Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

January 14, 2010

The Big Question: Bloggers’ Choice Edition

Filed under: Internet Friends,The Big Question — Francesca @ 4:28 pm

As we head into the weekend, when we can surf the interwebs without fear of angering The Man, Francesca wants to know:

Do you keep a blog, or know of a terrific blog you’d recommend?

If so, what it is about, and how can we get to it?


January 11, 2010

Interesting Styling Question

Francesca sometimes reads the blog “Single Dad/Disabled Daughter,” which is pretty much what it sounds like: it is written by a 40-something New England man whose teenage daughter is non-mobile, non-verbal, and cannot communicate in any way. (She laughs and cries, but cannot perform a repeatable action at will to represent “yes” or “no.”)

As “Pearlsky” gets older, Single Dad wants to know from his female readers how he can make his daughter look pretty and well-cared-for, without sexualizing her or crossing into creepy territory:

Should her ears be pierced? Her navel? And if so, should she wear those shirts that show her midriff?

I have always wanted, and still want, Pearlsky to blend in as much as possible . . .  . Yes, I know Pearlsky will never really blend in, so maybe it is so she stands out less?

She is dark haired … do I shave her legs in the summertime when she is in shorts and swimming? Should she wear nail polish? Lipstick? (Those two are probably impractical, but still). How about mascara? If not, why do you? Being a teenager, her skin occasionally breaks out, especially in rhythm with her cycle. Should I try to minimize any acne-like activity? If so, how does that reasoning differ from mascara which would only highlight her beautiful eyes. But then, do I want to highlight anything beautiful about her? If so, why? Why not?

Francesca knows that the intelligent, stylish and friendly women here will have good pointers for this poor stymied man! Read the whole post and share your wisdom here.

P.S. Word to the wise: Single Dad really does not like it when people compliment him for being strong or doing things that they don’t think they could do in his shoes. He is also tired of “Lord bless you and Pearlsky” sentiments. FYI.

September 29, 2009

Lonely Hearts Club

Francesca, Plumcake and Twistie received a heartfelt letter from reader L:

I want to thank you for all your insight on fashion, books, art, and life. There have been many times I’ve taken courage and heart from something one of you has written.

I’m in my early 40’s, living alone, doing a demanding job that I love. In the last three years, I’ve ended a long-term relationship and lost a parent whom I dearly loved. At the same time I started eating healthier, became more physically active, and updated my wardrobe and hairstyle. I have loving friends, but they are all married, with families, and they don’t always have time to hang out and talk. I’m close with my siblings but they live overseas. 

Even though I’m shy, I’ve tried to step out of my comfort zone by taking classes, going on trips, volunteering. I’ve tried being outgoing and friendly and have even read books about how to talk to people. But I still feel lonely and disconnected. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an independent, some might even say tough, person. But there are days when I can’t face going to another movie alone, lunch alone, making dinner alone, going for a walk alone. I’ve been dating, but nothing much has come of it.

It’s not just a question of wanting to be partnered. It’s a general feeling of being cut off from life. The loneliness doesn’t occupy my thoughts all the time, but when it does it is bone-deep and crushing. I think about my own mortality and can’t help but think that if I went tomorrow, it would be as if I’d never been here.

Could you write something about how you cope, or have coped in the past, with loneliness? Do you have any strategies or advice? Will seeing a doctor help? Almost everyone who writes into your blog seems to have it all together, but I guess there are those like me who are not quite there yet, despite outward appearances.

Francesca answers:

It may help L to know that, while I cannot speak for Twistie or Plumcake or any of our commenters, Francesca herself (her non-virtual self, that is) is not always as “together” as she is on this blog. Much happens in life that does not make it onto the internets. Even the most superfantastic of us do not feel superfantastic all of the time.

For loneliness that feels “crushing” and “bone-deep,” especially after the death of a parent and the ending of an important relationship, seeing a doctor absolutely could help. It appears to Francesca that L may be suffering from clinical depression (yes, a person can be going to work every day with a great haircut and still be depressed), in which case a combination of medication and/or talk therapy could literally be a life-saver.

Depression has a stigma attached to it, but it shouldn’t. It is a medical condition, and just like diabetes or food allergies, it can be managed (or overcome). It does help, to lessen the feeling of stigma, to live for a while in New York City, where people speak openly about their therapists and their Zoloft (ah, Americans!)

Of course, loneliness does not have to be associated with depression. Anyone who is not “partnered,” when they want to be – such as Francesca– will feel lonely sometimes. Some people feel lonely because they are in bad relationships, or simply because they feel existential angst. Having busy friends, and family far away, as L does, does not help at all, as Francesca well knows.

In taking care of her body, treating herself, and expanding her social horizons, L has taken important, positive steps.  Here are some  additional things Francesca does, or has done, to manage loneliness, usually with success:

  • Staying relentlessly busy with work, courses and hobbies
  • Reading as much as possible
  • Being part of a religious community
  • Going to therapy when needed
  • Taking a course called “Understanding Yourself and Others” with Global Relationship Centers, and returning now and then as a course assistant whenever her travel schedule allows. (Francesca loves the warm atmosphere, personal tools, and new friends.)
  • Getting a pet
  • Keeping in close contact with my dear family and my friends who live overseas. For this, Francesca uses an American number which rings in her home abroad (get one through Packet8 or Vonage) but Skype works too.
  • Becoming part of various online communities (natch!)
  • Reaching out to married girlfriends and cultivating those relationships as much as possible.
  • Recognizing feelings of loneliness, allowing myself to feel them and let them pass without judging them, rather than trying to force myself to feel happier.
  • Meditation/breathing exercises
  • Entertaining friends at home

 YMMV, so consider all possibilities, and choose the ones that work best for you. And remember, you may feel lonely, but in this, you are not alone.

Francesca wishes to open up L’s letter to the love and support of our wonderful readers. How do YOU, in all your put-togetherness, manage loneliness? Please use the comments section to share/observe/advise.

August 24, 2009

Plus-size chic from down under

Filed under: From Francesca's Inbox,Internet Friends — Francesca @ 6:00 pm

There is a new plus-size vendor in town (well, technically in Glen Huntly, VIC, Australia), but they SHIP INTERNATIONALLY (and if you live in Australia, you get free shipping with orders of $A50 or more).

Welcome to WRAP – Work, Rest and Play! Francesca calls them “Torrid for grown-ups.”

Remember the prices are listed in Australian dollars, which currently are worth 83 cents American. Meaning, prices are 20% lower than what they seem to be.

Best of luck to the new, small vendor, and happy shopping!

March 28, 2009

A Big Idea

Filed under: Absolutely Fabulous,Fashion,Internet Friends — Francesca @ 3:59 pm

We often get emails from readers in countries where beautiful plus-size clothes are even harder to find than in the United States, asking for help. Now, two of our fashionista internet friends are taking matters into their own hands. Francesca thinks what they are doing is a great way for everyone to get high-quality clothes, meet new people and have some fashion fun – and the idea can be replicated. Kudos to our Jerusalem-based readers, Yehudit and Hadara!

This is part of the email from Yehudit:

yehudit2.JPGWe are having a sale of high-quality new and gently-used clothing, sizes 1x-5x, at my home in the Bakaa neighborhood of Jerusalem. Example of brands: Mossino, Zara, Lane Bryant, GAP, Old Navy, Bloomies, Forever 21, etc. Everything is under 100 shekels ($25 or less). I’m sending you pictures of me wearing two tops we are selling. One of them I bought from Igigi after seeing it on Manolo for the Big Girl!

Here is the background: Hadara is an artist and has been supplying top-quality plus-size clothing for a few years already, selling beautiful items that she buys at deep discounts when traveling abroad. I think she does it because there’s such a lack of cool, funky, elegant plus-size clothes here in Israel. Most of the “big sizes” look quite matronly (to be diplomatic) and look like tents.

She’s got a LOT of stock left over from her previous sales, so this is a ‘blow out’ sale for her before Passover. Last chance to get some beautiful, brand-new clothes that are top brands straight from the US.

yehudit1.JPGFor me, I have been on a journey, growing a lot, changing a lot.  I’ve begun to really take care of myself and I feel a sense of renewal and revitalization in my life. Part of that renewal is removing all the stuff I don’t wear anymore because it is the wrong size– like a Spring Cleaning & giving it to others!

They are beautiful clothes that I’m selling- really cool and professional actually, perfect for holidays, the office, etc, but for me, I’m ready to say goodbye and look forward to renewing my wardrobe next winter!

I figure “one person’s junk is another person’s gold” so if I can help other women treat themselves with my goodies, then so be it!

(The sale will take place Sunday-Wednesday March 29-31 by appointment. Anyone interested can write to me at

What intrigues Francesca about what they are doing is:

a) One woman took it upon herself to bring her love of fashion to other women in her community who need help looking good, and now another has been inspired to join in. (Francesca wishes to add that anyone seeking to import plus-size clothing into their home country to sell to others should become knowledgable about applicable customs and tax laws.)

b) They are focusing on high-quality items, in good condition. This is not a sale wherein anyone must feel sorry about buying used items, because the second-hand goods are in good condition and are made well.

c) The sale is by appointment and they are providing space to try on the clothes.

In other words, it sounds like they are selling superfantastic goods in a superfantastic, dignified atmosphere. Francesca approves!

Also, d) Francesca loves getting pictures of our readers!

Do you have a photo of yourself wearing an item you bought after seeing it on our blog? Please send it to and tell us something about yourself. It will help her feel good, and maybe she will post your picture! (if that is OK with you)

xoxo always!

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