How a Blog Post Sparked a Retail Movement

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Once in a while, a single post can spark a movement. In the summer of 2011, Gabi Gregg, who writes the blog GabiFresh, went on a quest to find a bikini; at the time, bikinis were hard to find in large sizes. When she found one, she posted a picture of herself in it, calling it a “fatkini.” (Gregg says that she got the word and the idea from a Tumblr user.) The picture, and a follow-up article for the Web site xoJane, the next summer, went viral, prompting a wave of copycat posts. Plus-size women took bikini pictures and tagged them #fatkini. Gregg ended up on the “Today” show, and the retail landscape changed. Gregg told me, “Out of nowhere, all these plus-size brands were suddenly making bikinis.”

The fatkini movement—and plus-size fashion in general—has occasionally sparked a backlash. “Being really visible when you’re a plus-size woman is not for the faint of heart,” Conley told me. Many blogs attract lewd and misogynistic comments, but the more mild-mannered critics cite health concerns. “There’s a fine line between anti-body-shaming and obesity-glorification,” one reader wrote, at the bottom of a Buzzfeed article about the fatkini trend. Another added, “Celebrating obesity seems a bit ridiculous.”

Lizzie Widdicombe, writing for The New Yorker about the rapidly evolving plus-size fashion industry. For Gabi Gregg, being a pioneer in a shifting retail landscape has been lucrative—she now designs her own line of swimwear, and her most popular suit sold out in twenty-four hours.

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Photo: Gabifresh, Instagram

‘In Piper and Alex, I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires’

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The sound stage for Orange, where we proudly employ what has to be at least 64% of lesbians in the New York City metro area, is not a place where you can shy away from women or sexuality. And if you’re trying to, Lea Delaria (Big Boo) will nip it in the bud by inviting you to sit on her lap.

Accordingly, I was nervous about the first love scene I’d written for Alex and Piper. I’d loved writing it, loved watching a tenderness emerge in their relationship where passion always seemed to be the ruling principle, but by that time, I was so deep in my own self-doubt that I constantly felt like a fraud. I was sure it was bleeding into my writing. How could it not? I was married to a man, but I wasn’t straight.

“I heart you.”

“I heart you? Is that like ‘I love you’ for pussies?”

As I watched Taylor Schilling and Laura film the scene, one of our producers (as it happened, a gay woman) tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed at the screen and gave me a thumb’s up. It was a small gesture, but my first step toward feeling accepted and quietly accepting myself. In Piper and Alex, I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires and a glimmer of what my future could look like.

—Lauren Morelli, in an essay about realizing she was gay while writing for ‘Orange Is the New Black’ from Identities.Mic.

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Photo: Lomorelli, Instagram

‘It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this story fundamentally changed me as a person’


All reporters have pieces that stay with them, stories whose characters and components linger long after the last revisions have been rendered and the paper put to bed. For Jennifer Mendelsohn, Sean Bryant was that character.

Mendelsohn first encountered Sean Bryant shortly after his death, nearly two decades ago. Transfixed by his short, vivid life and subsequent suicide, she eventually produced “Everything to Live For,” a gripping, deeply reported  investigation into Bryant’s life and death. The story first appeared in the June 1998 issue of Washingtonian, and our thanks to Mendelsohn for allowing us to reprint it here. Mendelsohn also spoke with Longreads about how she first encountered Bryant, her reporting process, and the effect his life has had on hers. Read more…

Everything to Live For


Jennifer Mendelsohn Washingtonian | June 1998 | 36 minutes (8,995 words)

Jennifer Mendelsohn is the “Modern Family” columnist for Baltimore Style magazine. A former People magazine special correspondent and Slate columnist, her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Tablet, Medium, McSweeney’s and Jezebel. This story first appeared in the June 1998 issue of Washingtonian (subscribe here). Our thanks to Mendelsohn for allowing us to reprint it here. You can also read a short Q & A with the author here.

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How to Spell the Rebel Yell


Elena Passarello | The Normal School | 2010 | 14 minutes (3,470 words)

The Normal SchoolOur latest Longreads Member Pick is a deep dive into the sounds of history, from Elena Passarello and The Normal School. The essay also is featured in Passarello’s book, Let Me Clear My Throat.
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“Yee-aay-ee!” “Wah-Who-Eeee!” -Margaret Mitchell


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