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The Big Question: How Serious is Too Serious?

You know, I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty oblivious to most fat biases, or if I notice them I don’t really care. It’s hard to get all worked up by a No Fat Chicks shirt since they guys who wear them are the same ones who put fake testicles on their trucks and are thus doing the world a favor by being clearly marked.

Yet when I noticed this printed out on a piece of copy paper and pasted on the wall of a sports bar I visited on Saturday, well, it stuck in my craw:


“Behold the Power of Beer”

And the more I think about it, the more it bothers me.

Like, maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if it had been a big girl done up to look really comically ugly, and then magically turned into a skinny girl with some serious aftermarket headlights –because that’s what all guys want right?– but it was just sort of a generically pretty big girl, so the implication is you’d have to be drunk to want to have sex with a fat girl.

Really? REALLY? You’ll take my money AND insult me? Not on my watch, bucko. If I wanted that sort of treatment I’d have children or spend time with the federal government and frankly, neither of those sound all that appealing.

So what do you think? Am I being too serious? Should I have said something? Would you/do you go to places like that?

Well Just Damn: Jane Russell 1921-2011

Most people know two things about Jane Russell:

Her scandalous-for-the-time promo shots of The Outlaw featuring what is generally acknowledged as the first underwire push-up bra, invented under the watchful eye of producer and tissue-box enthusiast Howard Hughes and being the woman who wasn’t Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Speaking of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, everyone knows the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number, many even know the showgirl piece “Just Two Little Girls from Little Rock” but what folks seem to forget is the greatest assembly of golden age Safety Gays ever committed to celluloid:

I loved Jane Russell because she was obviously so much smarter than the doofuses who treated her as a just a bouncy bouncy bombshell. Plus, she inadventently helped a young Miss Plumcake come to peace with dressing her body.

In an interview sometime before 1993, Ms Russell bemoaned what a terrible time costumers had dressing her because she was so tall, long-waisted and actually much bigger than the 38-24-36 measurements the studio’s publicity department decided she had. She never once said it was a problem with her figure, the problem was with inept costumers, NOT her figure.

WELL! Enough lightbulbs to power Dallas went off in my young head. Was it possible the reason I had problems finding clothes that made me look as fabulous as I wanted (and remember, I was probably about 12 at this point) wasn’t because there was something wrong with ME, but with the people making the clothes?

I mean there was certainly nothing wrong with Jane Russell’s figure, and if SHE had a hard time of it, then CLEARLY the fault wasn’t in the star, dear Brutus, but in her seamstresses.

JR never got the respect she deserved as an actress. Her comedic timing was great and her dramatic roles had an undercurrent of ferocity that elevated even the flimsiest script. Yes, she had a great rack and was beautiful, but she was sharp, bright and unapologetic on and off the screen.

Rest in peace, Ms Russell, and in Heaven I hope everyone has the courtesy to look you in the eyes.

Ask Auntie Plumcake: How to spot a fake site

Happy Monday, campers! Sorry for the radio silence last week but things were a-brewin’ at the newspaper and you know mama needs her jay-oh-bee.

Anyhoodle, as promised last week, I’m going to talk about how to spot a site selling fake shoes.

If you have to wonder: It’s fake.

Other than department stores, major shoe sites (Endless etc), designers’ flagship sites and these online-only retailers:

Bluefly
Forzieri
Luisa Via Roma
Net a Porter
Raffaello Network
YOOX
Zappos Couture

You’re taking a big chance.

Any site that has a url like www.louboutinstore.com or www.discountmanolos.com are always always always 100% fake.

Here are some other ways to spot a fake site:

  • They use photos from other sites. Each vendor takes their own photos to coincide with their house style, so if you see the exact same photo at the questionable site and Neiman’s, you know something is up.
  • The site looks wonky. If an online retailer has the cachet to get a luxury designer to agree to sell through them, they’re going to be able to afford top of the line photographers and web designers.
  • The sales are too good to be true. I mean duh.
  • They have Hermès Bags. If you can buy a Birkin on the site, you can just go ahead and forget about it. Fakesville.

What about eBay?

EBay is another kettle of fish, because you’ve got genuine sellers and the fakesters out there. Generally speaking I wouldn’t buy a pair of Loubies unless they had the actual store receipt and/or the tags were still on the sole of the shoe.

If a vendor has the same design of a high end shoe in several sizes, that’s a red flag. It’s more of a concern with ultra premium designers. Sometimes eBay sellers can buy out deadstock from Amazon or Overstock and resell them, but that’s not going to happen with Manolos and Loubies. You’re just NOT going to get a warehouse of Manolo Blahnik Sedarabys.

They only sell iconic shoes. The Sedarabys are a good example. They’re the shoes Carrie Bradshaw got stolen in Sex in the City. See also the Something Blue from the (stupid) movie. They’re the most iconic, so obviously they’re going to be the most imitated. Neiman’s sells the Something Blue pumps for $945. So the pair for $138? Faker than SJP’s marriage.

They don’t have the names. People who know about shoes talk about them by name. They’re not just Diors: they’re Blue Angels. They’re not Louboutin mary janes, they’re Iowas. Details count.

Signs of a legitimate eBay seller:

I tend to err on the side of caution. I won’t buy a premier designer shoe without the pricetag from a store I recognize and/or the receipt. On occasion I’ll make an exception, when an eBay seller is selling her shoe collection. For example, if someone wanted to sell me a size 36 Manolo a size 41 Loubie and a size 37 Dior, plus some Beanie Babies and some aluminum siding, I wouldn’t touch it. But if a woman has a dozen pair of shoes, all roughly the same size and from the same level of designer, I’d feel pretty safe in going for it, IF everything else looked legit.

So err on the side of caution and of course you can always ask your Auntie Plumcake to check out a site before you buy.

Gin and Tonics,

Auntie Plumcake

Word.

Being a professional Episcopalian I don’t tend to get many Sundays off.*

On the rare Sundays when I don’t find myself kicking ass for the Lord I usually spend the day ultralounging in various states of undress and doing what I damn well please. Which is different than what I do every day because I’m not wearing pants.

Yesterday I found myself tucking into two of my favorite indulgences, Seneca and campy late 60’s melodrama. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the wisdom found within Valley of the Dolls, so let’s go straight to the Stoics.

I’m all about the Late Stoa, but for those of you who aren’t currently up on your Ancient Roman philosophers, let me drop a little toga on you all.

Seneca was a stoic playwright and philosopher around the time of Nero.

Like most of the post-Socratics, he was concerned about how to live The Good Life, but unlike Aristotle who was the sort of virtuous dude who could still appreciate a boozy brunch with twelve of his favorite well-oiled houseboys (and how many of us can’t) Seneca was a Stoic, one of those Virtue is its Own Reward guys. So, you know, probably a good idea to listen to him, but probably not the guy you want as your wingman for a drunken weekend in Ibiza.

Anyhoodle, back in the day, our boy wrote a series of letters to a guy named Lucilius, the Roman governor of Sicily, who was generally considered to be a pretty good egg. This is from Epistle XIII, and while I’m sure Big S didn’t mean it specifically as life advice for fat chicks whose mellows are being continually bombarded by harshing agents, it is shockingly applicable.

Do me the favour, when men surround you and try to talk you into believing that you are unhappy, to consider not what you hear but what you yourself feel, and to take counsel with your feelings and question yourself independently, because you know your own affairs better than anyone else does.

Ask: “Is there any reason why these persons should condole with me? Why should they be worried or even fear some infection from me, as if troubles could be transmitted? Is there any evil involved, or is it a matter merely of ill report, rather than an evil?” Put the question voluntarily to yourself: “Am I tormented without sufficient reason, am I morose, and do I convert what is not an evil into what is an evil?” You may retort with the question: “How am I to know whether my sufferings are real or imaginary?”

Here is the rule for such matters: We are tormented either by things present, or by things to come, or by both. As to things present, the decision is easy. Suppose that your person enjoys freedom and health, and that you do not suffer from any external injury. As to what may happen to it in the future, we shall see later on. To-day there is nothing wrong with it. “But,” you say, “something will happen to it.” First of all, consider whether your proofs to future trouble are sure. For it is more often the case that we are mocked by that mocker, rumour, which is wont to settle wars, but much more often settles individuals.

Yes, my dear Lucilius; we agree too quickly with what people say.

We do not put to the test those things which cause our fear; we do not examine into them; we blench and retreat just like soldiers who are forced to abandon their camp because of a dust-cloud raised by stampeding cattle, or are thrown into a panic by the spreading of some unauthenticated rumour. And somehow or other it is the idle report that disturbs us most. For truth has its own definite boundaries, but that which arises from uncertainty is delivered over to guesswork and the irresponsible license of a frightened mind.

That is why no fear is so ruinous and so uncontrollable as panic fear. For other fears are groundless, but this fear is witless.

Word.

*Yes I know it’s poor form to end a sentence with a preposition but I’m not about to say “I don’t get off many Sundays” because a) I’m twelve so that’s funny b) I would receive accusatory texts from concerned parties.

Lions and Camels and Dragons, Oh My!

Every woman who has ever opened a glossy magazine knows there are few things that women love more than rules. Twelve Hot Rules for Bedroom Bliss! Ten Style Staples You Can’t Live Without!

It’s tough because there is something to be said for never complaining about your body in front of a man or owning one perfect cashmere sweater. Even in life –which is marginally less important than a perfect cashmere sweater– there are basic rules of engagement we are expected to follow because we are social creatures functioning within a society.

And yet? The only thing sadder than a woman afraid to do what she pleases is a woman who is too afraid to ask herself what she likes in the first place.

I believe I’ve told the story a few years back when a young woman of my acquaintance started showing up places dressed in what can only be described as a Miss Plumcake costume. It was embarrassing. Flattering in a sense, but embarrassing. She did not know –or did not have the confidence– to wear what she liked, so she followed someone else’s rules for looking glamorous. Instead she looked like a knock-off. Was she happy? I don’t know. But I do know when I put something on my body, I’m doing so because it expresses something I want to say. My clothes/makeup/shoes/hair/whatever are an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual somethingorother.

My outside reflects the inside, or at least the part of the inside I want to share that day. It’s mine, not yours. I know the rules, I’ve learned them and when it pleases me I reject them. And if you don’t like it? Try not to slip on my single salty tear. And the reverse holds true. If you wear acid washed mom jeans because you LOVE them and you feel they express who you are as a person, then who cares if (by which I mean WHEN) I roll my eyes?

In The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell talks about a section in “Thus Spake Zarathustra” when Nietzsche describes the journey of being and becoming.

We start out life as a camel and our job is to bear a burden. The weight is the wisdom and knowledge and tradition of others; our friends, our society, our elders. The camel goes out into the desert and there becomes a lion. The strength of the lion depends on how much weight he was able to carry when he was a camel. The lion’s job is to slay the dragon and on that dragon’s every scale is written the words “Thou Shalt.”

When the lion kills the dragon, he is no longer a lion but a child, remembering the burden of the camel and the Thou Shalts of the dragon. He creates his own Self, not out of ignorance, but having weighed and rejected the Thou Shalt in favor of the I Will.

Now generally speaking, Captain Moustache isn’t my idea of a good time, but he makes an interesting point.

As women, especially as fat women, we get pummeled with Thou Shalts from the second we start pudging out, or the second we learn to worry that we might SOMEDAY pudge out.

We get it from our parents, from our well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) friends, from society. Everywhere we look the world is coated with those golden glittering scales.

How many of those scales do you carry with you? How many are valuable? How many help you be who you want to be?

More importantly? How many scales are we trying to pin to other people?

Let’s talk about being okay

Different and broken are not the same thing.

I’ve had just about enough of people telling other people what’s “okay” to do with their bodies. My body is different than yours. It’s not broken and what I choose to do with it is not a broken decision if it’s not what you’d choose to do with it were you in my position.

And even if it isn’t the healthiest decision I could make, do you know whose problem that is? Not Yours.

Yes, for our own well-being we ought to try to make lifestyle choices that will keep our motors running the way we want. But it’s not your right or responsibility to tell me or any one else what is OKAY to do with a body that doesn’t belong to you. Except if they’re trying to hide it in the trunk of your classic Cadillac (shoulda thought about that before you bought your smartcar, huh, buddy?)

So enough with the “it’s not okay to” blah blah blah.

I’m the judgiest judge in Judgeville and even I can’t psychologically get to a place where I feel I have authority to say what people should and should not do with their bodies, and I once convinced myself that buying a gold lamé toreador outfit was a good idea, so don’t tell me I can’t stretch.

Be fat or thin or in between, unless you have permission to board the Plumcake Express to Panty Drop Junction (and since most of you are women or gay men, I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s not going to happen) I couldn’t give a hot buttered damn about your body.

I just want you to love it.

And if you don’t love it, then please, for the love of all things holy, don’t spread that hate around.

If you’re unhappy being fat and you diet or get surgery or choose the more traditional method of cocaine, tapeworms and inappropriate men to drop unwanted pounds, that’s totally fine. And if by extension your life is so much better after the tapeworms, superfantastic! But please be mindful not to project your feelings onto other people, even if you’re “just trying to help.” Your experience is not everyone’s experience.

And if you’re fat and happy? Great! Remember that not everyone is, and it’s not fair of you to ask someone to be unhappy with their own body because you think dieting is betraying the home team.

Personally I don’t really have a horse in this race. I’m fat, but I’ve kind of always been okay with being fat and since I’ve had bigger fish to fry when it comes to eating (Miss Plumcake has some weird vitamin issues) I just never really bothered to put moral values on food.

Plus I remember one morning my mother told me that orange juice was “very fattening” and from that point on I decided she was on crack and I wasn’t ever going to listen to anything anyone said about food unless they had a white coat and perhaps suitably geeky glasses.

I am the first to admit to being short-sighted on a lot of common big girl issues. Not personally suffering from a surfeit of humility when it comes to my looks and all around charm (ahem) it’s hard for me to know what it feels like to associate body-size with self-confidence, but I DO know what it’s like to be told I was broken when in fact I wasn’t.

I’m different, you’re different. I’m okay, you’re…well you know the rest.

Talking About Eating Disorders

The final week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which means it’s coming up fast. This year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It.”

I agree. Let’s all talk. Let’s talk about full-blown eating disorders, the normalization of disordered eating, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and orthorexia. Let’s talk about the assumptions based on body type (‘you’re too fat to be anorexic), the trivialization (‘if only I could get just a little anorexia, I could wear a swim suit again!’), the shaming, the fear, and the treatments that do and don’t work in fighting EDs. That’s what I’m going to be talking about throughout the month of February. I hope you’ll all join in the conversation with your experiences and questions.

To get started, I want to point those of you who have something to share with the world in the direction of Project Body Talk. It’s not just for eating disorders, but they certainly are among the topics up for discussion.

But whatever you have to say about your body, the positive as well as the negative, the frustration and the glory, this is a safe place to talk frankly and share your story with the world. Record your story and submit it, or just listen to other women talking with breathtaking honesty about how they feel about their bodies. Someone out there feels much the same way you do. Someone out there can tell you about what it’s like to live in a body very different from yours.

Some of the stories will break your heart. Some stories might be triggering to you. But they’re all important. Our voices are important.

Let’s speak up.

(Note: Big oops. This was supposed to go out yesterday, and I even hit the publish button, I swear… but WordPress knew better, I guess. At least it’s up now.)

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