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Black/Indigenous Reflections on White Supremacy (During a Pandemic)

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“You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.” — Marsha P. Johnson

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen apart and put myself back together over the past few months. People have asked me how I’m doing and my answer is almost always, “Up and down.” I’m trying to keep the faith, but real talk, it’s been hard.

Like a lot of Black people, I’ve spent the past few days, weeks, (months, years…) processing deep rooted trauma as a result of witnessing how little Black lives matter in all corners of the world. It honestly feels like I’m drowning in white supremacy/colonialism/capitalism. Couple that with being single at a time when I couldn’t possibly need love and tenderness more and you’ll see why it’s a miracle if I make it through each day at all, let alone in one piece.

Last week, I was doing some journaling and wrote down any and every thought that came to mind. I burst out in tears when I wrote the words, “I can’t breathe.” I wasn’t intending to be poetic (or trite). It’s honestly the only way I can describe a lifetime of feeling crushed by oppressive systems (racism, homophobia, sexism, capitalism, ableism, fat phobia, and white supremacy, which all work together seamlessly to make life nearly impossible for a BIPOC* person like myself) not to mention the ancestral trauma that lives within me.

Recent events have brought up so many feelings I’ve suppressed my entire life just to keep moving forward. But, during a pandemic there’s no escaping them. Quarantine is like a pressure cooker that threatens to explode at any moment (and has). My hope was we’d come out of isolation a kinder and more loving world, having realized we’re all in this together. Recent events make it clear that that dream is far from reality. What gives me some hope, though, is witnessing non-Black people having tough conversations and acknowledging their privilege and responsibility in dismantling the systems that not only put various communities at a disadvantage, but explicitly target them.

As challenging as this all is, I truly believe the only way out is through. So, I’m looking inward and focusing on what’s within my control so I can hopefully, one day soon, breathe.

#blacklivesmatter ✊🏽

*BIPOC=Black Indigenous People (Person) of Color

Amy Stretten Chief of Style, All Black Lives Matter

Photos by @lyvellg

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Plus Size Inclusivity in Queer Fashion: A Virtual DapperQ Panel

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“I love your stuff, but you don’t make my size.” — Jahn Hall (and just about every plus size person at one point or another)

Hi friends! How are you holding up? Did my post on the importance of self-love during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine ring true for you? Are you finding ways to enjoy this time rather than complain about it? I certainly hope so!

Out of sheer boredom (and because my friends have told me to do so for years), I created an Instagram account (@thebabyvalentino) for my chihuahua-pomeranian fur baby, Valentino. Take a look and follow if you love cute things! 🙂

Last weekend, I joined DapperQ’s Anita Dolce Vita, Dr. Van Bailey (Bklyn Boihood), Kay Ylanday Barrett and Jahn Hall in a virtual conversation about plus size inclusivity in queer fashion. So many great points were made! Here are a few takeaways:

  • The majority of plus size fashion brands do not consider their LGBTQ+ customers.
  • Most LGBTQ+ fashion brands do not offer extended sizing. (The same goes for sustainable fashion brands.)
  • If you’re plus size and LGBTQ+, you will probably have to get creative if you want to look and feel like your best and most authentic self.
  • Plus size LGBTQ+ folks shouldn’t have to work so hard just to feel good in the clothing they wear!
  • Brands need to do better!
If you’ve got a minute, watch the entire panel discussion. For more on queer fashion, visit DapperQ‘s website and follow them on Instagram!

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Self-love in the time of COVID-19

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“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —  Maya Angelou

These wise words couldn’t be more true at a time like this. I’m reading that this quarantine could last as long as 18 months. Yes, 18…months! Even though the thought of staying indoors (just my dog and me) sounds daunting, I’m so very ready to take on this challenge. I’m kind of looking forward to it, actually.

Like a lot of people, 2019 was incredibly difficult for me. Still, I’m grateful to have gone through it because it’s taught me so much about myself. I’ve come to realize I’m resilient beyond belief and stronger than I could have ever imagined. Without my struggles last year, I’d never know how brave and capable I am. 2019 showed me that while I love people, I don’t need anyone. We’re born alone and we’ll die alone, so it’s important to know we can thrive without help, too.

I will always figure out a way to make the most of my situation and right now is no exception. And I truly believe that you can too! There is absolutely nothing we can do about this quarantine except getting our hearts and minds right about what this will mean for the next unknown number of months.

My plan, for the foreseeable future, is to really dig deep and work on my stuff. Like most people, I’ve got unresolved issues with people in my life and trauma I have yet to work through. While I’m quarantined, my plan is to make my home a safe space even more than it already is. Here are some of the things I have already started moving on:

  • I’ve already invested in a foldable stationary bike because I’m ready to start moving again and I plan to dust off my resistance bands and workout DVDs because I want to get in tip top shape and physical health.
  • I’m planning to reach into my massive library and pull out some cookbooks, too.
  • Now is the finally the time to learn how to grocery shop strategically and cook delicious meals at home.
  • I want to finally clean out my closets and purge what I don’t need. (The extra money from selling unwanted clothes will be a big help, too.)
  • I’m also committing to continuing with my meditation practice and get in touch with spirit. I’ve enjoyed becoming more spiritual over the past year and really want to keep it up.
  • I also plan to get back to writing more — like here on this blog, but also getting started on writing my first book, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

This quarantine doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We just have to make some adjustments and roll with the punches as they inevitable come. There really are so many blessings to be grateful for, even during chaotic and frightening times like these. Please believe me when I say you are stronger than you think.

I’m really excited to use this period (however long it lasts) to continue my evolution and transformation and to continue practicing self-love and self-care. If ever there was a time to do it, it’s now. I honestly feel like this is my season to be a caterpillar in a cocoon. 🐛

Let’s all lean on our inner resources and focus on doing the work we need to do in order to become the butterflies we’re destined to become. 🦋✨

💖 We truly are in this together.

How are you staying positive during this strange moment in time? What are you going to work on? 

Love and health to you and yours.

xo,

Amy

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Please note: These photos are from my archives. I have been safe and quarantined indoors for quite a while.

Coat: Amazon | Jeans: Lane Bryant | Bag: Ross | Shoes: Gift

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Celebrating Women’s History Month with Cacique

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  “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Hey babes! Happy Monday and Happy Women’s History Month! Can you believe it’s March already? 2020 is really flying by!

The above quote by Eleanor Roosevelt has always been one of my favorites. It honestly couldn’t be more true. After an incredibly tough 2019, I declared this my Comeback Season. (A reference to rapper/singer/actor, Drake’s 2007 mixtape.) Despite having what felt like a ton of bricks fall on my head last year and dealing with it almost totally alone, I’ve come to realize that I’m stronger than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been told over and over again by those who know my story that I’m an absolute badass for taking so many challenges head on with next to zero support. Pushing forward without any family, let alone my two pillars (my dad and my grandma who passed away in 2019 and 2017, respectively), has been incredibly difficult. But, I’m a fighter and I’m stubborn (#Taurus), so I refuse to give up.

One thing that has really helped me keep on keeping on has been prioritizing my self-care. Besides meditation, prayer, going to therapy and grief group and working with crystals and oracle cards, I’ve been intentionally shrinking my social circle, weeding out people (genuinely good people, don’t get me wrong) who just aren’t on my wavelength right now. My Sundays are now exclusively for self-care/self-love, so I give myself 24 hours to do absolutely nothing except what my spirit calls for. Usually that entails a long, hot bath or shower, lathering my skin with my favorite body cream, wearing my comfiest PJs, a face mask, some yoga or light stretching, chill music, hot tea, homemade brunch and a good book. I am incredibly intentional about who I spend my time with these days. And, on Sundays, it’s usually just Valentino (my adorable chihuahua pomeranian rescue/side kick) and me.

Another part of my self-care practice is treating myself to things that genuinely make me feel good. This includes comfortable, quality undergarments like the Cacique ‘So Light Boost Plunge Bra,’ their Extra Soft Cheeky Panty (both in ‘Cafe Mocha’) and this French Terry Sleep Robe (in Heather Gray) that I’m wearing here.

As you probably know by now, I’m a huge Lane Bryant fan and I absolutely adore their intimates line, Cacique. The fit and quality of their clothing and undergarments is one of the best—hands down!

What I love most about this bra is that it’s a boost bra (read: cleavage-making) with a plunge neckline and a light-as-a-feather feel that still provides lift, support and a shape that I love. Unlike a lot of boosting or push-up bras that feel heavy, the So Light Boost Plunge Bra is nearly weightless and has a super-smooth finish. There is no side boning and it features stay-put straps which give a more flexible and comfortable fit.

This bra is perfect for low-cut tops and dresses or for lounging around while looking as sexy as can be! (If you’re wanting more coverage, they also sell a lightly lined t-shirt bra.) Band sizes range from 34-46 and cup sizes range from B-H. Virtually anyone can enjoy the supportive, sexy comfort this bra provides!

So, if you’re in need of some spoiling, head on over to Lane Bryant/Cacique and treat yo’ self right this minute! You absolutely deserve it.

xoxo,

Amy (a.k.a. The Chief of Style)

 

The Chief of Style in Lane Bryant Cacique So Light Soft Plunge Plus Size Bra, Panties, and Bathrobe

The Chief of Style in Lane Bryant Cacique So Light Soft Plunge Plus Size Bra, Panties, and Bathrobe

The Chief of Style in Lane Bryant Cacique So Light Soft Plunge Plus Size Bra, Panties, and Bathrobe

The Chief of Style in Lane Bryant Cacique So Light Soft Plunge Plus Size Bra, Panties, and Bathrobe

The Chief of Style in Lane Bryant Cacique So Light Soft Plunge Plus Size Bra, Panties, and Bathrobe

 

Thank you to Lane Bryant for sponsoring this post. As always, all views expressed are my own.

Photography by Rebekah Maynard.

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Warm Up With Lane Bryant’s Resort Collection

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“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

January is proving to be the longest month ever, am I right? While I’m really loving this new 2020 energy (so long, 2019, a.k.a. the worst year ever!), I am a bit tired of the cold. I’m longing for hot summer days and long summer nights! 

Thankfully, Lane Bryant recently released their new (online only!) Resort Collection featuring a selection of the cutest pieces, perfect for showing a little (or a lot of) skin on your pre-Spring/Summer vacation!

I took a little trip this past weekend to Malibu and I was really feeling the summertime vibes. I had dinner at this cute little Mexican restaurant near the beach called The Cliffdiver and had to snap some photos in their adorable front patio!

Here I’m wearing a full LB look: medium wash denim jacket, longline bikini top, crisp white skinny jeans, woven slide sandals and a woven floppy hat. I actually loved the denim jacket so much, I had to get it in white, too!

As soon as it warms up a bit, I plan to head to Joshua Tree. I’m looking forward to to sipping fruity cocktails under the night stars in an outdoor jacuzzi, wearing my favorite Lane Bryant bikini, of course.

Are you planning a getaway? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

 

Thank you to Lane Bryant for sponsoring this post. As always, all views expressed are my own.

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