Chrystal Bougon, the woman behind Curvy Girl Lingerie, “calls bullshit” on the idea that fat people are not sexy. Oh, and the fact that she’s built a successful business around this idea says she’s right. Curvy Girl Lingerie designs and produces beautiful lingerie specifically for sizes 12 to 28 and shows that fat bodies “can create just as much pleasure as any other body.”
Curvy Girl Lingerie was inspired by Chrystal’s desire to create a safe place for women of size to explore their sexuality. She’s fostered a community of half a million people strong on Facebook, where fat women, or “rad fatties” as they’re called in the Curvey Girl blogosphere, talk about size, body image, lingerie, sex, romance, and more.
One secret to Curvy Girl’s success is their visual marketing. They were among the first online retailers to feature models with a diversity of body sizes and shapes. And Curvy Girl’s Instagram game remains strong. Follow them on The Gram or check the product pages on their website and you’ll see beautiful models who represent many forms the human body can take. Chrystal purposefully hires friends and customers as models so shoppers can get a good sense of what her lingerie might look like on their body and because, she says, “I love showing fat women that we are beautiful. We deserve all of the pretty things that smaller people get every single day of their lives.”
And in case you haven’t already seen this for yourself, Curvy Girl Lingerie has a variety of styles, for every personality: sexy, daring, sweet, kinky, romantic, and everything in between.
Chrystal’s company helps us feel empowered and sexy in our skin. One can’t help but feel like a complete babe when wearing one of her beautiful, delicate creations. But most fat people’s journeys to self-love and don’t start with lingerie.
Too often, we have to grapple with years of shame, discomfort, and anxiety. This was true for Chrystal herself. As a kid, water slides were Chrystal’s special form of torture. She was bigger than other kids and the prospect of getting stuck or making a big splash made her really, really nervous. After decades of living in a fat body, Chrystal still struggles when she’s reminded that our world isn’t designed with fat bodies in mind. Going to concerts and plays can be especially difficult for us as they often require us to investigate, make calls, and find special seating. And after all that, we still have to find the energy to resist the lure of a nice evening home. “I love to be very visible and I love to normalize fat bodies being in public taking up space, but some events like a concert or a play just seem like so much work,” said Chrystal.
I asked Chrystal what it would mean to her if the world was more welcoming for fat bodies. Her answer really resonated with me, not only as a fat woman, but also as an entrepreneur: “It would mean to me what it means to most of us. I want equal access to everything smaller people have access to. I mean, if Southwest Airlines can make billions of dollars a year even after instituting a “Person of Size” policy, why can’t all businesses do that?”
Chrystal also shared one of her AllGo moments (moments when our physical world imposes limits or restricts our ability to be us because of size) with me: “I used to work in tech in Silicon Valley. In the early 90’s I went to Munich with my company. To save on expenses, my VP had me stay with his family and he hosted a barbecue with some of his other ex-pat friends and they had these small wooden folding chairs. I sat in one and it collapsed immediately. EVERYONE that I just met rushed over to help me up. I was about 25 years old and so embarrassed. It did not help that my boss was obsessed with being thin and he his wife were constantly dieting.”
Here’s to sturdy chairs, everywhere.