Authors who write long-form works like novellas and books seem to get the short end of the stick with the Internet, I sometimes think. Unlike us photographers, who regularly produce pretty visuals to post on social media, authors work just as hard at their art but have less to show for it in the short term (especially during the interminable wait for publication).
That means that we often miss the creators and crafters and writers and artists who are plugging away, day after day and year after year, at works that incorporate body liberation but aren’t easily translated into Instagram-friendly instant gratification.
When I started the Body Love Box, I knew that elevating marginalized and body liberation-focused artists was one of my primary goals. What I didn’t expect was to find so many dedicated and amazing artists coming out of the woodwork who just don’t happen to have a huge online presence! Some days, opening my email is like a birthday surprise, full of new-to-me creators whose works I can include in the box.
One of the really, really good days was the day I ran into Peggy Elam on Facebook. Peggy runs Pearlsong Press, a small press that only publishes body-positive works. I had no idea that such an organization even existed. Peggy has kindly let me review all the books from Pearlsong and we’re working to get them into the Body Love Box on the regular.
Pat Ballard, author of the Pearlsong-produced book Dangerous Curves Ahead, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s how she describes herself:
“I write romance novels featuring ‘Big Beautiful Heroines.’ But my books aren’t just for larger women, they’re for women of all sizes to learn to love the body you have and stop trying to look like someone you’re not. I also have a non-fiction book titled: ’10 Steps To Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are)’
And my message to all is: ‘Remember that you are a one of a kind work of art. There never has been, nor will there ever be another you. So love the you that you are.’”
Tell me about you! What’s your name? What pronouns do you use? Where do you live? What do you like to eat for breakfast?
Pat: My real name and my pen name is Pat Ballard. I’m married and have one child, a son, and two grandchildren, a boy and a girl. My husband and I live in Nashville, TN.
The breakfast that I eat almost every morning is toast made with gluten-free bread with all-natural peanut butter and blackstrap molasses on the toast. My favorite breakfast is French toast, bacon and coffee, but I only eat that when we eat “out” for breakfast.
What is your business, and how does it make a difference in the world?
Pat: I’m an author. I write fiction and non-fiction books, featuring motivational messages for larger-sized women to love the body that they have and stop trying to “be” someone that they’re not genetically programmed to be. My fiction features “Big Beautiful Heroines” who always feel good about themselves. Even if they go into the book not feeling self-confident, they feel that way by the end of the book. I will NEVER put one of my heroines on a weight-loss diet.
I’ve received many emails and verbal statements from people telling me that my books have made a difference in their lives.
“I never put an actual size on my heroines because I want the person who is reading the book to be able to imagine themselves as the heroine. I hope that my stories and examples will inspire the readers to feel better about their bodies.”» Pat Ballard
Why is what you do important? How does it change the way people see or how they feel about their bodies?
Pat: After learning to accept and love my larger self, and seeing that people really do respond in a positive way to a person who feels good about who they are, I realized that there wasn’t a very good representation of larger women in books, movies, etc. So I decided to write romance novels featuring larger heroines. I never put an actual size on my heroines because I want the person who is reading the book to be able to imagine themselves as the heroine. I hope that my stories and examples will inspire the readers to feel better about their bodies.
What’s your most popular item/service, or the one you most enjoy doing/making?
Pat: I think my most fun book to write has been my last one that’s been published, “Once Upon Another Time.” It’s my first attempt at time travel and I really enjoyed writing it.
How does body positivity or fat positivity make your business different from others in your field? What has your experience been like?
Pat: When my books first started being published in 2002, there weren’t many books being written with larger heroines. So, I was one of the leaders in that field. There are more being written now, but not a lot.
Getting my books published has been a mixed-response experience. First, I learned quickly that the larger publishing companies didn’t want to publish books with larger heroines. Frankly, they didn’t think this type of book would sell. I had one larger company consider my books if I would make my heroines a size 14, but no larger. I declined. So, initially, I self-published my first four books. Then I met Peggy Elam, owner of Pearlsong Press, and she published the four that I had in print and has published the rest of the books I’ve written. I have thirteen in print and am about to finish number fourteen.
Another “mixed-response” that I’ve experienced is that while I’ve received many, many positive messages, comments and reviews, I’ve come to the realization that some larger-sized women don’t want to accept the body they have. They want to hang on to the fantasy that they, too, can be a size “0” or whatever. I had one woman say to me, “Why would I want to accept my fat body? I need to lose weight!”
Can you share an instance where you made a real difference for a customer, or had some really great feedback from them about your body-positive work?
Pat: As I’ve said, I do get a lot of positive feedback from readers, but my most recent account was just a few days ago. I got a call from a long-time friend who I haven’t heard from in a very long time. But she said that she had loaned my books to a friend of hers and the friend really loves the books and has read them several times. She told me that her friend called her a few days earlier and said that the books had “Made a big difference in her and her husband’s marriage.”
How did you discover body acceptance or body positivity personally? What kind of difference has it made for you?
Pat: When my son was three years old, I decided that I was done with dieting. So, I set forth to eat healthily – most of the time – exercise moderately – when I wanted to, and I was determined to learn to love the body that developed.
One of the ways that I taught myself to love my body was to stop trash-talking myself. I wrote the “10 Steps To Loving Your Body,” for myself. Step # 1 is to “Never stand in front of a mirror and think negative thoughts about yourself.” When I would start to find fault with a part of my body, I would say to myself, “Yes, but you have pretty eyes,” or “Yes, but you have…” So I was replacing the trash-talk with self –affirming talk.
After doing this for a while, I realized that as my confidence built, I was getting compliments whenever I would be out and about. And I also realized that people respond to us in accordance to the way we feel about ourselves. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and we’ll run across those who want to be nasty to us just because they can. But I never let the few who tried that with me get away with it. They always get a good lesson in size-acceptance.
“I don’t stand and listen to anyone, anywhere putting someone down because of that person’s weight.”» Pat Ballard
What advice do you have for other people who are learning to love and accept their bodies?
Pat: First and foremost, stop putting yourself down! Stop trash-talking yourself to yourself and stop trash-talking yourself to others. “Well… I know I’m overweight…” Over whose weight? I’m not over my weight. This is my weight! And DON’T stand and let other people trash-talk you. I don’t care if it’s your sainted aunt that is ready to hand out unasked for advice 24/7, don’t let her get away with it.
I don’t stand and listen to anyone, anywhere putting someone down because of that person’s weight.
What advice do you have for other business owners who’d like to incorporate body acceptance into their work?
Just do it! And watch and see what happens. Fat people can work just like any other size people.
Where can we find more of your amazing work?
Pat: You can find my books at www.patballard.com Each book should take you to the Amazon.com link if you click on the book cover.
Or at Pearlsong Press: http://www.pearlsong.com/
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