The California sun playfully gleams on the horizon as if to signify that the big moment has finally arrived. The Curvicality team has flown to Los Angeles to meet the game-changer who is quickly becoming one of the most adored social media influencers in the body positive movement.
We wind through a bright, rose-filled courtyard that reminds me of the 90’s show Melrose Place. And there she is. Carmen smiles and tosses her short brown hair as she peeks out the door of her picturesque apartment, sporting her self-coined Cellulit motto in neon letters on a simple black t-shirt. The words represent more than a slogan; they represent her life.
(Here’s our full filmed interview with Carmen. Enjoy! )
With more than 124K followers on Instagram, Carmen Rene is stunning, sassy, and sexy. But most importantly, she’s got a fire-starting message that just might change your life. Fat isn’t a feeling, and she wants you to know that.
Carmen Rene, in her own words, “a big girl.” In fact, big is all she’s ever known. She was born into a supple body that she wholeheartedly embraces on her highly trafficked platform. It’s a message that resonates with women around the globe.
In addition, Carmen has battled lymphedema since she was just three years of age. For those of you who are not familiar with lymphedema, it is characterized by a blockage of the lymphatic system, usually as a result of damaged lymph nodes. In Carmen’s case, her symptoms include noticeable swelling in her legs and feet along with consistent pain.
She’s very vocal about her lymphedema, and publically addresses it as a part of her platform. “It wouldn’t matter what I was wearing,” she told us in a March phone interview. “If my feet or legs are at all exposed, people will stare.”
She’s ok with that. She doesn’t get flustered. Instead, she approaches it, and her curvaceous figure, with bold statements like: “Had a blast at the beach yesterday with my whole peach out, making people uncomfortable, and living my best, most cellulit life.”
I don’t want to hear: ‘I feel fat.’ Fat isn’t a feeling, so how can you even feel fat? You can’t. You can observe that you have fat, but it’s not an emotion. The most you’ll ever hear me say about myself is: “I feel fluffy today. Fluffy is adorable.”
She is indeed challenging the stereotype that California is reserved for tiny, buff, bikini-clad blondes. But don’t for a moment think that Carmen doesn’t try to be health conscious. An avid fitness enthusiast, she can be found at the gym four to five days a week and is mindful of what she puts into her body to keep her lymphedema under control.
And yes, like us, she’s had to work to get to the point that she loves and accepts her plus-size body. “It took me a really long time to understand that what makes me different doesn’t make me any less worthy of loving myself and my body,” she shared with us in a March phone interview. “That’s when I knew that I had to share my journey with others. I realized body confidence is not so widespread. Many, many women struggle.”
This very concept led to the launch of her massively popular IG page @eatthecaketoo. “I decided I wanted to share the message that all women can feel amazing in the skin they’re in. It’s an attitude that I want to teach to the world.”
You see, in Carmen’s world, there is no “I feel fat” because fat is not a feeling. She’s determined to take the negative context out of the terms fat, plus-size and big. She believes negative connotations are a result of societal conditioning, and she strives to teach women how to break this mentality. Her goal is simple: to show that perfect doesn’t exist.
And she has done just that. She made waves when she recreated a Kim Kardashian photo from a fragrance bottle that Kardashian herself retweeted. “I remember thinking ‘her body is so perfect.’ Perfect was the first thing that came to mind, even though I’d been trying to retrain my brain for three solid years,” Carmen shared. “So I looked up the definition of perfect. The definition was so vague. It spoke volumes. Perfect is different for everybody because there really is no definition of perfect.”
As one reader put it, “this makes me happy. Mostly because I never see these kinds of pics…Thank you for posting.”
She is also challenging cyberbullies with her sensual pictures. She boldly poses nearly naked, embracing every curve of her body. She also photographs herself with her supportive partner, Kahari, who is unarguably thin. The visual contrast of their vastly different physiques has given Carmen’s supporters the courage to approach life’s most intimate situations with a different perspective, a perspective we don’t see enough in the media.
But how can we all find the confidence that Carmen has? Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. In her words, “sexy is an attitude because it’s a state of being, a feeling you get. You can see it in the way you carry yourself. The way you live your life. It’s infectious. When you feel sexy, you exude this undeniable energy and confidence.”
To Carmen, finding this attitude is about being open to seeing yourself in a different way. “It’s a matter of finding what sexy is to you individually — and embracing it. You’ve got to give yourself permission to explore. Give yourself permission to find and embrace it instead attaching judgment to your self observation.”
She has an exercise that she regularly discusses on her platform. She encourages women to find the courage to stand in front of the mirror unclothed every single day and find five positives about their bodies. “I even have a picture in my bathroom that says ‘get naked,’ ” she told us. “Every day I get in front of my mirror completely naked and say something nice. The reason is that it’s so easy to get consumed in negative thoughts. Those thoughts become the way we view ourselves.”
Of course, we asked: “What if some of us aren’t to the point that we even like our bodies, much less want to look at ourselves naked?” Because, let’s face it, we’re all approaching body image at different steps in our journey. Carmen’s answer is honestly quite brilliant. “Take baby steps. If you have to start small, start small. Thank your body for waking you up this morning, for your little birthmark, for your toes, or whatever the case is. Once you start retraining your brain, it’ll make a huge difference. Over time, you’ll find more and more positives.”
Retraining your brain means driving out that negative self-talk that holds us all back. “I say that all the time to my friends. ‘NO negative body talk.’ Like zero. Because all it does is hold you back. We’re so used to saying ‘I look or feel fat.’ FAT IS NOT A FEELING. FAT IS FAT. In my mind, I think: ‘I have fat. I’m not fat. I also have fingernails. I’m not fingernails.’ So essentially, weight doesn’t define me.”
Carmen’s Three Tips to Improve Body Image
#1: Get in front of the mirror and compliment your body every morning.
Look at yourself in the mirror every morning, and find five positives about your body. I do this butt-ass naked; but if you’re not there yet, start with clothes on and work your way up to it. If you’re struggling, think of the little things. Your body woke up, right? Compliment it for that.
#2. Do not allow yourself to engage in negative body talk. Ever.
Every single time you start to notice negative body talk, replace it with a positive. Find something good. As time goes on, it’ll become a habit. That’s when your body image will start to improve.
#3: Realize that there is a starting point to this journey.
Start off by setting small body image goals for yourself. Make little changes every day, no matter how simple they are. This is a process, not a quick-fix solution. (I’ve been doing this for three years.) If you’re consistent, you’ll start to see the shift in how you view your body in a more positive light.