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The Chief of Style Featured on The Curvy Fashionista

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Hey babes! Exciting news – The Chief of Style was profiled last week in a “Fashion Blogger Friday” feature by The Curvy Fashionista! I’m a huge fan of the website, so it’s a big honor to have been interviewed. Here’s an excerpt:

TCF: What or who inspired you to become a fashion blogger? What led you to it?
Cos: I have always loved fashion – since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved the feeling of wearing something new (or new to me) and the power it gives you to create a new image each and every time if you want. It was only natural that I’d eventually blend my writing skills with my “passion for fashion” (especially when it became clear there was room in the body positivity and +size fashion space). Part of my fashion journey and style expression have also been, in part, related to my self-love journey.

The more I see myself in photos looking thick and curvy…and beautiful at the same time, the more I accept all of the parts of me I hated for so long. The idea first came to me, though, when I started selling vintage clothing on Poshmark and eBay while I was unemployed and living in Miami, Florida. It was my main source of income. I felt like I would have had even more success had I had an already established audience on another platform to drive customers to my store(s). Now, I have a quarter of a million followers on Poshmark, but I’m rarely on the app. (I really need to get back to it!)

TCF: What’s your favorite thing about being plus size?
CoS: In some ways, I think being plus size is the ultimate expression of feminism. Specifically, it means taking up more space in a world that tells women they should be small. Men are allowed to “man spread” on trains and buses, etc., allowing little room for a woman (or anyone else) to sit. As a bigger woman, I take up more space than the average woman and do so unapologetically. Being plus size and knowing you’re beautiful also flies in the face of established beauty standards for women. Wearing cute, sexy, fierce, etc. clothing when you’re thicker is basically a “F-you” to anyone who’d dare tell you you’re anything less than a damn goddess!

Click here to read more at TheCurvyFashionista.com.

The below photos were shot at Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

Outfit details: Top and skirt: Forever21+ | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

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)

Recap: Website Launch Party + Contest!

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A few dozen plus size style bloggers, models, influencers, photographers, stylists, MUA/hair stylists, my long-time friends and family gathered on the ACE Hotel rooftop in Downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of this very website. In case you weren’t able to make the event, below are a few photos and a recap video to give you an idea of what you missed.

Thank you to everyone who came out. It brings a tear to my eye knowing how much love and support I have in my life. <3

A very special thank you to my sponsors:

*CONTEST DETAILS:

To celebrate hitting 10,000 followers on Instagram, I’m having a contest. The prize will be one of the few remaining gift bags from the event. (So, there you’ve got several chances of winning!) To give you an idea of how awesome the bags are, they include vouchers for a pair of Bandalettes and Undersummers (among other fab items from the brands listed above)!

To enter the contest, you must do the following:

  1. Follow me on Instagram (@Chiefofstyle)
  2. Like one of my most recent posts
  3. Tag three friends under the post you liked
  4. Subscribe to my blog (on the home page there’s a signup box on the right once you scroll down about half way)

That’s it! I’ll announce the winners next week. Good luck!

xx

 

 

Outfit details: Dress: Eloquii | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Necklace: Ryze Project

Videographer + Editor: @JorgeLopezMedia (jlm.videography@gmail.com)

Out of the Blue

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

This isn’t going to be a post about body positivity – per se. And, I won’t try to explain (once again) how revolutionary (to me) it truly is that I not only wore a cobalt blue lace romper on the streets of Downtown LA that showed off my legs, but I let someone take pictures of me…and then I posted those pictures on the Internet (un-retouched no less)…and why you should, too! Nope, this isn’t that post.

Instead, I want to focus on what happens after you choose to show a little skin on a hot day. What’s on the other side of those triumphant, almost magical moments when we give the middle finger to Fear and choose to be Brave.

I assume (hope) you’ve had moments when you’ve done something your old self never would have imagined you’d do. Picture how terrified you were to do it and remember how it felt doing it anyway. (Say, sky diving or swimming with sharks…or even “just” wearing a bikini to the beach!) I don’t know the exact number, but I’d guess nine times out of 10 once it’s over (whatever “it” is), we’re glad we did it. Why is that? Because when you face your fears and do something that challenges you, you’re truly living.

So, now, I know I said I wouldn’t get all #BOPO on you, but I will say that ever since I decided to let go of the fear of wearing rompers and skirts that stop above my knees and bikinis at the beach and crop tops and and and…once I made that choice, I realized I wasn’t living my best life before. I really was merely existing, as trite as it may sound.

You see, I’ve loved fashion and clothes and shoes and all the things(!!!) my entire life. I wished so badly to wake up one day and be thin so I could wear a cute mini skirt because for some reason I got it in my head that I couldn’t. Putting ridiculous restrictions on myself, essentially self-body policing, was like living my own, personal version of Hell. I know that sounds extreme, but seriously…it was just awful not to “be able to” wear cute skirts (even in my size) because they weren’t 25″+ (the length from my waist to my knee because I measured it to make online shopping for modest clothing easier). Not only did my wardrobe suffer, but I felt like I was living a half-life, unable to fully express myself. You’d think that would motivate me to hurry up and get over it. Nope, old beliefs die hard.

Fast forward to where I am now…Now, I buy clothes that I love whether they show off no skin, some skin or alllll the skin because I’m not hiding anymore. I’m not living for other people’s opinions. I’m living for me. Once I made the choice to step outside of my comfort zone, I really began feeling alive and soon, I began living big in other areas of my life, too. I started making amazing connections (both personal and professional) and I started this blog (something I’d been thinking on for years). I really began to ‘lean in’ in so many areas of my life. Once I stopped allowing fear – of anything – stand in my way, I was unstoppable. This slight shift in attitude made all the difference for me.

If you haven’t let go of whatever is holding you back from living your best life already, I hope you will soon. Life is full of opportunities given to those who move through the world courageously. If you’re struggling, then start small. Maybe you need a cobalt blue lace romper in your life, too!

Outfit details: Romper: Charlotte Russe+ | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

F*ck Skinny, Get Fit – a Trip to Indian Alley

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“Perhaps, we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.” – Rudy Francisco

This was the very first photo shoot I did for The Chief of Style. As you may have gathered by now, the word “Chief” in my name means more than just the boss (i.e.: CEO), but I’m also Native American. Essentially, it’s a play on words.

For this inaugural shoot, I went to Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles. Very few people know about this particular street. It’s actually gated on both ends, but if you’re lucky, you can get in. Along the walls are incredible street art murals – most feature Indian empowerment-type images and many are political. I felt so badass posing with them. (It’s not everyday you see Indigenous culture represented in an urban area and in a modern way.) The murals, to me, say “We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.” I love the juxtaposition of the Indians on horses, spray painted with a stencil. Where past and present, urban center and the rural plains meet.

I chose to do a fitness-style shoot because working out makes me feel strong, like a warrior. And, I’m renewing my commitment to a eating clean and moving more. For the shoot, I wore my new favorite workout tank that says, “F*CK SKINNY, GET FIT.” That’s truly become my mantra along this self-love and acceptance journey. When it comes to my fitness routine and overall lifestyle, I’ve adopted a much more loving way of looking at things. I’m done punishing my body and ‘hating the weight off.’ I truly want to be health, plain and simple. Fitness is what I’m after, not a stick thin figure (as I once would have killed for).

Many communities of color value extra meat on the body, mine included. It’s possible to be healthy and curvy and that’s what I’m after. So, there’s no more fat and body-shaming going on over here.

You should really check out Indian Alley if you’re ever in Downtown LA. The murals are constantly changing and they’re just glorious. Enjoy!

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Shirt: SquatLife Apparel | Leggings and jacket: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Nike

Photographer: Trey Jones (IG: @cjonesphotog)