When it comes to stepping out of the house with your fat body adorned in pink leopard print, eye-catching sequins, or unapologetic gothic wear, you might sometimes stop to consider the implications of your aesthetic. Will this bold plus size fashion look attract any negative attention? Will you be heckled? Will anyone throw a Glee-style iced drink at your head? Who will call you a pig or a slob on this occasion?
While no one can necessarily guarantee that these things won't happen (fat shaming, as we all know, undoubtedly exists), there's arguably lot to be said for wearing the clothes that make you happy regardless — including those bold, loud, and statement-making pieces. While much work remains to be done within the plus size fashion industry, few would deny that there are more options out there for fat babes than ever before. So why reject the joys of that sparkly or neon or see-through ensemble?
Everyone's comfort levels are different, of course. So if this isn't your jam, there's absolutely no shame in that. However, if you really do love the way you look in that pom-pom lined, animal-print bodycon dress, then the below 33 plus size babes have some tips for how to feel like your best, most confident self as you shimmy out the door.
1. Jonquel Norwood
For illustrator Jonquel Norwood, maintaining a good group of allies is essential. She tells Bustle, "Going out with a friend or supportive loved one helped me the first time." If you're worried about potential fat shamers on the road, having someone by your side who can remind you of your utter badassery might be crucial. "I [also] look straight ahead and tend to have resting bitch face (also headphones)," Norwood adds. "I can feel the stares I get, and sometimes comments, so appearing not to care helps. Go into your own world until you get comfortable with it."
Indeed, reaching a state in which you truly don't mind whether the comments come or not is one of the greatest means of self-preservation.
2. Marilyn Misandry
Manchester-based drag queen Marilyn Misandry likes to treat every occasion in which she's dressed boldly and unapologetically as a show of sorts. "I think I treat is as performative, and focus on how gorgeous I look," she tells Bustle. "My fave quote on dressing up is Oscar Wilde when he said, 'One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.'"
Always remember: You are a work of art. And you certainly deserve to wear things that remind you of this simple fact. "And like, knowing exactly where I'm going so I can walk there straight on quickly [helps too]," Misandry adds.
3. Debz Aiken
Plus size blogger Debz Aiken of The Wannabee Princess is a strident advocate for headphones. "When I'm out and about, I always have headphones in, playing loud music," she tells Bustle. "For me, being able to block out the fact that people are around me really helps me to feel confident facing the world."
Although there's no guarantee that you won't encounter some kind of fat antagonism on your journey, no one said you have to listen.
4. Naomi Griffiths
Belittle it all you want, but Diamonds & Pearls blogger Naomi Griffiths is all about the power of the selfie. "Taking selfies/pictures really helped me to look at myself and think, 'You know what, I look good and I'm going to rock the shit out of this outfit and I don't care who likes it or not,'" she tells Bustle. "I suppose a lot of that was about learning to like myself and taking the time to look at myself instead of hiding away and understanding how I looked."
Taking control over your image by first growing acquainted with it might just be a key ingredient in realizing you are strong enough, bold enough, and worthy enough to wear whatever it is you desire.
5. Melissa Gibson
Body positive advocate Melissa Gibson is a big believer in affirmations, particularly the kind that remind you that what you're doing is an important political statement. "I understand that by wearing a bright red, curve hugging, VBO-highlighting dress I'm making a political statement," she tells Bustle. "I'm saying my body can be big and lumpy, but I'm confident. I'm saying that I'm not playing by the same rules as everyone else. I recognize that in a way it is sort of like my manifesto. Does it catch people's attention? Of course, but I know from past experience that is most often in a positive way. And when it hasn't been, I'm still pushing boundaries and making people question how they think about their own bodies and fashion and movement. That is what empowers me. And that is what makes it easier."
6. Natalie Hage
"I remember that people's opinions about my body are irrelevant to me, just like someone's opinion on a particular food or movie or music has no influence on if I'll enjoy it or not," plus size model and influencer Natalie Hage tells Bustle. "Also, [...] happy people don't hurt people and those who fling terrible words or judgement at others (especially for how they look) are not happy with themselves."
So when you're walking down the sidewalk in a short dress or paisley suit set or anything else that might attract passerby, remember that you're not doing anything wrong. If anyone happens to have a problem with you, well, they're the only problem around.
7. Rachel Kacenjar
If you're making the decision to dress loudly for the first time, Rachel Kacenjar of plus size fashion brand Re/Dress says that utilizing your support network in an already progressive environment can definitely facilitate feeling great.
Potential spots in which to do this might be "a house party full of friends, a bar with at least a couple people you know, or a Halloween party, pride festival, or something else where the vibe is already set on fashion throttle," she tells Bustle. "I personally got my start dressing boldly at Hot Topic when I worked there as a teenager. In more public spaces where you might be alone, I think you do have to be ready to absolutely give no fucks about other people's opinions, which isn't always an easy mindset to get into, but with practice in more supportive spaces, it's completely doable."
8. Kristen Jackson
Blogger Kristen Jackson of The Low Country Socialite evokes the "fake it 'til you make it" trope for such occasions. "Walk with confidence even though you might not have it," she tells Bustle. "I [have] seen some outrageous outfits before on people who had a baaaaadddd walk to go with it, and thought, 'Damn, she made that crazy ass outfit pop!'"
Some days you may be feeling ready to take on the world. On others, not so much. But as Jackson notes, there's no shame in "faking it" until dressing boldly comes naturally.
9. Kitty Morris
Similarly, fashion photographer and plus size blogger Kitty Morris of Kitty Rambles A Lot treats the road like her own "personal catwalk." "People don't tend to bother you as much if you look like you are on a mission," she tells Bustle. "I fake that confidence 'til I really have it. Confidence, even when it's fake, often puts people off commenting or staring too much. Whatever it is that you want to wear, act like a badass and people don't know what to do."
Given the state of fat shaming in this world, there's no doubt she's right. People are frequently caught off guard when a fat babe isn't hiding her body or her voice. And there's a kind of quiet satisfaction in turning their close-minded worlds upside down, if only for a moment.
10. Mayah Thomas
Blogger Mayah Thomas of Mayah Camara is all about the extremes, regularly choosing to rock the hell out of "super loud colors, bold prints, or statement cuts." "I find if I love the clothing, regardless of how brash it is, I will feel confident wearing it. It has to be something that I love that much that I simply don't care about the stares I may get or the comments people might have."
Ultimately, feeling like your best, most authentic, most radical self should always help block out any negativity to come your way.
11. Substantia Jones
Photographer Substantia Jones of The Adipositivity Project believes in the empowering effects of a fine playlist. "I have a playlist I call Promenade, filled with choice favorites to accompany peacocking and street fuckyouism," she tells Bustle. "My own personal runway soundtrack in my earbuds. If people glare at my tight brights, I don't notice, 'cause I'm singing 'Mother of Pearl' by Roxy Music at an immoderate volume. Incredibly effective."
There's nothing quite like radical tunes to better help you feel like the world is your catwalk.
12. Laurel Dickman
Self-described fat liberationist, intersectional feminist, and writer Laurel Dickman approaches bold dressing with a good dose of socializing. "I smile. A lot," she tells Bustle. "Eye contact, shoulders back, and I make friendly conversation with those who inevitably compliment the ensemble. I see it as being an ambassador towards body positivity."
Oftentimes, you might actually encounter a lot of people who feel moved or inspired by whatever you're wearing. So consider using the opportunity to spread your body positive and fat positive principals.
13. Ariel Woodson
Writer and Bad Fat Broads co-host Ariel Woodson admits that she doesn't always feel confident or comfortable when rocking bold outfits, but her "commitment to [...] aesthetics is stronger than fear." Although some folks might never approve of fat babes sporting statement-making ensembles, prioritizing yourself and your desires is irrevocably valuable. "Basically, I'd rather face possibly being heckled than wear clothes that are unexciting to me," she tells Bustle. "Also, tossing out most of my dull shit has backed me into a corner."
Provided you're able to do so, that latter point is a pretty amazing idea. The temptation to stick to "safe" pieces (even if they spark no joy within you) can be all too great when they're readily available. So get rid of them. Curate the kind of wardrobe you want to have, and rock the hell out of it.
14. Lindsey Averill
Producer and director Lindsey Averill of Fattitude definitely thinks that "going out the first few times in a group" can help one feel safer and more comfortable when rocking bolder ensembles. But she also thinks it's important to acknowledge that there is no one definition for "radical" clothes. "I'm not big on bold prints and loud colors. It's just not my fashion sense," she tells Bustle. "I love soft pink, white, gray, navy, and black. And so being brave for me was about types of clothes, not colors of clothes."
As she says, it's crucial not to feel pressured to fit into someone else's definition of "statement-making" dressing. Sticking true to yourself and your desired aesthetic is the most important thing here.
15. Emily D. Whitaker
For artist and blogger Emily D. Whitaker of Chubby Mannequin, dressing loudly and colorfully comes pretty naturally. But if ever she's feeling reluctant to do so, she takes out her cell phone. She tells Bustle that taking a picture that reminds you of your fabulousness — whether you "delete [it] or save [it] for later" — is one surefire way to confirm that you "deserve to wear whatever the fuck [you] want to wear."
16. Amanda Koker
Amanda Koker — designer and CEO of ASK Fashion and Rose Riot — believes that keeping her worth in mind is paramount. "I make the conscious decision to feel worthy," she tells Bustle. "[I know] I deserve to wear this look and I don't give a fuck what anyone else thinks. I walk with my head up as I walk right out the door."
Don't be afraid to know your worth. Don't be afraid to take it with you wherever you may go.
17. Charlotte Curtis
Charlotte Curtis, owner and designer of Black Heart Creatives, probably isn't going to smile at anyone who dares to look at or judge her. "I think I go [into it] quite aggressive but I have bitch face most of the time anyway and I have quite honestly over the years just told and made myself believe (and now undoubtably believe) that I am better than anyone staring at me," she tells Bustle. "I am usually more put together than them anyway outfit wise, and I just do not care."
While she acknowledges that the "I don't give a shit" attitude can be hard to master after years of social conditioning, she adds, "As long as I believe and love myself, everyone else can fuck themselves. I think that projects itself from me, doesn't it?"
18. Lisa Böhm
Girl Geek In A Dress blogger Lisa Böhm thinks it's very important to remember that there's no way you can definitely know what anyone staring at you is thinking, unless they verbalize it. "The truth is [that] most of the time people are busy enough with themselves," she tells Bustle. "If people seem to stare, you do not know at what or even who they are looking at and even less what they are thinking."
Böhm tends to believe that we regularly judge ourselves more harshly than others actually judge us. So rather than focusing on the opinions of strangers, start with trying to positively shift your opinion of yourself. An outfit that you absolutely adore could help along the way.
19. Niyonu Agana-Burke
Writer and editor Niyonu Agana-Burke thinks exercising mindfulness regarding what kinds of clothes make you happy is the best way to ensure you feel strong and bold in an outfit. She tells Bustle that her advice is to simply "choose pieces that you really love [...] They'll lift your mood, haters be dammed."
For proof of concept, just look at how happy she seems in the above co-ord set.
20. Chrystal Bougon
Curvy Girl Lingerie's Chrystal Bougon likes to keep things rooted in reality. When you're a visibly fat human, chances are "people are going to talk shit no matter what I wear or do," she tells Bustle. "So I might as well give them something to really talk about."
By following Bougon's lead, you'll likely find yourself exercising control over any potential stares. As a result, you'll hopefully walk out of your house with your guns fully loaded.
21. Kathryn Mallow
Illustrator and blogger Kathryn Mallow of Murder Of Goths is another advocate of the "fake it 'til you make it" mantra. "I think it's a case of just doing it," she tells Bustle. "Fake the confidence, even if you don't feel it at first, [and] people mostly respond well."
If you fake it for long enough, chances are you'll find yourself waking up one day and actually feeling those positive vibes. They might take you by surprise, and it'll be a beautiful moment.
22. Sarah Moffat
You don't owe anyone an explanation. You don't owe anyone justification. In the words of Velveteen Femme blogger Sarah Moffat, "Don't feel like you have to address every gross comment or shady stare. It's enough just to be visibly fat in public."
And if ever you're doubting your coolness, just remember that last bit: Being visibly fat and unapologetically you in public spaces already makes you a hero.
23. Rachel Richardson
Echoing Lindsey Averill, Rachel Richardson of Lovely In L.A. tells Bustle that ensuring you maintain your aesthetic preferences is key to feeling confident. "I won't try every bold item, but what I do choose is a reflection of my own style."
There's no easier way to "own" a look than by wearing something that makes you feel magical.
24. Cara Buikema
Cara Buikema is a fan of repetition. Buikema feels most confident in her looks after "consistently telling myself that IDGAF about how people think I look," she tells Bustle." Just [about] who people feel I am through my words and actions."
At the end of the day, there are probably far more interesting things to who you are than your body. And there are definitely far more interesting things to who you are than what other other people may think about your body.
25. Michaela Gingell
Like several fellow plus size bloggers, Michaela Gingell of Cardifforniagurl enlists the aid of music while preparing for bold dressing in public. "I always get ready listening to my favorite songs that put me in the best mood," she tells Bustle. This way, "I have a spring and confidence in my walk and I have my head held high owning that look." She also thinks it important to not "give any comments or looks a second thought." Anyone who dishes out unnecessary judgment isn't someone you need to appease anyway.
26. Margot Meanie
Alternative plus size style blogger Margot Meanie tells Bustle that she'd rather "be stared at for bold clothing choices than just being fat. I suppose it's even a tad confrontational, but helps build up my defenses. I feel resolved and stronger because of my choice in clothing."
If people are going to stare anyway, you may as well be wearing something utterly self-love inducing.
27. Hollie Burgess
Hollie Burgess of the blog Pretty Big Butterflies tells Bustle that practice makes perfect. "I started by wearing kimonos instead of cardigans, jeans instead of leggings, dresses instead of tunic tops. Slowly, I felt confident and before I know it the kimonos turned into bright prints and the dresses turned into bright floral numbers."
You may not feel comfortable eschewing tunics and boot-cut jeans for fiery sequins, food print dresses, or other incarnations of boldness straight off the bat. So take your time and enjoy the in-between.
28. Becci Atkinson
Similarly, Australian plus size blogger Becci Atkinson of Bessie Pledger is all about baby steps. I just started [...] wearing an item around the house or out to the letterbox to get the feel for it," she tells Bustle. "It took me months before I felt comfortable to wear a crop top in public and that's ok, but I did it and it felt amazing."
Feeling more confident or bolder in one's clothing choices won't necessarily happen overnight, particularly when you exist in a body that mainstream media and day-to-day people alike insist on chastising. But as Atkinson notes, "Change has to begin with little steps and over time you grow within yourself and learn you really don't give a fuck about what others think of your body and how you dress it."
29. Breanna Ducat
Breanna Ducat, producer and co-founder of Spinsters Studios, started being bolder in her sartorial choices when she stopped dressing for other people. "I used to rely on whether it was a good fit. Then I relied on my partners' reaction to it. Then I relied on whether it seemed to fit 'my style,'" she tells Bustle. "Scratch all of that. I dress by mood and that may mean different styles from day to day. And also, fuck validation from partners or anyone else. Now that I dress for myself, and feel absolutely 'myself' in what I'm wearing, I can walk around like I'm Queen Latifah."
Presenting yourself on your own terms: That's what it's all about.
30. Andrea Glockner
Andrea Glockner, head babe in charge at Koda Black, knows that sometimes the fear of dressing loudly in front of friends, colleagues, or family far exceeds the fear of doing so in front of strangers. "Usually my fear would be that my friends or coworkers would notice the change and possibly be critical," she tells Bustle. "So I would wear the new outfit out to Target or someplace with strangers a couple of times so that it felt less 'new' to me when I wore it to work."
If at first you feel the need to have a few separate wardrobes (one for your day-to-day life and one for when you're around family or friends), that's totally OK. Self-preservation is important, so don't worry about taking whatever steps you need.
31. Jenna Weintraub
Body Love Yoga teacher Jenna Weintraub gets amped up for loud dressing by conceptualizing it as an "inspiration cycle." "If I wear eye-catching bold colors in my fat body it helps others feel like they can do the same," she tells Bustle. "It makes me feel seen and I want to be radical in this world of dull boxes."
Inspiring fellow fat women through your unapologetic wears has to be one of the greatest perks of all.
32. Jessica Hinkle
Blogger and boutique owner Jessica Hinkle of Proud Mary Fashion wants you to know that it is not your responsibility to "make sure anyone else is comfortable with my body or how I dress it." "If they're so threatened that they can't handle it, they've got some things to work out," she tells Bustle. "Life is really short, as cliche as that is, but it's true. I don't want to spend what little time I have hiding and have regrets later down the line."
Follow in her lead, and seize every moment you have to live (and dress) without fear.
33. Alysse Dalessandro
"My number one tip is definitely that people are going to stare anyways, so if you've got them staring, make them think at the same time," Ready To Stare blogger, designer, and writer tells Bustle. "I wear what I like to wear (which would mostly be described as bold) and I recognize that because of my size, that's still a radical act that challenges the idea that fat people can't participate in fashion and that they should be invisible."
There is utmost value in recognizing your body for what it is, and making the conscious decision to stop hiding it (after all, chances are that people will know you're fat whether you wear a baggy dress or a form-fitting one). The beauty of bold dressing is that it not only has the power to help you feel like your best, most authentic self. But also to make people question their prejudices: To confront them with the simple fact that there is no reason fat babes can't wear the shit out of anything they so please.