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Interesting, in a NO DUH sort of way.

Interesting article from from the The New York Times about how the “small changes” touted as leading to weight loss  aren’t the magic antifatty bullet.

“As a recent commentary in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted, the “small changes” theory fails to take the body’s adaptive mechanisms into account. The rise in children’s obesity over the past few decades can’t be explained by an extra 100-calorie soda each day, or fewer physical education classes. Skipping a cookie or walking to school would barely make a dent in a calorie imbalance that goes “far beyond the ability of most individuals to address on a personal level,” the authors wrote — on the order of walking 5 to 10 miles a day for 10 years.

This doesn’t mean small improvements are futile — far from it. But people need to take a realistic view of what they can accomplish.”


“I’m not saying throw up your hands and forget about it,” Dr. Friedman said. “Instead of focusing on weight or appearance, focus on people’s health. There are things people can do to improve their health significantly that don’t require normalizing your weight.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Farewell, my darlings

To my dearest, superfantastic readers,

It is with sadness that I must announce that Francesca will no longer be working on this blog, for the foreseeable future. She is leaving to invest her time in other (alas, non-fashion-related) projects.

Manolo for the Big Girl has been a gracious and loving home to me for the past three years, and it is not easy to leave. Yet, Francesca knows that you will be in the best of hands with our wonderful, inimitable Plumcake and dear Twistie.

I have learned much from you, my internet friends, and from all our excellent co-bloggers in the Fatosphere, especially from Plumcake and from the incomparable Kate Harding. My own self-confidence,  self-acceptance, and sense of personal style have increased because of all of you. I hope that I have been able to contribute to your lives, as well, in the most positive of ways.

Francesca will continue to check in on the Manolo empire and perhaps comment from time to time, so this isn’t exactly a “goodbye.”  However, I feel a need to leave with an example of Big Girls in Art,

and a parting lesson about beauty: the first rule of being superfantastic is to be thoughtful of others. The second, third, and fourth rules involve clear skin, a good bra, and a good haircut, but I’m sure Plumcake will have plenty to say about those. Listen carefully to what she tells you!

Happy shopping and happy LIVING!



If you are reading this you are too old for Betsey Johnson

This weekend I met with two new Glam Rehab clients. They’re both kinda hip and groovy in a crunchy sort of Austin way. They’re in their late-ish 30’s and generally pretty awesome (they also gave permission for me to talk about them on the blog. Thanks!)

We were chatting about their fashion time line, what they like what they don’t and they both told me they loved Betsey Johnson. I nearly had two strokes (one stroke each.)

Because Betsey Johnson?

Betsey Johnson at the Fifi awards


I mean sure, love Betsey Johnson the whackadoo designer , because she is totally endearing and would probably be a really fun friend to have as long as you didn’t embarrass easily (confidential to BJ: when I see you and the first words I can think of are “Nylon hair” “hot mess” and “Deranged Suzanne Somers stalker having a really difficult time with her m-to-f  transition” perhaps it’s time to rethink the look) but really, you do not live in a world where it’s All Junior Prom All The Time and maybe it’s time to up your sophistication level.

Does that mean you have to burn all your cute young clothes and only leave the house in St John knits?



Wait, I mean NO. (Although I love St John and I don’t CARE  that it’s as WASPish as you can be without having a tax shelter literally built around you. But they don’t make plus sizes so whatevs)

What it means is that you’ve got to start looking at what appeals to who you are today.

There is some great Sufi teaching story about a swan egg that got in a chicken coop somehow, and he was happy and all with his adoptive poultry family (clearly they weren’t Danish poultry, who –if we’ve learned anything from Hans Christian Anderson– are all bastards) who taught him how to eat grain and keep dry in the rain and all sorts of handy things. He’d watch the swans fly overhead and swim in the sea, secure that when the time was right, his chicken momma and chicken daddy would teach him how to fly and swim. But they didn’t, because they couldn’t, so the swan never learned because he thought “they have taken me this far on my journey so well, surely they can take me the rest of the way.”

The moral of the story is (kinda) just because something worked then, doesn’t mean it works now.

When was the last time you took a good look at your wardrobe and asked “does this fit who I am and what I want to project now?”

Maybe those lug-soled mary janes were super cute when you were 21 and it was kind of ironic that you were wearing old lady clothes since you were so  young and winsome, but now you’re 36. Don’t give up the essence of what you love, but make sure it’s being continually refined.

If you love punk, don’t give it up, just make it a bit more sophisticated than pink kitties and skulls on Ugly Knitted Things.  Alexander McQueen did it beautifully, and Viv Westwood, the Godmother of Punk, kept the punk sensibility without sacraficing sophistication when she showed for Fall 2010.


(I am DYING for that jacket).

SPEAKING of Betsey Johnson and Lee McQueen, how do we feel about her little homage at Fashion Week? Her heart was in the right place, but it didn’t quite sit right with me. And the hay-strewn runway? Didn’t Herr Karl do that for Chanel last season?


Olympic Haze All In My Brain

Readers, I have a confession: I am no freaking good at sports.

It’s not about fat. I was actually kind of a skinny kid. I was no good at sports then, either. I had balance issues and a fondness for not getting hit in the face with objects hurtling through the air. When the class was taught to play volleyball in the fifth grade, I clearly heard the teacher tell us that the goal was to get the ball over the net and onto the ground on the other team’s side. Twenty-nine other kids heard that the goal was to see how many times they could get the ball to hit Twistie precisely on the top of her head. I can understand the confusion. My head was, in point of fact, a much more precise target than several square feet of asphalt, and we all love a challenge. Still, it made the game Not Fun for me on an epic level.

When we were ‘taught’ baseball in sixth grade, the teacher insisted that everyone already knew all the rules, so we would move straight to the game itself. Nobody took me seriously when I said I had no idea how to play. Everyone has played baseball in the womb! Not me. Then I watched classmate after classmate get up and try to hit a ball the size of the school bully’s fist (and I knew from experience just what size it was and how it felt coming at my nose) out of the way of their faces with a stick. That thing had to be doing forty! No way was I going to let it hit my face even faster than Jeff’s fist! I dropped to the dirt.

Yeah. That went well.

I spent most of my time between the ages of twelve and fifteen with a sprained thumb, ankle, or wrist somewhere on me. I played through the pain and the gym teachers gave me D- for participation, because apparently participation is only proven through competence at the game. You try playing an entire two-week round-robin doubles badminton tournament solo on a sprained ankle and tell me how many teams you beat. Yeah. I beat zero. My partner who didn’t show up to class for those two weeks (yet miraculously arrived every day at our shared Art class) got a better participation grade than I did.

As soon as I got the chance, I ditched gym class forever. And while I have done many things that give me plenty of exercise since then (including Scottish country dance, until a series of knee injuries and a move to a place where I couldn’t find a convenient class pushed that to the side), I have never again participated in organized sports.

I walk. I sometimes just run up and down the stairs in my house because it’s convenient and works up a sweat. I do housework…including things like moving furniture. Dusting might not be a big muscle builder, but putting together that Ikea entertainment center and filling it with many of the contents of the old entertainment center two weeks ago was. Say what you will, the pieces were heavy.

The new entertainment center was to hold our new, larger television which we acquired just in time for me to go into my regularly scheduled Olympic Haze.

You see, I may not play sports. I may not even watch sports (with the exception of figure skating) in between Olympics, but every two years I spend a two week period being a walking stat sheet. Mr. Twistie tears out his hair, because even the Olympics can’t get him caring about organized sports, but he’s remarkably patient when I start spewing times, scores, artistic deductions, etc. at him.

When it all ends, life usually goes back to normal. ESPN never gets a look from me, I don’t know the names of any of the skiers or biathletes or (in the summer) Greco-Roman wrestlers anymore. I may or may not happen to remember to see any skating competitions (though I will probably tell everyone who doesn’t gnaw their own leg off to escape about the time I sold books to Scott Hamilton, who was a really nice guy).

This time, though, I’m hearing the siren call of an actual sport. Curling.

I’ve been watching, and I’m mesmerized. I’m catching on to the strategy. I’m deeply amused by the sweeping, but I’m also starting to get what it’s accomplishing. Even the fact that it’s played on ice which is cold and slippery isn’t daunting me. Even the relentlessly dull polo shirts and sensible shoes aren’t putting me off! Of course, there is that one men’s team in the harlequin diamond pants, but while they aren’t dull, they aren’t exactly the ultimate in tasteful, either. I feel sure Tim Gunn (call me, Tim!) would pronounce them ‘a lot of look.’

But I’m loving the camaraderie, the fact that teams talk about going out for a pizza after the game instead of carefully weighing every calorie vs its specific nutritional value to their sport, the way they usually look genuinely happy to shake hands with the other team at the end no matter who won or lost. I’m loving the fact that it’s a quiet game of precision rather than a hurried race to a finish line or a subjective balance of skill and artistry. I like the fact that it’s something that takes some time to understand. And of course I love the fact that it allows for a range of body types.

While I haven’t seen anyone as fat as I am on the ice for curling at the Olympics, there are plenty of players with spare tires, as well as the rail thin. Body type doesn’t matter in the game. It’s about throwing the rock at just the right angle with just the right amount of speed. It’s about sweeping harder, softer, or not at all to get the rock to curl just where it needs to go. It’s about setting up the ice so that the other team’s shot might accidentally do your team some good. Tall or short, fat or thin, it’s about strategy, and about muscle control. It’s a slippery game of chess, and I’m falling in love.

Now, if we could just do something about those shoes….


From Francesca’s Inbox – NOW UPDATED

ZAPPOS has finally made their site more user-friendly and less “busy” looking, and now it is much easier to shop not only for shoes but also for their plus-sized clothing (most of which is super-casual, but there are business and party pieces as well. Liz Claiborne addicts will be happy they visited.) Remember, free shipping both ways, always. Francesca’s Pick.

ANNA SCHOLZ, too, has relaunched her website. The photography is excellent and Francesca enjoyed perusing. What she appreciates about the new labels is that everyone can find something they like; if they are willing to pay for it.

CHADWICKS is having a clearance sale.

FIGLEAVES has new items in outlet.

IGIGI has come out with a new maxi dress (pictured), and through Feb.20 is offering a free gift and free shipping with purchases of $150 or more. Francesca does not know what the free gift is, but the email implies that it is a set of pretty earrings that match the dress.

SILHOUETTES will take $30 off your purchase of $125, or $50 off your purchase of $200, through Feb. 22, with code  SBE3.

LORD & TAYLOR is offering free shipping through Feb. 18, and is having a clearance event. Also, print this coupon for in-store savings, or use code PRES for 20% off your purchase. (If you have a L&T card, use that and code PRESPLUS for 30% off.) Plus-sizes here.

EVANS is offering free shipping in the UK through tomorrow. Also they have taken 20% off all coats, jackets, and knitwear.


My friends, Francesca has been beside herself over the death of Alexander McQueen.

May his soul rest in peace.

Happy Valentine’s Day From Twistie, Plumcake, and Francesca

valentines_heart_box Wishing you chocolates, jewelry, designer clothes, and all kinds of love. If you’re not getting these things from someone else, give them to yourselves. Valentine’s Day or not, you’re worth it.