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Why it matters so much when a "limpy fat girl" wins the world's biggest pinup pageant

I've been following New Zealand pin-up queen Fran Robertson on Instagram (@frantasy_island, natch) ever since we featured her wedding on Offbeat Bride back in 2016, and it's been a colorful journey for sure. Recently, I followed along with her photos of traveling from NZ all the way to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss Viva Las Vegas pageant — which she totally won!

I asked Fran if I could interview her about how her experiences are setting new standards for visibility…

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How I gave up the house but found a life

For 22 years my family and I lived in Westfield, New Jersey, by many measures, the ideal place to raise a family. There are great schools, quiet leafy streets, multiple transportation options, a walkable downtown, and cultural and religious options to fit diverse tastes. Even its names evokes wholesomeness. When I arrived there in 1995, I knew within 30 minutes that it was the wrong place for me. It took us 22 years to undo that decision. I spent years telling myself that it was not so bad but always hating it. This is a story of finding my comfortable place in the world…

Privilege & bigotry: how I'm owning it and un-learning false narratives

I am a white male from a small village in North Wales, UK. I married a white American female. I am a step-parent of a young child with whom I get along very well; we are a very close family who always strives to support each other unconditionally in any way possible. I was born within the NHS (National Health Service) and was raised to respect everyone and treat people equally. I have been blessed to have many opportunities in life that others have not had. Here's how I'm acknowledging my privilege and bigotry and making sure I'm striving to use these privileges to be a voice of reason to those who may not understand or have the same privileges as myself.

There were no books for an African American girl in a wheelchair, so I wrote one

When I went looking for a bedtime book that I felt my child could relate to, I came up short. Actually, I came up empty. I searched local independent bookstores, well-known chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble, and even online looking for a book that had an African American girl in a wheelchair on the cover, and quickly discovered there was nothing. It simply did not exist.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands…

How to stay positive through a scary diagnosis

It's so easy to slip into a cycle of hating your body when it's not working properly. It's easy to feel bitter, alone, resentful and just all-around negative and depressed when your body is unhealthy in ways beyond your control, and all of those feelings are completely valid. I've chosen to stay positive and live my life in spite of my diseases, which is totally more easily said than done. Here's how I do it…