi, dans la cour de récréation lorsqu’une jeune fille nous a abordées. Elle était sur le point de démarrer sa chorale de Gospel et nous a alors demandé si nous étions intéressées. Nous avons tenté l'aventure. Et ainsi commença le chant sur scène et non plus sous la douche (rires). » 

Les concours, la discographie, …

Ces dernières années, cette chanteuse a participé à de nombreux concours tels que le concours Voix Off organisé par coachingvoixoff (5ème), le tremplin de la ville de St Denis en France (podium, en troisième place), le concours de la chanson créole, la comédie musicale Hello de Joël Pétrus.

Elle a fait les chœurs sur deux albums : Gospel sur la colline, Sonnet (Max Rambojan) ainsi que pour des artistes underground Bisioul, Tronixx, etc … et travaille, d'ailleurs, activement sur la préparation de son album avec les pianistes Didier Nemorin et Kevin Songeons,

Sa formation musicale …

Vous ne nous croiriez pas si nous vous disions que sa première école musicale a été les dessins animés de Disney. Les chants de messe ont suivi, par la suite jusqu’à la découverte de la chanteuse Lara Fabien et du Gospel. C’est ainsi qu’elle a intégré durant trois ans la maison de la musique à Basse-Terre. Arrivée à Paris, en France, elle a travaillé avec le technicien de la voix, Lubin Régent et a continué sa formation sur le terrain en tant que choriste, soliste ou encore dans les jams sessions.

La musique comme mode de vie …

Stéphanie affirme : « pas de la manière dont nombre de ses amis la vivent actuellement ». Les déplacements d'un pays à l'autre, les répétitions hebdomadaires avec les groupes, les désistements de tel ou tel musicien à la course au plus gros cachet, etc … elle n’en veut plus maintenant. Elle aime chanter mais aime sa vie, avant tout. En revanche, faire quelques prestations de manière ponctuelle, cela lui va très bien. « Le métier de musicien est un très beau métier mais pour avoir de nombreux amis professionnels, je ne les envie pas. Je les remercie simplement de me faire passer de bons moments quand ils sont sur scène.

Ses prochaines productions musicales …

 

-      les 26,27 et 28 mai lors de représentations de la comédie musicale Gospel sur la colline de Benjamin Faleyras, à Basse-Terre et au Gosier (Guadeloupe)

-      le 10 juin 2016 avec le groupe KA'LIB, à Capesterre-Belle-Eau (Guadeloupe) 

Stéphanie, le mannequin : 

Le mannequinat …

Elle y fait ses premiers pas en tant que mannequin dit grande taille, taille plus ou encore plus size – termes qui lui font rire -  au début de l'été 2015, lors d'une vente privée à la ville du Moule, durant laquelle elle défilait pour le compte d’une boutique appelée X'ELLES puis au WTC.

Juin 2016 marquera son premier défilé en maillot de bain pour le lancement d’une marque nommée LLC.

En général, elle défile ou fait des shootings photographiques ; notamment pour la boutique Beauty Style Accessoires. Toutefois, ces opportunités sont arrivées sans qu’elle ne les cherche vraiment, dans le simple but de s’amuser. Cependant, Stéphanie aime que la femme soit mise en valeur, qu’elle soit élégante et assume ses rondeurs en les portant sans aucune honte et aujourd’hui, elle se projette davantage dans ce métier.

A la question à savoir si elle prend le mannequinat comme un tremplin vers une autre chose, ou comme quelque chose qui va se concrétiser sur un plan professionnel, elle répond :

« Pour être honnête, pour le moment je m'amuse. J'aime les photos bien faites. J'apprécie le travail d'un photographe qui cherche à sublimer, à rendre hommage. J'aime aussi pouvoir dégager quelque chose, permettre à d'autres femmes de se retrouver, voir de se projeter dans les tenues que je porte. Contrairement à ce que l'on pourrait croire, ce métier est difficile car il demande une extrême rigueur, une excellente présentation, un parfait contrôle des gestes et poses tout en paraissant naturelle sur des talons aiguilles de 15 cm qui ruinent les pieds (rires). Mais bon on ne va pas se plaindre non plus, hein ! Si par la suite cette passion se concrétisait sur le plan professionnel, je tenterai l'aventure avec grand plaisir... » 

L’utilisation du terme « taille plus » …

Stéphanie est mitigée quant au débat qui existe sur l’utilisation de ce terme. Elle nous confie : « Comme toujours, je pèse toujours le pour et le contre. A l'instar de Tess Holliday, je me suis demandé le pourquoi d'un tel débat. Pour certains, cela n'est peut-être qu'une appellation, un terme, une particularité... J'ai compris le sentiment des mannequins comme Stefania Ferrari, Jameela Jamil ou encore Melissa Mc Carthy... car effectivement, la désignation « taille plus » peut déranger dans la mesure où elle vous met dans une case. Stefania Ferrari publiait une photo d'elle sur laquelle le message « I'm a model » est inscrite. Au-delà de « Taille plus », on est avant tout une femme à part entière.

D’un autre côté, je ne m'offusque pas plus que cela de l'appellation « Taille plus », « Plus size », « Grande taille », etc … tant qu'elle est relative au métier de mannequin. En effet, dans le monde professionnel, nous avons tous un intitulé de poste qui désigne le métier que nous exerçons. Alors pourquoi « mannequin plus size » pourrait dérangersi cela nous permet d'accéder plus rapidement à nos recherches ? » 

Le mannequinat, outil d’acceptation de soi et/ou de prise de confiance …

Selon Stéphanie, cela s’inscrit dans une bonne démarche. « Les êtres humains ont besoin d'être heureux, de vivre leurs envies et de se réaliser. Et cela passe par l'acceptation de soi avant celle des autres ! Chacun a sa méthode. Pour ma part, il y a longtemps que je me suis acceptée telle que je suis car c'est ainsi ! Comme certaines, j'ai tenté des régimes qui n'ont pas marché - pire, j'ai repris le double -, fais du sport, etc … ; mais, aujourd'hui, je ne me vois plus stresser mon corps à nouveau. Je sais les limites que je ne veux pas dépasser aussi et je les respecte. » affirme-t-elle.

Elle poursuit : « Pour Stéphanie Rupaire, le fait de devenir mannequin est avant tout l'envie de tenter une nouvelle expérience qui l'appelait depuis un certain temps déjà mais c'est surtout et avant tout pour se faire plaisir. »

Le degré de responsabilité de l’industrie de la mode face à l’épidémie d’anorexie

« On ne peut pas tout mettre sur le compte de l'industrie de la mode. Certes, la société tend à véhiculer une image erronée et négative de ce qu'est la réalité aujourd'hui. Des prisons invisibles sont ouvertes et les personnes qui se soumettent à ces jougs mentaux s'emprisonnent elles-mêmes dans ces stéréotypes ridicules ! A un moment donné, il est nécessaire de se réveiller et de vivre sa vie comme on l'entend et non pas comme la société le voudrait. Être trop gros ...à partir du 40 ! Non, mais je rêve ?! Il appartient à chacun d'adhérer ou non, de se laisser diriger par l'industrie de la mode ou de décider pour soi-même, de penser par soi-même, de s'affirmer. » dit-elle.

Stéphanie pense que l'anorexie est une maladie à prendre au sérieux et que tout comme la boulimie, c’est une maladie « psychologique » qui se répercute sur le physique, se traduit par les manifestations que nous connaissons, sur le corps.

Elle rajoute : « Les personnes anorexiques ont, en général, une vision déformée d'elles-même et elles se voient toujours trop grosses, ne correspondant pas aux normes - que dis-je ? - aux diktats imposés par la société. Même si l'industrie de la mode a sa part de tort dans ce mal-être, il faut tout de même garder à l'esprit que le comportement anorexique est dû, en majeure partie, à de nombreux facteurs autres que l'image renvoyée à la société. La vraie question est qui est « la société » ? C'est chacun de nous. Cela commence, la plupart du temps, dans le cercle familial, par exemple : l'importance donnée par la famille à une silhouette mince, l'incapacité dans la famille à communiquer, à gérer les conflits et à s'aimer, les phobies ou encore la peur du regard que posent les autres sur soi, la difficulté à se faire des amis, le stress, etc... Le manque d'amour et de considération commence par notre propre entourage. L'anorexie et la boulimi, sont deux extrêmes mais deux sujets à prendre au sérieux ; il faut être à l'écoute de ces personnes car elles souffrent inéluctablement. »

Les changements à adopter par les compagnies de vêtements « taille plus » …

Pour notre mannequin guadeloupéen, ces compagnies se doivent de proposer des vêtements qui mettent la femme ronde en valeur, d’étudier les morphologies et de créer des vêtements épousant toutes sortes de courbes. De plus, les stylistes « taille plus » ont, selon elle, la mission de se faire connaître car nous la citons : « on nous a vendu pendant trop longtemps des vêtements sans aucune élégance. Etre ronde ne signifie pas vouloir … non, DEVOIR s'habiller comme un sac !

L'élégance, le glamour, la classe, la Be sexy attitude... : voilà ses attentes.  

La place de la femme noire ronde dans la mode ou la publicité …

« Comme d'habitude, quasi-inexistante ! Il est même d'usage, aujourd'hui, de peindre des femmes blanches de manière à ce que leur couleur de peau soit noire… Sans commentaire... ». Toutefois, elle rajoute : « J'ai eu tout de même l'occasion de voir des mannequins noirs et arabes sur Youtube, ce qui m'a ravie. Les mentalités évoluent à pas de fourmis, certes mais sûrement. »

Ses attentes désespérées dans ce milieu pour les femmes aux formes voluptueuses  

Elle nous répond en riant : « Je n'attends rien désespérément... comme je n'attends rien, en particulier, de ce milieu. Toutefois, je salue le réveil (enfin) des créateurs qui souhaitent réellement proposer aux femmes rondes un éventail de toilettes plus somptueuses les unes que les autres, des tenues enfin dignes de ce nom... à moins qu'ils n'aient compris que, phénomène de société grandissant, le business sera plus rentable.

Qu'importe ! Aujourd'hui, je suis ravie, qu'enfin, nous, femmes rondes, puissions nous habiller bien plus élégamment qu'auparavant. » 

Le concours de Miss Ronde Guadeloupe 2016 …

Par hasard, sur Facebook, Stéphanie entend parler de ce concours et voit une nouvelle aventure qui s’offre à elle. C’est dont tout bonnement qu’elle la saisit. Selon elle, c’est bien plus qu’une cause. C’est un état d’esprit, une philosophie, sa philosophie : s’accepter en dépit des remarques d'autrui, ne pas avoir besoin d’une reconnaissance qu’elle soit positive ou négative, s'aimer soi-même avant d'attendre l'amour des autres. En somme, être soi ! Voilà ce qu’elle souhaiterait véhiculer.

Elle nous confie « Je ne veux plus avoir à me dire "et si j'avais"... Je souhaite, avant tout, prendre plaisir dans ce "voyage" avec des jeunes femmes qui, comme moi, sourient à la vie. Au-delà de l'élégance et du glamour, il y a de réels sujets à défendre tels que l'amour de soi et le bien-être et, vous et moi savons combien il est difficile de faire avancer les mentalitésé. Mais faisons fi de cela et décidons, imposons la place de la femme ronde, notre place, dans la société et dans les mentalités. On est ou on n'est pas ! Et en l'occurrence, nous sommes. Alors, à très vite ! »

Le titre de cet article selon Stéphanie … 

-      Pour l'acceptation de la différence. Mais quelle différence ?

-      Venez avec nous, dans notre monde, il y a de l'amour et du bonheur, acceptons-nous, aimons-nous d'abord,


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« Avec son bagage intellectuel axé sur le management d’affaires et la gestion des entreprises, Angélique Marguerite Berthe Diène aka Blacky Gyan dirige A'S de la Perfection, un concept-store éthique et solidaire alliant africanité et modernité : mode, design, photographie, ... et créé par son jeune frère, Stefdekarda et a fondé R Magazine ou la re-naissance de l’Art qui se veut, à travers le monde, être le miroir d'artistes ou d’arts connus mais surtout "inconnus" ou méconnus. Elle est dans une perspective de construire le rêve africain et a, notamment, co-lancé Afro Women Workshops, un regroupement de femmes entrepreneures «africaines» de souche ou de coeur. »

COMBAT FLAGS: AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN BEREI

While the call to serve one’s country is a decision that changes the life of those who serve forever, I’m quite certain that Dan Berei never imagined that his life would be so impacted by the combat fatigues he wore for the six years he spent serving in the United States Army.

Like so many veterans, Dan returned home and was unsure of how to integrate back into civilian life. What he found was a disconnect that forced him to examine where he stood in daily society. What he discovered was a hidden talent, and a mission to help others. 

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Tell me a bit about your background.

I am veteran of the U.S. Army. I spent 6 years in the Army in special operations and had two deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to the Philippines.

What prompted you to join the military?

I always had an interest in the military growing up, but September 11 really pushed me to join and do my part to right that wrong. The military runs in my family – my grandfather served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam as a bomber pilot and my uncle was in the Marine Corps and is a Vietnam vet.

What was the biggest obstacle upon re-entering civilian life?

Separating from the military proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. At the time, I was 22 years old and was used to being around other guys with similar experiences and a similar mindset. Moving from the military to college was a huge culture shock and, to be honest, it’s a shock I still am not used to. In the military you have a bond with the guys in your unit or on your team and everyone holds a similar level of respect for one another. That isn’t present outside of the military and it’s something I miss to this day.

Tell me about your ‘repurpose with a purpose’ project.

When I left the military I really left it – I didn’t want to talk about it, talk with guys I was in with or think about it. Over time, though, I found myself wanting to do something with the veteran community, but I wanted to leave my own mark. The idea for Combat Flags hit me like a bolt of lightning one day at work (I was on a conference call) and I went home and started cutting up my own uniforms. It took about 6 weeks to develop the product you see today.

The premise of Combat Flags is simple – repurpose with a purpose. I take donated military-worn fatigues and turn them into 4x6 inch American Flags. It’s a bit of a process, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It starts with cutting the fatigues down to size. From there I print a short bio of the previous owner on brown cotton fabric and stitch it to the fatigue material. I then stamp the fatigue side with a hand carved American stamp to finish it off. Every flag is unique – some ripped, some stained – and reflects the culture of the military perfectly.

Once the flags are complete, I sell them on etsy.com and donate half of every sale to Stop Soldier Suicide. Stop Soldier Suicide brings awareness to, and actively curbs, the growing suicide epidemic among past and present Service members. Veterans have a duty to care for one another and, with an average of 22 veterans and 1 active-duty service member committing suicide every day, we must care for one another more now than ever before.

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How has creating the ‘Flags from Fatigues’ helped you?

It has helped me reconnect with other veterans, which has filled a void I didn’t realize was missing. It’s also brought back many, many memories I had forgotten about. 

What has been the response from veterans regarding your flag passion project?

They absolutely love it. I’ve received dozens upon dozens of emails from veterans who want to donate uniforms because they believe in the cause so strongly.

I received an unexpected email not too long ago from an active duty Marine who told me he has been going through a rough time and wasn’t very happy in life but, after seeing my page and what I do, he knew things would be ok and that things will get better. This is what Combat Flags is all about, in my opinion, and it feels amazing knowing that have been able to help at least 1 person.

Tell me about the fatigues you receive. Where (and from whom) do they come from?

I’ve received uniforms from all over the United States from veterans and active duty alike. Army, Marines and Air Force are strongly represented at the moment in my stock, but I’m hoping to get some Navy and Coast Guard in the mix soon.

You take special orders on your Etsy site. Tell me, have you had any touching special orders? (Someone ordering a flag from their loved one’s Vietnam fatigues, for example.)

One woman just emailed me and asked if I could sew the front and back separately so she could have them framed for her husband who is about to leave the military. I’ve also been in contact with a veteran who would like for me to sew his uniforms and his father’s uniforms together to make one flag to show their shared service.

What does your family think about your project?

They absolutely love it. My wife has to deal with the mess around the house, but she is behind me 100 percent and likes to help out where she can.

You are making these flags with your grandmother’s sewing machine. Was sewing a hobby you shared with her?

I never sewed until I started Combat Flags. In fact, I spent a day or two watching YouTube videos to educate myself on how to use the sewing machine and what proper application looked like.

You donate $10 from every purchase to the organization Stop Soldier Suicide. Why did you choose this organization?

Soldier suicide is an issue that should be so easily fixed by the government. Unfortunately, they are not adequately caring for veterans who need their support, whether before they get to the point of wanting to harm themselves or after. Stop Soldier Suicide is a veteran-run organization who strives to have a positive impact on the cause and they have a proven record and network in place.

Do you have an ultimate goal in mind for your flags?

I wish I had something measurable in mind, but all I’m interested in is doing my part to help my brothers and sisters who have served and are serving.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

I made my first donation to Stop Solider Suicide on May 1 (2016), which included my first month of sales, and the total donation was $672.

You can support Dan’s efforts for Stop Soldier Suicide by visiting his shop on Etsy. As a reminder, for every flag sold, $10 is donated to provide help active and veteran soldiers who are at risk for suicide.


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SHANNA SABET-DEMOTT is a freelance writer living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her husband George DeMott sings Italian arias in the shower, and Pop-Opera around the world. She has an 11 year old daughter who has survived 3 brain surgeries, and has shown her Mama the meaning of bravery at every turn. She is a lover of telling stories about food and life on her blogs, eatingoutvegas.com and stumblingbeauty.com

JOHANNE LINDSAY: LA VOIX BLANCHE POUR TOUTES LES AFRICAINES ET CONTRE LES STANDARDS DE BEAUTE "A L'OCCIDENTALE"

D’origine amérindienne et écossaise mais humaine avant tout, cette québécoise de 51 ans est une passionnée de communication. Mère et grand-mère, Johanne Lindsay a été et est très active pour divers projets et à des niveaux très différents. Du social avec des tables de concertation intitulées « Non à l’excision », par exemple, en passant par la politique, en qualité d’attachée de campagne de Béatrice Zako, elle est très impliquée. Son gros coup de cœur reste, par contre, sa participation en tant qu’animatrice, durant près d’un an, dans deux radios Web : RTMfm et CameroonVoice. Elle qualifie cette expérience d’édifiante car pense qu’il faut explorer. Son émission « Cœur d’africaine » relatait des sujets variés socioculturels et avait pour mission de faire le pont entre nos diverses cultures. Actuellement, elle est dans l’écriture d’un livre et souhaite, à partir de ce dernier, créer une nouvelle émission….

Aujourd’hui, elle nous parle de sa relation particulière avec le continent noir et de son avis sur les femmes aux formes voluptueuses.

Comment est née l’idée de faire une émission dans un pays occidental pour objecter le suivi des standards de la beauté par la diaspora africaine, particulièrement ?

En fait, je pense que les standards de beauté doivent être brisés car il est malsain de conformer les femmes à un seul modèle de beauté et, ainsi, voir la diaspora africaine plonger dans des concours de « personnalité » me révolte, surtout quand on sait bien d’où viennent les critères des standards de beauté occidentale.

Un amour pour l’Afrique ?

Assurément, mais j’ai un amour pour tout peuple et humain. Le continent africain a sa fierté ; alors, pourquoi l’emprunter à ses « oppresseurs ». Mon langage serait le même que pour tout autre continent qui tente d’imiter un mauvais penchant culturel. Tout ce qui restreint l’humain me répugne ; ça l’empêche d’évoluer et de faire la différence dans la conscience d’homme.

Quand avez-vous débuté cette émission à la radio ? Quels types de sujets traitez-vous généralement ?

En juillet 2014 et voilà une brève liste des émissions :

- Pourquoi la diaspora africaine imite les concours de beauté occidentale »

- Pourquoi aidons-nous » (La diaspora africaine à travers le monde injecte plus de 25 milliards de dollars en Afrique) (Qui abuse ? La famille. Comment se sent-on lorsqu’on nous demande de donner sans cesse

- La communication dans le couple

- Polygamie, polygynie versus polyandrie

- Les tabous sexuels – plaisirs coupables ou partagés

- Non à l’EXCISION.

Les travaux les plus emblématiques que vous avez réalisés dans ce cadre ?

Je pense que les tables de concertation sur l’excision ont été de belles réalisations. La prise de conscience de certains auditeurs l’a été également lors du traitement du sujet sur la communication dans le couple. Tout ceci m’a emmenée à vouloir écrire un livre qui sera terminé pour mars.

Prenez-vous ce combat comme un tremplin vers une autre chose, ou comme quelque chose qui vase concrétiser sur un plan professionnel ou personnel ?

Ce que j’ai constaté, c’est que, pour tout sujet, l’aspect physique revenait constamment et que les femmes rondes sont, parfois, jugées à tort. On dit qu’elles sont moins séduisantes, moins sollicitées et moins enclin au succès ; elles sont marginalisées, et pas juste par les hommes mais par les femmes également. Par contre, les excès, que ce soit dans la maigreur ou la grosseur, sont une maladie soit psychologique, soit physiologique et ce n’est pas ici le débat. Quand je parle de femmes rondes, je ne parle pas des excès morbides, non plus, je pense que ce combat est de démontrer que les femmes rondes sont comme toutes les autres femmes : attirantes, attrayantes et intelligentes.

Que pensez-vous de l'anorexie ? Croyez-vous que, d’une certaine manière, l'industrie de la mode est responsable de cette épidémie ?

Oui, en majorité ! Tout désordre alimentaire est une conséquence sociale qui débouche sur une atteinte psychologique. Prenons l’exemple des obèses morbides, avec les pulsions de compenser leurs sentiments et leurs émotions par l’alimentation et le fait de ne pas bouger suffisamment ; ce qui est, d’ailleurs, une cause directe reliée à la facilité que procure l’industrialisation. Il en va de même pour l’anorexie ayant pour but de plaire et de performer en reproduisant une image inventée par des couturiers, en majorité, homosexuels qui ont modulé le corps de la femme pour le mettre androgyne ou à l’apparence d’un jeunegarçon ; ce qui éliminait toute courbe. Cela est, dans ce cas ou l’autre, malsain.

Un débat existe depuis longtemps sur l’utilisation du terme « taille plus » chez les mannequins. Quel est votre avis ?

Les termes employés m’importent peu ; ce qui compte, c’est le bien-être. Chose certaine, les tailles fortes, voluptueuses ou plus ne sont pas la majorité alors qu’on les définisse par un terme ou l’autre, c’est une réalité tout simplement mais la beauté demeure, toutefois, dans la différence.

Devenir mannequin ou faire des photos est pour certaines une façon de s’accepter et pour d’autres un moyen d’avoir confiance. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Je pense que chaque personne est libre de faire ou de créer selon son bien-être et de s’assumer. Si vous aimez être mannequin ou modèle, allez-y !

Où vous situez-vous ?

La confiance en soi ne vient pas avec un mode d’emploi. Certains (es) la démontrent mieux que d’autres. La confiance s’acquiert petit à petit et ce, dans divers domaines ou étapes de la vie.

Selon vous quels sont les changements que la société actuelle devrait faire évoluer ?

Et bien, on constate, par certaines publicités de produits de beauté ou alimentaires, un virement dans leurs messages et je pense que les services concernés dans la santé publique émettent de fortes recommandations avec messages à la population pour tenter de changer les mentalités. De plus, il y a un

début, dans certains pays d’Europe, notamment la France, d’interdiction de podium pour certains mannequins trop maigres. Il serait dommage de voir la diaspora africaine tomber dans le panneau des concours de beauté- « personnalité » ou du mannequinat à l’occidentale.

Ce n’est pas un défaut d’être ronde, c’est juste une particularité. Que répondrez-vous à cela ?

(Rires) Vous voyez des hommes à la stature petite et d’autres qui sont grands avec une largeur d’épaule double… Imaginez que pour les femmes il en soit de même ; nous n’avons, en partant, pas toutes la même stature. Les prédispositions génétiques, les grossesses, la stature, l’âge, … peuvent jouer plus chez la femme que chez l’homme. Toutefois, promouvoir la santé, « malgré » les rondeurs, reste le point d’équilibre. En toute honnêteté, j’aime bien mes rondeurs, quoique, depuis quelques mois, je doisredoubler d’effort pour perdre un peu pour ma santé.

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Pourquoi avez-vous voulu être un « porte-parole » pour ce combat ?

Car quand on est ronde, on doit s’assumer, s’aimer, s’apprivoiser et explorer son potentiel beauté et succès au maximum. Tout n’est qu’assurance. C’est ce que je fais et c’est ce qui m’a comblée et faite évoluer. J’aimerais inspirer d’autres femmes.

Quelle est la place de la femme noire ronde dans la mode ou la publicité ?

Les femmes rondes, en général, qu’elles soient noires, blanches, jaunes et rouges et n’aient pas beaucoup de visibilité, c’est à exploiter sans marginalisation.

Qu’est-ce que vous attendez désespérément dans ce milieu pour les femmes aux formesvoluptueuses ?

Que les vêtements ne coûtent pas plus chers (rires), que les femmes rondes voient leurs pleines valeurs et prennent confiance en elles-mêmes.

Vous avez également évoqué être sidérée par l’émergence des concours de beauté chez la diaspora. Expliquez-nous !

C’est une mode qu’on voit partout maintenant. Tous les ressortissants des pays d’Afrique veulent leurconcours : Miss Cameroun, Miss Sénégal, Miss Guinée, Miss Afrique, Miss, etcétéra… Ce n’est pas sérieux ! Cela va durer quelques années seulement et même. De plus, promouvoir, comme dans certains concours, le « Sois belle et tais-toi », c’est encourager l’hypocrisie d’une domination et taire la valeur d’une personne.


« Avec son bagage intellectuel axé sur le management d’affaires et la gestion des entreprises, Angélique Marguerite Berthe Diène aka Blacky Gyan dirige A'S de la Perfection, un concept-store éthique et solidaire alliant africanité et modernité : mode, design, photographie, ... et créé par son jeune frère, Stefdekarda et a fondé R Magazine ou la re-naissance de l’Art qui se veut, à travers le monde, être le miroir d'artistes ou d’arts connus mais surtout "inconnus" ou méconnus. Elle est dans une perspective de construire le rêve africain et a, notamment, co-lancé Afro Women Workshops, un regroupement de femmes entrepreneures «africaines» de souche ou de coeur. »

INTERVIEW WITH GYMNAST, DANCER, AND AERIALIST EMILIE LIVINGSTON

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emilie Livingston, originally from my hometown of Toronto, Ontario. Emilie currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Jeff Goldblum, and her baby boy, Charlie Ocean Goldblum.  Emilie is a former Olympic Rhythmic Gymnast. She dedicated her life to becoming an athlete in order to pursue her dream of going to the Olympics. She competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and came out an impressive 17th, representing her home country of Canada.

This interview will give you a glimpse into the life of Emilie. She highlights the importance of following her passion, being an athlete, a dancer and an aerialist, what it is like to be a working mother, her love for her husband and the pressures of body image at a young age.

In the Luc Besson's 'Valerian', what is your role?

My role in Valerian is called Bubble Dancer.  I’m dancing and doing many of my specialty skills.  It’s going to be a very interesting scene! 

How did you prepare for your role in the Valerian? 

Well that is a complicated answer because when I met with Luc about the job, I was three months post pregnancy.  So I not only had to prepare to create a scene which required many different kinds of dancing skills, but I also needed to get back into performance shape.  I used the first part of my day to create ideas and possible sequences to show Luc at our second meeting based off of what we had discussed in our first meeting.  The second part of my day I worked out, focusing on my hip-flexor’s flexibility, my back flexibility as well as my core strength.  I did a lot of aerial strength training, like hanging leg raises, pull-ups, tic tocs and just climbing silks.  Once I was done with the hard part, I would jog lightly on the treadmill or go for a long walk with my son (on me, in a baby carrier) up in the hills of Hollywood.

You recently became a mother to Charlie Ocean Goldblum, congratulations! How do you balance traveling for work while being a mother and wife? 

I have to say I don’t feel like I’m one of those mothers where it all just feels effortless to be a mother as well as high-level performer.  I think being a mother full time is a very rewarding experience, but it’s also a lot of hard work.  Charlie is the sweetest and has a great temperament so that helps a lot.  Patience with yourself and with your baby is key, as well as not being afraid to ask for help whenever you may need it.

How do you balance being a new mother and finding time to do the things that you love?

Whenever I start something I am very passionate about or something I am dying to do then I find the time to make it work, and make the proper arrangements.  For example, most recently I performed in The Weeknd’s Oscar nominated song “Earned It” as a solo aerialist on the 88th Annual Oscar’s Ceremony on Sunday Feb 28th. 

What is your favorite part of being a mother?

I think it’s the love you feel, the selflessness.  It’s nice to care for someone else, for his happiness, for his well being, for his everyday routine. His needs are more important than my own. Feeling that profound sense of selflessness is quite spectacular. Watching him look at nature for the first time, his infinite sense of wonderment, how everything is new for the first time. I can see through his eyes, allowing me to see the world with a renewed sense of wonderment. I get a big kick out of that.

What is your favorite part of being a wife?

Every day, my whole day with Jeff is beautiful, silly, enchanting, inspiring, and he challenges me to be a better person. Overall being his wife gives me purpose to my life, to take care of him, to take care of each other.


What are some similarities you find from your athletic and acting career?

Being prepared!

How did your passion for gymnastics begin? 

Through dance really.  I started ballet at two years old. My sister, who is three and half years older than me, was enrolled in dance classes, and I would be at the dance studio with my mom.  While she was dressing my sister, I would use that opportunity to bolt, and sneak into a class.  Eventually, it continued from there and I was placed in a dance class without having to sneak into it.  Here, my love of being on the stage, for creativity and movement began to take off.  Opening myself up to the curiosity of the endless possibilities found artistic beauty.  I feel that Rhythmic Gymnastics is a very beautiful and feminine sport requiring superb discipline.  My first coach, I saw her perform in Toronto.  She was doing a show to get kids interested in RhythmicGymnastics.  This is where I first saw a high level representation of Rhythmic Gymnastics.  What I was exposed to in Canada wasn’t near that level. Canada doesn’t have the same resources as say Russia, for the sport to really be taken to its highest potential.  Seeing this high caliber of performance really got me inspired and energized, bringing me closer to my passion.  I said, that’s what I want to do.  I want to do this and make it to the Olympics, and I did.  I competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, placing a well respected 17th, representing Canada.

What has helped motivate you to master your craft as a contortionist and aerialist?

Witnessing other exceptionally skilled contortionists and aerialists really helped motivate me.  Enjoying the day-to-day practice of it.  Stretching, practicing balance and strength moves.  It’s fun! It’s exciting to climb, and learn new tricks.  Once you learn how to transition in your own way, it becomes second nature to you.  The whole process, the trick plus the transition, eventually allows the whole sequence to become second nature.  Whichever piece of music you choose really dictates the tone of the aerial choreography

If there is one piece of advice you can give a young athlete, what would it be?

Not being afraid to be passionate about something! Whatever your passion is, follow that passion early on.  Sometimes these sports are a young person’s sport.  Your body needs to be youthful, and be able to bounce back.  There is a clock and time frame to really do anything athletic on a highly completive level, such as the Olympics.  Don’t let time go by, and do not let other people talk you of it. You have to sacrifice things like prom and parties.  Determination requires sacrifice.  If you really want to do it, then you will.  Stay on track.  Start as young as you can, and follow your passion to the best of your ability.  

Growing up, have you ever struggled with body image issues? How did you deal with it?

 Growing up as a Rhythmic Gymnast in Canada, people would taunt me, thinking I had an eating disorder, that I was too thin, etc.  From my competitor’s coaches in Canada, they would try to say I was unhealthy or too skinny so that I wouldn’t be able to compete. But in reality, I was healthy.  I was fortunate as well that my mother would also cook healthy and balanced meals.  Genetically speaking, I am also petit.  I did feel confident that I was healthy.  At the end of the day I knew I was training for the Olympics, and I adjusted my diet accordingly.  I am also blessed with genes that were conducive for the sport I chose.  I was lucky.

You are from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. What are some of your fondest memories of Toronto?

My best friend, Melissa and I went to school and gymnastics together. I’d say something as simple as taking the streetcar on Queen Street to go to trainings near Queen and Pape.

You live in LA now. With all the pressures that come with living there, do you feel pressured to have a certain body image? 

You do want to look your best. It’s easy to make healthy decisions in LA, as we are around fresh fruit and vegetables, various farmers markets, and many natural food stores. The weather makes it easier to stay motivated as well.  Jeff and I also eat pretty clean. We don’t drink or smoke.  Very rarely, I will have a glass of wine. 

How do you stay active with your busy schedule? 

My work, my career is active.  Having a baby requires you to be active as well.  It all goes hand in hand.

Do you feel any kind of pressure for being married to your actor husband, Jeff Goldblum?

No, he makes me feel safe, and obviously very happy. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, especially Jeff.  I tend to be on the more serious side and he definitely can turn any intense situation into something filled with laughter and warmth.

Can you share some information about any upcoming shows/performances that you will be involved with? 

Most Recently the Oscars were pretty fulfilling and exciting! The Dolby Theater stage was very special to perform on

Do you have any social media sites where fans can visit to find out more information about you? 

Instagram and Twitter. My website is currently being redesigned but stay tuned! Twitter: @emchka Instagram: Emilie Livingston


MAY TOUMA is a Youth Worker who has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University in Toronto. She is a bit of a rebel who likes to challenge the status quo. She is passionate, boisterous and wears her heart on her sleeve. May has a personal style blog at www.boldlycurvy.blogspot.ca. She loves experimenting and having fun with fashion.

 

INTERVIEW WITH BRITTNEY, VLOGGER AND BLOGGER AT EMPOWERINGIMPERFECTIONS.COM

Brittney of Xbrittney89, an advocate of body positivity and vlogger, has an enthusiasm for her work that is absolutely infectious. You can scroll through her blog at empoweringimperfections.com and check out our interview with her below.

How did you get into making YouTube videos?

I had been wanting to get into the YouTube community because I saw what an amazing support system it could be for people – myself included at the time.  After I moved to California and didn’t know many people, I knew it was the perfect time to start my channel.  At first my channel didn’t have any specific purpose other than to provide a plus-size perspective on things considering YouTube was full of thinner bloggers and there wasn’t as much diverse representation.  I wanted to lessen the gap with my fat perspective.

The more I made YouTube videos the more I grew into my channel.  It evolved with me.  I knew I loved lifting others up.  It was like a personal tribute to my insecure teenage self that dreamed of having the attitude and outlook on life that I currently do.  I just was caught up in the idea that I had to be thin to live that type of life.

When did your journey into body positivity begin?

I was introduced to the “fat community” around 2008.  I then began to open my eyes to the idea of diverse beauty and how bodies do not need to be the unrealistic “perfection” that society enforces us all to attempt to achieve to be considered attractive.  When I began doing adult modeling I realized that all of the flaws and imperfections I saw on myself were admirable, beautiful traits to some.  And that is when I started to realize that there are always two sides to the equation.  No matter who I am or what I look like – some people will like me and some people will not like me.  That realization helped me gain steam on my body positivity journey.

Your videos on YouTube remind me of a talk show personality, would you ever consider moving to television if the opportunity came up?

The thing I have with television is that so much of it is fake and scripted.  I keep my YouTube channel as genuine and honest to my life as possible, and I will do that through any projects I pursue here forward.  So to answer your question bluntly – yes, I would do television if the right opportunity came up.  If I could have my own talk show like Ellen, and inspire and uplift others on a daily basis, I would be happy for the rest of my life.  Career aspirations for sure haha. 

You are now a well known video blogger and advocate for body positivity, do you ever find yourself being recognized on the street? 

Not really.  I have been recognized at a couple of stores (Target and Sephora), and also a handful of times when I go to different music events (raves).   I absolutely love running into people that support my YouTube channel, though.  It is so rewarding to have that face-to-face contact and be able to personally thank them for their support.  

I love your personality that came through in the blog post titled Fuck flattery, what was your inspiration for writing the article?

I often read comments where people are constantly using the word flattering to limit certain body types into what we should or shouldn’t be wearing.  Society has pressured us to live by the idea that we have to dress to appease those around us.  But instead, I dress for my own self-validation.  Some people have problems with that because I refuse to limit my wardrobe to pieces that only “flatter” me or, in other words, hide my fat/rolls/imperfections.  But if I want to cause any type of change then I need to lead by example.

Have you always been so cutting edge when it comes to discussing the minority in society as well as the oppressed? 

Not always, simply because I wasn’t as educated about intersectionality as I currently am.  I still have a lot to learn because it is such a complex topic, but it is so important to take into consideration and apply in different situations.  I am a white girl.  I was born with the privilege of white skin.  I understand that I can’t represent for people of color or those who are further oppressed than I have been.  However, I can use whatever platform I am given to advocate for those who do not have a voice.  Equality amongst all is what feminism is defined by.  I stand by that 100%.

I like how your vlogger status is a small but important part of who you are, did you ever see yourself becoming a humanitarian?

To be honest, I never thought of the idea of referring to myself as a humanitarian.  But human rights are so important for progress amongst the human race which is why I’m so passionate about them.  Especially since I grew up without thin privilege, so I know what the real world can be like when living with tons of society-influenced body shame.

What was your intention for starting the weekly segments to your videos? 

I started updating on specified days weekly to give myself more stability. 

If I promised videos on certain days then I would be held accountable to create and upload new content weekly.  This was the positive peer pressure that I needed to kick my YouTube up a notch.  I felt like I could cover more topics because I had due dates on content.  And I felt like I could further my YouTube presence if I was updating weekly.  It gave everybody that subscribes, and myself, something to look forward to each week.

I love the look-book videos on your site, that show off your own sense of style do you have any tips for any aspiring plus size models? You always seem very confident in front of the camera and your shoot for Skorch magazine looked amazing.

Again, it all relates back to accepting that our body’s flaws and imperfections do not define us. Our weight does not determine our worth.  That makes it easier to look in the mirror or a camera lens and feel comfortable. To be honest, I have been working in front of the camera for over seven years, with my body as a main focus.  So it has gotten pretty easy just from sheer repetition. Plus, I think it is so admirable of a person to unapologetically own their body, their flaws, their imperfections, whoever they are. I carry that mentality with me whether I’m in front of the camera or not. 

You article titled the turning point is very moving, how do you force yourself to be so open and honest and exposed to the whole internet? It is really brave. 

Thank you very much.  That blog was incredibly emotional for me to write – especially as my first blog post that I have ever really posted on the internet with intention for others to read.  Sharing my writing is the nudest and barest I can get.  I have no problem showing off my body, but it takes a bit more courage for me to do so with my writing.  I have learned that being open and honest with my YouTube channel has earned me trust and respect from my viewers.  When I write, I write from my soul, because again, it is the rawest form of me.  So it has to be open and honest – because that’s me. 

I love how you invite your readers to comment and “discuss” what you have said in your article. Do you edit the comments that appear on your blog?

No, unless of course somebody starts spamming the comment section with hate. I understand that everybody is entitled to their own opinions and will definitely express them on the internet haha. I take the hate with a grain of salt. It helps me construct videos in the future to target these ideas and explain myself even further on a broader spectrum.  Plus, if I’m causing an uproar, then that means people are hearing me.  They may not be understanding me, but at least they can hear my voice. That’s an advantageous start.

How do you schedule your videos and blog around your work and your social life?

Well, YouTube is my most time-consuming but also most rewarding job.  I schedule my life around it, instead of the other way around.  I have been trying to get a steady schedule down for my blog posts, like I have with my YouTube channel.  Structure.  A lot of my friends understand that my work is pretty constant – I barely ever have free time.  But we get together and hang out while doing work together.  I like to surround myself with people who inspire me and are typically hard-working themselves so they usually have things to work on as well.  YouTube is my hustle-filled lifestyle right now.  And I’m hungry for that hustle.

I love your outgoing sense of style, would you ever consider putting your name and approval to a fashion line?

Wow, maybe. I would be open to the idea, again though if it was by my own approval. I am not afraid to say no to “glamorous” offers if it isn’t going to be something I can genuinely stand behind.  We need more affordable plus-size clothing, so that would be a really cool project to be a part of if the offer ever presents itself.

When you first started making videos for YouTube did you ever imagine having so many subscribers and being viewed internationally?

That was a hope and dream. The fact that it is becoming more and more a reality reassures me that my hard work is paying off, and motivates me to keep it going. I want to grow my audience not for the fame or popularity or money. I want to grow my audience to reach those who may benefit from watching my videos, or relating to people in the comments, or know that they are not alone in whatever struggle they are going through. I wish there had been body positive advocates on the internet when I was a teenager. I can’t imagine what it must be like to find that reassurance, but I’m so glad that I can do my part to contribute.  I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. 

Want to keep up with Brittney? Follow her instagram here


KELLY is both a mother and fiancée, and keeps her own blog at mummybuiz.simplesite.com. She is passionate about the body positive moment, is currently planning her wedding, and spends her free time baking and testing recipes for her family.

INTERVIEW WITH MARION BOUCARD FOUNDER OF FRENCH GIRLS DO IT BETTER

Miss Marion Boucard, a Creative Director and Founder of BRAND CONTENTE, is a woman of multi-talents who specializes in delivering immersive and wild event productions aimed to reach specific audiences. She is professional, creative and artistic, all crucial qualities needed to create extraordinary event productions.  Anne Trompette,  a past client of Miss Marion, described her as “enigmatic and beautiful...she unveils a parallel world like a magician”.  

WHAT QUALITIES HAVE HELPED YOU BECOME SUCCESSFUL AS A CREATIVE DIRECTOR? 

I like telling stories and offering memorable experience to the guests, so I would say the first quality is being creative! Creativity is about being curious and inspired by what you see around you. 3 to 4 times a week I am out to