Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rejoining the Working World-How traffic saved my sanity

So since June I've been unemployed until Monday of this week I had to fill my time mostly with bad television, the internet and some writing but mostly television. I could feel my humanity ebbing away with ever episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. No purpose, no drive, no verve or vigor. I was depressed and even though I had all the time in the world I wasn't motivated to work out, write or do any of the things people in the working world dream of having time for.

Yesterday something weird happened, my new employer complimented me and told me how happy they were I was there, it lit a fire underneath me, spurring new ideas, goals, new energy into me. How strange that just a few "attagirls" from relative stranger got me going.

When I got off from work I hit rush hour traffic and was stopped on one of the Portland bridges (there are a few) and I looked over at the water, glistening in the afternoon sun. I wasn't even upset we were moving at a snails pace, somehow I felt like everything was falling into place, like I had me back again. Even the confusing exits and twisting roads didn't deter my mood. I had never realized how truly my self worth was tied to my ability to create income I truly believed that was something I just told myself and others to "appear feminist".  It wasn't until I actually stopped working that I realized how much I truly had invested of years of work experience, the self actualization of bringing home my own bacon and how much the lack of that feeling affected every other facet of my life.

Time is no longer on my side and I might not fit in everything I want to do today but at least I'll actually feel like getting out of my pj's tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hamster wheel of fashion-What Ms. Magazine has taught me

I will be the first person to admit that I read Vogue, Glamour, Self, Fitness, Marie Claire and Cosomo almost everything month and every month I read with envy because none of those women look like me and apparently all have bank accounts exponentially bigger than mine, I'm sure we all know that feeling the industry calls these "aspirational" magazines. If we could only own "x" than our lives would be complete, except that x factor product changes all the time from a Birken bag (still want one) to a pair of loubtains (actually have savings account devoted to a pair).

We flock to own designer goods because we desperately want to achieve some of the "It" girl status. The problem is that fulfillment never comes because the system is what a clever friend of mine calls "the hamster wheel" of fashion, an ever revolving, an ever changing landscape in which one cannot even been seen in the same dress twice. Yes we've bought into the system and at times it can be fun to shop for new and exciting pieces but to give so much weight, emotional currency and relevancy to what has become "disposable" fashion is ridiculous.

I picked up the summer issue of Ms. Magazine and was rapt by all the articles of extremely important women I'd never heard about, women working to end political imprisonment in third world countries, people giving young girls access to menstrual pads without which they would forced to leave school, Sandra Fluke's interview on the war on women, all these things that never made it into national headlines but where relevant, inspiring and aspirational to me.

These women I realized were the role models I wanted, the ones I needed that set an example of how to do something important in the world. I was drawn to the raw power of their convictions, their knowledge of themselves and the incredibly tenacity that each woman possessed. It was freeing to find a place in which rational discussion about something other than lip gloss was paramount. It was an entire other, almost forgotten side of me, a reawakening if you will.

Fashion will always be my preferred form of expression to the outside world and a favorite past time, but I've learned that fashion is not my goal, not my aspiration in life, it is merely the language I use in order to express higher ideals. Fashion and feminism  may not seem to go hand in hand but the sexual, intellectual and emotional revolutions of women are recorded in the wardrobes of many influential women throughout history everything from Marylin's infamous picture over the air shaft to Michelle Obama's sophisticated and bold shift dresses is there. Fashion may be a hamster wheel but when wielded correctly it is can be everything from inspired art to political statement.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

What happens after you find "The One"-Stefanie and "Big" Ch.2

Most of my adult life has been spent searching, sorting and sorrowing over the "One" that glorious mythical being of man who is generous, spiritual, ambitious, loving, understanding, loves his mother and is drop dead gorgeous, well after many trials and tribulations, I found him and he drives me f**ing nuts.

What the Cinderella story doesn't tell you is what happens after the glass slippers come off. When you have to deal with roommates, laundry, fiancial woes and the titan of all issues closet space. When we moved in together, I couldn't believe the itty bitty tiny closet I would be forced to wait for it.... share  with Big. I know horrendous right? My Ruby Roxy dresses having to share space with his cotton poly blend work shirts, a travesty dahling. I basically took over the closet relegating his clothes to about a foot of space for his shirts, jackets and ties, which is his basic uniform du jour. Even now I think about my obi belted shirt dresses wrinkling from the pressure and I cringe.

It can't be helped, we're stuck living in the tiny 10x10 room I've taken to calling "the foxhole" until the end of Septemeber. I'm all for standing by your man but what do you do when the two of your can barely stand in the same space? Or where is the playbook on what to do when your sigficant other just won't throw away holey socks? Or when they insist of being optimisic though the situtation is dire.

Yesterday I had a breakdown, business is slow, I don't go back to work for another week and bills are piling up, I was upset angry at myself at both of us for letting this happen. "We are too damn old for this!" I said. I was tired of being bottled up, of being confined to our current socioeconomic status, I was damn tired of being a stay at home girlfriend. "I haven't been shopping in more than a month!" I cried and literally shed tears. Then I saw it, the look of guilt and understanding at the same time in his eyes. I got angry and scared at the exact same moment, I knew it, I'd revealed the depths of my shallow pettiness and now it was over. I was expecting some kind of lecture on maturity or even some angry tirade but all I got was a hug and a promise that "things will get better."

I was taken aback, for all of my life I've been able to depend only on myself. It seemed like the only thing I knew for sure was that other people would let me down, and that it was all up to me in the end. That'd been my identity for so long that to actually believe someone when they say "it'll be okay" is extremely difficult fo me, if I'm not the one orchestrating the "okayness".

For the first time in my life here was someone that loved me, wanted to make me happy and it was physically painful for him to see me otherwise. Truth is I had a hard time believing not that he had the ability to make things better but that he wanted to do it for me. When I was searching for "the One" none of the others ever a candle to Big. No one had ever treated me with more than passive contempt, let alone ever expressed any desire to make me happy or secure in the world. Here was Big asking me to believe in something I'd never seen before, like asking a starving man to believe he was invited to Thanksgiving, it just didn't compute, until he wrapped his arms around me kissed me and went back to his home office to do exactly what he'd just said make everything all right.

 He still insists on keeping the holey socks, but now I just sneek them into the trash and sneak new ones in, he is still eternally optimistc about the future and I keep one eye on the sky looking for the storm. He still drives me nuts but all those things seems to melt away when he wraps his arms around me. He is not perfect, he is however everything I've ever wanted. To all single women everywhere, keep looking and remember you never know when you'll find something or someone who is the next Big thing in your life.
Until later lovelies,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The awesome fashion of Funny Girl Rebel Wilson

 Aussie Actress Rebel Wilson is a triple threat; beautiful, funny and fashionable. You've seen her in the now cult classic Bridesmaids and in the hilarious trailer for the upcoming Pitch Perfect. Being incredibly talented, it's no wonder that Rebel Wilson was cast in these comic relief roles, every scene she's in she steals and has us rolling in the aisles with laughter. 

 Women of average size like Wilson get zero to minimal screen time normally as the comic relief or the bit part chubby friend, though hilarious at times I'd much rather people focus on how big her talent is than her jean size. We can only hope that the Hollywood casting community will sit up and take notice because much bigger things are in store for this soon to be leading lady we hope.


    Wilson not only is redefining what it means to be a plus size actress, she's also making chic and sophisticated fashion her signature on and off the red carpet. Here are a few looks from the comedienne showcasing her curves.
Wearing stripes and color the right way!

Love the piping on this jacket, it's reminiscent of the "Dandy" look on runways but totally wearable.

Rebel Wilson for Bullet Magazine, amazing retro look somewhere between Marilyn Monore meet Bonnie and Clyde.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to take a staple piece from day to night

So in this economy everyone from the very wealthy to the not so financially blessed (moi) are looking to save what they can where they can. Which means not as many shopping sprees as we would like, but it is exciting to re-purpose a few staple pieces and turn them into an entire new wardrobe with the help of accessories and who doesn't love those? Here is how I turned one Lane Bryant skirt with bandage detail into an office worthy shirt dress and a chic clubbing outfit.
Here I've added a obi belt shirt also by Lane Bryant over the skirt, which on my 5 foot frame as been re-purposed as a tube dress. Shoes by Avenue. The accessories I've kept minimal for a chic office look, the heels chunky very on trend for fall as well as the oxblood color. Necklace is glass beans in a blue/purple/green hue to add some color. The trick to this outfit is using the shirt to give the skirt turned tube dress shape, pull it in even tighter and create more of an hour glass.     
Here all I've done is add a basic black jacket from Fashion Bug, a Statement necklace from Forever21 and fire engine red heels from Nine West. Perfect party/cocktail outfit. I've also changed into a deeper red lip to match the shoes just because I like the effect but a burnt orange or a bright pink would work just as well. The key is to make sure the tube dress is always being nipped in at the waist or just below the bust to ensure shape.

So see lovelies, all you have to do is find what works for you, take what you got, make it work and above all have fun with fashion, that's what it's there for.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Body Love? -Body hate isn't just from the outside, rule your inner critic

So I just finished listening to Golda Pertensky's podcast on her blog www.bodywellness.com I listened to the podcast about giving yourself permission to love your body. At first I thought this was a bunch of hooey, being big isn't healthy at least that's what every doctor, coach, teacher etc. has always told me, multiple times. But after gaining back all 30 pounds I lost before I moved to Oregon, I'm open to anything that will help me get back into fighting shape. I'm not a good loser, not good at losing weight or losing the game. I have a tendency to be either obsessive or apathetic about things which I know is not healthy but that is who I am.

Listening to the podcast and all the reasons why we hate our bodies seemed all too familiar. I have always been told my body was "bad", that I was never good enough, that somehow I was subhuman because I was not a size that was convenient for others. I hadn't realized that I hated my body quite as much as I did. I've been holding back care and affection for myself (haven't posted any OOTD pics) because I believed that my body wasn't worthy of attention mine or anyone else's. I know this is true because every time Big looks at me naked and smiles, I think he's insane or that he must be imagining someone else, even faced with proof of his um...attraction, my brain still tries to find a way to make me feel bad about my body. Why?

Because we've been taught from the beginning that being different is wrong, scary and undesirable. I was relatively lucky growing up, I was somewhat liked in highschool, most people didn't bother harassing me, it was the lack of social interaction that hit me, I didn't get invited to "those" parties. No one invited me to go shopping with them at Old Navy or Gap. And no one ever danced with me at Homecoming and I never made it to my prom, by that time I'd fallen in with a bunch of misfits who were much older than I was, willing to buy me and my friends booze, I felt like it was okay because well if I was going to be an outcast, I would at least be an interesting one.

Unfortunately one bad decision usually leads to others, and they did. I got messages from every angle that I was "less than" and sometimes they were polite and subtle, like the manager at Wet Seal asking me to wear clothes from the store, when she knew none of their clothes went over a size 10 and I was 24 at the time. Other times, it was a douchey frat guy pretending to like me and then when his friends were around, making oinking noises at me while they passed in the street. So it's safe to say I've been trained pretty well to hate not just my body, but my whole personality. How many times have we heard that fat people are lazy or sloppy? I was an honors student in college, volunteered and worked two jobs, lazy was not an adjective you could use to describe me then or now.

People have this perception and I think over time I've let people's imagined perception become my reality. They believed me to be lazy, I have become lazy about my health, they think all overweight people are overeaters, I'll be the first to admit I'm an emotional eater. I know I can't be the only one, so right now I'm searching for ways to stay motivated for my goals so I'm posting them here to stay accountable, not all of them are health related but they are important to me:

Run a 5k by New Years 2013
Learn to cook 3 new vegetarian meals
Save enough money to go to Cancun by May 2013
Get down to a size 24
Buy a pair of Christian Loubtains

 Wear a bikini for the first time in my life by May 2013-for Cancun!

To post (1) photo editorial on Chubby Girl In The World a week, and not let my self-conciousness get in the way

Share your goals with me in the comments!
Until later lovelies:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The TPS Reports- Adventures of 3 people thrown together by circumstance

When I moved to Oregon to be with Big, it was a huge change for me. No job, no prospects and no expectations. Having a long distance relationship is hard, finally transitioning from long distance to every day; even harder. Sometimes I forget that I can't just take off whenever I feel like it and be gone for hours on end without telling anyone, this can tend to cause a panic in those you care about but when you're so used to doing your own thing, it doesn't seem like a big deal to you, to Big it is.

Aside from my crazy habit of disappearing for no reason what so ever, things have been going well. When I moved in I didn't just get to be with the one I love, I got all three of his roommates too. Sometimes five people living together can be stressful, suffocating even, hence the disappearing act. Our room mate Patrick has easily become our hang out buddy and sometimes when I've had too much Blue Moon confidant as well. He likes to go on "adventures" where we all pile into our ubiquitous Oregonian Suburu and head out not knowing where we'll end up, for fourth of July we were in Vancouver, just tonight Target to secure brownies. You never know where you'll end up with Patrick. Despite his wanderlust and penchant for baked goods he seems to have had a calming effect on both me and Big, and the other couple we live with whom I'll just name "LuAM" like a Brangelina.

We were thrown into this mix because of Big's job, and where I wasn't expecting to make friends with everyone it is nice to have a familiar face in a sea of strangers. Living with just your S.O. is hard enough, there's the constant battle of the toilet seat position, the struggle for the remote and often hurt feelings about some petty thing or another;add others to the mix and you might as well be stirring napalm. We got lucky, where Big and I may be "Big &Stefanie" the dynamic duo, Patrick is a fearless leader in his own right, and often facilitates us getting up off the couch and out into the world when it would be easier to retreat into my writing or for Big to absorb himself in work. So to the man who makes us be human friendly and sociable, cheers!
Until next time lovelies,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Body Acceptance in fashion and in my own head

Mom 129

This is what I looked liked right before I begin an earnest work out program in Dec of  2010. This was about a week in and I had seen my body start making changes, could feel myself getting stronger. Today I’m sitting at my laptop recovering from a Taco Bell bender late last night. I realized something  as I was shoveling empty calories down my gullet, I hate my body. No matter how many affirmations or cute pics or body acceptance blogs I read every time I look at the above picture I want to vomit. I don’t blame the fashion world, movies or media. I blame me.

Some people might think this is because I don’t like the way I look and that is a major part of it. But I think the the thing that bothers me the most is that I’m still so far away from what I believe is an “acceptable” weight. I don’t look the way I want to, the way I think I should. Because I’ve tried so many, many times to change and have failed I get disgusted with myself and the tape recorder in my head plays the same old songs “you’re never going to do it anyway, so why bother?” or my favorite “you’re so gross looking, don’t work out in front of people” as if somehow my “fatness” would get on poor unsuspecting skinny people if they shared a gym with me.

I’ve made the decision to begin working out again, probably for all the wrong reasons. I want to look better in a bathing suit, I want my pants to show off my bum not my tummy and because I want my old sex life back. None of these having anything to do with my health, because well I’m 27 and a heart attack is not likely so it’s also not likely to be motivating to me. Now a new Italian stretch wool shift dress? Now we’re talking motivation. I learned today that if I want people to accept my body, I have to do it first.

Body acceptance in fashion is slow in coming but with new health initiatives on runways, more advertisers promoting the idea that women of all sizes are beautiful is slowly happening. Although a young girls plea to Seventeen Magazine to have at least one untouched picture per issue was flatly denied, we still hold out hope. More and more women are standing up and demanding to be represented in the media, advertising, movies and magazines. You can’t ignore us, we’re not going away and we have every right to be here, in the spotlight taking center stage and what most of us have found, is that getting face time is hard but once you have it the response is immensely positive.

Plus Size fashion has made major strides in the last decade mostly due to the fact that dollars speak louder than anything. We buy from people who make clothes to fit our bodies, plain and simple. (Take notice High End Fashion Houses) In this economic crunch no design house should be overlooking what is over a a billion dollar market. It has long been thought that plus sizes were a realm of bargain basement department store bins, with no glamour and no advertising appeal and so many designers have shied away from creating clothes for the curvier set. In the June issue of Full Figured Magazine below you can seen model after model gorgeous looking, curvy and definitely advertising pieces that make you want to run for your credit card because yes you’ll take 3 of those leather stretch corsets thank you very much even at $80+ dollar price tag. Why because we love looking and feeling sexy, just like any “normal” size woman.

Body acceptance is tough for all of us because for so long we’ve been conditioned to hate ourselves, buy this product or that and you can be just like J Lo! We’ve all heard the late night infomercials about how “Insanity” worked for them and they lost upwards of 200 pounds! All I can say is stop the insanity! Do what works for you, makes you happy and provides the healthiest, best possible body for you. If that means never being a size 2, then that’s ok. Being a size 12 is pretty freakin’ awesome too, or 18 or 28 or 32 or whatever. No one is as beautiful, unique and amazing as you’ll ever be so make sure to take care of yourself in the best way possible, because we need all the help we can get.

Go out today my lovelies, create memories, strive for excellence and above all make a difference in first your own life and then in someone else’s even if it’s just giving them a much needed smile or nod of encouragement. That other chubby girl who lives across the hall from you, let her know how cute her outfit is, or how awesome you think her band is etc. We could all use a little encouragement now and again.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Story of "Jake"-My Declaration of Fashion Independence

So last year I was at Big's family Thanksgiving celebration. His sister is married to a man we'll call "Jake". Jake is that special kind of person who believes that his world view is the only correct one and if only you would agree to listen to his umpteen reasons, he is sure you'll come around. I was sitting on the couch waiting to be called into service and happened to pick up a magazine on the coffee table, it happened to be a fashion magazine. I don't remember who was on the cover, or even what magazine it was all I remember is hearing this: "You really shouldn't read that, those kinds of magazines are why women are still so far behind where they should be. Women should be worried about how to get ahead, how to be good citizens or do something more useful than wear lipstick."

I'll let the moaning subside before I continue. Yeah he actually said that. I know. I wish I could tell you that I had a witty response, that I somehow proved him wrong but I was so taken aback by the utter stupidity of his assumptions and the fact that this was my first thanksgiving with my boyfriends family that I was left speechless. Jake's assumptions are nothing new to us, many people believe that if you read Vougue or Elle or any fashion magazine you someone have missed the mark of social awareness, somehow you aren't "present".

 I vehemently diagree, but I didn't always. When I was a teenager I was so convinced that I wasn't one of "them", you know the girls who could braid their own hair, wear perfect make-up and were always color coordinated? Yeah that wasn't me, I was the frumpy jeans and t-shirt kid who helped with homeless shelters, Green Peace pettitions and Drama club. My mother was always on me to brush my hair, fix my face or stand up straight. I still haven't mastered the last one, but getting primped to me at the time always felt fake, this is what I look like, don't like it? Don't look. It was my way of protecting myself against ridicule. I thought "those people" were vapid, useless to society, and couldn't possibly have anything in common with me.

As I grew older and wiser, I realized that "those people" were just people like me, with their own hopes and dreams, their own causes and natures. The truth is I've always been intrigued by fashion and beauty but I felt like that world didn't belong to me, because no one in the pictures or movies or television shows looked like me, like none of those things were for me. It wasn't until I began to know and understand who I was and became more comfortable with that person, that I began to embrace fashion as a series of choices, as an art and past time.

Fashion has helped me develop into a more confident, well rounded and aware person. Vogue does have spreads on the newest runway trends, but more importantly they run issues on women who take time from their lives as writers, politicians, and photographers who go to Africa to teach, or help Afghani women build businesses, or cover female soliders in combat zones. Fashion encompasses those things in which we live our lives, it is inspired by us, it is art reflecting the most intriguing parts of reality. It truly is one of the most freeing forms of art, it allows us to express very personal and meanigful statements in a social acceptable way. No one should feel censored in their fashion which for many of us, is a big part of how we communicate to the outside world without ever speaking a word. Not everyone can be a great orator, not everyone chooses to make statements in the form of speeches or even blogs, some of us literally wear our convictions on our sleeves and that is just fine.

So to all the "Jake"s of the world you've been corrected, this is our declaration of independence:
As women we are strong in our feminininty
we are intelligent and fashionable
we are amazing and beautiful complex creatures
we declare independence from outdated and outmoded thinking
we demand the respect and courtesy we are due
We stand together, and will defend every woman's right to dress, feel and speak in a way which she feels best demonstrates her uniqueness.
This day and everyday we celebrate our independence.

Until later my lovelies,