Blog / wcw
When I’m not writing this column I spend most of my time working on plus size fashion stuff. Before I did this, I went to school for fashion design and that’s when I discovered Ashley Nell Tipton.
My program, like most in fashion, was not geared towards making clothes for anyone above a size 10, and many of our lessons in pattern drafting, illustration, and clothing construction were based around the notion of dressing to achieve an ideal body shape. Lessons included words like flattering, slimming, and problem areas. When I made my final collection of plus size lounge wear, I learned I was the first to do so in my school, and they couldn’t give me a dress form to work off of because they didn’t have one.
It was comforting to find Ashley because even though she was in San Diego, I could relate to her experiences. She also was the first person in her school to design a collection for plus women. Since she graduated, Ashley has received a ton of incredible opportunities like debuting at Full Figured Fashion Week in New York City. This babe’s rising star isn’t quitting and she’s going to be on the next season of Project Runway! It’s awesome to see the show cast a plus size fashion designer, and I’m really happy that it’s her.
Ashley is consistently a source of happy, positive energy and her passion for making clothing is so inspiring. Her clothes are a perfect reflection of who she is: bright, colourful, fun, and stylish. You won’t find a minimal black dress in her store. Best of luck, Ashley! I can’t wait to watch you kick ass on Project Runway, hopefully repping fatshion all the way to the finale.
Annissa Mawinda is a self-proclaimed globetrotter. Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, she is currently living in London, England - but it looks like she’s on the move again.
The wanderlust vibe wasn’t the first thing I noticed about Annissa. She has an amazing eye for style and her outfits are always on point. Always. Her look used to be super vibrant, mixing up bright prints, neons, and hair colour. Lately though, she’s been rocking some next level monochrome looks that, paired with her confidence to wear whatever she wants, consistently knocks my socks off.
Lana Wachowski is part of the sibling director team, “The Wachowskis.” Their work includes tiny indie films like The Matrix series, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas, and most recently the newest sci-fi Netflix series, Sense8.
For the longest time, The Wachowskis were notorious for not doing any press. Many speculated this was because of Lana’s transition, but really they just always valued their privacy. That changed a few years ago when Lana came out, publicly discussing her sacrifice of privacy for visibility – in the hopes that she could help LGBTQ youths.
The latest project from Lana and her brother Andy is in my opinion, their best to date. Sense8 is an incredible look at human connection and there’s a distinct difference between this show and pretty much everything that’s come out of the mainstream sci-fi tv scene. This show is full of queer voices that are unapologetic and strong. There’s is also a lot of love.
I had no idea until I started writing about this that Sense8 was receiving rave reviews from audiences while being panned by critics. Lots of people are saying that it’s too diverse, too radical for many of the sci-fi fans (a wet, rainbow strap-on is featured in the pilot episode). I have no idea if this is true but I’m not happy that there’s talk of this show not being renewed for a second season. This kind of television is important and necessary and if y’all feel like marathoning some Netflix in the near future, I recommend giving Sense8 a whirl. Here’s a trailer.
It being Canada Day and all, I want to give a shout out to a Canadian babe. Toronto-based performance artist Jess Dobkin has put some incredible work out into the world. Often incorporating her body in her art, pieces like The Lactation Station have received a lot of media attention. For that performance, people were welcomed to taste a selection of pasteurized breast milk from six new mothers, including Jess herself.
Other pieces she’s done include Bleeding at the Ball, where she wore a white dress with blatant menstrual blood stains to a fancy gala and Fee for Service, when she invited people in the audience to pay a small fee to sharpen a pencil using her vagina dentata. You can check out her work here.The latest project that Jess has taken on is a little different. She’s taken over Chester Station’s long unused newsstand, hanging a shiny disco ball from the ceiling and filling the racks with indie zines, prints, and artisan baked goods, as well as some more typical subway station fare. Rotating exhibitions and performance art (like a recent statement about manspreading on public transit) mean there's always something new to check out. Commuters can purchase and chat about art on their way to work, they’re open 1-7pm daily. Follow The Artists Newstand on Facebook for all the details!
Today is the first day of Toronto’s annual music festival North By Northeast (NXNE) and every year I go and smush my fat body into crowds and try to power through my anxiety for these kinds of things – in the name of good tunes. This year, two of my fave all-girl bands are playing the same night at different venues (the stressssss) and I’m going to try to see them both. So let’s celebrate babes in bands, shall we?
First up we’ve got Warpaint who are pictured above. They’ve been together for over a decade and they make witchy, jammy, gorgeous music. They all sing. They look effortlessly cool all the time.
Warpaint put out their second self-titled LP last year to critical acclaim and have been touring like crazy since. In a recent interview the babes talked about potentially not releasing any more full-length albums, they’re just going to put out tracks as they’re created. The single No Way Out was released this year, it’s brilliant and more tunes are on their way.
You can listen to No Way Out here, it’s been on rotation for my solo living room dance parties for months!
Warpaint is playing Adelaide Hall on Friday June 19th @midnight.
My other must-see is Seattle-based feminist babes Chastity Belt. I discovered them only recently but the song Cool Slut off their latest album Time to Go Home is my pre-summer sunny day anthem. With lyrics I want to hear like “To all the girls in the world trying to take off their shirt, ladies it’s okay to be slutty”, it’s no surprise that they’re a hit with Rookie and Bust Magazine. You can check out their cute-as-heck video for Cool Slut right here.
Chastity Belt are playing a couple of sets this Friday, you can catch the details on the NXNE site here.
If you know any all-female bands that you think I should check out, let me know in the comments!
Alyssa Thralls (better known as Alyssa Panda Eyes) has an unforgettable vibe. An artist by trade, she is a tornado of design: jewellery, clothing, photography, digital mixed media, and dj-ing to boot.
Her distinct style could be labelled as positive goth (posi goth?) with a focus on eclectic symbology. Her clothing and accessory collections have featured imagery from runes, the tarot, and planetary signs. I want everything. One of the things I love most about Alyssa is her unwavering sense of self – it carries across everything that she puts out into the world. If I caught a glimpse of someone scrolling through their Instagram feed across a crowded streetcar and a photo of hers went by I’d immediately know that we both follow this babe.
You can check out her work here and if you’re feeling it, keep up with her amazing style on Tumblr and Instagram. Who knows what is going to emerge from her creative spirit in the future, I’m looking forward to finding out.
The first thing you’d probably hear about Katie Stelmanis is that she sings and plays keyboards for the very awesome Toronto-based band Austra. Moody and dance-able, their critically acclaimed music has been going in the ears (and eyes) of many for quite some time now.
If you follow Katie on Twitter, you’ll know how active she is in maintaining dialogues about feminism, misogyny, transphobia, and more. Yesterday Pitchfork released a piece she wrote, Op-Ed: Why Is Violence Against Women Excusable If It’s “Art”? that draws attention to rapper/a-hole Action Bronson being booked to play a free, headlining show at a public venue in Toronto as part of the North By North East Music Festival. He has previously released music glorifying gang rape and other misogynistic garbage, as well as a now infamous transphobic tweet that lost him a lot of fans.
After the announcement was made that he’d be playing a free all-ages show at Yonge-Dundas Square apetition began circulating to have his set moved to a ticketed venue. Signed and supported by Katie, a decision was made a few days ago in favour of removing Action Bronson from the lineup that night. As far as I know so far, North By North East folks are still working on an alternative for people who want to spend money to see him.
In her Pitchfork Op-Ed Katie writes,
Many of us, beyond those of us who signed the petition, are tired of music that is blatantly misogynist and an obvious promotion of rape culture being supported by festivals and corporate institutions. The reactions to protests such as ours has a very clear message: that violence against women isn’t a real issue, these are just songs, we should all just “chill out” and “have a good time.”
Our safety matters and it is crucial for the music community to understand the role it plays. This is not just about a song, and it is not just about Action Bronson, it is about the many ways that women, trans people, and women of color are made to feel they do not matter and they do not belong in the music scene. But we know the truth. And we will continue to resist.
Big love to Katie for all that she’s putting out into the world. You can read her full Pitchfork piece here.
It seems like every time I'm on social media I see this babe pop up for another super awesome thing she's doing. Marie is a writer and size acceptance advocate, currently working as an associate fashion and beauty editor at Bustle and I always thoroughly enjoy her work. She's worn a low-rise bikini on a beach and documented the reactions she received and another time she sent out a photo of her makeup-free face to see how Photoshop experts would manipulate the image to make her 'beautiful'.
Recently Marie participated in one of my favourite body positive projects, What's Underneath. In her interview she talks about how she became the activist she is today and her struggles with self-acceptance. It's definitely worth a watch.
Honestly, she has accomplished so much in such a short time that anything I write here would inevitably be insufficient. Please check out her blog and get lost in the mountain of challenging work she's done to advance the body positivity and beauty diversity movements.
TW: Sexual assault.
When I saw Emma’s name go by in my Facebook feed yesterday I immediately clicked on the link to get an update on her performance activism piece. Emma’s story first started circulating online after she began carrying her 50 lb. dorm mattress with her, everywhere she went. A form of endurance performance art, Emma titled her senior thesis Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), making a commitment to carry it until her alleged rapist was expelled from Columbia University, where they both went to school. She could accept help if someone offered to carry it with her, but she could not ask for it.
Nine months later, Emma carried her mattress to her final classes and people started wondering if she would bring it to convocation and if she would be allowed in with it. Sure enough, @teoarmus tweeted this photo today:
Because some people are the worst, Jezebel reported this morning that large posters featuring a photo of Emma and her mattress with the words “Pretty Little Liar” scrawled across it were spotted in some areas of New York City. A @fakerape Twitter account also appeared and has almost 1,000 followers and as of this this afternoon it is still active and asshole-y.
Emma’s activism and art is important and necessary, if you would like a fuller description of her project you can watch this interview with her.
Some of the only photos I have of myself from high school. I decided at some point that I was going to wear the same shirt every year.
I am of the age where Instagram still doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to remind myself to post sometimes and I do, because it’s one of the ways I love to engage with the community of babes on there. Selfies, crap that I’m doing, people I’m spending time with, outfit posts – I try to put something out into the world every day, even if it’s a bit meaningless.
Hump days are for #womancrushwednesday of course and on #throwbackthursday I like to dig out my box of photos that go all the way to when I was a wee baby and post something from there. There is a thing about it though that I can’t always ignore: a quick sampling of the box’s contents would reveal a glaring gap in time. It could appear as though I time travelled from age 12 to 20, leaving only a few high school photos as evidence that I was even ever a teen.
I look at the few photos I do have and even though I’m smiling I can see that I was sad. Really sad. I felt out of place in the smallish town I grew up in, people made fun of me, and I had a near impossible time finding like-minded individuals. I gained some more weight on my chubby frame and stopped asking myself what I wanted to do with my life because it didn’t matter. I told myself that I couldn’t do the fashion-y things that I had dreamed about because I was fat. Even when I applied for university I chose to major in Political Science because it seemed responsible. I hated every class I took and it was a real struggle to get through the academic side of post-secondary life.
The benefits of university outweighed the challenges. I got out of my town and moved to Toronto, I met some absolutely incredible humans, I found a couple kindred fat babes and I started to consider the idea that working for the government would absolutely be the wrong move for me. I didn’t have a precise direction but I began to make a list of things I knew I did not want to do. I started creating things with my hands and considering more options. I stopped hiding when someone would pull a camera out. I eventually stopped cringing when I’d see I picture of myself and now I make time to take self-love selfies and post then on Instagram because it’s fun and also because it’s important.
Feeling free to do whatever the eff I want.
I didn’t grow up with the internet and didn’t even think that other fat, artsy, feminist girls existed because they were never shown on tv or in magazines and I certainly never saw anyone around my town like that. Sure everyone has the internet now but the struggle for body diversity and self-acceptance is real and still trudging along. Incredible strides have been made and the movement is accelerating at a pace I used to think wasn’t possible.
So I just wanted to take a long-winded moment today, on this platform to say that however much love you have for yourself is okay. Even if it’s only a little, even if you are your own personal hero. Just keep on taking in the good and try to be open to new things, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone. Big love to everyone out there doing their thing today, including myself.