Last week, we wrote a quick article about Anneka Morgan, the owner of Instagram account “Books and Bras.” She’s a badass body advocate with a super edgy and smart voice. We love her positions on body positivity, sex, mental health, etc. Thankfully, we caught up with Anneka after our original post and ran her through the gauntlet (just kidding, Anneka!) of our infamous ten BOLD question interview. And, you won’t believe how thoughtful and introspective she is! Well, I guess you will… because we’re about to show you:
Bold Magazine: Anneka, we recently connected after finding a post of yours where there were some pretty aggressive dudes in the comments. We love the way you took your stance. Tell us more about the relationship between followers and dealing with “internet men.”
Anneka: Whew. Jumping right in! Honestly I don’t remember the specific post you’re talking about, so I can’t speak directly to that, but generally my relationship to disrespectful men on Instagram (whether that’s fatphobic hate or uninvited sexualization) is don’t engage. Personally I choose not to delete comments because I don’t want to save their face. I want other people to be able to see what inappropriate things they are commenting. I completely understand why other people choose to delete things like that, because it can make the comments section feel more tense having it there, but I refuse to preserve their honor by hiding their misdeeds. By and large the comments I get are either what I could call positive/positive (meaning it’s given in a positive spirit and I take it in a positive manner, such as “This top looks amazing on you!” or “your body looks just like mine, you’ve helped me so much!”) or positive/neutral (meaning it’s given in a positive spirit and I take it in a neutral manner, usually something like “;) <3 😉 <3 😉 <3 😉 <3;) <3 😉 <3 😉 <3”). So that keeps me going through the negative stuff, and usually I just ignore it, or sometimes I screen cap it and post it to sort of shame them or prove to people who don’t believe fat hate exists that it does in fact exist. Every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly spicy or fed up, I’ll reply with something sassy or dismissive, but that’s not my usual M.O. I have tons of respect for people that actually fight the battle with words and responses though! It takes so much mental and emotional energy.
Bold Magazine: We love it! We’ve actually struggled with our voice on this matter. So, thank you for your view! Tell us about your account! What made you want to start it? How about the choice of name too?
Anneka: I started it kind of on a whim, because I’d been following plus size bloggers and “influencers” (I hate the term but for lack of a better one…) for a while on facebook and my original Instagram (photography based, @forgetmeknottsAK), and I kind of wanted a specific place to have all of that without it being interspersed between pictures of Alaska or my friend’s dinner pics. I was also in a pretty good spot mentally and kinda feelin myself, having just a few days prior been asked out by my favorite bartender (who is now my committed boyfriend of over 3 years), and I was thinking “hey, maybe I can do that too…” As far as the name, it came from something one of my best friends had said the previous summer when she came to visit me. She walked into my room, looked around, and said “Yep. Pretty much what I expected. Books and bras everywhere.” I felt like that really summed me up pretty well [smile].
Bold Magazine: Hah! Sounds like a well read fashionista… which is part of who you are… but certainly not all. What has your favorite post been? What has the response been to that post or posts in general?
Anneka: This is such a hard question… I don’t think I could pick just one, but there have been a few that stick out. One of my first favorites is from just about a year ago (8/14/17). It’s a photo of me from the waist up, standing against a white wall, with both my fists covering my boobs and flipping off the camera. It was in response to modesty culture, and it was the post that really started me taking this account seriously. Before that I’d been skating along at about 650 followers for a few years, posting between a few times a week to a few times a month, and sometimes even less than that. That post got a huge response and I got like 200 followers overnight and it became my most liked post on either account at that point. I knew I’d tapped into something within myself and the community, and that was when I started posting more regularly. Some others that are really important to me are a few candid pics I’ve posted with commentary about our obsession with flattering angles and hiding our perceived flaws. They’ve gotten such a great response, and those are when I get the highest number of “wow, this is so important, thank you for posting this, you’re so inspiring, I needed to hear this” type comments, which are absolutely what keep me going. I also absolutely LOVE the drawings that artists I’ve met on Instagram have done of me, and I treasure those so much. There are quite a few cute outfit/pretty picture posts that I like too, but they aren’t really the most important ones or even the most popular ones.
Bold Magazine: Oh yes! We love all of the friends we’ve made too! Some of those cartoonists are great! So, you seem to be hitting multiple areas of the plus community. What’s the goal in addressing these topics?
Anneka: I think the goal is basically the same for all of the topics I generally post about. Fat bodies in art, fat bodies working out, fat bodies having sex, etc etc etc, it’s really all to humanize fat people. For our fatphobic, thin-worshipping society to start seeing fat bodies as being able to be fit, be sexy, be beautiful. When they see a fat person in a meme, instead of laughing, see that person as someone’s spouse or parent or sibling. And often in art fat bodies are seen as beautiful (at least medium-fat bodies), but a real person with that same body faces vitriol in their day to day life.
Bold Magazine: Wow… that was an insanely intelligent answer. Very impactful. You seem to be really making an impact and climbing some social media ranks, as well. What’s your goal in the plus size community? In general?
Anneka: I would say that as far as “climbing the ranks” or gaining followers, my goal is mainly to have a voice. To have people to listen when I have something important to say. I can’t lie, it would be nice to be well known enough that companies want to partner with me for promotions and stuff, who doesn’t love free stuff, but that’s not the primary goal. The most important part is changing people’s views of themselves and others. So whether that’s with my current 7K followers, or 10K, or 100K, the goal is the same.
Bold Magazine: Yes!!!!! This is a great change! Talk to us about your body positivity. You’ve been pretty vocal about it. Where do you get this energy and motivation from?
Anneka: Ok well first of all, as with all activism, if it’s not intersectional, it’s no good. Body positivity has to include race, it has to include disability, etc. I got into body positivity primarily through the lens of being fat, and that is primarily what I talk about because that’s the experience I have, but body positivity includes all shapes and sizes and colors and genders and abilities etc. I think it’s also important for those of us that have certain privileges to acknowledge it. Yes, I’m fat, but as a size 20ish, I don’t have the same experience as someone who is a size 32. I’m also white, straight, cis, and able bodied. So I don’t experience the same oppression as someone who checks more of those boxes than I do.
As far as energy and motivation, I think that comes from a combination of my followers, the accounts I follow, and Lexapro. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my frequency in posting and involvement really started to pick up a few weeks after I started Lexapro last summer, so, credit where credit is due. Also the supportive comments I get from my followers are so lovely. And often I’ll see something someone else posted and think “I love that hashtag” or “I love that pose” or “I have a similar skirt to that I’d totally forgotten about.” And then I’ll start thinking about how I can contribute in the same vein.
Bold Magazine: Oh we agree one thousand percent! Can you tell us a positive story, someone you made feel good through your messaging?
Anneka: Through the years I have gotten quite a few really encouraging messages from other young women who say that I’ve inspired them to start seeing their body differently, but I can’t find most of those comments and messages right now. However I got one comment on a candid picture about a month ago that said “Aw this is such a beautiful picture! I recently followed you and I saw your other post about “candids” and getting used to seeing pictures of yourself and honestly I think you’ve changed me entire world, I’ve started taking pictures of my body too already deciding to love the result no matter the angle, and I really do!” Hearing that I’d changed someone’s world… That’s everything. That’s why I do this, and it makes every creepy comment and troll totally worth it.
Bold Magazine: Well… maybe almost every creepy comment! We get some doozy’s! So, Anneka, we love to know if our friends and influencers have day jobs outside of their modeling and influencing. What do you do when you’re not posting and being an advocate?
Anneka: I work in Human Resources for a Social Services non-profit, we have a ton of difference services ranging from Hospice to Child Advocacy to Senior meals/transportation/ counseling. I really love working for an organization that is doing such important work, I love working in the non-profit sector where making money for stockholders isn’t the goal, and I like HR for the most part (I’m a creative person but I’m also one of those weirdos that likes spreadsheets and well defined paperwork and things like that). I also do most of the graphic design and social media for our organization. I love my boss and coworkers and my position, but even so, I’m not sure it’s what I want to do forever. I’ve been here about 3 years and I’d like to be here at least another 2 years, but I’ve started to think what else I might want to do in my future. Some of the potential ideas I’m most excited about are being a comprehensive sex educator, an architect, a travel agent, a paramedic, a music therapist, a social geologist (I was a Geology Minor), and to run an old dog sanctuary, or some combination of any and all of them. I also used to work full-time for a small floatplane company, and I still work for them occasionally when they need someone to fill in, and I love Alaskan bush aviation. I’ve thought many times about getting my pilots license, but I think most of what I love about it is the photographic opportunity it affords, so I’d usually rather be a passenger. I also have my Commercial Driver’s License, which is nice to know I can fall back on that as job security if I need to.
Outside of work and aside from body positive stuff, I do a lot of photography (mostly landscape, but occasionally people) and music. My degree is in Opera Performance, though I decided not to pursue singing professionally because it’s a cutthroat world, so I do a lot of community music on my own terms. Other types of art too, charcoal is my main medium (aside from photography and music), but I like to paint too, and I’ll go through crafty phases of making flower crowns or hair pieces for weddings and stuff. I also love woodworking, I don’t have a shop or anything right now, but I’ve been wanting to at least get back into small projects and woodburning type things. My dad is a contractor and got me a lathe for my 16th birthday, and I took woodshop all through middle school and high school, so that’s something that’s a little further removed but still so dear to my heart. I like being handy, for the most part I’m the one who fixes the garbage disposal and hangs pictures and things like that in our relationship (I’m all for subverting gender roles!) I love dogs and horses and pretty much all animals. I grew up with horses and I haven’t ridden in almost a year, but there is a stable around the corner from my house and I love to go say hi, and my puppy loves them as well. Travel is super important to me; I’ve traveled more than many but not nearly as much as I’d like, but I’m going to Europe for almost 4 weeks this fall with my parents and brother, so I’m super excited about that. And smaller scale travel, like exploring new areas of Alaska that I haven’t been to before. And this wouldn’t be complete without saying I love the Seahawks! #gohawks
Bold Magazine: Human resources? Crafting? Photography? Hmm… are we twins? Have fun in Europe! What are the biggest challenges you face in posting, balancing your life, etc?
Anneka: Honestly I don’t find much challenge in balancing my real life and online life… If I don’t want to post as much, I just don’t. It doesn’t stress me out to not have something to post or feel like I need to reach a certain amount of postings per week or anything. Earlier on in my account and relationship (because they were both starting around the same time), sometimes I wondered if it was appropriate for me to be posting certain pictures that could be considered erotic, but my boyfriend is super supportive, and while he doesn’t really follow me, when we talk about it he just says it’s my body and I can show as much or as little as I’m comfortable with, and he’s comfortable with whatever I choose to do.
Bold Magazine: Fair enough. We don’t show nearly as much skin as you and it took years for members of our community to understand our stance in the plus community. So, lastly, Anneka, what makes you BOLD?
Anneka: That’s probably the most difficult question of this entire interview. Who among us doesn’t hate tooting our own horn… I think I’m relatively intelligent, I have a good sense of humor, and I know I’m very loyal. I’m also proud of the fact that I have such a wide range of interests. I don’t think it’s any better than having one particular passion and singular focus for that, but I think it makes me an interesting person. As far as specifics… I have really long eyelashes and a really good singing voice [smile].
We had such a blast with Anneka from Books and Bras. What an intelligent, thoughtful, and just super cool human. Be sure to support her on Instagram page which can be found HERE. And, of course… be BOLD!