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.
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!
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.
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.
“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!
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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!
“It’s powerful to talk face to face.”
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.
“To top it all off I got to meet Mary Lambert!”
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!
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Suddenly, in front of a large group I was comfortable enough to model a sleeveless dress and felt super hot!”
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!
“We empowered each other. To believe in ourselves, and our worth, and our beauty.”
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.