A few months ago, I first released the Fat & Thriving plus size tee and it's remained a favorite! As summer approaches, I wanted to reflect on why I designed this tee and what this phrase means to me because like so much of what I design, the meaning is pretty personal to me. 

All of my designs are rooted in my own experience but especially the tees. The "I Woke Up Like Dis" tee was not only Ready to Stare's entrance into apparel, but also my entry into body positivity. It thrust me in front of the camera and instead of hiding behind my designs, I was representing them and a much larger message of empowerment. It's called a self love JOURNEY for a reason and to say, I've learned a lot about myself in the process is an understatement. 

Ready to Stare was always about challenging the male gaze, societal beauty norms and making a statement on confidence but in the beginning, that statement was more subtle. It was an inference. When I added the tees, I wanted it to be known that my message wasn't up for debate. 

Although I have remained a size inclusive brand, my passion is certainly for the plus size community and my focus is on challenging fatphobia through fashion. I designed this tee because I want to challenge the idea that fat bodies don't deserve to be seen but I have gotten a few questions about how I define thriving while we as a community are still struggling to survive. This is totally fair. To me, it's about claiming ownership over my fat existence and visibility more than it is about having all things I want from life. And collectively, I see this message as many fat individuals coming together to say, "WE ARE HERE." 

I first tweeted #FatAndThriving back in September with this screenshot and said, "In today's edition of someone really worked up over my existence ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This happened to be the comment that inspired the tee but it's certainly not the only one like this that I've received. The fact that my fat existence makes a stranger this upset is still sort of baffling to me. They've constructed a whole story about me and they not only do they know my personal health history but apparently my deep disappointment of being turned down by modeling agencies that I've never even applied to. It's all really pretty ridiculous. 

There was a time in my life when reading this would have crushed me or at least shocked me but now I see the word "help" and I know confidently that it's the other person and not me who is in need of a serious look inside themselves. Loving yourself is hard work; I still work at it but people who are content with themselves don't go out of their way to hurt other people. 

When I say that I am fat & thriving, I have chosen to honor my own comforts over the opinions of others. I'm asserting that I'm worthy of existing.

I'm not saying that I'm not also struggling because I am both. There are certainly areas of my life where I am definitely fat & surviving (financially very specifically) but to me, the struggle and thrive go hand and hand. It's not easy being fat and loving yourself in a society that hates fat people.

If you are getting through each day and getting up the next day and facing discrimination, microaggressions and strangers on the internet calling you a piece of shit, congratulations, you are thriving! 

This is how I define fat & thriving but I want to hear from you! Leave your definition in the comments below or share it with me on social media: @readytostare on Twitter & Instagram

OUTFIT DETAILS

Fat & Thriving Plus Size Tee, Ready To Stare

The Sparkplug Indigo Bikini, Swimsuitsforall (sold out but similar

Geometric 70s Vibes Shades, Ready To Stare

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BONUS: My blogger boo Corissa of Fat Girl Flow just made an amazing video about "How To Be Confident" and not only is she also wearing the Fat & Thriving tee, but it's a totally relevant and important message!