I felt devastated that I was repulsive to everyone. So, I decided to starve myself. I quit eating.
Even though the body positivity trend keeps growing and growing, the places where you can actually buy clothes if you are plus size don’t. The options are still very much limited, both when it comes to the number or stores that exist and the variety of designs. There’s kind of a one predominant style generally, so it’s a take it or leave it kind of thing.
That’s why I was mesmerised when I first stumbled upon Jamie JeTaime’s profile. Her style was so different than what I was used to seeing on plus size girls. Needless to say, her profile became my go-to place when I was looking for outfit inspiration and, sooner, rather than later, she became much more than just a stylish inspiration. You’ll see for yourselves why.
Do you remember when you first became aware of your body?
I definitely remember. At the end of 3rd grade I grew too large to fit into children’s clothes. Peers started making fun of my stomach in 4th grade and also the way I walked (I have scoliosis). My mother and her mother told me that I was going through an ugly phase. I didn’t understand what was going on. I felt devastated that I was repulsive to everyone. So, I decided to starve myself. I quit eating. No one cared that I quit eating because they cared more that I was fat. I focused my energies on how to not look like a monster.
For how long did you stop eating? How did you manage to overcome that phase?
I’m not sure how long I stopped eating. I think I ate very little for a bout 6 months when i was 9-10 years old. I hit a growth spurt and became very thin. When I was 12, I was 5’8″ and only 105 lbs. Unfortunately, I think I started eating because I became thin through the growth spurt. The size harassment stopped. I didn’t become plus size again until I was 20.
4. Did you have any role models growing up? If not necessarily people, what were the “things” that shaped your perspectives growing up?
I felt kind of disconnected from any role models as I didn’t feel like I could relate to anyone. Until I discovered zines and girl punk music when I was 14. This was hugely pivotal for me. I finally felt like I had a community (even thought it was mostly through zines, music and the internet). I worked on unlearning the body hatred propaganda I was fed. I created a few zines and tried to help other people too. The zines were primarily about body positivity, being queer, growing up isolated in the woods, depression, and a bunch of other things. I have my zines issues stored away in boxes and at this point I am not sure I want the world to see them.
5. What about your role models today?
I don’t have any specific role models. When I’m in a rough spot I think “What would Dawn Davenport do?” She is a character in the movie Female Trouble. She is loud, funny, and crass with incredible style.
6. Often times people tell you to love yourself, but they never teach you how. What worked for you?
For me it was understanding the construct that society wants you to hate yourself because then you have less power. When I understood that people wanted me and many others powerless it changed the way I viewed the world around me. Fortunately, I discovered this as a young teen.
What else worked for me is seeing badass bitches doing their own thing and embracing it! When I don’t witness it in real life, I look to the internet. Instagram is full of babes doing what they want.
Your feed is full of gorgeous bikini shots. Can you remember the first time you wore one?
I have a photo of myself between 3rd and 4th grade wearing a bikini. I had to wear an adult size. This was before I was body shamed into oblivion. I stood at the beach with my round tummy out and felt zero shame. Soon after came the shame and lasted a long time. The next time I wore one I was 27. My close friend, Theresa, who was a very body and fat positive person gave me a super cute bikini for my birthday. I wore it… I thought it fit my personality and shape better than a full piece. However, I was nervous I would be harassed. I wore it and not only was everything fine, but I felt more comfortable.
*(Theresa passed away in 2016, hence me talking about her in past tense. She was a fucking powerful beast and I miss her horribly).
What are the stereotypes or comments you have to fight off most often?
Lecherous men. I block them. I do not do this for the male gaze.
9. How do people react to the fact that you call yourself a fat 30 something weirdo? Why do you feel like a weirdo?
Since I was a small child I was harassed and called a weirdo. I still am. I’m unintentionally off beat. I never fit in and used to always wonder why. I couldn’t see why I was so different. Eventually I embraced it and became self-confident in my awkwardness… When I wrote a blog entry “On Being a Fat 30 Something Years Old Weirdo” I received extremely positive comments from people from all over the world. So many people related. There are so many rules on the way people are supposed to act… I touched on gender, age, and size and it resonated.
10. What are the rules that you hate most? (in regards to: “There are so many rules on the way people are supposed to act… I touched on gender, age, and size and it resonated.”)
I hate all of them! Any unwritten rule that keeps us hating ourselves and others has got to go! For me, I have noticed that clothing rules change dramatically when you hit 30. I remember when I just turned 30 and started a new job. A co-worker said to me, “Are you in your 20s?” I said, “No. Why?” She said, “You dress like you are.”
11. Was there anything different about you other than your size? (in regards to people calling you a weirdo since you were a child)
oh yeah a lot. However I cannot pinpoint it exactly. I think it’s a personality thing. I was always the class clown… and never intended or wanted to have that role.
Does social media affect your self confidence in any way? How much time goes into creating an Instagram post?
Each day I witness tons of people documenting their lives and it is inspiring! The visual language conveyed through instagram totally resonates with me and has definitely affected my self-confidence in a positive way.
Too much time goes into creating an Instagram post for me. Hahaha I am constantly thinking of new photoshoots… It’s much more than location and outfit… I also think of the mood I want to convey. Between the planning, styling, location, posing, editing, it takes maybe 3 hours for the photoset. Plus I spend nearly two hours responding to each person who comments. I love the dialogue! I do it because of I love it, but it is very time consuming. I have scaled back a bit. I used to post daily… now I do like 4 times a week, because I need to spend more time with my pets. hahaha
I am about to start working on more video, including comedy sketches. This is in addition to my photos. I’m a loud sarcastic funny person and sometimes that is missing from my photos.
What would you like to achieve most in your life?
Eventually I would like to get paid for creative projects to facilitate a life for me that is less stressful. I am always short on time and finances.
How would you like to change the world?
I would like to do my little part in reminding people everywhere that they should live life on their own terms. Helping people unlearn the social conditioning of self hatred and reminding them of their value. I realize I am only one person with one perspective, so I am not going to resonate with everyone (nor should I!). . … so, I hope that by sharing examples of my life and creating visual dialogue that this creates a ripple effect and encourages others work to empower others as well.
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