I want to introduce our first ever Body Positive Beauty: Justien! For our Body Positive Beauty Feature, I’ll be interviewing a fabulous apple shape! If you’re interested in being featured, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justien a 35 year old mother of a five year old daughter, and they live in Belguim. She dresses in the retro/modern pinup style.
You dress fabulously! As an apple shape, what kinds of dress shapes do you love the most?
For my shape I love wearing swingdresses that are nipped in at the waist with a belt and with a good neckline that’s not too high up so I don’t look too ‘box-shaped.’
On days where I feel confident and not too ‘bloated’ I wear pencil dresses too but that’s definitely out of my comfort zone and is reserved for good days full of self-love and body positivity!
I’m the same way with pencil dresses. Tell us a little about why you still dress up during quarantine- I love the mindset behind this.
It keeps me sane and in a positive mindset because looking good makes me feel good! I also find it kind of funny that people always used to ask me ‘where are you going all dressed up’ or if I had a party to attend and now they see I just dress like this for me, not because I have special plans but even to stay home or ‘only’ do groceries.
I try to make the most out of the situation by recording my outfits and looks on my Instagram page. I love interacting with other retro-loving ladies and pinups from all over the world. They inspire me so much and we have fun with it by participating in challenges and commenting on each other’s pictures and stories.
Dressing up and spending time on my hair and make-up gives me a sense of calm and positive vibes so that’s a major help in my well being, but I know for others it’s more stressful, so I think everyone should just find what works for them, and if that’s spending a week in a onesie or yoga-pants, that’s fine too!
So you said you live in Belgium. I’m curious about your culture and how it relates to bodies and beauty. Is there a subculture that celebrates body diversity?
One thing I really love in Belgium is the burlesque scene that’s very diverse and inclusive and body positive. Burlesque dancers in Belgium are maybe less ‘Vegas showgirl’ like Dita Von Teese and have more of a cabaret vibe and even comedy in their shows where a belly roll or love handle isn’t an issue but adds an extra dimension to the act.
How about growing up? What did you learn about beauty from your mom?
My mom was (and still is) a skinny beautiful woman but I remember from a young age she was always dieting and trying new creams and treatments to get rid of cellulite, loose skin, wrinkles, … My mom also was 21 when she got me, so by the time she was my age, 35, I was 14 years old and more influenced by my peers than my parents.
If my mom would have been a bit older, I think she would have worried less about her body and maybe that would have left me with less of an insecure feeling because I was bigger.
Because I really think that with age, comes a kind of acceptance and respect for your body the way it has grown and been sculpted through the years.
And my mom never told me I needed to be smaller or skinnier but by being so hard on herself, I think I copied that a bit in my own vision of beauty. So it has been a work in progress to let that go and be happy with myself and my body type.
I think we all are a work in progress when it comes to body acceptance! Will you share your thoughts on dressing for your personality? I love this so much.
For styling, I find that dressing for your personality rather than for your body type often brings better reactions from people and makes me more confident.
For example if I would wear something black because that’s ‘slimming’ I feel less beautiful than when I wear bold colorful prints and fun accessories. And that’s reflected in the reactions of people too, so it’s a win-win. So have fun with fashion, don’t restrict yourself, and if you like it, wear it!
These vacation pics of you in fit and flare dresses are gorgeous. I miss travel! For those readers who are social distancing, can you share what has been helpful for you?
Some essential things I do for my well being and mental health is going offline now and then, not feeling the need to post every second of every day to be validated by others can be liberating.
Although I have to say with the quarantine, I’m online almost all of the time to stay in touch with friends and family. After all of this is over I think I will need a bit of a digital detox.
When I have an off-day, I try to think of all the things I am grateful for instead of thinking what I lack or what I should be.
I also try to not beat myself up about it, and allow myself to have an off-day instead of forcing myself to feel happy, because that suppresses my feelings and always backfires at some point.
I would never be as strict and bitchy to others as I sometimes am to myself so I try to see my body as my friend, someone I love, and treat it that way. And if it needs ice cream, I let it have ice cream, just as I would let my friend have ice cream if they want it.
Yay to ice cream. Always yay! I’m always excited about ice cream. What are you excited about currently?
These days I’m very excited to see everyone being creative with the measures that influence their lives and the extra time it creates. People start cooking, baking, crafting, making videos, organizing online performances. I know a pandemic can bring out the worst in people but I see a lot of good things happening too. I’m also very excited about spending my time at home with my daughter. She’s five years old now and growing up to be such sweet, kind and funny girl. I couldn’t be prouder.
She’s obviously had such an impact on you! Has having a daughter changed your view of your body or beauty in general?
Becoming a mommy was definitely an eye opener for me. Suddenly my body wasn’t about me anymore but about that beautiful tiny creature I was making and after birth feeding. My daughter has made me even more aware how hard I was on myself before.
Through the eyes of my daughter I’m perfect, and she’s perfect to me.
I would hate to have her think that I don’t love the body that has carried her for nine months and still comforts her with hugs and softness.
On the other side, I don’t want my daughter to think that it takes make-up and styling to be or feel beautiful. I try to show her it’s about having fun with it and playing with colors. Clothing and accessories aren’t a serious business and about ‘being like everyone else’ but about being unique.
I want her to know our natural look is also worthy of love and all body types and looks and appearances of people are unique and beautiful.
You’re such a good mom, and you have such wisdom to share to your daughter. What has influenced your journey to self love the most?
What has influenced my self-love journey the most has been my breast cancer and being stripped of everything and becoming a ‘patient’ instead of the young pinup mommy I was before. After my treatment was done and my hair grew back I decided to only wear the clothing that made me feel most feminine and happy and confident and that’s the modern pinup style.
You’re really an inspiration- making the most of a horrible disease. Will you share with our readers the cool Valentine’s Day gift to your husband in the picture above that led to you embracing the pinup style?
I was always intrigued by retro style like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, like the ‘popular’ fifties icons but 8 years ago my husband went on deployment to Afghanistan (he was in the army then, now he’s a firefighter) and I wanted to surprise him for Valentines with some sweet Pinup pictures so I booked a makeover and shoot. This is a picture from that shoot 8 years ago.
I then started to wear some retro dresses in the weekends and for parties but not yet ‘full-time.’
Then I got breast cancer at the age of 31 and lost all my hair and part of my boob, so bringing back my feminine side was a real struggle.
So I decided to only wear the style that made me happiest since then, and that’s the modern pinup style!
Well you look so beautiful Justien. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and style. Where can readers find you?
I’m on Instagram here.
*If you are looking for something similar to what Justien is wearing and it isn’t listed below the picture, please check out the following shops she recommends for vintage pieces.
*For retro-inspired jewelry she recommends Glitzomatic.
*She buys a lot of stuff from brands in the UK like Collectif Clothing. For special occasions she likes The Pretty Dress Company and British Retro or she has something made by Poopidoo.be.
*Are you an apple shape? Want a free capsule wardrobe made specifically for you? Fill out your email address here to download it and to subscribe to my exclusive monthly newsletter.
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- 12 pieces = 35 outfits
- tips for choosing each piece specific to flattering your shape
- picture of author wearing each outfit so you can visualize the items on an apple shape