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Body Positivity

Self-love and Happiness at Any Size

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“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde

I’ve been on every weight loss plan you can think of. I had a nutritionist at age 12 and a personal trainer by the time I was 13; I’ve been a weight watcher (several times) and tried being friends with Jenny Craig (twice); I’ve taken diet pills and even considered scheduling a consultation with my doctor to discuss gastric bypass surgery. Whether a size 6 or a 16, I have always wanted to fix my weight “problem.”

I spent every January planning my new diet and scheduling daily workouts. I’d convince my friends to be my accountability partners. Waist trainers, pedometers and trackers, health apps, new workout clothes and counting calories…I’ve done it all. I thought the only way I’d ever be happy was to be thin and the only way to be thin was to hate the weight off. No matter how many weight loss programs I followed or how many inches I lost, I still hated my body and I hated myself. I was miserable and clinically depressed. I honestly can’t think of a time in my life when I was truly happy.

That is, until last year.

Last January, I didn’t make a resolution to lose 20, 40 or 60 pounds. Instead, I made a resolution to fall madly in love with myself.

Until last year, I never knew you could love yourself and be confident in your own skin and be curvy, thick or even fat. I thought self-esteem was something only physically fit people could have. But now I know the secret.

All you have to do to be happy is make the choice to be.

Over the past year, I’ve made a conscious decision every day, every second possible, to love myself and be happy. I choose happiness at every turn. When I could choose to be negative, I, instead, see the positive no matter the situation. I spend time thinking about my ideal outcomes rather than fearing the worst. I put my thoughts and attention into what I want rather than what I don’t. I’m not perfect at it, but 9 out of 10 I’m aware and able to ‘choose happy.’ And it has made a world of difference in my life! Not only do people receive me more positively, I just feel so much lighter. I’m finally floating through life.

Have you ever struggled with loving yourself? What did or do you do to stay happy? Please share in the comments!

xo,

Amy

* This Valentine’s Day, Parfait Lingerie is doing a two-part giveaway called the “Love Your Body Sweepstakes.” To learn how to enter, go here.

This month, I’m wearing Parfait Lingerie’s Ava . This set is possibly my favorite that Parfait makes. I love the lace detail combined with the gorgeous tropical print. And, the buttons on both the bra and panty are so adorable!

Don’t know where to buy Parfait Lingerie? Click here.

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

Thank you to Parfait Lingerie for sponsoring this post as part of their 2018 #PerfectFigure campaign.

Win 2 Tickets to The CurvyCon in New York City and Free Lingerie Courtesy of Parfait Lingerie

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“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay

Hello and happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2018!?

As I recently announced, I am partnering with Parfait Lingerie on their 2018 #PerfectFigure campaign. If you haven’t heard of Parfait Lingerie, they’re making a name for themselves as having really beautiful lingerie for cup sizes A-K, a size range that is almost unheard of! (Yay for sexy bras for larger bust sizes!)

As part of our partnership, I will be blogging monthly about self-love and body positivity and sharing photos I’ve shot in their lingerie.

This month, I’m wearing Sandrine in cameo rose. What I love most about this set is the longline bra. It features lace detailing and has a retro/vintage feel. The matching panties are in a cheeky low cut boy short style and in a matching color lace. Sandrine comes in four colors: cameo rose, black, french blue, and the eye catching wild pink. This truly is one of my favorite sets Parfait Lingerie makes. Don’t know where to buy Parfait Lingerie? Click here.

Guess what! I have something super exciting to share…Parfait Lingerie is doing a two-part Valentine’s Day Giveaway this year called the “Love Your Body Sweepstakes.”

Part One

The first prize is two (2) tickets to The CurvyCon to (1) lucky winner as well as $500 towards travel. (Either $500 for roundtrip flights to NYC or $500 American Express gift card to use towards ground transportation if the winner already lives in or near NYC.)

To enter, you must upload a picture of your body’s ‘perfect’ imperfection to at least one (1) social media platform (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). For example: stretch marks, vitiligo, freckles, a tattoo you regret, etc. The more images uploaded, the more entries you will have. You must tag Parfait’s handle, as well as caption our hashtag #PerfectFigure.

Part Two
In addition, I will select one (1) winner to win two (2) sets of lingerie from Parfait Lingerie. To enter, you must tag my social media handle (@ChiefofStyle on IG / @TheChiefofStyle on Facebook / @AmyStretten on Twitter) to the image(s) you have uploaded. So, along with the instructions above, you must also tag my handle to win the two (2) lingerie sets. The winner will receive two (2) lingerie sets of their choice.
You must be subscribed to my blog and following my Instagram (@ChiefofStyle) to win. The sweepstakes begins January 1, 2018 and ends February 14, 2018Here are the official rules.
You must tag Parfait Lingerie where you post as well (on Instagram @ParfaitOfficial / Twitter @ParfaitLingerie / Facebook @ParfaitLingerie) . Good luck!
I hope 2018 brings you so much love and happiness.
xo,

Amy

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

Amy Stretten Chief of Style Parfait Lingerie 2018 Perfect Figure Campaign

I’m in Parfait Lingerie’s 2018 “Perfect Figure” Campaign!

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“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — Lolly Daskal

Im excited to share that I was asked to be a part of Parfait Lingerie’s 2018 “Perfect Figure” campaign, featuring diverse women of different ages, sizes, shapes, ability levels, etc.
I shot with the brand for two full days last month: one day in a home and another day in a photo studio. (We still have an upcoming video day shoot, but that won’t be until early January.)

I’ve got to admit, I was really nervous before the Parfait shoot. I’m not at my highest weight ever, but I’m certainly not at my lowest. And I’m definitely not at my most fit and trim. But, I reminded myself that I was chosen for the campaign for me – flaws and all. And, I wanted other women to know that they can feel beautiful and sexy in the skin they’re in, just as they are right now!

As part of my collaboration with Parfait, I’ll be shooting and posting photos in their lingerie each month of 2018. Here are some shots I took with my good friend, fantastic boudoir photographer, Ashlee Kulp (@AshKatPhoto) during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

I’m so excited for the “Perfect Figure” campaign to launch that I just want it to be 2018 already! I really can’t wait for you to see the campaign photos. But, in the meantime, you can snack on these and the ones I’ve been sharing on my Instagram. (Are you following me? @ChiefofStyle)

Tell me…have you ever done a boudoir photoshoot? Would you ever? Share your thoughts in the comments! <3

xo

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Plus size boudoir photos and Plus size lingerie by Parfait and Bandelettes thigh chaffing lingerie bands

Letting Go of Worrying About Other People’s Opinions

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“People will judge you. People will whisper about you. People will hate you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Learn to make peace with this, and you’ll be free.” – Aletheia Luna

Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time worrying about other people’s opinions of me. I used to be a huge people pleaser and I wanted so badly to be well-liked. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, this need to please has dissipated quite a bit and I like to think I now have a much healthier and balanced way of thinking and feeling about other people’s opinions of me.

What absolutely hasn’t changed, though, is how many opinions people have and how strongly they feel them. More specifically, how badly they need to express those opinions about other people. Even more specifically, about people they may or may not know…and their weight and presumed overall health.

It’s undeniable at this point that “plus size,” is having a moment. Whether it be an article about plus-size model, Ashley Graham or a think piece on body positivity, It seems the whole world is contemplating the possibility that larger, curvier, thicker, fuller-figured…fill-in-the-blank-term-that-suits-you…women are beautiful and worthy of a platform, love, praise, clothing options, respect…(and anything else their thinner counterparts receive on a daily basis). With all of this positivity more voluptuous women are receiving, there has also been quite a bit of hate.

Just last month, model and plus-size beauty, Natalie Hage courageously stood up for herself when she confronted a man sitting next to her on an airplane. He’d been sending rude text message to a friend about Hage’s body size. Once confronted (Go, Natalie!), his response was typical…first denial, then an excuse, and finally, he asked why she was sitting in an exit row when she knew she clearly was unable to assist in case of an emergency. *eye roll* Besides being completely rude and offensive, what he said was just plain ignorant. But fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture, we can’t separate what we believe to be fact from what is actually reality. This man knew nothing about her health, stamina, strength…Hell, he had gray hair, so by using his logic, maybe he wouldn’t be able to help much either.

What I see over and over again everyday on social media and in the comments under body positive news articles are comments that are nothing more than cyberbullying. Everyone’s a doctor with a diagnosis all of a sudden. The way we hone in on and scrutinize larger bodies and ignore the health risks of being too thin or average size, but not eating well, working out, etc…is infuriating. Moreover, the fact that we as a culture judge other people solely by what we see on the outside is just maddening.

I want to be clear that I’ve been really lucky thus far. I honestly haven’t had a single person leave me a mean comment or send me a rude message about my body/size possibly ever (not counting family – *sad face*), but especially since I started my @ChiefofStyle Instagram account and this blog. Everyone has been so supportive and kind. I certainly hope it stays that way, but I can imagine that it may not.

In any case, should the mean messages start rolling in, I’m going to do what I want you to do: Not give any f*cks. One’s own opinions are the only ones that should count.

On a more practical note, should you receive rude comments, here are three things to help you get through it:

  1. Step away. Take a break from the app, or at least the comment. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re an incredible human being worthy of love and kindness. Don’t let the opinions of others – especially people you don’t know – affect how you feel about yourself.
  2. Consider the source. This person is probably a stranger who has nothing better to do with their time than to be mean. Keep their comment in perspective and don’t take it personally. They’re likely projecting their own issues onto you. Don’t take on their “stuff.” Remember that no successful person is without a hater or two. Also, consider that they may not know that they’re being mean given that fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture.
  3. Decide whether to respond or not. If you decide to engage (for a teaching moment?), make sure you’re not jeopardizing your own self-care. What works for me with criticism is being as straightforward and calm as possible. Don’t let the person get to you. Better yet, if you can shrug it off with a joke or something relatively funny, do that. If comedy isn’t your forte and you’d prefer not to engage, simply delete the comment. Also, having friends who have your back in these situations is really helpful. I’ve seen other people’s followers come to their rescue when a trolls come through. Know who will have your back and reach out if you need support. Then do the same for them when they need you. Look out for each other.

And, don’t forget, you have the option to report and block trolling comments and direct messages on just about any platform. Do it if you need to. Here’s a great post by Bustle that gives even more great ideas for dealing with body shaming comments. And, the advice can be applied to any form of cyberbullying.

Take care out there, babes. You’ve got so much fierceness in you, some folks just can’t handle it. Never let their opinions change how you feel about yourself. For some of us, it’s taken years to get to where we are in our self-love journey. Let’s not let anyone steal that with a mean comment.

Sending you so much love always.

xo

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, Louis Vuitton neverfull tote bag, iPhone, trendy glasses, and coffee.

Shirt: Target | Skirt: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Bar III (Macy’s)

Photographer: Trey Jones (IG: @cjonesphotog)

How to Love Yourself + 10 Things That Happen When You Do

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“It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.” –Denis Waitley

It has taken me years to get to a point where I can truly say I love who I am. I’m happy with where I am in life, I feel good about how I look, and I enjoy waking up each day being me. Yes, some days I struggle (as everyone does), but, in general, I have more good days than bad. And, overall, I am (finally) comfortable in my own skin – not because I lost 50lbs or because I had cosmetic surgery or found the love of my life. But, I’m finally happy (and finally free) because I made a radical decision to stop picking myself apart and start finding things (big and small) to love about myself. It truly was a choice – a come to Jesus moment, if you will. I wish it happened overnight, but truth is it took a lot of work and required me to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

The first step was making the decision to start changing how I speak to myself. When something went wrong, I stopped blaming myself and I changed my internal dialogue when it became negative. Instead of berating myself after making a mistake, I started looking for the lessons.

I then limited my Facebook use and created a new Instagram account and vowed to no longer follow people I compared myself to (often super thin or ridiculously fit influencers) and I started following women who had bodies like mine and/or who were after similar goals. And then, I stopped comparing my “chapter 1 to their chapter 5,” as they say (a way of looking at things that I really love).

Next, I set some new goals (small ones at first) and as I achieved those goals, I set new, loftier ones. And I made sure to celebrate my achievements along the way!

Most importantly, because I truly believe we are the company we keep, I stopped hanging out with people who brought me down. I sought out friendships with people who work hard for what they want and don’t make excuses…people who inspire me to be my best self. Folks who give as much as they take and I can call on when I really need a friend. As such, I ended toxic relationships with people who didn’t have my best interests at heart.

I also started eating better (including adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet) and I drank more water. I got more sleep, began following a realistic workout plan, and kept conservative body goals. And, I began taking vitamins and I made sure I took my medications every day.

But, first and foremost, I had to say “enough is enough” with living a half life where I picked apart everything I did and everything I said. Instead of being my own worst enemy, I had to be my best friend, choosing self-love at every turn. And, as a result, I’ve learned a lot along the way. This blog only came to be because I decided to stop standing in my own way and I made the choice to be happy.

That said, here are 10 things that happen when you make the decision to love yourself:

One. You’re no longer afraid to show your knees (or whatever body part you’re most insecure about)

I used to only wear skirts, shorts, and dresses if the hemline fell below my knees. I thought my legs were too chunky for the world to see and I wished for a day when I lost enough weight to wear something short. (Summertime was brutal!) Now, IDGAF. I wear what I want and I don’t think of it as an “Oh well for you, you have to just deal with my fat legs being out.” Instead, I think, “Lucky you. I look fabulous and you get to see me!” LOL 

Two. When you catch yourself walking by a mirror, you admire yourself instead of cringing

You may experience that same feeling of disgust when you see your reflection in a storefront window or in a group photo. Well, so did I. But I’ve decided to consider that no one else looks at me that way, so why should I? They don’t see what I see, so why can’t I try to see what they do?

Three. You start living in the present instead of “When XYZ happens”

I think this is one of the biggest rewards that comes from loving yourself. Instead of saying you’ll wear a bikini to the beach once you’ve lost 20, 30…50lbs(!), just f-ing do it today! Besides the fact that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow and you may never get to your goal…(whether you do or you don’t), just do it today. If you start living into your dreams, you’ll be shocked to find that they may happen. I truly believe the Universe takes cues from you. If you say you want to find love so you can travel the world together, for example…just start traveling now and you may bump into the love of your life in the process! 

Four. You begin attracting better people and new opportunities into your life

This is possibly one of the greatest benefits to loving yourself, in my opinion. Confident people want to be around other confident people. In other words, when you feel good about yourself, you’ll begin attracting other people who feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work in the reverse. (It’s hard to make and retain friendships with folks who love themselves if you can’t stand yourself.) So, get to work and enjoy the new people who become a part of your circle. 

Five. You stop feeling sorry for yourself and take control of your life

This is key. Feeling sorry for yourself, blaming others for your failures, and not taking ownership of your past, present, and future is not something someone who loves and values them self does. If for no other reason, self-love requires valuing your time and your energy resources. Spending time on regret or self-pity is not the way one expresses self-love. And, someone with a solid sense of self and rock solid confidence owns their mistakes, knowing only they can fix them.

Six. You don’t put up with bullsh*t and start expecting better from yourself and others

You’ll stop with the excuses and start getting real with yourself and others. If a friend hasn’t been much of a friend lately, you’ll hold them accountable. You, basically, start living more authentically and with more integrity than ever before – and you expect the same of those you keep around you.

Seven. You take better care of yourself and you’re not afraid to say “No”

The best way to love yourself is to take care of yourself. If you don’t feel like going out with your friends because you need 8-hours of sleep to function, you’ll stay in. Loving yourself requires treating yourself with care, whether that be with your own, personal self-care practice or simply getting enough sleep and eating right. And sometimes that’s at the cost of displeasing others. You can only go out and get what you want in life, if you take care of your mind, body, and spirit. 

Eight. You stop worrying about what other people think

Once I began to love myself more, only my opinion really mattered. Sure, I appreciate the advice and opinions of others, but when they conflict with my own, I take what feels right and I leave the rest. So long as my choice(s) feel good in my gut, I’m good to go. 

Nine. You truly appreciate others and see their beauty

When I started loving myself more, I criticized myself – and others – less. I saw my beauty, talents, abilities (etc.) and, as a result, was able to recognize wonderful qualities in other people, too. Because I no longer hated my body in a bathing suit, I was able to appreciate the beauty of women (some who were larger than me) in their bathing suits, too. I no longer felt the need to pick apart my flaws or those of others. Self-love truly is a gift that keeps on giving. 

Ten. You know you’re not the only one

You’re comforted knowing you’re not the only one who struggles with this thing called life. No one has it all figured out. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. When you truly love yourself you forgive yourself and others when you/they have a misstep, you dust yourself off, and you keep it pushing.

These 10 things are just a start. When you love yourself, your entire world will transform – guaranteed!

What have you done to love yourself more? How has your life changed as a result? Share in the comments below. 

 

Outfit details: Shirt: Forever21+ | Jeans: The Limited | Shoes: Forever21

Photographer: CJ Edwards-Acton