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Manolo for the Big Girl | Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

Suck It, FAA!

For years the entire air travel industry has gone out of its way to humiliate and gouge the fat community.

Each airline gets to set its own policy for whether or not they charge fat passengers for an extra seat. Most do, often selling us seats halfway across the plane which doesn’t make any sense if the problem is that our fat encroaches on others. At the same time, passengers with longer legs than can comfortably fit in the miniscule amount of legroom provided are not required to buy the seats in front of them, and passengers with unusually broad shoulders are not required to purchase an extra seat. Many of us arrive at the airport having double and triple checked that we do not need to double our airfare only to discover at the last minute that we will, indeed, have to pay for an extra seat to travel when there’s nothing we can but pay the extra money or miss traveling, whether to a dream vacation, an important business meeting, or Grandma’s funeral.

We’ve been publicly shamed, then for buying those extra seats and forced to give them up after they insisted we pay for them. Even being a celebrity isn’t enough to avoid the public shaming and cruelty. Filmmaker Kevin Smith was, after all, tossed off a Southwest flight for being too fat.

One of the few things we’ve had going for us in air travel is the seat belt extender. They are supposed to be provided free of charge to passengers who need them in order to buckle up safely. Of course, most flights don’t carry more than two or three, and flight attendants have been known to treat passing those out either as if clandestinely slipping contraband to criminals… and in a few cases, handing them over with so much fuss and so loudly that the person who needs it is further publicly humiliated for the simple desire to travel.

Many have chosen to avoid the possibility of a) not being able to get an extender because they’re all in use and b) the potential for being treated so pointedly as to be shamed for needing one, by carrying their own. This is yet another reason why air travel is less and less fair to the fat. We have to buy our own equipment. Still, if we want to get from Point A to Point B via air, we shell out anywhere from roughly $25.00 to over $100.00 for the chance to fly without having to ask for an extender from someone who may not have one, or may choose to offer it whilst making us the punchline of a remarkably tasteless joke.

But now the FAA has stepped in and is worried about the poor fatties. That’s right, for our safety, the FAA wants to ban us from bringing our own seat belt extenders. Nope, not even the ones that are advertised as ‘FAA approved’ and manufactured by the same companies that supply actual airlines with the precise same seat belt extenders.

Why? Because they haven’t been tested, you see, and they cannot possibly have been kept in proper shape. Therefore, they are a clear and present danger to ourselves and others.

You know what test is used to determine if the seat belt extenders the airlines use  are in proper working order and safe? It’s really pretty simple.

There’s the visual inspection to make sure the material isn’t frayed and the buckle is firmly attached, and there’s the test of the buckle itself, which consists of fastening and unfastening it three or four times in a row to make sure it catches properly and consistently, and can be easily released in case of emergency.

When I go to the airport, I’m used now to having everything checked and scanned. Any carry on luggage I have as well as my purse will be scanned to make sure I am carrying neither a bomb, a box cutter, nor an overlarge bottle of hand lotion. I am questioned about how carefully I have looked after my things. I put my metal items in the tray and am scanned myself. They inspect my shoes to make sure those aren’t incendiary devices. It’s not fun, but I’m willing to deal with that for safety’s sake. I’m not here for an argument on either side about the search and scanning of me and my stuff.

My point is, I’m already being inspected on site in order to travel. Since the test is so basic and so non-invasive, why not have someone inspect personally owned seat belt extenders before people board the plane? It actually takes less time than double checking that my sandals aren’t going to blow up, it requires no specialized equipment or training, and I would actually be grateful that something so basic to my comfort and safety got that kind of attention.

Or maybe, just maybe, each plane could be required to carry enough seat belt extenders that we don’t have to carry our own to travel. Maybe, just maybe, flight attendants could be trained to treat offering seat belt extenders just another part of the job, like offering pillows and blankets to passengers who need or want them. Maybe, just maybe, a single universal policy could be set for all airlines in the US that one passenger needs one seat, period.

Until that day, Suck it, FAA!

Sincerely yours, Inigo Montoya

To: Eloquii, misnamed hosiery division
From: Miss Plumcake, Editor, Manolo for the Big Girl, Owner of a Dictionary
Re: “Super Opaque” Tights

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

alas, my search for top-quality truly opaque opaque tights that fit continues.

Colorful Camisoles from Eloquii

Recently, I’ve entered into the exciting world of Skype meetings.

I’m not a fan.

First of all, call me old-fashioned, but when I attend a meeting I like to be fairly confident everyone involved is wearing pants. I’ve been on the internet for a good long while now and I’m pretty sure the number of men who voluntarily wear pants when working from home is on par, or slightly below the number of nymphomaniacal college coeds who really do want to meet you right now.

Secondly, as the tallest person in almost any meeting, but also the only woman, the camera always, always hits me at nip-level. Whether it’s by default or design, both Thelma AND Louise get more face time than my face does.

And that, boys and girls, is why Miss Plumcake bought some camisoles.

Years ago I had a fantastic cami from Jones New York, It was solidly constructed, nicely tailored and –miracle of miracles– actually hit the middle of my hip.

Unfortunately, it met a sad and untimely end at the hands of my grandparents’ neurotic whippet and I’ve been holding the torch ever since.

While the Eloquii camisoles aren’t quite as good as my dearly departed Jones New York number –we live in a broken and sinful world full of bad fashion and stupid whippets– they’re pretty great, and a fantastic deal.

The Eloquii camis come in a variety of colors from Frida Kalho fuchsia and emerald green to a pale French blue and butter yellow. Oh, and did I mention I got them on sale for about five bucks a pop?

My favorites are the pleated trim camisoles whose straight necklines are embellished with four tidy rows of trim reminiscent of crêpe de Chine. Sadly, the adjustable lingerie-style straps are not bra-friendly, but the armholes are fashioned nicely and the back is high enough to conceal your boulder holder without adding bulk.

Go get you some and be prepared for your next high-powered questionably-pantsed Latin American eSummit.

Won’t Get Bleached Again.

Are bleached eyebrows coming back? Because I am NOT doing that again.

Let me take you back to a dark and mysterious time I’d like to call the fall of 1997. A young and not-quite-sartorially-together Miss Plumcake was a college freshman with peroxide red hair and bleached eyebrows.

Let me give you a complete list of people who thought that was a good idea:

  • Makeup Artist Kevyn Aucoin in his book Making Faces (he said it would open up my face)
  • Me, at the time.

Let me give you a list of people who thought that was a good idea and were right.

But it was everywhere in the September issue of Vogue.

At Prada:

At Versace:

At Balenciaga:

(Gingers can be tricky, so I looked up Marton Dorfler’s catalog. He definitely has eyebrows)

At Alexander McQueen:

At Pucci

I’m so glad Amber Valletta is still working. If you want to see how models have gotten so much thinner in the past 20 years, just look at Amber Valletta’s early covers. Not a sunken eye socket or hollow cheek to be seen.


Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta

Readers will recognize Codie Young —the scapegoat for last year’s Topshop Photoshop debacle— as the model for Jil Sander.

And while it works editorially –although Mert and Marcus, the photographers behind many of the best campaigns and editorials, can make anything work– I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it for daily wear.

Still, it’s an interesting look. So what do you think? Would you bleach your brows?

The Big Question: Greatest Role They Never Played?

The other day I was watching The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge. I love these films dearly, as I have since I saw them when they were first released. The costuming is spectacular, the scripts witty and engaging, the cast amazing, and the spirit of Dumas shines through both films.

The Three Musketeers was, I recall, the first time I saw Michael York, who has remained one of my favorite actors ever since. He was perfect for the passionate – albeit not terribly likely to think things through – D’Artagnan. With his ability to maintain equal amounts of wide-eyed innocence, terrier determination, and kid-in-a-candyshop love of all ladies at the same time, it remains one of his finer performances.

And yet I have firmly maintained for decades that the finest performance he might ever have given is one that, alas!, he never did.

You see, the instant I first read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I saw Michael York in Wilde’s damned protagonist. As I read of Gray’s descent into hell, I knew that York would be the perfect person to carry both the innocent beauty of the outer shell and the fiendish, decadent cruelty of the man within.

Unfortunately, nobody ever cast him in the role. And, of course, Dorian Gray is a role that may only be played by a man in the first blush of youth. Michael York is still a brilliant actor and a handsome man… but the time has passed. We will never see his Dorian Gray. The world, I think, is a tiny sliver less wonderful for it.

Have you ever just known the perfect role for an actor who never wound up playing it? Who and what? Tell me all about it!

Twistie’s Sunday Caption Madness: The Robot on the Loose Edition: The Result

Oh my beloveds.

Last week I walloped you all with this deathless image:

And was smacked right back in the kisser with eleven painfully appropriate responses. You did not make this easy for me. You hit me on my weak side with references to Dr. Who, tacky dances of my childhood, and superstars who make me wince.

But in the end, there can be but one winner. This week it’s the deliciously deranged BJ who officially owes me a new monitor for this unexpected offering:

And it’s also a can opener.

Congratulations, BJ! And thanks to everyone who played.

Honey, where’s the…?

Well, I’ve been left on my own for more than 24 hours for the first time in 2012,  and apparently I’ve turned into my grandfather because now I’m just one of those people who stands in the middle of the house in her underwear looking for things.

One of the manifold splendors of living alone is when you put something somewhere, it stays put.

So if I put my teal suede d’Orsays in the oven after a Grace Jones night in mid-spring with the intention of letting them sit unmolested in their glittery glory until suede came back in season in the fall, that’s where they’ll stay.

Now I just stand flapping helplessly while Hot Latin Boy –who commandeered all Putting Away of Things after I proved chronically incapable of remembering not everyone can reach the top shelf– patiently explains that the dog shampoo is in a box marked gloves behind the yellow wok, next to my 2007 tax return. Well, obviously.

I’m determined to go through all the cabinets and drawers and make an inventory of each one in my little green notebook, so next time I need to locate my spare bottle of OPI’s You Don’t Know Jacques, my trusty notebook will tell me it’s in the Twinings Transport Bus, along side an empty Nuva Ring box, Dozer’s heart worm pills and my passport.



So that’s what I’m doing this weekend. Well that and I managed to get the last copy of the September issue of Vogue –the only issue of American Vogue I ever read– so I’ll be working on my upper body strength by hurling it against a wall repeatedly.

Next week I’ve got a review on Eloquii (hint: get some of their camisoles with a quickness), my favorite dance shoe for the fat of foot and a few more goodies.

What’s on your plate this weekend?

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