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May 9, 2016

The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Monserratt of Mexican Pink

Welcome to a new series on Cashmerette: the Curvy Confidence Interviews. I’ve spoken before about how sewing helped to radically improve my body image, and from conversations I’ve had with fellow curvy sewists, I know I’m not the only one. It isn’t always easy finding yourself not conforming to society’s ideas of beauty, but learning to sew your own clothing can be a huge boost in becoming more body positive. I’m fascinated by how other women have experienced this kind of journey, so I decided to start up a new series that I’m calling the Curvy Confidence Interviews.

The Curvy Confidence Interviews: introducing Monserratt Lopez

For the first installment, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Monserratt Lopez of Mexican Pink. Monserratt’s blog fills me with joy. Every photo of her shows a glowing, gorgeous, incredibly happy and positive woman, wearing funky clothes that express her personality and suit her perfectly – she’s so inspiring! (And as if that’s not enough, she’s also a brilliant scientist). I wanted to learn more about how she became this fantastic person, so here is the inaugural Curvy Confidence Interview. Over to you, Mons!

Monserratt Lopez

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I would like to first of all thank Jenny for asking me to share my journey to self-acceptance. It has truly been an eye-opener to think about my self-acceptance issues and how I have been able to overcome them. Thanks for the opportunity to share my experience of how sewing has transformed my life.

Let’s start at the beginning! What was your body image like as a child and teenager? 

Ahhh, well… This is a story that happened over most of my life and likely through the lives of the generations before me. My story is the story of what most of my family finds, and found, wrong about me and about each one of themselves.

The fact is, my genes are ’big’

Pic 1

I come from a maternal family (mom and siblings above), in which people take pictures cropped just below the neck so as to show the face, but not the size of their belly. My mom was very frustrated with her body when she was a kid and as a teenager, she decided to lose weight and stay active. I still remember that as a mom, she used to go out for a jog every morning. By staying active, she was able to stay off of diets, and give into her cravings for sweets. Diets, frankly, affected her mood quite dramatically.

Pic 2 (1)

As for my dad, well… he was never too fussed about showing the size of his belly in full body pictures, but he is a tall, robust and sturdy man with Spanish genes who loves sausages and pâté.

Pic 3 (1)

This genetic blend naturally resulted in non-petite offspring, my sister and I.MonserrattLopez2Although we grew up happy and mostly well fed (as per current standards), we were constantly reminded that we were a little chubby and overall bigger than the average. Mom tried to instill in us a sense of limits, sports and good eating habits, however, she would often buy and hide cookies and chocolates, to share them with us later. After my parents divorced (when I was 6 years old and my sister 4), our mom started working hard most days until late. As a result, my sister and I found ourselves with lots of time at home alone, and we got into the habit of meticulously looking for the boxes of cookies, chocolate and candies everywhere in the house.

Once I became a teenager, my mom kept on reminding me that I was reaching the age at which I had to lose weight if I wanted to be happy and find someone to share my life with…

Since I wasn’t losing weight, I was not able to comfortably fit into girls clothes normally sold at stores for average sized people in Mexico, and therefore, I started to develop a sense of comfort in wearing boys’ clothes. For most of my teenage and young adult life I exclusively wore t-shirts, mens’ shirts (that I would get as hand me downs from my dad) and jeans.

Monerratt3

Along with the teenage years, my body started to develop, and with it my breasts bloomed. It consequently became harder and harder to find bras my size, and the ones I did find were quite uncomfortable; the wires poked through the cups all the time.

Our weight was under constant criticism in our family. Every time we lost weight, we were congratulated for it.

Our body image was pretty distorted by this point. In retrospect, it is interesting to think about how the environment affected my body image. I learnt to look at myself and recognize most of the defects that my family and others saw in me. I became the defects, which in turn affected my self-esteem. It’s quite irrational!

Tell us about your journey to body positivity: did you have an “eureka!” moment that changed your self-perception, or was it a more gradual process? 

My journey to body positivity slowly started when I learnt how to sew in 2011, almost 3 years after I left Mexico to pursue a graduate degree in science in Canada. I took a class at the community center, in which I learned to use a sewing machine, and I made a cushion cover and learned to use a pattern. I afterwards registered to a more advanced sewing class, but again, most people in the class were average sized women, and the teacher wasn’t quite sure how the patterns had to be modified to fit my body. I, however, managed to make my first dress, which I wore to a friend’s wedding.

Pic 6 (2)

With this new skill, I suddenly often caught myself thinking about the possibilities. However, in order to fit comfortably in the new clothes I made, I quickly realized that I needed to learn how to modify commercially available patterns for plus sized bodies, and so, I enrolled in my first Craftsy class with Barbara Deckert – “Plus Size Pattern Fitting & Design”. I learnt about different body types and how different styles could accentuate certain features of my body. The journey was fantastic and I learnt a ton about my body as I discovered some of its qualities. I even had David help me make a dress form of myself using duct tape!

But I wasn’t quite confident yet, part of me still thought of myself the same way I had been taught to during my childhood and early adulthood. It wasn’t really until I felt capable and encouraged to start my blog early in 2015 that I then discovered that my body wasn’t quite as bad as they (me and my family) thought. I came to this realization when started to look at the pictures David took of me wearing the new garments I had made. I looked at myself and understood that I was beautiful. This body had worth, I started to love it, I accepted it, and I felt happy and pretty for the first time in many years. IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING!!

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Of course, none of this would have been possible without the constant support of my photographer and ever loving partner and husband David.

My next realization along this path of self-confidence was learning to sew bras for myself. I enrolled in Beverly Johnson’s first bra making Craftsy class, “Sewing bras, construction and fit”, and I was a sudden convert. It has been fascinating and really exciting to play with bras and learning how to fit them properly to my changing body. Who would have ever thought I would publish pictures of my bras on the internet? Isn’t that like… suicidal??!! Although I was hesitant at the beginning, David encouraged me a little and said something along the lines of: “You should be proud of what you made! These bras are great, they look great on you and you should share them! ” I did actually feel great in bras that I had made for myself that fitted much better than any RTW bra I had ever tried before.

MonserrattBrasI am now able to look back at pictures from my childhood and teenage years, and I’m able to recognize my beauty as well as the beauty of people around me. It’s truly comforting and forgiving to finally have all that preconception crap gone – it’s like a veil removed from my eyes. I can’t help but recognize at this point the beauty inside and out of one of the humans who has shared most of this journey with me: my sister. I love her and admire her. Here are some pictures of her so you meet her as well (BTW, she learnt before me how to use the sewing machine). Isn’t she just gorgeous?

Pic 10 (3)

Pic 10 (2)

I now understand the importance of having people who love you, inspire you and encourage you in your life.

What do you say to people who criticize curvy women for being unhealthy? 

I no longer feel criticized by people around me, probably because I try to live with more acceptance and I am more confident in myself, I know I am so much more than my body and I surround myself by people who love me and accept me the way I am.

Every now and then, however, I see a curvy woman who struggles with her body image, and I share my story with them and tell them about how sewing drove this change in my life.

What do you find are the biggest challenges to your body confidence today? How do you overcome them? 

For the last 8-9 months, my body has been experiencing extreme changes because I’m pregnant. One of the biggest challenges has been to find clothes that make me feel the way I like to feel. Between the reduced energy that comes with the pregnancy, working a day job, baby preparations, and the very limited RTW options available on the market for sizes like mine, it has become almost impossible to feel the way I am used to feeling about myself. So I’ve struggled a little. Lately, however, I’ve found the energy to sew and test one of the pieces of my wardrobe that will be the most important and critical: nursing bras. I am hoping that by the time the baby comes, I will have a well fitted, well-constructed and comfortable nursing bra to wear for the months to come.

Pic 11 (2)

What advice would you have for other women who would like to find a peace with their body and self-image, but are struggling?

 To all curvy women along the same path I send this message: Don’t care so much about what others say, don’t let them define you. They are probably struggling with body image and other serious issues themselves. Don’t judge them.

It is most important that you learn to accept, appreciate and love yourself, feel good with yourself and surround yourself with people who love you beyond what your body looks like. Treat yourself and others with compassion, love and respect. Be happy to have the body and health that you currently have, be confident that you deserve and can have all you want, walk with a good posture, believe in yourself, smile, and take care. I stumbled upon this little piece on how to talk to your daughter about her body. I found it interesting, and I wanted to share it with you.

And… If you manage to get the hang of sewing for yourself, then have fun! Try new styles, colors and silhouettes! Rediscover, redefine and enjoy yourself!

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<3 Monserratt

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Thanks so much, Monserratt! I loved hearing your story, and I’m only more in awe than I was before.

Let me know what you think of the Curvy Confidence Interviews – and who you’d like to see interviewed next!

Cashmerette

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64 Responses to The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Monserratt of Mexican Pink

  1. Jen May 9, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    Thanks Monserratt, and Jenny! Very inspiring. Jen x

  2. sewmanju May 9, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    Great interview Jen and monserrat! Great idea for a series.

  3. Helen May 9, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks Montserrat! I love your blog and you are such an amazing and talented woman!

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      Thanks Helen! 🙂
      I was very flattered that Jenny invited me! 😉

  4. Abbey May 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    Awww, Mon, you’re so beautifully amazing!!!! Can’t wait to see which inspirational sewist is next, Jenny!

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      I love you Abbey, thanks for all your comments and your encouragement! 🙂

  5. Maude May 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    Those stairs… Looks like Montreal?

  6. Rachel May 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Far OUT!! This was a great read, thank you both very much: Jenny for bringing Monserratt to my attention and to Monserratt for being ace and winning at life!

  7. Laurie May 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Loved this!! It has taken me to age 62 to come to this realization. Thank you Jenny and Monserratt for making my day brighter 🙂

  8. alarabiechase May 9, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    Brilliant! Keep this coming, it’s just wonderful!

  9. emeralderin May 9, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    You always look so happy and glowing in all your photos!! I’m so excited for you and your baby on the way!!

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks my darling!! You are so very inspiring as well!!

  10. Debbie Cook May 10, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Great series and a new-to-me curvy blogger! Monserratt is so inspiring (and a total hottie in that black lace dress!).

  11. Beth May 10, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    What a beautiful woman you are, Montserrat!

  12. anothersewingscientist May 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Wonderful interview (and she’s just as awesome in real life!)

  13. Kristin May 10, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    Great idea for a series, Jenny. What a lovely person she is.

  14. PsychicKathleen May 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    How heart warming and empowering to read another woman’s journey to self acceptance through making and wearing her own clothes! Thanks to both of you for taking the time to share this and Montserrat you look fabulous! Just as an aside were you doing your grad degree in KW? Were you taking sewing classes at the Working Centre on Queen St? 🙂 Just curious – I lived in KW for 19 years (I now live in Victoria BC) and knew about the sewing classes at the centre and know Joe and Steph.

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

      Hi Kat,
      I did my MSc and PhD in Physics with application to Biology in McGill University.
      I took my first sewing class at the Atteliers Populaires in the Plateau with Marie Marthe. 😉

  15. alwaysacraftylady May 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    Awesome series!!! And Congrats to Monserratt on your baby!

  16. Toni Salvia-Toth May 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    How awesome! – I actually had almost the reverse experience. My family never mentioned weight. I was told I was “fat” by a boy in middle school. After that the pressures to look a certain way were constant and I fell prey to that way of thinking. No more though. After turning 45 – pft.. who cares as long as I’m healthy and happy. I’m a beautiful, caring person no matter what size they say I am. Congratulations on the baby!!

  17. Jacquie Blacquiere May 10, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    An inspiring and fabulously affirming interview. Can’t wait for the next one.

  18. janhatchett May 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    Monserratt, both you and your sister are beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story!

  19. Cherie May 10, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi, I believe I’ve mentioned previously, but your subscription button does not go away no matter how many times I click the “X” button. And it covers your text when I scroll down. Very frustrating. Can you get rid of that box please, so I can read your posts?

    • Jenny Rushmore May 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

      Hi Cherie – is that happening on your phone or computer? And could you tell me what browser or type? (i.e. iphone/Android, Chrome/Safari/Firefox). I haven’t seen that happen before but it might be affecting one type of device. Also – if anyone else reading this has the same issue, please let me know the same (right now, I can’t replicate the problem on my mac or iphone – the X makes it go away straight away)

  20. bigsewing May 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Monserratt, looks to me like you’ve won the trifecta — you love yourself, your man adores you, and there’s a baby on the way! Not to mention, you rock the body con dress! Well done.

  21. Caitlin O'Connor May 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    This was such an inspiring and wonderful interview! I was in tears, really in tears, I was so touched! Thank you, Jenny, for introducing us to the beautiful Monserratt, and you, gorgeous Monserratt, congratulations on your sewing life and your new baby and thank you for sharing pictures of your sweet husband and sister too!

    More interviews, Jenny, please!

  22. Leah May 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Wonderful, I enjoyed this. Thank you!

  23. Maryl May 10, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    Thank you for bringing us a story of a beautiful , intelligent woman!

  24. Leslie May 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

    Monserratt, what a touching story! You have encouraged me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one! Congratulations on your new addition!

  25. Rocio Lopez May 10, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Todos venimos en diferentes preentaciones, pero lo mas importante es nuestro relleno, y amar , sebr feliz, y autentico. Disfrutar la vida y respetar y ser amados empezando por nosotros mismos. Ue la grandeza de tu cuerpo refleja la grandeza de tu alma. MI maravillosa diseñadora de ropa, que bueno que puedes envolver tu cuerpo de forma tan bella.

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

      Te amo, me encantan tus comentarios!!!
      Gracias por todo tu carino tia!! 🙂
      <3
      M

  26. Alma Yahel May 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    Montse, my dear cousin, I love you! you’ve always been so beautiful, smart and you have a great personality, but most important you are kind, loving, generous and positive, all great qualities! Congratulations for your baby!! <3

  27. Janet Hasselblad May 10, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank you! Great to hear “our” stories, and I’m looking forward to the next inspirational interview.

  28. Andrea May 11, 2016 at 1:36 am #

    What a great idea for an interview series, Jenny! I can’t wait to read more! It’s so comforting and inspiring to hear stories that one can relate to. This story made me think of the shoes I used to wear as a teen, because I wasn’t only bigger than everyone else (or was made to think so), but I had large feet and had to buy my shoes in the men’s department. I didn’t find that very funny at the time, but looking back I think it’s hilarious.

    And Monserratt, you are gorgeous! Your photos are so cheerful and lovely, and the clothes you make are fantastic! All the best to you and your growing family – isn’t it amazing what our bodies can do? 🙂

    • monserrattlopez May 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      Wow Andrea!!
      I lived the exact same thing!! In Mexico the common shoe size go only up to 26cm!! As a result I was mostly wearing men shoes!

      Thanks for your wishes and love.
      <3

      • Jenny Rushmore May 12, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

        So many plus size women I know also have a larger shoe size I always think it’s a great illustration of the fact that we are, just, genetically bigger than other people. My feet aren’t long because I’m fat – they’re long because my body is just bigger than average!

        • Andrea May 13, 2016 at 12:42 am #

          Good point! I never thought of it that way.

          I always thought “strange feet” run in my family – my mom is a lot shorter than me, and her feet are tiny, she sometimes finds it easier to buy shoes in the kid’s department. My dad is a little taller than I am, and his feet are average men’s size, but one foot is a size bigger than the other one. His nephew is tall and his feet are way outside the usual men’s range. And so on…
          Oh, to complete the picture, I married a man who is 6’5″ and has the same shoe size I have. That’s actually pretty convenient, as I can sometimes borrow his shoes lol

          Fortunately it has become much easier to buy shoes in “odd” sizes (at least I can say so for Germany). That is, now I’m not restricted to buying the one pair in the shop that fits but have several to choose from… And the clothing industry seems to be slowly adapting as well. Looks like I might actually enjoy going shopping at some point in the future – and not just come home with another new handbag because that was the only thing that fit 😉

  29. Jane May 11, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    Wonderful interview Jenny and Monserratt, so inspiring! Really enjoyed reading it. x

  30. Pam May 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    This is absolutely brilliant. Well done both of you lovely, creative & exuberant women! (Same on men’s shoes and clothes as a youngster)

  31. Nancy K May 12, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    Wonderful interview!

  32. Kathy May 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    Loved this. I have been following Mexican Pink for a while, not sure how I found her, probably one of my late night Websurfing. She has inspired me and I look forward to reading all her blogs.

    I am looking forward to your next interview!

  33. Pam Hopp May 12, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    Thank you for this inspirational story. At 70 years old, I wish I read it several decades ago.

  34. Cindy Byrd May 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

    Montserrat, you are beautiful! I wish I had had your confidence when I was your age. I come from a Gonzales family(mom’s side) that turns out full bellies and flat butts and am still not brave enough to attempt altering patterns, although I have sewn for years. Best wishes for you and your growing family

  35. Jodi Bonjour May 12, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

    What a wonderful story about a beautiful woman!

  36. Terry Bates May 13, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    What an inspiring interview! I particularly love the beautiful bras – I have the same Craftsty class but not the courage to try it out … yet.

    You asked for interview suggestions. I don’t have a blogger, but I do have a request. Our body shapes change as we grow older, and patterns remain the same. I’d love to see an interview with someone who’s better at senior-body-type acceptance than I am, or links to blogs if you have them.

  37. donna fazio May 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    I love sewing and I am so inspired after reading this blog. I am a curvy woman and can’t find clothes that I like in ready to wear. I am now on a new mission to make what I love and makes me feel beautiful. Thanks so !much!!!!

  38. gingermakes May 15, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    Lovely interview! I’m in awe of your skills, especially all your beautiful bras!

  39. Le Papillon May 20, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    Waouh. I laughed, I cried, and all along of your words I kept telling me “Man, she’s so freaking hot !”. Thanks for your words, your kindness and your joy Montserrat.

  40. Fröbelina May 20, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Great idea for a series and I really like the interview’s style with precise and short questions! Thank you both for this inspiring and brave interview, I really enjoyed reading it.

  41. Lisette May 22, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

    What a great interview! Monserrat has a brilliant smile and seems like such a personality, I’d be friends with her in a heartbeat. And now I have an interesting new blog to go explore.

  42. brendamarksstudio June 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    Jenny – thanks for linking to this (from the Carolyn interview); somehow I missed it the first time around. Mons – thank you for sharing your story and how sewing has impacted your view of self. And congratulations! I hope your nursing bra project has gone well. Best wishes to both of you!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Monserratt of Mexican Pink! […]

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