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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | September, 2012
Archive - September, 2012

Isn’t Not Being Sick Enough?

Ahh, gluten, the latest bad boy of the dinner plate according to popular theory. There’s been a huge spike in the media sexiness of passing on wheat products. You can’t go anywhere without hearing the hype and seeing the products. You can’t go anywhere without someone having a hand-wringing session over it.

I’ve been around the block enough times at this point to know when a food issue is being blown out of proportion by now.

And no, it’s not that I think there’s no such thing as gluten sensitivity. If there’s a food out there, someone is allergic to it on some level. It’s more a case of stick around long enough, and some other food that a relatively small number of people have difficulty processing successfully will suddenly become the reason that ‘everyone’ is sick and become a media scare. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make anyone at all sick. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware. We just shouldn’t panic so about it.

In fact, a friend of mine was recently put on a gluten free diet by her doctor because she showed specific symptoms that can indicate gluten sensitivity. This is what we call evidence based medical treatment, and I’m wholly in favor of that.

So a couple weeks into the new regimen, the scaly hand condition that nothing could solve… yeah, it’s going away after some five or six years. She’s got more energy and less digestive issues. In short, my friend really, truly is gluten sensitive and needed to do this for her health. It’s working.

The funny thing is, that doesn’t seem to be enough for some people. Just last night, my friend and I were out grooving to a local band (as it happens, the one Mr. Twistie and my friend’s brother are in) and a couple of her friends (as in: she knows them a lot better than I do, not as in they’re people I dislike) showed up to support the band and have a nosh at the cool neighborhood cafe the band was playing. My friend told her friends about going gluten free and how much better she was feeling.

All three more or less dismissed the ‘feeling better’ bit with a desultory ‘that’s nice’ kind of comment. Then they eagerly asked if it had any other benefits. As in: how much weight have you lost?

Seriously?

The end of a series of symptoms ranging from aesthetically annoying to seriously uncomfortable are going away in a matter of a couple weeks after years of suffering, and that’s not enough for you? It isn’t a good thing until she fits into smaller clothes?

And how sad is it that I didn’t know my friend was on a doctor-prescribed regimen for a specific problem until last night? Frankly, when I saw she had a book on living gluten free and was suddenly asking in restaurants what did and didn’t have wheat or barley in it, I was afraid to ask whether this was because of doctor’s orders or because she had decided this was going to finally be The Answer to her lifelong ‘weight problem’… just like low carb, low fat, sugar free, and dozens of other food trends have been The Answer as long as I’ve known her. For the record, not one has worked for her no matter how carefully she followed instructions.

This, my friends, is a perfect illustration of how screwed up our attitudes about food, and about health are at present. I assumed a medical intervention for a specific problem was probably another trendy diet, and all her other friends discount the specific good it is doing her because it’s not having the perceived good they expected.

We desperately need to get beyond weight as shorthand for health or illness. It’s bad for everyone.

You Asked For It: Twistie’s Baking Library

(Actual illustration of Twistie at actual size… only two hundred and fifty years ago and much smaller)

In response to my harrumph of last week on the response my week’s worth of baking delicious things for the annual block party, several of you (and you know who you are) begged for the recipes.

Darlings, I love you all like Plummy loves her granny pants, but I’m not typing out that many recipes. I made four fabulous treats, three of which required a minimum of two recipes to assemble. In fact, two of them took three each. That’s a lot of typing of other people’s copyrighted materials.

Instead, I’m going to reveal the sources of all the recipes, tell you where to get copies, and leave it to your own ingenuity and budgets to get them or not. I will further recommend that any of you who enjoy baking more than once in a very, very, very blue moon pick up at least one of these three volumes. Every one is brimful of clear recipes for delicious treats for all occasions.

(more…)

Review Revue: Cheap Old School Granny Panties (you know you love them)

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love granny panties.

Love ’em.

Not only do I love them, I love them unapologetically. I am thirty-three damn years old, I pay my taxes, I vote in elections (local and federal), and I deserve to be free of the underpinnings of the patriarchy, both literally and figuratively.

Give me a full cotton brief in solid neutrals and I’m a happy woman. Nearly everything else is, at least in some fashion, objectionable. My life is exciting enough, I don’t need wacky underpants.

Hipsters/Boy Shorts: Seriously, who is the plus size woman for whom these are constructed? Because they’re certainly not for me. They insinuate themselves into places where no insinuation is required, while the parts you’d prefer to have hitched up make wind sprints for your ankles.

G-Strings and Thongs: I appreciate the lack of panty lines with g-strings and thongs, but aside from the unpleasant appearance that you’re slicing a ham with an eye patch, when your trunkular junk is of the quality and quantity mine is, walking around with it unfettered is ill-advised bordering on reckless. It’s all fun and games until someone walks into traffic.

Bikinis are fine, but they’re TVW* for VPL and again, the insinuation problem rears (see what I did there?)  its ugly head.

Another bonus: Granny panties don’t have writing on them.

I’m as big a fan of Marcel Duchamp as the next gal, but MY Mona Lisa doesn’t need a mustache, especially not one that implies I’m an easily-distracted raccoon, a prostitute, or an easily-distracted raccoon prostitute:

klassy.

Plus ever since I moved to Mexico, I seem to lose underwear like hockey players lose teeth.

Back in my pre-emmigration days, it was like the Marines. No one gets left behind (that’s how I know someone stole a pair of size 9 Delta Burke light control briefs my last night in Ireland) but now…I just don’t know where they go.

Does the washer eat them? Do the dolphins steal them to sell on the internet? Is some enterprising laundress creating makeshift windsurfing sails out of them? I couldn’t begin to tell you.

This has created a significant bloomer gap in my wardrobe.

Knowing I’m going to be traveling from October ’til December and traveling increases both my need for comfortable underthings and the likelihood I’ll lose them, I decided to get back to the most basic of basics, so I popped online to the Fruit of the Loom store on Amazon.

I was interested in their new Fit For Me plus-size line, so I decided to do my own little comparison test and bought two packs of what are essentially the same underwear.

I actually found the normal FotL briefs to be more comfortable than the Fit for Me specifically plus-size underwear.

The Fit for Me briefs have a thicker elastic waistband, about 1″ compared to the 3/4″ on the regular briefs, which is nice. However, the leg placement of the Fit for Me was considerably lower than the straight-sized ones, which meant they felt a little more binding than the regular pair, where the difference between the leg opening and the waist band allowed them to sit comfortably without hugging so far down on my thigh.

My review?

Well, neither of them are uncomfortable and even with the Fat Girl Tax on the Fit for Me pairs, you’re still paying less than $2.50 per piece.

I guess I’d say if you’re over a size 26 or an apple who carries most of her weight in her stomach, you might find the Fit for Me more comfortable, but if you’re a pear, stick with regular briefs. The size 10 easily fits a hippy size 24/26, and you’ll skip the Fat Girl Tax.

*The Very Worst

Bikinis, finally.

For most people in the northern hemisphere swimsuit season is officially over. Sure, people still go swimming, but September marks the beginning of a six month reprieve of magazines/television/Jennifer Hudson (seriously, I know she can sing but has she done anything other than be famous for not being fat since she won that Oscar?) attempting to shame us into the swimwear their advertisers are pushing this season.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about bikinis.

I’m not interested in wearing them. Even if the look suited my body, which it doesn’t, a bikini would never suit my personality.  Still, shouldn’t plus size women be allowed to wear a bikini?

Well, okay, they are allowed to, but why is it always such a big honkin’ deal?

More importantly, why, when I google for “fat girl bikini” is the first result a collection of candids of plus-size women in two piece suits with the caption “The beaches of California have the hottest chicks…This is New Jersey.” and the comments are mostly just lists of which girls the random internet commenter find worthy to be a temporary repository for their almighty wang?

ugh.

On a more positive note, I liked what Gabi Fresh had to say in her article on the “fatkini” for xoJane, which featured a gallery of women, some at least semi-professionally shot, some with the obligatory cell phone selfie in the filthy mirror (now with value-add random boxes of junk).

The woman in this photo, Chastity Garner, for example, is killing it:

but some of the others…I’m not sure the bikini was their best choice.

Not that anyone has a duty to make their best fashion choices. I am very well aware that there’s no law (yet) declaring it every other living person’s responsibility to dress for my approval and a size 28 has every bit as much right as a size 8 or 18 to swimwear separates.

Of course, maybe it’s just because I don’t really care for most plus-size bikinis since they’ve got those ridiculous high waists that hide your stomach with all the efficacy of a spider “hiding” on a bare wall.

Still, I’d rather be slightly put off by a woman wearing an outfit that does her no favors –especially if it’s an outfit that woman loves– than see everyone over a size 10 in an endless parade of flattering but soulless black swimdresses or tankinis (close friends know I have a long-held and totally irrational hate-on for tankinis. Do not try to fight me on this one. You will never win.)

Oh, funny bikini-related story:

Once upon a time I was the assistant director for a play starring mostly folks of a certain age. One particular dashing gentleman, who is the living embodiment of Pepe the King Prawn (but dashing!), was having one hell of a time getting his lines. No one knew if it was stage fright, a language barrier, lack of preparation or what. We just couldn’t get him to commit to the role. Finally as we chatted about the final scene this kindly old gentleman finally got it, said his lines with great panache, dropped trou revealing an extremely abbreviated pair of gray bikini underwear well past the first blush of youth, and waddled off stage triumphantly. We should all be as confident as that particular depanted prawn.

So, what about you? Would you/did you/should you wear a bikini as a big girl? What are your reactions to the fatkini gallery?

Well THIS Can’t Possibly Be a Bad Idea

For those of you who don’t follow Proper Football, you might not know who the Galácticos were, so let me put it in fashion terms. Remember the 90’s when the word model wasn’t synonymous with Faceless Soviet Bloc Tween? That was the era of the real supermodel.

Now imagine the very best supermodels –Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford– all working together. You get great fashion, great photos and at least two great George Michael videos.

The Galácticos of Real Madrid –Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham– were the supermodels of football in the early 2000’s.

Although none of them were particularly dreamy in their heyday:


Becks, Figo, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, Zizou, Ronaldo, aka Guess The French Guy

Time has been very, very good to most of the quartet. Shortly after his 29th birthday, Hot Latin Boy once woke from a dead sleep to ask me with concern in his voice whether I think he’ll age like Figo or Zidane. Because that’s what former footballers worry about, apparently.

Becks’ underwear model status is not to be questioned, Zizou recently graced the cover of GQ in France and Figo looks more and more like an Italian movie star every day but Ronaldo –El Fenómeno– has had a rough time of it.

I’m not talking about his bout with dengue fever, which supposedly makes cholera look like a walk in the park, or even the whole transvestite hookers thing, which okay, is bound to put a damper on anyone’s day.

Last year the World Cup’s all-time leading goal scorer announced his retirement from football with this statement:

“Four years ago in Milan I found out that I was suffering from a problem that is called hypothyroidism, a complaint which slows your metabolism, and that to control it I would have to take medication which is considered illegal in football. A lot of people should feel bad about their comments on my weight: I just wanted to explain that, now that I have reached the end.”

and now, he’s going to be on a weight loss reality show, because that’s a good idea when you’re emotionally fragile, recovering from a mysterious jungle illness and suffering from a disease that has forced you to give up the job you love that earned you universal adulation.


God.

I just want to give him a hug, and also maybe explain to him about the Adam’s apple thing.

Seriously, Ronaldo. Get healthy, get well, work on your fitness and learning to live with your disease. I love you no matter your size. Do you want to get together? You can teach me how to nutmeg HLB (not as dirty as it sounds) and I’ll teach you about Health at Every Size and how to figure out if your hookers du jour are dudes.

Honestly, you’re not in Thailand, it’s not that hard.

Marisota, Old Hollywood Cover-Ups and a SimplyBe Workaround

I just don’t know how people who live in cold climates do it.

Not the living in the arctic tundra part (the arctic tundra, for our purposes, being any place north of Dallas) which is squirrely, but not any squirrelier than living where it gets face-exploding hot.

No, it’s the whole coat buying thing.

Every time I decide I need a proper coat I almost immediately strike out because the Powers That Be have decided for whatever reason that fat girls only want to wear gigantic swing coats with bracelet sleeves (cute in theory, ill-fitted circus tent in application) or ridiculous duffel coats with seedy little fur trim around the hood.

I don’t really care for hooded coats.

I’d rather wear a coat with a collar, plus a scarf and hat, but if I do want a hood, I either want a full-on Loretta Young (ptui ptui) in The Call of The Wild fur hood:

Hate. Her.

Or no hood at all. None of those anemic little squirrel tail-looking things.

Thankfully, The Manolo turned me on to Marisota.

I get all atwitter when I find a new source for plus size threads, and these folks have clothes, coats, intimates the whole shebang…plus an electronics department which I’ll admit struck me as a little strange, especially because only some of them are ahem, personal massagers.

Marisota doesn’t ship internationally –or at least I can’t find any evidence they do– but never fear, your pal Plummy has found a workaround.

A little googling tells me Marisota in the UK overlaps considerably with SimplyBe.

They’re not quite mirrors, but they’re close enough that the resemblance is more than coincidental (much like the child Loretta Young “adopted” shortly after she filmed The Call of the Wild. You know, the one who looked remarkably like an exact biological blend between her devoutly Catholic self and her very married co-star Clark Gable, complete with dear Mister Gable’s dumbo ears.)

Here’s where it gets a little confusing:

On the Simply Be website, there’s a section called Marisota.

However, if you found an item you liked on the Marisota.co.uk page, while it’s probably on Simply Be somewhere, there’s nothing saying it’s going to be under the Marisota section.

Example:

If you click on the coats and jackets section of Marisota and this double-breasted trench with removable capelet strikes your fancy, save yourself some trouble and instead of looking for it under SimplyBe’s Marisota section, just type “capelet” in the search bar.

If it’s available, it’ll pop up.

It’s nigh on impossible to pull a good image at a decent size from Marisota, but trust me. Check them out, do the SimplyBe search if you’re not in the UK and you’ll wind up with some fab winterwear.

Just skip the deerstalker, okay?

Can We Just Enjoy the Party, Please?

Yesterday was the annual block party on my street.

It was a great time, overall. There were games and a bouncy house for the kids, Mr. Twistie’s band played for the adults, though several toddlers were quite fascinated, too. Everyone came out of their houses and chatted with neighbors they hadn’t gotten to know well, yet. Mr. Twistie and I met the newest family on the block, who were quite charming people with an adorable small daughter and great taste in music. What? They loved Mr. Twistie’s band!

I spent the entire week prepping for this shindig in the kitchen. If you’ve read more than one of my missives here on this blog, then you know how I love to cook and especially bake. I pulled out all the stops. For this year’s party I made: apricot scones, a sweet ricotta galette, a white chocolate layer cake filled with homemade lemon curd and frosted with lemon buttercream, and a malted milk ball tart. I hasten to add that last one isn’t made from malted milk balls. It just tastes like one. Yes, I love to make desserts. Also, I make amazing desserts.

There were oohs and ahs as I brought out goodie after goodie. And yes, I oohed and ahed over many of the fabulous savory dishes on the table. BTW, if the creator of that incredible cucumber avocado salad with the ginger vinaigrette is reading this, I will not rest until I have the recipe. I could eat that endlessly.

So what’s the problem? Well, as I brought out my desserts, amid the gasps of wonder and delight, it seems I brought an unintentional passenger along to the table: body shame.

Yep, faced with lots of delicious sweet options, many people just could not deal with the situation without informing me that they couldn’t have any of them because they might ZOMG! get fat. Or fail to lose weight. One bite of cake might turn them into the Goodyear Blimp. And every single one of them chose to tell me how fattening my desserts were.

It’s not like I cared if someone chose not to eat one of my desserts. There were a lot of options on the table, both sweet and savory. All I wanted was to provide something delicious for people who enjoy delicious food. I don’t know who’s on a diet or who has a gluten sensitivity, or even who just isn’t big on sweet things. Eat it, don’t eat it, we’re cool. It’s not like I could have tasted everything out there, either. It was a truly table-straining repast. I tried a little of a lot of things, but I was full before I could eat some of everything, and there were things I passed on because they didn’t appeal to me.

But as my desserts were disappearing at record rate, I heard plenty of clucking about how eating desserts is a bad thing. I actually had a woman tell me that the reason her son is thin is because he stops eating when he’s full. I leveled a stare at her and said: “So do I. I just come from a long line of fat people. That’s why I’m fat.”

In the end, I brought about two slices of cake back… and three dishes that bore only crumbs and a trace or two of whipped cream. Since I hadn’t gotten a slice of cake at the party, I had one as a midnight snack. I’ll probably finish off the other slice for dessert tonight. Chances are high that I won’t be making another layer cake for weeks, maybe even a couple months.

And next year I will spend another week in the kitchen baking my heart out because I enjoy doing it and because there are people who have no problem enjoying what I bring out.

But to those who had to tell me how fat they are (and they were – to a woman and to a man – a hell of a lot thinner than I am), please don’t lay your guilt on me. Eat the cake, don’t eat the cake, it’s up to you. You’re all grown up and get to make these decisions for yourselves. But if you make the decision not to eat my desserts, don’t tell me it’s all about how it will make you fat.

I’ll be too busy enjoying all the food – savory and sweet – to give a damn about your waistline.

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