"Don’t hang out with people who don’t love you. Don’t try to impress people who aren’t worth it. Don’t try to win people over who aren’t worth it. Focus on yourself, and focus on the people who are really awesome and who love you. Don’t hang out with people who make you feel like shit. Don’t spend your energy on them."
Beth Ditto is my idol and I find her so incredibly inspiring. For this month's Sexis Influential Women she is the first person who came to mind for me. She is the larger than life lead singer for the band Gossip (formerly The Gossip). They are a band that formed in Olympia, Washington in 1999. The band has two other members: guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie. The band has had some major recognition over the last few years so perhaps you have heard of them and perhaps you are even a fan. If not you should check them out.
Beth Ditto is a plus size woman who routinely jumps around on stage in various stages of undress. Critics have published photos of her, making fun of her for her weight, but Beth Ditto does not let that stop her. She posed nude in 2007 on the cover of NME magazine (the photo included in the article) and people had so much to say about it. Some people, me included, found it to be a very empowering and wonderful thing to see someone not airbrushed and not a size 2 being so ballsy. Other people wrote in to the magazine to say that her photo made them throw up in their mouth a little bit and that the magazine was promoting obesity as healthy by putting her on the cover. So how did Beth Ditto respond to this? She posed nude again on the cover of Love Magazine for their February 13, 2009 edition. And she looked fierce, confident, and beautiful.
Beth Ditto is also openly queer and sex positive, which is important. She has been very vocal in interviews about her queerness and is currently engaged to a female partner. She has always been quite outspoken about LGBT issues as well as feminism. There are not enough vocal females that are out and proud. It builds such a sense of community.
She walked the runway for the Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2011 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week on October 2, 2010. She also launched her own clothing line for plus size ladies for the UK retailer Evans in 2009. Both of these things are so inspiring, not just for plus size women but all women who struggle with body issues. Here is a lady that could feel awkward about being involved with the fashion industry, but instead she chooses to make her own path inside the industry and create a line of clothing that is more inclusive.
Most recently, she and her band put out a new album and she published her own memoir, "Coal to Diamonds." Ditto talks about her childhood and her determination to do something different. I found it to be something that numerous people could relate to. She did not have the greatest childhood and experienced sexual assault. Many people experience sexual assault and do not talk about it because there is so much shame associated with something like that. It is important for people to share their experiences because it empowers other people to find their voice. For me Ditto is the poster child of empowerment because she does get a lot of criticism and she meets it with even more creativity and determination.
As a queer plus size lady I see a lot of myself in Beth Ditto. She is a larger lady and yet she dresses however she wants. I find that inspiring. In America we are so body conscious, but not necessarily health conscious. There is a lot of focus on how thin someone is, but not necessarily how healthy or fit they are. Ditto does not try to hide the fact that she is large and does not seem to be embarrassed or uncomfortable about it. I want to embody more of the quality in myself and be able to love my body and not always compare myself to others. I see the mean things that people say about her and how she lets that negativity roll right off of her. I see how much she advocates for who she is and the community that she is a part of whether it is plus size, queer, or punk. She is a very bold person who does not seek approval from anyone in the media. She also stays true to who she is no matter how much press she is getting. I admire how gutsy she is and how she dresses however she wants to with no apologies. If I find myself feeling insecure or doubting myself in a social situation because of my weight I just ask myself, "What would Beth Ditto do?"