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

USTA Backtracks

Funny thing. Just yesterday I reported on how the USTA refused to pay for Taylor Townsend’s travel to tournaments until she lost weight and ‘got fit’ despite the fact she is the number one ranked junior player in the entire world. Her mother paid for her to get to the US Open out of her own pocket.

But it seems that the USTA has already backtracked. In fact, they did so before yesterday’s article went up. I had expected the controversy to last longer, clearly. I missed the backtrack, though, until late last night.

According to Patrick McEnroe, Weasel in Chief… er… general manager of the USTA player development program, the entire kerfuffle has just been a ‘misunderstanding’ and Sheila Townsend will be reimbursed for Taylor’s travel expenses. Apparently nobody said anything about Taylor’s weight. It was only her fitness that was questioned.

Sheila Townsend, however, remembers the conversation differently. Apparently her questions about what would constitute Taylor being fit enough to play were never answered:

…“If there are numbers to go by, then you can’t argue with numbers, I understand that. I never got any definitive answers.”

Also apparently, winning a Grand Slam in the Australian Open didn’t in any way constitute ‘fit enough.’

So what made the USTA change its mind and agree to let Taylor play? Well, they don’t come right out and say it, but I’m guessing the fact that Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport (the last American to win in both singles and doubles at the Australian Open in 1993, incidentally) both made angry public statements in the matter may have something to do with it.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want this woman gunning for me, either.

Suck It, USTA!

I know, I know, two Suck It articles in two weeks. I don’t usually do that. This is not me becoming a crochety old lady (though in anticipation of my glorious half-century, I have already received an invitation to join AARP). No, this is a reflection of the sheer amount of painful stupid going on in the world right now.

But let me illustrate.

(Illustration via Sports Illustrated/CNN)

This is Taylor Townsend.

Taylor is sixteen years old. She’s also the top ranked Junior Tennis player in the world. Note that: in the world. We’re not talking best in a backwater elementary school better known for competitive teacher harassment or distance spitball championships. We’re talking top junior tennis player in the entire freaking world.

The Chicago native took singles and doubles junior titles at the Australian Open earlier this year, becoming the first American to do that since 1992. She finished well up in the rankings in both singles and doubles at the French Open. She’s on every tennis fan’s list of young players to watch. In fact, she’s on the verge of going pro and becoming a household name.

And how does the US Tennis Association reward this talented girl who is noted as not only a powerhouse player, but a hard worker and excellent positive role model for the sport?

If you guessed ‘gave her an award and recommended other aspiring tennis players take a chapter from her book’ you would be wrong. If you guessed ‘refused to pay for her travel to tournaments until she loses weight’ you would be sadly right.

Taylor’s mother, Sheila, paid for Taylor’s travel to the US Open.

So what prompted this move by the USTA?

Well, it seems that Taylor lost in the first qualifying  round for a professional tournament in Vancouver.

That’s right: she lost a game. One game. an important one, I’ll grant you, but if she wore a smaller size tennis dress, what would they have done? Maybe ramped up training a bit, but that would have been it at worst.

But they have decided that because the number one ranked junior champion in the world lost one game on one day that she has to lose weight and ramp up her training.

Patrick McEnroe, general manager of the USTA’s player development program assures us all that he is really just concerned about Taylor’s health and well-being.

But you know what? If that was true, dieting is the last thing he would be asking of a sixteen year old. The human body continues to grow and develop into the twenties. It’s rare for a girl of sixteen to have finished growing up, but even if she has, the body is still sorting itself out for a few years to come. On top of this, Taylor is involved in extreme competitive sports. She needs the energy and nutrition of hearty meals to do what she’s asking of her body.

Oh, and let’s not forget that every single long term study of weight loss accomplished in any way whatsoever has shown the same results: sure, the weight comes off at first and stays off for a while. But at the end of five years, no study – and we’re talking all the way back to the first one performed in the 1950’s – has shown less than a 92% failure rate (ie: every single pound comes back) and a very high rate of gaining more weight than was lost in the first place. The younger the dieter, the worse the chances of long-term weight loss success and the higher the chances of developing an eating disorder.

Add to that the stress of trying to fit into their narrow (literally!) concept of what healthy looks like means more emotional stress, which can lead to depression and a wide variety of physical ills.

Yes, it’s all about her health, isn’t it.

Oh look! There’s a pig nesting in my oak tree!

Let the best junior player in the world play at full strength, physically and mentally. That’s how you show concern for her health.

A Good Trench!

A few weeks ago I was bemoaning the lack of good plus-size trench coats when superfantastic reader Maria popped up with a few suggestions from London Fog.

The last time I thought about London Fog was two years ago when they hired curvaceous Christina Hendricks –a package deal including Christina Hendricks’ breasts and Christina Hendricks’ hips– and then through the magic of really really painfully bad Photoshop, removed about 50% of everything below her rib cage.

Seriously, check out this “Making Of” b-roll to see just what a hatchet job they did on America’s favorite redhead.

Turns out they have a decent selection of plus-size trench coats too, surprisingly, because if they hate curves so much as to remove them from Christina freaking Hendricks then surely they wouldn’t want their beautiful brand sullied by the filthy, fatty money of people whose pelvises are wide enough to birth something bigger than a gummy bear.

Oh wait.


I’d forgotten that kerfuffle –I can only handle one trench-related dust up at a time and my memory is stuck at Burberry and Bogart’s kids suing each other over whether Burberry can use an image of Bogie in one of their trenches from Casablanca in a timeline– so when Maria linked to the Maura trench, a single-breasted trench coat made up to a 3X, my interest was piqued.

I liked the single breast, the feminine tailoring and the length, so after much deliberation I ordered the sand, which looked like a creamy vanilla on my screen but in reality is khaki, a light khaki to be sure, but very definitely khaki.

It’s generously cut –I probably could have ordered a size down and still had room for a sweater– and pleasingly well-made. The drape of the “faux silk” fabric is nice enough, though calling something with neither the feel or drape of silk “faux silk” is like calling a donkey a “faux unicorn.”

It will have to make a trip to the tailor’s to get the armholes taken in a bit –seriously, what is with the armhole thing? My upper arms are like Sunday hams and 90% of armholes are still cut so voluminously that I could smuggle an actual ham in there with room to spare– but over all I’m pleased with my new acquisition.

Plumcake rating: B+

Green Suede shoes

Hidy ho gang! Poor Hot Latin Boy is suffering from the man flu, which naturally means I’m suffering while HLB is passed out on my special homemade Anglican Stew (three fingers of Laphroaig, followed by two benadryl and a bottle of water). Still, the show must go on, so pop over to Manolo’s Shoe Blog to see four of my favorite shoes of the season, plus learn how to properly clean suede from the guys who know.

 Oops, link fixed! Thanks everyone.

Close but no crocodile cigar

The Birkin, for all its It Bag status, was never my dream bag. It came into my life unbidden and I hemmed and hawed for nearly a year before I decided to actually take the thing out of its fancy orange box. I’ve all but abandoned carrying it now unless an event calls for leveraging all the Super Speshul Magickal Privilege Powers I can get.

According to my kitchen scale, my completely empty Birkin weighs 4.34 pounds, just a little more than a half-gallon of milk.

Plus it’s getting slouchy. Now, I’m fully aware people positively dampen themselves over a “floopy” Birkin, but I’m not a floopy girl. My body is floopy enough, so I prefer to counter with a structured bag.

Like this:

Now say what you will about the screaming orange eyeshadow and the inability to describe the shoot concept without using the phrase “Dadaist teen tampon commercial, 1987”

(ooh, they sell hats too!)

That’s a great bag.

It’s also not a terribly expensive bag clocking in at $448 on the Furla website. It’s currently unavailable thanks to the September Issue rush, but I expect it to come back in stock sooner rather than later.

Brahmin also brought out their bags in deep green embossed crocodile, at a moderately lower price.


Not bad, but still not quite right and so the search continues.

Which bag do you prefer, and more importantly, other than the bag, what item (use your imagination) is the model in the top ad selling?

A Little Announcement

That’s right friends and lovers, your pal Plummy is going to be blogging it up on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Manolo’s Shoe Blog. The straight-sizers have been deprived of me too long. What does this mean for the Big Girl blog? Not a thing, it’s just more of me to go around. Do me a favor and say hello.


What’s In It?

One day, Steve Ettlinger was sitting at a picnic bench with his two children absently reading the ingredient label from his ice cream bar when his daughter asked him “… what’s pol-y-sor-bate six-tee?”

Ettlinger realized in that moment that while he’d been reading content labels for processed foods for years, he didn’t actually know what a lot of the ingredients were or where they came from. He decided to find out.

Thus the book Twinkie, Deconstrcuted was born.

Ettlinger decided to start his journey with a single, ubiquitous processed food that most of us have eaten at some point in our lives, the Twinkie and similar snack cakes, and find out what goes into a typical one, where it comes from, and how it’s processed into popular golden snacks.

The result is a fascinating tour of American foodways blessedly free from moralizing, shaming, cheerleading, or bluster. Ettlinger has opinions and quirky thoughts, but leaves the individual reader to decide what to do with the information he’s passing on. Along the way he shows us the sometimes surprising connections between such varied items as: snack cakes, health foods, industrial solvents, and glues.

There are challenges aplenty to assumptions on all sides of arguments about how food is produced, and what the potential dangers of highly processed foods may or may not be. For instance, as of 2007 when this book was published, nobody could point to the potential health effects – if any – of high fructose corn syrup. Why? Because while it has been added to everything from fruit juice and sodas to snack crackers and Twinkies, no long-term study has been done on it. This means we don’t have any proof one way or another to whether it has anything to do with the much ballyhooed ‘obesity epidemic’ or rising rates of diabetes, both of which can be more than adequately explained by a variety of other reasons… nor do we have any proof that it has nothing to do with any specific health risk. That means that food purists can always point to it as a potential threat, and corn growers and food manufacturers can equally validly point out that it hasn’t been proven to cause anything at all.

On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that vegan meat substitutes might well not exist without the humble Twinkie.

With a refreshingly breezy tone and the even more refreshing assumption that readers are more than capable of choosing how to use facts presented in their lives to their own ends, it’s also a tremendously fun read.

One thing is for sure: if you read this book, you will understand more about the complex ways simple foods are produced and brought to market in America.

And if your six year old ever wants to know what polysorbate sixty is, you will have an answer.

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