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Public Service Announcement (seriously, now)

Hey gang, just a little public service announcement from your very-nearly-cholera-free (though in retrospect smoked marlin n’ grits last night was perhaps a shade too adventurous) pal Plummy:

Be mindful when posting your medical information online.

Now obviously when Twistie asked readers to post their strangest diagnoses, she wasn’t mining your information for blackmail fodder to be stored in the bowel-iest bowels of Miss Plumcake’s Volcano Dream Lair until such a time as your creepy skin condition/antiquated disease/atrophied Siamese twin can be monetized for personal gain. And no, that’s not just because Miss Plumcake’s Volcano Dream Lair doesn’t technically exist. Although it totally should.

I’m proud of the unusually tight-knit relationships this kooky blog has engendered over the years, and when you post and comment with the same invisible friends year after year it’s easy to drop your guard. No big deal, except you’re not just having a casual chat here on the island of misfatty toys; you’re publishing, and when you’re on a public blog like this one, there’s no way to unring the Google Cache bell. It’s like herpes and menudo breath: You’re stuck with it for life.

Twistie’s ethical and I’m lazy, but there’s nothing saying nefarious nogoodniks –or worse, your employer’s (or potential employer’s) human resource department– won’t use their Google Fu to track down every scrap of laundry you’ve left draped around the internet’s chandeliers, dirty or otherwise if it’s of benefit to them. Illegal and unethical to be sure, but don’t think it doesn’t happen. And if comment tracking isn’t possible now, who’s to say it won’t be neat new feature in the coming years?

If you’d like me to delete your comments in the name of damage control, shoot me an email and consider it evaporated, just you know, be careful out there. And while we’re at it, you might want to get a cream for that rash.

Lazy Monday Poll: So Lazy It’s Now on Tuesday!

Hey Gang, happy Tax Day!

Posting is going to be a teensy slow this week as Lappy 6000 is finally going into the shop to have her keyboard replaced after last December’s unfortunate scorpion incident.

If you recall,  an unwelcome barb-tailed beastie presented itself in my bed, scaring what can only be medically described as the bejeezus out of me and causing me to knock over a glass of water onto my laptop, an act for which several of my keyboard keys have not yet forgiven  me.

After last week’s terrific conversation about feminism, I just didn’t want to plop us back down to shiny shoes and pretty clothes (although I do love shiny shoes and pretty clothes, and have some very exciting news about jeans for my long-waisted curvy sisters later this week) so I thought I’d open up today’s comments as a sort of catch-all forum for what’s been on your mind.

Recently I’ve been thinking about cravings.

I’m still convalescing from the stupid cholera (I know! That is, as my friend said, some “straight up Oregon Trail bulls**t”) that laid me low almost two weeks ago and although in an act of pure bravery I ate some very thin cauliflower soup yesterday, solid food is probably another day or two away.

Yet I am craving potato chips the way crack addicts crave, well…crack.

I tend to crave salty over sweet anyway, I have low sodium so I guess that makes sense, but potato chips –Grandma Utz’s being the superior variety– are always #1 with a kettle-fried bullet on my list of constant cravings.

Other recurring characters are:

  • Seaweed Salad: probably my #3 craving after Coca Cola and potato chips
  • Mexican Coca Cola: made with cane sugar, served in a freezing bottle
  • Buttered Toast: Buttered before toasting, of course, with a sprinkling of (you guessed it) salt
  • Utz’s Cheese Balls: the zenith of cheezy poof achievement
  • Mango: I do myself a gastrointestinal disservice at least once a year gorging on delicious ripe mangoes. A dusting of curry is nice, too.

Do you have cravings, constant or otherwise? Put it –or anything else you’ve got on your beautiful mind– in the comments.

I’ll do my best to respond to any comment directed at me, so if you have a question you’d like me to answer specifically, be sure to direct it to @MissPlumcake.

DIY Dames: Miss Plumcake Needs Your Help

Unless you’ve lived in a developing nation –and having been here for almost four months I’m clearly an expert– it’s almost impossible to understand the depth and pervasiveness of poverty in a third world country. If you think the line between the haves and have-nots are drawn distinctly in America, they’re hacked apart with a machete here south of the border.

Work is hard to find here, especially for those who didn’t have access to a high school education, and doubly so for women, many (most?) of whom are responsible for raising at least one if not several children, not necessarily just their own.

Many women here learned how to sew out of necessity.

Farther south on the mainland the embroidery done by Oaxacan women is beautiful, intricate and justifiably spendy but almost any abuela will be able to whip up a simple dress in her kitchen using a treadle machine (they still sell those here).

It turns out a simple dress is exactly what I need.

Were I not completely hopeless when it comes to all needle vs thread endeavors, I bet I could draft the pattern with relative ease.

A fitted sweetheart bustier-style bodice with thick straps –adjustable to either tie as a halter or attach criss-cross at the back via hidden buttons– would give way to a wide set-in waist and blossom out to a very full skirt just below the knee.

Something like these from Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2012 rtw show, except you know, not see through or a two-piece. Okay, at least not a two-piece.

Yes, I realize I could get this made in China for practically no money.

Heck I could probably buy it off eBay for less than the materials might cost me, but there’s a wonderful woman I’ve come to know here and when it rains her whole family sleeps huddled together because it’s the only place where the corrugated tin ceiling doesn’t leak.

Much.

She has agreed to make me some dresses, I just have to provide her with the fabric.

I’m not sure whether she’ll want a pattern as well, I assume she does, which is why I’m coming to you.

Will someone, anyone, point me in the direction of a true plus-sized pattern that fits my specs? Heck, will someone point me in the direction of any plus size patterns at all that aren’t unendurably mumsy and frumped out? I know they’ve got to be out there. Vintage reproductions maybe?

Barring that, does anyone have a place they particularly like for apparel-quality fabric?
I’m particularly looking for retro or novelty prints. A girl’s got to have a sense of whimsy, right?

I’d be forever in your debt.

The Thin Girl Code?

Just to be clear, I don’t really care why the sulky twenty-something who texted all the way through our service didn’t like me. I’m just not that needy. I noticed it because it was unusual and it made me think about my own expectations and whether they were reasonable. Even though many of you adhere to a Big Girl Code, from the comments just as many of you don’t, or stick to it personally, but don’t expect the same from others. To me, that’s reasonable.

I also think it’s reasonable to expect, if not service with a (usually fake) smile, at least service without being treated like you’re a nose-dropping clinging to the most offensive hair of Benito Mussolini’s mustache. Call me old-fashioned.

Maybe she was jealous that a foreign fatty landed such a weapons grade hottie (when the fact is, of course, HE landed ME) and took him out of the dating pool.

Maybe she didn’t like Americans, although it should be noted that I can and do speak borderline lovely Spanish and do my best to counteract the myriad Ugly Americans who’ve retired here and STILL manage to be big racist jerks even while living as a guest in a foreign country.

Maybe her cat died or her feet hurt or I reminded her of her third-grade math teacher who didn’t let her go to the bathroom during a timed multiplication test which resulted in Severe Unpleasantness that she remembers, most often in nightmares, to this day. Uh, just an example.

It doesn’t really matter.

I remember working at the newspaper and there was a woman I just knew as Barbie.

An immaculately-groomed blonde ponytail (expensively reblonded every three weeks) swinging to the middle of her back, perfectly straight school girl bangs, cute girly dresses, stilettos at all times. She was clearly invested in looking like Barbie and even though she was just a little past the age where it looked effortless, Barbie was her aesthetic and Barbie she would be.

For years I vaguely disliked her. She worked in sales, the professional bastion of the former cheer captain, and I had no love for the mostly vapid fembot employees who stayed for three months before bouncing their ponytails to a pharmaceutical rep company, but year after year, Barbie stuck around.

Once I commented on her shoes, which were nicer than the good-enough-for-retail-work Nine Wests she usually pranced through the office. She said they were Isaac Mizrahi, but didn’t know how to pronounce Mizrahi. I found it endearing.

A year or so later on a particularly cold day I asked her where she stored her fur coat in the summer. The lynx had recently come into my life and it would need professional cold storage when May rolled around.

She grabbed the lapel of her mink stroller and announced “It’s carpet!”

With that we were pals. Not friends per se, but chat-in-the-elevator, what-are-you-doing-this-weekend work pals.

I had just assumed that any woman whose personal style icon was Barbara Millicent Roberts: plastic doll, would be so deep into the Fat Hate Rabbit Hole that she wouldn’t want to be in the same room with me, lest thighs that touch in the middle prove contagious.

I’ve never had that problem with men, thinking they automatically disliked me.

The one exception was years ago when a good-looking jock yelled “Hey Fatface!” over and over again from across the street, clearly trying to get my attention. I was incandescent until I realized I knew him from the dog park and he was talking to my Sharpei whose magnificently pendulous jowls earned him that term of endearment weeks before. Oops.

Both the fitness model Bulgarian and Hot Latin Boy have told me about their troubles getting big girls to go out with them because the gals in question thought they were either playing a joke or just being cruel. That’s heartbreaking on a whole mess of levels.

It’s just the girls.

I thought I’d open up a question for the weekend.

Whether you subscribe to a Big Girl Code, do you implicitly expect the opposite treatment from stereotypically attractive slim people? Is it justified or just the specter of middle school/high school/college rearing its ugly head?

Let a girl know and have a great weekend!

Do You Believe in the Big Girl Code?

Do you expect a level of solidarity from fellow big girls?

I realize this might be more for the size 18 and above than our inbetweenies but ever since the big girl scowled and slumped her way through our service at the Russian museum and restaurant (which, if you’ll recall, was not Russian, a museum nor a restaurant) it’s been tickling the back of my mind.

Of course one grumpy swallow does not a bitchy summer make.

Maybe she’d had a bad day or was just a generally unpleasant person. It can’t possibly be that she didn’t like ME. I’m totally likable until you get to know me. Still, I’ve come to realize I expect a little something extra in the way of friendliness or conversation when a fellow fatty crosses my path.

On one hand I sort of know that’s unreasonable. I don’t expect a thing from my fellow tall or pale girls. On the other, I do slightly expect –and receive– the silent shoe-check of appreciation from other divinely-shod members of society.

I’m always a bit chummier with a big girl, as if we’re both members of some sorority, Alpha Gamma Thigh Chafe or something and I always always go out of my way to be nice to chubby kids.

It’s not that I have an unnatural desire to be Auntie Mame (I totally do) or even that I like children all that much, but because despite personally having a relatively easy time of it at school teasing-wise, I know how much the constant comments from well-meaning –or more appropriately,”well-meaning”– family members can wear on a person’s young Play Doh-like soul.

It can mess a girl up.

I remember the It Gets Better campaign that resonated so deeply with the gay community and wish someone had taken me aside and told me it was even possible to have a rewarding job, loving friend, an enviable sense of self, a million pretty shoes and Get The Guy all while being what is medically referred to as a “fatty fatty two-by-four”.

Not guaranteed, nothing in life is guaranteed except for death and the fact that some guy will bang on your window trying to sell you a lace tablecloth, a giant glittery Betty Boop dressed up as the Virgin of Guadalupe (and if THAT doesn’t illustrate the infamous and widespread Madonna/Whore dichotomy, I don’t know what does), a ceramic turtle AND some churros while you’re waiting to cross the border back into the United States, just possible.

So what do you think? Is it reasonable to expect the club handshake from a big-boned sister or is this just one of many examples of Miss Plumcake spending too much time in the South where almost everyone is a friendly as a demented golden retriever (I’m not saying we’re nicer, but charm counts, especially in concealed weapon states)?

Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-generation

One day back in the mid eighties, a terrifying fact was discovered: America was getting fatter. Nobody knew quite why, though theories abounded. Fast food, soft drinks, computer games, viruses… everybody had a clear and obvious reason why it had happened. And there was an equally obvious cure. After all, never mind the fact that every single long term study of dieting since the first ones in the nineteen fifties had shown that no matter the structure of the diet, no matter the behavior of the dieter, while most lost weight in the short term, well over ninety per cent would wind up as fat as or fatter than when they started dieting within five years. It was what could be done. Therefore, no matter the futility, no matter the well-documented health issues of repeated cycles of dieting and gaining weight back, we must diet.

Funnily enough, the years of yo yo dieting did not result in a thinner America. We kept getting fatter overall. Then, one day in 1998, the BMI chart got fiddled with to make millions of Americans ‘fatter’ without gaining a single ounce. The rhetoric of fear of fat grew exponentially. It became impossible to turn on the television, read a magazine, or even log onto Yahoo mail without being subjected to fat hate, fat fear, and an increasing number of diet ads.

Today the panic is so ingrained that people honestly believe this level of hate against the fat is simply the standard human nature dating back before the Stone Age, all evidence to the contrary aside.

But a funny thing happened in 2002 that hasn’t been so widely publicized: obesity rates in America leveled off. What’s more, they’ve remained roughly level ever since.

Again, nobody seems able to explain it. All the interventions have proved ineffective, and yet obesity rates are no longer growing.

I have a theory about how and why this is happening. I also predict that sometime in the next oooh, ten to twenty years obesity rates in America will begin to fall.

(more…)

Help a Straight-sized Sister Out

Happy Monday, gang! How was your weekend?

I spent the whole thing on my back, and NOT in the fun way (okay, MOSTLY not in the fun way) having committed some accidental but apparently unforgivable sin against my spinal column sometime on Friday, which meant my anniversary weekend of futbol festivities with Hot Latin Boy went on as scheduled, except the role reserved for yours truly was played by the Mexican version of Lenny and Squiggy while I sat at home doping myself up on and then weaning myself off of one of the plethora of no-prescription-needed prescription painkillers offered at any one of the six million farmacias within hobbling distance from Villa Plumcake. Also I watched the first season of The United States of Tara. GOD I love Toni Collette. ALSO also I made cheesecake in my Crock Pot and it was so good I debated eating the whole thing warm and in one sitting (I didn’t, but I could have).

Anyhoodle. The other day, this plaintive e-cry found its way into my inbox and I thought I’d share it with the rest of the class in hopes that one of you will be able to lend aid and thus improve fatty/straight-sized relations for another day.

Superfantastic Reader Arabella wrote:

[Highly effective flattering paragraph about the manifold wit and charm of Miss Plumcake redacted for your convenience]
Although I’m in misses/juniors sizes, I seem to have a problem in common with a lot of ladies in the womens’ section: I have a substantial backside. No matter what my dress size is, the difference between my waist and hip measurements is a good 10-12″. While I appreciate said backside, and I think other people have occasionally done so too, it means that anything that fits around my hips has many inches too much waistband. I have a similar problem with tops, where things that fit my shoulders don’t fit my waist, and vice versa. Can you recommend any brands that play well with curvy girls that might also make things all the way down to my size? I would like to stop having to select pants based on how easy I think it would be to put three or four extra darts in the back.

And the short answer is “no”, I don’t know. I know some brands are leaning towards having different cuts, including a “curvy” cut (I believe The Gap and Levi’s both offer something in this vein) but as for a brand whose fit model is Jessica Rabbit…I got nothin’.

Readers, what do you have? I know I’ve got a whole mess of straighties out there. Shall we condemn our slender sister to a life full of stretch ponte and wrap dresses or can we help a girl out?

Put it in the comments and remember,  I always try to answer reader questions, so don’t be afraid to shoot your pal Plummy a little email (plumcake at shoeblogs dot com)

Okay gang, let’s do this thing!

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