There is only one rule to plus-size fashion: Show the good stuff, hide everything else. Play up the boobs, show off those lower legs, and for God's sake, put a tent over the rest of it. And, above all, hide that belly. Give us a big, round ass or maybe even thick thighs, but no one wants to see that.
I've been a good little big girl since Day One. I wore the tents and giant purses and stood behind friends in photographs. I bought billowy, hippie-chick blouses thinking, "stomach: solved!" — only to crumple in shame when someone offered me their seat on the subway. I've spent most of my 20s unintentionally rocking some sweet maternity style.
Then, one day I saw a phrase that changed everything: visible belly outline (or VBO). It was beneath a gorgeous full-body shot on Gabi Fresh's Instagram. Like many of you, I'm constantly inspired by Gabi's fearless style advances (she's the one who got me in a fatkini, and I've never looked back). But, it never once occurred to me that she — or any of us — might ever let the belly out of the bag.
That belly is the source of my greatest humiliation. It's the thing that jackass little boys poked at in elementary school. It's the one part of my body I cannot stand to have touched. I cannot stand to touch it. When I see it peeking out in the mirror, I hear my mother's voice telling me to suck it in.
So, when I heard about VBO, I knew I'd have to do it. There's one thing I've learned for certain in the last year: Show off what you're ashamed of. Tell the dirty secrets. Give those dark and scary corners some sunlight. It might not make the problems disappear, but I guarantee it will make them so much smaller. Most of the time, our demons are just jackass little boys, in the end.
I don't like my belly, but it's just not that big a deal. It doesn't define who I am. It's not so big and horrible that it cancels out the rest of me, body and soul. It's a part of me, and I like me. Even if I don't like that part, I've got to show it some more respect.
So, I put on some cute skirts and I took it for a walk. Here we go.
Photographed by Nicolas Bloise; Styled by Haley Loewenthal; Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey.