Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The One Where I Discuss Being Plus-Size

Today, I saw an article Upworthy had posted about Tim Gunn calling out the fashion industry for essentially excluding "plus-size women" from runway shows, clothing stores and, frankly, from fashion entirely. This is a conversation I feel like I am FOREVER having, so as soon as I started the article, I immediately knew I might have to blog it out. I highly encourage you to read his original op-ed, because he really does an incredible job pointing out the flaws of the industry and being an advocate for those of us who do not fit Society's "mold". But, for the sake of anyone who ends up reading this, I'll be quoting some of it below for context.

Let me start this by saying that over the last year, Ryan and I have both lost about 60lbs each. Subsequently, we have both dropped 3-4 sizes. And even 4 sizes smaller, I am STILL plus-size. And, in an effort to maintain my usual 'open book' blogging style, I'll just straight up tell you that I wear a size 16. I am officially "an average woman", according to statistics. So, if 16 is the average, why are we still being pigeon-holed into our grandmother's Mumu's?

Tim Gunn addresses this in his op-ed as well, stating: I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women. It’s a puzzling conundrum. The average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University. There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them. 

So, here's where I start to get mad. Yes, I am a size 16. But I still have a SHAPE and its a shape I've worked very hard for! I don't want to hide it under ill-fitting clothes simply because designers cannot be "bothered" to create items that will fit a size 2 as well as a size 22.

I will no longer be ashamed of my size 16. And designers shouldn't be either!

Tim goes further, explaining that many (read: MOST) designers brush over us curvy girls because: They say the plus-size woman is complicated, different and difficult, that no two size 16s are alike. Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but can that not also be said about a size 4? Or 6? Or even the runway-ready 2? For most of high school, I was a pretty tried-and-true 6/8. I was also 5'10. One of my best friends was also a size 6, but she was 5'5. Her size 6 and my size 6 were different. Yet somehow, designers dressed us both just fine. (Well, mostly. I still generally required a "tall" or "long" option.) By my senior year, I was a size 10, and things started to get more complicated. Yes, when I was 18 years old, I was already hitting a wall when trying to buy the same clothes as my smaller friends. (I talked about this a few years ago, too.) I think part of the problem, honestly, is that sizing is not consistent EVER. In my closet right now, I have sizes ranging from a Medium to a 3X. And they ALL fit!

Which segues perfectly into Tim's next point: Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Okay, but, have you? Because it really is that terrible. Do you want to know how many dressing rooms I've cried in? It's a large number. Larger than the largest size I've ever worn. Essentially, I am forced to purchase about 3/4 of my wardrobe online because most stores stop at size 10 or 12. Anything over that, and you are re-directed to the "WOMAN'S" section. (Something Tim also beautifully shames. So, seriously, read the article.) Because of this, I dressed much older than I wanted to. That was all that was available to me. Mumus and tunics and garments shaped like a potato sack. But I LOVE clothes!! I love trying new styles and trends, when given the option.

And sometimes I AM given the option. Online. Thanks to stores like ASOS Curve and City Chic, I have expanded my plus-size wardrobe with shapely, flattering, trendy pieces. But, again, I cannot walk into those stores. I can only shop them online. And there are a few great plus-size stores in malls across America. You have Lane Bryant - mostly great but sometimes they lean too far into Mumu territory. Or Torrid - cute and youthful but also cheap and doesn't usually stand the test of time. (Okay, so I can think of TWO. Cool.)

The real game changer for me has been Gwynnie Bee. (Nope, I'm not getting paid for this.) It's a clothing-in-the-mail service similar to Stitch Fix (which does not carry my size), but its for sizes 10 and up. They have amazing brands, and both trendy and timeless options. And you know what? I've had FUN learning how to dress my size 16 body. There ARE options, if designers would just make an effort. To quote OutKast, big girls need love too. And that includes love from the fashion industry. So, I'll wrap this up the same way Tim Gunn does: There’s an art to doing this. Designers, make it work. Please?


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The World's BEST Sloppy Joes

(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp Butter
2 1/2 pounds Ground Beef
3/4 Large Onion, Diced
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 cup Ketchup
1 cup Water
2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1-2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Kaiser Rolls
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Add 1 tbsp of butter to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, season with black pepper and cook until brown. Drain and discard fat. Set ground beef aside.

Add another 1 tbsp of butter to skillet and add in onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add ground beef back to skillet.

Add ketchup, water, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Once mixed, mix in chili pepper, red pepper flakes and dry mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Slice the Kaiser Rolls and butter each half. Toast/brown rolls in a pan or toaster. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls and top with shredded cheddar. Grab some extra napkins and ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Long Time Gone

Oh, hey.  Remember me?  The girl who use to blog?

It has been a really, really long time since I've done much writing. (Publicly, anyway.) I reached a strange point last year where I just ran out of things to say or I felt like it was becoming boring or I'd start a passionate blog and I'd just lose my way. But I missed it, honestly, because it is such an outlet for me and lately I've been really pulled back to the blogging world. So, in an effort to jump start it, I'm going to do my best to share what we've been up to, and then hopefully the blog ideas that have been bouncing around in my head will flow freely!

The last year has been full of some major ups and downs. (Which, quite frankly, feels like the status quo for us.) And until now, I have not felt ready to open up about some of the tougher things we've encountered.

Let's take a chronological journey...

Just over a year ago, we moved into a perfect little house in a great area and we absolutely love it here!
We've officially lived through all four seasons at this house!

My brother Frankie, my best friend Kim & I went to the 2 Day Suburbia Music Festival and had an absolute blast! There were dozens of bands and musicians, but the highlights for us were Third Eye Blind, twenty one pilots, Yelawolf, Killer Mike, NEEDTOBREATHE, J Cole and The Alabama Shakes!
May 2014

I went with my friends Erika, Brittany & Rob to see Johnnyswim and it was incredible.
July 2014

Ryan and I got to see Nickel Creek from the 2nd row. Life changing stuff.
August 2014

We also got an up close and personal view of Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds to Mars. (I was clearly much more excited about this than Ryan was...)
September 2014

For Halloween, we both decided to be super-heroes. Ryan was Superman (rightfully so) and I was Rosie the Riveter!
October 2014

Frankie found a tiny, abandoned kitten at his work and we decided to take her in. We named her Piper and loved her fiercely for 5 days, until sadly, she passed away. It was so sad for us, but her tiny little body just couldn't fight off the damage the Big, Bad World did before we got her.
November 2014

Frankie and I got the chance to see Ryan Adams (!!!!!) play in Dallas for the first time in almost a decade. It was a night I'll never forget!
December 2014

On New Year's Eve, Ryan & I hopped in a limo with both of our brothers and our good friends Brittany & Rob to see Dove Tail and The Wild Feathers. It was such a fun night!
December 2014

I received a high honor at work when I was voted my company's 2014 Employee of the Year by my co-workers.
January 2015

Ryan turned 30 in February, and that same weekend, we found out I was pregnant! It took us 5 years to get there, and it bums me out that this is the only picture I have of myself during that time. Grievously, we lost the baby at 10 weeks. It's been one of the hardest things we've ever endured, and it lead to the only blog post I wrote in the last year, until today.
February 2015

Ryan got a fantastic promotion at work. Even though it's meant longer days and more stress for my hard-working husband, it's still been a game changer for us! I am immensely proud of him.
April 2015

The Denton Women's Collective jumped back into Finding Kind with both feet when we finally got it in at Lewisville High School!
April 2015

I donated my hair for the 3rd time! This time, I decided to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

April 2015

Like a gift from the universe, a sweet Mama Bunny decided to make her nest in our yard this Spring! It was both stressful and thrilling to watch these babies grow. Almost every morning we see the 3 now-teenager-bunnies in our front yard and I love that they feel at home with us.
May 2015

Ryan & I attended our first SOFAR (SOngs From A Room) show and had the best time hearing some new artists as well as a couple of favorites!
May 2015

At the end of May, we experienced another devastating loss when we had to say good-bye to our sweet Chloe girl. It was utterly heartbreaking, especially after everything else we've been through this year, but we found some peace knowing she was no longer suffering. It feels like there is a hole in our family and I miss her every single day.
May 2015

My dear friend Lynsday and I went to see Jonathan Jackson + Enation and even got to MEET Jonathan and his brother (and bandmate) Richard! We've both been fans of Jonathan Jackson since the early 90's so it was quite a treat!

June 2015

Last month, I saw a post about a 1 year old kitty that needed a home. Cooper had been quite lonely since he lost his big sister and companion, so we decided to bring him home! We named him Oliver (we call him "Ollie" or "The Dude") and he was just a dream... except he did NOT get along with Cooper. He would attack him viciously, but was sweet as sugar with us. Thankfully, my brother really bonded with the little guy so Ollie now lives a very happy life with Frankie!
June 2015

Ryan & I roadtripped up to Kentucky to visit my Mom and celebrate my Aunt and Uncle's 50th wedding anniversary! Ryan also had his 1st (and 2nd) Big Boy burger.
July 2015

Most of my Mom's side of the family - July 2015
While we were in Kentucky, Ryan's precious Grandfather "Papa Herbie" passed away. He was a really incredible man who will be sorely missed. I feel grateful to have gotten almost 7 years to be his granddaughter (in-law).

And that catches us up to now... Cooper is happy as can be now that Ollie has gone to live with Frankie. He is just the sweetest little snaggletooth kitty there ever was and I'm thankful every day that he is ours! < Crazy Cat Lady alert >

July 2015
Thanks for welcoming me back, Blogosphere! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dear Baby

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so naturally I've been thinking about you non-stop, Baby. We didn't plan you. Not really. We talked about you, asked for you, tried for you and dreamed about you for a long time. But then we'd given up and accepted we'd never have you. And we felt okay with that decision.

But then something so miraculous happened, and we made you

When I found out I was carrying you, I was terrified. I was terrified of the changes my body was going to have to make, terrified of how I was going to physically bring you into the world, terrified wondering if we were ready for you. But a few days later, the fear subsided and I was so happy about you. I talked to you, sang to you, put my hands on my stomach in hopes you would feel my love. We talked about what we would name you. We looked at the furniture you would sleep in and the stroller we would push you around in. We told our loved ones about you. Suddenly everything was about you.

You made me sick almost every day. I felt the strain growing you had on my system. But it was also a reminder that you were there, doing what you were supposed to be doing. A week before our 10 week sonogram, I started to feel a little better, and that filled me with a rush of excitement. I was so excited to see you. We waited with baited breath to see your tiny body on the giant screen in the doctor's office. She found you so quickly. There you were. So real. Your daddy squeezed my arm, smiling. The energy and love in the room was palpable.

But then there was silence as she snapped a million pictures of you and the energy in the room changed. I was still, trying not to panic, but my instincts took over and I asked her if everything was okay. If you were okay. She put her hand on my knee and quietly told me you were gone. That you'd been gone for a week. Your tiny heart had stopped beating. I felt the air leaving my body as your daddy took my hand.  We talked to the doctor and she told us what would happen next, but I hardly heard a word she said. All I could think about was you. That I'd only gotten to carry you for 10 short weeks. That I'd never even know if you were a boy or a girl. Whether you were our son or our daughter.

And then I mourned you. I still mourn you.

I was okay with never having you...Before there was a you. Then all I wanted was you. People kept telling me that we could try again. That maybe we could have another baby. But I didn't want another baby. I just wanted you.

I may have gotten only 10 weeks with you. But for the rest of my life, I will love you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Photo Dump

I miss blogging...but can't seem to finish a single post lately.

So, here are some pictures instead. :)

If Chloe had a theme song, it would be Destiny's Child "Survivor".

I got to see the incomparable Patty Griffin in January.  It was the stuff dreams are made of.

Ryan and I headed out for date night to see Jake Bugg at House of Blues.

Jake Bugg

Cooper Trooper presenting me with one of his mouse toys.

Celebrating Ryan's 29th birthday 2/7

My little brother donated 10+ inches! I LOVE his new, short hair.
Our Furbabies <3

Friday, January 17, 2014

On My Drive Home

I've had a rough week.  A little bit because of work, a little bit personal, a lot a bit me being overly sensitive. (That last one is no surprise, if you know me very well.)  But the last hour of my work day today was especially unpleasant, so when I left work I was feeling uneasy and upset.  I fought tears as I drove, realizing I wasn't quite ready to go home.  I didn't want to bring this mood into my house and splatter it all over my happy husband.  So, I just kept driving.  I had absolutely no idea where I was heading but I suddenly felt the need to exit the highway.  I made a turn, then another.  And soon I was in a busy parking lot.  I decided to park and try to shake off (or cry out) my feelings.
Then I saw them. 

A young family - a man, a women, and two small children - standing on the corner, holding a sign that asked for help.

I cannot truly put into words the feeling that washed over me.  Call it what you want - God, The Universe, Fate, A Coincidence - but I knew I had ended up there for a reason.  I was being given the perspective I needed to put me in my place.  

I dug through my wallet for all the cash I could find (sadly, it wasn't much) and drove up to the family. I rolled down my window and handed a humble and gracious man what I had.  His wife burst into tears and thanked me profusely.  And then I burst into tears, too.  In fact, I had to pull over about a mile down the road because I could no longer see through my tears. 

Now, I am sitting in front of my computer trying desperately to find the right words to tie up this post with a pretty bow, but my hands are still shaking and words are escaping me.  All I can think of are the lyrics to my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE song.

So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Keep your eyes open

And open they are.  In a way they haven't been for some time.