Calladitas No More

How Wearing Lingerie Helped Me Fall In Love With My Body

One of my first memories of body shaming is my mami telling me that my thighs were fat and that I shouldn’t wear shorts. She said it very matter-of-fact in a way that, I think, wasn’t meant to hurt my feelings but still left an emotional scar on my pre-pubescent body. I was in the 5th grade and, after that day, never again wore shorts to school. However, now that I am an adult, I’ve slowly learned to embrace and love my body with all of its perfect imperfections — and I do that largely thanks to sexy lingerie.

My mother’s declaration that I was a “gordita” and my family’s ability to put on weight easily (and never exercise or eat well), I spent much of my teen years and early adulthood feeling ashamed of myself.

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Day 4 of the #gratitude30 challenge is “Color” and here it is: RED! For anyone that knows me, you’re probably not at all surprised. This was my favorite color when I was little and it remains my favorite color today. I have red dresses (like this one), shirts, shoes, and my absolute favorite, red lipstick. Oh, and have you noticed my red hair? I don’t know what it is about red but I’ve always loved it. It’s the color of passion, love, brightness, boldness, happiness, Christmas… It’s just a happy, bright, BOLD color and that’s why I love it — because I try to be those things too! #gratitude30daychallenge

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Looking back at my early childhood, I knew I was different early on. Although my family had originally moved to Miami when we first came to the United States when I was eight years old, we eventually made it to the southwest coast of Florida where I was the only Latina I knew growing up.

Because of this, I was quickly confronted with classmates who were, well, nothing like me. They had quiet, calm parents who never had screaming matches like mine. They had tiny, skinny bodies whereas I have had large thighs for as long as I could remember.

Long before Jennifer Lopez made curves and big booties cool, I was struggling with body image issues and only seeing way-too-skinny 90s models in the media.

At the time, I didn’t know what body positivity meant or how I could get some until I was well into my 20s. In high school, I was overweight and eventually obese. In college, I lost 90 pounds but regained 80 of them after I started my first stressful job at the beginning of the Great Recession. All the while, I kept hearing my mami’s voice constantly telling me that I was too fat. She continued to say that to me throughout my entire life — up until the point that I got “too skinny” for her, that is. But deep down, I knew something was up. Life couldn’t be solely about gaining and losing the same weight over and over again.

Unable to maintain a healthy body weight on my own and afraid of what lifelong morbid obesity would mean for my overall health, I received a gastric bypass shortly before my 23rd birthday. But during my preparation for the life-altering surgery, I met with my doctor who taught me a very valuable lesson: He told me that he was simply giving me a tool to help me manage my weight. I would need to do the work myself in order to learn to eat better and, most importantly, grow comfortable in my body.

It turns out that I had been in a perpetual cycle of stress eating, feeling bad about it, and then eating some more.

I needed to heal my mind as well as my body before I could truly learn to love myself.

The journey to love my body seemed impossible at first. I didn’t know where to start, so I started by reading magazine articles about accepting my body and embracing my curves. This was the days before runways began to feature curvy beauties like Denise Bidot (and other plus-size Latina models) or you could simply search the #bodypositive hashtag on Instagram. But I had to start somewhere, so I started there. Then an ex-boyfriend recommended I try lingerie and I was HOOKED.

I began to scour the internet for scantily clad women in sexy lingerie. The caveat is that they had to be women that looked like me: Women with curves, big thighs, loads of cellulite. They had to look comfortable and exude sexiness; and not just because they were models. I wanted to connect with the women I saw in those images as much as I wanted to feel good imagining myself in their clothes. I discovered pin-up style in my searches and, soon after, the plus-size friendly clothing site, Unique Vintage.

I bought my first bikini on that site. It was white and made me look and feel just like Marilyn Monroe in those famous images of her on the beach (though she actually wore a one-piece). Eventually, I started to sneak into Victoria’s Secret and try on their lingerie. I was still too scared to buy it for myself in front of others, fearing their judgment, so instead, I would go home after each trip and browse through the lingerie on the Frederick’s of Hollywood site.

I fell in love with everything lacy, especially anything that was red or black or a combination.

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Ready for the weekend like….????

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Although  I owned several of these sexy things, I was still too scared to show it off to anyone.

I wanted to, but I was scared. Loving your body is a journey and, although I was at a weight I was finally happy with and generally comfortable in my body, I could still hear my mami in the back of my head telling me that my thighs were huge. It was an uncomfortable feeling and, to be honest, why none of the items in my growing lingerie collection included thigh-highs despite me finding them to be a very alluring look on other women. Just before my 25th birthday, I decided to do something daring and bought a Groupon for a boudoir photo shoot. The expiration date was six months away, so my promise to myself was that I would spend that time going to the gym and getting in shape, then schedule my photoshoot.

But I didn’t go to the gym. Instead, I let the coupon expire and tried not to think of it for years.

During that time, I continued my journey to loving my body. I learned how to nourish it by eating well. I learned to cook healthy meals because I enjoyed time in the kitchen. I learned to put post-it notes on my mirror that read “I love me for who I am RIGHT NOW” and repeat that mantra every time I got out of the shower, while I was still naked. I learned to not feel shy by walking around my apartment naked on Saturday mornings, making breakfast and reading my favorite magazines.

Little by little, I bought more and more lingerie — modeling it for myself in front of the mirror at least once a week — and learned to love my body more and more.

And then, just before my 30th birthday, I finally booked that boudoir photoshoot.

Nomi Ellenson, @nomifoto/Instagram

To be honest, I was terrified when I walked into the Boudoir by Nomi studio on a snowy Sunday afternoon just two days before my 30th birthday a couple of March’s ago. I still wasn’t completely in love with my thighs (though working on it) and I didn’t know what to expect. But photographer Nomi Ellenson was incredibly encouraging and shared with me her own lingerie and body positivity stories (her great-grandmother was a bra-fitter!). She specializes in photography that focuses on helping women feel more comfortable in their bodies and wasn’t just taking photos for someone’s boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day present. Instead, she made me feel comfortable instantly and even gave me helpful advice about which of the several lingerie outfits I brought to our session I should wear.

Ultimately, I chose my favorite sheer black curve-hugging dress and focused on red accents, like my lips and shoes. Did I mention how much I love that black-and-red combo?

Beyond that, the experience of actually doing something for myself was thrilling. It took over five years and, really, a lifetime of getting comfortable with my body but now I proudly have evidence of my lingerie photoshoot hanging in my bathroom. It’s a daily reminder of how far I’ve come on my body positivity journey. And even though there are still some morning when I wake up and just, ahem, don’t love myself very much, all I have to do is look at that picture and remember: Damn, I really do look good.

Read: A Body Found In Costa Rica Appears To Be Missing Miami Woman Carla Stefaniak

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5 Crucial Lessons We Learned About Fatphobia, As Taught By Chicana Body Liberation Author Virgie Tovar

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5 Crucial Lessons We Learned About Fatphobia, As Taught By Chicana Body Liberation Author Virgie Tovar

In a culture that’s finally embracing body positivity, how tf is fatphobia still so pervasive? Body image and fat discrimination activist and author Virgie Tovar says it’s because society isn’t as pro-big babes as the latest Dove ad, full-figured Barbie or curve model at New York Fashion Week imparts. Behind every “healthy is the new skinny” mantra and juicing fad remains the same ol’ oddments of fat bias, hate and fear. In her manifesto, “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” the San Francisco-based mexicana uses almost a decade’s worth of research and a lifetime journey from self-hate to self-love to discuss fat bigotry and debunk the falsehoods of diet culture.

“With the years I’ve spent working with women of all sizes and ages, it’s really clear to me that there is a global crisis of female unhappiness, of female confusion. Our culture is committed to keeping women confused and blaming ourselves. I use diet culture to begin the conversation, but this book is really about freedom. I’m trying to show women what my journey to freedom looks like. I’m trying to be that good friend who takes you to church in the moment when you need it. I’m trying to hold somebody in their weak moment,” Tovar, 36, told FIERCE of the intentions of “You Have the Right to Remain Fat.”

The short-yet-powerful read, published by the Feminist Press in August, is like a slice of creamy flan, a small, high-calorie sweet treat you’ll devour in one sitting. Even better, it was baked just for you by the loving hands of your fave prima.

“I feel diet culture makes you feel alone, even if you’re with people. When you’re feeling lonely, you need that thing that symbolizes something, that symbolizes you’re not alone. … This book, this physical thing, can act as a grounding for you. It reminds you that you’re rooted and that there is a community with you,” she said.

A crucial manifesto for every girl, woman and femme, we’re sharing our biggest takeaways from “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” which is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

1. Fatphobia is bigotry.

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Like gender and race, fatness, alone, is meaningless. We are not born believing thin bodies are good and fat bodies are bad. That is a lesson that culture teaches us. We are taught that people who are fat don’t have self-control, that they’re dirty, that they’re not beautiful and that they are not deserving of love. As a result, we are taught to look down, even hate, fat people and live in fear of becoming like them, largely because of the bigotry people of size experience.

2. Fatphobia harms everyone.

While fatphobia targets fat people, Tovar reminds us that it impacts individuals of all sizes. “Everyone ends up in one of two camps: they are either living the pointed reality of fatphobic bigotry or they are living in fear of becoming subject to it,” she writes. In other words, fat bigotry harms fat people by humiliating them, by making them feel inferior and by refusing to take health issues seriously, but it also injures non-fat individuals by using fatphobia to control the size of all people, by forcing them to, often dangerously, diet and over-exercise, by not allowing them to revel in the joys of life out of fear of becoming fat or appearing fat.

3. Controlling women’s body size is about controlling women’s lives.

While fatphobia impacts everyone, it’s also a tool of sexism. According to Tovar, “internalized inferiority is part of sexism and diet culture feeds on that sense of inferiority.” To feel inferior, or less than, is to feel like you, as you are, are not good enough or worthy of what you want and need, that you must change who you are, or what you look like, to become deserving of those things. Diet culture, more commonly veiled as healthy culture these days, hinges on women’s internalized inferiority. We adopt ineffective, or downright damaging, regimens so that we might finally find ourselves worthy of romance, of healthy relationships, of the job we are otherwise qualified for, of playing sports, of dressing how we like, of being adventurous, of taking photos — of taking up space.

4. For Latinas (and other immigrants), dieting is a part of the American dream.

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desert selfie a must ????????????????

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If you’re a non-white person in the U.S., you’ve received a lesson (or a trillion) on bootstrapping, the idea of pulling yourself out of your current circumstances by taking advantage of everything the “land of opportunity” has to offer you. If you’re unable to make something out of nothing — the idea goes — that’s on you for choosing not to bootstrap, not on the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that functions on the existence of the haves and the haves-not. For Tovar, and so many other chubby girls of color, thinness was a form of assimilation into dominant U.S. culture as a second-generation Mexican girl, and dieting was how she would bootstrap her way to the American dream.

5. You have the right to remain fat.

While we live in a fatphobic country, one that tells all of us that fatness is a problem that must be solved by diet and exercise, Tovar debunks this fallacy, pointing her finger at the real culprit: a sexist, classist, racist and fatphobic culture that is banking on female insecurity, internalized inferiority and mental health illnesses. Once we begin to understand this, we can stop mistreating our bodies by speaking down to them and depriving them of what they need. When this happens, we realize that we have the right to remain fat and live joyous, loving, productive, successful lives with our big bellies and double chins.

For more body liberation goodies, purchase “You Have the Right to Remain Fat” and follow Tovar on Instagram.

Read: Model-Activist Denise Bidot On Raising An Empowered Daughter

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20 Body Positive Lingerie Brands To Get Your Naughty This Year

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20 Body Positive Lingerie Brands To Get Your Naughty This Year

Body positivity is not easy to achieve in today’s world of models that look perfect and social media influencers who look even better. However, with a little help from the likes of Frida Kahlo, America Ferrera and other body positive Latinas, it’s getting easier these days to feel good about all of your curves. In fact, some Latinas on Instagram are all about celebrating our absolutely perfect imperfections all year long.

Yet despite the recent embrace of body positivity, it can be difficult to shop for those curves — especially shopping for lingerie that actually fits you and makes you feel even sexier. But thankfully, they DO exist! If you’re looking for something a little naughty to don this Christmas (whether it’s to show off to your boyfriend or just to make you feel a little cuter), then these brands are where you’ll want to start. Featuring different styles and sizes, here are 20 body positive lingerie brands that you’ll love.

1. Savage x Fenty


You can now look like Rihanna herself with Savage X Fenty’s body positive, totally inclusive fashion line. They have all kinds of sexy bras, undies and lingerie in a variety of sizes from 32A to 44DD and XS to 3XL.

2. Figs Underwear


If you’re a fan of minimalist style, then look no further than FIGS Underwear. Their body positive line features an immaculate attention to detail that And the best part? They’re made with “pleasure in mind.”

3. Nubian Skin


The diverse company Nubian Skin was founded by Ade Hassan after she was frustrated by the lack of inclusive “nude” lingerie options. Their skin tone types include everything from café au lait to berry and everything in between.

4. & Other Stories


& Other Stories is a clothing and accessories brand that has been known for doing daring things like featuring a model with armpit hair. They campaign about “real women,” which includes models with scars, tattoos and birthmarks too. 

5. Hips and Curves


If you have yourself some hips and some curves, then you definitely want to check out Hips and Curves. Their fabulous, sexy plus-size lingerie celebrates fuller figures thanks to sizes that go all the way up to 6XL. 

6. Neon Moon


Are you a badass woman? Then Neon Moon is made just for you. They are NOT about being body shamed but instead all about celebrating different styles on an inclusive and diverse group of women.

7. MarieYat


The London-based company Marie Yat is all about celebrating femininity and comfort. They also don’t touch-up their photos. Instead, they opt to show what real women look like with all of our “flaws.”

8. Impish Lee


One of the best things about having great lingerie is the ability to customize it, which you can totally do thanks to Impish Lee. All you have to do is choose the cut and style, the lining and the fabrics, then the brand creates your pieces in any size from 0 to 24. 

9. Me and You


Me and You lingerie is the place to go to for your comfortable feminist underwear. The company first launched with their cotton underpants printed with “feminist” on the butt. That’s definitely something to buy ASAP. 

10. Feminist Style


If you’re looking for cute, comfy undies that make a point about consent, then you definitely want to go for Feminist Style. Their adorable designs are cheeky (literally) by printing things like “only yes means yes” and “ask me what I like ;)” on them. 

11. True & Co


True&Co has a mission in life and that mission is to make lingerie and underwear for women that actually fit their diverse bodies. They promote body positivity with their campaigns, too, since they refuse to Photoshop.

12. Naja


When Gina Rodriguez entered the lingerie business, we HAD to pay attention. Naja is for empowered, courageous women who want premium lingerie with a social impact. Plus: Their garment factory primarily employs single mothers or female heads of household, so you can feel really good about buying their stuff.

13. Lively


The Lively lingerie model is all about not being typical as they aim to bring authenticity and diversity to their product fit guide. Their “real” women models help us to see what we all can actually look like in these sexy things.

14. Inspire Psyche Terry


The new lingerie brand for all sizes is Inspire Psyche Terry, which was created by the same woman behind Urban Hydration Haircare. The plus-size lingerie and clothing is bold and fearless in order to inspire women of all sizes.

15. Araks


Want to shop for comfortable and body positive lingerie along with swimwear and sleepwear? Then Araks is for you. Their styles are made out of 100% cotton but some are also pure silk and feel absolutely heavenly.

16. Ayten Gasson


If you care about being eco-friendly, then Ayten Gasson is definitely the lingerie and nightwear brand for you. They are all about sustainability thanks to using up-cycled vintage lace and sustainable materials. 

17. Pansy


When your underwear and lingerie is made out of organic cotton, you might just feel like you are floating on Cloud 9. That’s where Pansy comes in. There’s no padding or underwire on the bras so your boobs can just feel great.

18. Dear Kate


Dear Kate is a brand made by women and for women. They understand what a busy, on-the-go woman needs in her lingerie, which is why their pieces are created by using Underlux technology.

19. Lonely Label


Lonely is a New Zealand-based luxury lingerie label founded in 2009 with the goal of having an inclusive range of body types and sizes. Sensuous and romantic (and suitable for every body), they also have swim and loungewear.

20. Miss Crofton


Miss Crofton is a lingerie brand that is both girly and sophisticated, which is definitely not easy to achieve. If you have a hard time finding something that’s body positive but also dainty, then this is it.

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