The plus-size community

An Interview with the Curvy Fashionista, Marie Denee

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to bring you this interview from Marie Denee, aka the Curvy Fashionista. With over 550,000 Facebook  and 64,000 Instagram followers, there is absolutely no doubt that she is the biggest plus-size fashion blogger in the United States.

Since she launched her blog in December 2008, Marie has been at the forefront of all trends curvy and fashionable. Her blog and vlog serve up fresh helpings of the newest and greatest in plus-sized fashion, and the Plus One Woman sat down with the Atlanta-based blogger to get her insights on classy and trendy pieces. Enjoy!

  1. Not counting nightwear/underwear/loungewear or accessories, what are three things every woman should have in her closet or her dresser drawer?

Ohhh this is fun! I think that she should have an amazing Little Black Dress that she can dress up or down, that allows her confidence to beam through! A kickass pair of jeans. Ones that make you booty feel and look amazing, that do not cut off circulation, and that can be worn in more than a few ways… versatility is key here. The last? A go to wow or hero piece. This can be an amazing blazer, unique blouse, or sexy skirt. Basically, something other than the staples that immediately brings life to an outfit, gives you that extra boost of confidence and attitude!

  1. If a woman usually sticks to the classics, how would you advise her to add some trendy items into her rotation?

Play with accessories! Bring color into your handbags, get a little daring with your shoes, layer on the bangles! Basically, it is all about accessorize to maximize! To take it up a notch, try a different or new blouse print or silhouette with your trusty skirt or slacks. Pair your favorite blazer with a bold printed or full skirt. Here, it is all about i moderation, and when you step out of your box, it is best to do so in baby steps or with items that still make you feel amazing!

  1. What are two pieces you believe in paying a little more for, and why? (For example, I will happily pay more than $100 for shoes because my feet are awful, and I usually buy expensive jeans because my Silvers last for YEARS!).

Ohhh I do love my Silver jeans and do agree on the quality and how long they last! For me, I would say a blazer and slacks. If these two items serve as a foundation for your wardrobe, you will wear them a bit more frequently than others. It is important that the integrity of the garment will hold up to your daily wear- armholes, buttons, thigh friction… you know what I mean! I have found if I spend a little more on these staples, they give my wardrobe a longer shelf life!

To find out more about the Curvy Fashionista, click here!

Photo credit: http://thecurvyfashionista.com/2016/11/christian-omeshun-holiday-collection/

Why Mae West Was a Trailblazer and a Badass

Many people have heard the name Mae West, but very few people know much about her outside of her blonde bombshell image and her classic one-liners like, “Come up and see me sometime.”

Beneath the platinum blonde hair and super-tweezed eyebrows, did you have any idea that Mae was a Hollywood pioneer, one of the first unconventional sex symbols, a shrewd businesswoman, an ex-con, and made movies clear up to the age of 85?

She was, and this week’s blog is dedicated to a strong, single, curvy Mae West, who was the highest-paid woman in the world and led a life few know about.

Not deemed a “classic beauty,” she knew how to work it. Only 5’0”, Mae wore six-to-nine-inch heels (depending on the source). That gave her her signature hip “wiggle.” While women like Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo had willowy figures and smoldering gazes, Mae West was curvy and brash. She sang, she danced, and her one-line zingers were full of double entendres that she used from her old vaudeville days. She knew what looked good on her, and she never complained when she was literally sewn into every costume she wore.

She was a convicted felon, and she used that to her advantage. In 1926, Mae was arrested for writing, producing, and starring in a play in New York simply called Sex. Censors called on her to stop. She refused and was convicted of producing an immoral theatrical performance. She was given the choice of a $500 fine (about $6,800 today) or 10 days in jail. Shocking her family and fans, she chose jail time. She wanted the publicity and she was genuinely curious about prison life.

She had an atypical experience – she insisted on wearing her own silk undergarments, claiming she was allergic to the prison-issued undies. She also dined with the warden every night and was given VIP treatment by her fellow inmates. She recounted the her jail time with fondness in later interviews, and despite being a felon, she left jail more popular than ever, and people lined up around the block to see the latest plays she wrote and produced.

She played the Hollywood game – a man’s world – on her terms. And won. Mae starred in her first movie at the relatively late age of 39. She negotiated her own contracts and had a lot of leverage in rewriting the scripts she was sent.

She didn’t flinch even when confronted with a scandal – her husband (who she married at age 18 and while they never lived together, they never divorced) tried to extort her for thousands of dollars. This was at the height of her career in 1937. Mae refused to give into his blackmail, since her husband had remarried, making him a bigamist. She finally divorced him in 1943.

Mae was sexually liberated at a time women were supposed to conform. Her easy, breezy sexiness was never crude, with no swearing, just lots of bawdy jokes to keep audiences wanting more and declaring sexual liberation before that was even a thing.

Despite having only a third-grade education, she was smart and savvy. Mae wrote many of her own plays she performed in New York before she moved to L.A. in 1932. She drew on her experience from vaudeville and stock theater, and she knew how to write plays audiences loved. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was about sexually liberated women who fought for them men they loved, or they knew when to cut their losses and run.

She also wanted to learn everything she could about the business of filmmaking. Mae spent countless hours learning about lighting, camera angles, editing, and other aspects of film production at a time few women did.

Mae mostly retired from acting in the early 1940s, but her money wasn’t idle. She was a real estate investor, and she knew exactly where to buy land in the booming southern California real estate market, and that made her more money than she ever earned at the box office.

She took care of everyone she loved. Mae’s beloved mother died before her Hollywood career, but she brought her father, brother, and sister out to California with her. Her father had retired from being a private investigator, and Mae ensured he was financially independent, which was a rarity during the Great Depression. She got bit acting parts for her brother, Jack. When that didn’t pan out, she bought a ranch so he could train horses. Their sister lived there, too.

Though she never drove, she bought herself a new limo every year. She gave the old ones anonymously to local convents.

She also remembered her staff very generously in her will when she died in 1980 at the age of 87. She had a very small inner circle, but she loved her peeps and ensured they were cared for.

So many memorable quotes.

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

“To err is human, but it feels divine.”

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

“I’m no model lady. A model is just an imitation of the real thing.”

“Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous, but they won’t be avoided.”

“I believe it is better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.”

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

“I didn’t discover curves, I only uncovered them.”

“It’s not the men in my life that count, it’s the life in my men.”

“I’ve been things and seen places.”

I hope this short blog entry gives you an idea of what a badass Mae West was. She was so much more than diamonds and one-liners. She was a playwright, producer, unconventional sex symbol, screenwriter, and real estate investor. She shattered glass ceilings and her legacy is felt in Hollywood to this day.

Who is your favorite old-timey Hollywood actress, and why? Comment below!

Can We Talk about Ashley Graham Posing Nude?

OK, I’m going out on a limb here.

I don’t care when celebs take off their clothes.

For example, there was recently a kerfuffle when Emma Watson posed almost topless in a Vanity Fair article while she was doing press for Beauty & the Beast.

“She’s a feminist! How dare she pose in nothing but a (very) chunky knit sweater!”

Honestly, I don’t care. Posing for a national magazine not wearing much? Wouldn’t do it myself, but live and let live.

However, Ashley Graham posing nude in the latest issue of magazine actually got me pretty excited. (WARNING: Clicking on the link will take you to naked pics of her. You have been warned.)

The purpose of the interview was to plug her new book, A New Model: What Confident, Beauty and Power Really Look Like. The article, written by Diana Ross’ daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, is a little confusing, rambling, and a bit too focused on the interviewer (Ross), and not enough on Ashley. But Graham manages to hit it out of the park with her views on being a trailblazer and role model:

…[B]eing told, “You’re fat,” “You’re ugly” or “You’re just not good enough,” and trying to live in these model standards…I hit bottom around 18. I was disgusted with myself and told my mom I was coming home. And she told me, “No, you’re not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you’re supposed to do this. It doesn’t matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody’s life.” To this day that sticks with me because I’m here today and I feel that it’s okay to have cellulite.

Think about all she has done and how her body has changed lives. Ever since she burst onto the scene as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model last year, Ashley has been modeling’s “it” girl, and has expanded her brand to include swimwear and a lingerie collection, just to name a couple ventures.

And I agree with her that her body has changed lives. Check her out here:

I admire the power, fierceness, and confidence with which she walks down the catwalk. Her butt jiggles, she has cellulite on the back of her legs, and she even has back fat. She knows she looks good, and she absolutely owns it. And she slays it.

If I had 1% of her confidence, I’d be doing all right. But Ashley speaks with a wisdom older than her 29 years would suggest:

If you say, “I’m fat,” that’s how you’re going to feel. If you say, “I’m stupid,” that’s how you’re going to start your day. I wake up sometimes and I feel like the fattest person alive, but I’m not going to let that affect the rest of my day. Say to yourself, “I like this day. I am bold, I am beautiful, and I am brilliant.” For me, that hits the interior, the exterior, and it makes me feel smart.

That’s where she gets her confidence. It all comes from within, and the power of being beautiful truly lies in your head. I am bold, I am beautiful, and I am brilliant.

Thank you, Ashley!

In looking at her V magazine photos, for me, it’s not that she’s nude in the photos, it’s that she’s nude and she looks like the rest of us. She has cellulite, fat rolls, and stretch marks. And if she embraces the way she looks, why can’t the rest of us do the same?

Oh, and I’m totally buying her book when it comes out which, as of this writing, comes out tomorrow. SQUEE!

What are your thoughts on Ashley Graham’s photoshoot? Comment below!

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Graham for day 13 of LOVE Magazine Advent 2014 by Daniel Jackson, accessed May 14, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Graham_(model)#/media/File:Ashley_Graham_(model)_2014.png.

Video Credit: Lane Bryant, accessed May 14, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_eiNCCHv94.

Why This Plus-Sized Blogger Is Trying to Lose Weight

My name is Annie, I have been fat since I was a child.

At first glance, that title may sound like a total oxymoron. Why would a woman proud to be plus-sized want to lose weight? I want to share why I am on a weight loss journey, even if I may never get there.

The reasons people are overweight stem from very individual factors. In my case, my PCOS and eating as an emotional crutch are probably the two biggest factors in why it is so hard for me to lose weight. But I still want to lose it.

“Just put down the fork,” I hear over and over, usually from jackwagons with no medical training and who like to fat-shame. I already have two strikes against me: a hormonal imbalance that makes throws my metabolism out of whack, and clinical depression that leads me to overeat, and often. If it really were as easy as putting down a fork, everyone would be thin. But my hormones and depression are greater than my willpower. I wish there weren’t, but that’s the reality of my life.

“Wait…You’re a plus-size blogger. Why are you trying to lose weight?”

I’ve heard that one before, too. Usually from well-meaning friends and family. If I blog about issues as a fat person, why would I attempt to lose weight?

  1. Pain management. I have chronic back pain and can’t exercise like I want to. I do yoga and walk a little, but I really like running. Though I could take up swimming or biking, neither one excites me as much as lacing up my sneakers and going for a jog in the cold dawn. I can’t do that now because of my weight. And for the first time, my weight is affecting the quality of my life.
  2. Decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. Though (knock on wood) I have great blood pressure and am relatively healthy, I have lousy cholesterol. I see people who are my size with health issues like irregular heartbeat, sleep apnea, diabetes, and respiratory issues. Quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me.
  3. I have never been this heavy in my life. As the scale has inched upward about 35 pounds in the last three years, my heart almost broke the last time I weighed myself. While I have stopped beating myself up for my size, there is something very real and very visceral about those numbers on the scale. I gained every pound myself. Me.
  4. A dream trip. I am planning a backpacking trip to Scotland – the trip of a lifetime. Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to walk the Highlands and stay in charming bed & breakfasts along the way. I can’t do that at the current weight I am at. Not with pain being a factor in my everyday life.
  5. A Chanel jacket. I bought a Chanel jacket and it really wouldn’t take losing a whole lot of weight for me to button it up. And this jacket is bomb. It is pink and the lining is as soft as a baby’s butt. I fully plan on wearing the shit out of it when I can fit into it.

Maybe some of these reasons – a blazer and a vacation – sound like frivolous reasons to lose weight. But they are my reasons. Just like everyone has their own demons in dealing with their weight, they need to embrace the why. The why of their weight loss motivation.

Or, more importantly, the why of why they love themselves. Because self-acceptance and inner peace can only come with keeping the why front and center. There’s no shame in working towards a goal.

What is your biggest goal, and what is your biggest motivation for that goal? Comment below!

How to Be a Daily Feminist

The news this week has just left me in a stupor.

Every time I open my laptop, get on Facebook or Twitter, turn on NPR, or watch TV, my blood starts to boil or I feel a little nauseous. As much as I try to filter the media I consume, it’s just everywhere.

But there is hope. There is so much hope.

As hundreds of thousands of people marched last weekend in cities all around the country in support of women and women’s rights, what’s the next step? The pussy beanies have been put away, the media attention is dying down. So now what?

I’ll tell you what. If you believe in feminism, it’s time to start thinking about practicing #DailyFeminism. It’s time to be stronger, louder, but more loving than ever before. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Donate or volunteer to causes you care about. Whether it’s the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a political party, or any organization that serves women, put your money or your time where your heart is. Don’t think you make a difference? Think about helping one person. Then think about what your time or financial support means to one person. It’s a game-changer for them, and it makes a world of difference to them. You can’t save the entire planet, but you have influence in your town, in your neighborhood, and in your own family. Use it. Wield your power to do good!
  1. Get political. Write. Email. Tweet. No matter what your political affiliation is, if you don’t act or speak, nothing will ever change. A local politician here in Nebraska was caught retweeting a disgusting, misogynistic caption of women marching last weekend. I was sick of it. I called his office to (civilly) voice my disgust and called on him to step down. I then called my state senator to encourage her opposition. He resigned the next day. Not because of my two phone calls, but I hold my head high knowing hundreds of women in my state called for this politician to resign, and he did. There is power in numbers.
  1. Be respectful of other women. There are memes floating around Facebook “In a world of Kardashians, be an Audrey Hepburn/Lucille Ball/insert name of old-timey actress.” While I am certainly not a Kim’s fan, I don’t see the need to tear other women down based on their persona, brand, or how they choose to live their lives. It doesn’t move the feminist dialogue any further. And when our friends and relatives see us trashing other women – even really famous ones – they will think that woman-bashing is OK. But it’s not.
  1. Read books by feminist authors. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Erica Jong, there are hundreds of excellent writers to choose from. I will be the first to admit this is not my strong suit. But I do love Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin. Find one book – even a short one (there are many free ones in the public domain you can download). Read it. Ask yourself what it means to you as a woman. Is there a lesson you can carry into your everyday life? Then celebrate. Because you just expanded your horizons, and no one can take that from you!
  1. Speak up. You have an opinion that matters. Don’t be afraid to share it, and don’t apologize for it. If your friends or family are unfairly criticizing a woman, speak up in her defense. If your co-workers are having a political discussion in the lunchroom, respectfully say what’s on your mind. If you want to attend a march, make a sign and go! The only thing I ask is to remember people have feelings, so getting up in someone’s face or belligerently arguing will not advance the dialogue.
  1. Consider the source. “Alternative facts” is now a thing. It’s up to us to question everything. Check the sources of your news, and consumer it wisely. I know the bias out in the conservative and liberal media, and I take all of it with a huge grain of salt. Don’t assume that article you read online is true or that interview you saw was unbiased. Be smart, but do be informed. An informed woman is a powerful woman.
  1. Call it out. When you see someone doing something good for other women – giving a seat up on a bus, defending a woman from verbal harassment, participating in a march – give some love. Post a thoughtful comment. Say a quiet “thank you.” Acknowledge the action that you just witnessed. Put some positivity out in the world – we need so much more of it!
  1. Love yourself. I really should have put this first. Because your ability to love, empower, and support other women stems from how you love, empower, and support yourself. I know it’s so much easier said than done, but be gentle with yourself. Do what makes you happy: a bubble bath, a walk, a manicure, a piece of cheesecake. Don’t spend all your time dwelling on the news if it makes you anxious (it makes me pretty queasy!). Read something that will make you happy. Whatever makes you the strongest and most content…do that, and be that.

Is there anything I left off the list? What do you do to practice daily feminism?

An Interview with Lottie L’Amour

 

an-interview-3

For Plus One Woman’s first interview, I want to introduce you to the fabulous Lottie L’Amour, a fabulous British plus-size blogger who is based in London. Lottie has been blogging for nearly two years. Her bright affinity for patterns is what initially brought me over to her site, but her articles on living as a plus-size woman, body positivity, and unapologetic confidence reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker. I can’t be the only one – she has thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As if that weren’t enough, she has also branched into the world of vlogging!

Enjoy this interview where Lottie shares her insights on British designers, mixing trends with classic pieces, and being at peace in her own skin.

13450930_1763199033955983_283725131825951138_n

PoW: More and more UK designers are offering shipping to the States. For those of us who are completely uninitiated, how would you describe the styles of: River Island, Simply Be, Lovedrobe, ASOS Curve, Evans, and Elvi?

LL: It’s funny because this side of the pond, we’re jealous of places like Society Plus and Torrid! UK fashion is pretty progressive for plus size women, we’re getting more choices than ever before but unfortunately these choices don’t always reach all the way down the larger end of the plus size spectrum. Places like ASOS Curve, Evans and Simply Be do fashion all the way up to a UK 32, so they are leading the way in offering a wide range of sizes, but newer brands like River Island, Boohoo and Elvi are adding more sizes as time goes on (those three do up to a UK 26).

14725464_1822796201329599_3234909089481629408_n

ASOS Curve is second to none for fashion forward pieces, closely followed by River Island and Boohoo, who’s curve ranges are basically an extension of some key pieces from their straight size ranges. For girls needing workwear or occasionwear, Evans, Simply Be and Elvi are perfect to find those high end pieces mixed in with some regular staple items. Just make sure you read a few UK plus size fashion blogs to check up on the fit of the items – some of them can come up small, so it’s worth reading up so you know when to size up!

(PoW note: ASOS has a good size conversion site here. But remember to always, always check measurements & ask if you aren’t sure!)

PoW: You wear such fun, bold patterns! How do you like to mix up the trends of a season with classic staples like the little black dress, a white button-down shirt, skinny jeans, Breton stripes, etc?

LL: I love to mix in elements of the past with outfits that I put together – whether it’s going full hog and wearing a 1950’s dress, or just a little nod to the 90’s with a choker, I constantly take inspiration from bygone eras and make them into something trend-led in a street style. For example, if I’m wearing a plain black dress, I’ll always rough it down with a giant novelty clutch bag or a pair of biker boots and a glittery bomber jacket! Skinny jeans go with absolutely everything – my black ripped skinnies are a staple in my wardrobe. I often wear them with a cute breton stripe bardot off-the-shoulder swing top and a pair of metallic trainers for when I want to make a little bit more of a subtle statement.

13606783_1772598543016032_4459717851877547128_n

The beauty with using plain staples is you get to choose how much you want to stand out that day – life isn’t all about making a statement all the time, it’s perfectly cool to tone it down and have a little nod to your love of bright prints and sparkly things with your accessories if you’re not feeling it that day.

PoW: What is the best advice you ever gave or was given to help you love the size you are?

LL: The first thing you need to do is make the decision to not give a crap about how anyone else views you. The minute you decide “actually, I’m living my life for me, and I’m happy as I am” is the minute your whole perception will change. That’s a decision that only you can make – there’s no magic formula or guidebook on how to get there, you just need to decide to be kinder to yourself. For me, I decided that I’d spent too much time attributing my worth to my size, and that was wrong. One of the most radical things I did was actually just looking at myself in the mirror – and I mean really looking at myself. Not skimming over the chubby bits I used to. Not focusing on what I thought were my best bits. I focused on every single part of my body and I told myself that I loved my body, every inch of it. My body has done wonderful things for me – it allows me to hug someone I love, it allows me to explore the earth, my soft stomach protects my organs, my wobbly thighs help me to walk… it really is an amazing, beautiful thing, just as it is. All bodies are deserving of love, yes, even your own!

14063855_1796370963972123_6726176532894845867_n

To find out more about Lottie, visit:

Note: All photos (c) Lottie L’Amour and used with permission.

Curvy Girls Rule the Art World

2

Open any magazine or watch any ad on TV, and you’ll see straight-size women are the norm for beauty, and they have for decades.

Women like Ashley Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Tess Holliday, and Rebel Wilson are finally smashing long-held ideas that all beautiful or successful women have to be thin.

While all these women are beautiful and talented, curvy women have been celebrated in art for thousands of years. Allow me to indulge my inner art nerd as we take a quick tour of curvy women through the centuries to show you that plus-size women have actually been en vogue longer than you may think.

Note:

  • As you will see in a lot of fine art, some of these ladies are nakey. So if you’re expecting all these ladies to be clothed, they’re not.
  • I realize I am leaving out artists in Africa, Asia, and Australia, which is a huge chunk of the world’s population. I know there are fantastic examples of art that I am leaving out, but I am just not as conversant in art from those continents.
  • I also know I left out female artists. I found a couple that would have been good matches for this article (especially Marie Fox), but due to copyright laws, their paintings are not available on the royalty-free sites I use. Seriously, though, check out Marie Fox – she’s good. 

Venus of Willendorf (25,000 – 28,000 B.C.E.)

220px-willendorf-venus-1468

Discovered in Austria in 1908, this faceless woman is estimated to be almost 30,000 years old. Archeologists think she may have been used as a fertility goddess because such emphasis is placed on her curves. Whatever her purpose, this fun-sized 4″ statute is one of the oldest surviving stone figurines ever found.

The Three Graces (1635)

320px-the_three_graces_by_peter_paul_rubens_from_prado_in_google_earth

There is a reason the word “rubenesque” is synonymous with curves. In Ruben’s day (Belgium, around 1600), having extra weight on you was a sign of wealth and good health. You could afford to eat more than the working classes, and this was considered ideal beauty. I swear you can see cellulite on there!

Bather Admiring Herself in the Water (1910)


bather-admiring-herself-in-the-water-jpglarge

Auguste Renoir was one of the most notable Impressionists active in France in the late 19th century. His early works feature women at work, in cafés, or gardens. But when he moved to the south of France in his later years, he painted more nudes. And many of them were true girls with curves. I wasn’t able to find much background on this particular painting which is held in a private collection, but it is an exceptional piece celebrating lady curves!

Woman Undressing (1983)

f833aff63a9b4d59e9f64c04388ed6c9

The most recent entry on this list, Fernando Botero is an 84-year-old Columbian painter who often paints larger people, often reproducing famous pieces of art such as the Mona Lisa. When asked why, he simply answered, “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why.” His non-reproductions may seem to have a cartoonish quality, but I think this one shows the intimacy of a woman alone at the end of a long day. Though we can’t see her face, the fact she has rolls and a booty is something many ladies can relate to!

 

Hopefully this little tour of classic art will help you realize that plus-size women have been artist muses for hundreds (and thousands!) of years. Back fat, big butts, jiggly arms, cellulite, stomachs, double chins and all – we are beautiful women inside and out and we deserve to be celebrated!

What can be done to make beautiful, plus-size women mainstream again so that all sizes are celebrated? Comment below!

Using the Word “Fat” in Front of Girls

is-a-habit

  • Fat (adjective) having a lot of extra flesh on your body 2. having a lot of body fat
 3. having a full, rounded form
4. unusually wide or thick

God, those definitions are depressing, especially that last one!

v

I remember the first time someone called me “fat.” I was in third grade, and we had scoliosis screenings at school. We had to strip to the waist and nurses would do an evaluation. This was in the 80s and since the jackwads who ran my elementary school had absolutely no consideration for our emotional well-being, us girls were corralled into the ladies’ room and we had to disrobe in front of each other.

Utterly humiliating.

I was bigger and more developed than the girls in my class. I didn’t have a bra yet, so imagine the sheer horror of having to be in that line.

“Wow, Ann, you’re fat!” Molly Matisons loudly declared to the chuckles of my classmates.

Tears fell down my face as I turned scarlet and tried to cover myself with my arms. The nurse only snapped at me, “Don’t move! You need to have good posture for the scoliosis test!”

That was the beginning of a long relationship I’ve had with that word. Originally this post was going to be about reclaiming the word “fat.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to talk about the word and what it did to my self-esteem.

Unfortunately that incident in third grade wasn’t the last time I was called fat. My high school bully Brandon – abuser is a far more accurate word – called me fat almost every day I had class with him freshman year. It didn’t matter how many people told me I looked nice on any given day in high school. All I heard was his voice echoing in my mind:

“You are a fat bitch.”

Much has been written about the psychology of the developing female mind, but I’m not going to cite any. I’m not a trained psychologist. All I know is what I have observed in my own life and what I witnessed during my years as a classroom teacher. It all boils down to a pretty simple principle.

Words hurt.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words leave deep, invisible scars that never heal.

The rational part of me knows I was an extremely sensitive child. I know the scoliosis incident was 30 years ago and high school is also a distant memory. I wish I had thicker skin, but I didn’t.

It’s also not fair to blame the nine-year-old or fifteen-year-old me for taking those words to heart and letting them become my reality for the next 20 years. I was just a kid. Molly and Brandon, even though they were kids just like me, knew what they were saying. They also knew it would cut me to the core and I would give the reaction they were looking for.

That makes me careful about what I say around kids nowadays. I don’t interact much with them since I left the classroom, but I see my goddaughter every week and kids come into my office almost every day. While I’m not perfect, I try to engage them in conversation about their likes and interests, not about what they look like, even if they are super cute. I want them to know people care about more than what is on the surface.

And my goddaughter is 11. I really try not to call anyone fat when we watch TV together. We will talk about people making poor choices that make the sitcom/reality show amusing, but laughing at someone for being fat is off the table. Middle school is rough as it is, and I don’t need her absorbing that dialogue to use someone’s weight as a means to judge their character.

Is there anything someone said that sticks with you even today – for better or worse? Comment below!

Why This Body Positive Activist Wants to Lose Weight

the-10-bestbridalbouquets

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that I haven’t told anyone before.

I am trying to lose weight. I am also a passionate about body positivity.

I know, I know. The two seem to contradict each other. If you feel so strongly about being positive about your weight, why are you trying to lose weight?

Just because someone is trying to lose weight doesn’t mean they don’t care about how people are treated because of their weight. Here are some of the reasons why I am trying to lose weight:

  1. To treat help manage my PCOS symptoms. I have shared with you my struggle with PCOS and the hell it unleashes on the women who suffer from it. When my weight is down, I notice fewer symptoms including: fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, and nasty black facial hair. It’s not 100% foolproof, but even five pounds makes a big difference
  1. I have more energy. In general, I just feel better. I am much more likely to want to go outside and exercise rather than sleep in if I have been losing a little weight. And when I exercise in the mornings, that just sets an awesome tone for the day. Or if I exercise in the evenings, I have more energy to concentrate on my writing and am less likely to do my usual mindless, crazy nighttime eating.
  1. I am motivated drink more water. Like having more energy, losing weight has a compound effect that motivates me to make better choices. For example, no one can argue that water isn’t good for you. When my weight is down, I know I consume fewer cocktails or glasses of wine. Instead, I prefer to grab plain tap or sparking water.
  1. It gets me out of bed. Not only do I get up earlier to walk or run, but I also get up early on Saturdays to go to Weight Watcher meetings with my mother and my sister. And that sets a great tone for the day – I don’t loaf around in bed until 9:00 or 10:00. I get home from my meeting at about 9:30, start cleaning, and my Saturday is off to a much more productive start.
  1. I get to compete with my mom and my sister. When I go to meetings with Mom or my sister, it’s always a mini-contest to see who lost the most weight. Mom has much more discipline than my sister and I do. (When she asks us how much weight we lost, we answer, “Don’t worry about it!” if we gained.) But I can get competitive, and the weeks I beat them, what can I say? It’s fun 😉
  1. I want to fit into that ^%$#!NG jacket! This is the shallowest reason, but a year ago, the exact Chanel jacket I’ve been lusting after for years was on mega-sale on eBay. It was the Holy Grail of my wardrobe. And despite being a size 20, there is no way in hell I can fit into it. So I have to lose a few pounds to get into it. But dammit, big girls can and will wear Chanel!

I will fight for fat acceptance with my dying breath. And I love my curves. But losing a little weight makes a big difference in my life, and I work the Weight Watchers program. My health and an expensive jacket depend on it.

What about you? Do you think you can work on being healthy and a body positive activist? Comment below!

11 Shows to Fill the ‘Downton Abbey’ Void

design

Oh, Netflix, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

It’s been just about two months now since the iconic Downton Abbey went off the air. I don’t know about you, but I have been struggling to find shows to love and characters to root for as much as I loved the Crawleys and all those who worked for them.

Thanks to some great Netflix suggestions, friends’ recommendations and good ol’ BBC series, I have compiled a list of 11 shows dealing with class, history, and families for you to enjoy as you mourn the loss of Robert, Cora, Bates, Mrs. Patmore, et al.

Shows with a * denote they are still in production.

  1. Upstairs, Downstairs. Originally ran 1971-1975 and with a 2010-2012 reboot, this is the upper-class-versus-lower-class TV show to end all shows. It follows the rich (and eventually titled) Bellamy family from 1903 to 1930. Drama abounds in the morning room and servants’ hall alike. If you can get past the kitschy costumes and sets, as well as the relatively sluggish pace of the storylines compared to modern BBC shows, its great acting, solid writing, and surprisingly timeless storylines shows why Downton carries on this TV legacy.
  1. The Paradise. The Victorian Age at its finest in this 2012-2013 BBC treat loosely based on Emile Zola’s Au bonheur des dames. We follow the plucky young Denise Lovett in 1875 Newcastle as she takes a job as a shopgirl in Britain’s first (fictitious) department store. She rises through the ranks quickly as The Paradise’s owner recognizes her talent, gumption, and slowly reciprocates her feelings. It’s a great premise and I love the sets and costumes, but the characters do fall somehow flat. Still, a recommended watch on Netflix.
  1. *Last Tango in Halifax. I promise you will devour the 24 episodes of this BBC treasure. Set in northern England, it is about two families—one academic, the other agrarian—and how they come together thanks to their aging parents played by Anne Reid and the superb Derek Jacobi. The characters are rich and full, and the plot lines are soap opera-ish with enough realism to make you want to love these characters. Easily viewed in many PBS markets and on Netflix.
  1. *Call the Midwife. I am only a few episodes into this 42-episode series. Widely available on Netflix and on PBS, I do love the class commentary in south London in the 1950s. Sweetly acted, based on gripping source material, and attention to historical accuracy, I can already tell I am going to love this one.
  1. North & South. Based on a Victorian novel, this 2004 BBC gem can be knocked out in 4 hours. Margaret Hale and her genteel but impoverished parents move to the north of England in an industrial town. She finds the customs, accent, and treatment of workers to be almost out of her league, especially her conflicts with local mill owner John Thornton. A Victorian look between the classes, this an enjoyable albeit predicable miniseries. Look for Brendan Coyle (aka Bates) as an earthy millworker.
  1. The Time in Between (or, ‘El tiempo entre costuras’). This Spanish series (2013-2014) covers the 1930s through the eyes of a young seamstress named Sira. Dragged to Tangiers by the man she loved, he abandons her and she must make her own way. Spain was just beginning its own civil war, so Sira must be very careful how she plays her game. I’m not finished with this series, but the pacing, acting, sets, and costumes always leave me wishing I had time for more episodes.
  1. The Forsythe Saga. A delightful 2002 miniseries based on the books by John Galsworthy covers three generations of the tortured Forsythe family (1906-1921). Best of the lot is Damian Lewis as the cold, repressed, but deep Soames Forsythe. Obviously the books develop the characters much more, but the acting, costumes, and sets are top-notch, and the whole series can easily be knocked out on a lazy weekend day.
  1. Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I am not a fan of detective shows, but I very recently finished this series on Netflix. It started in 1989 and only just ended in 2013. David Suchet is the finest incarnation of Christie’s persnickety, shrewd, urbane, yet charming and complex Hercule Poirot. Rich sets and costumes aid in the great stories told, even if the one-off characters are not particularly interesting.
  1. *Peaky Blinders. This “based on a true story” series follows the fictional Shelby family in 1920s Birmingham. Cillian Murphy is the ice-eyed Tommy Shelby, the leader of a mob family. A family man of honor yet ruthless in pursuit of power, Tommy is the badass to end all badasses. This is by far the bloodiest entry for this list, but the gripping stories, the nuanced characters, and the historical accuracy sucked me in. Not to miss on Netflix. Be warned, though: blood and boobs abound.
  1. Fawlty Towers. Only 12 episodes were produced in 1975 and 1979. This brainchild of Monty Python’s John Cleese sets the bar from which all other BBC comedies can be measured. Cleese is trying to bring a bit of class to his hotel, but is constantly thwarted by his sweet but inept porter Manuel, his capable maid Polly, and his shrewish wife Sybil. The jokes fly fast and furious, both in witty dialogue, slapstick humor, and situational comedy at its finest.
  1. Keeping up Appearances. Filmed between 1990 and 1995, you can catch this popular sitcom on Netflix and many PBS stations. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”) always comes up with schemes to better her middle-class station in life, much to the chagrin of her long-suffering husband, Richard. Lots of slapstick humor, double entendres, and a real comedy of errors, this comedy is sure to leave you laughing over the pretentious Hyacinth, even if many of the jokes get repetitive.

So, even though we mourn the loss of Downton Abbey, there are plenty of shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, BBC America, and PBS to keep us happy and provide us many hours of viewing entertainment.

What have you been watching lately? Comment below to share your latest TV obsession with us!

1 2