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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

Five Great: (Very) Personal Care Products Under $12

Aside from Catherine Zit-a Jones, my monthly pimple pal, I’ve had relatively unearned luck when it comes to the body’s largest organ.

It seems along with her pointy chin and penchant for morning martinis, my grandmother –who subscribes to the Keith Richards school of nicotine and alcohol consumption and looks a full twenty years younger than she is (which is forty years younger than she has the right to)– bestowed upon me her preternaturally good skin.

Unfortunately, stress and a complete environmental change have let slip the dogs of clogged pores and your previously porcelain pal Plummy has found herself in need of some serious skin care.

So too has Hot Latin Boy, whose flawless smoldering face has gone all Vesuvius.

He insists he never had so much as a blemish before he met me.

I assured him it was probably a result of his hormones going into hyperdrive from all the sweet, sweet lovin’ he’s been getting and the best course of action would be to cut way back on the international relations. He backpaddled so hard he nearly tripped over my dog.

Despite evidence to the contrary –last night I plucked an unusual yellow fruit the size of a jumbo olive from a neighbor’s tree and blithely popped it in my mouth before realizing I had no idea what that particular morsel was or whether in fact it was edible– I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to my health so I opted to order from drugstore.com where I knew my potions would be approved under the boring-but-important FD&C and FPLA (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, respectively).

For all I know, Mexico could be just as strict as the US when it comes to their equivalent of the FDA, but I don’t especially want to take that risk quite yet.


Nivea Creme Travel Tin

I think I’ve mentioned these pocket-sized wonders before, but they deserve all the praise my freshly moisturized hands can throw at them.

I buy them by the dozen and stash them everywhere.

There’s at least one in every handbag, in all of my coats, a few in the car and one by my bed. What makes them so brilliant is their portability. They’re slim enough to keep in your pocket or bag without taking up much room, and since it’s a tin and not a tube, it’s virtually leak proof.

Recently I’ve been using it when I go to the beach to protect my face against chapping in the wind and to replenish the moisture lost in my hands from all the salt air. They’re also dead handy to have around when I want to partake in street food and either have to use my own disinfectant wipes (harsh) or the combination powdered hand and dish soap (harsher) provided by the taco joint in question.

That way I can have clean hands and still enjoy my taco without my cuticles painfully turning into papyrus. Plus they’re dead cheap and seemingly last forever. What’s not to love?


Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads

I’m a little sensitive to both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, two of the most common active ingredients in OTC acne treatments. Nothing especially terrible happens, I don’t develop leprosy or break out in hives, just a little peeling, but I still try to avoid them when possible.

Tea tree oil has always been good to me as has witch hazel; these little astringent pads contain both.

They are outstanding.

What they’re not, however, are cleansing pads. I always think of cleansing pads as something to replace your face wash. These are more like Oxy pads for grown ups, and I’d use them in place of a toner or astringent.

I really like the pads themselves, which are just scratchy enough to feel like you’re getting a good rigorous bit of exfoliation, and although the witch hazel/denatured alcohol/tea tree oil does tingle, it feels reassuringly strident without making my skin peel or go red, even if I forget to moisturize after.

It’s pretty good bang for your buck too, 50 pads will set you back just over five smackeroos and they can be used as middle-of-the-day skin refreshers too.

Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Anti-Wrinkle Creme

Man this is great stuff.

I remember back in the day you could go to Walgreen’s for your middle-of-the-night PMS run (spice drops, Coca Cola and beef jerky) and get a nice-sized vat of Alpha Hydrox creme for like six bucks on sale.

I would slather it all over my body and then do a dry brush/salt scrub whenever I was feeling particularly crusty and gross.

It worked like gangbusters and I’d emerge from my bath looking just as fresh and pink as a pig in buttermilk.

They’ve either discontinued or reformulated that particular product, but this moisturizer with 10% pure Glycolic Acid –an alpha hydroxy acid naturally found in sugar cane– holds its own when it comes to gently reducing fine lines, spots and improving the tone and texture of your skin, even on delicate petals like me.

HLB has been using this in combination with the tea tree wipes for two weeks and his complexion has almost completely cleared, plus the dark spots blemishes leave behind for a month after a breakout have faded considerably.

I’ve mostly noticed an improvement of tone in my skin and the few fine lines that appear in my forehead whenever I’m particularly stressed or dehydrated have vanished.

I’ve put these last two products behind the jump because they’re a bit intimate in nature, but I get a surprising number of emails about products like these, so here we go.

(more…)

Corsets! Finally!

Okay gang, I have one hour and thirty seven minutes before I have to be down in the little village of Popotla to wait for the fishermen to come in. Not, sadly, because I’m waiting for a sailor, but the fishing boats come in at noon and if I’m not there to fight tooth and nail with these surprisingly tough little Mexican grandmothers (I don’t know how you say “throw elbows” in Spanish, but I sure bet they do!) at the exact minute they splosh today’s catch on their ramshackle folding table, then the seagulls will get my dinner and frankly, I cannot live with that.

As promised, here is a belated corset post with recommendations.

Please note I don’t actually own any of these corsets, although I wish I did. I judged them based on apparent quality of construction, variety of product (as in: do they offer longline/underbust/cotton/bridal/whatever corsets) and how much the site annoyed me.

My favorite by far is Corsets-UK.com

Although they don’t offer as much as I’d like to see in the way of neutral colors, they’ve got an impressive selection of underbust, sweetheart and longline corsets suitable for almost all your waist-cinching occasions.

By the way, if you’ve got a natural waist larger that 43″, you’re still probably safe going with a corset built for a smaller waist since fat is more malleable than bone. Just don’t go passing yourself out or doing anything dumb.

OH! And they’re doing a buy-two-get-one-free promotion on almost all corsets, so if you and some friends (I’m thinking bridesmaids) want to go in on a group order together, this might be the time to do it.

This long line underbust corset is for waist training. Personally, I don’t think waist training is a good idea because that stuff can mess with your ribs and lungs and other important parts of your body that should probably not be jostled around for the sake of a smaller waist. Still, there’s no harm in popping one on for a few hours if you’ve got a special event coming up, or if you need the extra control 24 steel bones provide.

If you want to do an overbust corset and still be responsible WRT the chestular situation (no Platter O’ Boobs/Dish of Desperation) a deep sweetheart is the way to go. That way you can maneuver the gals to their upright and locked position without spilling over into “I couldn’t get a date in high school so please approve of me now” territory. No one looks good in that territory.

There are TONS more corsets from the ridiculous (camouflage corset anyone?) to the sublime, but I’ve got to go throwdown with the old ladies over the best salmon so I’ll leave you to sort it out yourself. Good luck!

Review Revue: SQUEEM Shapewear

I know what you’re thinking: What the heck sort of name is SQUEEM for shapewear?

Is it a portmanteau of squeeze and seam?
Squeal and scream?

Not to mention SQUEEM makes me think of being squeamish, like I’m supposed to put on a girdle and then watch a HD video of my great uncle Jack try to remove his most furry and misshapen moles with toenail clippers.

*shudder*

Gah. I just grossed myself out.

I’m not going to pretend I understand the 40 year-old Brazilian company’s choice of nomenclature, nor do I understand why the language options on the website are English and Spanish but not, you know, Portuguese, the language they speak in Brazil.

I also don’t understand the whole Virtuous Circle thing, which I’m hoping are just bad translations from Portuguese because neither the English nor the Spanish version stands up to any sort of rigorous logic.

One thing leads to another. From better body to better mind to a better you. Squeem is designed for weight loss and instant progress. […] Immediate results will make you care more for your body; giving you the long-term benefits you’ll need for a complete transformation, and that is The Virtuous Circle.

Howlingly bad copy aside (oh, and the music on every page of their website. Every. Page. and it doesn’t remember your audio preferences so if you’re going to go to the site, just turn off your speakers) this is actually a pretty good product and it comes in sizes up to 4X.

Here’s how it went down:

The folks at Squeem were all up in my kool aid for months trying to send me a sample for review and I wasn’t all that interested because frankly, I get a lot of free junk through this site and most of it is just exactly that: Junk.

I’m not interested in getting it, I’m not interested in reviewing it and I’m certainly not interested in having it take up closet space, affronting the dignity of all my nice stuff by its very presence.

Still, I had a look around their site and aside from the audio and the gross abuse of Flash, I generally liked what I saw so I ordered the “Perfect Waist“.

Squeem has light control products when all you really need is some smoothing, the “Control Fit” which has a much firmer grip and “I Ain’t Playin’ With You” (okay, that’s not actually what they call it) that’s pretty much just pure rubber and will make you sweat like at least one, if not several, stuck pigs.

What makes Squeem special, supposedly, is this magical rubber and cotton treatment that gives you all the compression of the former with all the comfort of the latter.

Uh huh. Sure. A rubberized slimmer that breathes. I’ll put that right up there with unicorns, fat female romantic leads and Mexican cops who don’t take bribes on the Never Gonna Happen shelf.

But I’ll be damned if it didn’t actually work.

I’m not going to say the Perfect Waist felt like wearing a flimsy cotton chemise, but considering there’s practically an entire rainforest worth of rubber in there, I didn’t get sweaty at all. It was warm but completely breathable. How? How is that possible? More importantly, what does this mean for my chances of meeting a unicorn or an unbuyable cop?

Sqeem’s maiden voyage on the Good Ship Plumcake happened in October when I went to meet Hot Latin Boy’s mother for the first time.

I’m going to be honest: it flipped up a little at the bottom and down a little at the top.

Someone with a shorter waist would’ve been able to anchor both ends down with their undies and bra and probably avoid that problem, and still, it wasn’t such a big deal because the fabric is thin enough to not mess with the lines of an outfit if some flippage does accidentally occur, but it happened. Do with that what you will.

It was blessedly invisible under a thick ponte knit dress in a way my corset was not, and although I did have to take it off before I actually met his mother thanks to a panic attack (I was nervous enough to begin with and to get to her house we had to drive through Downtown Tijuana on a Friday night which is exactly as horrifying as it sounds, especially if you’re a woman with delicate sensibilities like myself. I can only endure the visual assault of so many clear heels at a time without dire medical repercussions, although in their defense, they WERE hookers.) I have no problems recommending SQEEM to anyone looking for quality shapewear.

The Perfect Waist isn’t going to replace my corset for major reshaping needs, but it’s telling that when I packed my suitcase of clothes for the big move to Villa Plumcake to tide me over while the rest of my stuff was in storage, the Perfect Waist came with me.

Grade: A-

You Asked For It: Spanx

Good morning my live active cultures of love, how’s every little thing? What? Yes I did have yogurt for breakfast, cactus and prune flavored, thank you. Why do you ask?

We’re going to spend the rest of this week focusing on shapewear, and never fear, I still have a handful of corset recommendations, but several of you have asked me what I think about Spanx.

Spanx can just go ahead, do some breathing exercises, maybe stretch a little, purchase a crazy straw from the party supply store of their choice in any one of a variety of colors and suck it.


(none of these cartoons actually need shapewear)

I have never, EVER had a piece of shapewear from them that lasted more than one or two wearings, didn’t roll or otherwise backfire or have glaring flaws right out of the package. I gave up on their legwear ages ago after putting my hand through three pairs of their pantyhose, once on the first try.

Maybe they’re just made for women with only a little bit of pudge, or whose hourglass boom boom isn’t quite so pow. Maybe it’s because I’m the only person in America who has a torso longer than two inches. I don’t know, but I feel like I’m the only woman on the planet who doesn’t think these things are the best invention since sliced vodka.

Oh maybe it’s user error, you say.

HA and verily double ha! There are little baby angels who are rougher on their clothes than I am.

Heck, I painted my patio in Hermes and didn’t get a speck of Unicorno (apparently in Mexico, unicorns are fuchsia. In an unrelated note: there’s a lot of peyote in this country) on my entire outfit so it’s not like I’m running around with an angry jackal in my pants, laying waste to all hosiery within a 10 mile radius.

PLUS Spanx is ridiculously overpriced for the quality and what’s worse, most plus-size stores these days (please imagine me shaking a cane in geriatric wrath, you may also imagine me in a kaftan if you wish, but it’s not necessary to the visual) have either vastly reduced or completely eliminated their hosiery in favor of selling the Spanx line.

Sigh.

Remember about six million years ago, back at the dawn of the current century, where you could buy those amazing Lane Bryant opaque tights that looked great and lasted FOREVER and you didn’t mind spending $18 on one pair because you knew your knees would wear out before those tights did?

Gonesville. Replaced by ^%$# SPANX for the low low price of $30 – $40, which would be okay if they, as previously mentioned, didn’t suck so hard there are ostriches in Africa wondering what that breeze is and if maybe they couldn’t cut it out because it’s messing with their (the ostriches’ not the Spanxs’) feathers.

Sure you can get some novelty legwear and a basic entry-level black tight from the Lane Bryant home brand, but solid black is not the same as opaque black and one of my biggest pet peeves is a theoretically opaque tight that isn’t. Grr.

Honestly, for that manner of stretchy shapwear I’ve had far better luck at places like Ross and TJ Maxx.

For example: this past summer I bought an amazing high-waist pencil-skirt slimmer that has been a revelation and I KNOW I didn’t spend more than $10 for it. I’ve even worn it as a miniskirt under a long sweater and over a pair of my antediluvian but still functional LB opaque tights. Sadly I don’t have a brand for you (it’s seamless and I’ve rubbed the printed label right off) but if I find it again I’ll report back.

Izod –I know, right?– makes some surprisingly solid shapewear in plus sizes, all of which are higher quality than any of the Spanx I’ve experienced, and I’m pretty sure each piece I bought was $7.99.

There’s also some brand called Lady Princess that I’ve never seen anywhere other than Ross and Ross-esque stores.

I’m pretty sure they’re designed for drag queens (I think it’s the name) but I don’t care. I’ve had good luck with their more heavy-duty pieces.

As far as the major players go, I far prefer the Avenue Body line of shapewear to Lane Bryant’s Cacique (though I still prefer the LB bras) but neither of them really carry my watermelon since both brands tend to roll, fold, pill and lose their shape within a half dozen wearings.

So is there a brand of Spandex-not-steel shapewear you can find online and which I actually LIKE?

Yes, and stay tuned kiddios: I’ve got a Review Revue coming up tomorrow.

You Asked For It: Corsets for the Big Girl part 1

A corset is a lot like a handgun: Dangerous, powerful and ideally concealed in public spaces.

Unfortunately, you don’t need to be trained or certified before the state says it’s okay to have a corset.

Corsets are not Costume.

I mean, they CAN be, but you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to create that awful, desperate Platter O’ Boobs effect. So, just for the sake of my head not splitting in half with two even more judgmental pieholes growing in its place, let’s just forget corsets as costumery and focus on them as a piece of specialty shapewear.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define a corset as a piece of boned lingerie with laces that can be used to minimize the waist by at least 3″. I say that because there are a lot of cinchers, high-waisted girdles and other usually latex or rubber-intensive shapers that call themselves corsets.

Of course, if I learned anything from living in the DC metro area during the Clinton years, there’s boning and then there’s boning. A good corset has steel boning or something with the equivalent flexibility and control. Flimsy little plastic or fabric “bones” are less than useless, because not only do they NOT work most of the time, they’re also likely to roll on you (more on that later).



The two main mistakes I see big girls in corsets make (aside from the Platter O’Boobs) are wearing corsets that are the wrong shape for their body/the outfit and lacing the corset too tightly.

If you are very large-busted or tend towards the floppy, you want a corset that ends under the bust. Cleverly known as underbust corsets, they allow you to wear your own bra and avoid the POB look. They’re also my corset of choice because overbust corsets can ruin the side profile by making less-than-ginormous funbags look flat.

You should also consider the length of your torso.

I’ve got a long waist and a standard corset is usually too short for me, which leads to an incredibly alluring reverse muffin top where all the fat sploodges out the bottom. I usually fix that by wearing some manner of high-impact girdle so my hips and gut don’t burst forth like the mighty kraken, hellbent on destroying all in its path, or at least the lines of my outfit which –let’s face it– is more important.

A longline corset is the way to go if you want your lower stomach and hips to get some smoothing action as well.

They’re a bit more difficult to maneuver in and generally a little more expensive, but if you’ve laced yourself properly they’re no big deal.

If you’re quite short-waisted, a standard-length corset will probably work as a longline and if you want something for your waist only, look for a lace-up cincher instead of a corset.

Now the lacing.

It is so easy, not to mention tempting, to go overboard with the lacing.

But friends, the fat has got to go somewhere and when you over-lace not only does it look weird, disproportionate and fetishistic, you are almost guaranteed a nice bulging set of backfat puppies popping out of the top and bottom of your corset. Fabulous if you’re a dowager empress, not so great for the rest of us. Keep the laces at the top and bottom of your corset nice and open, focusing on creating a gently exaggerate curve, not overzealous Gibson Girl Gone Wild.

Monday I’ll have a selection of corsets I recommend as well as answering a few more questions about this seemingly most difficult piece of underwear. Until then I am being forcefully beckoned to Plumcake Central Command (my hammock) for an important meeting (a nap followed by a gin and tonic) before tonight’s busy schedule of…probably nothing.

Miss Plumcake’s Reluctant Guide to Sexual Health #2: The Hair Down There

I think stressing over taming the topiary is sort of a young woman’s game.

The general consensus is men “expect” girls whose downton abbey looks like Atlanta after a visit from General Sherman because of porn. Now, I don’t actually believe any guy over the age of 23 can possibly be THAT clueless, but you know what?

If a guy’s understanding of sexual congress comes from repeated viewings of “White Men Can’t Hump” you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with him in the first place. That one was a freebie. You’re welcome.

Still, it’s your hair and you can do what you want with it.

I’m prone to ingrown hairs and my new beach bunny lifestyle (I think I mentioned it on twitter or Facebook, but I’m moving to a little Mexican beach town) is a lot more swimsuit intensive.

It’s also a lot more gettin’ some intensive and the pleasantness of either encounter is not enhanced by painful red bumps.

A few years ago a guy I asked a guy I worked with how he got his head so smooth. He told me he used Magic Shaving Powder, which was specially formulated for African-American men to prevent razor bumps/ingrown hairs.

I thought “hey, why not?” and now I look back upon my prior adventures in hair removal with the bitterest of laughs.

Of course the law firm of C.Y.A. & Associates requires me to tell you this product is not for use on your lady parts and should be used only as directed, so to be very clear: I am not recommending you do this, I’m just saying what I did.

Magic Shave comes in either a powder or a cream.

I use the powder because I can control the thickness of the paste and you get more bang for your buck. Scoop some powder into a bowl or plate –I use the lid from an old pint of a gelato because I’m elegant like that– and mix it with cool water until it has the texture of slightly thin toothpaste.

Spread it all over the desired area –I use the back of a plastic knife– and let that stuff percolate for a few minutes. You’re supposed to keep the area moist, so I keep a mist bottle around, but you could just put a damp paper towel atop the whole works. The directions say to leave it on 5 to 7 minutes, but I go for an even ten. Then rinse it off using the ol’ washcloth and cool water treatment.

The smell is not pleasant, but I find it a lot less offensive than Nair and at least it vanishes instead of lingering like a creepy guy at a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit the way other depilatories do.

Now here’s the clincher.

Bump Stopper 2.

Seriously gang. I don’t know what I did without it.

I just rub a teensy bit of the thick unscented cream on when I wake up and once again when I go to sleep & I’ve been ingrown-free since using it except for once and it vanished in two days. Plus I swear it stops regrowth from being itchy.

Of course you’ll want to do a test patch for both of these products first and follow all directions and wash behind your ears before you go to bed, and sit up straight get a real job and start giving me some grandchildren. I’m not going to be around forever you know.

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