Sugar and spice and all things nice, like glitter and gold, sparkle and shine and delight, like lip gloss and candy-colored purses with matching shoes and perfume that smells like spring, like flowers in bloom. All things femme, feminine, sexy, sex, lots of it, like seconds and thirds and even fourths. A way of being, of flowing, of feeling, a vibration that is sweet and juicy, like a bowl of mixed berries over cherry vanilla ice cream. And it keeps going, glowing, the way that April Flores with energy, a feeling and a beauty that goes so deep below that you know that it’s love. True Love. Self Love. One Love…because that’s all it ever is, especially when you bring another person into the mix.

This is where Fat Girl (Barnacle Books) begins. Before the lens of Carlos Batts, husband to April Flores, he who dies October 22, 2013, just a few months after the book was released. He who gave his heart, his soul, his love to his muse. He began photographing Miss Flores in June 2000, and from that thousands and thousands of images were born, images of the beauty of the beloved before the man whose heart she adored.

Fat Girl is a love story, a story of wonder, of self-discovery, to be or not to be beauty, to be art, to live as your own creation and to collaborate with your other half, to live as Goddess, Queen, and Consort. Here, the masculine and feminine come together in the celebration of the spirit made flesh, in the celebration of one woman, an icon of glamour that belies the great D.I.Y. art of self invention. April Flores carries her curves the way other women carry their furs. She wears her body like a luxury.

Miss Flores observes, “I have come to have such an ease within my skin by learning over time that confidence is what really matters. I used to be super-uncomfortable within myself because of my weight. Slowly I realized that the happiness I wanted to feel inside would not magically come if I lost the weight. I decided not to base my happiness on something as trivial as body size. It has all been a growing process for me.

“My weight has gone up and down the scale. Those are my genetics. I’m a Latina—we have curves, big hips, big arms, and bigger frames. I know if I want to lose weight I have to eat less and move more. That’s it; it’s just as easy as that.

“I think most cultures have judgments on beauty, whether it is body size or skin tone, etc. I think it is important for women to learn to not compare themselves to these often unattainable body types. It’s hard because we are bombarded with these images on a constant and daily basis. I wish the focus on underweight bodies would expand to include a broader range of body types. I know for a fact that this would have a major impact on many women’s self esteem and lives.

“I don’t put any judgment on men who are attracted to thinner women, because I have learned that people are attracted to everything. It is a myth that men are only attracted to thin women. No doubt some men are only attracted to thin women; however, there are men who are only attracted to voluptuous or fat women. These men would say that a thin woman is just as much as a turn off to them as a fat woman is a turn off to someone who is more attracted to thinner body types.

“It is unfortunate that some women are starving themselves to meet certain standards of beauty. It is unhealthy to overeat and it is unhealthy to under eat. I feel sad for any woman who is doing anything unhealthy to achieve ‘beauty’ because I would bet that once they reach their goal, they will still feel unhappy inside. Self confidence is a very hard thing to obtain and maintain through out the course of your life. I find that positive feelings come easier if you enjoy all the small things you love about yourself and shift the focus away from weight alone.

“I think our culture is so antagonized by weight because it is first and most obvious thing you notice when you see someone. Weight seems to be the only topic that is still socially acceptable to discuss negatively. I hear fat jokes, and references to overweight people in a negative way all the time and it is frustrating. I am not sure exactly why hate towards fat people is widely considered acceptable. Perhaps, because weight is not confined to a specific gender, race, or even class. I do however think that our culture’s ideas are slowly shifting. Healthy in my opinion is when your body and mind are free of disease and negativity and your spirit is able to think, grow and live freely. “My mission is to make good work and art. I have learned that my work has a positive influence on both men and women and I want to continue to spread my message that larger women are beautiful and sexual. I want to continue to challenge the ideals of what is considered ‘beautiful’.

“I think confidence is chic. Confidence shows in people immediately and bleeds into all areas of their life. When you see someone with confidence, you can tell. It translates into magnetism regardless of what you look like because people know and are drawn to it. We’re animals; we have a little pack mentality like, ‘That’s the leader.’ Chic is the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, the way you enter a room, the way you interact with people, the way you interest with your space. You show up like you belong, like, ‘You should be watching me.’”

Photographs courtesy of April Flores
Photographs by Carlos Batts
Curated by Miss Rosen