Are you ready to conquer your can’t?

Being the kid who was always picked last for sports teams really left a mark on me. I was the fat kid who couldn’t possibly excel as an athlete. The truth is I loved dancing and basketball. Perhaps if I had an encouraging coach or my peers didn’t pick on me, I would have developed skills that made playing sports enjoyable. Instead, I dreaded gym class so much that at one point I was failing. My dad was so mad at me. He asked how could I fail something so simple as gym!


I was 13 at the time and was self-conscious of my body. I worried that everything would jiggle while running. Because of that instilled fear, I was deprived of enjoying physical activities. Now at 31, I still have that fear of how my body will look like while working out. But, I don’t let that fear stop me anymore.

I developed a great routine. I’d get up at 7AM and head to the gym and do cardio for about an hour. It really got my day going. That was until a horrible break-up in New Year’s of 2017. That really set me back emotionally. I didn’t want to get up and go to the gym. It had been months since I worked out until I started Primal 7 in the spring.

Primal 7 is something I can easily do at home. If I don’t feel like driving out because of the weather or simply because I don’t want to be around people, I have this option right at home.

I was scared initially to trust the bands. I thought there was no way they could support my weight. I am 245 lbs. I was resisting to lean over with the band around my lower abdomen until my trainer said encouragingly, “Don’t worry. The bands got you. You can let go.” The bands are designed for support. I found out more information on their website (see article). They offer 3 different band options with weight guidelines and NOT RESTRICTIONS. This is because Primal 7 wants to encourage people to choose the band that is best for them.

Once I learned to trust the bands, I was able to do moves that I have never been able to do well like push-ups. I hated doing push-ups in gym class. It’s always been something I avoid due to my back pain. With Primal 7, I am now able to do push-ups. First, I lean over with the band supporting me in my lower abdomen. I reach out with my hands to touch the floor and at this position I start to crawl back to straighten out while the band is still supporting me. The band provides resistance so I can push down and up. I inhale while I push down and exhale while I push up at the recommendation of my trainer. Exhaling while I push up offers that boost to help come back up.

Another move I’ve been able to do now is lunges. And, not just any lunges, but a lunge and knee drive. I step into a Primal 7 lean. I like to call this a Michael Jackson Lean from Smooth Criminal. In this position, you are leaning back with the band around your armpits. Personally, I hold onto the green belts from Primal 7 for support. You can use your arms where needed. Take a step back into a lunge, bending the back leg so the knee almost touches the ground. Push into the front foot to return to a standing position and drive the knee back up toward the chest. Do 10 to 12 reps. Switch sides. Repeat.


I may not be able to drive my knee that high. I was wobbling when I took my first lunge on Primal 7 and there are some moves I am unable to do yet. But, that’s okay. Primal 7 is designed to meet the individual at their level and help strengthen. Progress.

And, what inspires me more to continue is the stories of so many people who’ve been sharing their journey with Primal 7. Amber, who goes by @fatforestgoddess on Instagram, decided to give Primal 7 a try after she saw one of my posts. She wrote, “my mobility is at an all time low, and moving hurts ALL the time. Gyms aren’t designed for a person of my weight, and I need an ultra low-impact option to build strength in my lower body.” I can relate so much to Amber’s experience because I have constant back pain. The periods of my life where I had minimal to no back pain were all at times when I was regularly active. I would go to the gym 3-4 times a week, go dancing, go swimming, go walking, and I didn’t feel so out of breath after climbing stairs. And, I want to be in that place again. And, full disclosure, I was still plus-size at those times. You can be plus-size and be active. You can be plus-size and still feel good.

You see the diversity of people represented in Primal 7 because that’s always been their goal. They wanted to create an inclusive community in the fitness world that had been lacking. There were so many times I avoided getting a gym membership, buying a fitness product, or quit a class for yoga, dance, or another physical activity because of how left out I felt. I didn’t feel accepted. I wasn’t represented. Nothing about that community or brand spoke to me. So, where was the sense of belonging? Where was the support? I don’t feel that way with Primal 7. It’s okay to be at my level. There’s no judgement. I can focus on me and my goals.

Are you ready to conquer your can’t?
To try Primal 7, visit https://primal7.com/for-home/ and use code “shelostrong” for a discount.

I dressed like Selena for a week and this is what happened

I’ve been gordita all my life and I was bullied growing up. I found myself playing make believe at an early age that I was like Selena Quintanilla Perez. I remember dancing to Selena y Los Dinos songs in my room as a little Tejanita with hair brush in hand, boom box blasting Como La Flor.  I would tell myself that one day I was going be like her and that my life would be very different. I just had to wait until I was older and skinnier. Well, I got older and fatter. And, for a long time I hated my body. I hated myself.

I was twenty-seven when I started modeling and it helped build up my confidence. But, I found that after three years of modeling, I still had a lot of work to do on the inside. Taking pretty pictures doesn’t fix everything, it doesn’t make you hurt less. You can only see yourself differently when you change your perspective. Now let’s make something clear, body positivity and self-love are two different things. Being body positive is political and self-love is the individual journey. Here is a brilliant article that eloquently describes it better than I can.

While my belief surrounding fat people and our rights to live freely and happily, including myself, changed, I was still working on my personal journey to self-love. Something that I learned through body positivity was the right to wear what I want despite my weight, body shape, size, height, etc. When Selena’s birthday month rolled around on April 2018, I told myself I was going to pay homage to the Queen of Tejano by recreating some of her most iconic looks. For so long, I thought I couldn’t be one of those super fans that could dress like her because I am not Selena’s body type. Then, I remembered that Selena was a curvy woman. She would have wanted me and so many of her fans to live authentically and embrace the beauty that we are inside and out.

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And, what happened was magical! The Selena series resonated for many people who follow me on social media, in my opinion, because it felt like the most authentic in a way, a Tejana representing a Tejana. And, that’s powerful.

I thought I could never pull off that purple jumpsuit.  And, I was scared of that low-cut top that showed my bra. It reminded me of that unforgettable scene from Selena, the movie, where her dad, Mr. Quintanilla, played by Edward James Olmos, was like “busti-caca de la menta! Es un bra!” It’s like that in our culture. You get shamed for what you wear as a woman, a plus-size Latina at that because people tell you that you’re too gordita for that, and that’s just caca to be honest.

For a week, leading up to Selena’s birthday on April 16th, I dressed like Selena to challenge this ingrained belief that gorditas can’t wear certain things, but also to show myself that I look damn good doing it too! Sheer tops, bustiers, pleather, midriff showing, you don’t have to cover up because you are a woman or because you’re fat like me. I get to decide what I wear, when, and where.

I strutted my way to the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX for a special screening of the movie Selena on her birthday in my purple jumpsuit ready for my finale. We sang along, took pictures with Selena look-alikes, ate pepperoni pizza, shook our maracas, did the washing machine move, and sang happy birthday to Selena while the room was lit with candles in honor of La Reina.

 

Miss.Shelo

IG: @miss.shelo

Photography: Tommy Kim at tommykim.net

Crushin’ On Me in Velvet

Turning 30 in 2017 represented a huge milestone in my life in more ways than one. I could see that my fashion style evolved. I started to think more about the quality of my apparel purchases.

For this gorgeous velvet pantsuit from Eleven60, I decided to throwback to the 60’s when the beehive reigned supreme.

I paired the outfit with diamond stud squared shades and silver booties inspired by the disco era. My inspiration from the 60’s and 70’s allowed me to create a fun, ultimate diva look.

And, as a plus-size fashionista, I appreciate a good pair of dress pants. My concern with velvet has always been, “Can I move in it? Will it look flattering on me?” I have an hourglass figure, wide hips, and a muffin top. I am hesitant to purchase any kind of slacks. So, I default to black leggings as an alternative to pants. I am happy to say that the velvet pants for this outfit were not restricting, and I dare say look hella good on me. The fabric is breathable, and the velvet material has some stretch for a curvy figure.

The blazer design is impeccable. There is black tulle under the tail of the blazer, which gives it that gorgeous, dramatic bump in the back. Pair it with a black turtleneck sweater or black sheer bodysuit with bralette for a fierce look.

I had the best time styling this outfit and drawing inspiration from fashion eras such as the 60’s and 70’s. And, I think it’s important to think about the quality of your purchases. Something that is high quality will last and you’ll feel great because it’s an investment. You can style up your quality pieces in different ways to achieve fresh new looks without feeling like you’re wearing the same thing over and over again. Look to your favorite fashion icons or eras of fashion that you particularly love. Mine are JLo, Selena, and Beyoncé.  Create fashion boards, save pictures on your phone of looks you’d like to achieve, start with a color you like, and draw inspiration from those to create a unique style.

Miss SheLo

IG: @miss.shelo

Photographer: Tommy Kim

Dumped On New Year’s Eve For Being Fat, I Clapped Back With A Photo Shoot

Early morning on December 31st, I was shopping at the grocery store picking out some fresh veggies, fruit, and some eggs to make my boyfriend and I breakfast. I get a text to come back to the hotel. That text was the beginning of the end. A couple of hours later, my eyes bloodshot red from crying, the radio cranked up to Selena’s “Como La Flor”, I was driving two and a half hours back home. I had been dumped hours before New Year’s Eve.

I had made the trip to go see my boyfriend out of town. I had packed some cookware to make him breakfast in our hotel. I took days deciding what dress to wear with the right shoes, jewelry, and hairstyle before my trip. I had spent time and money planning this important holiday getaway with the man I loved only to never see it come to fruition.

Now, breaking up on a birthday or holiday isn’t a unique experience. Countless horror stories about Valentine’s Day or anniversary breakups are out there for the world to read about. Just do a google search. But, what is unique about my horrifying experience was everything that led up to that breakup because I was dumped for being fat. I was dumped for my appearance. Here’s the twist. I am a self-proclaimed “Fat Babe”. I am a plus-size model and body positive advocate. So, how in the world did I end up with a fatphobic boyfriend?

In late 2017, I started dating my now ex-boyfriend. We met on a dating app for curvy/plus-size women and the men who love them. Sounds cliché, but I thought what the hell! I had been on other dating apps earlier that year and found that there were many men who were interested in me for…sex. There were many men who wanted to have sex with me because I was fat and confident, but not for dating. And, dating apps can be notorious hook-up hubs, so it was a huge let down when I ran into men with a fat fetish.

When I started my profile on this new app for curvy/plus-size women, it seemed promising. I thought to myself, “the men on here should know what they’re getting right?” I never pretended to be anyone else other than myself. I was honest about my body type, height, hair color, and posted several pictures of myself, some full body and some selfies.

I received a message from this really cute guy. From his description and pictures, I could tell he was tall, athletic, and had great style. His profile was different from the rest. He talked about how he was looking for serious dating to a relationship. He was 33, which was close to my age, 30, and how he was an avid reader and liked to write poetry. We started talking and every day I learned something new about him like he was a soccer coach, a single dad, and that he had interests in screenwriting. We had so many things in common that I thought this is too good to be true. Then, the questions about my body came after an exchange of pictures.

“How big is your tummy?” to “what kind of workouts do you do for your butt?” I immediately called him out. I asked him why that was relevant. I am a beautiful person inside and out, so how could that possibly matter? We went back and forth and he was clearly upset that I had a problem with his question. He felt entitled to this information. The conversation ended with a last message from him that he hated me for making him feel this way and that our demise was my fault. It made me feel terrible, and I didn’t message him. I thought to myself, “this is over and it sucks.” You invest so much time talking to someone and you feel crushed when things do not work out. Not only did they not work out, it was a blow to me as a plus-size woman. I took a chance to put myself out there on an app that felt safe for me because I am a fat. And, to encounter a man who judged me by my body size and shape felt all too familiar.

I stopped interacting on the app with other guys, and I didn’t message my now ex. He waited four days before messaging me. He talked about how much he liked me and how let down he was that I did not reach out to him first. We talked for about an hour and decided to continue talking. The problem with that conversation is that while we reconciled after a heated argument, our talk did not address the biggest issue. He still had a problem with me being fat.

Fast forward two and a half months later, I found myself facing the ugly truth. My boyfriend was dumping me because I could not be what he wanted me to be. Throughout our long-distance relationship, he made comments about my hair style, fashion choices, and even devalued my thoughts and opinions.

I cried. I got angry. I even tried being his friend in hopes that we would get back together. I brought myself down so low that I had no place to go but up. I decided that part of my healing process required something that I could physically do to channel my emotions in a positive way. And, the answer was right there. I am a plus-size model. I take pictures often for many reasons, and I was going to prove to myself that all the “flaws” he pointed out about me were beautiful and part of my identity.

On our first date, I wore one of my favorite Selena tees with some black leggings, cute black booties, and hoop earrings. After spending a weekend together and returning home, he messaged me. He pointed out the fact that he didn’t like what I wore on our first date. He said my Selena tee was not sexy enough and that I looked more like I was going to the store versus a date. He proceeded to tell me that, in the future, he expected me to only wear these shirts at home or to the grocery store.

I love Selena! She is one of the most iconic Latino figures in the world, and I’ve been dancing and singing to her songs since I was a little girl. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez changed the way many Tejanas like myself envisioned themselves in the world. My love for her is part of my identity. Her music, style, and entrepreneurial spirit have influenced the woman I am today. And, I think Selena and her fans would agree that you can rock your Selena tee anywhere you go and look damn good!

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And, my now ex, wasn’t done with his list of criticisms. Next was my shoe choice. Since he had seen pictures of my modeling portfolio, he expected me to look exactly like the woman in those pictures 24/7. No kidding. He had a problem with my boots. They weren’t sexy enough according to him. Well, what do you think now? These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they did when they walked all over you and out of your life. Boy bye!

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Then, there were my glasses. On my second trip, I was expected to leave the glasses at home and wear contacts. And, like a docile girlfriend, I purchased a year’s worth of contact lenses after my eye exam. I hardly go anywhere without my glasses except for casting calls and photo shoots. I’ve been wearing them since I was a teenager and I think they are cute. They are a part of me.

My lovely hair was next on the list. He hated the fact that I wore my hair straight most of the time, which is my natural hair type. But, most of all, he loathed the bangs. He said they covered up my face too much, and he said, “You’re trying to be like Selena with those bangs. I want to see your beautiful face. I love you not Selena.” He made statements like these often, which is common for people who are passive-aggressive. He tried to convince me to change something about myself like my hair style, which I purposely chose because I loved it. He justified this by calling me beautiful and saying “I love you.” The problem with this statement is that he did not love me. When you love someone, you love them for who they are, as they stand, bangs and all. And, if Selena could rock them bangs like a boss babe then so can I.

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And, of course, there was the issue with my weight. I remember a phone conversation where he told me that he wanted me to lose the weight to be “healthy” so that I could live a long life. What he failed to acknowledge was that I was already perfectly healthy at the size and weight I am. This was something I made him aware of because I do get my annual checkups. But, he persisted and I clearly remember him using the words, “you just need to tone up and get rid of the unwanted fat.” And, there it is, that word, “unwanted”. I was unwanted for being fat. I was unwanted for my sense of fashion and hair style. I was unwanted for my shoe selection. I was unwanted for speaking my mind. I was unwanted for just being me.

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It is no wonder he dumped me. All the signs were there from the very beginning. And, I want to give a clear answer as to why a person like me, a body positive warrior, a plus-size model, could allow such blatant disrespect, but I cannot. Perhaps I was lonely. Maybe I was feeling the pressure of finding a partner to finally settle down, get married, and have kids, that I scarified my dignity in the process. Maybe it was because I had such a horrible year in dating that I wanted to cling onto anyone for comfort. What I do know is that I did not feel sexy, beautiful, or worthy when I was with him. I was not respected when I was with him. I did not respect myself when I was with him. And, recognizing these truths now made it very clear to me that I still have much work to do on my journey toward self-love and body acceptance. I allowed a man to wipe away three years of hard work to love myself in two months, and that is unacceptable. I hold him accountable and I hold myself accountable.

And, my hope is that my story helps someone else from continuing to be in an unhealthy relationship. I felt ashamed admitting that I was in this relationship because I am a pretty open book on social media. I post about body positive activism and self-love frequently. And, I consider myself an active member of a movement for fat acceptance. I felt like a hypocrite. And, this is me owning up to my poor choice, my wrong choice, in a partner. And, I want my story to reach men as well. The ridiculous expectations placed on women have consequences. They perpetuate gender roles; they can cause emotional and physical harm through eating disorders, suicide attempts, depression, and this is wrong.

I don’t think a photo shoot will fix everything. And, it will not completely heal me from this breakup. But, it’s a good start to show myself and show the world who I am as I stand.

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Miss Shelo

IG: @miss.shelo

Photographer: Tommy Kim

Body Positive Artist Susan Ruiter & Two Curvy Ladies

Last winter, I commissioned a painting from artist Susan Ruiter. I found her work on Instagram and fell immediately in love. The way she paints women: curvy, round, happy, sassy. All the words that can describe what it is to be a big beautiful woman in the world and the way we move are what Susan captures so perfectly.

I knew I had to have one of her paintings. I reached out to Susan with full trust in her craft. I asked her to draw inspiration from a series of pin-up photos of myself in a polka dot bathing suit. The result was just magic: two wonderful, beautiful, and curvy ladies.

I wake up every morning to these beautiful ladies. Even if I am in a rush, I always catch them out of the corner of my eye. There are days where I stand in front of this painting and just stare. It is truly a wonderful feeling to know that I could inspire such beautiful art.

The two ladies are a reminder that I exist outside of my routine, outside of these four walls. I exist in a world where I move beautifully.

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I like to see the ‘two ladies’, as Susan calls them, as two parts of me. We always have two sides to ourselves, intriguing, similar in some ways, but inherently different.

 Photo Credit: Solight Photography

As a supporter of body positive artists, I wanted to know more about Susan and her process. Below is an interview conducted with Susan.

 As a child, did you have an interest in art?

Not especially in art. But I was very creative. I loved drawing, painting, making clothes etc.

What draws you to paint women?

I like to draw people and animals and love round shapes (curves), humor and color. The combination of these made me start drawing the colorful, happy ladies. And I was inspired by Botero, a Colombian artist.
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Where do you draw inspiration from?

From daily life. I can get inspired from a walk through town, from magazines, pictures. Anything.
When you have a commission piece, like mine, where do you start? What is the process?

If possible I visit your home or company, so I can see your interior and talk about your wishes. If I do I bring along some paintings, it’s so you can see what size and colors you would like the painting to have. Then, we talk about: What colors you would like, if you would like a personal touch (car, animal, company logo, daughter)? Etc.

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After this, I make a few sketches and mail them to you so you can tell me what you do or do not like, and if you wish to change anything. When you agree with the sketch, I start with the actual painting. It takes about 8 – 16 weeks before it’s done. When the painting is finished, I mail a picture. Again you can tell me if you’d like anything different. When you’re happy with the painting as it is, I varnish the painting and bring/send it to you.

Is the painting I commissioned your first one to make its way to the U.S.?

Yes, your ladies were the first to travel this far. Since then, I had another one commissioned for the U.S. and shipped one to Australia.
What has been a highlight in your experience being an artist?

Opening my own gallery in Vlaardingen (town near Rotterdam), were I have a workspace as well.
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I feel that often an artist’s work reflects part of them. What would you say about your paintings reflects who you are as a person, artist, or woman?

My paintings reflect me as a person. I draw confident women who enjoy life. That’s how I like to see myself as well.
Many body positive advocates and plus-size bloggers are very familiar with your work. How has the response been to your work?

Are they? I did have a lot of positive reactions, one of my favorites is: “Your view on confident, curvy women is inspiring.” And I loved your response to your commissioned work too! You said: “I love it, it is a reminder to me that I’m beautiful every morning.”
A Dutch plus-size magazine placed an article about me once and I’m currently in contact with a plus-size magazine in Canada/U.S. about placing an article.

What are some of your favorite artists?

Botero, Lita Cabelut, Nico Vrielink
What would you say to young artists who are starting out?

Find your own way and stay true to yourself.
Your artwork is certainly making an impact on the body positive community. What message or beliefs do you hope comes across in your work?

Enjoy life and love who you are. Confidence is the most beautiful thing you can wear.

 

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What future projects do you have in mind with your artwork?

I just had the first bronze statue of one of my ladies made and I hope to make more in the future. I keep trying new things in paintings, to keep developing myself.


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Photo Credit: Galerie Sille

What parts of the world would you like your art to be showcased?

All over the world!

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It is not hard to see why Susan’s work is so captivating and even more at how wonderful she is. Celebrating the beauty of the female body, its curves, its movement, its existence, is imperative. We need to see the celebration of plus-size, curvy bodies. We need to be reminded just like I am every morning that big is beautiful.

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Read more about Susan and view her work at her website.

Make sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

 

 

I went to a Plus-Size Pool Party in LA and guess what happened?

Last weekend I attended the second stop of the Golden Confidence Pool Party tour in L.A. Created by blogger and model Essie Golden, the #goldenconfidence hashtag has taken social media by storm. Women around the world are posting pictures in two-piece swimwear, body-hugging dresses, and any fashion piece that was previously deemed off limits for plus-size women. It is certainly empowering women everywhere and here is proof of that.

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I started off low-key, sipping on my drink and eating some delicious tacos away from the large crowd. I had planned my outfit perfectly and couldn’t wait to show it off, but I was in that familiar place. Remember  your first party, the first school dance, or any social function where you have on the perfect beautiful dress, but you just can’t seem to summon up the courage to dance, talk to the boy you like, or be a social butterfly? Well, that familiar feeling crept in as my friend and I shied away on the top deck.

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But soon enough the fear started fading away as we took selfies. And, guess what? No one was looking at the two big girls taking selfies in their swimsuits.

Everyone was eating, laughing, dancing, taking selfies, and checking out each other’s outfits. Let me say this about the fashion at the party, #SLAY ! You can check out some of the amazing looks captured by Cosmopolitan.com here.

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Thanks to City Chic and Essie Golden, I was one of five best dressed at the event along with @bougie_chic , @jazzmynejay , & @cocoscurvycloset . Dare I say ultimate #squadgoals?

And, look who was featured in Cosmopolitan.com? Read the article here.

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Essie Golden’s pool party inspired me to form a community for body positive and plus-size women in Austin, TX. I told Cosmopolitan.com that women should feel like this anywhere they go. More importantly, I felt free. Free to wear what I want, wherever, dance, and just be me.

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Get the look at Artista Active Wear. I am wearing Halter Monokini in Amethyst Mermaid.