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

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m gonna be honest here gang, I am about the last person in the world who ought to hold forth on the subject of romance. The only time I have a romantic bone in my body is when…well, I’m not going to finish that sentence because my brother reads this blog (Hi kiddio!) but I think you get my meaning.

Case in point:

This morning I woke up with my face smashed against what I’m sure was once a very pretty carnation (one of my favorite scents in the world is spicy, peppery carnation) before my nocturnal alter ego, Kicky McFlailsalot, got to it. Then I followed a trail of far less abused flowers down the stairs of stately Villa Plumcake which led to a multimedia display of looooove, featuring hundreds of hand-cut paper hearts with “Miss Plumcake & Hot Latin Boy” strewn all over the kitchen, a floral arrangement that is 100% blissfully free of a single Perfunctory Red Rose of Phoned In-ness, and an enormous multi-layered silk-screened sign spanning the entire length of my kitchen.

I, on the other hand, got him a card that had glitter on it and wrote he could use it as an excuse to hug a stripper without me knowing about it.

Ain’t love grand.

What I’m saying is this: I still kind of think Valentine’s Day is lame and commercialized past the endurance of a block and is custom designed to separate the Haves from the Have Nots by method of dopey overpriced flowers delivered in public places (and not by family money and good bone structure, the way Jesus intended) but love, whether you’ve got someone to share it with or not, is a pretty big honking deal and there are worse things we could do than pay a little attention to it.

Love, like rain and chimichurri breath, falls on the just and the unjust alike. You meet someone, you act like you are brain damaged and maybe if you’re lucky they act like they’re brain damaged too and it’s all butterflies and Lisa Frank and then you settle down to the business of trying to be good to each other and not, say, sleep with the SCORCHING HOT TORERO-in-training who was giving you the total glad eye at the birria place across from Plaza Monumental even though you have wanted to hit one of those since you first read The Sun Also Rises when you were 16 and existentialist and hadn’t yet figured out that “damaged” is not the same as “interesting”.

Ahem. Just an example.

Anyone who has ever made it past the training wheels of puberty knows love isn’t always great, or easy or anything close to permanent. I don’t need to tell you that. But it’s pretty great all the same, so whether you’re lucky (and it IS luck) enough to have a partner or if you’re doin’ it for yourself this year, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Here’s to love, romance and pudgy dudes with wings and antiquated weaponry.

Oh, and if some of these fantastic animated interviews from StoryCorps don’t make you cry, you have no soul. But I still like you.


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!

Love in the Time of Big Girls

Valentine’s day is on tuesday.

I can’t wait to see what Mr. Twistie does for me… though we’ll probably celebrate on monday. You see, he’s finally figured out that just getting in the car and heading for a favorite restaurant on february 14 rarely results in us getting a romantic meal. More often it results in us circling parking lot after parking lot while he apologizes over and over again. On the other hand, he still doesn’t ever make reservations. So for the last couple years, we’ve chosen a favorite place to eat on the night before Valentine’s day. It’s nice. We don’t get stuck with a prix fixe menu full of things neither of us particularly care for but that are generally considered romantic. We don’t have to deal with big crowds. In fact, Valentine’s eve is a great time to find really good restaurants nearly empty.

We’re also a tidge on the casual side about tying ourselves to the calendar. It works for us. I don’t imagine it would work for everyone, but we like it.

For some people, I imagine it would strike them as… well… something like this:

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Eloquii: Here’s Hoping!

Oh man please don’t let Eloquii suck.

So remember back in the day when The Limited owned Lane Bryant and for a couple years in the early noughties (yeah I hate calling them that too) when you could walk into Lane Bryant and come out with clothes that lasted more than one season, might’ve had some naturally occurring fibers and weren’t covered with random flaccid ruffles/metallic screenprints/shoddily adhered sequins and sometimes things even had sleeves? Plus you didn’t have to mortgage your house to buy a pair of underwear?

Man, those were heady days my friends.

I’m not saying Lane Bryant doesn’t still occasionally knock it out of the plus-size park, but I have some dear friends –who shall remain nameless since they are under the employ of Charming Shoppes– who straight-out admitted the quality of the average Lane Bryant product has dropped to what one friend calls “Just above Old Navy” while the average price per unit creeps ever higher. Sigh. ‘Twas always thus.

SO this is why I’m super excited about Eloquii, the new and confusingly vowel-heavy plus size line from The Limited.

I haven’t ordered anything from them yet but I am very encouraged to see a thoughtful mix of trend pieces and classics designed for actual adults to wear to their actual jobs and in their actual lives and although you can’t tell right now, I’m typing with all my fingers and toes crossed with the girlish and perhaps naive hope that Eloquii will fill the gap in plus size ready-to-wear between slouching-towards-bargain-bin Lane Bryant and lines like Lafayette 148 New York, which are fantastic but err on the side of prohibitively expensive for most wallets.

From what I’ve seen on the site, I’m pretty excited. True, there isn’t much that rocks my personal casbah at the very moment, and I’m a teensy bit concerned about the skirts being a little short because Lord knows how many plus size designers forget how big girls go OUT –especially in back– before we go down resulting in supposedly knee-length skirts that become festivals of oversharing when worn by a girl with more than the average quantity of junk in her trunk.

Still, I’ve selected a handful of items that might be wending their way to Villa Plumcake sooner rather than later.

I LOVE this striped dress
. I would love it more if it hit at the middle or the bottom of the knee because honestly, it would be SO much more chic but still, I LOVE this dress. And would you look at that? SLEEVES.

The great thing about this dress is it will always look fashionable, no matter how old you are. it would be cute on a 16 year old and elegant on a woman of a certain age (although again, would be so much better if it wasn’t above the knee). It’s my favorite item on the site right now and if any of you have experience with it, I’d be very interested in hearing your take.

How about this trench coat
? It’s tricky to make a decent trench for a big girl because the traditional cut adds a lot of bulk precisely where you don’t want it and the double breasted look is tough, especially for the chestally blessed. It looks like they took their time with the seaming of this one and although I’ve been burned many times before, this trench –especially in that color– might just be the one that’ll save me from swing coat perdition.

Who asked for a sheath? Someone asked for a sheath. Well, here you go.
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Gordita: Not Just For the Dollar Menu Anymore

I am thirty-two years old. I know I’m thirty-two years old because every few weeks my best friend and I have a conversation that goes something like this:

BFF: I want to do something really special for my thirty-second birthday, like go back to Galway or pose as a wealthy Japanese businessman and offer David Bowie an obscene amount of cash to give me a foot massage while wearing those silver spandex leggings from Labyrinth.

Me: I think we better stick to Ireland. No offense, but you’re broke and couldn’t be any more Irish if your name was Sunburn McDrinkingproblem so I don’t think the Japanese thing would work. Wait, you’re going to be thirty-two?

BFF: …yes.

Me: Then how old am I?

BFF: You’re also thirty-two.


and so on and so on.

I paint you that little picture only as a side note to illustrate that, despite my dewy fresh skin and inability to sleep through the night without a bottle, I was not born yesterday.

Almost a third of a century has slipped through my well-manicured hands and now, for the first time ever, do I have a nickname about my weight.

Okay, let’s be honest here. It’s entirely possible, plausible even that were one to look through the Vaseline and gauze-covered lens of the past I might’ve had a fat-related nickname kept carefully from my delicate, shell-like ears. But what are you gonna do? Reagan couldn’t fix EVERYTHING in the 80’s and haters, as the internet so wisely tells me, gonna hate.

But now it’s out in the open. Last night Hot Latin Boy and I were chatting about his mother and how much I like her. My personal maternal experience, while a blessing in the potential bestselling roman a clef arena (because it’s not libel if it says “a novel” on the front!), is a little light in the tiny little ball of cherubic goodness arena so I have taken to his viejita in a big way and want to do everything I can to make her happy, as long as it doesn’t involve my cervix or Roman Catholicism.

And she likes me. She can’t say my name –no one here can– but she likes me.

“Whenever I talk to her” reported Hot Latin Boy “she always asks about you. ‘How’s your gordita?’ she’ll say.”


It means “little fat girl” and, strangely enough to American ears where fat = insult, it’s usually an affectionate term for attractive girls with a few extra scoops in their milkshake.

Strangely, it doesn’t bother me.

I thought it would, and the first time I heard it, I felt odd. I felt like it ought to bother me, having been raised in a society where nicknames based on physical characteristics are not generally nice things, especially for women.

And yet I sort of like being gordita. It’s affectionate, non-judgmental, worlds better than “You have such a pretty face” and then a Meaningful Sigh –don’t pretend you don’t know what Meaningful Sigh I’m talking about– as their eyes survey the rest of my body in disappointment.

It’s taking some readjustment, this whole living in a culture where fatness is not a cardinal sin and it’s made me think about how we are so afraid of admitting our bodies exist in space that we just don’t talk about them unless we’re complaining about how they “should” be.

I’m interested in hearing your take on it, especially if you come from a culture where comments or nicknames on weight are acceptable and not shame-based. Put it in the comments.

Corsets! Finally!

Okay gang, I have one hour and thirty seven minutes before I have to be down in the little village of Popotla to wait for the fishermen to come in. Not, sadly, because I’m waiting for a sailor, but the fishing boats come in at noon and if I’m not there to fight tooth and nail with these surprisingly tough little Mexican grandmothers (I don’t know how you say “throw elbows” in Spanish, but I sure bet they do!) at the exact minute they splosh today’s catch on their ramshackle folding table, then the seagulls will get my dinner and frankly, I cannot live with that.

As promised, here is a belated corset post with recommendations.

Please note I don’t actually own any of these corsets, although I wish I did. I judged them based on apparent quality of construction, variety of product (as in: do they offer longline/underbust/cotton/bridal/whatever corsets) and how much the site annoyed me.

My favorite by far is Corsets-UK.com

Although they don’t offer as much as I’d like to see in the way of neutral colors, they’ve got an impressive selection of underbust, sweetheart and longline corsets suitable for almost all your waist-cinching occasions.

By the way, if you’ve got a natural waist larger that 43″, you’re still probably safe going with a corset built for a smaller waist since fat is more malleable than bone. Just don’t go passing yourself out or doing anything dumb.

OH! And they’re doing a buy-two-get-one-free promotion on almost all corsets, so if you and some friends (I’m thinking bridesmaids) want to go in on a group order together, this might be the time to do it.

This long line underbust corset is for waist training. Personally, I don’t think waist training is a good idea because that stuff can mess with your ribs and lungs and other important parts of your body that should probably not be jostled around for the sake of a smaller waist. Still, there’s no harm in popping one on for a few hours if you’ve got a special event coming up, or if you need the extra control 24 steel bones provide.

If you want to do an overbust corset and still be responsible WRT the chestular situation (no Platter O’ Boobs/Dish of Desperation) a deep sweetheart is the way to go. That way you can maneuver the gals to their upright and locked position without spilling over into “I couldn’t get a date in high school so please approve of me now” territory. No one looks good in that territory.

There are TONS more corsets from the ridiculous (camouflage corset anyone?) to the sublime, but I’ve got to go throwdown with the old ladies over the best salmon so I’ll leave you to sort it out yourself. Good luck!

Man in Diabetes Ad Has All His Limbs

If you’ve been to New York City lately, you may well have seen these billboards telling us all that if we drink large sodas, we will get diabetes and have to have our legs amputated. It shows a headless fat man with crutches and his right leg amputated below the knee behind a row of growing soda cups, and informs us that eating less is the way to avoid developing diabetes.

Never mind that (a) no direct causal link between drinking soda and developing diabetes has ever been proven, (b) no direct causal link has ever been proven between eating anything in any amount and developing diabetes, (c) no mention is made of the fact that the bar has been lowered for diagnosing diabetes (much like several other ‘fat peoples’ diseases’ such as hypertension) in the past few years, or (d) the vast majority of people with diabetes will never face amputation of anything at all, there’s another aspect that’s even more shameful about this ad: the man in it has all his limbs.

You see, several years ago, California actor Cleo Barry agreed to sit for a professional photographer for $500.00. As part of the contract, Barry signed a release form that allowed the photographer to distribute or sell the images as he saw fit. The photographer sold this image (sans crutches, Photoshop amputation, or scare tactic message) to Image Source, a stock photo company.

Fast forward, and the New York City Department of Health chose Barry’s photo to buy for their diabetes awareness campaign. After all, what could be more likely to hammer the message home than a picture of a fat, young, black man… once they did a bit of digital surgery?

And young does enter into the equation. The vast majority of amputations among diabetes patients? Happen to people who have been living with diabetes for literally decades. They aren’t performed on people in their twenties, like Barry, but people in their sixties and upwards, who have had poorly controlled blood sugar for twenty, thirty, forty years. Even then, the rate is very small compared to people living with diabetes. You know, people like Mr. Twistie who was diagnosed nineteen years ago and yet still has all his limbs and his eyesight.

When Barry became aware of the ad, he was horrified. In fact, he stared at his computer screen and cried. He feared what this ad would do to his acting career.

But he has decided to fight back, folks. In a move to both bring attention to how exploitive this ad campaign is and bolster his career at the same time, Barry has made the following offer: he will lower his usual pay rate to any soda company willing to use his unaltered image in their ad campaign. He even says he’ll sing and dance ‘without charging an arm and a leg.’

In other news about fighting back, you may have heard about the Billboard Project. If you haven’t heard the news, Ragen Chastain at Dances with Fat (and if you aren’t reading her blog, I absolutely encourage you to do so last week!) has started a campaign to raise funds for an alternate billboard to put up in Georgia to rebut those appalling billboards telling fat children they are sick and bullied, but they bring it on themselves by being fat. On thursday, the Go Fund Me page opened for business. Ragen and those working with her on the fund were hoping to raise $10,000.00. That goal has been kicked to the curb, folks! It was beaten inside of twenty four hours. The new goal is $15,000.00 to fund not only the original billboard, but a host of other ways of getting out the body love message. There’s just over a thousand dollars left to go to meet the new goal.

But wait! There’s more! And it isn’t an incredible Ginsu steak knife.

More of Me to Love has offered $5,000.00 in matching funds… but there’s a catch. While the monetary goal was reached quite a while back, they stipulated that there must be a minimum of one thousand unique donors to unlock those funds. This is an incredible offer, and I love the fact that the agreement includes building a truly grassroots movement that includes a lot of people, rather than a few donations from people with a lot to spare. But as of Ragen’s last update, the project still needs nearly three hundred donors to unlock the More of Me to Love funds.

So please, if you have anything to spare, go to the Go Fund Me page and make a donation. Anything from five dollars up is accepted at Go Fund Me. If you cannot spare that much, or would rather use PayPal, you can go here to donate Solidarity Dollars, starting at quite literally one dollar donations.

Remember, every dollar is another blow against body shame and publicly funded bullying.

And every dollar, every refusal to buckle under, every act of individual body love is another chip in the wall of hate and prejudice. Let’s take that wall down!