amaze plus size magazine

with the maxes


"We don’t promise to tell you what you want to hear, but
we do guarantee a fresh perspective and to tell it like it is!" Julie and Josh Max

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Dear Josh and Julie,

Thanks so much for your wonderful column.  It truly is great to see a relationships column written for us plus-sized gals!   

Here's my question. I consider myself an empowered big gal, but I haven't been lucky enough to have what you guys have, or even a boyfriend as of yet.   I'm a cashier in a restaurant and I'm around people all the time, especially a lot of men.    I always smile and am friendly, which is part of my job.

When I'm off work and in public, I try to do the same thing---smile, make eye contact, and sometimes I even say 'hi,' to men who seem unattached.  But I hardly ever get smiles back, or any response in return.  Men treat me as though I am invisible.  This happens to me a lot, and I don't get it. 

I'm beginning to wonder if it's the way I look---specifically my weight.   What am I doing wrong? 

Thanks for your help.


 Erin, Houston

josh max

Dear Erin,

"Don't take it personally" is a cliche, but it applies here.  I consider myself an attractive man. I bathe daily, I work out six days a week, I get my hair cut at a great place, my wife sees to it that I am fashionably attired onstage and off, no one says to me, "Have you considered plastic surgery?"  and I have a very positive attitude out there in the world for the most part.  Although I'm happily married, I still like to know that women find me attractive.

And I feel invisible a good percent of the time. I've had the conversation "I feel invisible" in my head for at least 10 years.  Am I invisible? I don't think so---I can see my fingers typing this.  What was helpful for me was examining the thought behind "I feel invisible".   Underneath that blanket statement was a childish demand that people be a certain way---to notice me, flirt back with me, to acknowledge I exist.  If I didn't get what I wanted, I contracted and concluded I'm not attractive or interesting.  

Being noticed is also to do with the audience you're aiming at.  I'm not a big he-man type, and I've come to realize I don't fit into everybody's idea of what's "hot".  If you put me in a suit and tie, for example, and walk me into a conservative, corporate atmosphere, I will be invisible next to the Ivy league gents with their 6 feet of height and 225 pounds. Ditto most bars. If you put me in a situation where everyone present is an artist or writer or musician and are interested in looking beyond what's obvious, I do just fine.

Julie used to work for a conservative corporation.  Whenever the office parties happened and I'd be invited, I felt old, ugly, and weird. All the women at these gatherings were 20-something and obsessed with being skinny, and all of them regularly read mainstream fashion magazines to get the absolute latest on Jessica, Paris and Jennifer. Their idea of "hot" is Ben Affleck. I am not Ben Affleck.  I felt more like PeeWee Herman around them.

Julie now works at a big media company among deejays and writers and people who are passionate about music. I go and visit her, interact with her office co-workers, and attend parties when invited, and I feel attractive, talented and sexy, welcomed---and seen.  How is that possible? Did I suddenly become visible? No---it's to do with the people I put myself around.

A good friend once said, "Don't go to the hardware store for pizza".  As empowered as larger women have become over the last, say, decade, there is still a non-stop barrage of negative media images of larger ladies as unattractive, lazy, dumb, poor and non-sexual.  It takes an enlightened person to see past the stereotypes and see YOU, and it takes a strong man to say, "I like a bigger woman, and I am not afraid to go for what I want." 

But we're out here, I promise you! 

And if one person out of 100 notices you, focus on that rather than the bunch who looked right through you. 

julie max

Dear Erin,

I’m sure you are singing a tune that sounds mighty familiar to a lot of people reading this right now.  Truth is, people of all shapes and sizes sometimes feel “unseen” or “invisible”.  Some of my skinny-minnie girlfriends are still left wondering why they can’t find that special someone or even get a date…and these are girls that look like they’ve just stepped out of “Sex and the City”.  Such is the great mystery of relationships: so much depends on chemistry, yet how do you discover that chemistry with, in many instances, only a first-impression?

I think the best suggestion I could give you is to only concern yourself with what you can control.  You can’t control how men, customers, or people in general will react to you.  In fact, most people are so busy thinking about themselves that it makes it practically impossible to even stop to think “Wow, she really went out of her way to be friendly to me”, or, “What a beautiful smile”.  Remember, they’re bogged down with their own insecurities and are probably worried about what you think of them at the same time you are wondering what they think of you!

Since you cannot control others, their behavior, or their reactions to you, what you can control is how good you feel about yourself.  The more that radiates, the more people will be able to feel your “good vibrations” and even start to feel better about themselves by being around you.  It can start with something small, like taking that extra time to put together a fabulous outfit, or experimenting with some fresh, new makeup, or doing something special with your hair.  These sound like simple, surface solutions, but it’s amazing the extra confidence it can give you.  It’s also a statement of how much you love yourself, how much care you can take of yourself, which then somehow permeates into your inner soul and transfers back out to everyone you come in contact with.  They may not know why they’re feeling something different when they’re around you, but they will be enjoying the “rub-off” effect of someone that is well-grounded and confident in themselves.  You will be easiest to love when you are in love with yourself!

In a jeans-and-sneakers world, I am known for putting something fabulous on most every day of the week.  Most often, I don’t do that for others, I do it for me.  I do it because it makes me feel good.  It makes me smile.  It helps me exude my inner-diva.  And though it sounds superficial, it makes a statement on my behalf.  I also do it to “Represent”.  When I look good and feel good, I feel like I stand-up for all the full-figured gals, that we can show the world the energy, vibrance and beauty and finally claim all the attention we deserve, busting apart everyone’s assumptions and stereotypes about us and who we are. 

Although this is not a magic potion, I promise you it will be a great experiment!  Have fun with it.  Be a different character each time you step out, and see where it takes you.  Once you have that practiced confidence deep within you, you may even find yourself taking new, daring risks…like asking ‘him’ out for a change!

about the maxes

After meeting through a personal ad, Josh Max and Julie James shared a coffee date in 1996 and have been together since.  Married in October 2001, they bring their unique and fun perspective on relationships to the readers of AmaZe.

Josh Max is a freelance writer whose auto and motorcycle reviews, travel articles, feature columns and first-person pieces can be seen in Newsweek, The New York Times, NY Daily News, Rides, Elite Traveler, and other publications.  Josh is also a musician/songwriter/performer in The Maxes, a Manhattan-based groovy, poppy, happy, peppy, bluesy outfit, sharing vocal stylings with wife Julie.  For information on Julie James, please read the Destinations column.

josh max and julie james

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