Welcome back to Hi Femme!, dapperQ’s sibling visibility project celebrating the incredible contributions that stylish femmes make to queer fashion. This edition, we’re featuring Rachel Otis, a body activist, queer intersectional feminist, Crohn’s survivor, Yoga and Body Image Coalition member, and the #FuckFatPhobia founder!
Hi Femme!: Can you talk a bit about how you define queer femme style and what makes it transgressive?
Rachel: To me queer femme style means first reclaiming your body as a space to be celebrated while acknowledging its simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility in society. It then means taking up as much space in that body as you damn well please and for me, using it as a canvas for my artistic expression through fashion. I must also add a nuance here that I also am reclaiming fat femme fashion – what was once a proverbial desert of oversized and bloused desperation has blossomed into an oasis of fashion-forward options. Interestingly for me, I hate being “on trend” and much prefer to dress for myself so queer femme style to me means still being able to find unique pieces and make them my own. Truthfully, existing joyously in my body and loving every roll, bump, and scar is what makes my femme style transgressive – no matter what article of clothing or accessory I adorn myself with, I fucking own it, turn the sidewalk into my runway, and no longer allow anyone’s judgement or fatphobia to become internalized.
Hi Femme!: How would you describe your personal style?
Rachel: As my relationship with my body has grown into a loving and accepting one, it has shifted my personal style to just this: I wear whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I want. I hate jumping on trends because I have learned to love to stand out, but also as a womyn whose body is often left with far less fashion options. I’m bold, and although I sometimes wish I could pull off that whole all black chic look, I can’t go a day without at least a few pops color. I live for mixing print on print on print and fucking up fashion norms. I love thrifting and vintage stores, often delighting in mixing a piece I got for $5 at such a store with a more expensive/designer piece to match. For me, this often reflects in my work as a somatic psychotherapist. It took only my first week at my clinic to realize I would never fit into the greyscaled, monotone world of “ther wear” as we call it in the bizz and so even in my role of therapist my fashion choices are comparably bold and I would not have it any other way.
Hi Femme!: Who are your fashion icon(s)?
Rachel: First and foremost my mother, grandmother, and great aunt (shout out to the first female labor relations meditor in the White House) and definitely my Micmac Native ancestors. I’ve also always loved the prints and styles of Pucci and Missoni. In terms of specific people: The Queen of the Queer movement herself: Marsha P. Washington and the current reigning Queen; Ru Paul. Colorful childhood influences such as my Rainbow Brite doll and Punky Brewster. Currently, I’m swooning over every fat femme of color killing it on social media reclaiming our space in fashion (especially: Gabi Gregg and Ashley Nell Tipton).
Falling In Love With Myself: I no longer wish I could be; Part of your world; I desire to create my own. Into the waters of life I’m drawn. Sometimes I swim, other times I sink; always I cultivate a floatedness of spirit. My balance; my story; But yours may intertwine. Be baptised in the waters of your own self-love & allow that to soak into every soul molecule. No longer wish you could be anything; You are everything right now: Falling in Love With Yourself. #FuckFatPhobia #ashleygrahamxswimsuitsforall #swimsuitsforall #effyourbeautystandards #alternativecurves #bvdrawme
Hi Femme! What item in your style arsenal can you not live without?
Rachel: I was originally going to answer: sunglasses in summer & scarves in winter, but have realized my true answer as BIKINIS, all year round!!!!!! – now that they finally exist in my size, my merfemme self who could live everyday in the water, cannot get enough!
Want more of Rachel’s style inspiration? Follow Rachel on Instagram at @somewhere_under_the_rainbow
Photo credits: Sada Reed (except the light blue romper, in which case it was Rachel’s mom).