Body positivity, confidence, self-acceptance — if any of those words pique your interest, then it’s time to get The BodCon on your radar. It’s the only one-day virtual conference that focuses on body confidence and self-acceptance for the way we look, no matter our body type. This year it’s being held on Sunday, February 27 (get tickets here) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET for a day full of thought-provoking interviews, inspiring conversations, and networking. It’ll bring together over 25 body confidence movers and shakers to discuss the intersection of body image and dating, having a disability, beauty, style, and more. In celebration of this event, Sunday Edit introduces a three-part interview series featuring some of the panelists. Next up is Alexandra Stewart, a Chicago-based influencer and founder of the blog Sassy Confetti. She also co-hosts a dating podcast called Swipe Fat with Nicci Nunez, where they have honest conversations about what it’s like to date while plus-size. Below, she shares some of her valuable advice ahead of her panel at BodCon on dating and body confidence.
Tell us a bit about how you got started in this space of advocating for body positivity?
Alex Stewart: Sassy Confetti started as a food blog. I love being able to write, be creative, and also interact with people on a different level. At first, I was pretty uncomfortable sharing photos of my body. But then Instagram Stories became a big deal, and I think it pushed me forward to being the face of my own brand. I started showing more my clothes and my personal style and people motivated me to show more of myself. Sassy Confetti naturally became an ode to body positivity, and it made me more comfortable with myself as a larger person. If you told me 15 years ago that this is what I’d be doing, I would’ve said you’re insane — I wasn’t confident enough. I do feel like Instagram changed that for me. I know so many people who have had horrible experiences on social media with bullying, but I somehow found a good corner of the internet, and my followers really supported me and pushed me up to be the person I am today.
What gave you the idea to start your podcast, Swipe Fat?
Stewart: My friend Nicci Nunez is my co-host — I met her through social media, and she had a background in radio. We realized no one has a podcast about what it’s like to date for plus-size people. Before Nicci, I didn’t really have any other fat friends that I was close with who I could talk to about personal things, specifically dating and sex. It was hard. So, we wanted to start the podcast to be able to bring those views to the forefront and be able to talk to people who also have those problems and might not be able to talk to a friend about it. People resonated with this really quickly after we started the podcast. We also have a private Facebook group where people can have a safe space to talk to over one thousand members about their issues.
Have you personally faced any stigmas while dating as a plus-size woman?
Stewart: There’s a big stigma that I’m lazy, or I don’t want to be active. Guys always put in their dating profiles that they “love being active.” But what they really mean is that they don’t want to date fat women. Because chances are they’ll date a skinny woman even if she’s not physically active.
How do you think the pandemic has changed the dating game for you?
Stewart: I wasn’t really dating actively before we started the podcast during the pandemic. It gave me the motivation to put myself out there more. The podcast had a good way of giving all of us more hope and space to go through issues together — to give us an outlet to commiserate a little bit. Whereas before the podcast, I would’ve had a bad date, and then I wouldn’t date for two months because I was depressed. Now I’ll say, ‘Okay, whatever, let’s start over again.’ I do think the pandemic has created a larger hookup culture. Meaning people are less focused on wanting actual relationships and just want a one-time hookup. The pandemic fostered that mentality because you couldn’t hang out at a restaurant or a bar and get to know each other. First dates had to be at someone’s house, and I feel like a lot of people felt obligated to be more intimate quickly, which could be a good or bad thing depending on the person.
Do you think your dating life would’ve been affected if you didn’t live in a bustling big city like Chicago? What advice do you have for plus-size women who live in suburban towns and feel like their dating pools are smaller?
Stewart: We get comments in our Facebook group all the time from people who talk about dating while living in rural areas. In cities, we have the luxury of picking an app that we like and then just sticking with it, but I think you need to be on literally every dating app if you’re in a smaller town. You have to be open to getting a little creative, too. If you were intimidated by Facebook dating, maybe revisit that. There have been more TikTok relationships, and that’s a unique way of meeting different people. You need to widen your range of options.
What’s something that makes you feel like your best self before a date?
Stewart: I have a go-to date outfit. It’s this short skater dress that’s black and it looks really good on me. I wear it on every single first date. I also have a playlist that gets me jazzed while I’m getting ready for a date. It includes this song by Tenille Townes called “Holding Out for the One.” I also get my lashes done every three weeks, and I wear a vitamin C serum every day that makes my skin look really refreshed and dewy. I also use this heated hairbrush by Amika to do my hair. I think most importantly, I go on a date knowing that if I don’t like anything about it, I can always leave. I’m not stuck in a situation.
Which dating apps do you think have been the most successful for plus-size women?
Stewart: It’s true that specific plus-size dating apps have more often than not created a community where plus-size women are fetishized. It’s not something I want for my relationship personally. I’ve had the best luck on Hinge and Bumble, but I do think it’s reliant on where you live. I have friends on different coasts that have better luck on different apps. I don’t think it has anything to do with what size you are, but more about the pool of people in your area.
Alex’s Top Tips For Online Dating While Plus-Size
Show your true self in your profile.
‘Fatfishing’ [like catfishing, this is when plus-size people present themselves as thinner than they are in online profile] is a concern. Your first photo should be a close-up of your face, smiling, showing your teeth because it’s proven somewhere, showing your teeth is really important. I would say your second photo should be a full-body shot of you straight on. Personally, I like having different photos of me in different outfits so people can get an idea of what my body looks like. I think for most plus-size women, we often don’t show full-body photos because we don’t even have them taken of us since we don’t want pictures of us when we’re perhaps not at our best. But, you can show yourself in photos doing activities you love to do. So that your profile is not all about your body, but your hobbies and what will show off your personality.
Select people who you find attractive, not just those who you think might be into you.
Fat women tend to select people on dating apps who they think will be attracted to them instead of who they’re attracted to — as an ego boost. I used to only swipe on guys who look like they would like fat women, but it’s so silly because you should focus on who you’re attracted to. I was going on all of these dates and not having a good time because I wasn’t into them, but I thought they would like me. That’s a bad way of dating.
It should be fun!
You have to treat dating like a job in some respects because you can’t just be waiting around for things to happen to you. You have to be the person who moves that ball forward. Of course, it’s nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing, but this is like, enjoy it. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you’re having fun doing it, you’re going to want to do it more. And, if it’s not the right person, I think now I’m in a better headspace of knowing that there are people out there who I’ll be interested in. This isn’t the end of the road.
You deserve to be happy.
Something that held me back in relationships is that I would stay with someone that I wasn’t really into because I felt like that’s what we deserve. I would think, ‘Well, this is probably the only person who’s interested in me because I’m not a size two, and no one’s ever going to love me.’ I realize now that there are others out there. The more you grow in your journey, the next person you date will be better than what you had before.