I rarely write blog-style introspective pieces on the Bold Magazine website or any of its print publications. In fact, it’s something you are taught, as a journalist, not to do unless you are writing an editorial. And, you don’t write an editorial unless you have a brand that stands independently from your publication and people value your opinions. Of course, modern blogging and writing has changed the way we write and read, so there are editorial elements in most of our pieces. This is a very wordy way of saying that I hardly identify as myself when writing for Bold. Today, I’d like to take a moment to do so.
My name is Christopher Salute and I am the CEO of Bold Media and Editor in Chief of Bold Magazine. I am the voice behind many of the articles you read as well as the awkward purple-wearing human handing out goodie bags and treats at the events you may have been to. I am so honored to be a part of this community and so glad you log in to read our articles, whether you do it every day or this is your first time.
As Bold continues to grow in popularity, I’m often asked “Chris, why did you decide to begin a plus positive brand/website?” The truth is… that I honestly had no idea why I began writing and blogging about the plus size universe. It was just something I began doing. And, the more I did it, the more we grew. So, I began to educate myself to build upon the platform I had started. By now, in 2018, this question is asked a lot of me, especially as I have stepped out from behind the laptop to attend events and speak on these topics. Being asked this question has forced me to become self-aware about what has motivated me (as a straight, cisgender, white adult male of average build) to find my voice in a female-dominated plus size community. To understand the journey I took, you’d have to know a bit of the history of Bold Magazine and Bold Media.
Bold Magazine began in 2011 as a branch of Bold Media. I began both in tandem, with “Magazine” being the flagship property. I named my media company, which also owned 25+ other URLs and a consulting firm after the magazine, knowing that Bold Magazine would be the most popular property I’d create. We began as a women’s empowerment site and corresponding print publication, not solely focused on plus women, but encompassing plus women’s issues. Many of our web hits came from obscure topics we covered: Fastpitch softball, Women’s Roller Derby, Women’s Football, small businesses owners who were female, and the budding Women’s divisions of Mixed Martial Arts. I really only wanted to cover plus size women related issues and topics. But, I made the decision to cover more areas out of two fears: The first was the fear that there would likely not be enough interested readers (which in 2011, may have been true, since plus size topics were rarely discussed in media). The second was that people wouldn’t understand a man writing about the plus size world, especially since I was married to (and had always dated) a plus woman. So, for those who think I’m such a brave man for writing about these issues, please remember that I had to grow into that bravery and you can, too. The myriad of topics did help to grow our site, however, and through covering very young stars like Meisha Tate (now in the UFC), the stars of the mini-series Big Sexy, and the Kardashians (I’m truly sorry, y’all), we did reach approximately 2,500-3,000 unique visits a week. But, it wasn’t until 2017, after a 3 year hiatus (I took a break to finish my PhD and for personal and professional reasons) that we focused solely on plus.
So, you’ve gotten a brief history on the publication and on my involvement; the site, the writing, and organization has been around for 7+ years. But you still don’t know why I wanted to, and why I started, writing about plus women. There are a number of important answers I’d like to bring to your attention, none more important than the other. The first few of them are very simple:
- I love to write (as evidenced by the tattoo on my forearm which plainly says “write.”)
- I wanted to write, consistently.
- Why not write about something I’m passionate about?
But, I’m dancing around the issue. “Chris, why was writing about the plus size community and its accompanying industries important to you?” Well, part of the answer is that… yes, I have been attracted to plus women for as long as I have been attracted to women. I had a crush on the “chubby girl” in class in first grade despite ridicule from my inner circle. I was never one to hide my attraction, so the ridicule continued. I don’t say this to tell you I endured something. I say this to help you understand how I began to empathize with what plus women endure every day, even if only for a minute a day. Closed minded friends would say “Chris, you’re a good looking guy, why are you dating big girls?” in their attempt to “fix” my preference in plus women. There’s a lot wrong with that question, which we can address in another post. But, I need to note that a comparison between size and attractiveness is not okay.
I have even had friends tell me that my preference was just a way to select “easy targets.” But, if they only knew the challenge… Try convincing a beautiful woman whose body has been ridiculed her entire life that you want to see and touch it (some women I have dated felt this, others did not). I, as a pretty overweight child who has grown into an average man with decent muscle tone, even has a hard time being convinced to take my shirt off at a pool party or that I’m not being “punked” when someone asks me out on a date. This is something I battle every single day. For a good seven or eight years, I would actually take my shirt off once a week and punch my own stomach until I sweated, which allowed me to physically feel the pain I had internalized while breaking a sweat, thinking it was just one small thing I could do to lose the weight.
My fight became an external one. I didn’t want anyone to feel what I felt, but had no idea how to help. I was bullied throughout most of elementary and middle school since I was very overweight. Kids used to tease me about he fact that I couldn’t run, couldn’t climb gym ropes, couldn’t “get the girl” and had to wear sweat pants because jeans used to cut into my hips (my other options were wearing men’s clothing, which wasn’t at all cool). As I aged, I decided that fighting the bully at a bar who made fun of my girlfriend was not a productive way to make an impact. And, all the while, my partners had their own histories to negotiate…
My friends and partners have all varied in shape, size, hair color, ethnicity, skin tone, etc. Therefore, they’ve all lived their own versions of unease regarding their weight. However, they all tended to wrestle with the same few topics, give or take:
- The idea that their bodies weren’t loved by others and therefore shouldn’t be loved by themselves.
- Sex being an awful or taboo activity for a woman of size.
- Their relationship to food had to be hidden, hated, and based in shame.
- Anyone who loved them would love them for their personalities first.
- They should be grateful for any partner they had.
- The way to happiness was to lose weight.
- They didn’t have the right to be themselves or be confident unless they acknowledged that they were in a secondary class.
There are more. But, we can and probably will write multiple articles on this specific topic. I know they are real and they are valid and we will get to them all. In order to help eradicate these lines of thinking, plus women cannot and will not be the only people fighting this fight. This is an all size issue. It’s an all gender issue. It’s an all status and race and income issue because it’s going to take a lot of recognition from multiple facets of humans to correct.
There are many chapters in the book of me trying to figure out how to bring the weight discussion to people’s doors. I, as an educated privileged man with a good deal of resources am so grateful to have the ability to plug in the microphone and pass it along to others to speak. For a number of reasons, you’ll note that our articles focus on our interview subjects, and not my personal opinions. The reason is because there is only so much I can actually say on these topics with authority. This limitation was learned as I stopped fighting bullies and began trying to
- It’s not my responsibility to empower my partner, it’s theirs.
- It’s not my RIGHT to be their source of strength.
- I can cover a lot more ground by creating a platform for the wonderful communities that those I loved belonged to.
So, I began Bold Magazine. Bold Magazine began covering these women’s issues. And, as I educated myself, the site became more educated, as well. We’re now able to speak intelligently on some of these issues (not all of them as our staff is small and most articles are written by me). And, we’re doing major research on topics like body positivity, plus acceptance, weight discrimination, plus size dating, and other areas of interest that will impact the plus communities we are aware of and have been invited into.
We’re on a path to “paint the world purple,” (Can we make this expression a thing? We kind of want to make it a thing…OK… go!) one article or event at a time. We invite you, our readers, viewers, listeners, partners, and friends to do it with us. And, you can feel safe in your quest because we are never going to stop. So, you’ll always have someone next to you, even if the road becomes narrow or the storm water rises beyond your level of comfort. Bold is brave enough, strong enough, educated enough, and happy enough in our skin to fight for the women of the world who need little nudge up the mountain. Join us, whether you need the hand or you have a hand to lend. Eventually, it’ll all come full circle. We have Resources, models and staff who maintain our plus positive message. So, go ahead… be you… be BOLD!