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How I Failed Myself with Food and What I Learned

My name is Annie, and I like food.

I also do Weight Watchers.

Just the other day, I went waaaaay over my points limit on food. Without going into gory details, I consumed enough calories for three days in about 18 hours.

I messed up, big time.

While it wasn’t during the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to talk about it because it is very topical. There are so many events revolving around food this time of year—office parties, family get-togethers, seeing friends, bowl games, cocktails…and on and on.

So if you’re like me and are trying to eat sensibly for your health, how do you get back on track? Let me tell you a little about my situation and what I have done to grow from the experience.

I must preface this by saying I am losing weight and that is my choice for my health. I advocate healthy eating for everyone, but not weight loss to conform to society’s standards. And not “dieting” to the point you forsake all the foods you love. So if you think I’m hypocritical for being body positive and wanting to lose weight at the same time, please stop reading.

OK, now that I made the disclaimer, back to the story.

After a day of overindulging, I woke up and calculated how much I ate and drank. And I was appalled at what I had done.

You had been doing so well and now you’ve really effed it up, I told myself. Great job, Annie!

Well, I poured myself a cup of coffee and assessed how I felt.

  • I acknowledged that I ate. A lot. No sense in denying it happened. There is no one to blame but myself. No excuses. But also no beating myself up about what already happened.
  • I determined what caused me to overeat. I thought about how I was feeling at the time—depressed and bored. Depression will especially drive me to eat more than I should. Again, I’m not excusing myself, but recognizing what pushes me to turn to food.
  • I developed a strategy. I created a menu for my weekly grocery-shopping trip, which mostly consisted of fruits, veggies, healthy TV dinners, and low-sodium soups.
  • I put some guardrails in place. I blocked the websites from my two favorite pizzerias on my computer so I wouldn’t be tempted to order online. I also left my debit card in my sock drawer for the following week so I couldn’t go out for happy hour or get fast food after work.
  • I talked it out. I called one of my best friends and texted the other while I cleaned house. It reminded me that there is more to life than food and the guilt associated with it. And it also reminded me there are a lot of people who love me no matter what my size and no matter how badly I screw up.
  • I went for a two-mile walk. Enjoying the unseasonably mild fall, I walked around the neighborhood and listened to some positive, uplifting podcasts which I always have programmed into my phone. Spending time out in cool weather never fails to lift my spirits.

So I stuck carefully to the food plan I laid out. I tracked my points on my Weight Watchers app, and I stayed on the bandwagon. I called my friends or went out for a walk when I was tempted to order takeout or get a bottle of wine. I know what I need to do to overcome my depression, and I focused on me and my feelings instead of the food.

I was rewarded the next time I went to Weight Watchers—I had lost five pounds in the span of a week. That’s a drop in the bucket for me, but it is a testament to what I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s hard to say no to food or wine in the short-term, but I kept my eye on the long game. Losing weight is my goal, and acting like an adult woman in charge of her feelings resulted in real progress.

Everyone has different ways how they treat themselves after they overindulge on whatever their vice is. But please look over what I have laid out and adapt it to a plan that works for you. How can you forgive yourself when you make a mistake, but still be gentle with yourself?

Maybe you go for a bike ride. Maybe you cook a healthy dish. You talk it over with a loved one, journal, write poetry, or you have another outlet for your feelings.

Whatever it is, my hope is that you will acknowledge when you make a mistake, love yourself anyway, and come up with positive strategies for future success.

What are healthy ways you deal with depression, negative emotions, boredom, or stress? Comment below!

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Three of Mainstream Retailers Are Now Offering Plus Sizes

If you’ve been plus-size like me since you were a teenager, you know how much going shopping sucks with your straight-size friends.

You patiently go to their stores and watch them try on super cute clothes you can’t wear. Then they accompany you to Lane Bryant or Torrid. The only stores you could both enjoy would be shoe stores or Sephora.

In other words, it’s no fun.

It’s no fun to not be able to shop the same places as your straight-size friends and enjoy pulling clothes off the same racks in the same store.

That is starting to change.

Thankfully more and more merchants realize plus-size women have money—after all, we spend over $20 billion a year on plus-size clothing. And we want cute clothes. Most of all, we just want the opportunity to shop where our friends do, and some of them are stepping up to the plate. While these retailers don’t carry their new plus collections in their stores, it is definitely a good sign.

New York & Company (If you are my age, New York & Company was a staple at many malls in the 90s. I loved their clean and simple silhouettes, durable fabrics, and timeless patterns. However, by the time I hit college, I grew out of their XL size range. Even their “extended sizes” (to XXL) were cut too slim for me. Boo.

Imagine my delight when I saw their new collaboration with actress Eva Mendes to carry a new line in sizes up to an American 3X. I hurried over to check out the site (it’s only available online), but I was quickly disappointed. While the thirty-eight-piece collection isn’t bad, it’s not my aesthetic. It relies heavily on cheap materials like itchy polyester, velvet (yes, I am weird and hate velvet), and wrinkly rayon. And there were other details I didn’t like such as bell sleeves, shapeless swing dresses, and maxi-dresses for a fall/winter collection.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to check it out. My opinions are my own, and you might find it really cute. Most of the collection is 50% off as of this writing.

White House Black Market I always felt a twinge of envy walking by their stores. Black and white. Chic, timeless designs. Sign me up!

I moseyed on over to their collection of fifty-nine pieces and was again disappointed. While it was a larger offering than NY&CO, there was still a lot of reliance on polyester in their fabrics and the website wouldn’t break down the fabric percentages. That said, the jeans look particularly cute, and the blazers look nice – I particularly like the cropped black blazer. It’s worth a look!

Ann Taylor Loft This is the one I really want to see. I’ve always loved their classic style. When Chrissy Metz from This Is Us announced Ann Taylor would be carrying plus sizes starting in February 2018, I was foaming at the mouth and ready to whip out my credit card.

But I will wait and see what they have to offer. NY&CO wasn’t all that great. WHBM is a “meh” at best, so I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up too high.

It is about time more mainstream designers realize our money is just as good as anyone else’s. And if they want to snooze and miss a multibillion dollar industry, that’s their loss. I will check out the new collections, but I still prefer to support indie designers, and you should too!

Want to know the secrets to cultivating a French wardrobe? Sign up for the Plus One Woman’s mailing list to get your free ebook with a capsule wardrobe checklist and places to shop!

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.

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?

Glamour’s Special Plus-Size Edition: Worth the Cover Price?

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Would you plunk down $12.99 for a newsstand magazine? Most of us probably wouldn’t.

But when I heard Condé Nast’s Glamour magazine was doing a 96-page special summer edition for women size 12 and above called Chic at a Any Size!, I happily shelled out the hefty price for my own copy.

I want to share with you my thoughts on this expensive magazine before you get your own copy. Was it worth the investment?

 

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Yes and no.

For the most part, the magazine is has pretty standard, run-of-the-mill photo shoots with the lovely models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Iskra Lawrence. Plus-sized bloggers, designers, and models offer style tips. There are good interviews with Zac Posen on the importance of tailoring and Lena Dunham about not giving a rat’s ass what you look like no matter what size you are.

The content is evergreen and besides the good style tips, the best piece in the edition is the article “How Do You Feel About Your Body?” Sadly, American women surveyed feel worse about their bodies than in the 1980s. Social media makes it harder for women to stop comparing themselves with images they see of their friends and celebrities. I was interested to see:

  • 47% of women think they don’t need to be skinny to attractive (down from 80% in in 1984).
  • 76% of American women hate their stomachs the most. The thighs were the most maligned body part in the 1980s.

The most buzzworthy piece was a reprint of an insipid 2015 interview Amy Schumer written by her own sister. Schumer addresses sexism in comedy, rules for hooking up, and muses about her size, “…I think it’s good to see someone saying: I have a belly. And I have cellulite. And I still deserve love…And not to apologize.”

While that sounds nice, Schumer went on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week to address that. Sitting in an awkward, unladylike pose, she proclaimed, “What I learned is that people don’t really like being classified by plus-size. We don’t need these labels. It should just say what size you are, right?” To which the sheep in the audience burst into applause.

While this issue is geared to women size 12 and up and Schumer claims to be a size 6 or 8, I think she does women a disservice by calling for an end to labels.

I cannot think of a single store where plus-sized clothing is identical to the straight-sized ones. Schumer needs to realize that labels do exist. I wear many labels in the day: I am a woman, plus-sized (or even fat, I don’t mind the word), white, Midwestern, single, childless, an employee, single breadwinner, pet owner.

Labels describe me and help paint a picture, but they are not the essence of who I am. Words I use to describe myself like funny, generous, intelligent, and loyal are closer to the core of who I am than the words that pigeonhole me into categories. I’m fat. So what?

And it actually took me the first 22 years of my life to be comfortable enough in my own skin to embrace the “plus-size” label. So why is Amy Schumer knocking the term, which the issue of Glamour never uses to describe her? They say she is a “Woman We Admire,” right there on the cover with the hilarious Melissa McCarthy, eternal Adele, and the beautiful Ashley Graham (who has also been known to eschew the term “plus-size”).

If you want a pretty coffee-table caliber magazine, I think the $12.99 is worth the price. If you want some good style tips, learn about a few new clothing lines, and see body positivity in action, I highly recommend this edition.

However, almost everything here is prettily repurposed content. You probably don’t need to spend the money, but sneak a peak when you are in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Whatever you feelings, my hat’s off to Glamour for this magazine. I am excited to see their collaboration with Lane Bryant for a fall collection!

Have you seen the magazine yet? What are your thoughts on Amy Schumer? Comment below!

The Lane Bryant Ad That Was Banned & Why You Should Care

Size discrimination. The final frontier.

From mainstream media to how people treat us in everyday life, far too many people still judge us women by the number on the scale and our clothing labels.

You would think in the tolerant 21st century we would have to put up with less and less of this crap, but sadly, this is not the case.

This became sadly evident in a recent 30-second Lane Bryant commercial that was banned from the airwaves by both ABC and NBC:

Starring SI cover girl Ashley Graham, new mom Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, Georgia Pratt, and Precious Lee, this ad features plus-size models, rolls, curves and all. They boldly proclaim what their bodies allow them to do while they nurse babies, kick box, do yoga, and sport denim in stiletto heels. From wearing flowing dresses to nothing at all, these women are celebrating Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign.

It should be a celebration of all bodies, but instead, ABC has flat-out refused to run the ad. NBC won’t air the spot either, citing that the ad doesn’t meet the FCC’s “broadcast indecency guidelines.”

What’s the big deal? Why should you care?

This just goes to show that size discrimination continues to be real. OK, I get this ad isn’t appropriate for daytime TV. But let’s face it—network TV has thrown us far worse. From Paris Hilton or Charlotte McKinney selling Carl’s Jr. burgers to famous vegans stripping down for PETA, advertisers always use women who wear less than these five models to hawk their wares. But a size 16 woman?! Apparently the double standard is very real. And very not cool.

The commercial depicts very normal-sized women just like us. Lane Bryant does still have a long way to go in diversity (all the models are 14/16 and hourglass shaped), but since the average American woman is a size 14, what is it specifically that ABC and NBC object? Why shouldn’t all bodies be celebrated? Are they trying to alienate a key demographic?

What does your body allow you to do? I love this ad’s message because it celebrates our bodies’ victories no matter what the size. My size 18/20 body was made to run 5Ks, do yoga, and love this one life I have.

You have the power to make your voice heard. There are a few things you can do to make your voice heard on this subject:

  • Contact your local ABC and NBC affiliates via social media to voice your opinion.
  • Thank CBS for keeping a more open mind and allowing the commercial to air.
  • Get in touch with Lane Bryant to let them know you support their message of love at any size and their #ThisBody campaign.
  • Support Lane Bryant with your business.
  • Don’t let this be a one-and-done headline. Keep this topic of discrimination in advertising alive by discussions with your friends and family.

While this may seem like a trivial topic, it is sad two of the major three networks have intentionally decided not to air this commercial. It shows women whose size is very much the norm and it carries a message of empowerment. However, ABC and NBC have decided to cite vague obscenity laws to mask blatant size description. In the end, we, the plus-size community, lose out because our voices and images continue to be underrepresented and ignored altogether.

What do you think about the video? Are NBC and ABC being discriminatory? Comment below!