Chubstr Crush features profiles and conversations with women who inspire us. This week we speak with Rachel B. (you might know her as Bloomie) who runs the blog 30 Dresses in 30 Days and is an Advocacy and Policy Strategist with the ACLU. We talk about blogging, style, and the idea of dressing well as a political statement.
Where are you from?
I’m one of those horrible Brooklyn nationalists that folks are always making fun of in the media. At least I don’t live in Williamsburg.
How did 30 Dresses in 30 Days come to be?
30 Dresses in 30 Days started in 2007 when after living abroad I was finally reunited with my entire wardrobe – yay! I realized how much clothing I had and felt like I wasn’t making full use of it. I chose September so that my wardrobe could straddle summer and fall. The first two years I took pictures and posted them on flickr sharing them in the Fatshionistaand Wardrobe Remix flickr pools. In 2009 my friends cajoled me into starting a standalone blog.
30 days of different dresses sounds like a lot to handle. How much preparation did you have to do before the month started? Did you have a dress surplus or were you mostly buying things as you went along?
When I tell people about my little project and my rule about how I never repeat a dress within a month or from year to year they often laugh and then mentally start calculating how many dresses I must own and then they look at me with something like a mix of awe and disgust.
I have never, ever bought a dress for the project, but I have changed sizes a bunch over the course of blogging so there’s that. As the years progressed the hardest part was just remembering if I’d worn something before. In 2011 I decided that I wasn’t going to give myself shit for repeating dresses, I’d just be sure to wear it in a different way. Alas as any visitor to my blog will see while I took pictures daily in 2011 I only posted about 5 outfits. I’m a blogging failure.
In some ways I love 30 Dresses because it means I get to skip doing laundry for a whole month. Schlepping my stuff to the laundromat is one of my least favorite things about living in NY.
After doing this 3 times, what did you take away from the entire experience?
I should clarify that I posted 30 Dresses in 30 Days for three years straight and then took pictures for 2 years but didn’t post them all. Other than that, I took away the fact that I have a lot of clothes, even though it sometimes feels like I have nothing to wear. That sometimes all I want to do is put on sweats and a hoodie and not have to broadcast that to the world. That clothing can really inspire people to love their bodies.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
This is a bittersweet question because my favorite place in the world to shop was Re/Dress NYC which sadly shut its doors last month, but still lives online. Thankfully Fat Fancy still exists in Portland and if you can you should contribute to their fundraising effort so everyone can buy their clothing online! I’m a sucker for Ross Dress for Less. Sadly they don’t have them in New York, but anytime I’m travelling somewhere that has them I hit as many as I can in a city – they all have different stock and you never know what you’ll find. I also love Asos Curveand Dorothy Perkins and could spend days thrifiting (particularly outside of NYC).
But the truth is I’m always shopping, always. I don’t mean that I buy things daily, but rather that I’m always looking. Sometimes I can walk into a straight size store and nothing fits me, but just as often I can find stuff that fits. I don’t write off a store just because they only go up to a 14 and neither should you. I walk in, try shit on and in the wonderful words of Beth Ditto if I bust a seam that’s their fault for not making it in my size. In this postI’m wearing a dress that I thrifted that is a size 6. I am many things, but a size 6 ain’t one of them.
One of the things I think is great about your blog is that it shows that you wear the things you love, you’re confident, and you’re not embarrassed of your body. That’s something that many people – male and female alike struggle with daily. Is it something you’ve always been comfortable with?
No it’s not. I so clearly remember the first day I bought a tank top and bared my arms in public. I was in college and I was so scared someone was going to say something to me about my fat, fat arms. But no one did and it turns out the sunshine felt great on my skin. It surprises me when something challenges me with my body comfort these days, but I force myself to take the leap. Years ago it was wearing a bikini and this past summer I was surprised to realize that wearing a crop top made me feel very vulnerable. But when you take those steps and realize that no one laughed or stared or said anything it feels amazing.
In some ways I’m lucky, I never let being fat keep me from doing things academically or friend wise and for that a lot of credit goes to my parents. But I think hating my body kept me from dating more when I was younger. I always say if I went back to college I’d cut class less and date more.
In addition to being a fashionista, you’re an Advocacy and Policy Strategist with the ACLU. What does that entail?
I love my job, I am one lucky lady. I work at our national office and I help affiliates achieve their state-based criminal justice reform goals. These days a lot of the work I focus on is trying to stem the tide of regressive state based legislation. Everyone seems focused on federal issues, but the real scary things are happening at the state level.
On the blog, you say that when you’re fat, dressing well is a political statement. You deal with many social issues in your career, would you say that “fat” is one of them?
To me the way I dress is a very personal, political statement, but it is different from what I do at my job. I work on criminal justice reform and in no way would I compare fat politics to criminal justice politics. However, fat is a social issue I deal with in my career. I am constantly educating my colleagues about body acceptance and challenging their views. I remember one day I made everyone go around and say what they weighed and my thin, male colleague was the one person who was so uncomfortable about it. I explained that it was just a number and there was nothing for him to be nervous or upset about. That was a bonding moment.
When I say that dressing well is a political statement I mean that unfortunately bodies, women’s in particular seem to be up for public discussion and debate. The way I dress attracts stares and it lets people know that I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of my body. You’re not gonna try and fat shame a woman wearing feathers in her hair and faux fur coat. She knows she’s fat and she’s not trying to hide it.
You’re taking a break from blogging right now, but as a blogger myself, I know it can be hard to just drop it forever. If or when you get back to it, do you think you’d take another 30 day challenge?
My friend Jamie is always trying to get me to do another challenge – 30 sweaters or 30 fascinators or something like that. I think if I go back to blogging regularly it’ll just be outfits as I feel like it. I’m a dress girl so committing to anything other than that feels like too much pressure. My blog is very much just about fatshion, not other issues and sometimes I think about expanding it beyond that. I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but simultaneously I think just focusing on fatshion allows me to reach more people who might be turned off by my personal politics.
I think that covers it! Thanks so much for being part of this. Is there anything else you want to add?
The only thing I’d want to add is that I LOVE chubstr! I’m so glad to see a place on the web for hot, fat, fashionable men. My friends joke that this t-shirtwas made for me. I am so honored that you’re featuring me this week.