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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | May, 2009
Archive - May, 2009

Food Friendly May: Eating Out Loud

It’s okay to eat what you want. It really is.

I don’t care whether what you want is a five course gourmet meal, a bag of Skittles and a Diet Coke, a small green salad with dressing on the side, fois gras or tofu dogs. It’s okay.

You’re an adult. You get to choose. You don’t have to justify your decision to me, your mom (unless you happen to be cooking it in her kitchen), your next door neighbor, or the complete stranger who felt justified in giving you squiggle eyes at the grocery store for choosing whatever you chose from the shelves.

The measure of your waistline does not give anyone the right to judge what you choose to eat. You do not need to carry a permission slip from your doctor explaining that even though you’re not a size 0 you are not this moment dying of: heart failure, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, joint failure, or a fat-related earache.

Nobody can judge a person’s general health from a glance at the size tag in their clothes. What’s more, you do not owe anyone on the planet eternal health. It’s not in the human contract.

You do not need to represent the fat community, either by attempting to prove that not everyone who shops the women’s section does nothing but shovel Twinkies into their mouths all day long, nor by actively defying expectation that we should all be on an eternal diet to combat our natural bodies.

Food is fuel. Your body needs fuel to function properly. There are myriad reasons for choosing what fuel we do. There’s preference, availability, culture, funding, culinary knowledge, time, religious belief,  philosophy, compromise to suit those we are eating with, allergies, chronic health conditions, and a host of other things. There’s one thing that is never a good reason to choose or deny yourself a particular food: fear of what someone else will think.

We’ve been conditioned by society to apologize for wanting to eat. All day long the television blares out ads for weight loss programs and pills – not to mention shows like The Biggest Loser, I Want to Save Your Life, and Bulging Brides. The radio harangues us about getting ready for swimsuit season or avoiding temptation during the holiday season. Every day when I turn on my computer and surf the net, I am visually assaulted by more ads telling me my body is wrong, I’m on the verge of death no matter what my doctor says, and I should be ashamed to eat. Half of all water cooler conversation these days seems to be about refusing or shamefully failing to refuse edible treats.

Enough, I say!

Repeat after me: It’s okay to eat what I want to eat.

You want to know what happens when you say that? When I said that some two years ago, I felt as though a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. I haven’t stopped feeling free since that day.

I didn’t suddenly gain a thousand pounds. I didn’t eat the world. I didn’t fit back into my size 8 jeans (and a darn good thing, too, considering how completely out of fashion they would be today). My hair didn’t fall out, my lifelong aversion to mushrooms didn’t vanish, my social circle didn’t change, I didn’t collapse from malnutrition or have a heart attack, unicorns did not magically begin to cavort in my garden,  and I didn’t win the lottery.

What did change was that suddenly I didn’t feel compelled to eat a hamburger because I happened to be in a restaurant that features huge hamburgers. If what I really want is a salad, I’ll order that. If I feel the eyes of others on me, waiting to be offended if I dare to get the burger I happen to be craving, I order the burger, anyway. It’s not my problem if someone else has the time and mental space to hover around waiting to find my behavior offensive. Most people don’t have the time, the space, or the monomania to be horrified at my order, it turns out. And if they do, well, I don’t have the interest to apologize to a complete stranger for perfectly reasonable behavior on my part.

In those extremely rare instances, I only have time to spend a nanosecond feeling sorry for their empty lives before I dig into my meal and enjoy the hell out of it.

Oh, and I order dessert if I have the room in my belly and the desire for something sweet on my tongue. If I don’t really want dessert, then I don’t get it.

Why? Because I’m an adult. I’m allowed make these choices for myself. So are you.

Say it out loud and proud: I’m an adult, and it’s up to me what I want to eat.

Then get out there and eat what makes your body, your mind, and your taste buds happy.

This is the end of another Food Friendly May…but in Twistie World food is friendly every day. I hope it will be in your world, too.

Celebrity Weight Sagas

Francesca says:

Check out this article in The New York Times, “Bingeing on Celebrity Weight Battles,” about the attention paid to the yo-yo dieting of Kirstey Alley, Oprah Winfrey and the like.

Exerpt:

How do heavy women — many of whom bluntly describe themselves as fat — respond to these sagas? Judging by the Internet applause, many feel inspired and connect to the celebrities’ seeming candor.

But for many, these mortification-of-the-flesh narratives are not galvanizing, but toxic, undermining their hard-won self-esteem and exacerbating the derision they face. These celebrity stories can even be counterproductive: health experts say that many famous dieters flaunt weight-loss goals that are unrealistic for most obese women.

It’s not that these women are unsympathetic to Ms. Alley. Been there, felt that. “You loathe yourself,” Ms. Alley told People. “You hate what you’ve done to yourself.”

But the yo-yo dieting and disparaging comments prompt some women to feel unmotivated and hopeless.

“I can’t believe this is still getting to me,” said Sarah Morice, 31, a doctoral candidate in theology at Notre Dame. “I see what Kirstie Alley says about herself and how easy it is for that to become my script. It’s easy to lapse into ‘Oh, my body’s ugly,’ and ‘What’s the use?’ She triggers all those messages for me.”

For women who have made peace with their bodies, confessions by Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Alley seem puzzling, even irritating. To them, the “before” shots of these celebrities look pretty good.

Francesca notes the inclusion of our fellow bloggers Gabrielle Gregg, Lesley Kinzel, and Kate Harding.

She also notes the wise words of Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration:

“Celebrities perpetuate the idea that we have a handle on this, that we understand what is driving our behavior,” Dr. Kessler said. But resisting certain foods “is not an issue of willpower. This is not about shame and humiliation.”

Developing new, rewarding stimuli takes time, said Dr. Kessler, a former yo-yo dieter himself.

“No one wants to be fat,” he added, “but I care most that people stop beating up on themselves.”

xoxo

Food Friendly May: Memories of Moms and Others of Significance

Last night, Mr. Twistie and I ate in one of our favorite restaurants. It just so happens it was also a favorite of Mr. Twistie’s mother. Why? Because she felt it was the best Japanese food in the Bay Area, hands down.

She knew whereof she spoke, too. She was Japanese. Not of Japanese descent, but born and raised in Japan and a Nagasaki survivor to boot. It wasn’t something she liked to talk about.

Anyway.

Kamakura was one of her favorite haunts. One year she took us out to Kamakura for my birthday. Since Mr. Twistie’s mother was friends with the owner, we wound up getting some extra goodies added to the meal on the house.

I’ll never forget the appetizers Faith sent out to us. They were luscious little Asian eggplants filled with miniscule shrimps. The downside? Mr. Twistie won’t touch seafood with a barge pole and has even less intention of ever allowing another eggplant to pass his lips. His mother loved eggplant and seafood, but happened to be allergic to shrimp. I was forced to eat the entire plate by myself. After all, we didn’t want to offend.

Okay, and eggplant and shrimp are two of my favorite things ever and I think they’re even better when combined. I was in culinary heaven and my mother in law beamed.

As it turned out, lung cancer took her from us before my next birthday.

So last night as we had our gyoza and shogiyaki and green tea ice cream, it turned out we were both thinking of that night and of Mr. Twistie’s mother. And though I’ve never gotten them again, I thought about those shrimp-filled eggplants. I thought about the flavor, yes, but mostly about how happy my mother in law looked watching me eat them.

There are times, too, when I find myself making a pot of split pea soup and realize how much my decision was prompted by nostalgia rather than appetite…or rather nostalgia for my mother and appetite combined. She made amazing split pea soup. I never asked for her recipe, and mine has never turned out quite the same, but I think of her every time I make it.

Last week I was in the grocery store looking at the ice cream. It was a hot day, and I wanted a nice frozen treat. As if compelled, I reached for the mint chocolate chip. It wasn’t until the ice cream was in my cart that I thought about the fact that it was my fathers’ favorite flavor.

Food has a way of making us think of the people who have eaten it with us. It connects us viscerally with friends, lovers and family years after they are gone. The scents, the flavors, remind us of times gone by. Sometimes it’s a bit disconcerting, but I also find it comforting, in a funny way. It’s almost like visiting with people we miss, including our younger selves.

Last night Mr. Twistie and I missed his mother, but we also remembered the best parts of having her with us. As we left the restaurant, I felt well fed in both body and soul. And I know that when the weather turns colder, I’ll spend time in the kitchen making split pea soup with my mother, too.

I’ll even share it with people I love who are still around to build memories with.

New Featurette! The Friday Fierceness!

So we have the Monday Hotness, and that’s all well and good and whatnot, but –as much as I hate to say it– there is life beyond hot guys in various states of undress. Thus I give you The Friday Fierceness, the new more-or-less weekly featurette wherein we pay homage to women whose lives, talents or personalities embody the unofficial MftBG motto “Larger than life is just the right size.” through a collection of photos and quotes by the featured goddess.

So without further ado I give you La Divina herself:

The incomparable Maria Callas.
La Divina, Maria Callas in 1957

GOD she’s a fierce bitch, and I’m not just talking about the best strong brow this side of Liz Taylor.  Say what you will about her unusual, jolie-laide voice; there and will never be another Divina.

La Callas was unapologetic for her success and the power she commanded.  She was the textbook definition of a diva (I hate its common usage now) and had the talent and discipline to back it up.

And of course, there was the diva attitude.

No Angel, Maria Callas in a fabulous scarf

–“I am not an angel and do not pretend to be. That is not one of my roles. But I am not the devil either. I am a woman and a serious artist, and I would like so to be judged.

— “Don’t talk to me about rules, dear. Wherever I stay I make the g*ddamn rules.

 She showed right-thinking ideas about the treatment of her antagonists:
Callas in Tosca at the Met

— “I would not kill my enemies, but I will make them get down on their knees. I will, I can, I must.”

–“When my enemies stop hissing, I shall know I’m slipping.”

… and on the legal system

La Callas
“I will not be sued! I have the voice of an angel!”

…and on why it’s never okay to wear sweatpants in public

I would kill for those cheekbones

–“I would like to be Maria, but there is La Callas who demands that I carry myself with her dignity.”

Interestingly enough, she started her career as a big girl but in 1952 she went on a crash diet and lost 80 pounds so she could feel comfortable playing the great soprano roles.  When legendary conductor Richard Bonynge was asked if he felt Callas’ weightloss affected her voice he answered “I don’t feel it, I know it did. I heard her Norma in 1953, before she lost all that weight, and then again afterward, and the difference was incredible. Even more incredible was that the critics didn’t write about it. When Callas was at her best vocally, she was fat, but she got only a quarter of the recognition that she got after she had become thin and was a great star.

The more things change, right?

New Source of Bras for the Big Girl

Francesca has been informed that there is a new boutique in Los Angeles for girls sizes D-cup and up, and that their wares are available on the webs at jenettebras.com.

Francesca asks that if you shop here, online or in LA, you please tell her what you think of the business.

Support!

LACROIX, Sweetie (and Almodovar and Hemingway and Lagerfeld and Sara Murphy and)

Christian Lacroix Starts Insolvency Proceedings

Y’all. I cannot handle this today. I’ve totally been a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown for the past few weeks anyway and NOW YOU’RE TAKING MY LACROIX?!?!

I can’t say I’m especially surprised, but I don’t think this is anywhere near the end for Edina Monsoon’s favorite designer.

Christian Lacroix, one of the few haute couture houses left, has been flying under the radar in this post-couture age. Lacroix is, and always has been, unapologetically continental in his approach to fashion as if to say if you don’t like his bright, exuberant Gallo-Iberian sensibilities, you can just take that mess over to Marc by Marc. The Lacroix woman doesn’t need you. The Lacroix woman doesn’t need anyone.

Speaking of being a woman on the verge, I am still in the throes of a major Almodovar moment, fashion-wise-speaking. If you’re not familiar with Pedro Almodovar’s earlier work, specifically the hilarious Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (both featuring a vintage Antonio Banderas in all his early-20’s glory)  do yourself a solid and netflix these today.

Lacroix 2009 Spring RTW, Nautical done right

Love this. So casual and 80’s-Euro-in-a-Good-Way. I’m loving the jacket (I’m having an epic jacket moment) and with editing, a big girl could wear this look effortlessly. The rope ankle straps on those shoes, make the look for me, but I don’t think they’ve gone into production. This is what Lagerfeld was trying to do with his Villas Americas collection based on Sara and Gerald Murphy, the jazz-age expats who made the South of France glamorous to Anglo-American sensibilities and inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night” plus Ernest Hemingway’s unfinished “Garden of Eden“.

Sara and Gerald Murphy

and while I love all things jazz age, what I’m all about right now is color, and I mean COLOR.

Women on the Verge pink and red

This still from Women on the Verge  has been on my inspiration board since October.  I love everything about it. It’s quirky, vibrant and flawless, although the women are not traditionally beautiful.

Also on my look board:

Lacroix 2009 Spring RTW My Favorite Look

LOVE the color,  love the Perry Ellis-goes-to-Arles feel. Yes, this is a LOT of look, but there are a ton of individual pieces and references you could take and make your own. Am DYING for that acid green.

And then there are the polka dots.

Polka dots

Popular fashion wisdom has it that pink, plaid and polka dots always come back.  Big girls can wear polka dots like nobody’s business, especially great big ones which, as luck would have it, is what looks fresh now.

Lacroix 2009 Spring RTW polka dot coat

I know we did the Swiss thing a few years ago in a very retro 50’s rockabilly/pin-up way, and that was precious and all but it got tiresome.

These look fresh and I love how they play with the scale. And it’s so slouchy and easy. Very South of France.  If I ever do end up marrying Andre, this is totally what I’m going to wear when we’re visiting the ancestral manse.

Lacroix 2009 Spring RTW dot dress

Seriously.

One of the other fantastic things about this collection that reminded me so much of Almodovar is the jewelry. Pulling off a lot of statement jewelry in one look takes a judicious eye but I love both the irony of sending up the “more is more” mentality that got us into this delightful economic slophouse and the fun of just being unapologetically, gloriously over-adorned. Love it!

Sales for the Weary

Francesca is SO EXHAUSTED. She was up until midnight slaving at a work project (not, alas, a Manolo project), and when that wasn’t enough time she woke up at 4:30 this morning to finish. The only thing keeping her eyes open right now is caffeine and the knowledge that the weekend is “only” three days away, if adrenaline and coffee can get her that far.

But through her blurred vision, Francesca has collected some useful information for you.

Avenue is having a big summer sale (not in physical stores). Francesca has noticed that lately they have been slower in releasing “secret” sale codes, so if you want Avenue items at reduced prices, grab the opportunity while you can.

Evans has taken 25% off casual summer tops and  20% off summer dresses.

Bloomingdales is having a “Mad About Shoes” sale today only! Take $50 off purchases of $200 or more,  $100 off purchases of $300 or more, or $150 off purchases of $500 or more. ALSO … a sale on designer handbags, here.

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iconiconJust My Size
will automatically deduct 15% from your price tally, through May 31.This includes sale and clearance items! Francesca’s pick is this swimsuiticon, which she greatly covets and will probably purchase for herself.

Igigi is offering free shipping on orders of $50 or more, through June 13.

Roaman’s is having their bi-annual bra sale.

Silhouettes will give you a price reduction through June 2 with code S9HE5:  $20 off purchases of $100, or $30 off purchases of $125, or $50 off purchases of $150.

J.Jill announces new arrivals. Plus sizes here.

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