Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Pinterest Board for Plus Size Clothes

I joined Pinterest yesterday and thought I'd share it here, in case someone out there has a body similar to mine and just as much trouble finding stuff.  Here's my profile:

You'll find-
  • plus size pants in petite lengths
  • plus size tops, many of them long (I'm long waisted), and dresses
  • wide width shoes.  Typically no heels above 3 inches (besides the occasional platform), and most around 2 or 2.5 inches.  I'm hunting for wide calf boots too.
  • plus size activewear--so hard to find good looking options in this category!
  • plus size accessories and miscellaneous--shapewear, undergarments, tights, belts, etc. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(headless) photos of me

Here I am, trying out a dress from Gwynnie Bee.  Pictures are always a good reality check--especially those taken from the side and back, because I don't see myself clearly from these vantage points in the mirror.

The dress is one size too big, so I sent it back and am waiting for a replacement to come in the proper size.  The cardigan is from Target, the belt is from a different cardigan set, necklace is a cheapie made of wooden beads, and shoes are from Land's End.  I'm considering this outfit for a daytime party I'm attending in about a  month.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dressing myself

Among the many "shoulds" in my life, there is the notion that I should not read O, The Oprah Magazine when I could be using that time to read Foreign Policy or National Geographic or something. Like all women's magazines, O is filled with beauty ads and spreads that suggest the answer to so many of life's problems is to buy more shit.

But I'll admit it now: I love O anyway.  I have a subscription to O.  I love Martha Beck's articles.  And I also love some of the essays in there.

The most recent issue has a piece by Lauren Slater called "Getting Lighter".  Slater talks about how years of debilitating depression caused her to completely abandon her personal grooming, to the point that she developed a serious infection from dirt working its way under her skin.  While my case of depression and self-neglect has never gotten that serious, I could still relate to her talk of skipped showers, unshaven legs (yes, for months at a time), and sloppy clothes.

Slater makes a decision:

"A psychologist by training and degree, I decided to construct an experiment.  I was a schlump, a frump, due to my depression, which robbed me of the time to spruce up and the motivation as well.  Was it possible, though, that if I spruced up, my mood would follow suit?  What would happen if, during my downtime, my depressed time, I put on makeup?  What would happen if I got some style?  Beauty, after all, is not some trifling effluvium; it's a sought-after state in every culture we know of, this in itself proof of its power."

She hires a beauty consultant, gets a much-needed haircut, and more changes follow from there.  And she finds that, as suspected, changing the way she cares for her appearance changes her internal state as well.  Her work improves, her libido returns, her confidence increases.  And she realizes:

"...entering into beauty did not in any sense diminish me as a woman, an artist, a mother, a wife.  I did not become all preen and polish, with nothing of substance to offer.  I look people in the eye.  I dream I am 12 feet tall."


For so long, I have wanted to improve my appearance.  Weight aside, I have wanted to dress better, figure out hair and makeup, all of that stuff.  A few things have stopped me, but chief among them are irritation and frustration over how much work it seems to be to figure it all out and make an effort every day--that's probably the depression at work, because others find this easy and enjoyable--and a concern that I would get too into my appearance and become vapid.  I'm sorry to say that the most polished women I know are generally not the brightest women I know, and I value intelligence immensely.  (I know, I know, there are lots of women out there that have both things going for them.  Obviously I need to widen my social circle, because I haven't encountered enough of them.)

I would like to value good self-care more than I do.  Furthermore, Stacy London has finally convinced me, via her book The Truth About Style, that there is nothing intelligent about presenting yourself to the world as a slob.  In the end, Slater and London have shown me that I've been theorizing about a false choice--looks vs. smarts.

So, for what feels like the millionth time, I have recently re-started my efforts to learn how to dress myself correctly.  Every time I do this, even when I end up quitting and going back to men's hoodies and ill-fitting jeans, I learn something new that brings me a little bit closer to putting the puzzle together.

This is what I'm working with:  I do have a hard-to-fit body.  I am 5'5" and plus sized, but I have a long waist and shorter legs.  That means I need petite length pants--most women my height can wear regular length--and I need longer shirts.  Maybe even Tall shirts, but I will probably have to get the sleeves hemmed if I start buying those.  Plus-size petite-length pants are not easy to find.  I have yet to find a great pair of jeans.

I carry fat in my lower stomach, so many shirts fall at the most unflattering spot possible.  Shirts need to be long enough to cover my stomach, but not so long that they hit my thighs, because that makes my short legs look downright stumpy.

I have a large bust, and only in the past two years did I figure out that the ONLY kind of bra that works for me is a full coverage bra with underwire support.  No demi cups or whatever for me! I can wear sports bras, of course, but I'm talking about what bras I can wear with regular clothes.  Prior to figuring this out, I wore sports bras all the time, even with regular clothes, leaving the straps visible and me with a case of mono-boob because I didn't know what else to do.

I have wide feet.  Most stores do not carry attractive wide shoes for young women.  It has finally sunk in that I need to order my shoes online 99% of the time.

Actually, most of my clothes shopping is done online too.  That's where most of the good plus-sized clothes are to be found.  I have a few Lane Bryants near me, but I am less than impressed with them.  Bless them for their bras, though.  Those are the bras that finally worked for me; a small miracle.

Then there is the question of finding items THAT I GENUINELY LIKE that takes all of the above into account.  This is the hardest part and the reason that for most of my life, I just bought anything that fit me, whether I liked it or not.  Because of desperation and lack of choice.  This situation is getting a little better as the plus size market expands, but it's still a challenge.

A separate question from "what do I like?" is "what looks good on me?"  I think I need some third party input on this, and I'm still trying to figure out how to get that.  I'm thinking about paying for consults with a stylist and makeup artist. (I need help in that area, too.)  I've never visited a makeup counter because it intimidates me and I don't want to feel pressured into buying specific products.

I took one tiny step towards change by signing up for something called Gwynnie Bee, after seeing it mentioned repeatedly on Skinny Emmie's blog.  I'm glad I did for three reasons.  It helped me figure out why so many shirts look horrible on me (The long waisted issue.  Somehow, before this, I understood I needed petite length pants but did not understand that I was correspondingly long waisted).  It made me realize that I consistently overestimate my size, which is why I often end up with things that are too big for me.  And that, in turn, caused me to go to a tailor to have measurements taken by someone besides myself for the first time ever.

I really like Gwynnie Bee.  They have excellent customer service.  Because I'm at home all the time with the baby for now, I may discontinue my membership soon and then pick it up again later when I'm working or just out of the house more.  For now, though, it's an educational experience getting these clothes in the mail, trying them on, and sending them back!

More on dressing myself in future posts. :)  Advice is always welcomed!

10 pounds of impatience and desperation

I haven't looked at my blog in weeks, and just read over the last 2 posts.

I find it interesting that on February 1st I was complaining about being sick of seeing 250 on the scale, and talking about how I'd love to lose 20 pounds for an upcoming event.  Some of those old desperate feelings were present.

A month later, on March 3rd, I'm weighing in at 260!  Ten pounds up in a month!  How bout that?

My weight does fluctuate quite a bit.  When I report 250, it really means that I'm fluctuating between 250 and 255; when I say 260, I'm somewhere between 255 and 260.  So it might not have been a true ten pound gain between February and March, but it's probably a solid 5-7 pound gain.  And shitty feelings have much to do with it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lost. And fat.

On Friday, March 1st, my baby turned 8 weeks old.  I weighed in at 260 that day.

So I've gained some weight, obviously. My sister stayed with me during a good chunk of February to help me with the baby. I loved having her here!  She's five months pregnant, though, and we indulged in pretty much anything we felt like.  Now she's gone, I feel more overwhelmed with childcare, and I'm fatter than before.

I feel totally lost at sea right now in terms of weight loss and behavioral change.  I'm a terribly inconsistent person; I lack follow-through.  I come up with an idea, a goal, a plan, and I fail to follow through the next day.  Sometimes the same day!  I can't really blame this on having an infant to care for because I've always been this way; however, having an infant does not make this any easier.

My mind slips into all-or-nothing thinking more than I care to admit.  I catch myself faster than I used to and can adjust the tone of my thoughts better than that's something.  But even when I tell myself to simply pick ONE area to work on, ONE habit to change, I freak out and can't pick one.  Or stick with one.  That daily vegetable I mentioned in my last post?  Never happened.

I so want to be a good example to my girl.  I so want to spend this year at home not only bonding with her, but getting healthier month by month.  And more at ease in my skin!  It used to be that photographs were taken of me infrequently enough that I could internally wince when I saw the reality of my body size in pictures, but pretty much let it go, bury my head in the sand, and carry on unaffected.  It's a different story now.  You know how picture crazy new parents go, right?  And aunts and uncles and everyone else?  I have ended up in more pictures during the last 2 months--me holding the baby in all sorts of positions and angles--than in the past two years combined.  I've seen enough of myself that I just can't ignore how bad I look anymore.  I've reached that point where no nice/dressy clothes look good on me; every human body has a threshold past which clever layering, shapewear, and all the other tricks in the book can't really hide the truth anymore.  I've been there for some time, wearing baggy and practically unisex clothes so I don't have to deal with it.  But if I'm being honest, I long to wear lovely clothes that boost my confidence and celebrate the fact that I'm alive.

My mom didn't help me with clothes, bra shopping, makeup, any of that stuff.  Much of that was her own narcissism, but some of it (I have come to realize) was her own incompetence and lack of ease in this area.  I want to help my own daughter, but I won't be able to if I haven't figured it out for myself first.  The same could be said of cooking and healthy eating, of exercising, of so many things.

It feels good to write, even if it's all over the place and mostly a testament to me being lost and going in circles.