As I am sure you have noticed, since the middle of December, posts have been few and far between. Some thought it quite odd that I had stopped posting right in the middle of my 12 Days of Diva Holiday Shopping Guide. Others just figured I just had fallen down on the job.
When I started Belle-Noir in 2003, it was because there were more sites about black bbws in adult videos & websites on the web than anything that would portray us in a positive light. We were not represented in magazines—not even the titles that were targeted towards the Black community or women of Color in general. I wanted plus size women of Color to have a place where they could go on the web and feel loved. Where they would see fashionable clothing that they could actually wear and fit into. Where they would read stories about other plus size women not letting their size define who they are. Where they could come and know that it was all about “Big. Beautiful. You.” And for a few years, even through many highs and lows, I feel Belle-Noir did that successfully. And in motivating other women, I was motivating myself. Yes, Big is Beautiful and I was proud to be a strong voice out there.
Until one day not too long ago, I looked in the mirror. And I mean *really* looked in the mirror. I had been buying clothing, and not really worrying about the size because dammit—big is beautiful, right? All over the web, plus sized fashion seemed to be ruling the plus size community. Fashion Weeks for plus size women were popping up right in my own backyard. Online magazines dedicated to plus size fashionistas were growing strong. I’m not knocking plus size fashion, plus size modeling, etc.—that is definitely another post for another day. However, I was feeling left out because--well--how do you review clothing that you personally can’t fit? Let’s be real—with the exception of a VERY few designers—once you get over a size 28? The options for really cute, trendy and “fashionista-esque” clothing start to get slim. It’s something that I’m sure my size 14-16-18-20 counterparts cannot relate to.
I was not curvy. I was not thick. I was not just full-figured. I had to look myself square in the eye and actually say it to myself out loud in the mirror:
“I am fat.”
Tears flowed with heavy sobs as I said it to myself over and over again. I had to take that hard stance because I was tired of lying to myself. My size 28 clothing was starting to get a lot snug. My coats & jackets were already a size 30 just to accommodate the flabby flesh hanging off of my arms. Routine things like going up and down the basement stairs was a chore because where I once would huff and puff at the last stair, I was stopping for a break half way up (please note: it’s only 13 stairs. You do the math). Not only that, but I had been sick no less than four times in a six month period whereas before, I had gone a good two years without so much as a sniffle.
I won’t fake the funk and say that vanity did not play a big part in this either—because it DID! Even as a Big Girl, I would get hit on a little bit. A guy in passing would say “hey sexy”. A guy would say under his breath “Mph! Love me a big girl!” as I walked by. Yeah—all that attention had been long gone. What replaced it was “damn, she is big.” “Yo, that B*tch is mad fat” “Mommy look at her! She is FAT!” Yes even the little ones were pointing me out like I was a whale out of water on display for the word to see. Or at least that is how I perceived it. It’s not like I hadn’t been teased growing up. I always have been fat. Fat child. Fat teenager. Fat adult. But now, all I was getting was the negative.
“I am fat. But I won’t be for long.”
I stopped posting on Belle-Noir. Shut down Belle-Noir Radio. I stopped looking for plus size fashions. I stopped looking for plus size anything. I removed myself pretty much completely from plus size happenings, save for anything I saw on Facebook. And even then, I let no less than 50 fan page and group invites sit in my inbox, not touching them. It’s not like I didn’t know what I needed to do to move the weight. This was not going to be some mere New Year’s resolution. It was going to be a lifestyle overhaul. No more bodega specials for breakfast. No more Chinese food for lunch. No more getting winded on the stairs. I started researching others who had lost weight—both those who did it through diet and exercise alone, and those who used that with additional help through weight loss surgery—to get some tips and information on what to do. What I have found is that weight loss is just like opinions—everyone has their own “my way is the right way” story. But I armed myself with the right tools, reactivated my gym membership, and on February 1, 2010, at 6:00pm, I was in the gym and on the treadmill.
I have a two year (minimum) plan that, for those who are interested, you can follow on my new personal blog. What I realize is that this new journey is going to take the same amount of dedication and love that creating and growing Belle-Noir did. Belle-Noir did not grow overnight, nor will the weight come off overnight. I will never be a size 4. Shoot—I probably will never be a size 10. But a “Size Healthy” 14? This Black Woman can live with that.
Belle-Noir Magazine is not going anywhere. I am working on a plan to bring it back to where it was before. However, it is going to take the voices of others to do it. Belle-Noir Communications and our events are not going anywhere either. I still feel that events like Curves & Cocktails and Phat Poetry have a place in the world. Our voices need to be heard. Plus fashion designers need an outlet where they can sell their clothing to their consumers directly when major retailers do not want to bring them into their stores. Perhaps some may see this as hypocritical. I struggled with even telling my readers my own personal story for that very reason. But my weight loss journey is solely about me—Ms. Aja B. Stubbs—and the face and body that I look at in the mirror and walk around with everyday.
So, things may still be a little quiet on the Belle-Noir front, although I do promise to bring you all the news on events going on around the country at the every least until I get my plan for Belle-Noir Magazine: Phase 3 completed. But know that it is because I am working on a better me. A “Size Healthy” me. I believe that in creating a better me, I will be better able to serve you. I do not think I have led my readers astray in the past, and do not want to start now.
I hope you will join me over on my personal blog for the time being and join me on my journey.
Peace & Love,
Ms. Aja B.