Lookbook: ModCloth and A-Camp’s Queer Femme Summer Plus-Size Party Was Real Dreamy

all photos by Robin Roemer unless otherwise indicated

It can be really challenging being a person of size and trying to have fun while shopping or trying on clothes or even just hanging out at clothing swaps. Often there isn’t anything available to us, or the stuff that is available is ugly, or we have less options than everyone else, or we just get in our own heads and have a hard time existing in our bodies — let alone enjoying them.

So this year at A-Camp X, Autostraddle teamed up with ModCloth to host the very exciting Body Posi Plus Size Party! We invited campers of size to join us – Vanessa, Reneice, and Mary Lambert – for a discussion and a dress up party.

Body Posi Plus-Size Party hosts Reneice, Mary, and Vanessa all wearing ModCloth

ModCloth generously donated 40 items of clothing in fantastic prints, styles and cuts ranging in size from L to 4X. We set things up as if we were all hanging out in our very stylish fat friend’s closet who just happened to be giving away a ton of outfits. Dreamy! Mary hosted a feelings atrium where we talked, laughed, and cried together about the realities of existing in this world as fat queer people. Campers tried on multiple outfits and had their photos taken before deciding which piece they would each take home, and we all cheered each other on and celebrated our bodies and the extremely cute ModCloth clothes that actually fit us!

Feelings Atrium with Mary Lambert // photo by Taylor Hatmaker

That’s why this A-Camp activity was so special: seeing the joy in each camper’s eyes when they tried on an outfit they loved that fit them and received praise and affirmation from the other campers was literally one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me, and I will not forget that joy for a long, long time. A big part of how queers both accept themselves and aim to be noticed by others in the queer community is by being able to choose how we present to the outside world, so having options when it comes to outfits is a really big deal – and having the confidence to explore those options is an even bigger deal.

Browsing the ModCloth clothes // photo by Taylor Hatmaker

The ModCloth Body Posi Plus Size Party aimed to create a space where everyone felt seen, heard, and validated. For many of us, it was unlike anything we have ever experienced before. It was incredibly powerful, and was without question my favorite two hours of A-Camp X. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out how incredible everyone looked in their new ModCloth outfits – yes, I said their new ModCloth outfit: each camper was able to keep an outfit and take it home! – and read what some participants thought about the workshop. My only regret is that my regular every day life isn’t as affirming, as fashionable, and as inspiring as this workshop.

Thank you ModCloth for being the dreamiest fat-positive queer-friendly clothing company on this planet! We couldn’t have done this workshop without you, and my new purple dress and I are eternally grateful.

Ariana and Alex try on ModCloth outfits // photo by Taylor Hatmaker


Maggie

“I got more compliments than I maybe ever have in my life.”

The Bodi-Posi Party at A-Camp was incredible. When I first walked in, I spotted a pink dress that looked like it was for a prom queen fairy princess, which is basically everything I want to be. I made a beeline straight for it, and like magic, it was my size! I got more compliments than I maybe ever have in my life at this event, and at camp in general. One of my A-Camp goals was to work on self-love, so this was just what I needed. THANK YOU!

Vanessa

“We were all vulnerable and brave together, and it was really special.”

I am so grateful to all the campers who showed up and made this event happen – we were all vulnerable and brave together, and it was really special. I feel so lucky to have been a part of this joyous experience. I cried so much. I wish I could feel this good in my body and in my community every day.

Liz

“The Body Posi party was the best-friends-trying-on-clothes film montage trope that never happens in real life – except it did.”

The Body Posi party was the best-friends-trying-on-clothes film montage trope that never happens in real life – except it did. Being squeezed into the rather small A-Camp bathroom with nearly a dozen other posi partiers was magical. Everyone could tell when someone came out of a stall with The Dress, it felt like electricity went through the room. I wore my new dress to the dance and my cabin mates hardly believed I didn’t bring it from home. Austen kept saying, “It’s like it was made for you,” and it really was! Not just the dress – the whole Body Posi Party experience.

Jessica W.

“This was the first place where I felt like I completely 100% belonged.”

This panel was the first place where I felt like I completely 100% belonged. In my life, not just at camp. It was so healing and fun and deep and amazing and I just… felt like I didn’t have to apologize for any part of myself. I’m still trying to figure out how to find that sense of belonging in my daily life.

Kaylah

“ModCloth helped me feel like a total babe… and I looked like one too!”

The moment I laid eyes on this dress, I knew it was ON AND POPPIN’! Wearing this outfit felt like the paradise that is wearing something you truly like, and also having that thing fit. That feeling is so amazing and hard to come by when you’re plus size. ModCloth helped me feel like a total babe… and I looked like one too!

Hannah

“It’s powerful to talk face to face.”

Hannah is wearing the Glide Me Home Chiffon Maxi Dress

The Body Posi event was a special to me because it was the first time I’d had conversations about plus-size bodies, femme identity, and queerness in the (beautiful) flesh. It’s powerful to talk face to face, even when there are great resources online.

Jessica M.

“To top it all off I got to meet Mary Lambert!”

Jessica M. is wearing the Flawlessly Flirty Short Sleeved Dress

The Body Posi Party was an amazing experience for me, from getting to try on outfits in a positive and supportive space, to getting an amazing ModCloth dress, to getting to model the dress for the camera and the group and feeling that I look awesome and hot in the dress…To top it all off I got to meet Mary Lambert!

Terra

“The Body Posi workshop was, in a word, healing.”

The Body Posi workshop was, in a word, healing. Having a space dedicated to loving and celebrating fat bodies is a necessity that, unfortunately, is often nonexistent even in intersectional queer spaces. Being surrounded by plus size babes (in every part of their self-love journey) opening themselves up to allow others to receive their pain, their hope, and their joy was truly an empowering experience and I carry it with me every day.

Mary

“It has pockets!” she squealed, to which we all screamed, “POCKETS!!!!” and cheered even louder.

The breaks in discussion about our shared experiences, when someone in their new ModCloth outfit would breach the circle, were LIFE-CHANGING. This gorgeous babe popped in the middle of the circle and swiveled around, to which we responded with applause – only to realize halfway through her twirl that the dress had pockets. “It has pockets!” she squealed, to which we all screamed, “POCKETS!!!!” and cheered even louder. I don’t know if it was the display of taking up space that so often many of us are ashamed or scared to take, or the duality of speaking about serious stuff broken up with the levity of fun fashion and twirling in dresses, but the workshop was powerful as fuck.

Kimberly

“I have never had such a supportive, positive, and uplifting experience when trying on clothes.”

I found the panel wonderful because there are so few places where us plus-sized people can feel like our hardships are valid. Also I have never had such a supportive, positive, and uplifting experience when trying on clothes.

Suzanne

“Suddenly, in front of a large group I was comfortable enough to model a sleeveless dress and felt super hot!”

Suzanne is wearing the Make Your Statement A-Line Dress

It has been a struggle to learn to love my body at its current size… Everyone [at the Body Posi Party] was so amazing and kind and when I tried on a dress covered in dinosaurs, [insisting] that it was perfect for me. Although I LOVE the dress, it is sleeveless. One of the areas of my body I have most struggled with is my upper arms. Suddenly, in front of a large group I was comfortable enough to model a sleeveless dress and felt super hot! I hardly even considered my arms. It was a transformative and beautiful experience, and was definitely one of the longest lasting benefits and best memories I reaped from A-Camp!

Reneice

“We empowered each other. To believe in ourselves, and our worth, and our beauty.”

Reneice is wearing the Glamorous Guest Midi Dress in Red

I cried from joy too many times to count because the energy in the room was unlike anything I had ever felt before… We empowered each other. To believe in ourselves, and our worth, and our beauty. To challenge the world and all the people and things that make it harder for us to live in it, and to never, ever question the fact that we are sexy, resilient, badass people and the world is lucky to have us. I wish everyday could be as fantastic, fun, and healing as this day was for us. Someday it will be.

Vanessa is a queer feminist writer and photographer currently based in New York. She really misses Portland. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 256 articles for us.

36 Comments

  1. All of these ladies look lovely and this seems like a fantastic event! I’m glad that Modcloth still seems to be trying to support body positivity, even after their purchase by Walmart last year.

    • yeah, we had feelings about that too — but this whole workshop became a thing b/c a queer woman who worked at modcloth reached out to sarah and i about working together and we had lunch with her and asked her a million questions about it all. (and then i had the idea for this workshop and we asked them if they’d wanna do it.) i completely agree with all negative feelings about walmart, and historically we’ve refused to run ads for wal-mart or link to wal-mart products, and i even like wrote a post about hating wal-mart several years ago — but apparently they are very hands-off, and the money they’ve gotten from the walmart purchase has enabled them to work with a really diverse group of designers and offer almost everything on the site in standard and plus-sizes, which wasn’t financially possible before. so idk sometimes with retail it’s a deal with the devil whichever way you shake? and there are really good ppl working at modcloth itself, regardless. prior to the buyout the company was struggling financially and had laid off a bunch of people so i’m not sure it would still exist were it not for that.

    • being dubious about walmart is so valid, and also continuing to support brands like modcloth that continue to be dedicated to our communities (both queer and fat) even after they’ve been bought by walmart feels valid, to me. we unfortunately live in a capitalist world and honestly if walmart’s $$ makes it so that modcloth has more freedom and ability to donate clothes to worthy causes (like A-Camp!) and diversify their clothes to include more gender presentations, then i accept it. i’m sure there are folks who would yell at me about that, but idk, i feel happy that the increased capital is going toward positive things for one of my favorite brands.

      also i genuinely appreciate your sweet comment but do want to point out that there are probably people in this post who don’t identify as “ladies”!! <3

  2. Loved this event!!!! So glad all of these babes found clothes that fit their personality, style, and most importantly, enhanced their babeliness! I’m still heart-eyesing over Maggie in that dress–beautiful! <3 thanks to those that helped organize this awesome workshop!

  3. I AM CRYING YOU ALL LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL AND HAPPY

    Maggie, babe, I remember how GORGEOUS you looked in that dress back in our cabin and how much you were positively BEAMING – just, like, RADIATING light.

    This is magical, fashion can be healing & transformative, thank you for sharing <3

  4. I used to be very skeptical about fashion and I would not have believed you if you’d told me that a fashion post about dresses would make me cry, but here I am, all choked up. This is beautiful. You are all beautiful.

  5. Sharks and dinosaurs are my *favourite* things to find on items of clothing, and it’s so amazing to see them on dresses. (My favourite t shirt is a boys’ top with sharks wearing various hats) You all look so beautiful and so radiantly joyous… there’s just a huge amount of sunshine pouring out of these photos, and I love it lots and lots

  6. FATSHION IS EVERYTHING. I love how this space has evolved for people at A-Camp – I wish I’d been there!

    I really also wanna encourage people to go back to their towns and cities and organise Fat Community events- we have an active Fat Positive Clothes Swap in London and it’s the best. There’s even a whole day festival happening this weekend!

  7. The idea of a queer femme plus size party is beautiful and it seems like a wonderful space was created for those who participated. But the limited size range of the clothes on offer is disappointing. Plenty of queer fats are unable to shop mainstream plus size fashion which typically ends at a 3 or 4x (like modcloth’s offering). It would have been more empowering to see a truly inclusive space.

    • I appreciate your feedback a lot! I can’t tell from your comment if you were at A-Camp this year or not, but either way, please know that I hear you and I would love for the event to continue growing and becoming more inclusive. As a smaller fat person, I am very aware of the privilege I have when shopping at places like ModCloth, and I would really love to leverage the success of this particular event (which was the very first one we’ve ever tried! We had no idea if it would work out at all! I am proud of it even if it’s not perfect!) to make future events more inclusive to fat queers of ALL sizes. In my dream world, multiple brands would donate clothes, we’d have a LOT more diversity in sizing, and we’d also have a lot more diversity in options for folks of all gender expressions. We didn’t intend for the party to skew so femme-centric, but the truth is ModCloth’s brands are often very femme leaning, and since they are literally the only company that has ever offered to donate free clothes to A-Camp, I remain very grateful to them, because without them this event wouldn’t have happened. I think the next step is having other plus size companies do the same, if they can afford to – that’s my personal dream.

      But I want you to know that in spite of my joy at the way this event turned out, I do hear you, I do agree with you, and we are ALWAYS striving to make A-Camp as a whole as well as this particular workshop the most inclusive space it can be. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. <3

  8. just wanna pop in and say you all look and are amazing and wonderful and im so happy you got this space once again YOU AL LOOK FUCKING AMAZING WOW THANK YOU FOR THIS BLESSING THIS WEEKEND

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