Small Business Getting Real About ‘Taboo’ Topics

Megababe founder, body acceptance advocate and author Katie Sturino on how she uses her platform to get candid about all those things people avoid talking about—like money.

By As-told-to by Emily Silber Photograph by Aaron Richter
PUBLISHED 01/17/2023 | 6 MINUTES

Boob sweat. Chafing. Money. What do these three things have in common? No one wants to talk about them. Why? They’ve been told that they shouldn’t. That these things are private and should remain private. Well, I’m here to shatter that notion.

I come from a fiscally conversative family. So when, as a 22-year-old, I decided to move to New York City from Wisconsin to pursue an internship, all hell broke loose. My risk-averse parents thought I was going to get swindled. But I made it to the great NYC, interned at Chanel for two summers and realized how much I love clothes. And accessories. And luxury. But … I didn’t really like the elitist vibe. That level of fashion can be very intense. Plus, I could never fit into the designer clothes (or afford them).

So in 2015 I launched The 12ish Style, now, a platform dedicated to helping women get dressed—and helping them feel confident while doing so. I have two main series, “Supersize the Look” and “Make My Size.” The first is when I take a celebrity look and recreate it in my size, which, in case you were wondering, is somewhere in the 16-20 zone, depending on the day. I want to show women that they can pull off the styles they love no matter what size they are. The second is when I try on the biggest size a brand offers just to shed light on how small it is on me—this also led to a #MakeMySize campaign. Some brands have actually listened, which has been really rewarding.

Through my platform, I learned a lot about the things that make people feel uncomfortable. I guess you could say that I have no “filter,” so when I started talking about smelly armpits and butt acne, people responded. People understood. But the market? At first, not so much. Sure, there’s anti-chafing creams for athletes who cycle a hundred miles per day, but for your regular, everyday woman just trying to wear a dress or skirt without leggings or tights? Nope. Because obviously women don’t chafe. We don’t sweat. We don’t smell. We’re just magical unicorn Santa Clauses without any bodily functions whatsoever.

Sorry, but that’s just not true. So, I decided to start my own beauty brand, Megababe, with products like Thigh Rescue and Bust Dust and Le Tush Butt Mask. No beauty companies were addressing these needs because nobody was talking about these needs. And I wanted to see if I was right. Spoiler alert: I was. The products almost instantly had a waitlist and sold out when we launched.

Of course, without the kind of money major beauty companies have when they launch their brands, I had to bootstrap all the way. I called in favors with friends and even had my parents shipping orders from the basement of their house! But it was worth it. Women were responding. They felt seen. They finally had a representative—a company that would acknowledge that these “taboos” are actually not taboos at all.

All this was also a personal journey. I accepted my body and all its awesomeness and realized that I’m not afraid anymore. I also realized that I have a special skill for talking about things that other people are shy about; that I could let light into those dark places and allow people to feel less alone. That epiphany led me to start my podcast Boob Sweat—on which I tackle topics like divorce, fertility, dating when you’re older, dating when you’re plus size and, of course, money—and later to write my book, Body Talk, which is a guide to self-acceptance.

Women have been made to believe that money should be associated with secrecy, jealousy and shame. But these are all just myths we’ve been fed to keep us in a certain place. As long as we’re not money curious or power curious, we’re accepted. We should think about our weight, our looks, the scale. As long as we’re kept over there, in that corner, we’re not involved in what’s going on over here, where the real issues are.

I say, let’s talk about money. Let’s talk about success. Let’s talk about bodily functions and fluids and feelings and finances.

Katie Sturino is the founder of beauty brand Megababe, author of Body Talk and a body acceptance advocate who wants to get real about taboo topics.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.


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