Have you ever gotten something extra for free? Or checked your mailbox to find a completely unexpected present from a friend?
That’s how I felt when I opened up the first shipment of Adipose Issue zines from Miles Lyons. I’ve seen paper zines before, of course, but these are spectacular. Paper dolls! Special paper envelopes for writing fuck-you letters! A detailed, spinnable scale with positive body affirmations!
These delightful, detailed creations are pure magic and I’m so happy the March 2019 Body Love Box subscribers each got one!
This is also one of the reasons that paying creators a living wage is so important. Paying Miles a reasonable price for their zines helps pay their bills, keep them from burning out, and have the funds to keep creating. Creators whose items are in the Body Love Shop or Boxes name their own wholesale prices — no Walmart-style price pressure here — and 40% of the price of each box goes directly to creators.
Miles describes themselves as: “A big, fat dynamo from Virginia, Miles (aka sparklebutch) has been making queer zines since 2011. They cover a variety of subjects such as fatphobia, pizza, jerks, Jurassic Park, crystal woo stereotypes, teeth, and more!”
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?
Miles: I’m Miles Lyons and use they/them pronouns. I live in Oakland, CA and love eating any form of eggs for breakfast, though my top favorite is eggs Florentine.
What is your business, and how does it make a difference in the world?
Miles: I make zines under the name sparklebutch. I think it makes a difference in the world because it helps show people they’re not alone. That there are other weird, ridiculous, fat queers out there and not everything is doom and gloom. My zines are silly and fun and sometimes serious but mostly I just want other people to feel seen and let them know there are other people like them out in the world.
“I wanted other fat people to know that it’s okay to be fat, because sometimes you need an external voice giving you permission to feel okay about yourself. And it needed to come from someone who is in the same or similar position.”– Miles Lyons
Why is what you do important? How does it change the way people see or how they feel about their bodies?
Miles: I think making Adipose Issue was important because there is nowhere near enough fat positive media out there. There’s definitely more than there used to be, but we could always use more. I wanted other fat people to know that it’s okay to be fat, because sometimes you need an external voice giving you permission to feel okay about yourself. And it needed to come from someone who is in the same or similar position.
What’s your most popular item/service, or the one you most enjoy doing/making?
Miles: Adipose Issue is actually my most popular zine, which kind of cracks me up because it’s also the most difficult one to physically put together. I always joke that I wish one of my single-page zines was the one everybody liked. Adipose Issue was also the hardest zine I’ve ever done emotionally. It’s hard stuff to write and it took me about two weeks to just write the intro, because it’s very personal but I also wanted it to be relatable to the people reading it. I was very, very relieved when I finally finished making this one, I’m so glad that I did it but I’m going to wait a very long time before I make anything that personal and heavy again.
How does body positivity or fat positivity make your business different from others in your field? What has your experience been like?
Miles: One thing that seems to be different about my zines as opposed to most others I’ve seen is that I really focus on fat positivity and fat acceptance, without any focus on health. Everyone gets to decide their own approach to health, and mine is that nobody owes anybody a healthy body. It’s okay to be fat even if you’re unhealthy.
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?
Miles: My sweetie’s sister-in-law was one of the first people to buy a copy of this zine, and in the review she wrote how much she appreciated that it didn’t focus on health. And that felt so good, that someone else cared and noticed I had purposefully done that, and even if nobody else cared, there was at least one other person who did besides me. It goes back to me wanting the people reading my work to feel seen and not alone.
“I won’t date anyone who doesn’t love my body as-is, and I don’t want to be friends with people who think being fat is bad. I draw a pretty hard line on that and the people I hang out with understand that’s a requirement of being in my life.”– Miles Lyons
How did you discover body acceptance or body positivity personally? What kind of difference has it made for you?
Miles: I’m pretty sure I discovered it way back in some Live Journal groups in the early 2000s, though which specific groups I can’t remember. That’s also when I started reading about feminism and identifying as a feminist, and the two issues have always tied together in my mind. I don’t think you can truly be feminist if you’re also trying to police other people’s bodies.
A huge difference it made for me is in my dating and friendships. I won’t date anyone who doesn’t love my body as-is, and I don’t want to be friends with people who think being fat is bad. I draw a pretty hard line on that and the people I hang out with understand that’s a requirement of being in my life.
What advice do you have for other people who are learning to love and accept their bodies?
Miles: Go easy on yourself on the bad days, and don’t waste time trying to change yourself for other people. If they’re not excited about your body as you are at this exact moment, then they don’t deserve any part of you.
What advice do you have for other business owners who’d like to incorporate body acceptance into their work?
Miles: Make sure to build-in some solid self-care. This is a heavy subject that everybody and their hamster will have a loud opinion on, and it can get tiring and demoralizing. Try to laugh about it if you can, and when you can’t it’s okay to have a good cry.
Where can we find more of your amazing work?
Miles: In my etsy shop! etsy.com/shop/sparklebutch