Katie Sturino is not your average influencer. In addition to her The 12ish Style fashion blog, her MegaBabe smart beauty brand, her Boob Sweat podcast and her pivotal #makemysize campaign, she’s now added self-help author to her list of accomplishments.
With her new book Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Life, Sturino goes deeper than just promoting body positivity, she tackles the subject of body acceptance, all the while sharing her inspiring story of how she got to that place herself.
It’s a topic that she lives every single day with the products she creates, the messaging she shares on Instagram and the way she inspires her followers. It’s only fitting that her first book be a workbook of sorts, with stories, actionable items, lists and notes that will help you break the body issue chains to live a happier, more fulfilled life. It’s not only for women of a certain size, but for all women, because as Sturino puts it: “all women deal with this, right?”
I consider you to be a plus-size influencer, but do you take an issue with that term?
“I just think that it is what it is at the moment. Like does the term make sense, no. But it’s just that we currently we still need like a descriptor. I think because we haven’t figured out how to make sizing more universal and less thin-focused. I’d like more realistic sizing, but I don’t take issue with that term in particular because I know that we kind of need it right now.”
You help other people feel so much freer about embracing their bodies and wearing what they want to wear. Do you have any tips for anyone who just hasn’t gotten to that place yet mentally?
“I think you really have to want to make that change or if it’s something that bothers you and you are finally sick of just being on this roller coaster, then I think you have to do the work. And that is what hopefully this book is the beginning of, doing the work to move the conversation that you have with yourself in a different direction.”
When you were growing up, was there anyone you looked up to that you could relate to in terms of how you saw yourself or felt in your body?
“No, I really wish there was. I think that that’s why this this whole thing just started. So recently, the concept around like body diversity started so recently that, that I would say that most women haven’t had a role model to look at—unless you’re very young now because it’s been a very recent movement. However, it’s clear now that seeing body acceptance modeled is very impactful.”
Your tips in Body Talk are so useful, especially the one about being mindful of the messaging you’re exposing yourself to. What were some things you yourself had to filter out?
“I definitely have ended more than one friendship, which was not easy to do. I had to talk to family members and be very forceful, I mean funny at first but forceful later, to let them know that my body was not a topic of conversation anymore and if talking about it was something that they choose to continue to engage in, that I was no longer going to come home. It sounds harsh but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand to let people know because society is so okay with fat jokes. They are the last frontier, you can still do a fat joke on TV, on the internet fat jokes are no problem. So, like, we can make fun of people’s bodies all day long. I think that that is so interesting because we’ve become so much more in tune and sensitive to like how awful and hurtful a lot of the things that we do and say in pop culture are, but not for fat people.”
Even the movies, every film with a chubby girl has this incredible transformation and all of a sudden everyone likes her, it’s so damaging. I hope we’re done with those.
“I don’t think we’re done with that. I don’t think we know how to have a chubby girl on a screen without having her have a transformation. We can’t have her just start out killing it, right? Everyone talks about Aidy Bryant in Shrill, but that show is really unique in the way that typically you just never see sex scenes with a bigger person as the main character, or just all the ways that it has broken barriers to some extent.”
One section of Body Talk that stands out is about not blaming your mom for your body issues. This feels like such an important A-ha moment because many times those negative thoughts really start or are reinforced at home. Do you think our parents are a product of their own societal pressures and they’re just passing it on? Is it a generational thing?
“Yes, their generation were taught that you don’t get anything in life unless you look a certain way, and if you don’t look a certain way then you live outside of the desired things you want in life. So, if you’re fat, you’re not going to get the job, you’re not going to get a husband, you’re not going to get any of those things, so I think that those messages have just been passed down from generation to generation. That’s why I say don’t blame the moms because they didn’t invent this, they’re part of this structure that they don’t even know they’re part of so you can’t get angry at them for enforcing something that they didn’t even know was not healthy. All you can do is help educate them now so that women in their 70s can finally be free of those issues, too.”
Do you see a difference in how Gen Z is approaching different body types compared to Millennials and Gen Xers?
“Yes, I actually am so impressed with the way that Gen Z has their mindfulness towards acceptance. I see these like popular TikTokers that come into my world and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’ They’re so aware of things but then sometimes I go in another direction and I see that things are actually exactly the same. While it has changed for some, it just hasn’t changed for all. But I am hopeful.”
What is the biggest takeaway that you really wanted to impart on the reader?
“Your body is not the problem. I think that people think that they’re not getting something, or that they would have a certain life if their body were to change. Like if they lost 10 pounds, they’d have a more successful dating life or they would get a promotion at work, which might be true to a certain extent because there’s still a lot of discrimination. I think it’s also important to speak to the fact that this book is not for plus size women or women over a certain size, this book is for all women because all women deal with this, right?”
MegaBabe is such a smart beauty brand. How do you go about developing a product? Do you always try to fill a void in the market or think up the product first?
“I think that it’s not necessarily always looking to fill a void, but it’s like, is this a problem I’m having? How is this problem being addressed in the market? Can we improve upon what’s already out there? That’s typically the process and probably 80 percent of the products we make address issues that I have had. And then sometimes things like our Dust Puff that we just launched for powder application, I didn’t ask for that one, it was a customer request. But again, it was filling a personal need that someone is having that isn’t being met out in the market.”