Christine Gionet is on a mission…

Through her plus-size clothing store, Renegade, she has worked tirelessly over the past three years to promote a body-positive message.  She’s dealt with the typical challenges of small business ownership but firmly refuses to back down. To her, every obstacle is a lesson, and every lesson a signal for Renegade to turn the page.

Another chapter has begun.

Christine and Caitlyn Renegade London Ontario
Christine Gionet and Caitlyn Peesker are two of London’s fiercest rebels. Photo courtesy of Caitlyn Peesker

Along with opening a new pop-up location in Old East Village, Christine has partnered with local photographer Caitlyn Peesker to create an online movement of self-love and acceptance dubbed the Renegade Rebellion.

I met with these self-proclaimed rebels over slices of Blue Majik cheesecake to learn more.

Why did you first open Renegade?

Christine: I worked for an insurance company for 13 years and was miserable. I needed to find something else to put my energy into, and that’s how Renegade came along. I wanted Renegade to be an environment that was encouraging, empowering, and non-judgemental for women in London who are plus size. There was a pretty great response when I first opened. Everyone was excited to see something unique and local that they never had access to before.

Did you feel that kind of environment was lacking?

Christine: Yes, definitely. London and many towns throughout Canada only have the big box stores as far as shopping goes for plus size women, and when you shop there it’s a very generic experience. There’s no empowerment, there’s nothing fun. It becomes a chore and there’s no excitement. It’s mostly a stressful thing for most women, at least it was for me and I wanted to have something for me.

Why “Renegade”?

Christine: Because Renegades are rebels. I think that our attitude rebels against society’s standards and allows us to express ourselves despite what people in the world tell us what we should like.

What kind of changes has Renegade gone through since opening?

Christine: We started with pop-ups and then moved into a brick and mortar location for two and a half years. As all things go, we needed to evolve. Consequently, I chose to go with an online platform, since I wanted to reach more people yet have more flexibility in my time to work on events and the Renegade Rebellion.

What exactly is the “Renegade Rebellion”?

Christine: The Renegade Rebellion is our campaign to promote size acceptance, body acceptance, health at every size, and basically having a healthy mindset about your body and about yourself. Our goal is to create a body-positive community.

Our motto is:

We reject society’s unrealistic expectations and take a stand in the name of size acceptance. We resist the notion that our value is any less because of our shape and size. We rebel in the name of love, acceptance, freedom, and empowerment of all bodies. We are the #renegaderebellion.

Who can be a part of the Rebellion?

Christine: Anybody, [any gender], anyone of any size.

Caitlyn: Cats, dogs.

How did it start?

Caitlyn: I met Christine three years ago while photographing her grand opening party. I continued to photograph parties and we did the “Capture Your Confidence” photoshoot, which is when 10 women come in together to get a picture. They wear Renegade clothing, get hair and makeup done. It has been a great way to help women embrace their bodies. Christine and I became personal friends as well. We were sitting together one day, and she was talking about a hateful comment she got on an outfit. And we were both like, something needs to be done!

What have you done so far?

Caitlyn: We started with a free photoshoot for a bunch of Renegades we personally knew. The shoot was for girls to feel comfortable and do what they wanted to do.

Christine: They wrote their version of why they were a part of the Rebellion. Everyone’s reason is a little bit different, but in the end, we’re all here for the same reason.

Alex Renegade London Ontario
Model Alexandra Connon shows off one of Renegade’s latest styles at the new pop-up location. Photo courtesy of Christine Gionet

Caitlyn: The message they told is that we accept our bodies, despite what other people may think. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin. Therefore we want to rebel against conventional standards of size and beauty acceptance.

Christine: We also do blog posts and live videos discussing aspects of body image and acceptance. We would eventually like to go around the country and talk to more individuals about their personal stories.

As Renegades how do you express yourselves through fashion?

Christine: I like to have fun with my clothing. Sometimes I’m in a retro dress, sometimes I’m in a boho dress. Overall I love showing my body, wearing tight clothing like pencil skirts and my tummy.

Caitlyn: I love that you love that.

Christine: My sense of style is all over the place. That’s what I love about fashion, being able to express yourself, how you’re feeling in that day and just having fun with clothes.

Caitlyn: I wear whatever the hell I’m feeling. It involves a lot of see-through shirts, crop-tops, shirts tucked into jeans, a lot of shorts where my thighs jiggle. I like to let everything hang out. I love my body, and I love the way people are like, should she be wearing that? But honestly, why shouldn’t I be showing my stomach? Your body is a vessel, why hide it?

With the movement in motion, what does the future hold for Renegade?

Christine: I currently work at the Boombox Bakeshop in Old East Village, and I’ve established a permanent pop-up for Renegade in their new location. I get to see my customers on a more regular basis again, which I really missed. I’ll also continue doing random pop-ups at events like the Punk Rock Flea Market. Finally, as for the Renegade Rebellion, Caitlyn and I will be pushing via photoshoots, live feeds and blogs. You won’t stop hearing from us – and we’re not sorry.

Join the movement and share your story of body positivity with the hashtag #renegaderebellion, or visit Christine at 520 Adelaide St. N to grab a delicious vegan cupcake and see what she has in store.

Feature photo courtesy of Caitlyn Peesker

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you again to LONDONFUSE and Angela for this killer interview. Christine and I had a blast getting together over Rebel Remedy delicacies and speaking about our movement!
    #RenegadeRebellion

  2. is this a joke? why not put all that energy into losing weight? how can u have a ” healthy mindset about your body and about yourself” when u r morbidly obese? u do realize it is UNHEALTHY to be overweight?

    • Josh, first off, to be clear, it’s entirely evident this is not a joke.

      Your comment proves why moving forward with a positive mindset is so important rather than falling backwards into negative stereotypes that are uninformed and unproductive. “Credible Troll” is an oxymoron so well done to you for helping confirm that.

      These women are doing great things in our community and beyond and just because they don’t fit into what you deem acceptable, it DOES NOT discount how important and inspiring it is.

      I cannot rival Caitlyn’s eloquently outlined and entirely badass response so I will leave the rest to that.

      LondonFuse is not a place to hate, it’s a place to promote the creative, exciting, and amazing things happening in London… and this article exemplifies that.

    • If you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say it. These ladies are doing incredible things for the community – and they’ve done incredible things for me, personally, in terms of my self-confidence and self-love.

      It’s really unfortunate that certain people miss the points being so well made by Christine and Caitlyn. Maybe you ought to go back and re-read the article. Memorize the renegade motto, then try again.

      I would also point out that the level of negativity you’ve put into your comment can’t exactly be healthy. It is, in fact (speaking from personal experience) possible to be both healthy and plus size. I’m plus size, and other than one tiny little genetic issue, I’m basically as healthy as you can get. So no, it’s not unhealthy to be plus sized.

      Maybe instead of criticizing, you should ask thoughtful questions, inform yourself, and gain new perspective on life. Be positive. Be kind. Don’t hate on others for loving themselves.

  3. In reply to Josh:
    Maybe I can shed a bit of light on your previous comment, considering you seem to have mental vs. physical health mixed up.
    By supporting plus size beauty we’re not condoning obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle. We’re supporting peoples right to love themselves regardless what they look like and regardless what people – like you for example – have to say about it.
    Along with this, did you know that a lot of people who are obese aren’t obese by choice? Thanks to medical reasons and this fun little term “metabolism”, a lot of people who fall under the obese-metre have tried endlessly to lose the weight. Because of this, they are even more diminished as to why they aren’t accepted.
    I would love to sit here all day and list off the many diseases and physical issues that cause even HEALTHY people to be obese, but I have better things to do with my time. I’d like to thank you for your comment however, as it is people like you that have made this movement a necessary step in self love and appreciation.

    #RenegadeRebellion

  4. What is a healthy weight? How is weight the only factor to health… simply put, it is not. You could be a 90 pound man and be incredibly unhealthy, you could be a 300 pound man and be in the best health of your life. A scale is not a tool to dictate health, nor should it be. Health & Wellness is something we all strive for and part of that is knowing it’s unhealthy to project hate on oneself or others. Perhaps you are having health issues yourself in that regard? Or maybe you are just mis-informed about what constitutes as Healthy in this day and age, and how it is an individual journey not a societal one? Either way I hope you find Health & Wellness in your life Josh! These Ladies clearly already have and I support them 100%!

    #RenegadeRebellion

  5. Josh, do you realize we didn’t ask for you to criticize our bodies? You must be joking! Why not put all of your energy into love and acceptance? How can you have a healthy mindset when you are so negative? You do realize that it’s UNHEALTHY to be judgemental to people and their bodies?

  6. This article is great, thank you for it! Health is not about the scale and a number on it. You can be 90 pounds and unhealthy and 300 and healthy as well as the reverse. Health & Wellness is about loving yourself enough first and seeking your own acceptance. It is sad that people still want to hate the happiness that these women are sharing. They take pride, just as I do in how we strive to achieve that. They are empowering other women who for far too long have been belittled both by themselves and society’s unacceptable standards. Love is step one in a road to a healthy life. I hope Josh finds his own healthy way…cus hate speak is very unhealthy!

    #renegaderebellion

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