The Evolution of the “Size Acceptance Event” (aka BBW Bash)

Mar 6, 2019 by

The Evolution of the “Size Acceptance Event” (aka BBW Bash)

A Guest Article from Erika Hudson

Let’s travel back in time to when things were simpler: when Justin Timberlake was bringing Sexy Back, the RAZR cellular device was the most coveted phone on the market, and Borat graced us with his presence in the movie theaters (V’ry Niiicee). Oh 2006, how much I’ve missed you.

One night while I was my much younger, 23 year old, less confident self, I found myself flipping through channels so fast I might as well be playing some electronica while hosting a house party. That was until I slightly paused and something caught my attention on the travel channel. I saw clusters of plus size women. Some smaller; some bigger. They were sizes and shapes I have never seen before. I saw a sign that was a little cut off in the background, but I was able to make out “BBW Bash” on the remaining part. I felt like one of those cartoon characters in the desert who keep wiping their eyes because they think they are seeing a mirage when they first see signs of water. I acted just like that. I had no idea what I was seeing. Let me state, I have been a woman of size pretty much since grade school and here I am at the tender age of 23 seeing an actual event cater to big women.

Erika Hudson of Southern Charmz

This has to be a joke…right? Nope! Not a Joke! This is not a drill! After all the years of being made fun of, there is actually a place where you can go to celebrate who you are. All your lumps, bumps, and rolls are adored. Being a woman of size is nothing to be ashamed about just because your dress is not a single digit in size.

Unlike modern society where being plus is more accepted and mainstream, during this time it was not in the norm for women of size to be “attractive”. Men were made fun of for liking big woman. When you went clothes shopping, there was no Torrid. Lane Bryant was not as “hip” as it is now. All of their clothes were for women that were much older in age or very conservative. You got lucky if you found a top that was actually cute. It was amazing to see plus women and their admirers in joyful bliss knowing they can be themselves.  As soon as I saw this event, I knew immediately I needed to attend the next one. I researched the event and as my bad luck would have it, the next event was a month away. There would not be a way to pay to go on such short notice. I had to wait another year until I could attend

After a year of anxious anticipation, the time arrived for me to attend the Las Vegas BBW Bash. Imagine an extremely large group of plus size people filling up an event venue. Attending a BBW Bash is like nothing I had ever experienced, especially after a life of being made fun of and degraded for being plus. I walked into the building and was welcomed with hugs and love. I went to the pool with my “sexy” one piece AKA it had a deep V neckline and was astonished to see something I had never seen before. Plus women confident, loving their bodies, and wearing bikinis. Again, you couldn’t just go to the store to find a bikini for a plus woman. You had to actually get one customized for your own body. At this point, I realized “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore, Toto”. There was so much to do at this event. They had workshops, dance nights and a vendor fair so massive you would have sworn it was a mall that popped up in a hotel. This experience has stayed with me all of these years. I have friends to this day that I met at this event. They are just as amazing and beautiful as the day I first met them.

Now, many moons later, BBW Bashes have expanded throughout the U.S. There are some event organizers that will have monthly meet ups. All of these events are focused to get BBWs and admirers a place to mix and mingle. It must be said however, even though the premise of the events are the same, each event and location has a different vibe. Attending a BBW Bash in San Antonio will not have the same feel as San Diego, Vegas, New Jersey, or Cocoa Beach or vice versa. There are a few pieces of advice I can bestow to those interested in looking at attending events. Look for an event that catches your attention. A couple of things to ask yourself: How did I find out about this event? Who do I know that has attended this specific event? Am I able to talk to prospective or previous attendees on their experience? Are the event organizers helpful and answer questions? Think of other questions that you may want to look out for when you need to travel to an event. Once you have found an event you are interested in take a look at what they are offering. Review the schedule to see if there are any activities that catch your attention. After discovering which activities grab your attention think about your comfort level related to being around others.

Typically, Bashes fall within three categories: 1. Exclusive 2. Semi-Exclusive 3. Shared Space. Regardless of which category event, you have to be registered in order to attend. A bash or event that is exclusive will only have people that are registered attendees. An exclusive event typically will have all events at the hotel with only those that are attending the event. This type of event gives attendees private use of the venue without worrying about people from the outside watching. A bash or event that is semi-exclusive will offer events to those registered only but will have common spaces at the hotel. For example, the hotel where the bash is located will have people that have and have not registered. Even though there are people staying at the hotel that are not with the event and the hotel guests cannot attend the event unless they become registered attendee. You will be able to see non-bashers in the breakfast area, the pool, lobby and etc. A shared event typically will have the hotel set up like the semi-exclusive but the events are not as exclusive as the location is in a public place or a venue open to others. If you are someone that is shy and hasn’t worn a swimsuit in 15 years, you may not feel comfortable in an environment where the swimming is held at a public location. Every person has their own comfort level and may have anxiety about being around non-bashers who don’t always have a mentality of size acceptance.

Another thing to consider when choosing an event is whether you can physically do the activities that are offered. Not all bashes are as accessible as others. As bigger people, we have to look at things differently. For instance, when we travel, we may require two seats on the airplane, two seats on the airport shuttle, seating at a table instead of a booth, etc. Look at each event being offered, and carefully consider if the activities and space will be accessible for your needs. For instance, common questions for super plus size women may be: Will there be a lot of walking at this venue/activity? Will there be plenty of seating to take breaks? Do the chairs have arms? What means of transportation are there? Will there be stairs? Etc. All bashes are inclusive and try to cater to bigger people; however, some events are simply more accessible than others. This should be considered when choosing an event.

Bold Pre-Party at the last Southern Charmz Bash

When choosing an event, the three main points to consider are: will this match up with what you are wanting to take advantage of, what are you are physically able to do, and what is your comfort level. Think of those three points as a triangle. If they don’t align then the triangle will crash. Hitting two of the three is good, but you may not have as much fun as having all three.

I see things from a different perspective when it comes to BBW events. Not only have I attended more than my fair share of BBW Bashes, but I also organize SouthernCharmzBBW Bash located in San Antonio. When I organize events, I view them from the perspective of a “fat girl”. I know there was a time where I just needed a place to feel loved, and I was uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit regardless of who was around. I would have been the most comfortable at an exclusive event. However, 100% exclusive BBW bashes are hard to come by which is why I am very adamant about the San Antonio bash that will take place in September only taking place at 1 venue. All activities are on hotel property and the only people allowed on the property are those that are registered bashers.

When attending a BBW event, there are costs for attending ranging from bash fee to hotel costs as well as extra costs you may not have thought about. Each Bash will have a fee for attending. This covers all activities and events that you are able to take advantage of from the beginning of the event to the very end. Typically in order to attend you must stay at a designated hotel regardless of if you live down the street or half the globe away. The main reason for this is to feel unity with the others that are attending. You know going in that there are people just like you attending for the same reasons you are. This helps to build the experience and the community. Lastly, you will have to budget for food and alcohol. Some bashes allow you to bring your own while other bashes require you to purchase through the venue.

One unwritten rule is attire. This is where a lot of attendees are able to update their wardrobe because they know they will be loved and accepted for who they are. It gives them a new found boost of confidence knowing they will be looked upon as majestic unicorns.

I organize events for the love of it. I can say from personal experience this is not the case with most events coordinators. There are events that put together events only because it is a source of income. When going to an event you want to feel uplifted, euphoric and most of all freedom. Yes, Freedom. The freedom of being yourself. The freedom of wearing that tight dress you have always wanted. The freedom of wearing a swimsuit or bikini for the first time. The freedom of being around people just like you. Every year I organize a bash, I know I will end up crying. I will have at least one or two women come up to me to tell me how much the event meant to them and how it has changed them. That moment pushes me to help others see their beauty and gain their confidence. It’s my journey of growth just as much as someone attending my event. Giving my blood, sweat, tears, love and every part of me to help others finding their own way will always be my motivation. I sincerely hope I have motivated you to step out of your box so you can take part of the plus size community. It is ok to be a person of size. The most important thing that matters is to love yourself and love the skin that you are in. If you are having troubles loving and accepting yourself, I understand. Don’t get discouraged because it takes time. Attending a BBW event will for sure help you through that journey.

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