Photograph © Carlos Batts

I was introduced to April Flores through photographer Carlos Batts, who I have known for the better part of this decade. I had seen photos of April for years, as she was Carlos’ muse, and inspired a great many hardcore photos that made me blush to my roots.

The thing that intrigued me were the photographs of April, where she was fully dressed, as she has a style unlike anyone else I have ever met. Changing her look with the drop of a hat, April’s photographs remind me of the work of great models.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

But there was one thing that made her distinct—her weight was not going to be getting her contracts with Ford any time soon. But the way in which April carries her body makes me envy her ever time I neurotically try to lose five pounds.

I have been captivated by the way in which April presents herself, and approached April and Carlos about the possibility of doing a book. FAT GIRL it was to be called, and I had shown her photos around the office. Needless to say, the response from everyone, save one (slim) woman was truly negative. I heard it all, from the usual anger directed towards overweight people, to the unexpected backlash from women against April’s sex appeal.

While the book never came into existence, I think it’s impressive that fashion magazines are finally beginning to consider the appeal of voluptuous women. With Christina Hendricks making the cover of Esquire’s Women We Love issue, it’s clear that the size zero is getting serious competition.

My thanks to April for graciously sharing her story and to Carlos for these beautiful photos.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

Story by April Flores

I think the first incident that made me conscious of my body happened in the 7th grade. I overheard my crush talking to his friend and two other girls in our science class. The girls were asking the guys to rate all the other girls in the class going one by one. When they came to me, my crush said something like “she has a pretty face, but she’s too fat.” I was shocked and hurt and humiliated. First, because one of the girls was a “friend” of mine (girls can be so cruel sometimes) second, because my crush had said something negative about me. But I was mostly hurt because I had done nothing to provoke them to say anything mean about me.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

From then on, I looked at myself differently in the mirror. I had always known that I wasn’t a skinny person; I was average sized. In elementary school I had friends and classmates that were much thinner and much bigger than me. I hated PE and playing sports. The fact that I wasn’t skinny wasn’t a surprise to me. The fact that people were now judging me on my weight was.

I was now aware of how I looked, and I always dressed so that my fat rolls wouldn’t show thru my clothes. I dreaded wearing the PE uniform because the inside of my thighs rubbed together, so I was always pulling them down passed my thigh area.

I was very fortunate in the fact that I had good skin, so acne was not a problem, but my size played a huge roll in my self-esteem. I thought that happiness would come if I were thinner. I believed that I would have a boyfriend, and my life would be perfect if I was just skinny.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

Not much changed through out the rest of my Junior High experience. In 8th grade I learned from the class jerk that I had big boobs. He was asking all the girls if their mothers had big boobs. When he came to me, he pointed and loudly said, “Your mom had big boobs!” I was so embarrassed.

In the 10th grade I joined the swim team with a friend. Our goal was to get a tan and get into shape. Being on the swim team was a lot of fun, and did get me into shape. I hated the swim meets because I am not a competitive person, so I could care less if I won or lost a race. But I loved watching the cute guys swim, all muscle-y, tanned and wet!

I did notice that people were treating me different in slight ways now that I was thinner. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like they were nicer to me in some strange way. This really confused me because it wasn’t just the boys at school. Family members, people of my same gender and strangers all seemed more pleased with my body size and thus with me.

In 11th grade my parents got divorced and there was a lot of turmoil in my home life. I suddenly gained about 50 pounds (putting me at 180) during my junior year of High School. It just came out of nowhere (it seemed.) I guess I had comforted myself with food… delicious fried food.

I talked to a few boys on the phone here and there, but I never had a boyfriend who went to my High School. I did get teased about my breast size. There was a group of boys who would shout out “TITTERS” every time I walked by them. This made me very uncomfortable, and made me wish I had an older brother to kick their asses.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

My first “boyfriend” had really bad acne, but I was fat so I figured that was the trade off. He would be really cute if he had better skin, and I would be really cute if I lost some weight. It’s funny now.

After I graduated high school and before the fall quarter of my first year in college I was enrolled into a summer program at my college. This program was really great because we got to stay in the dorms, go to classes, and they even gave us a food stipend. It really prepared me for college life. Since I was away from home for the first time, I was now responsible for what I ate. The school’s food court was average, and I mostly ate chicken sandwiches, Jello and fruit. I started losing weight but not because I was trying. It was just coming off. I was happy about it because I wasn’t trying. (The truth is that I was only eating once a day.) I didn’t have much of an appetite. Plus I read somewhere that your metabolism is at its fastest between the ages of 18-23.

When I was 18 I left the dorms and got my own place. I never had food at my house and I was in an emotionally crazy relationship, practically fighting everyday, which also curbed my appetite. By the time I turned 21 I was at my thinnest ever, 123 lbs.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

While I was losing the weight I heard many odd comments. A few people asked me if I was on drugs. A friend’s mother asked me if I was ill. However, most of the feedback I was getting was very positive. Everyone was very happy for me and if I hadn’t seen them in a while, they were especially vocal about my weight loss. I was getting a lot of attention from guys, and fitting into smaller, cuter clothes. This all made me feel very happy and confident. I was having fun, but it didn’t make my life easier in any way.

When I was about 23 I had a job as a receptionist. I was sitting for the majority of my day. My favorite dinner consisted of a hot dog, lime flavored chips and salsa. I slowly started gaining weight. I was fine with it. I was at a point in my life where I was becoming very comfortable and happy with the person that I am. I had a cute little apartment, my own little car, and I was single and loving it. Even though I had been living on my own for 5 years, this was the first time I had really embraced the freedom I had of just living my life.

Photograph © Carlos Batts

People around me started to drop little comments here and there about my weight gain. It was so strange to me because it bothered them more than it bothered me. I didn’t care. I was happy, and I finally realized that happiness is a choice. Happiness won’t come in a size 6 or in a man. I was happy with myself and I wasn’t going to let anything affect that. I never wanted to go back to that insecure person that I was, letting other people’s comments get into my head.

Since then my weight has gone up and down the scale. Those are my genetics. I’m a Latina—we have curves, big hips, big arms, and bigger frames. I know if I want to lose weight I have to eat less and move more. That’s it; it’s just as easy as that.

Photograph © Carlos Batts
April Flores Website