‘Yes, I have fat but I am not fat. I also have a button nose but I am not a button nose! What I am is a human woman who has feelings and a right to live happily.’
One of the things I love most about the vintage and retro scene and the new body positive pin-up movement are the people in it, hence I will be featuring folks in the scene at Victory Lamour in the coming months. First up is Belles B Ringing, a pin-up who grew up in Western Sydney, Australia, with a ‘strong Italian mama who taught me I could be anything I wanted to be’.
Welcome to Victory Lamour, Belles. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was the first person in my family to ever attend university and due to certain life choices – aka needing to pay the bills – I had to give that dream up. I married young at 21 and at 31 escaped a marriage that was mentally and physically abusive. It was through pin-up and vintage appreciation that I was able to work on me, see the beauty others did, and be confident in myself. I work for a trade union helping people on a daily basis in the workplace and I dabble in pin-up modelling and hope to inspire women to be confident in their own skin. I also am an advocate for Pin-ups Against Bullying Australia chapter with a focus on workplace and cyber bullying.
What got you interested in vintage, and in particular, the vintage and retro pin-up scene?
I grew up watching Bill Collins movies. I would stare at these glamorous women dreaming I could be a mix of Rita Hayworth with the sass of Mae West. As I began working on myself I started by wearing red lipstick every day for confidence and I found this gave me confidence and people complimented me. From there I started wearing clothing in the retro style as it flattered my body type and increased myself esteem. I entered a national pinup competition and won a national title, being the people’s choice. I now attend events across the country with the beautiful friends I have made along the way.
What does body positivity and pin-up mean to you?
To me it’s it’s one in the same because I found body positivity through my pin-up journey. The abused woman I used to be, who never saw beauty in herself is gone forever, and I credit pin-up for facilitating my confidence, love and pride in myself.
What has the experience been like so far? You’ve met a lot of friends along the way but also been on the receiving end of some ridiculous bullying for your pin-up photos. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
It’s been a roller coaster ride with highs and lows… I have had a photographer refuse to photography me as I am “too fat to look good in a picture”. I have seen the nastiness competition can cause and have been able to overcome the bullying and harassment of being excluded from organised events and publically shamed on social media. I have been cyberbullied about my size. One particular bully has taunted me since November last year. I have reported it to police and Facebook and nothing has been done. I look after a mother who is sick with cancer, I volunteer my time to help in the community, I am a good person who’s job is to help others, my laugh is infectious, I have a hug that I am known for, I am strong, a good fur mamma and a confident women who is loved by many but none of this “apparently”matters because I am obese.
Yes, I have fat but I am not fat. I also have a button nose but I am not a button nose! What I am is a human woman who has feelings and a right to live happily. I have a clean bill of health, exercise daily and look after myself inside and out and I am aware of the ramifications of being obese which is why my health is important to be and why I work so hard on it. If you don’t like “fat” people that’s fine. I don’t like clowns or cocky people but that doesn’t give me or you any justification to disrespect a human being based on that.
I focus on the highs – the feeling I get when I find vintage with a 48 bust, the way an amazing photoshoot makes you feel, the amazing life long friends I have made along the way, the amazing events I get to attend, a message on my Belles page telling me how I have inspired someone. It is those precious highs that keep me going.
Amen, Belles. We love your work, and your way of ‘helping people and fighting adversity – in red lipstick and kitten heels’. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
For more Belles B, check out her Facebook Page.