Recently in Weight/Body Image Category

Fitness progress

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As I've mentioned, I've been working pretty hard on my fitness level for the past six months. I joined a gym and have been going fairly regularly. I meant to take regular progress pictures along the way, but ended up more or less forgetting about it for many weeks at a time. Still, I've got a set of three now, and I am seeing progress in my body (though it's honestly nothing compared to how I feel), so I thought I'd share. The first picture is at week 6, the second at week 16, and the third today, at week 25:

Progress picture--week 6Progess picture--week 16Progress picture--week 25

Progress picture--week 6Progress Picture--week 16Progress picture--week 25

Seeing the pictures is really, really helpful. It's motivating, and it makes it really easy to see where I've been. So for those who are on similar journeys, I can't recommend picture taking enough.

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April workout summary

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Got my Fitlinxx report today, so I thought I'd share. In April, I increased cardio and decreased weight training. I went to the gym 14 times, so pretty much every other day.

Fitlinxx.jpg

I'd like to see that weight lifting number come up a little bit, but I'm very proud of the cardio. Overall, it was a good month.

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wow... that little gadget is pretty neat. I had never looked at lifting weights in those terms before! I bet it is really motivating... heck I'm motivated to get back into some strength training!

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Fashion Beauty Friend Friday #1: Feminism

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I finally got around to joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday group! I am stoked to say that the first questions I'll be answering are on the subject of feminism!

1. Do you think there is an incompatibility between feminism and a love for fashion?

Sad as it is, and unpopular as this answer may be, yes, I do. I don't think the incompatibility is inherent--it would be possible, in a perfect world, to be a feminist who loves fashion and never feel competing pressures, but in the world in which I actually live, there are a lot of ways in which fashion is most certainly not feminist. Fashion is strictly gendered, and much, if not most, of it is tied in tightly with the beauty myth. Fashion has, for centuries, pressured women to wear clothes and shoes and makeup that hobble, constrict, and even, occasionally, kill us. It's hard to see any of that as compatible with feminism.

2. There is more to each of us than a love for fashion, how do you incorporate every aspect of yourself into your blog?

As I am only incidentally and recently a fashion blogger, this one is pretty easy--my blog is, first and foremost, about me. I post, for the most part, about whatever is on my mind or interesting to me at the moment in which I am writing. This gives a pretty well-rounded picture of who I actually am.

3. With the fashion industry still being a male-dominated profession, how do you think it would differ if women played a larger role?

I am not sure it would be much different, honestly. I'd like to think that if women were in charge, we'd have more option in terms of sizing, styles, and politically and ecologically conscious garments, but honestly, I don't believe it. Now as much as ever before, women are so often complicit in their own oppression, and I think that's pretty clear in the fashion industry.

4. How is your self-image and the way you carry yourself informed by your beliefs?

I have worked hard for a long time to get where I am in terms of self image. I spent years wishing I was smaller, wishing I was pretty, rather than "distinctive," wishing I looked like somebody else. But as I've gotten older, I've been able to slowly learn to appreciate the body I was given. Part of it is finding good role models, people who look a bit more like me than the average pop star or model does, and being able to recognize their beauty. It's a constant work in progress, though.

5. Do you think clothing/makeup/hair helps communicate the truth about yourself or are those things superfluous add-ons?

Both? I think some aspects of how I look communicate the truth about me--the colors I choose, the vintage styles I gravitate towards--those things feel authentic. But it's pretty hard for me to argue that my daily efforts to make my skin look better, eyelashes look longer, or hair look shinier have much to do with my essential self.

Be sure to check out the list on Modly Chic to read more answers to these questions!

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Could I be interested in men's fashion and not be indulging an anti-feminist interest? Is it the industry that's the problem or is the issue of gender the underlying problem?

Maybe a better way to approach the question would be, what would feminist fashion look like?

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Goal progress: have I become a gym rat?

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I know I need to do a monthly goal round up for February, and I will get to that, but I wanted to share some specific goal progress with you first.

feb fitlinxx.jpg

What you see above is my monthly FitLinxx report. FitLinxx is a system used by my gym (and lots of other gyms) to help users track their progress and work towards goals. The cardiovascular and weight training machines I use have FitLinxx capabilities added to them, so that my workouts are automatically logged every time I go to the gym. My previous stats (like how many sets and reps I did and at what weight, for example) are saved and shown to me when I log in to a machine, so I don't have to remember what weight or which other settings to use. Cool, huh?

I started using FitLinxx on February 5 (I started going to the gym in mid-January, but it took me a few weeks to meet with a trainer and get set up in the system). Between that day and the end of the month (23 days), this report tells me that I:
-visited the gym 13 times (a bit more than every other day)
-did 297 minutes of cardio (about 23 minutes per visit)
-lifted 189,380 pounds (about 13,568 per visit)

Those are interesting stats. The third one doesn't tell me all that much without a basis of comparison, but the first two tell me I'm close to where I want to be with using the gym (going 3-4 days/week and doing 25-30 minutes of cardio each time). It's not a triathlete's schedule, but I'm shooting for consistent and doable, not Wonder Woman.

I was surprised to see I'd burned only 2,604 calories in 13 gym visits--that's only about 200 calories in each visit. However, I realized that the system is only counting calories burned while doing cardio, not weight lifting. I suspect I burn an additional 100 or more with each weight lifting session, since they take 30-45 minutes.

Overall, I think this report will be a lot more helpful next month, when I have a means of comparison. Still, I do love keeping track of things, so this appeals to my inner geek quite nicely. Do any of you have a set gym routine? Do you/how do you track it?

I'm also taking progress pictures, since the numbers aren't moving on my scale and I need to convince myself I'm doing some aesthetic good, as well as making myself feel good. These ones are from a couple of weeks ago. Please excuse the goonie grin. And the visible sweat marks. I iz sexy.

Progress picture--week 6
Progress picture--week 6

I plan to take progress shots every 4-6 weeks. So far, I feel very very good about how things are going.

3 Comments

That's such a cool program. I think my gym has it too, I should check it out.

You look really fantastic too.

Looking good girl. Keep up the good work. As summer approaches you'll also get some outdoor workouts in, but don't let that distract you from a regular routine.
I am such a slouch so let my failure motivate you. Do not end up like me!

Did I tell you you look amazing? And that you are amazing? Because I've been meaning to leave that comment for a month or more.

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So some days, it's a chilly Wednesday morning and you just wake up with that va-va-voom feeling. I say go with that.

However, it would behoove you (you meaning me, of course) not to balance your camera on a stack of shiny vintage saucers to photograph your hawtness. Because glare? Not hot.

Sorry about these pictures. I just didn't have time to re-do them.

30for30 Day 14

30for30 Day 14'

30for30 Day 14

And, because it is cold, the cardigan contingency plan. With pattern mixing, even!

30for30 Day 14

I'm wearing:
#1 Charter Club black with white mini polka dot straight shirt dress (thrifted)
#20 Charter Club red and black cropped cardigan (thrifted, also worn on Day #6)
#26 Antia black laced wedges (also worn on Day #4, Day #9, and Day #11)

With:
-brick red elastic belt with brass bird closure (Ross, I think)
-silver hoop earrings (some little shop in Boston)
-black tights (Hue, TJ Maxx or Marshall's)

Now, on to my rant. Yesterday, I had the displeasure of overhearing one of those "she was so fat..." conversations. It was, of course, couched in polite terms, like "not good for her health," but it was really your basic judging talk about how some woman had "let herself go." And the kicker? The part where one of the conversants said, "she must weigh close to 200 pounds."

OK. Go back up to the top and look at my pictures. The woman in those shots, as of this morning, weighs 223.6 pounds. Yes, I am also six feet tall, but even at my height, that puts my (bullshit) body mass index at 30.3. Obesity is a BMI of 30 or greater.

I have been working very hard over the past seven weeks to improve my physical condition. I attend the gym 3-5 days a week (shoot for 5, insist on 3, usually end up with 4) for 60-90 minutes. I do a trainer-created weight routine and a 30 minute cardio routine at each visit. I can feel myself getting stronger, and I'm observing changes in my body (and needing belts for my pants). What I am not doing, however, is losing any weight. I have been fluctuating between 220 and 225 lbs the whole time, depending on time of day/place of day in cycle. I haven't lost an ounce. Still just as "obese" as I was seven weeks ago.

I'm realizing, the more I get into feeling better and being stronger, that it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference if I ever lose any weight. I like the way I look, and the more I work out, the better I like the way I feel. As a clotheshorse, I would like to go down 1-2 clothing sizes, just for the sake of easier availability, but if I can do that without ever getting below that dreaded 200 lb. mark, that is totally fine with me.

My point, I guess, is two-fold. First, this is what a 223.6 lb woman looks like. I think some people are confused. Second, the number has almost no relationship with how you feel. I feel miles better than I did when I started trying to get into shape. I've made huge progress. And the scale just isn't any part of that.

13 Comments

You look fantastic.

Wooohhhoooo Gracie!! Yer killin me with your hottness!

I love this post. You look fantastic.

The gorgeous-factor between you and Skye was a little overwhelming to me when I met you! It would never have occurred to me to guess the weight of anyone and I completely agree that it's about how you feel that counts the most.

I am not six feet tall and weigh quite a bit more than you. I lost a little weight before the holidays (have since gained it back) and the one thing I really appreciated about it was that lightening up made it easier to do Kung Fu. I have been more focused on physical stamina than on weight (being able to ride my bicycle downtown and back without being exhausted, getting through an hour and fifteen minute combat circuit training Kung Fu class, etc)

To feel strong is so amazing. The day I finally could do five full push-ups made me ridiculously happy.

I do miss being able to wear great clothes.

Grace you are so right people are so connected to the number they have no idea what it looks like. You look fabulous, just radiant. Feeling strong is an amazing power knowing you can do things like lift weight or run for 30 minutes is such a huge boost to our self image.

This is a lovely post and was quite encouraging for me :-) Thanks. You rawk.

DAAAMMMMNNNN!! *whistles* You are Hawt!

Love this post, Grace. As an ACTIVE plus size woman I can relate to just about everything in it.

I love this dress on you. You are tall, confident, and beautiful. We are real people blogging about fashion - what could be more beautiful than that. Women who support other women rule!

I stumbled upon your blog somehow while looking at pictures of puppies and couldn't stop reading. Your comments here about weight are absolutely amazing, and I love you for them!

As a plus-size girl who can't get a break when it comes to the terror of the scale, I am inspired by your pictures and your honesty. :D

From one "Obese" girl to another, thanks!

You look great - I LOVE that dress!!
I have overhead many of those same coversations and they bother me on so many levels. For starters, the assumption that anything more than a size 6 is fat, as well as the assumption that "fat" is bad or unattractive.

As someone who weighs close to 200 lbs and is a size 12, I can relate. No one ever believes I weigh as much as I do because "You're not fat! There's no way you weigh that much."

Really? Tell that to my scale and my the scale at the doctor's office.

My BMI is pretty high too, but I have never had a doctor tell me I need to lose weight. Would I like to be in better shape? Absolutely! I'm exercising and eating better with being healthier in mind. If I lose weight in the process that's fine. If not, oh well.

175 here, at 5'7". NOT fat, not even close. YOU, my dear are an Amazon, and totally hot! The number doesn't matter. IF you are trying to be in better shape, you are doing exactly the right thing. And muscle tissue is much denser than fat, so the numbers are not likely to go south. I'd be much more concerned with someone who looked down, than someone who has put on weight. That's what I think of as "having let one's self go."

And that red cardigan, is the perfect color for you!

I think the glare was actually steam because you were looking so hot! Thanks so much for your honesty about money and weight. It is refreshing and why are a role model to so many of your readers!

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Measure twice

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Let me just warn you at the outset: this is going to be a post about my boobs.

Now then.

I have long complained, often and loudly, about bras. They cut, they dig in, they aren't comfortable, and my GOD how can you wear one with a wire? It was beyond me. And I always end the rant with a little thankful prayer that my chest is small enough not to have to wear a bra every day, or ever wear one with a wire. The wonder of being flat-chested.

The last time I went down this particular path, someone stopped me. "But," she said, "you're not flat-chested! I've seen you!"

"I am," I assured her. "I wear a 36B. And I'm a big girl. That's pretty flat on this body."

And even though she was online, I could hear her laughing. "I think," she said, "that you should get measured."

I was indignant. I've BEEN measured. I headed the grrl-power advice years ago, going to a department store with a big group of friends and all getting measured. That's how I knew I was a 36B.

And already I suspect you know the punchline. "Years ago?" she asked. "How many years? Which years? Your breasts can grow well up into your twenties."

How many years, indeed. Nearly six, as it turns out. And those formative, 24-30 ones. With at least a ten pound weight gain each year. So I tromped out and had my chest measured.

I'm sure it surprises nobody who has read this far that I was wearing the wrong size bra. Wrong band size, wrong cup size. And when I started trying on bras in the correct size, they did, magically, seem to become far less irritating garments.

The really weird part, though, is not how someone so relatively intelligent could not think of the fact that her size might change over time (just like her sizes in everything else, including shoes, have). The weird part is how I feel differently about myself. I have the exact same boobs I did when I was wearing smaller bras, but they feel heavier now, fuller, bigger. They don't feel like a flat chest. They feel like substantial, adult boobs.

I'm 30 and I think I just finished puberty.

8 Comments

Oh, Bubchen, has anyone told you about Aunt Flo? Some day soon, you will be a woman...

Hand to God, that's how my mother referred to it, and of course, when it happened, she let everyone know.

Dude. I had the same experience. I was a 36C and then gained lots of weight over the years. I just got a larger band size. Finally, I got measured in my mid-30s and found out I'm a DD! No wonder I hated bras so.

And, I also experienced feeling differently about my boobs after hearing they were DD. I think I pointed it out to Mark like a dozen times...like they were new boobs or something. :)

Congrats on getting sized! :) May you enjoy shopping for bras now that they're not torture traps anymore.

I have always wondered what the point of non-wire bras are. Seriously if I am sitting up or standing for more than 15 mins, it's torture without a bra.

Welcome to the comfy bra club!

Sigh. I'm 31 and I think I still wear an A cup. When you get down into those sizes, you don't have any choices other than a) the exact same bra your mom bought you when you were in the 6th grade, b) something scary, with cantilevers and padding and a flying buttress, or c) a sports bra. Target makes lots of cute ones.

@ganymede, I feel your pain. I avoid sales folks because they try to sell me underwire bras. TO HOLD UP WHAT EXACTLY?

The only thing more torturous than ill-fitting bras is SHOPPING for bras. After moderate weight loss (10-15 pounds), it took me 18 months to find anything other than nursing bras that fit without gapping, spilling out, cutting in, etc. And no, the weight loss had nothing to do with babies. I then dropped $150+ on TWO bras which were the most comfortable things ever, and which I wore until they wore out.

Getting fitted at an upscale lingerie shop is totally worth it. And Victoria's Secret bras work for very few ladies. Those are my stories about bras.

I am happy that it finally occurred to you to get refitted. I basically have to every time because they change a just enough all the time. Its SOOOO hard to find a bra for me because I have "huge tracks o land" (monty python anyone?) I am a 36 DDDD no kidding. Thankfully they balance out my hips, lol you can imagine my hips. But if I go with out a bra for more than say 20 min, my back ACHES! They are heavy so my straps totally cut into my shoulders. For this reason I would totally try a corset. I figure it would make me sit up strait and sit too much and my shoulders would feel better. lol Wear a corset under a t-shirt and mini skirt, that would be funny!

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Justify my lunch

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What you see here is today's lunch: a greasy, cheesy, lovely pizza. After just telling you yesterday that I was watching what I'm eating. Looking lovingly at it before I cut into it today, it occurred to me that it made an excellent example of several of my current dietary "rules," and as such it might be a good time to discuss them here. Besides, I don't feel like cleaning.

So how I justify this pizza? Well, with my rules!

Rule #1: Eat food that is made of food.
My #1 goal right now is to minimize the amount of chemical-laden processed junk I eat and call food. The processed junk eating is the most embarrassing and probably most harmful of my eating habits, and it's a hard one to break. I love fast food. I love snack cakes, and Oreos, and soda. I love all manner of things that parents don't feed to their children. But I'm learning, slowly, that at least some of my cravings for those things can be met with food that may not exactly be healthy, but is at least made by a person. In this case, I craved pizza. This isn't unusual--I adore pizza. Rather than phoning up Pizza Hut and ordering a deep dish Pepperoni Lover's (which I have been known to do), I made my own pizza. Yes, the sauce and the crust dough were pre-made from Trader Joe's, but they were made of food ingredients. Yes, pepperoni is a processed food. But still, making this pizza at home was a hell of a lot better option than ordering one from a chain. Tastier, too.

Note that this includes fake "diet" food. I've never used artificial sweeteners, because I think they are nasty and suspect, but I have, in the past, been known to reach for chemically enhanced low fat products. No more. I really do think it's healthier for me to have something that is full of real fat (like, say, regular ice cream) than scary compounds (like, say, Skinny Cow ice cream).

Rule #2: If you can add vegetables, add vegetables.
Though my craving was for pepperoni pizza, I knew my enjoyment wouldn't be diminished in the slightest by having other, healthier items present along with my beloved pepperoni. So, when I made the pizza, I put a thick layer of spinach leaves under the cheese, and added a couple of big handfuls of pre-cooked onions and red and yellow bell peppers on with the pepperoni. This didn't alter the caloric value of the pizza significantly one way or the other, but it did sneak at least one veggie serving into my day, and it tasted great. I can use veggies this way in many of my favorite things, and enjoy them as much or more as I do sans veggies. This may be a little bit of a juvenile tip, but hey, I'm a juvenile eater.

Rule #3: Don't mess with what you really want.
This may sound like it contradicts Rule #2, but it really doesn't. It was fine for me add veggies to the pizza, because I knew I'd like it just as well with as without them. However, other ways of trying to make it "more healthy' would seriously diminish my enjoyment of it. Soy cheese or soy pepperoni, or whole-wheat crust, would leave me unsatisfied. I'd probably eat more than two slices, and I still wouldn't have had what I really want. This has been a major issue with most of the diets I've tried in the past--the idea that a half-assed lower calorie version of something is a good substitute. It's not. If you honestly don't mind whole wheat or soy versions, or (gag) fat free cheese, or whatever, then by all means use them (although a lot of that stuff directly contradicts Rule #1). But for me, those things really kinda ruin the experience, and unsatisfied Grace doesn't last very long on a diet. So, this pizza was made with a white crust, real mozzarella, and real pepperoni. Because that's what I really wanted. And I ate two pieces of it (about a quarter of the whole) and felt very satisfied.

A corollary to this rule, call it Rule #3.5, is don't bother with what you don't really want. A few days ago, my friend The Princess had a great post about how she's decided that carrot cake is just really not worth it to her. I agree. Not just about carrot cake, but about a lot of things that I like OK, but not well enough to feel indulgent eating. If I'm going to eat something I like just OK, it may as well actually be healthy. Otherwise, it's not worth it.

Rule #4: Allow yourself to be lazy.
It's almost as embarrassing to admit as the fast food love, but one of the major reasons I eat so much junk food is laziness. I really like most fruits and vegetables, for example--I don't avoid them due to distaste for them. It's much easier, when I'm feeling snacky, to grab a handful of chips or a prepackaged something than it is to prepare something healthy, even if "prepare" just means "wash and chop." I can't really justify this laziness, but I've learned that if my ultimate goal is better eating habits, it does me more good to admit and work with it than to try to cure it. For some people, this means buying pre-cut fruit and veggie trays, and I think that's just fine. For me, at least today, it meant that when I decided to put peppers and onions on my pizza, I cooked up a whole batch--two or three times what I needed for the pizza. Now, tomorrow or the next day, when I want a sandwich or something that I could put peppers and onions on, they'll be ready to go, and I won't have laziness to use as an excuse to leave them off. This is also why I use pre-made dough and sauce from Trader Joe's. Would it be cheaper/healthier if I made it myself? Probably. Would I do it? Probably not.

Rule #5: Put away the leftovers first.
When this pizza came out of the oven, I cut it into four parts. I put one part (two slices) on my plate, then designated the rest as leftovers. If it hadn't been something hot, I would have wrapped it up and put it away before I ever started eating. As it needed to cool, I just had to do it mentally. I have a bad tendency to continue nibbling on things after I finished my first serving of them. I don't take a second serving, I just cut tiny piece after tiny piece more, until it's all gone. I do this whether I am still hungry or not. If I don't leave things out, though, this isn't possible. Had I still been hungry when I finished my two slices of pizza, I'd have eaten something else, like some fruit--I have no desire to stop myself from eating when I'm hungry--but having the leftovers put away tells me that there's no more of whatever it is I started out eating. For some reason, that really helps.

I don't know how helpful any of these rules would be to anybody else, or how much they echo any particular diet plan. Though I've never been a huge diet follower myself, that stuff does sort of seep into your brain. For me, they really do seem to go a long way in allowing me to work on my eating and not feel deprived and angry about it. I know the desire to eat junk is never going to be fully conquered--for whatever reason, I'm not built that way--but I can get myself used to a better quality of junk, and hopefully less of it. And that's a good start.

6 Comments

Yum! Looks delicious. We all have our own "food rules" and it sounds like yours are helping you keep from feeling deprived!

Great rules! We are working at eating food that is better for us as well.

I make homemade pizza ALL the freakin' time, Grace, and I have a really simple way to make pizza sauce, Grace. 8 oz can of tomato sauce + 6oz can paste. Mix together in pan and heat, add spices to taste. Voila. It's the perfect consistency.

It is so cool that you point out Rule #2. I use that all the time! I know logically that the Southwest Salad from McD's w/its tortilla chip pieces and cheese and dressing is NOT all-around healthy, but the fact that I'm eating a big bowl of lettuce in addition to the yummy tortilla chip pieces, makes it work.

I fight with myself on #3 all the time. I constantly go back and forth.

And, the problem w/Rule #4 (b/c I try to do that one, too) is that it usually costs more to get things already cut up or whatever, and we're on a budget. *sigh* But, I do try.

Great rules!

I really like the idea of just put it away before you eat. That hadn't occurred to me before. I eat and then keep eating until its gone or I am TOO full. Thanks for the tip.

Some of these are really similar to my own food rules, actually.

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Spring Wardrobe Therapy Opening Questionaire

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I got this from Unmitigated, who got it from Spring Wardrobe Therapy at The Sky is Bigger There. I'm enthused about the project. The ground rules are here. Given my inability to stick with anything lately, I have no idea if I'm in for the long run, but I thought I'd at least give the opening questions a try.

joan.jpgThinking primarily (but not necessarily exclusively) about looks, who's your favorite performer of your own gender and species? Why?

I don't tend to pay a whole lot of attention to celebrity fashion or anything like that, so when I think "performer," what really comes to mind is character. So I'm going to go with that and say Joan, Christina Hendricks' character on Mad Men. She is so pulled together, and her body is her biggest and best accessory. She oozes confidence. I love her look.

40s clothes.jpgIf you could live in any historic era with a really good clothing budget (as well as soap, toothpaste, and delicing as needed), when would you choose?

Definitely the 40s and early 50s. I love the structured look of the dresses, the curvy shapes, and the attention to small details.

What's your favorite painting or other form of visual art? Why?

There is no way I can pick just one. I love collage and multi-media art. I love graphic abstract painting. I love Surrealists. I love Frida Kahlo.

What is your first memory in which clothes are important?

I don't remember a time in which clothes weren't important, but my first memory of being really concerned about clothes is as a small kid, maybe 4(?). I insisted on dresses and sunbonnets because I wanted to look like I would be at home on Little House on the Prairie.

What is your favorite garment ever? Why?

Once upon a time, I had perfect jeans. I don't even remember details about then, I just remember thinking they were perfect, and wearing them to shreds.

158409TMO1R.jpgWhat is your favorite garment in your wardrobe right now?

I recently got brown Franco Sarto Moto boots that I can't stop wearing. Love them.

What is the worst clothing purchase you can remember making?

I made bad clothing purchases all the time. The worst is when I try to follow trends or styles that just don't work for me, though. Every time I try to dress conservatively it ends up being a pretty huge disaster.

What's your most embarrassing clothing-related memory other than a bad purchase?

I walked at least a mile through a city one day with the back of my dress tucked into my underwear.

What body part (no more than three!) are you proud of and expect compliments on?

I don't know that I expect compliments, but I have a nice back, a nice collarbone/upper chest area, and long legs.

What body part (again, no more than three!) seems to require management, if not coaxing, cajoling, and sometimes outright begging if it's to please you?

My big feet, large arms, and height.

If you could dress however you wanted all the time, what might you include?

Lots more dresses and tights or leggings. Jeans that fit just right. Boots, boots, boots.

If you could shop at any store (or from any designer), which would you choose?

I'd shop 100% vintage and handmade stuff, if time/money/size allowed.

Where do you ordinarily shop now?

I mostly thrift, but I end up with a lot of Ann Taylor.

What clothing, accessory, or prettifying need (if any) do you enjoy shopping for?

Pretty much all of it.

Which one do you most loathe shopping for?

Bra shopping bugs me. Shoe shopping, if I can't do it online, is frustrating.

Do you consider yourself low-, medium-, or high-maintenance?

Medium.

What are the two most frequent occasions that you dress for and how would you describe them?

If I don't include being at home, which I don't really dress for, I mostly dress to go out casually (movies, dinner, etc.) and to do errands.

Wonder Woman 2What was your favorite Hallowe'en costume ever?

Wonder Woman.

What do you see as the current problem(s) with your wardrobe and/or look?

Boredom. Having clothes that I have no reason to wear.

At the end of WT, what lovely compliments do you want onlookers to give you?

I'd basically just like to be comfortable in my wardrobe, and feel like it's original and well-executed.

1 Comments

If I were there, or you were here, we'd be thrifting buddies. I even like to stop for coffees.

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As beauty does

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I've always hated the way I photograph. I don't believe I am ugly, but I sure look that way on film a lot of the time. I'm not one of those people who shies away from cameras, because I really feel like photographs are important historical markers and memory devices, but I'm always inwardly groaning when I see a camera pointed in my direction.

Or at least I was. Over the past year, two things have happened to change my photo phobia. The first, which I told you about before, was having my picture taken by the amazing and inspirational Karen Walrond. Karen is soon to release a book of words and pictures called "The Beauty of Different," and I can't wait to get my copy. I know from my own mini-session with her that she has an amazing talent, both when she's behind the camera and when she's not, for making you feel like everything about you is fine, is, in fact, beautiful. I can't thank her enough for what she did for me in just a brief meeting (and one of the pictures she took the day I met her may end up in the book!).

The second thing is actually a little bit funny. I got a computer with Photo Booth, and I started playing with it. Photo Booth is a little bit like a mirror with a response mechanism--you can take a million pictures of yourself, and it's easy to see, right away, what "works" and what doesn't. Using it has taught me something I probably should have figured out already--photographing well is about how you hold yourself. Anybody can take a bad picture, and people who take consistently good ones have either learned how to hold themselves to make themselves look good, or do so naturally. The flaws I have always seen in pictures of myself aren't due to my being ugly, or to some devil that lives inside the camera, but mostly to my carriage when having my picture taken. I learned that, somewhere along the line, and I can unlearn it.

Since I'm feeling all body positive and open today, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Photo Booth experiments:

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5 Comments

Beautiful!!! What a great outlook to have. I'm one of those who hates having pictures taken of myself; something I'm regretting since I have so few candid shots of me with my daughter. I just always have that stuck out chin that photographs horribly...LOL

Love the pic with the wine!!! :)

Lovely photographs! I am in the same boat. I don't think I am ugly, but I always think I look dreadful in pictures and dread them as a result. And I know this anxiety/awkwardness just contributes to more bad pictures of me. I've often thought I should experiment more with self-portraits to try to get better about it, so I'm glad to hear it worked for you!

LOVE. Miss you.

Those are great! You have beautiful lips. Really! :)

I've been that way about photos, too. Great way to be positive!

You are so pretty!

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Black tie for the big boned

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With the exception of my high school proms (yes, I went to more than one prom--four, actually), I've never been to a black tie event. So, when I heard that Mark's brother's wedding, coming up the first week in September, was going to be formal, I was almost as excited as I was annoyed. Mark will have to wear a tux and I can wear something fancy! Fun! Visions floated through my mind of a simple, sexy, incredibly sophisticated dress (cut on the bias, of course) and a fun throwback hair fascinator. There could possibly be pin-curls or finger waves. In my mind, I saw myself as a 1930s starlet--Myrna Loy, maybe, or Grace Kelly.

You know where this is going already, don't you?

Friends, I am not built like Myrna Loy or Grace Kelly. On a really, really good day and with a very padded bra, maybe Mae West. The simple, sleek dresses I was envisioning were never going to work on someone with a wide ass, powerful thighs, blacksmith arms, and a tummy role. So, I widened my search.

Since the main problem is my ample bottom, I thought, maybe a wider skirted dress is what I need. With that in mind, I ordered a princess pink Vera Wang dress from Bluefly, thinking maybe I could do a Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Oscars kind of thing. I knew it wasn't going to work the minute I took it out of the (huge) box. Your humble narrator is not so much the pink princess type. The skirt on that thing could have double as a two-person tent. And the color...I looked not so much like a pig, which is what I was afraid of with the pink dress, as like a champagne fountain made with Tequila Rose. Or a Pepto-Bismol explosion. It was truly, frighteningly, horrible.

So it went back. And I thought some more. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I don't even like, is not a good style role model. What about someone a bit curvier? Liv Tyler may not be my exact shape, but she's a lot closer than Gwyneth, and she rocks an empire-waisted dress like nobody's business. Empire waists are also a go-to for the pregnant and famous crowd, and while I am not pregnant, I am beginning to have a belly that could be mistaken for it. Maybe when I was thinking 1930s, I wasn't going back far enough. I needed to go back to when plump women were the norm in the classes who dressed up. I needed an Edwardian dress.

So, I made my second order. From Nordstrom, I ordered a gorgeous navy beaded Adrianna Papell gown. I'd look busy and floaty and Renaissancesque, I told myself.

When it came, I liked the look of it. Not a huge skirt, but a multi-layered and loose-fitting one. Pretty beading. And not boring--it didn't look just like what I imagined everyone else would be wearing. Plus, there was enough going on that I wasn't going to have to worry too much about a lot of jewelry. I imagined myself, fleetingly, as a Cate Blanchett figure, an absolutely classic beauty, resplendent in an empire waist when pregnant or playing Queen Elizabeth.

And then the damn thing wouldn't zip. It was, of all things, too small in the bust. I need to be pre-menstrual to fill a C cup, and the dress wouldn't zip past my lower rib cage. Who, I ask, is it supposed to fit? And of course, the too-small bust size was the largest size the dress came in.

So back to square one I went. With less than three weeks before I needed to wear it, no dress. I decided to hope that the bust issue was a brand thing and not a problem I was going to have with all dresses of that style, and gave it another go. I ordered a royal blue OC by Oleg Cassini beaded silk chiffon dress, again from Nordstrom (because they have a good return policy). I'd looked at this dress before, then rejected it because the blue seems too bright, and the only other color it seems to be available in is white (an obvious no-no). But at this point, I'm desperate. It has the empire waist I've decided is pure fat girl gold, and I like the exposed back, as my back is one of my better body parts. I'm not totally sure it's not going to come and make me look like Gigantor Smurf, but it's worth a shot. If it does work out, I can tone it down some with neutral shoes and a bag, and skip the hair fascinator I was set on and go with a French twist or something. With a bit of a cleavage boost, I think I'll still have the capacity to look ethereally Edwardian. At least I hope so.

So the issue here? Same as with most clothes. I am not built the way I'd need to be to wear the styles that appeal to most to my aesthetics. It's not rocket science--sleek styles are not good for a non-sleek body. When it comes to my day-to-day wear, I've mostly learned to adapt to that already. I don't try to wear skinny jeans, for example. Doesn't matter how much the style appeals to me if I am just not built for it. But, since formal wear is something new to me, it's taking a few tries to translate what I already know about my body plus clothing into that realm. And, as usual, the manufacturers don't help. At my current size, I am sometimes able to get into the largest available size of "regular sized" dresses. Any bigger, and I'd need plus sized wear. That would make things exponentially worse. A search of formal dresses available in size 16 and up gives me very little hope about what I am going to do if the blue dress doesn't fit. This navy silk Tadishi dress comes in size 16, so it might work. There are a few strapless styles I could try, but I'd almost definitely have to have them altered. Mostly, though, you go above size 14 and you start getting two-pieced ensembles and dresses with sleeves. Not stuff I'm going to feel comfortable in when I am, in fact, not the mother of the bride. Almost all of the plus-sized styles have lacy stuff or embellishment or gauzy stuff on them. Nothing sleek.

In the grand scheme, this is not a major catastrophe. I can find something to wear, and it's not my wedding anyway, so what I wear is, ultimately, unimportant. However, it just serves as one more example of why women my size and larger get so frustrated about clothes. I have the money to buy a nice dress, I'm willing to spend it, and the dress just doesn't exist. Given the U.S. weight statistics, and all the scare-mongering about how horribly fat we all are, there have to be quite a few women in my demographic on this one. Shouldn't someone be catering to us? And not with second-rate, style-free, dowdy clothes, but with stuff that's actually stylish and becoming and well-made? Doesn't a fat girl's cash spend as well as a skinny one's?

13 Comments

Okay, I have taken the liberty of sending a link to your post to Sally McGraw at Already Pretty. I am a size 14/16 and would like to know what she has to say on the topic, as well.
BTW, we are NOT fat. We have beautiful, womanly curves.

Well, as I have learned for "More to Love" (which I would like you to watch on Hulu while putting me on speakerphone so I can laugh at you swearing), fat girls never leave the house, so why would they need fancy dresses?

I have had VERY good luck with ebay. Chancy, yes, but good dresses have sizing in INCHES which is easy to tell if it fits.

Have you looked at Boden? They probably have nothing fancy enough. J. Crew? Ye Olde Target Bridesmaids line? Lands End sometimes has stuff too.

Honestly, I know this will make me sound like a shill, but dept stores have done the best for me here. Why not go into a physical Nordstrom? Better yet--JC Penney, or yes, Sears. Honestly they make dresses for mothers of brides and other formal occasions that come in real people sizes. Because that's where real America shops. :)

And then just tell everyone you got it at Nords.

There's also consignment places. Amazon has some reasonable ones, but all of the dress places I know for bridal type stuff take bridesmaidlike amounts of time to ship.

Hi, I totally relate to this post. I, too, have the ability to shop at Nordstrom, but I always get annoyed that they completely forget anyone above a size 12. I'm right on the cusp between regular and plus-size (some misses are too tight, but the same item in plus is sometimes too big), and I still have a hard time finding anything at Nordstrom that looks good. Anyway, I recommend you take a peek at the Macy's plus-size shop. Here, I think it's called Macy's 14-24 or something, but it carries larger sizes. Every year, my husband and I attend a black-tie event, and more often than not, I get my outfits at the Macy's plus-size store. Some of their clothes can be frumpy, but they also have a fairly wide selection of cute, flattering dresses. Good luck!

I think that the new blue dress is going to look lovely on you. Can we see pictures when you get it?

I've had my best luck for formal wear to be a 'plus' specialty shop that's semi-local (Kansas City).

They cater to brides and bridesmaids, but have nice formals, too.

Now, I'm of the age to be the mother of the bride, so I actually LIKE the formals with the jackets. I have a wedding to go to in October, so I'm looking at dresses to wear to it.

I know that you're aiming for elegant, but I think that knee(ish)-length dresses can be really elegant. Plus, you have fabulously long legs, which you should show off! I've recently fallen in love with shorter formal dresses, and I found some cute ideas by Googling "short party dress".

Also, in the process I stumbled upon this blog: Fat Stylist. I'm hesitant to recommend it, because I don't like the word "fat", and I don't think it fits you, but she has a great page about short formal dresses (these for New Year's Eve) in real-woman sizes, not to mention some other things that you might find helpful in your search for evening wear that fits.

You're much more knowledgeable about blogs than I am, so I wouldn't be surprised if you already knew about this site. Just thought I'd share!

Just a thought, but there are lots of seamstresses out there (me included) who would love to custom-make an evening gown. No, you can't try it on before you buy it, but it will fit right the first time around if your seamstress is any good, shape issues aside. I created a wedding dress for a cousin who, frankly, is shaped like a large square and the pattern didn't even come in her size. It was heavenly. I also made an evening gown for a friend that fit her budget ($100), her body (curvy in all the right places, but hard to fit into commercial sizes), and her personality (bright red, racy, and with a subtle sheen). Both were extremely pleased with their purchases, and asked for my business cards to hand out.

Well, I obviously don't know much about upscale etiquette. But dressing up is super fun, and I'm glad the blue dress is a go!

Girl I totally feel you on this. I have the same dilemma for a cousin's wedding. And whenever I go shopping i think the same thing: for the fattest country in the world, we sure seem to stock a whole lot of super skinny people clothes and not much of anything else. it's frustrating~~!!
however: we are NOT fat! we are curvacious! and anyone who can't see and appreciate that isn't worth the time we'd spend talking to them.

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Beautiful

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As I mentioned, one of the best things to happen to me at BlogHer was to meet, chat with, and have my picture taken by Karen Walrond. I can tell you, now, why Karen is such a great portrait photographer. She makes you feel beautiful while she's doing it. Having my picture taken makes me all kinds of nervous, and yet when Karen had her camera all up in my face, even though it was in a room full of people and exactly the type of situation guaranteed to send me running for a benzo, I felt calm. I felt safe, like she wasn't going to laugh at whatever came out of the camera. She's just got that kind of presence.

I didn't automatically like all the pictures she sent me. When I first looked at them, I wanted to criticize myself--bad skin, frizzy hair, all that. I looked and thought, "why did I, on that day of all days, not bother with makeup?" But there is something else, too. I see Karen, pointing out to me on the little screen on her camera what she sees in this shot or that one. Pointing out my pretty. (As it turns out, I can share that with you, too--while Karen was taking my picture, Bossy was taking Karen's.) And it really, really helps. I know that I am not and likely never will be the type of person who just takes good pictures naturally. I'm all angles and planes and I make funny faces and I show way too many teeth and I usually look gawky and geeky and awkward, because that's pretty much how I feel. Like them or not, though, none of the pictures Karen sent me are gawky, geeky, or awkward. Even the ones I didn't automatically love I could see myself in, and not be embarrassed.

And then there is that one shot: the one I was hoping for. The one that I can look at and see exactly what I look like, to myself, inside. What I hope I look like to everyone who sees me. The one that shows who I am.

Thank you, Karen.

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How lovely to have found the one you think suits you best. It's a lovely photo.

Just beautiful, Grace. Just absolutely beautiful.

Yep, she got you. Gorgeous.

Gorgeous shot! ::sigh:: Now I'm even more bummed that I had to sell my ticket for Blogher.

Awesome. I know what you mean about geeky & awkward (& gawky), but I think you're beautiful. Truly.

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The weather up here

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I don't know how wide the coverage of this was, so you may already know it, but the world's tallest woman, Sandy Allen, died last week. She was 7 feet 7 inches tall. She was 53 years old.

Sandy Allen was so tall due to a pituitary imbalance. She reached 6 feet before her tenth birthday. If she had not had surgery to stop her growth, she may have gotten even taller.

Sandy Allen was, to many people, whether they'd say it or not, a freak. Not only did her condition threaten her health, but it crippled her social life. People stared at her, were rude to her, treated her like she wasn't a woman, or even a human being.

And folks, it does trickle down. This weekend, The Guardian ran a piece by Arianne Cohen about being a 6'3" woman. Though the piece is ultimately (surprise!) about accepting yourself the way you are, it's not the self-affirming part that struck me. It's this:

The true challenge of tall life is not that you're tall. Who cares about that - legs are legs. The challenge is that everyone can see you, all the time. Eyes follow everywhere you go. You're public. On display. There is no hiding. Learning to love yourself has nothing to do with the blather you see in women's magazines about treating your body as a temple - it's learning to accept the high-wattage spotlight that came packaged with your body, always shining on you. I can tell you what it feels like to resist: like a non-performer pushed on stage, day after day. The giraffe in the room.

This is, nearly exactly, how I've felt for much of my life. It was certainly the way I felt as a 5'9" pre-teen, being hit on by adult men who (I suppose) assumed I was full grown. It was how I felt as a teenager, nearing 6 feet tall and constantly being asked about playing basketball, playing the piano, or, on occasion, modeling. When a short dude I went to high school with dubbed me the "Gentle Giant," the spotlight burned. And, briefly, in my late teens and early 20s, I learned to enjoy that spotlight--especially when I learned, like Cohen, that being tall meant that it took forever for the beer to show up on my belly and I could wear almost any clothes I liked (as long as they weren't intended to be full-length) and never look dumpy.

Now, at nearly 30, I can't honestly say I wouldn't rather be shorter. If I could change my height, I still probably would, by at least a couple of inches, just for comfort and ease why flying. But I don't feel like I'm being stared at much anymore. I don't know if that's because tall women have become so much more prevalent, or because people's manners have improved (ha), or just because I move so much differently in my body now. But I don't feel freaky anymore.

What is interesting, though, is that I am still, by definition, kind of freaky. The average non-Hispanic white American female 20+ years old from 1999-2002 (as per the CDC) is 163 centimeters tall, or about 5' 3 1/2". This makes me 8 1/2" taller than average. Less than 1% of women in the U.S. are as tall or taller than me. To put that in perspective, someone 8 1/2" shorter than the average woman would be 4'7", and would be considered a Little Person by most definitions. Which certainly puts things in perspective for me. As difficult as I sometimes find being a couple of standard deviations above the mean, I bet being the same number of standard deviations below it would be much tougher.

In most things, it is simply easier to be average. You have the option of blending in. Things are made to suit you, Clothes come in your size, you don't have to special order your shoes, you can reach most things but you don't have to fold yourself in half to get into a compact car. And the benefits--well, I don't feel the need to dress like a sexpot anymore, and the beer finally caught up with even my belly, so those are out. Being able to reach things is all well and good, but I can't whip up that much enthusiasm for it. If you are, like me, neither model nor athlete, being tall really isn't beneficial in any concrete way. Still, it's who I am. It's who I have always been. And the really horrifying thing, to me, about Cohen's article was her discussion of the estrogen therapy her mother took (and offered to her) in order to stunt her growth. Being tall may not be all that useful, but it isn't something of which to be ashamed, either. And it's better, once you realize that.

After all, it is hard to hide.

6 Comments

I'm glad you wouldn't want to change you. I wouldn't want to change you either, you're beautiful.

I'm 5' 10". I never really realize how tall that is for a woman until I'm talking with a group of other homeschooling friends and I become conscious at some point that I am least an entire head higher than they are. I tower over them.

I don't feel awkward, but I do know that in a crowd I will easily see over the tops of heads to see to the front.

My husband is a couple of inches shorter than I am and that barely occurs to us either.

Tall is beautiful! As is short, and round, and pencil thin... you get the idea.

Lovely post!

I too am 6' tall. I don't notice it most days. My husband is 6'7" so the adult I'm closest too each day I am towered over by.

Oh man, though, I would absolutely shrink myself if I could for NO other reason that for the ease of buying clothing. It's getting much easier (and I hope that by the time our two daughters are teenagers it will be even easier!) but still, it's annoying. I order everything online.

I'm about average. But my sister is 5'10" and has hated that forever. She slouches horribly and it's such a habit that she can't stop. It's a bummer because she'd look a lot better if she didn't.

My sister-in-law is 6'3". She's tall and proud and stands up straight and looks great. Wears heels too. Yeah - she's always noticed, but she carries it off with aplomb. I think it's largely her parents who love and encourage her to death - awesome.

The tallest person I've ever seen was when I lived in Utah. We called her the really really tall girl, she must have been over 7 feet tall. She would come to the bar (yes, 'the' bar) and dance when there were bands. She was (and I assume still is) beautiful.

I'm not tall, only slightly above average, but I do stick out whenever I open my mouth- I'm American and live in France. And so as soon as I start talking people know I'm American and I'm tired of sticking out! And it's not exactly like I can stop talking either...

Interesting post! I'm curious whether there are differences in average height in different geographic regions. I've heard the 5'3" statistic before, and it just blows my mind. I'm 5'7" and have never thought of myself as taller than average. Also, my two closest friends are both six foot tall, but I can't think of a single woman I know who is under five feet.

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My thoughts on fat phobes

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This is what 200 pounds plus looks like. It's not pathological, it's doesn't mean someone is sick, it doesn't make them sexless, or indicate depression.

I <3 obnoxious morning Mark

Happy to be of service.

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Ok, where the "like" button on your blog (like on facebook). Love this post and the finger and you look great!

Not to mention the fact that you're like seven feet tall.

More power to you, you look great and I LOVE that nailpolish! Please tell me it's green?

Christine

*clap clap clap*

You look great. And I heart that shirt. I also heart the kitty in the background.

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Fast food on a diet

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As I have mentioned here before, I love fast food. As I've also mentioned, I am on Weight Watchers. And I'm doing fairly well. The issue, however, is that my lunch options while at work are mostly of the fast food variety. I know, I should just bring my lunch, and I am trying, but even when I'm doing well I am never more than 50% or so reliable with that. Which leaves me with the other half of the days, making the best choices I can in fast food land.

So, what are the best choices? Sometimes, they aren't what you'd think, and as this is one more area where I am learning by doing, I thought I'd share what I've found so far.

McDonald's
Obviously burgers and fries and shakes are out. Any of the salads are OK, though. The Premium Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken has 430 calories (9 pts), but the same salad with grilled chicken has 320 calories (6 pts) and without chicken it has only 140 calories (2 pts). The lowest point option in the chickenless Caesar Salad, which as only 90 calories (1 pt). All of those values are without dressing, however. Dressing will add from 190 calories (5 pts) for a packet of Newman's Own Caesar to 40 calories (1 pt) for the Lowfat Balsalmic Vinagrette.

If you can't stand one more damn salad, the next best McDonald's option is the Grilled Chicken and Honey Mustard Snack Wrap, with 260 calories (6 pts).

So if I have a snack wrap and a chickenless Ceasar with vinagrette, and trade my usual soda for unsweetened tea, I can get out of a Mickey D's lunch having only spent 9 points (and probably full, too). Not terrible.

Burger King
I don't ever really eat at BK, but again, lowering the points value there would have to start with ditching the burgers and fries. And again, the best bets are the salads. The Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad is only 220 calories (4 pts). BK doesn't have the low-point salad dressing options McDonald's does, though--the best you can do is 120 calorie (3 pt) Light Italian Dressing. For a non-salad option, the best choice seems to be the Spicy Chick'n Crisp sandwich, which is 290 calories (6 pts) without mayo.

Taco Bell
When it comes to calorie-conscious fast food, Taco Bell is my favorite. Why? Because of the Fresco option. Fresco items have the cheese and sour cream replaced with fresh salsa (and I don't miss them!). Crunchy Beef Fresco Tacos are just 150 calories (4 pts) each. A Fresco Burrito Supreme is 330 calories (7 pts). I've often had an 8 pt lunch of two tacos and been very happy.

Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box is my closest option at work. My first thought there was that the Teriyaki Bowls would be good, but they have 580 calories (11 pts; chicken) and 650 calories (13 pts, steak)! Plus they aren't very good and it isn't very much food. A better option is the Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken, which has only 160 calories (3 pts). The Asian Sesame Dressing that goes with it has 190 calories (5 pts), but you can replace it with a lowfat Balsalmic alternative for only 35 calories (1 pt). Jack in the Box also has Grilled Chicken Strips--four of them total 180 calories (3 pts), and the Barbeque or Sweet and Sour dipping sauce only adds 45 calories (1 pt).

Arby's
I love the original Arby's roast beef sandwich. So gross, yet so good. The regular size is 320 calories (7 pts). Nothing at Arby's, however, is all that low calorie--and some of the healthier seeming options are even worse than the roast beef! The Market Fresh sandwiches might look healthy, but they range from the 293 calorie (9 pt) BLT to the 365 calorie (10 pt) Roast Turkey, Ranch, and Bacon. Even Arby's salads pack a wallop, with the best option being the Chopped Turkey or the Grilled Chopped Southern Chicken salads, each of which have 292 calories (6 pts) before you add another 230 calories (7 pts) in Buttermilk Ranch dressing. The lowest calorie dressing option is the Balsalmic Vinagrette, and even it adds 130 calories (4 pts).

So...avoid Arby's.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but I love the Mashed Potato Famous Bowl at KFC. It has 700 calories (16 pts). So...not gonna be eating that again anytime soon. Featuring, as they do, fried chicken, the KFC salads aren't a great option either. The best you are going to do is the Roasted Chicken Ceasar, which has 190 calories (4 pts) before you dress it and without crutons (they do have a 1 pt/45 calorie light Italian dressing option, though). You could, at least in theory, make a meal out of KFC sides. The green beans have only 25 calories (1 pt) per serving; the "Mean Greens" are also 1 pt with 30 calories; and the high fiber 70 calorie 3 Bean Salad has only 1 pt as well.

Gotta skip the biscuit, though. 180 calories and 4 pts.

Wendy's
I generally don't like Wendy's, but as far as diet friendly fast food goes, they are a step ahead. They suggest several full meals under 550 calories (about 11 pts) on their website. If you need to go lower than that, though, the Mandarin Chicken Salad is only 180 calories (3 pts) without the almonds and wonton strips. The sesame dressing adds 170 calories (4 pts), but can be replaced with the 70 calorie/1 pt nonfat French or the 100 calorie/1 pt Honey Dijon. The baked potato seems like a good idea, but at 270 calories (5 pts) before you put anything on it, I'll pass. The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Fillet sandwich is another possibility, though--it's 235 calories (5 pts) if you leave off the mayo.

Panda Express
This is another option that's close by for me. Orange Chicken is my favorite, but it has 545 calories (13 pts) before you even count the rice! So instead, I'll be having Mushroom Chicken(150 calories, 3 pts), Broccoli Beef (170 calories, 3 pts), Tangy Shrimp (160 calories, 3 pts), or the Mixed Veggie Entree (140 calories, 3 pts). Just as importannt, though, I've got start asking for half portions of rice! The steamed rice packs on 430 calories (8 pts) for a full serving!

And so there you have it--the halfassed dieter's guide to fast food. Please do not mistake any of this information for dietary advice--I'm hardly the right person to be giving that. These are just my impressions, and the nutritional info is all gleaned straight from the restuarants' website and the WW site.

2 Comments

This is some down-to-earth, honest and good info (i love the "halfassed" comment). Thanks for the info, trying to eat lunch sometimes can prove to be a real challenge!

I enjoyed browsing your archives looking for a post that I wanted to comment on. I am doing Weight Watchers so this one jumped out at me. A lot of the lessons constantly need reinforced are about how to realistic with myself about the choices I can make everyday, so I really appreciated this post. Thanks!

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Weight loss simulator

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On today's travels through blogland, I landed upon the My Bento Diet blog, which in turn introduced me to the Prevention magazine weight loss simulator (basically the same deal as the virtual model you can use on some clothing websites). I am both in awe and in horror of this little gadget, so of course I had to share.

According to the tool, this is me at my starting weight (left), current weight (middle) and goal weight (right):
starting weightcurrent weightgoal weight

I hate to admit it, but I'm inspired.

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See, I think they ALL look nice! The one thing about these simulators is that I can input my height/weight but the model doesn't look like me. Her breasts aren't where mine are and her belly/hips/thighs aren't ever as lumpy as mine are. If I could be the size of that first model and be as smooth as that in a swimsuit, I'd be thrilled! lol

You'll also become a sexy spanish lady in the process!

I typed in '50' as goal weight. The thing didn't comment on why someone who weighs 140 might want to get to that stage, and the model still looked healthy. Which I don't think an actual person of my height would be at 50lbs.

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Shopping in my closet

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picture in thrifted dressToday, I have to post to share a victory. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned out my closet. As usual, I had a huge garbage bag of stuff to give to Goodwill by the time I was done. Partially this is due to my having changed in size a bit since I started losing weight, but mostly it has to do with dumb purchasing decisions.

At the back of my closet, I found the dress you see here. It is (I think) vintage, and I thrifted it without trying it on a couple of years ago, for something like $2. At that time, it didn't quite fit--the lining was too tight across the hips and I was afraid I would split a seam if I tried to walk in it. When I came across the dress during my closet clean out, I put it in the "to wash" pile, rather than giving it away, in the hopes that a) I could get all of the dog hair off it (Ata sleeps in our closet) and b) it would fit now.

And it does. Ignore the dumb expression on my face in this photo and whatever is going on with my hair, and focus on that dress. How hot is that? I've loved this since I bought it, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be wearing it.

I am editing to add that if you are at all interested in clothes, you should read Kasmira at What I Wore Today. She's my new style icon. I absolutely love the stuff she puts together.

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Awwww...thanks! The dress looks smashing! Great find.

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Progress

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I sold the Little People village for $66, and the merino yarn is bid over $30 already. Life is good there.

Also, in my first month on Weight Watchers, I am down 11 lbs. I feel really great about it and am already looking and feeling better.

These things do not suck.

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That's great! 11 pounds! :)

The debt reduction thing on the right side of your page continues to impress me.

Maybe with the debt reduction and eBaying, you're revealing the secret that you really ought to be an investment banker.

Good work on the WW - I hope that you are feeling better independent of the scale # too : ) I always feel better when I'm eating healthily. Mmm - bring on the fruit salad! I always think fruit salad tastes like candy - only more refreshing.

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My big fat history

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I am coming up on my five year blog anniversary (August 16, if you're keeping track--my not-illustrious first post is here). I started the blog right after we moved to Texas. And one of the things I've been blogging about pretty regularly since the inception is my weight, and my discomfort with it. Now that I'm in a place where I am seriously working on my weight (down 5 lbs in my first two weeks of Weight Watchers), I thought it might be interesting to look back on my history of weight blogging.

The first mention I find of my own weight here is on December 8, 2003. In this post, I freak out after learning that I weigh 187 lbs:

I need to face facts. I'm overweight. First it was "no worries until I'm over 160," then "no worries until I'm over a size 12," then "no worries until my clothes don't fit." Well, all those things have happened. I'm well over 160, I'm a size 14 on a good day, and my clothes don't fit. I've gained well over 30 lbs. since high school, and probably 20 since I graduated from college. Worse yet, I've gained another 10 at least since I've been in Texas.

It's got to stop.

On February 24, 2004, I noted that I was losing weight (at that point I weighed about 175 lbs, which is my current goal weight), and it bothered me in ways I wouldn't have expected:

Even though the weight loss is intentional and I'm working really hard on it and I was in some ways happy someone noticed, it was a very strange feeling to have someone acknowledge that my body is getting smaller. Even thought I intellectually know that even if I weigh a bit less, I'm getting stronger ever day, I still very weird purposefully making myself smaller. I spent so long as a skinny, skinny kid, I still have it in my head somewhere that I should be gaining weight, not losing it.

On April 4, 2004, I talked about how very sick I was of dieting, still having lost only 10-15 lbs, and feeling stuck. In that post, still at around 175 lbs, I was questioning whether or not I should even be trying to lose any more.

On July 2, 2004, I had a rare very good body image day, and wrote the following in one of my favorite posts ever, "Thick":

I am SO beautiful. I have thick, strong legs and a big ole butt. I have wide shoulders and a strong, straight back. Even my increasingly-heavy breasts look strong and capable. I have big-ass feet, but they carry me and give me foundation. I have big-ass hands, but that just means they can hold a lot and I have a firm handshake. Even my hair looks strong.

Then I didn't talk about weight for a bit. On March 1, 2005, I was back at it, with another of my favorite ever posts, entitled "Fat":

I come from a long line of "full-figured" women. As they themselves would say it, fat women. Not fat just because they love to eat (although they do, and they eat with a voracity and lust for life that I admire and aspire to), but fat because they were meant to be that way. Fat because thousands of years of Dutch peasant stock built them sturdy; fat because they have worked for generations in fields and on concrete diner floors; fat because there is nothing waifish about their personalities; fat because when you grow up poor, you never, ever leave food on your plate. Mostly, though, they are fat because their mothers were fat, their grandmothers were fat, their aunts and cousins were fat, and fat is their way of life.

On March 31, 2005, I really let loose in a post entitled "Catharsis." I wrote:

I hate my body. I hate these breasts. Where the fuck did I get these breasts? They don't look like my breasts. My breasts are small. I hate the flaps of fat swinging under my arms like a fucking whattle. I hate my belly rolls. I hate the cellulite on the outsides of my thighs and the stretch marks on the insides of them. I hate hate hate my ass. I hate not being able to fit into any cute clothes, or even any of the clothes I wore last summer. I hate being "plus sized." I hate shopping at Lane Bryant. It doesn't make me feel like a "Real Woman (TM)," it makes me feel like a fucking manitee. I hate people saying, "you're just tall." 30 pounds ago I was just tall.

In April 2005, I asked what was worse, dieting or budgeting. I hated both.

On May 9, 2005, I had another come-to-Jesus moment, noting that my weight had ballooned to 203 lbs.

I'm paralyzed with it. I have no fucking idea how I am going to fight it. Taking off ten pounds is one thing, but I need to take off thirty to be at a reasonable weight, and I can't imagine that I am going to be able to take them off anywhere near as quickly as I put them on. If at all. This may just the beginning.

And then I stopped talking about it altogether, for quite some time. The next weight-related post is September 7, 2006, when I blogged about my 1500 calorie a day diet. Which I clearly didn't stick to, because on January 24, 2007, I posted about not being able to find pants that fit.

On October 3, 2007, I mediated on my body over the years, with photos. I tried to be positive. Looking back, though, of course I prefer the photo set's first picture, showing a 14 year old me who wears a size 8, to the last picture, showing 27 year old me wearing a size 38 jeans. On the day I made the post, I weighed somewhere between 210-215.

Two weeks ago, I weight 224 lbs. Yesterday, 219. Once again, I'm on that path. The difference is that it's going to be harder this time, because I'm fatter. And it's also going to be easier, because I can see this history clearly now, or at least more clearly, and I know that any change I make is positive, and if I get back down to that 175, or even the 187 that so bothered me in that first post, I will feel and look better.

But it's a battle.

5 Comments

Aie. Good luck. And congratulations on doing well with your budgeting. I appreciate your honestly about both of these difficult issues. Dieting and budgeting both suck. But if they lead us to happier lives because we can do more things then it's worth it.

Can be hard to keep an eye on the prize - try to focus on being able to physically do more things. I love making progress that way - like I can touch the ground with my fingers when doing a forward bend now (before yoga I couldn't touch my feet) and I just rode my bike up the big hill in town to a place that used to take me 2 hours in an hour and a half.

Have you read much in the fatosphere? It's been quite healing for me, personally.

I don't know if this is welcome or not, but here goes.

One of the things I thought about when reading this post wasn't that you need to buckle down and lose weight, but that diets don't work, and that a size 8 is probably not where your adult, womanly body is supposed to be (or it would be there, and so would the bodies of your female relatives).

Is there something wrong with your body the size it is, apart from our society telling us that women should not take up any more space than is strictly necessary?

This is quite beside the point, but I enjoyed your clothes posts you were doing before, and I sure don't recall you being fat at all, let alone at some astounding size that requires immediate action to fix or else something terrible will happen, you know?

I am bigger than you, so I totally know what it's like to be sick of it and just want to fix it already. I can't say that I'll never try again, although I'd like to be in that place, where I love myself enough to stop punishing myself. But I can say that there's nothing objectively wrong with my body. I can also say that I've never kept weight off before, and that I wasn't happy with my body when I was thinner.

-Tishie

Actually, you know what? Forget what I said. I'm trying to convince myself more than you, I realized. I certainly can't say I'm never going to try to lose weight again, or that I don't pretty much hate my body. You're just more honest than I am.

The thing is, I want to lose weight, but I feel like a bad feminist for feeling that way, or something. So I'm always trying to convince myself that it's not bothering me, when in fact, I'm pretty much obsessed with the fact that I'm fat. *sigh*

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Letter to My Body

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So that post of SJ's I linked to a few days ago? Turns out that is part of a larger project, via BlogHer, started by Suzanne Reisman two weeks ago. It's a hard thing to ask a woman to do, I think, writing a letter to her body. But 89 women have done it so far, according to the blog roll from that post, so I think I can suck it up and give it a try.

Dear Body,

I would really like to write you the kind of letter I see other women writing to their bodies, full of insight and humor, apologies for past abuses and forgiveness. But I am not there yet. Body, I am still angry at you.

I have all of these expectations, and you persistently refuse to fulfill them. I expect to be able to eat what I want, not exercise, and have you stay the same size, but you don't. I expect that you'll allow me to breathe easily through all 12 months of the year, but you don't. I expect to be able to come to work and function properly every day, but as often as not you get sick and I have to pay the price. I'm sick of it. I want you to do what I tell you to do! I'm the boss here, not you!

Most of what you do to me I could forgive you for, or find a way to blame on myself. The weight gain, the worsening skin, even the constant demands for sleep and inability to tolerate red wine appropriately. But what is absolutely your fault and not mine, and unforgivable, is that you are allergic to everything. Every tree, every plant, every mold, every animal, every dust spore. Of all of the ways in which you have let me down, this is the most intolerable. You demand ever increasing pills, sprays, and tricks just to allow me to go on moving through my days. It is expensive, it is inconvenient, and it is completely and totally unfair.

I know you think I should be thanking you for the positive things you do for me--for being able to walk around, to see and smell and hear and touch, but I'm just not in the mood. You're doing a sub-par job and I am sick of it. If I had any other candidates for your position, I would fire you.

Irritatedly yours,

Grace

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brava! i am in complete agreement.

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More on body image

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After writing yesterday's post, I was thinking some more about body image and particularly weight issues. Though I am by absolutely no means an expert on this, I think I've actually done fairly well, particularly recently, at coming to terms with the body I have and accepting and loving it as it is. Given that I don't tend to be the mentally healthiest person in the world in general, I was wondering why that is, and here is what I came up with:

Grace's Simple One-Step Plan to Loving Your Body, No Matter the Size

1. Get some clothes that fit.

Like I said before, nothing destroys my body image for the day, or week, or month like spending precious morning minutes fighting with a closet full of ill-fitting clothes. It's just the most defeating thing in the world. So I think the #1 way, for me, at least, to accept my body is to get the clothes that don't fit the hell out of my closet. This means doing a thorough purge and not being sentimental. Just because you love and adore a given item of clothing doesn't mean it still fits you, and having to see it not fit you every day is going to be a lot worse than getting rid of it. So the first thing to do is get rid of every single piece of clothing in your closet that doesn't fit. And if something doesn't feel right to you, it doesn't fit, regardless of what anybody says about how it looks.

Whether or not to actually remove these clothes from your possession completely really depends. I don't, usually, because my size does fluctuate too much. I put them in Rubbermaid bins, labeled with what they are, and slide them under the bed. But I think that will only work if you can really forget they are there. The whole point here is to remove these non-fitting clothes from your mind completely and start thinking of your body as something new, rather than something that is somehow failing to fit into stuff you already have.

Oh, and this goes for clothes that are too small AND those that are too big. While too small things may make me feel fat, too large things make me feel sloppy and frumpy, and honestly it's not much better.

Of course, after you get rid of everything that doesn't fit, you are probably going to need some new things. This part is tricky, because (especially if you are like me) buying a whole new wardrobe every time you change sizes is very expensive. One recommendation I have, of course, is thrift, thrift, thrift. If you are of anything approaching an average build (i.e. somewhere between a size 2 and a size 16, probably, and not extremely short or tall) and you live in a somewhat large city, this should be possible (though it may not, I hear some cities really do have terrible thrift stores). Thrifting has always been my solution to restocking my closet. At my present size, and at my height in general, some things are hard for me to thrift for (pants in particular), but I do still try.

If thrifting hasn't worked out, or if you just need to fill in some holes for things you couldn't find while thrifting, then my next step is discount stores. I like Ross in particular, but Marshall's or T.J. Maxx might be better where you live. Anywhere you can get slightly higher quality things for reduced prices. Personally, I generally stay away from clothes from really low-end stores (Wal-Mart, clearly, but also K-Mart, Rave, etc.) because they fall apart and shrink/warp, and then I'm faced with having to do the exact same thing over again.

Finally, take a look at sales. N.Y. and Company has AMAZING sales (I just got two pairs of jeans and two silk short-sleeved wrap sweaters there for about $50). Their clothes are not exactly high-end, but will always get me through at least one season, and given my constantly changing sizes, that's usually all I need. They also tend to carry pants that fit me well, which is a real blessing at my height and with my waist-to-hip ratio.

The idea here is not to buy a whole passel of new stuff and get yourself into serious debt, especially if you are a size-fluctuator like me. The idea is to buy a few new things that actually fit and make you feel good when you wear them, and to wear them. Then, when/if they stop fitting and making you feel good, repeat the process.

I know this isn't the most conservative thing to recommend, in terms of finances, the use of resources, etc. And I feel bad about that. But in truth, it is worth making compromises in other areas for me to go through my days feeling good about the body I have right now, and this is the best way I've found to do it.

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A meditation on my body

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I've been thinking about my body a lot lately.

This is not exactly news, as far as being a woman in Western society goes. We think about our bodies a lot. In fact, we're more or less obsessed with them, as a rule. I know I am and have been in the past. But lately, I am really trying to think about mine in a different way.

With me, it usually starts with clothes. My body has a tendency to fluctuate quite a bit in size and shape, so the clothes that fit me last fall don't necessarily fit me right now. In fact, I've realized during this past couple of weeks that I have basically no pants that I don't have to hike up every five minutes. Also, my bras are too small around and too big in the cups. So off to Ross I go.

I get sick of doing this. It's wasteful, buying new clothes every season because last year's models don't fit now, and I am large enough that I have a real problem finding thrifted clothes in my sizes. The shopping is also frustrating, as I hover between plus-sized and not, and have a generally hard-to-fit body. For every pair of pants that makes a reasonable approximation of my waist-to-hip ratio, I'll try on at least a dozen that don't. Due to these frustrations, I can get kind of twitchy about the whole subject.

What I am trying to internalize, though, is that clothes not made to fit me is their problem, not mine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my body. The path it travels between a size 14 and a size 18 is not a negative reflection on my character. My breasts are not less attractive at a 38B than they were at a 36C. And I have an absolute right to buy myself new things when the old ones don't fit--nothing makes me feel worse faster than facing getting dressed in the morning when everything in the closet is the wrong size. While it is a hindrance financially to have to buy new clothes every season in order to have things fit properly, doing so not a reflection on my character or even on my physical attractiveness. It is also not a reflection on something bad I'm doing--I don't yo-yo diet. I don't binge eat, at least not recently. My current slightly-smaller physique is due mostly to the bout of food poisoning that left me down nearly 20 lbs in four days a month or so ago, but I've made no particular effort to keep that weight off, or to put it back on. I try to eat a reasonable diet and eat when I am hungry, what I'm hungry for. I'm not physically active enough, but at this point in my life, given other health and lifestyle issues I am working on, I can accept that. I'm doing just fine.

I've been watching with great interest a Flickr project called Pictures of You. In it, women post photographs of themselves at different times in the history of their bodies and write notes on them explaining what was going on, how they felt about their bodies at the time, and how they feel about looking at the photos now. I submitted some pictures of my own, but as yet they haven't been added (the group may be closed, I'm not sure). Going through the photos and thinking about what to say about them was extremely cathartic, though, as was the prospect of sharing my thoughts, so I thought I'd do my own little exhibition here. Step right up for a brief photo history of Grace's body:

beach picture, 1994

This picture was taken in the early summer of 1994. I was 14. If memory serves, I was about 5'10" and weighed about 145 lbs. I wear a size 8 or 10. My breasts and hips hadn't developed yet and looking back at this picture, I had amazing legs. At the time, I had just started being truly concerned about my body, but weight wasn't an issue--I spent all my mortification on how tall I was and how I didn't have any chest to speak of. Looking at the picture, though, I see comfort, confidence, joy.

beach 1997

This picture is also at the beach, almost exactly three years later. I'm 17 and just about to leave home and high school. I've gone up another 1-2 inches and gained 15-20 lbs. I wear a size 12. By this point, I've begun to be concerned about my weight on and off, particularly the inner thighs I am blissfully showing in this shot. Looking back, I think I look fantastic, of course. I still have almost no chest, and it still bothers me.

with Simon, 1997

This picture is at the end of 1997, only about eight months after the previous picture. You can't tell, but I'm actually 10-15 lbs lighter here than I was before, due to a stressful first semester at college (my freshman 15 went the other way). I'm still generally in a size 12. However, I have started to really obsess about my body at this point, in part due to being larger than my new boyfriend (also pictured). Oddly, the first thing I notice about this picture now is how incredibly fat my arm looks. I think it's just a weird angle or something, because I know it wasn't that big, but I can't help but think it looks terrible. Guess I still have a long way to go.

lifeguarding, 1998

This incredibly silly picture, taken in the summer of 1998, represents probably the best shape I've ever been in as an adult. It is at the end of the summer when I got my lifeguard training and certification. I worked at a public pool and swam a lot (which also explains the hair and the tan). I'm at my full height by this point (about 6'1" but I am still calling it 5'11.5") and probably weigh about 160 lbs here, still in a 12. I honestly don't remember if I knew then how great I looked, but I sure know now.

smoking, summer 1999

This picture was taken the following summer, 1999. I'm 19 here. I've just been very very sick and my weight is way down--probably back down to 145 or close to it. I'm swimming in my size 12 clothes and have no money to buy anything else. My hips and breasts have started to actually come out by now, and my body just seems weird to me. Looking back on the picture, all I can think of is how much I love that haircut.

summer 2000 with sunburn

This is the following summer, 2000. I am 20. I am back up to my regular (at that time) weight, probably 165-170. I've moved to a size 14 in most clothes. I've developed a love/hate relationship with what I now think of as my enormous ass, and I wear baggy pants all the time. I still feel pretty good about my body, though, as shown in my typically short shirts and lack of sleeves. Looking back, it is hard for me not to think of this as my best natural body.

with Mark, 2002

This picture was taken in September of 2002. I'd just turned 22. My post-college weight gain has started, so I'm probably about 180 here. My breasts have blessedly grown and with the help of a push up bra I can actually fill out the front of that dress. I remember being concerned about how I was sitting when we took these pictures, as I wanted to be shorter than Mark in them (he's about 5'8"-5'9") and not have my legs squished up so they looked fatter. I guess it's safe to say I now officially have weight concerns. It bothers me that I weigh more than Mark, even though I know I'm much taller and built heavier. I'm wearing a size 14 and periodically try to get back into a 12 through crash dieting.

with Ata, 2005

This photo is, I believe, from the spring of 2005. I'm 25. I'm at around 200 lbs, struggling to stay in 14s and branching out to 16s much of the time, and really, furiously unhappy with my weight. When I saw this picture the first time, I mostly saw fat arms and belly rolls. With more retrospect, though, I don't think I look bad at all, and I remember the day (The Mighty Texas Dog Walk) as being a great time.

halloween as rosie the riveter, 2006

This is last Halloween, almost a year ago. I am probably at about 215 here. I'm wearing men's jeans with a 38 waist, and I've moved into a lot of size 18 clothes. I didn't show many people this picture when it was taken, because I thought it made me look fat (and honestly, it does). However, I have to end with it for the sake of symbolism now. I am a strong, beautiful, competent woman, no matter what I weigh or what size my pants are, and that is what this costume was supposed to be about. Comically, it's also an illustration of how wearing clothes that are actually too big for you does nothing to make you look smaller.

Today, October 3, 2007, I am 28. I am still about 6'1" and I weigh somewhere between 205-215, I think. I have on brand new jeans, which fit me perfectly and make me feel good, and they are a size 16. Whether I remain in this size, or go up, or go down, it's fine. That's not what that is about. This is about realizing that I look good in ALL of these pictures, and that the changes in my body are fine.

8 Comments

You carry your weight so well! You look great in all of those pictures, and even in the last picture, you definitely do not look 215 lbs.

I don't comment in your blog often, but I read it all the time ... and I just had to let you know that I think you look fabulous!!

Aw, thanks. This honestly wasn't me trying to troll for compliments, but I'll definitely take them. :)

Wow...tenacious snail had a post in her LJ the other day about how we think of a 200 or 300 pound woman as being big...but that most people have no idea what a 200 pound woman actually looks like. This confirms that for me. 200 pounds is less than I imagined. (I have a skewed perspective I think, being on the chicken-leg end of the scale).

It also confirms for me what I had begun to suspect...that women who think they are fat are not women who *I* think are fat.

Every size I've seen you at, you look good. Honestly.

Jess, you have to remember that I am extremely tall for a woman and also pretty bone-heavy, so I have always weighed more than it looks like I weigh. Even when I was very thin, I was never near as light as I was expected to be.

That being said, I think it's absolutely true that we generally have very skewed ideas of how numbers (weight, sizes) and bodies correlate, particularly those that are at the other end of the spectrum from our own. To me, everyone under size 8 looks like they must be size 0, you know?

Two thoughts I had during this post:

1. Jesus christ I look like a douche in that photo. I hope, but doubt, that that was halloween.


2. I also look really skeletal in it, which is funny, because I'd gained literally 45 pounds in the two years prior to the photo.

Other than just talking about myself, I'm going to go on a limb and say that I'm not sure only "western society" makes ladies think hard about how their bodies look. Not that I'm a great defender of "the west", just that I feel like it's a more global phenomenon.

Sorry, not a costume--it was a formal, I think. You have a lot of make-up on. I think it's funny.

You are probably right re: non-Western women, I just don't think I can speak to that. And for God's sake, knock off the "ladies." It makes me cringe.

I guess I do forget that you're so tall. But still, its not just you. There's an illustrated height weight chart floating around on the internet, and even looking at the women in my height range, I realize that I mentally clump a lot of people as "near my size" when I see them, but don't necessarily mentally clump those NUMBERS as "near my size" if that makes any sense. Its kind of an interesting phenomenon.

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Promised swimsuit photo

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Sadly, I can't find the swimsuit photo of myself and Melinda I wanted to post, nor did I manage to get a new photo taken this weekend, so this old one will have to do. I don't look exactly like this anymore, but it's still fairly recognizable as me (check out those big ass feet!). Anyway, heres to The Swimsuit Brigade for Honest Photos!

swimsuit.jpg

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hmmm...maybe howell has it. i'll check and send it to you if that's the case.

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The Swimsuit Brigade for Honest Photos

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Suzanne has a post at BlogHer challenging women to post photos of themselves in their swimsuits, to remind all of us that we're the real women with the real bodies out here, and that's OK--more than OK, actually, fabulous. She posted hers and there are/will be others in the comments. I am 100% for it and wanted to share. Since the most recent one of myself I can find is from 1997, I'll be attempting to do one of me tonight, digital camera battery willing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the skin we live in, y'all.

2 Comments

It's gonna be great! Don't forget to post a link at BlogHer so that others can tell you how awesome you are as well!

i think you had a pic of you and me in the creek with chance from when howell and i visited a few years ago...if you can find it, it would be great b/c i'd would love to contribute to this project as well.

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Mimi rockin' the house

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Run, don't walk, over to read Mimi Smartypants' entry for yesterday.

Quoth Mimi:


To sum it all up: I am not going to switch doctors. I am not going to lose ten pounds. I am going to go to the gym, run on the treadmill (Dinosaur Jr, Daydream Nation, and some embarrassing downloaded cock-rock songs [shhhh]), lift weights (over-loud Christina Aguilera mixes), come home, and drink Old Style (Wu-Tang, Schubert's Death and the Maiden quartet, my daughter's monologues) just like I always do. I am going to continue to wish I were a brain in a jar, but I am going to try and appreciate my body for its alcohol-processing, fine-cheese-digesting, LT-pleasuring capabilities. And if the topic comes up next year, I am going to politely tell my doctor to eat a bag of dicks. Is there a polite way to do that? I will find one.

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Pants.

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Once again, I am finding myself without reasonable pants.

See, I've gained a lot of weight. Which is fine, whatever, I'm not going to stress about it anymore than I have to. But now nothing fits. Not so long ago, I bought some new pants, in a size 16, at a store where sizes run large. And they fit. Until I wear them for two hours--then they're too big. However, my old pants, which are mostly size 16 from smaller sizing stores, are too tight. And it's not just the ass anymore--the waists are improbably tight now too. Which not only looks bad, but is also quite uncomfortable.

So I need new pants. Pants that fit both in the morning and in the evening. Inexpensive pants. Because it is too cold to wear skirts. And I don't know where to begin. I know of a few brands that fit sometimes, but only some styles fit, and only if they are long. Except the one kind, for which the long drags on the ground unless I wear heels. Why can't shit just fit?

4 Comments

Why not use belts?

I like old navy. and you can try them on in person and then order a lot of em online. target, obviously. lane bryant.....tj maxx.

My machine hems jeans quite easily, so if you are lucky enough to find a pair whose only crime is too long, I can assist.

Pants suck, though. Suck suck suck. And yet I'd almost always rather be wearing pants than skirts.

Women's clothing that fits? Gah, you'll be asking for pockets next...

PS if it helps, my current ones (which i bought secondhand) are French Connection.

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Naming the goals

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I wasn't planning to write up a list of New Year's resolutions this year, but I was just listening to some podcast that was talking about how much more successful people are in meeting their goals if they (1) write those goals down and (2) share those goals with others, so I figured I'd better.

Basically, I want to get in control of heath and finances this year. Those are my broad goals. But the program also said that the more specific your goals are, the better suited you are to obtain them. So, more specifically:

Financial goals:

1. In 2007, I will completely pay down my credit card debt. I will not take on any new credit card debt.
2. In 2007, I will make regular payments to my student loan.
3. In 2007, after my credit cards are paid, I will put the same amount per month into savings as I was putting into paying them.

Health goals:

1. Make a new health-related goal every two weeks and work on that goal, trying to keep up with previous goals as well. (Example: for the first two weeks of the year, I am working on giving up soda.)
2. Walk the dogs. Take them to the park. Enjoy the fact that I live somewhere with really freaking good weather.

So that's it. Those are my goals. Consider them written out and shared.

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Thanks so much for that comment about the good weather. I blame you for the 1/2 inch of ice on our driveway and the icicles hanging from the deck railing and the trash can.

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Before and after

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As a follow up to the Dove piece I posted a few days ago (and is making its way around the Internet in a million other forums as well), I have to share something Nyarly brought to my attention. If you go here, then click on "portfolio" and "before/after," you can see celebrity photographs pre and post-digital enhancement.

One example, a picture of Mariah Carey, is shown below. Others are similarly revealing.

before pictureafter picture

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Ooh! This is a topic I am very interested in!

At some point I just started photoshopping out all zits, unevenness of skin tone and sharpening jaw lines, etc.

I occasionally consider adding tattoos to people's faces, just to see how they'd react. My father was a big fan of the swastika I photoshopped onto his forehead in last year's Passover photographs.

I think I missed the window of opportunity for this post, though.

Damn.

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In uniform

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I wrote my first anti-uniform piece when I was 16. I was a member of a local newspaper's teen team, and I fought to be assigned the anti-uniform stance in a point-counterpoint article (front page of the section!). As a picture to accompany the article, the girl who wrote the pro-uniform side was given a small budget and told to go to Target or Wal-Mart or wherever and buy clothes she would consider an appropriate uniform for high schools. I was told to come in my own clothes, whatever I thought best reflected my typical style. Then they took our pictures back-to-back and printed our pieces. She came in navy pants with an elastic waist, a plain white polo shirt, and plain dark shoes. I came in jeans I inherited from my stepfather, a hand-tooled leather belt from the 70s (with someone else's name on the back of it), a striped v-neck, and Birkenstocks. We were equally comfortable and able to move around. We were equally "covered up." We both felt, I assume, that what we were wearing said something about ourselves as individuals.

More than ten years later, I have no idea what my "opponent" (whose name I've forgotten) thinks about dress codes and uniforms. As for me, though, my stance hasn't changed much. Now, as then, uniforms make my skin crawl, and I abhor dress codes. It's not so much about the mystical ability to "express myself" through my clothes as it is about control. The way I see it, dressing is an extension of body autonomy, and I don't want someone else telling me what parts of my body need to be covered, by what, etc. It irritates me in employment situations (which are, mostly, voluntary) and it enrages me in schools (which are, mostly, not).

I spent much of high school pressing the dress code issue. My high school did not have a particularly stringent code, but certain things (midriff tops, shorts or skirts that were too short, spaghetti strap tanks, hats, etc.) were not allowed. I wore all of them at one time or another. It wasn't about being sexxxxeeee, or about showing off my body. It was about testing boundaries. It was about exercising my own autonomy, and seeing how far I could push.

Interestingly, when I moved to college, where there was no dress code (literally none, we had naked students at Reed), I started caring a lot less about my clothes. I had my own uniform, of a sort--baggy cargo pants or BDUs, a t-shirt, a hoodie. I did a few wild things with my hair, pierced my navel (not allowed in high school), got my first tattoo (also not allowed), but basically, I kept myself covered up and didn't think much about it. As an adult, working in professional environments, I wear clothing that is, by and large, appropriate. I do wear sleeveless shirts and dresses, which some people find inappropriate (particularly because it shoes my upper arm tattoo), but none of my employers have had any problem with this, so I guess it's fine. Having the freedom to dress the way I see fit hasn't turned me into some kind of monster. If anything, it's let to me chilling out about the whole situation.

Dress codes and uniforms, in most cases, are about control. They generally come about through dictates rather than community processes, coming down from a superior as rules for inferiors. This is the case in schools, in places of employment, and in prisons. I object to this kind of control. I buck against this kind of control, and I think a lot of people do. And moreover, I think we should, particularly women. Because in truth, there's not much difference between someone with power over you telling you to cover it up and telling you to take it off. Either way, someone who is not you is exercising control over your body decisions, and I think it's right to fight that.

My basic premises are as follows:

1. People should be left to dress as they see appropriate, with the exception of dress codes needed for safety reasons and uniforms needed for identification purposes (i.e. police officers, fire fighters, etc.);
2. If left to their own devices, people will generally dress in a way that is deemed "appropriate" for whatever their position/station is;
3. If left to their own devices and not dressing "appropriately," people generally aren't hurting anyone or anything anyway.

I honestly don't understand what is so hard about that. It seems to me that uniforms and dress codes are just unnecessary rules in nearly all cases, and I don't see any point to restricting people unnecessarily. The so-called benefits of dress codes seem mostly invented to me (safer? less distracting? less classist? really? are you sure?), and the drawbacks are much larger than people realize.

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A few things:

Schools-
Kids are in a learning phase - understanding themselves, the world around them, and require guidance, RULES, and understanding. Better than a dress code is regular discussions about what it means to "express yourself" via your fashion statements and what "appropriate" really means. I found it fascinating that you choose the word appropriate to describe the way you dress at work, yet shun dress codes, since the dress codes are all about defining appropriate.

Work -
In many employment situations, the customer sets the standard. Not many people are likely to drop $60,000 on a car from someone with tatoos on their face and assless chaps. The business needs the customer to exist, so they deem that inappropriate for work based on what the customer's expectations are.

There are also dress codes in the work place that relate to saftey that I agree with.

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Anorectic 2, in pictures

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So I wanted to illustrate what I was saying in that post about anorexia.

Here are some pictures of people the media has called anorexic/done "anorexic how-to" stories about:

Mary-Kate Olsen

Tracey Gold

Whitney Houston

Now, here are some women the media thinks look great:

Sarah Jessica Parker

Various soap opera stars (Carly from General Hospital and Bianca from All My Children. Please don't ask why I know that.)

Tell me, how big a difference do YOU see?

What's worse? Renee Zellwegger (whom, as I have said before, I really like).

She sometimes looks like this:

And sometimes looks like this:

Now, which one of those is supposed to be the healthy weight?

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I think this follow up is great to your original post. I've been reading about compulsive overeating as an eating disorder and I'm just realizing that its not publicized because I think we do hold up anorexia/bulemia as a higher standard to achieve rather than as an illness in our society. To lump in overeating would take away from that awe inspiring willpower that "eating disorders" have. keep writing.

I'd love if you could write some more about this subject. I look at those photos and I get completely grossed out; there's no possible way that I could regard them as a standard or even as sexy. At the same time, I'm older, and the impossibly-thin-is-best standard hadn't really taken hold in the 1960s, Twiggy notwithstanding. I just don't understand how someone can look at those photos and find those women attractive (and, frankly, most men I know would be as grossed out as I am), and I also don't understand how someone can see those photos as a standard. I'm repeating myself, aren't I? anyway, anything that you can write that helps make clear the process by which that standard takes hold in one's head would be really interesting to me.

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Anorectic (Confessions of a Reformed Dieter)

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confessions of a reformed dieterSo last night I'm on the Stair Stepper, listening to an audiobook I just downloaded. It's Confessions Of A Reformed Dieter: How I Dropped Eight Dress Sizes and Took My Life Back (perfect for the Stair Stepper, don't you think?). So I am listening and huffing and puffing along, and then she says it. Something that has been in the back of my mind since Tracey Gold was on the cover of People in 1992. Something that other people have thought and said as well, but never so clearly, at least not within my hearing.

Sad story articles about anorexic celebrities are not meant to be warnings, or just tear-jerkers. They are instruction manuals. The pictures they print of the "deathly skinny" celebrity aren't for shock value, they are something to aspire to.

Whether magazines do this on purpose or not is really neither here nor there, as far as I'm concerned. The fact of the matter is that I remember the Tracey Gold story in People really well. When it came out, I was 13 years old, skinny as a rail, and already worried about being fat. I read with fascination about how she guzzled liters of Diet Coke and only ate one meal a day (pasta with chicken, reheated over and over). I looked at the pictures of her frail arms and collarbones and did not think she looked sick, but thought she looked fabulous. Most of all, I read about her behavior not with sympathy, or with disgust, or even with morbid fascination, but with a sense of awe at her determination and will-power. I didn't pity her, or fear for her--I admired her.

In the first 30 minutes of her book, A.J. Rochester details many of the different diets she has tried, including the "All Egg Diet," the "All Apple Diet," Jenny Craig, South Beach, you name it. Telling the story of her initial attempts to diet, as an aspiring dancer and actress in mid-1980s Syndey, Australia, however, she talks about going on "the diet that was working so well for all of the models:" anorexia. She speaks clearly about seeing anorexia not as a disease, but as a diet plan, something to consciously aspire to. And that is exactly how I saw it reading about Tracey Gold in 1992, and how I am ashamed and horrified to admit I still see it today.

I intellectually know that you can't just be anorexic for long enough to drop your extra 20 lbs and then go back to normal. I know that the physical and emotional side effects of anorexia can be horrific at best, and can even be fatal. I know that the human body cannot survive without food, I know that laxatives give you diarrhea, I know that speed can bring on a heart attack. I know that the right way to lose the weight that is bothering me is to eat healthier and exercise. Still, though, my first thought, the one I don't admit even to myself, when reading about Mary-Kate Olsen or Laura Flynn Boyle or whomever, is still one of awe at the accomplishment of being a successful anorexic.

I've attempted anorexia a few times, and been a raging failure. Maybe my self-protection mechanisms are strong enough to keep it from happening. More likely, I'm just not disciplined enough to do it intentionally and it's never become an obsession for me, so I always fall of it as soon as I get hungry enough. Either way, I'm enormously lucky. If I were able to see these stories for the warnings that they should be, I would be thanking God for whatever has protected me from success in this endeavor. But I don't. Instead, in the back of my mind, in that place I don't like to admit to, I just feel another level of regret, of disgust in my lack of willpower. And there are no words for how fucked up that feeling is.

I'm not saying that the media should stop reporting on anorexia, or even necessarily that the way it's been done has been wrong. I'm just wondering how we got to the point where a description of the symptoms of a disease started to be a manual for how to get it. How did our feelings about our bodies get so fucked up that we intentionally work on wasting away? And Jesus, how can we fix it?

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natalie winter's website is a very coherent, often gruesome depiction of one woman's 30-odd year battle with anorexia. she doesn't shy away from describing in detail the kind of damage she's done to her body, her self-image, and her relationships, which is not usually something you get from the celebrity stories. also, wasted by marya hornbacher is another such account. and appetites by the late, brilliant caroline knapp takes a look at the larger reasons why women loathe themselves as much as they do. i don't know about the larger culture though. i think we have to start with one person at a time, starting with ourselves.

And, yes, w/r/t my request above, this is a really really helpful and good start.

Gosh, yes. I remember reading some warning-cum-celebrity-gossip about someone with an eating disorder, and they were discussing how she has used ipecac to induce vomiting. I had never heard of ipecac until then, and I promptly went out an bought a bottle. In the end, I didn't want it enough - just as I was too squeamish to ever manage to make myself vomit using my finger, I wasn't willing to stomach the taste of ipecac.

I feel absolutely and exactly the same. I am a constant failure at anorexia and I admire the people who have the incredible will power to do it. stories of others in magazines are dangerous ways of learning tricks. I am not advocating anorexia, merely saying that I understand and empathise with that crap feeling of failure! I wouldn't even say i have been anorexic as I haven't lost 15% of my body fat or whatever, but maybe it's the state of mind. I had never heard of laxatives before I read an article about a celebrity using them to diet and I bought them and the celebrity said she had taken 60/70 at a time so that's what I did.

to the previous "anonymous" comment- speaking as a semi-recovered anorexic who tried laxatives in the early days of my disease, I know for a fact that taking 60-70 pills will KILL YOU. The max I would ever take was 6 and that came damn close to liquifying my intestines. I would be sick on the toilet for hours with six pills. Multiply that by 10? you wouldn't be alive today, kiddo

Wow -- Grace, you summed up my feelings on my weight and body image 100% perfectly! I always think to myself that I am a failed anorexic. I too have the same protective mechanisms that stop me from going over the edge, but I obsess over my weight constantly --have my whole life. I don't know where it comes from or how to stop it, and I do look at those celeb stories as a how-to and am amazed by women who can drop 20 lbs in 2 months, even though I know it's sick. I really do want to break the cycle, but nothing I have read has convinced me of why I should be happy with my body (and I am a normal, healthy weight). And that makes me feel guilty because there are people with REAL problems out there....people with no arms or legs or sight...It's pathetic, and a viscious cycle I can't escape! But just reading people's comments who fit into my "not fat/not skinny" category is somehow comforting....

Hrmm that was weird, my comment got eaten. Anyway I wanted to say that it's nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as I had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. This was the first place that told me the answer. Thanks.

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Miami Slice

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Why do you watch those shows? An answer for my critics.

I'll admit it--I love plastic surgery shows. Not that horrifying fictional one, but the real-life ones they have on the Discovery Health channel and stuff. I am enamored with surgery in general, and I am especially amused/horrified/conflicted about surgery for the sake of vanity. Plus the people crack my shit up. So I was mildly excited to see advertisements for the upcoming Miami Slice. Trailing five Miami plastic surgeons through their professional and personal lives for six episodes? What could be a guiltier pleasure?

Well, it is unmitigated awful. I really, really want to believe it's fiction, because the idea that these are real people is simply too disturbing for words. Not one of the plastic surgeons (all men, by the way) seems to have any identifiably good characteristics (except that one of them has a super-cute dog). Every single woman on the show, including one doc's 76 year-old mom, has fake boobs and an over-tightened face. The show is very big into Miami!. All the stars play in Miami!. If you live in Miami!, you have to have a tight face and big fake breasts (and lipo'd ass and an eye tuck and...). Everyone wears a bikini and listens to Latin music in Miami!. And on and on. It goes beyond enough to make you barf and moves right into enough to make you writhe on the ground in spasms of laughter and pain and humiliation at sharing a species with these people.

So why do I keep watching it? Well, for one thing they show some surgery, although it's not in as much detail as the much better programs on Discovery Health (to be fair, they did have an extensive liposuction scene last night). But it's something beyond that, something...sadistic? I find it oddly comforting that by the standards of these folks, I am not only obese, I am also too old, my nose is too long, my chin is too strong, etc. The fact that they have invented a standard for "beauty" that can be met only through invasive surgical means makes me feel all the more satiated about being middle-of-the-road, kinda-cute, a bit chunky, and 100% real. The more plastic breasts and plastic asses and ab implants and Botoxed faces I see waltz across my screen, the more in love I am with my cellulite, my glasses, my breasts that are going to sag, my unplucked eyebrows and belly roll. I don't know if that's a normal reaction, but it's the reaction I have. And that's why I watch these shows--they make me feel like shit about humanity, sometimes, but they also make me feel beautiful. And because I know their business is the opposite, I feel like I'm pulling one over on them.

None of this is to say that my reasons are unobjectionable. I mean, I've written many a rant against reality TV chastising people for this same thing--using the misfortunes of others to make themselves feel better/smarter/sexier/fill-in-your-needed-attribute-here. And I know that's exactly what I am doing. It's a habit I'd really prefer not to have. But at the same time, I feel like I am seeing something here that other people aren't. Watching a rhinoplasty performed makes me really, really happy with my nose. And that's a good thing, right?

All those plastic people
Got their plastic surgery
But we got a big, big beautiful
And we got it for free

-Ani, "Imperfectly"

2 Comments

so you're fat and ugly and jealous big deal dont whine to everyone about it

I understand you there. Fake implants make fake people. Real women and real men are far better than the clones they try to produce in plastic surgeon. I've seen couple of shows and I still wonder why people do that tothemself. A nose fix, bigger breasts etc. Why do you want to look so blatant, take away all that makes you look more personal. If it was for healthreasons, I would understand, but health is so far away from all that. If you ant to be size 10-12, excercise. But not for other people, just for you. The person above me is one of those who can't understand the real picture. They cry often in their own petty little lives while you live your life the best you can. Keep up the real world and you are always beautiful.

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Thick

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Being a well-conditioned American girl, and especially being one who not only does not wear a size 2 but NEVER has (it's true--I skipped straight from kids clothes to an adult 6 over the course of one summer), I hate my body most of the time. Just like I was taught to do. Just like my mom does, just like her mom does, ecetera.

Once in awhile, though, I don't. Just now when I was walking to Starbucks to get my full-fat full-sugar Frappacino (yeah, I know, I suck), I caught sight of myself in a window.

I am SO beautiful.

I have thick, strong legs and a big ole butt. I have wide shoulders and a strong, straight back. Even my increasingly-heavy breasts look strong and capable. I have big-ass feet, but they carry me and give me foundation. I have big-ass hands, but that just means they can hold a lot and I have a firm handshake. Even my hair looks strong.

I have spent most of my life wanting to be small, petite, tiny. Wanting to take up less space and be less capable. And I've just gotten bigger and bigger. I'm bigger now than I've ever been before, probably carrying 20 or so extra pounds around and pushing 6'0". My hips and ass seem to be still growing, as to my breasts. My upper arms look more like my mom's every year, and my mom looks like a blacksmith.

And, today at least, I'm OK with that. Today I am glad there is so much here, I am glad I take up so much space, and I think I take it up well.

Thanks to whomever for that. I really appreciate it.

(Thanks to William, about whom I haven't thought it months, for the title.)

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The blah diet.

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I just read the comments in Julia's latest Tequila Mockingbird post. They are all about folks on diets. South Beach, Atkins, etc.

I am so fucking sick of dieting I can't even tell you.

I've lost somewhere between 10-13 lbs. It's been four months. I seem to be stuck. I'm not sure I even want to lose more. I want to change shape, and I am working on that. In theory, I have 8-12 lbs. left to lose. I know the only way I'm actually going to get them off is with a DRASTIC calorie cut, something I haven't been willing to do so far (I've been staying at consuming about 500-750 fewer calories per day than I burn). Basically, I need to decide whether to forget about the dieting thing, be fine with this weight, and continue working on shape and scultping, or whether I want to make the health/nutritional sacrifice (not to mention being a raving lunatic because I am not getting enough calories) and try to lose 10 more lbs.

Seems like it would be an obvious choice. After all, I'm at a healthy weight, even by ridiculous BMI standards!

So why am I seriously considering the latter?

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The plateau

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I think I've hit the diet-and-excercise plateau. I've been working on it for three months, and I'm just completely sick and fucking tired of watching what I eat, of keeping track of what I eat and how many calories and what I weigh and what excercise I'm doing. I'm sick to death of exercise. I just want to eat what I want and do what I want. I'm discouraged.

And it's been working--I'm more than halfway to my goal. But I haven't changed weight at all in about two weeks, so that might be part of it. Part of it, though, is my tendancy to want to call it good enough and quit now. And if I did that, I know, I'd be back where I started in just a few months.

I need...inspiration. Why should I keep going? Why am I doing this again?

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Getting smaller

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Yesterday, for the first time, someone noticed that I'd been losing weight. At this point I believe I've lost 12 lbs, which isn't that much. In combination with general body tightening from excercise, though, the difference is significant, my clothes are fitting looser, etc.

Even though the weight loss is intentional and I'm working really hard on it and I was in some ways happy someone noticed, it was a very strange feeling to have someone acknowledge that my body is getting smaller. Even thought I intellectually know that even if I weigh a bit less, I'm getting stronger ever day, I still very weird purposefully making myself smaller. I spent so long as a skinny, skinny kid, I still have it in my head somewhere that I should be gaining weight, not losing it.

At 6'O" and (currently) 175, I'm hardly petite. There is little to no chance of my wasting away. So why am I embarrassed when someone notices I've been losing weight? Why do I feel the need to minimize it, saying, "I've lost a little bit, but it's not a big thing"?

It's a strange connundrum. Realistically, I don't think there is every going to be a "right" size. If I don't lose a lot more weight, I'll continue to feel "too fat." If I do lose a lot more, I'll progress directly from "too fat" to "too thin." There won't be anything in between. Is there for anyone, or is this just another lovely side effect of being a woman in this culture?

If it is, it fucking sucks.

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