It took awhile, and a chance meeting with a fabulous woman from Turkey who happened to be visiting a small holiday party I was at (hi Melissa! Thank you!!!!) but I at long last got the ever awesome Natalie of Definatalie to do an interview with me. For those unfamiliar, she is a fabulously creative person who run a plus-size fashion blog, produces body positive art and is just one of the smartest, most talented people EVER. Seriously, I tend to be affectionate towards everybody until they give me a reason not to be, so it means something extra when I say that this woman is my ultimate blog crush. I am so thrilled you get to meet her!
Please give an outline of your endeavors – your artwork, your blog, your fashion.
I’m an artist and activist and blogger (definatalie.com). Basically my life is consumed with thinking about my embodiment as a fat, disabled, ciswoman and my relationship with my culture. I illustrate as a way of processing my feelings and experiences, and I blog to connect with my community (fat activists, feminists, womanists, and other activists.) Part of this is fashion, or fatshion, because as I have grown older I’ve learnt that fashion is so political and powerful. It’s a way to exclude people from popular culture, economic stability, representation and visibility and I blog about my fat body wearing clothes because I want to smash that.
Tell me about your favorite project of the moment; what is it, and what are you hoping it will bring into the world?
I’m thinking about beauty a lot at the moment and how it’s a pretty one dimensional and inaccessible thing for most people. At first I thought it would be interesting to explore ugliness, and reclaim it, but I’ve had some really awesome and nuanced discussions about this; while the word itself resonates with me and is powerful and emotive, it’s really horrifying for many other people because of their experiences with it. For trans folk and people of colour it’s a word that is way too hurtful to reclaim and I as a white ciswoman can’t ever understand that. I’ve been doing a lot of drawings throughout this exploration and I don’t know if it will bring anything to the wider world, but it has certainly been a way to open up discussion. I have learnt a lot!
What’s going on with Fancy Lady Industries? Also, what’s going on at your Etsy shop?
I was initially going to open Fancy Lady Industries on Etsy but then decided against it and decided to open it on its own site! FLI is where I sell things I make, and sometimes clothes I no longer need/ fit into. The stock is small at the moment because I’m building up slowly! I am currently selling custom digital illustrations, the infamous fat necklace, no diet talk brooches, postcards of my illustrations, and the newest necklace is magenta and says “vain”! (I’m quite proud of it!)
Down the road I want to sell more accessories, especially rings and bangles that fit bigger hands. It’s incredibly hard to find them! I also want to sell prints of my artwork, and perhaps originals but I find them hard to part with.
Please talk about how you became involved in the body positivity community and fat acceptance. Your blog documents where it has led you. Can you also talk about what you consider your connect between body/self-acceptance and fashion is?
I was introduced to fat acceptance through an ex-boyfriend when I was about 20 years old (12 years ago!) I’d never come across FA before but had always felt quite pissed off when people said negative things about my fat body. My mother had tried to put me on Weight Watchers but I quit after it made me feel like my eating was reduced to mere numbers. I started talking to activists in the US on message boards and Livejournal and for a long time I felt like I might be the only fat activist in Australia! It was very difficult to find anyone locally who felt as passionately about fat activism as me, usually anyone I’d talk to on the topic would immediately default to the “but don’t you know being fat will kill you?” argument. I eventually connected with a cluster of local friends after we bonded over similar reactions of rage to such arguments. In recent years it’s been so amazing to see so many Australian fat activist and fatshion bloggers, and it’s been a lot easier to connect with Twitter. I’ve always expressed myself through the clothes I wear, not particularly caring for what’s “fashionable”. I mean, it’s nice to feel fashionable but for me it’s not been something that’s very accessible because I am way too fat for trendy clothes. I taught myself how to sew as a teenager and have made clothes for myself since then, but in years since it’s become easier (financially and logistically) to purchase clothing online from overseas retailers. When I feel like I’m too fat to wear nice clothes it makes me feel terrible, but it has impacted on other areas of my life than simply body image. I’ve not been able to find employment because I wasn’t dressed appropriately in interviews, and I’ve also been warned by employers too!
Have you sensed/ perceived any difference between the plus-size experience in Australia and in the US or the UK?
In my observation, the main difference between the US, UK and Australia is community. I look upon the conferences and meet-ups that take place in the US and UK with envy, it’s just too hard to get everyone across Australia together in one place. That being sad, a lot of us did come together and meet at the first Fat Studies Conference in 2010!
What are your favorite resources for inspiration/positivity?
Mostly tumblr these days! Allow me to list just a few of my favourite fat tumblr babes:
This list is by no means conclusive!
You regularly appear in Fat Chic flickr group. Do you consider yourself a fatshionista or a fashionista? Beyond body type, is there any difference?
I always identify as a fatshionista. I want to be very clear that my fat is part of my fashion, it affects the way I dress and what I am able to wear. My body and my clothes are political and I identify as a fatshionista so people are made just that little bit uncomfortable when they realise I am acknowledging and centralising my fatness. I think that every person gets to choose how they identify, and that’s the difference between a fashionista and a fatshionista. Neither is hierarchically “better” than the other either!
What are your favorite clothing resources and designers these days?
I don’t have favourite designers. Truthfully, I barely pay attention to fashion as it plays out on catwalks and in magazines because it doesn’t include me. There are plus size designers, of course, but I can’t afford to wear their clothes so I don’t really pay attention!
I buy most of my clothes, accessories and (wide fitting) shoes from the UK – Evans, Asos Curve and New Look. Typically in the sales section
Is there any way you see to incorporate love of beauty (fashion, art, nature) into self-care? (Elaborate if you wish.)
Like I said up above, my relationship with “beauty” is strained. I do think self care is super important however, and incorporate a few traditional “beauty” routines into my own self care. I have had cystic acne since I was about 12 and for a long time would use lots of products and have facials and whatnot because I thought that was what I was meant to do in order to become beautiful. I’m 31 now and still have acne, and I’ve struggled with beating myself up or torturing my skin (oh jeez the chemicals I have applied to it!) for a long time. So in that respect, beauty and self care has been difficult for me. In another respect, like doing my nails with all kinds of odd designs, it has been fantastic and centering for me!
Stepping away from body image and beauty, I think finding contentment and quiet in a busy, bright, noisy world is really useful when practicing self care. I love walking in rainforests, going to art galleries, riding my bike, or sitting in a shady spot and just staring in to space. Sometimes I need to be pulled out of my brain because I am quite introverted, and it’s refreshing to look outward to find a new idea or perspective.
Self care is so different for every person. We need different things and should honour ourselves by granting those things. It could be a dress, it could be a walk, it could be practicing elaborate make up and taking photos of yourself, it could be a lie down in bed listening to music or it could be coffee with a close friend.
What do you think Fat Chic readers should know that only you can tell them?
You’re so fance, yes you are!