June Things

We lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in the same week this month and there are a lot of thoughts about it. I was most struck by the way the media made it sound so sensational and exotic without any care for the safety of their readers. Kate Spade’s suicide: Another example of how the media fails people with mental health issues.

Anthony Bourdain and the Power of Telling the Truth. 

As long as we’re talking about hard, impossible things, I can’t even talk about the situation with the children and immigration and anything like that. I physically can not talk about it anymore. But I’ll tell you about Unlock Hope, a company I totally believe in. I’m ready to buy this shirt. Plus, $15 from each sale to do the RAICEStexas.org Family Reunification Bond Fund.

  • If you want to reach out to your US representatives about the shit going down at the border:
  • Go to http://callyourrep.co to find the contact info for your representatives.
  • Text RESIST to 50409 and Resistbot will guide your through contacting your representatives.
  • Sign up at https://5calls.org to stay in the know about issues that are important to you.
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Image Description: a photo taken from above of a table scattered with papers, the paper on the top of the pile is an example of how to write a letter to elected officials. If you’re interested in knowing exactly what this paper says, leave me a comment and I’ll email it to you.

I loved, loved, loved this piece written by friend of the blog, Brooke: No, I Don’t Have a Boyfriend, and 12 More Interesting Questions You Can Ask Me Instead. BONUS: there’s even a section about how to be a good listener. I know it sounds basic but this is actually super duper brilliant and helpful for having all kinds of conversations.

We’re in the middle of summer (ish, not technically). We don’t have any big trips planned but we may do some impromptu quick trips for a weekend here or there. I like going to Airbnb to dream about trips we could take. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can use my referral code to get $40 off your first booking!! That’s no small amount of travel credit.

Anyway, here’s what I’m dreaming about:
This cozy lil A-Frame house in the Redwood Forest.
We’ve heard great things about this sweet, sweet place in Lawrence, Kansas.
This spot in Chicago is dreamy, dreamy, dreamy!! Oh man, I have a lot of internet friends in Chicago I could go visit…

My summertime skincare routine got a bit of a refresh! I got 3 packs of these Olay daily facials. They’re sooo handy and they do an amazing job. They’re also ideal for traveling since they’re a just-add-water kind of thing. I also bought this Mario Badescu botanical exfoliating scrub on impulse recently (an expensive impulse, I had buyer’s remorse the whole way home until I was able to try it and then my whole face felt brand new, so, worth it) and I’ve been using it in conjunction with their rose, aloe toner. Between these three things, I barely need any makeup at all. Still looking for a delicious moisturizer for oily skin though. [these are all affiliate links through Amazon]

And also, I restarted my Birchbox subscription for fun. If you want to sign up, do it through this link and I’ll get $5 credit in my account! And just remember, as practice, that if you’re going to sign up for a new service, send a quick feeler out to your friends to see if they have any referral links–help out your buddies!

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Image description: Shake Of The Month from Bogey’s in Hutchinson, Kansas. A cup of ice cream with pink and white circus cookies and lots of colored sprinkles poking out of the top. Libby is holding this cup of ice cream in the car. You can see her blue fingernail polish. 

Seriously considering making something like this for framing my next collection of original paintings or prints. (Speaking of, my shop got a face lift and a whole bunch of new things added. Go take a look if you haven’t seen it yet.)

I’m in desperate need of a new wallet but I’m one of those people who are always looking for something perfect and never find it. But here are a few I’m considering [affiliate links]:
This one looks like it can hold so much without getting bulky and soooo many colors.
I like how I could pop my phone into this one and free up my hands a little bit more.
I really love the look of this color blocked one–and there’s room for loose change which the other ones don’t have.

Finally, I want to remind you about Dia and Co. I had trouble with my last box and it bugged me so much that I thought about cancelling all together. But listen to me! I emailed them and told them how bummed I was and their customer service was so cool with me. I was so impressed that I’m going to keep it up with Dia. Sign up for your own box/ help support a cool business that wants to serve you the very best they can by clicking here! And if you’re in the mood for athletic wear they have a whole box for that now, too! [affiliate link]

Other places I could be found on the internet this month:

On Fridays, I’ve been taking over the Fat Girl Flow Fam Instagram account. So on Fridays I get to hang out with a whole new community of babes who believe in body positivity, too!

What was your month like? Did you find any products or services that you fell in love with? Did you do anything you’re proud of? Did you listen to the new Beyonce album (it’s a Beyonce album, ok.)

Size 24+ Swimwear for Women and Femmes on a Budget

I got emotional in Target today.

I was looking for a swim top and I came up with nothing. Of the four plus sized suits available in the store (hidden amongst dozens and dozens of “straight sized” suits) only two of them were two-pieces and among those, only one of them was almost my size. I didn’t mean to start crying. I didn’t want to start crying, but I did.

I couldn’t help but think of my friends who wear a larger size than I do. My body generally tops out at what’s available in most brick and mortar stores and it’s not like I have the largest body ever. I know a lot of people who wear a larger size than I do. And what’s available for them? If even I can’t find anything? What about them? I wasn’t crying because I felt like my body wasn’t good enough (those days are over). But I weep for my friends who are denied basic life-joys like swimming in a pool just because the world refuses to accommodate them.

So, Chefs, what I present to you today is a roundup of size 24+ swimwear for less than $50 (I wanted to make it under $30 but that was proving to be impossible). Please enjoy. 

m_5aecbf843a112ecddd4d9040First of all, I feel like Lane Bryant has knocked it out of the park with swimwear this year. Everywhere else you look, you still have to wade through lots and lots of suits that have been sold, unchanged, since the 1990’s. Lots of ugly tropical prints and “flattering” ruffles, skirting, blouson… AKA: extra fabric. Lots and lots of extra fabric all in the name of “flattering”. But Lane Bryant is killing it!! I can’t believe that I lived to see the day that a suit like this one is available in size Fat! The only complaint that I have is that unless you grab something on super sale (right now, their clearance is buy one get one free), they’re far from an accessible budget. Also, they only carry up to a size 26. It’s 2018 and a plus-size staple like Lane Bryant should be the first in line to add more inclusive sizes but they’re getting left in the dust. So if you wear between a 14-26 and you’ve got the budget: get to Lane Bryant! But if you don’t fit into those narrow parameters, here’s what I’ve found for us:

This red triangle bikini top with string bikini bottoms totals at around $42. It goes up to a size 28 (though IMO most things in the ASOS Curve section runs a little large so may even fit a size 30).

This tie-shoulder, hot pink bikini top from Target is sooooo cute!! It goes up to 26 for $20. The bottoms, though, are kind of a gamble as the sizing is a weird 24/26 and $17. Still, though, a complete set for less than $40 is pretty hard to come by.

I really did love this burgundy one-piece at Target. It only goes up to a size 26 and it’s $32 but if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, go for it!

Simply Be Bespoke Fit Swimsuit in teal (also available in a tropical print). It’s around $20ish and goes up to a 28.

The next six are from Full Beauty, which has proven to be a bit of a gold mine as far as size-inclusivity goes: Chlorine Resistant Chase Purple Princess Seam Top (currently on clearance for less than $20). This one looks super sporty.

 Aquabelle Xtra Life Lycra Bike Shorts–these are the bottoms that I have and they go up to a size 34. (Combined with the purple top above, that’s a whole suit for less than $50!)

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I love the look of this black and white bikini top–would looks so good with those bike shorts mentioned above. This goes up to a size 28.

Here’s a black, v-neck, one-piece swimsuit that goes up to a size 34 and is available for around $32.

Full beauty has another sporty looking one-piece for $32, also goes up to a size 34.

I love the black version of this one-piece by Jessica London. It goes up to a size 34 and costs around $34.

This navy-printed one piece from Yours Clothing is only available in a few sizes right now but if you’re a size 32 or 34, you’re in luck! It’s $36 right now!

Orange_Tropical_Floral_Print_Bikini_Top_With_Ruched_Cups_150023_5015Yours Clothing also has this gorgeous, orange halter bikini top and while I try to stay away from halter tops (they put too much pressure on my neck), I can’t ignore this one. It’s too fun. It reminds me of what the teenagers would wear to the pool when I was a kid in the 90’s. And here’s a pair of board shorts to add which will land you just at the $50 budget.

The following don’t technically fit the parameters of a full suit for less then $50 but they’re close-ish:

Modcloth: These red-striped swim bottoms are available up to a size 34 for around $30 on Clearance. The top is also available for the same price and in the same sizes. So, the whole suit is more than $50.

This black and white scalloped “midkini” top that I love is $30 (goes up to a 30/ 6x) and there are plenty of bottoms available to the same size for around the same price. (I saw this suit on Mary Lambert on Instagram and was overwhelmed with feelings)

And here’s a swimsuit that I love from Venus that doesn’t follow any of the rules. It only goes up to a size 24 and it’s ~$70 but I love the sand and black color combo and the deep v so much. Feels v Fat Bond Girl to me.

In the end, after all of this research, I still haven’t found a swim-top that feels like my style, is my size, and doesn’t cost more than my budget will allow. So maybe I just might not go swimming this year… again… I don’t think the McPherson public pool will allow a skinny dip no matter how much I want it. But I hope that if you’ve been looking, this will help to point you in a direction.

XOXO Lib
(PS: none of these links are affiliate links, I just really wanted to do this work for you to help you out.)

 

Checking in on Your Strong Friends

Things have been really challenging for my sensitive soul, lately. Between my own depression/ anxiety, a few public deaths earlier this month and all the information coming out about the treatment of children at the border, I’ve been keeping myself pretty cocooned. Not to mention everything else. Korea… we’re leaving the UN I guess? Yesterday was Juneteenth and people of color in America still aren’t free. I mean, there’s so much. There’s a lot.

On top of that, I am trying to start a new social media consulting business, sell my art, and I want to be super engaging in my online community. It’s hard to be online that much without being inundated with all the extras that, while important, are things that I would like to be more in control of when it comes to intake.

I’m really sorry about this… it sounds like I’m setting you up for a solution. But I’m not. I haven’t found it yet aside from good old fashioned willpower. But I do want to talk about this meme/ viral tweet that’s been going around that started circulating after the death of Anthony Bourdain. Basically it just says simply, “check on your strong friend.” I have a few different feelings about that.

Because, yes, now is the time to be checking on your friends. This phase of life/ this time in the world, your friends need checking in on for sure. But, like, check on your friends even when the subject of suicide isn’t at the forefront of your mind. Check on your friends when it’s summer break and they’re at home with their kids all day long. Check on your friends when they’ve decided to go on Whole 30 and they’re approaching day 10. Check on your friends when something really amazing has happened in their life! Even that can be hard.

What I’m saying is that we need to be working on cultivating a community with each other where we’re allowed to talk about when we’re feeling crummy about the state of the world, when our anxiety is rearing its ugly head and we need someone to ground us, when our chronic illness is flaring up and we need space to just talk about it. It shouldn’t be a whole big thing to check in on your friends.

That being said, though, sometimes your friends are going to need to be tended to in a way that is a thing. Sometimes your friends are going to be going through something big and, I know how it goes, it’s difficult to know exactly what the right thing is to say. We want to say “let me know if you need anything!” But then they don’t know how to ask, or maybe even recognize what it is that they need.

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So for times like these, I created a cheat sheet. There’s this image here that you can save to your phone. Or if you prefer a printable, I have one saved in a Google Doc that you can access.

Know that you don’t have to wait for someone to send this to you. If someone ever says to you, “let me know if you need anything” or you do know that you need something but you don’t know how to say it, send them this! Go into the editing section in your photos and draw little checkmarks next to every single thing that applies. And send it on over to your friend.

My goal here is to make checking on your strong friend (and your sensitive friend and your other friends) easier and more natural than ever before. I want to normalize asking for help and I want to provide scripts until we’re able to do it on our own. Let’s work to make this world a more helpful, thoughtful place.

XOXO, Lib

A Delicate Man

I have a folder in my email inbox called “Creeps on the Internet”. That’s where I stash emails and screenshots of private messages from strangers on the internet who want me to give them my full attention.
Maybe read the rest of this post with Criminal by Fiona Apple playing in the background because it feels so right.

I’ve been a bad, bad girl
I’ve been careless
With a delicate man
And it’s a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can.

When I first started XOXO, Lib I was so excited about finally having a space that was mine all mine on the internet where I can be who I want to be and say the things I want to say and be my free, true, and authentic self without reservation. And it’s become that place for me for sure. I’ve met so many cool people. I love the community that’s growing in the Facebook group and on Instagram. I love us. A lot.

And things are growing so rapidly and with such gusto–I’m so excited. I can actually see ways that dreams that I’ve had for this platform aren’t pipe dreams. I’m seeing it all come together and when I think about it, I get so excited. Right now, just telling you about it is feeding my spirit in a way that I haven’t felt in a few days.

With a growing platform and more and more readers, it’s natural to get a few creeps thrown in the mix. Especially when you’re talking about fattness, fat fetishism is so real my friends. I’m not mad that the fetish exists. I’m just mad that another person’s fetish turns into a non-consensual situation that I have to find a way to navigate.

I get an occasional dude in my Instagram Direct Messages saying, “Hi.” On my very best days I’m like, “what a lazy dude.” I mean, honestly, why don’t you just come right out and say, “I’d like to have a conversation with you but I’d also like you to do all the labor of starting it and carrying the weight of it all on your own.” Now, these aren’t so bad. Because as loaded as these messages are, they’re super easy to ignore. I just take a screenshot and then block these people and move on wth my day (after I get a collection of “hi” messages I like to post them in my stories to show off how repetitive and unoriginal men on the internet can be).

But then sometimes I get messages from other types of people who want to build a monument to me and hope that I’ll never change my body ever. A lot of times I try to just ignore these messages, too but sometime I just can’t. I gotta know what’s going on in this person’s head. And ten times out of ten, these people haven’t even looked at my profile or my blog or anything. They don’t know who I am at all even! After I reply, they try to strike up a conversation by asking what my name is or where I’m from. Both of those pieces of information are available on whatever platform they used to find me. Which means that they aren’t even remotely interested in me as a person–they’re interested in cruising through a body positive hashtag and then just messaging people indiscriminately. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in my fattness. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in what I can do for them. They either want naked pictures or my bank account information. Every. Single. Time.

Last week, a stranger in my Instagram DM’s kept asking me where I was from and I refused to answer him with anything other than, “that information is easily available in my Instagram bio, have you looked at it?” He kept saying, “Of course I looked at your bio I want to love you. So, where are you from?”

The problem, for me, isn’t that I’m frustrated that people are talking to me on the internet. I love talking to people on the internet. Making connections with new people on Instagram is not only one of my favorite joys but it’s also my business. It’s my job. And these people aren’t messaging me on my personal page on my personal time (that one is set to private). They’re messaging me on my business account. And time is money.

IMG_4022Last night, after getting an old fashioned email (yeah, we’re at a stage where email is old-fashioned) from a man named either Douglas or Steve (inconclusive) who wanted to tell me how much he likes/ supports/ is a fan of me and other people like me (note the lack of specifics), I couldn’t take it any more.

[Image description: screenshot of an email from an account belonging to a person called Douglas Winters. The email reads, “Hi. I am a fan and supporter of your blog.
Your blog for plus women is great and it is very nice.I am a fan and supporter of plus women.I have a big appreciation for big women.I am a fan of the plus industry too.I am a big supporter of size equality.Plus models and plus women’s are great.All women should embrace their body and not be concerned to feel that they have to be skinny to fit in with society.I love how plus models and plus women feel confident about them sleeves without having to be skinngy.I am a big fan of plus size women and plus models.I have always supported them too.Plus women and plus models are great.Is it okay to email you and hope it is okay.I am a fan of you and I would really like to keep in touch with you.I want to email you because I am a fan of you and I support plus women too.Hope to hear from you and have a nice day. 
Steve”]

I know as a one-off this email doesn’t seem like much. But imagine that this is the 4th one you’ve received that day and the dozenth you’ve received this week and it’s only frickin’ Tuesday. I sat on the couch with Ryan and I cried a lot. I mostly cried for all the people out there who have it worse than me. I cried for my whole life of being seen as my body before anything else. I cried for the world that gave men this power to (I’m going to quote my friend Courtney here), “just stomp around this planet thinking they can do and say and have whatever they want.” While women are forced into shoes that are created to make us literally tiptoe around the whole world. I cried for the way that these men are allowed to come into my home, into my place of business and ask for my attention for no reason other than the fact that they don’t hate that I’m fat.

I sat there racking my brain trying to figure out how in the hell I can take my power back in situations like these and I came up with an idea. If these people are going to come into my space, into my business and demand my time, I’m going to charge them the same rate–no, higher than I charge everyone else who wants my business on my work time.

So I wrote Douglas/ Steve back and I told him that he’s speaking to me on my business account and I’m sure that he can appreciate that time is money when I’m on the clock. And if he’s looking for my time, it’s going to cost him. So I linked my PayPal account and told him my rates. I’m in charge of this interaction. If he pays me, I’ll tell him about why interactions like these are unwelcome and make me feel unsafe but I don’t have the energy to do the work for all of these men for free.

So here we are. I’ve saved that email into my notes app on my phone and I’ll, from here on out, just copy and paste it to every single man on the internet who wants my time and attention for free.

I haven’t really re-read this post or edited it. I’m just free-writing so I can sort out my thoughts. This isn’t the best/ most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, I just needed to get it out of me so that this bad, objectified feeling doesn’t live inside of me.

Thank you for listening.
I know there are a lot of points of nuance that I haven’t covered. If you’re interested in a conversation about this topic, don’t worry, I probably won’t charge you for it. *wink*

XOXO, Lib

And as always, if you feel the need to come in here and #notallmen me, please know that you’re a part of the problem. Men who know that they aren’t guilty of the behavior that I’m describing and are confident in themselves don’t need my validation which is what this all comes down to, honestly. 

May Things

May was fun! I mean, summer time is here again for SURE! It’s 97 degrees outside right now. I can’t wait for a day when I’m able to go to the swimming pool. I love swimming so much.

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Image description: a selfie of Libby and her partner, Ryan. They are standing outside, in front of a field. Libby is in front, she’s wearing navy plaid and a grey sweater. She has big, round glasses and a pink lipstick. Ryan is standing behind her, he’s wearing a white button down shirt with black bird illustrations all over it. He’s wearing square glasses. Both are smiling.

Also, Ryan and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. When we were thinking about how on earth we wanted to celebrate, we considered a fancy date or a trip but when it came down to it, we really just wanted to spend time with our friends (which seems like such an impossible task once you’re all in/ near your thirties). So a few of us met up at the park. We grilled burgers and let the kids play. It was really such a dream. And we didn’t get any photos because in true, Libby fashion, I never remember to take photos when I’m having fun. That’s why my camera roll is full of pics of latte art. Anyway, happy anniversary Ryan. This past year has been more together-making than any, before. ❤


Here are some other things that happened in May:

The NYT covered Why You Should Stop Being So Hard On Yourself. So, that’s solved. But for real, let’s make “self compassion” our mantra this summer.

I’ve been wanting to up my skincare game recently but for real, I can’t really afford to just try everything out (and I don’t live close enough to a Sephora to ask for samples, as per direction of the Forever 35 podcast). So, I restarted my Birchbox subscription. My first box is in the mail right now and I can’t wait to see what’s in it. If you want to sign up, too, here’s my referral link!

This article by Roxane Gay had me stuck in some very real, big feelings for a long time this month. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It broke my heart in a lot of ways but a lot of things felt so similar to me. When Roxane Gay talks about her decision to get weight reduction surgery, I can’t help but see the reasons that she lists… none of them are because she thinks it will help her to feel better in her body. It’s because she’s so tired of what the world has done to her. And that’s… man. It hurts. And it’s so real. I’m glad she’s doing something that feels the most right for her. I’m broken hearted at the world we’ve created where a fat, black, queer woman is forced to slice herself in order to hope to be treated like a human.

Friend of the blog, Staci, has been killing it over on The Voyageer. I loved this piece that she wrote about managing group travel. The reason I love this is because I dream of going on vacay with all my besties.

I grabbed this box of note cards and I LOVE THEM! They’re full of bright, neon colors and they’re weird? But still, like, exactly right. Thank you cards, birthday cards, no reason at all cards. I’ve been popping them in with every order I’ve sent out this month. [affiliate]

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Image description: an abstract paintin in purples and pinks. Some bits look like they could be ferns but there are also water splotches and paint running down the page.

Speaking of orders I’ve sent out, here’s a link to my shop and through the whole month of May and for a few weeks in April I was donating a portion of my sales to End The Backlog. I wrote a whole post about it. At the time of this writing, I’m still not sure exactly how much I sold during the month of May because I have some pieces still on display in Hutchinson but as soon as I know how much we’ll be donating, I’ll post that number on Facebook and Instagram.

For the first week of JUNE, 15% of all sales in my shop will be sent to The Trevor Project. Which helps to provide aid in crisis situations for LGBTQ+ youth. And, because of that, there’s a going to be a brand new crop of new merchandise in there! I sold out of postcard packs last time so if you see something you like, act fast!

I’m doing an elimination plan right now to learn about how different foods are affecting my chronic illnesses (I might talk about it here on the blog but I might not, too). But as soon as I have the go-ahead, I’m making this batch of Granola Cookies from Tracy.

It’s summer time and it’s hot and all I want is light colors and flowy dresses. Like this one from Eshakti! It’s so pretty. And since with Eshakti, you can customize before you buy, I think I’d take the arms off of this one. Oh!! Or this seersucker skirt. Yeah, I need that. [affiliate]

Also, in the summertime all I want is watermelon, pineapple, and fat, mildly overripe tomatoes off the vine. I don’t have a link for that, I just needed to tell you.

Other places you can find me on the internet:

I was interviewed by a super cool site called As Told By Women! Go check out my interview, right here Q & A With Libby Monaghan. It was so fun. Women empowering women is a topic I could definitely will talk about forever and always.

I was also featured in The Hutch News where I did an interview with Jennifer Randall and got to talk all about my art! Click here to go read that one.

Follow along on Instagram. I’m @realxoxolib. I joined the @fatgirlflowfam account! So, every Friday I’m over there reposting cool content from the #fatgirlflow community! It’s so, so fun.

Join the private Facebook group, The Cove: An XOXO, Lib Community.  It’s a space for women, femmes, nb folx, etc. to have a safe space to get to know each other, build one another up, and maybe just talk about certain topics that you might not don’t want to get into on a more public page.


What happened for you in May? Did you learn anything? Have a cool life event or milestone? I want to hear all about it!

XOXO, Lib