Jes M. Baker has two lives—one as a local mental health professional and the other as a blogger. While some might say Baker is a big girl, in reality she's curvy and sexy. Her blog, the Militant Baker, is about body acceptance, life and recipes. Her blog traffic exploded recently when photos of her went viral via Facebook and she attracted 1 million readers. Two posts on body acceptance that feature pictures of Baker in a bikini and in lingerie received more than 1,000 comments—from supportive to nasty. Things are happening for Baker, including a body acceptance conference she's planning for April. For more info, visit themilitantbaker.com and also check out her Facebook page.
What is it about your blog that attracts readers?
Body acceptance is a really big thing right now, which is wonderful, but I wish it was so big that it wasn't considered a thing anymore. I wish that I had nothing to talk about because it was all equal opportunity as far as body acceptance goes. And another thing people don't blog about is mental health. Sometimes they blog about mental illness, but never in a constructive conversation. So I like to offer a little bit of what I've learned. I am sharing the day-to-day shit no one talks about. Everybody likes that. Everybody likes to know they are not alone.
When did you start the blog?
This month is the one-year anniversary. Apparently, you're supposed to blog about how it's your one-year and everything that's changed. But I'm too busy. What's interesting is how it started. I did a lot of vintage selling online. I started this blog called the Kitschen. I was nobody, just one in a sea of tiny blogs, then I read this article in the magazine Bitch called "Better Homes and Bloggers." It was about lifestyle bloggers that talk about what they do on a daily basis—all PG, very photo-shopped, very glossed over (posts) that say "I am Martha Stewart and it's totally attainable," but they are not. They are fake. You can't pretend you're representing reality when you're not.
That's when you decided to do something different?
I started doing parody posts. Here is my sink full of dirty dishes. Here is what I look like when I take a shower. I've always written as if I had a huge audience. As you start to do something and you start to own it, you can get a little more brazen and more crude. It just evolved over a year into something that's empowering for me and apparently now for other people.
How did the blog go viral?
I had a fairly large following as far as small blogs are concerned, about 20,000 readers a month, which is pretty good for a nobody from Tucson. It really went viral on Facebook (two weeks ago) and within four days I was over a million readers. It also went viral on Tumblr and Pinterest, and a big blogger started mentioning it. My blog isn't about pretty pictures and sprinkle makeup. Self-love or self-acceptance is a very hard thing for everyone, but especially us big girls. We've been conditioned our entire lives to think we are not (doing) enough. The secret is to have more good days than bad days, but people want to hear about the bad days too.
What was the response when those posts went viral?
I have probably received 150 hate mail letters—absolutely cruel, disgusting and horrible things you could say to another human being. One of the posts, the picture of me wearing a bikini that went viral on tumblr, got into this misogynistic hell hole and people started to tear it apart. I was able to turn it around somehow. It actually turned out to be really empowering. I did a thank-you letter to my haters. That one went more viral. Somebody told me that they hoped I'd go kill myself because I look like a pregnant, fat hippo. I was like, "Is that all you can do?" That was the funniest one of them all.
You've published on xoJane. How did that happen?
I pitched a story to them last year called "I was the easy fat chick," but when I went viral recently, they asked me do something again. They told me they really love the way I wrote and want more. Going viral, I have gotten so many opportunities and that's why I know this is going to keep going. People keep asking me if I am going to quit my job, and I think that's the silliest thing I've ever heard. My life is dedicated to raising mental health awareness. This is just something that I can do on the side.