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Interview With Jes Baker

POPSUGAR / paid for by / Lane Bryant

Source: courtesy of Perseus Books

It's important to have positive discussions about body image and acceptance within the fashion space, which is why we partnered with Lane Bryant for this post.

Blogger, activist, and all-around good spirit Jes Baker (pen name: Militant Baker) first made a name for herself in the retail landscape with her controversial Attractive and Fat campaign, which helped prompt an important conversation about fashion advertising and our beliefs about what is normal. Since then, she's dedicated herself to driving and encouraging positive discussions surrounding body image and acceptance and recently made the decision to focus on this work full-time. This decision has drawn both support and negativity, the latter of which she'd never let slow her down (she has a book coming out next month!).

We were lucky enough to snag an interview with her. 

POPSUGAR: You've written a lot about the buying power of women, specifically in the plus-size space. Can you elaborate your thoughts on that?

Jes Baker: As plus-size women, we have SO much buying power. The statistic is that there are more size 16 ladies out there than 0 and 2 combined. This always left me wondering why we don't see more options and companies out there that cater to our variety of wants and needs. I personally have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons (to whatever degree) is our general lack of confidence in the dressing of our fat bodies.

We're most certainly seeing more options as time progresses and the body positive movement grows, and we're simultaneously seeing larger bodies take up more space online and gain visibility; it's so great.

POPSUGAR: Speaking of brands and the consumer market, you commented positively about Lane Bryant's #ImNoAngel campaign that ran earlier this year. Can you talk about why that message was so important?

JB: I believe that the best part of the campaign was the visibility. #ImNoAngel was successful enough to land large subway car advertisements . . . and this is pretty radical when you think about it.

POPSUGAR: In the past year or so, you were able to change your schedule and focus on body advocacy full-time. What has that career switch been like for you?

JB: Because I believe in honesty, I'm going to be upfront: it's been more difficult than I ever imagined! The idea that a person can make any sort of successful living while (and because of) being fat is largely contested and has made me a favorite target of a lot of negativity. That being said, I couldn't have written this book without dedicating a large chunk of my time, and that wouldn't have been possible while working a full-time job and maintaining my online presence. And this book was SO worth it! It clarified a lot of my beliefs when it comes to body politics, and I know that it's going to help a lot of people also sort out their ideas and feelings.

POPSUGAR: Have you seen body advocacy change?

JB: The Internet has allowed communities across the world to connect, and the collective power that comes from this is incredible. People want to ultimately feel good and now we have a platform that "role models" can use to show that, yes, in fact you can love your body no matter its size, shape, shade, sex, age, and level of ability.

POPSUGAR: Do you have any advice for people looking to switch their careers and pursue something entirely different the way you did?

JB: Don't plan on consistency in the beginning and expect constant change and transition. The bonus to this is that exciting opportunities can come at any time if you're open and flexible. I never know what is going to pop up in my inbox!

POPSUGAR: Let's transition now to your big accomplishment! You have a book coming out later this year, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls. What are your biggest hopes and dreams with the book?

JB: I hope this reaches the hands of ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE! Those who are familiar with the body love concept and want to dig deeper. Those who have never contemplated body acceptance and need a foundation so they can explore it a little bit. Those who are skeptical, those who are excited, those who are nervous, those who are empowered . . . everyone. 

POPSUGAR: Do you have a favorite chapter/part of the book that you're most excited about? Can you give us a preview?

JB: I'm so excited to see what the response is to my dissection of our obsession with health in relation to worth. That part of chapter three was an epiphany I had while writing Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, and it came after I already turned in the manuscript. I emailed my editor and said, "I'd really like to rewrite this chapter! I figured the mystery out!"

I'm sure that it's not going to sit well with many, as our worshiping of health remains largely unquestioned, but I'm game to have a conversation about it.

POPSUGAR: Any upcoming book tours/panels/events we can expect to see you speak at or be at throughout the year?

JB: YES! Here are the confirmed bookstore events:

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.
SF Launch at The Booksmith featuring Jes Baker with Sonya Renee, Virgie Tovar, and Sam Dylan Finch
1644 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2015, at 7 p.m.
NYC Launch at Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen St., New York, NY 10002

Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Tucson Launch at Antigone Books
411 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705

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Image Source: courtesy of Perseus Books
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