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Trigger Warnings Part II

So I’ve thought about it and here’s what I’ve decided about trigger warnings:

Anything heavily involving eating disorders or fat-shaming is going to get a little heads up in either the headline or the first sentence.

It’s relatively little skin off my well-exfoliated nose and I think it’s fair and reasonable to presume a sizable minority here is more than usually sensitive to that sort of stuff.

I’m not going to put up any sort of Snowflake Alert because that smacks of cheap sensationalism, and we all know I like my sensationalism to be as expensive as possible.

For everything else, there’s the little X in your upper right hand corner.

There are thousands and thousands of you.

I am but one woman and I’ve got the attention span of one of those sad little PCP monkeys we all saw in middle school the week we learned about pubic hair and drugs from a grown man in tube socks who would one day teach us to parallel park.

The odds of me being able to complete a coherent thought, much less catalog and cross-reference readers’ sensitivities aren’t high even in the best of cases.

Which isn’t to say I’m not sensitive to my readers who are still wading through the sticky parts of Getting On With It.

I left the nineties with a case of bad highlights and even worse PTSD.

My grandmother –who only threatened to murder me once in the entire 31 years she knew me which is a pretty good record– could be standing right next to me, make a sudden move and I’d be clinging to the ceiling like a terrified cartoon cat. The sound of garage door openers and almost any mention of teeth can virtually guarantee nightmares for up to a week. So, you know, I’ve been there.

That being said, this is a humor/lifestyle blog, not a social justice or recovery blog. Even if you do need your hand held on the internet, I’m not the one to do it. You wouldn’t let the girl who does your lowlights also remove your appendix, and I don’t even do hair.

So there you have it.

 Agree or disagree? Put it (respectfully) in the comments.

 

 

Trigger Warnings

So. Trigger warnings. Is that something you would be interested in?

I’ve got to admit, I’m not that sensitive of a snowflake, so I don’t think about it most of the time.

Sure, I would’ve liked a little heads up before I saw Un Chien Andalou because it was a little heavy on the eyeball slicing for my eleven year-old self, but I could do without the label on my bag of almonds reading “may contain nuts”.

And okay, I might occasionally make a teensy bit of fun of the fragile, fragile flowers that tend to mark out the more humorless neighborhoods of the fatosphere because I think there’s a fine line between being mindful in a responsible way of actual illness-triggering sensitivities (which definitely exist) and coddling a bunch of oversensitive bleating nambypambies who need to butch it up, walk it off and find a hobby other than Professional Victim.

I’ve heard metallurgy is very rewarding.

But seriously, if you’d like a little note at the top of a post that discusses eating disorders or things like that, I am more than happy to accommodate. I won’t go overboard, this isn’t that type of blog, but even though I’ve got an extra liver where my heart is supposed to be, I really do want to meet my readers in recovery a little more than half way.

Put it in the comments (anonymous is fine) Facebook me or hit me up on the Twitter. Just let me know.

 

 

And how was YOUR weekend?

Okay gang, I am writing this under cover of darkness.

Technically I am writing this under cover of Hot Latin Boy being on the patio lifting all sorts of heavy household good in preparation for my personal exodus out of Villa Plumcake which is happening in oh, about four hours. Which is why I should be moving stuff. But I’m not. Because I’m here.

It also doesn’t help that I’m all bruised, battered and generally in less than in ideal moving condition because –wait for it– I fell in heels.

I know. I was as shocked as you are.

For the first time since the Toothfairy Ball incident of 2005, wherein I had to emcee for a charity in a costume that included these boots:

and a industrial-sized bottle of codeine cough syrup consumed entirely on stage which people thought was part of my clever dentist costume but was in fact because I had pneumonia.

Anyhoodle, steep stairs, a raging cough syrup high, and six inch vinyl hooker boots does not a well-balanced Plumcake make (in either sense of the word) and I went tits over teacups on stage in what I was told was a rather breathtaking way.

My most recent tumble was not nearly so exciting, but I came off quite a bit worse.

On Friday night I went to my former village’s one restaurant to say goodbye to some pals and avail myself of the tuneful stylings of a man billed as sounding exactly like Barry White, which he does, providing you a) have severe head damage and b) have never actually heard Barry White.

I was going solo for the night and the problem with the village is any woman under the age of about six thousand is considered a hot commodity.

As a result I have perfected the Polite but Potentially Armed rebuff, which involves among other things not letting anyone other than my friend the former Golden Gloves champion boxer walk me to my car.

He wasn’t available, so after having my Manhattan, enjoying a nice chat with an oncology surgeon I hadn’t seen in ages who has graciously extended an invitation to Morelia, and biting a lounge singer (I told him if he touched my cheek one more time I’d bite him, so why was he surprised that when he touched my cheek during a particularly horrible rendition of the already horrible “After the Lovin'” that I kept my word. He’s lucky I didn’t keep his finger, too) I walked to my car.

Remember last summer when I wrote that anyone who thinks cobblestones are romantic either has smaller breasts or cheaper shoes than I do? Well, it holds true. Cobblestones can [redacted] right off.

I mean what sort of world do we live in where a totally sober woman in a pair of extremely solid, bordering on sensible Diane Von Furstenburg cobalt pony hair heels can be assaulted by the forces of gravity in such a cruel and unprovoked manner?

The damage was relatively minimal: One cut-up hand, a skinned knee and an impressive case of road rash on my left elbow.

The shoes, thank God, are fine.

Once again my borderline germphobia saved the day because I was able to immediately disinfect my cuts and scrapes with the many MANY bacteria-killing products in my car, leaving Hot Latin Boy to pluck out the bits of gravel from my person when I arrived safely (all things considered) home.

So…that was my weekend and I think I hear HLB trying to move my booze cabinet so I should probably go supervise. I might be a little scacre this week, but in the meantime, how was YOUR weekend?

Help a Reader: Pretty, Natural Plus-Sized Sleepwear

Happy Friday gang. Boy am I glad to see this week’s tailfeathers shaking in the rear-view mirror. First server woes then my Facebook and email started acting up and then I saw The Avengers because I like Tom Hiddleston except it made me weep for the standards of contemporary American cinema if that is what qualifies as a “smart” film. To paraphrase MftBG favorite Terra Cotta Sugarbaker, I have heels higher than those standards.

Anyhoodle, the other day I received an email from superfantastic reader Rachel:

Dear Miss Plumcake,

I apologize if you covered this before on Manolo for the Big Girls, but I am looking for some nice sleepwear (and I think others who are plus sized and not 21 any more might appreciate). I’m looking for something pretty, made with fabrics found in nature and something I can actually sleep in. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.

Thank you.
Rachel

From personal experience I got nothin’.

I am what my baby brother used to call a “wuff sweeper.”

Try as I might, I cannot find a nightie, jimjam or other form of nocturnal costuming that doesn’t end up wrapped around my throat or lodged irretrievably in one of my more tender nooks and crannies after just an hour or so of sleep. If I attempt to sleep in anything more substantial than moisturizer, I risk serious self-injury, and frankly that is NOT something I want to explain to emergency responders, especially not in Spanish.

Pretty and nice are subjective as is something you can “actually sleep in”, and “not 21 anymore” covers a lot of ground, so the best I can do is offer my one feeble suggestion and open it up to the crowd.

I have heard good things from people whose taste and style I respect about Eileen West sleepwear.

She does old-fashioned nightgowns and pajamas that might fit the bill.

I don’t find them particularly alluring, but I think some of them could possibly fit the description of pretty if you cast your net wide enough. Also Vermont Country Store seems to offer Eileen West as well as a few other purveyors of olde-tymey sleepwear.

So okay girls, open your pajama drawers and help Rachel out.

A Note from Miss Plumcake

Happy Monday gang! Or at least I’m calling it a happy Monday, mostly because I accidentally saw this program last night where some woman met a very unpleasant end at the hands of her friend’s Xanaxed-out chimpanzee and I managed not to have horrifying nightmares, so I call it a win, though it just goes to show you shouldn’t have chimps…or friends. Xanax is okay though.

Just a quick note: Will the young lady who contacted me  for fashion advice about her friend’s wedding in New York please contact me again via email or Facebook message?

I was halfway through what I will admit is a thoughtful and entertaining response when I realized I had an important and unanswered question. I’ve tried responding through the contacts I have, so if you still want advice, please contact me.

Gin and Tonics,

Miss Plumcake

Mother’s Day for the Rest of Us

One of the challenges of having a Big Girl blog that discusses everything from domestic abuse to self-tanner abuse instead of sticking to a niche within a niche (fashion, fat activism) is it’s almost impossible to put my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala” when a certain percentage of my adoring public (just let me tell myself you’re adoring, okay? Sometimes it’s the only thing other than the bars on the windows keeping me from self-defenestration) is having a rough time, even if it’s not exclusively the domain of the Lane Bryant enthusiast.

Mother’s Day in the United States is upon us –it was yesterday here in Mexico– and we’ve been discussing the complex mother/daughter relationship all week.

I know this has been a particularly hard time for some of my readers.

Maybe I’m more sensitive to it myself this year as a close friend lost her mother recently, but for many –myself included– the second Sunday in May is not always filled with the happiest of feelings.

Some of us have lost our mothers through death, and some of us through methods more subtle but possibly just as painful.

I’ve received some emails –the readers have requested anonymity and I’ll respect their wishes, though I’ll never be able to compete with their eloquence– asking for advice on how to deal with mothers who don’t exactly merit the card-and-corsage treatment.

Obviously I’m not a therapist, although I HAVE seen that dishy Gabriel Byrne play one on TV, so I’m not sure how much wisdom I’ll be able to impart, but hey, it’s either that or talking about how I burned my finger this morning (hint: hot glass looks deceptively like cold glass) so let me give it a go:

Sometimes you get dealt a bum hand. You just do. So you rub some dirt in it (by “dirt” I mean therapy, meditation, medication, shoes or a combination of all four) and walk it off. It’s not fun and it’s not pretty, but there it is.

See, as much as we’d like to believe our appearance would be enough to make previously incapable people rise to the occasion, that’s not necessarily how it works. There’s no qualifying exam to getting knocked up and just because your mom or my mom or whoever’s mom managed to get her Ivanka trumped doesn’t mean she’s going to be a good or even loving mother. That’s not something everyone’s capable of; myself, perhaps, included.

I don’t have kids because I don’t think I’d be that great a mother.

I’m a reasonably decent person according to the people I pay to say that, but you know how some people yearn for years about having a baby? Smelling them, washing them, tucking them in at night? The only thing I’ve felt like that about was a pair of green Dior heels, and they didn’t even come in my size.

So I play Auntie Mame and in the evening when I’ve sent those blessed bundles to their respective homes, I say a thankful prayer to Saint NuvaRing and drift off to a gentle, uninterrupted slumber.

But, you know, a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny hasn’t always been as easy or socially accepted as it is now.

Sometimes women who were never suited to be mothers, who never WANTED to be mothers *poof* became mothers.

Passing a toaster through a light socket doesn’t automatically bestow a woman with magical Donna Reed powers. Some women don’t have the parenting tool in their toolbox and yet they’re still expected to fix that leaky toilet (oh what, like comparing a child to a leaky toilet is the worst analogy I’ve ever made? It’s not even the worst analogy I’ve made in this post.)

And sometimes your mother simply is, to quote the great French Age of Enlightenment thinker François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, “crazier than a sack of ferrets.”*

But fear not my friends, plenty of respectable people have socks on wire hangers for mothers, challenging maternal situations. The key is to remember there is just as much to learn from a bad example as a good (see also: hot glass v. cold glass): It’s just a lot more painful.

Many of my best qualities –not that there are all that many to choose from– were developed as an equal and opposite reaction to those things I saw as a child and said “That’s not gonna be me” including:

  • my feminism
  • my general disinclination-to-the-point-of-revulsion to willful neediness/helplessness
  • my independence
  • trust in my own critical processes (my definition of right is not “anything opined by someone with balls”)
  • my refusal to believe beauty hinges on a number
  • my understanding that approval can be nice but is rarely necessary
  • my unwillingness to spend a lifetime as Professional Victim (and distaste for those who do)

…and most of all my unshakable, unerring knowledge of my own worth that has allowed me to walk away from bad relationships, friendships and situations (or, you know, not get into them in the first place) before they sucked me in, took me down and just generally screwed me up.

So, dear readers who eat cold spaghetti out of the container when the rest of the world is at mediocre prix fixe brunch drinking watery mimosas and eating wedge salads even though it hasn’t been 1972 for some time now, I invite you to write your own list.

Don’t dwell on what they did wrong, focus on what you do right. Write it down, keep it in a safe place and revisit it each year.

I invite you to share your lists here, if it helps, and remember…don’t touch hot glass twice!

 

 

 

 

*He probably didn’t actually say this

 

A Little Compassion

I’ve often wondered whether it’s more difficult to be the overweight daughter of a naturally slim mother or one who is prone to plumpness.

With the thin mother, I could see the struggles that come with obliviousness. Their slim bodies act a certain way when fed and watered normally, why shouldn’t it be the same for their daughter’s young form? I can also imagine a mother whose tiny dress size has always been a point of pride being disappointed or embarrassed at their daughter’s less-than-svelte body.

On the other hand, if you’re a chubby kid and big momma is constantly complaining about her fat thighs and bouncing from cabbage soup this to meal replacement shake that in an effort to drop “the weight”, congratulations:  odds are you’re going to be her de facto diet buddy until you finagle your way to an out-of-state college.

Sometimes it’s difficult to have empathy for these characters.

After all, I’m going to venture onto a very sturdy limb and say many if not most big girls who struggle with disordered eating patterns learned it at the feet of their fad dieting mothers. And let’s not even get into the body hate projection, the screwed up approach to self-worth and all the rest of the stuff that’s put our therapists’ kids through private school.

Still, a little compassion is in order.

Our mothers didn’t have the size-acceptance community we do for support. They might not have even known liking themselves just as they are was even an option, much less have a place where they could rage, share and occasionally get some sense lovingly –if virtually– slapped into them.

Besides, their mothers might’ve been pieces of work themselves, this stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum you know and it wasn’t too long ago that most of the western world was on food rations. I know my grandmother very nearly starved during the Great Depression and she kept a lifelong eating disorder and a raging case of fat hate as unfortunate souvenirs.

I’ve got nothing but sympathy –okay, almost nothing but sympathy– for women whose sense of personal value is so tenuous that a swing of the scale can make a difference between love and shame. I can only imagine how difficult it is not to pass it on to their children.

I do believe most mothers truly want the best for their children. For every Joan Crawford doppelganger, there are hundreds of well-intentioned moms who inflicted harm not out of cruelty, but out of their own human brokenness. They did what they thought was best using the tools they had at the time and although I’m sure we could spend ages comparing ridiculous and painful war stories, the best WE can do is forgive our mothers, learn from them and not make the same mistakes.

What do you think? I know it’s a sensitive subject, but I’m particularly interested in hearing how those of you who’ve struggled over size with your mother have forgiven, moved on and developed a new, healthier relationship…or not.

 

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