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#FearlesslyMoving: Walking into Winter Like...

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~ Lao Tzu

Winter is coming. And I'm not ready.

I suffer from osteoarthritis so my joints tend to get inflamed in extreme weather, hot or cold. But more so in the winter time. I experience joint pain, swelling and stiffness on almost a daily basis. So it's key for me to keep moving even though I just want to crawl back into bed and suffer in silence.

Taking that first step out of the house is always the hardest. 

Once I am moving, the pain lessens and I feel better. Stretching is also key and a must for me. I don't have a gym membership because I fully admit I am still working on not being self-conscious in a gym. But I don't let that stop me from getting my exercise in because movement is a form of self care for me. So I choose to walk. 

That is what #FearlesslyMoving is all about to me.

My legs and feet have already taken me to incredible places in my life already so why not keep walking? 

Walking is free and I live in New York City where you can walk anywhere and see something interesting. Never a dull moment in the city, let me tell you.

To help motivate me to take that first painful step, I make sure what I am wearing is cute and comfy. I'm not a coat person since I grew up near the beach and have a thick skin when it comes to cold weather. I get hot very quick and don't like to feel weighted down by clothes. 

Coats are bulky and I don't want to look like the kid from A Christmas Story. But this year, I took a chance and am happy I did. Because at the end of the day, fashion is a form of self care for me as well.

I saw this magical pink coat over at Catherines and was in love. It's lined in faux fur including the detachable hood, has adjustable side belts and cute gold tassle thingys at the ends of the hood straps. And hello, IT'S PINK!!!!!

It has pockets and is a nice low hip length where it provides coverage in my booty area. The sleeves have a ribbed knit cuff that makes it stay in place so that no cold air sneaks in up my sleeves, which I hate. I usually think puffer coats are the devil because I don't want to look larger but I took a chance on this because sometimes we have to get out of our heads and take a chance.

And WOW! I looked in the mirror and loved how it looked on me. I always size up one size when buying coats in case I need extra room for a sweater or am wearing something bulky underneath. So I ordered a 4X in this coat which equals a size 30/32 on Catherines' size chart. I'm glad I sized up because it fit perfectly and zipped up with no issue. If you are my size (26/28) and want extra room to wear layers underneath, I would get the 5X, to be honest, as coats typically do not offer stretch. For the record, my measurements are 57"-51"-68".

On this day of walking and exploring, I decided to wear a cozy sweater, my absolute favorite jeans in the world and some comfy booties, all from Catherines.

I love a great doggy sweater and this one had a doggy wearing a leopard print bow and dark pink cat eye glasses so I had to have it. I'm wearing a size 3X in the sweater. 

The jeans are Catherines' Right Fit Jeans in Curvy, which have been my go-to for years. I usually have to wear a belt with my jeans since my waist is smaller than my hips. These jeans are the ONLY jeans I wear without a belt. They have side elastic panels in the waist that prevent gaps. They are AMAZING.

I'm 5'6 but have short legs so if I buy regular length, I have to roll them up. If I want a cropped length, I get petite. I like that Catherines offers me those length options and also gives me size room to go up or down to get the fit right. In these jeans, I'm wearing a size 24. Yup, you read right!!!! A size 24. If I want a boyfriend slouchy look, I size up to a 26 regular and roll them up.

I also have large 23" calves and these jeans fit them nicely with no tightness. My upper arms measure 21" around and the sweater fits well in that respect as well.

The boots are a true wide width where I felt like I had wiggle room AND they are super comfy. So I can wear double socks with no issue. I walked around all day in them and my feet did not hurt. I love how brown looks against pink and it ties in with the leopard bow on my sweater.

I don't usually post pics of me sitting down because I used to think it was unflattering. But now? I know it's all in my head and if I feel good about something, who cares what others think? I don't anymore. 

I also don't wear makeup when I am out walking around because I just want to be comfortable and natural. So yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. I am not wearing any makeup. Just some Vaseline lip therapy on my lips.

So I will be wearing this pink coat and booties all winter long and living my best walking life. The booties also come in black so I have to have them. 

There's so many great things to do in NYC during this time and I will be sharing some of my adventures as a plus size person in some future blog posts coming up. So be sure to check back here to see me #FearlesslyMoving and having fun while doing it.

Shop my look from Catherines via the links below:

Photography by the amazing Karizza.

You can find her on Instagram here and visit her website here. I love to work with photographers who are body positive so expect more magic with myself and her in the future. I highly recommend her.

*This post is sponsored by Catherines but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

"Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be. I'm not happy when I try to fake it." ~ Easy, The Commodores

I talk a lot about my dad and how he spoke life into me on a daily basis growing up. I know I was blessed to have a dad like I did and not a day goes by, that I don't think of him. It's been 7 years since he died and he is always with me, even in my style.

I definitely got my love for camo from him. He never left the house without his camo jacket and hat. He loved combat boots and jeans. The first pair of jeans I wore as a plus size teen were courtesy of my dad's closet. I never gave those Levi's jeans back! And he didn't mind because I think he knew what they meant to me. When I wore those jeans, I felt normal and like everyone else. 

Watching him in his camo and denim, I was inspired. People stared at him -- he loved his camo safari hat, which always drew attention. And my dad didn't care. That was his style and that was how he expressed himself. He wore what he loved. 

And by me wearing what I love every day of my life, I am honoring his legacy of being true to who I am and embracing that. My style has always been different from others. I love streetwear but I also love being girly. I love sequins, faux fur, pearls, lace and all that. So I always incorporate a feminine vibe into my streetwear like how I paired this camo jacket from Lane Bryant and sneakers with this super girly mesh skirt with pearl details.

I love the floral embroidery on the camo jacket which gives it a feminine vibe and some pops of color. I also have issues with jacket sleeves being too short and tight in the upper arms. But this one fits well and comfortably with no snugness. I also love the frayed hem, which reminds me of when I was a teen and used to fray and deconstruct my denim with a razor blade.

And the tee... well, I had to have to it. That line "Easy Like Sunday Morning" is so meaningful to me. My dad loved the Commodores and "Easy" was one of his favorite songs to sing. I grew up in a house full of music but that song had so much meaning for me and hearing my dad's deep voice singing it, just puts a smile on my face and reminds me that it's okay to be different. 

I want to be free to know the things I do are right... that may be a love song but for me, the song empowers me to live my best life. And that includes wearing camo, a girly skirt and graphic tees.

Life is short. wear what you love no matter your size or age. That's my daily mantra.

Shop my look here:

Graphic Tee: Lane Bryant

Camo Jacket: Lane Bryant

Skirt: Lane Bryant

Sneakers: Puma

**I'm wearing a size 26/28 in the Lane Bryant pieces.**

A Size 26/28 Girl's Journey on Shopping Brands That Stop at Size 24: City Chic

"Clothes aren't going to change the world. The women who wear them will." ~ Anne Klein

I had an amazing call today with an up-and-coming designer named Elle Dove who creates clothing for ALL sizes. Now when I say ALL, I truly mean all. She wants to dress everyone and her passion gives me hope that the fashion industry, including major brands, will see the importance of fashion for everyone. Here's an interview I did with her a few months ago for PLUS Model Magazine here.

Lorenza James by Elle Dove
When discussing why she chose certain women to be her brand ambassadors (including me!), she said to me "The woman is the one who sells the clothing, not the brand."  She explained in detail how she does not look at just numbers but who your followers are and what your platform stands for.

And that resonated with me so deeply because it is so true and the core of what an influencer should be. 

I think the industry has lost its way a bit in that instance with major brands:

  • Looking solely at numbers over engagement.
  • Choosing only to offer up to a certain size or calling it "size inclusive" but stopping at a size 3X/24.
  • Using influencers whose bodies fit a certain beauty ideal that is acceptable to society (hourglass and pear shapes under a size 24).

So as someone who is often outsized within my own fashion industry, I have learned over the years that shopping is not always fun and is honestly a sport. And I am a repeat gold medal winner. I constantly have "make it work" moments with Tim Gunn's voice in my ear.

Jacket: Premme // Dress: plus BKLYN // Booties: Avenue
One of the things I have learned is to #IgnoreTheSizeTag. Yup, that's going to be my new hashtag going forward.

Sizing is so inconsistent across the board, even in straight sizes! I hate to try on clothes and would love to just buy off the rack but that is not just possible, especially when you're plus size. Once I accepted this and adapted, I have become savvy as knowing what fits me.

I admit, I used to bypass brands that only went up to a size 24. I naturally thought I could not fit into anything they sold. I was also programmed to always reach for the larger size and have learned to not do that anymore. Baggy clothes do not hide the plus body. For me, it made me look bigger. Sure, I was hiding my rolls and such. But I looked as if I was wearing a tent. Not cute.

During my days of hiding my body in larger clothing.
There is no magical way to hide that you're fat so why not dress the best way you can and feel good about yourself? That has been an important part of my self love and acceptance journey.

Life is short so why should I wait to wear what I want? Why should I have to lose weight to look fabulous and show off my style? The time is NOW.

One of my favorite brands to shop that stops at a size 24 is City Chic. Nine times out of ten, I have been able to fit into their size XXL, which is a 24. For the record, I usually wear a size 26 on top and a 28 on bottom. My measurements are 55-53-68.

Their strapless dresses are everything! They have piping and an adhesive band around the top part (similar to what you see in strapless bras) so it stays in place. When I finally got the courage to let my wings be free and wear strapless dresses, City Chic was the first brand I wore.

Full Figured Fashion Week, June 2018

The first jumpsuit I ever tried was from City Chic and it changed my mind on jumpsuits forever.

Here's some other City Chic styles I have worn and loved:

Hello Body and Curves!

I think that we have been fed so much negative rules and criticisms for most of our lives that it takes time to reprogram our thoughts. But I still live by that mantra "Change your mindset, change your life." It didn't happen overnight but I started out with one body part: my arms. And then once I took that step, it got easier to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to show my body in public and stop covering up.

City Chic has been one of those brands that has been a part of my self love journey. While I do think they should consider expanding their sizing to 32, I still celebrate them for what they do get right... the fit! They truly ensure that their clothing fits a curvy, plus body that has extra in some places. I also check the fabric and if I see spandex or elastane in it, that means it has some stretch. Yes!

The biggest shopping lesson I have learned over the years is to shop by fit and my measurements. Even if the size tag does not align with what size I am. 

Here's what I have my eye on at the moment from City Chic:

Just an FYI, this is not a sponsored post and City Chic has no idea of my love for them. Sometimes we have to show our support for free because that's how we not only build relationships that can lead to a profitable future but also to spread the word. Our voices must be heard in order to make change and sometimes complaining is not enough. 

If you love what I have to say regarding fashion, fit and style for the size 20+ woman and you're in or near the Atlanta area, come hear me speak this weekend at the TCF Style Expo! I'm on an amazing panel of incredible women talking to this very topic. The panel will be moderated by Alicia Young of AP Young Blog, who is over a size 24. 

You can still get tickets to the TCF Style Expo here. Would love to see you!

Starting a New Journey of #FearlesslyMoving

Movement for me means being in peace while allowing myself to let go, be in the moment and feel free.

I have been kicking off my blog posts with quotes for over 10 years but today's post starts with a quote of my own.

Lately, I have been giving lots of thought to movement. Not just physical movement but overall movement within life. I believe that the mind, body and spirit are one. So if one is not right, it throws off the whole trinity. For me, I have been spending so much time getting my mind and spirit right that I neglected my body. And this made me realize that's why my MBS trinity was not at 100%.

I'm always tired or stressed. I work a lot and put pressure on myself to be the best I can be. I push myself beyond limits and sometimes it takes a toll on me physically. I haven't felt inner peace in a really long time and at this point of my life, I crave it. I need it. 

How can I inspire others and keep going, if I don't have that inner peace and my spirit tank on full? Life is draining enough and if you don't refill your tank regularly, how are you supposed to be at the top of your game?

So I started looking into movement in general. I don't aspire to lose weight and be some "Before and After" picture. In my opinion, weight loss is not the way to happiness because your Body is a part of that MBS trinity and not on its own. You can lose weight but if your mind and spirit ain't right... well, you get the drift.

I worked too hard to love myself as I am and in all honesty, my size has nothing to do with my MBS not being on point. It has to do with my inner health and how I choose to use my energy. 

Movement can be an incredible thing. For me, I love to walk and one day, I want to get strong enough to jog again because running is a form of movement that truly lets you be in the moment and feel free of the world around you. 

I have arthritis in both knees and my right ankle so I tend to get stiff a lot and have chronic pain. However, the irony of that is the more I move, the less pain I feel.

This is when I decided that I needed more movement in my life. I need to make time for myself and invest in myself and my MBS. If I can't show up for myself, how am I supposed to show up for others in my life?

I'm not a gym girl right now because I am still working on not being self-conscious in that space. Yes, I am confident and love myself but I am not perfect. I'm human and I am still working on not noticing the stares or whispers. 

However, I have the world before me, ready for me to take my first step and just start moving. Movement can be medicine for the MBS... I learned this from a friend of mine who I admire greatly.

Deb Malkin is someone I have known for years, who is simply amazing. Her Instagram page Move With Deb was what inspired me to look more into movement.

Movement can be anything, to be honest. It doesn't have to be just exercising. Deb recently posted about Movement Permaculture, which was a way for her and her partner to work on their garden in a fun way. It encouraged movement while they plant and grow things to sustain them in their lives.

A post shared by Move along with Deb (@movewithdeb) on

This led me to introducing movement in my life via house chores, like dancing as I sweep and mop, squatting while I wash dishes or even lifting heavy things around the house as I clean. I also make it a habit to turn on the pedometer on my phone while I am in the supermarket and walk around it a few times. You can easily do a mile that way while shopping for groceries.

Find what moves you and incorporate that into your every day life.... this is what my goal right now is.

I actually take notes from Deb's IG page, especially the wisdom she offers her readers via comments about movement... Here's a few that resonated with me:

On being able to do things while comfortable - "There's nothing wrong with comfort! It's all about adding variety and seeing the movement we do all day long and not just shoving it in the category of fitness at a gym."

"Just thinking about movement in a whole body, throughout the day framework has shifted my whole world. It helps me feel so much more engaged in my everyday life and empowered in my body."

"Movement is a bigger category than fitness. There's a lot we can do to help get more flexible, have more strength and stamina in our everyday life. Going to the gym can be fun but that's just a tiny portion of our week. We have a body the rest of the time too and not to say we should obsess about fitness, it's more of a reframe of movement that is nourishing our cells as being available all the time. It's like the opposite of diet culture to me."

With that said, starting today, my journey of Fearlessly Moving will be a reality. My current goal is to feel empowered in my body again and as Deb said, more engaged in my every day life. And I'll see where this journey takes me.

You can follow my journey here on the blog and on social media with the hashtag #FearlesslyMoving. I plan to use this blog as a way to be accountable for myself and not slack off on my movement goals. And I hope I can inspire some of you to move along with me.

Because movement can be body liberation too! Having more mobility is freeing and honestly, after a day of walking and moving, I feel like a superheroine. And I want to feel like that daily. Movement can be joyful and I can't wait to share this journey with all of you.

Click here to follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date with my #FearlesslyMoving journey.

How do you incorporate movement into your life? Any tips? Comment below and let me know!

When Life Doesn't Go As Planned...

Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience. ~ Victoria Holt

Jacket [LINK] and Snoopy tee [LINK]: Torrid
A week ago, I got back from Atlanta where I was honored for an award for empowering and inspiring others through my work. Before that, I was in Cancun, Mexico for a fit modeling gig. And I recently got signed to State Management as a size 26+ fit model. I'm sitting here, as I type this, still in shock that this is my life.

Dress: LOFT via Gwynnie Bee [LINK]

Dress: Yours Clothing UK [LINK]

Swimsuit: Boutique + for JC Penney [LINK] // Sarong: Always For Me [LINK]

My first fit job at Universal Standard
The last few months have been hectic with lots of wonderful things happening, which remind me that when you put yourself out there in the world, stay open to the possibilities and trust in where your journey takes you, magical things can happen.

At one point in my life, I would ask over and over again, "Why me?" I felt like I couldn't catch a break and bad things were happening back to back. I thought to myself, "How much more can I take before I crumble?" Well, the answer to that was, I can take A LOT and going through that time in my life tested my strength and showed me what a fierce warrior I was.

Simply because I didn't give up.

I decided to keep pushing and strive for better things in my life. It wasn't easy and I'm still in therapy 4 years later. BUT... my life has done a 180 degree turn and I have to say, life is good. Not perfect but I know how to roll with the the bad times now. If I can get through the worst of times, I can get through the bad ones.

I kicked off 2018 with two video opportunities, both denim features, for Glamour Magazine and Refinery 29

You can view the Refinery29 video here.

While both videos were about showing different bodies wearing jeans, the Glamour one was a hit with over 3 million views where we are all wearing the same jeans from Old Navy. In the Refinery29 video, it was all about our favorite jeans and why.

What I loved the most about both videos is that it not only allowed me to be seen but also it gave me the platform to speak to women about loving themselves and wearing what they love.

Life is taking me on this path where I have not only become an advocate for women over a size 24 but also, becoming someone whose story is inspiring all people and not just plus size women. And it humbles me to no end.

We all given a voice and we choose how to use it. I haven't always spoken up but now I know better.

I'm now officially a size 28 fit model for Mexican comtemporary brand Generose and have already worked with Universal Standard to fit their extended sizes collection. Being a fit model has taught me that change is possible and I see the shift happening in the industry. However, I have to speak up and be an advocate for those women in these spaces too.

I'm starting to see that life is an exciting ride and I am embracing that now, more than ever.

So, yes, life doesn't always go as planned but it all works out in the end. I am proof of that.

Next up, I shot another Glamour Magazine video coming soon, heading back to Cancun for more fittings and helping with an event happening there in the fall, prepping for Full Figured Fashion Week and pitching for more public speaking gigs. 

Life is good, even if it hasn't gone the way I planned. Stay tuned!

Never Be Ashamed of Your Size

"I am recognizing that the voice inside my head is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else." ~ Q-Tip, "Steve Biko (Stir it Up)" 

For years, I wore the wrong size. I thought I was larger than I was AND I had been fed that notion growing up that wearing baggy clothing would hide my fat and draw less attention from the world. I used to lie about my size because I was ashamed to be a size 24 and wore clothing that was a size 30/32 in order to hide my body.

For me, those days of hiding and lying about my size are over. I'm still on my journey to complete self love and I know that journey is a lifetime commitment. 

Now I'm a size 26/28 and I don't lie about it. I embrace it because it is me and honestly, my size does not dictate my worth in anything. My clothes fit me better -- I mean, how amazing do I look in those Lane Bryant jeans in the above pic? Baggy jeans were not a good look for me. I'm daring to step out of my comfort zone more and wearing different styles - the more fashion I try and love, the more my confidence builds.

AND... my size has actually been my strength and worked for me in a positive way. It has helped me with this blog and reaching other women who need inspiration and empowerment from someone who they resonate with. It has helped me get signed as an extended sizes fit model with State Management, it has helped me stand out in the influencer space and it has taught me how to use my voice to make change in the world.

However, these days, I am now seeing women (including bloggers) lie about their size and saying they are smaller. I see them squeezing into clothing that doesn't fit well. And it confuses me because it's evident that the clothing is too tight and ill fitting, as well as the wearer not looking super comfortable. 

Girl. Why are you doing that to yourself? 

I'm all for people wearing what they want but I also want to inspire women to embrace who they are, including their size. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all beautiful in our own right, no matter your size, age, gender, race and etc. 

I want women to proudly wear their size and not think twice about it. I want them to not get caught up in the number and focus on being comfortable in what they choose to wear. Why? Because then you will feel good and will feel more comfortable and strong, wearing something that fits well, isn't stopping your breathing and squeezing the life out of you.

Another reason I personally don't get caught up in sizes anymore is because it is so inconsistent across the board. I wear a size 22 in ASOS, a size XXL (24) in City Chic, a 26 in LOFT, a 28 in Lane Bryant, and so on. Shoot, sometimes I have worn a size 5X at Gwynnie Bee! If I let all that get to my head, I would lose it.

So I shop by my measurements and wear what I love. I wear styles that enhance my curves, lumps and bumps. I know my body shape and know what looks good on me. I wear clothing that I feel good in and that includes those "taboo" styles like a body con dress, a crop top, shorts and leggings. As long as I feel good and love how it looks on me, I wear it.

If you love how that extra tight smaller size looks on, then I will be quiet and let you live. But it does sadden me that some women feel like they have to lie about their size, their weight and all of that vanity stuff because we do those things for others; to seek validation from others.

At the end of the day, we shouldn't be dependent on the validation of others because what counts is the validation we give ourselves.

The most important relationship you can have in life is the one you have with yourself. That relationship will determine how the other relationships in your life will go. And if you can't keep it real with yourself, how will you do so in other relationships?

Some food for thought...

Life is short. Be proud of you and all you have been able to do in your life in your body. Size ain't nothing but a number and has nothing to do with your beauty and what you bring to the world. There is only 1 you in the world so why not celebrate that?

"You gotta have the mindstate like: 'I'm so great,' and can't nobody do it like you do. Miraculous, phenomenal and ain't nobody in here stopping you." ~ Remy Ma, "Conceited"