#sizecelebration: Pearl Matthewman

All photos by Stef Atkinson

All photos by Stef Atkinson

#sizecelebration is a bossbabesATX series of photos and interviews, featuring women of different sizes in dressing rooms, proudly disrobing to dispel negative body image. These portraits were taken by Stef Atkinson, in conjunction with and in the dressing rooms of SoLa (a body-positive boutique in Austin, Texas).

So, goodbye, fat-shaming. Goodbye, skinny-shaming. Toodles, crying in dressing rooms. We're done with you.

Meet #sizecelebration model, No. 1: Pearl Matthewman.

All photos by Stef Atkinson

All photos by Stef Atkinson

Q: What's your current occupation?

A: I've recently taken some time off to take care of myself. It's an opportunity that I'm grateful for.

Q: How old are you? 

A: 28

Q: When did you first become aware of your own size? Was that a positive or negative experience?

A: It was pretty negative. It didn't happen when I was a little girl, or even a teenager. I was pretty unaware of my body until I was an adult, had moved to a new town and gotten married to my first husband.

He liked to eat as a coping mechanism; I ate what he ate. I gained 70 pounds, and one day I was looking in the mirror, trying to shove my body into a pencil skirt that had ended up in the dryer. I suddenly, for the first time, saw what had happened without me really even noticing. I was horrified. I was angry. Then, I was packing my bags. I'm happier now. 

All photos by Stef Atkinson

All photos by Stef Atkinson

Q: When did you first become aware of others' sizes?

A: I guess I've always been in on the whole magazines being photoshopped thing. I knew those girls weren't really that size on the cover of Teen Whatever. But I saw friends of mine trying to get there, and I'd look at their bodies and I remember thinking, "Wtf, dude, you're totally fine the way you are."

Q: As you've grown, what have you determined to be true or untrue about size?

A: I could literally go on forever on this. For one, just because someone is fat doesn't mean they are of any lesser intellect or self-control. And just because someone is thin doesn't mean they have an eating disorder or are sick in any way. Just because someone looks like the pillar of health doesn't mean they are. Just because someone looks like they have a problem with their health doesn't mean they do. Essentially, size means absolutely nothing about a person and their life. 

Q: How do you celebrate yourself?

A: I remember reading a quote from Tess Holliday about wearing risky fashion choices. She said something along the lines of, "If you think your outfit is gonna piss somebody off, go on, girl. Wear it." I love that shit. I love celebrating my body by wearing things I'm told are taboo. Crop tops, see-through things, skirts that are way too short. I love getting dolled up and being the most well dressed—and fattest—girl in the room. It short-circuits people's brains, I think. Fat girls are told to cover up, to not be interested in fashion, because it's not made in their size. When you wear what you want without giving a damn about how others are going to perceive you, it gives you so much power. 

All photos by Stef Atkinson

All photos by Stef Atkinson

Q: How do you think the world (society, etc.) should change the way it celebrates beauty?

A: Quit pandering to women as if we don't have options. As if we're stuck with the mainstream and can't find other avenues to accept us. The body-positive community is real and big corporations are ignoring it, hoping their same old song and dance is going to keep working. Like, the Oprah crop-top scandal. Or the "Dear Fat People" video. That shit got crushed in less than 24 hours. All because there's a community out there that refuses to accept that what they have to offer is wrong. There is no acceptable body type or unacceptable body type.  

Q: What are some immediate, day-to-day things we can change in our lives to better appreciate our own unique bodies? As well as others'?

A: The negative self-talk and judgment thoughts have got to go. We have got to stop hating on ourselves and turning around and hating others in the same breath. Like, hey, I'm a fat girl. I don't deserve to be judged. You're a skinny girl, and you don't deserve to be judged, either. Give yourself a break. Give others a break.

All photos by Stef Atkinson

All photos by Stef Atkinson

Q: Why are you participating in this shoot?

A: Honestly, I'll never pass up an opportunity to get photographed in my skivvies. But really, I hope that I can inspire other girls that look like me to do the same. The longest relationship you're ever gonna have is with yourself. You might as well make it a good one. 

Q: What does #sizecelebration mean to you?

A: To me, it means that no matter if you're straight-sized, plus-sized, somewhere in the middle, or whatever, that you can embrace your size and celebrate that no one on this cosmic, spinning rock is exactly the same as you.

Would you like to celebrate your size with us? Use the hashtag #sizecelebration on Instagram and Twitter to show us what celebrating your body means to you.