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An adventurous, giggly 20-something-year-old woman who no longer believes that being skinny is the only way to be happy, healthy and beautiful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fun Plus-Size Shopping Poll!

Lately I've been shopping like crazy, and it shows no sign of ending anytime. Perhaps it's because of Black Friday, perhaps it's because I feel better about myself, and maybe, just maybe ... learning so much about fat positivity has led me to find some amazing new plus-size clothing stores. Who knew there were so many options available? And when you have new clothes, you of course need new shoes ... and new purses ... etc. etc. It's an endless cycle of gluttony that feels oh so very good ...

So my shopping spree has inspired a new post idea. As much as I sometimes wish I were skinnier just so that I could do simple things like walk into a store and know that something there will probably fit me or go shopping with friends without having to be the awkward one holding the basket and staring at socks. But lately I've been thinking: this stuff I've been buying lately is so cute! It would be a shame if I somehow got too skinny to shop at these fantastic stores ...

I thought it might be fun to do a quick poll: if one day you suddenly woke up a size 8 and couldn't fit into plus-size clothing anymore, which store(s) would you miss the most? Leave your answer in the comments box!

Me first!!!!

Definitely Hips and Curves! It's so much more than a traditional lingerie shop: they offer a mixture of styles from cute to naughty, and all of the stuff I've bought from there is of fantastic quality. They've also got fun costumes, accessories, and even cute little love letters on their website. Plus their sale section can offer some great deals! Honestly ... if I woke up a size 8, I would be very tempted to start binge-eating so I could fit into my stuff again.

Sooooo sexy!

Also ... Kiyonna! Now, I've never actually shopped there because I'm way too poor, but I'm thinking of perhaps buying myself a dress there as a birthday present! The dresses are all classy without being flashy: the essence of style. Honestly, if I owned one of these dresses, I would probably put it on and dance in front of a mirror at least once a week just to see how beautiful I look!

Ooo la la!!!

Also, if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, see this post for details! I'm giving away free makeup!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I'm Healthier in China: My Thoughts on Linda Bacon's "Health and Every Size"

There are many reasons I love being in China: the stuff is ridiculously cheap, the food is fantastic, the public transportation system can't be beat, and my friends there are amazing people. But one of the other reasons is that I have this amazing ability to lose weight in China, and even just feel healthier. I'm not talking about a dramatic transformation; the most I ever lost was a 20+ lbs over an 11-month period, most of which was lost during the first few months. But in China food stops being something that I have to think about. I can eat what tastes good and just go about my everyday life, and in the end my body just feels better. In America, I'm paranoid about eating "healthy," which of course in the end leads me to binge-eat and hate myself.

That's not to say being a fat girl is easy in China; in many ways more so than here, you're constantly reminded of the fact that your body is different. You can never find clothes that remotely fit, you're permanently designated to sit in the front seat of cars, and you're always expected to be able to eat your weight in food, even when you're not hungry. My favorite moments are always when the old ladies ask me, in complete and total confusion after I protest that I really cannot eat an entire table's worth of food: "But ... if you don't eat that much, then why are you so fat?"

The first time it happened I had no idea what to say. Fortunately, my Chinese friend came to my rescue: "Grandma, it's a DNA thing! White people are just fat because they have different DNA than us!" Though I was grateful for her help, I "knew" she was just saying something nice to cover up the real reason I was so fat: I was lazy and didn't have the self-discipline it takes to be skinny like "normal" people.

If only I had listened to her back then instead of letting it fuel my self-hatred ...

A few people have been recommending Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size to me lately. These past few days, due to a nasty cold and a seemingly incurable bout of procrastination, I've finally gotten around to reading it. It is AWESOME! I'm totally in love! Things about my body (including my experience in China) just make so much more sense! Of course dieting doesn't work! Of course you can be fat and healthy! Of course a genetically bigger body would in our society encourage people to criticize me for my weight, which would in turn foster a punishment-reward relationship with food, which would lead to more weight gain, which would lead to self-loathing, which would stress me out and lead to even more weight gain and lower self-esteem and start the same cycle all over again! Of course your body would be genetically conditioned to try to stop you from starving yourself on some diet, making significant, permanent weight loss an unlikely outcome. Of course, as my Chinese friend, it's all in your DNA!

For those of you who haven't gotten the chance to read it yet, pick it up! The Kindle version is under $2 at Amazon, and it's the best money I've spend in a while. What I love about it is not only its message of self-care and fat acceptance (which I'd more or less come to on my own before reading it), but also its thorough re-examination of the so-called "scientific truth" that fat = gross = unhealthy = death. Her argument was well-researched, clearly explained, and simply mind-blowing. Who knew that weight gain can be a symptom, rather than the cause of Type II diabetes? Who knew that the vast majority of people who succeed in dramatically altering their size through dieting end up just gaining it back within a couple of years?

I'm looking forward to implementing some of the changes in my life that Bacon suggests in her book. Truth be told, I still can't say I completely agree with this idea of me being physically incapable of even tweaking my body a little bit on a more permanent level (I feel like over the course of my life I've had multiple "set-points" where my body naturally wants to maintain my weight ... some bigger and some smaller than my current weight). Besides, I've got two cute pairs of jeans in a size smaller than I am right now, and I'd hate to have to give them up. Nevertheless, I think her message about self-care, loving your body as it is right now, exercising for fun rather than weight-loss, AND having a healthier relationship with food based on moderation, not dividing the culinary world into "good" and "bad" foods, and trusting your body's own intuition is an important one. Basically, in a few words: "Women are beautiful and food is delicious! So live your life and be happy!!" What better message could there be?

And, in the spirit of a book I had not yet read, on Wednesday I did something I have wanted to do since my teenage years: become a redhead. And look how happy it made me!

If you haven't gotten the chance, look at my previous post for information on how to sign up for my free makeup giveaway! I'll be drawing the winner on Dec. 9th, so sign up soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Free Stuff! What Could Be Better?

I've been an avid follower of the Healthy Hedonista's blog ever since she started it. Natasha's kind and adventurous personality just shine through her blog, so it's always a pleasure to read. One of my favorite things she does is her periodic free giveaways as a way of gaining new followers, so I thought it would be a fun idea to do one of my own!

I haven't yet gotten around to writing about my recent forays into makeup. I plan on writing an entire post on the subject and how putting on makeup fits in with my new efforts to take better care of myself. Essentially my new philosophy, like with my skin, is to first invest in buying a few key quality products (like makeup brushes, my everyday eyeshadow and foundation), but go for the cheaper options for the subsidiary and/or "fun" stuff (like purple eyeshadow and a brow pen). 

For the quality stuff, I go to Sephora. The vast majority of their products are really top-notch, and their sales staff is SPECTACULAR. They always take the time to help me pick out the right stuff (meaning I finally have a foundation that works for my skin!) and even give me a little "makeover" as they teach me how to apply it properly. And Sephora gives out free samples like pediatricians give out stickers, so you can build up your makeup supply that way as well, ;-) ;-) . They're also really great about returns, which is wonderful.

So, those brilliant women who decide to enter will get the chance to win the following great products you can find at Sephora:

Benefit Cosmetics "One Prime Day" Mini Primer Pack

I honestly had no clue there was such a thing as primer in this world until a trip to Sephora a few weeks ago. It's great, because it both makes your makeup look much more smooth AND last longer! Great for busy people! This pack includes a face primer, a balm which minimizes the appearance of pores/fine lines, AND an eye primer!

Sephora Collection Flashy Waterproof Eyeliner -- Flashy Ultra Violet

Sometimes you just feel like doing something crazy and fun; what could be more fun than "flashy ultra violet" eyeliner?

How to Enter -- Complete ALL of the Following Steps:

1. Follow my blog
2. Follow me on Twitter and retweet this post
3. Like me on Facebook and repost this page
4. Leave a comment on this post telling me you've completed steps 1 - 3!

ALSO: if between now and the time I pick the winner you leave a non-contest-related comment on any of my past or future posts you'll be entered a second time! WOW!!

More Info:

I'll be picking the winner on December 9th

If you win, no need to worry about shipping! The winner can simply send me her address in a private message on Facebook or Twitter and I'll mail it out as soon as I can!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Little Self-Esteem Can Make All the Difference

It's not easy to have self-esteem as a fat woman. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if it were just a matter of seeing fat portrayed as "disgusting" and "shameful" in the media. The TV can be turned off, but there's no off button for the disparaging words and glances of the people around you. As Not Blue At All discussed in a recent post, it takes a lot of courage to be a fat woman; to have to wake up every morning to the woman who avoids sitting next to you on the bus, to eyes staring at you in the grocery store, to the giggles of small children, to the complaints of friends about some "fat bitch" they know ... the shame of being fat can be a heavy cross to bear. How can you love yourself as you are when so many would rather you were different?

People say that you shouldn't need external validation to love yourself; that's bullshit. We are all social beings reacting to our environment, whether it be through the rebellion or acceptance of established social norms. But it's always hard to be the lone warrior fighting the good fight, even when that fight is for your own well-being. I truly believe that everyone needs at least someone to remind them that they, too, are worth loving and fighting for. No one can go it alone.

At least, all of this has been my personal experience. My own self-esteem, in its small and fragile form, has only very recently begun to be a part of my life again. I grew up in an abusive household. No, I wasn't beaten with chains or burned with cigarettes; the abuse was never physical. Nevertheless you'd be surprised how effective the tongue can be as a weapon in the glorious battle to shame a 12-year-old into completely changing her behavior and appearance. Of the many, many reasons I was a bad girl, my weight was easily at the top of the list. Through screaming, teasing, and even crying, I was taught to believe that as long as I remained fat, I would neither be pretty nor loved.

Looking back on photos of me and comparing them to the woman I see in the mirror today, you can easily see the physical markers of my low self-image. I wear clothes that either don't flatter me or are the wrong size; I don't even bother with my hair; and on the whole I dress rather "cutely"/"conservatively," not even bothering to show that I have a sexual side. For example, these two of my freshman and sophomore years of college:

Things got a bit better over time. I met some wonderful people my junior year who encouraged me try new things with regards to fashion; I got the very first inklings that I, with all my fat, could be considered a pretty person, too. But still, I was very much going for the shy, cute look.

Then senior/post-graduation stress caused me to revert back to my lazier ways. But even then I still feel like my appearance improved from my freshman/sophomore photos ... my confidence was still on the rise.

And then ... six months ago ... the beginnings of the real transformation! One day, with the encouragement of my man, I finally decided to fool around with sexy poses. And, much to my surprise, some of the pictures were actually kind of hot! It was the first time in my life that I realized that I could be sexy ... WITHOUT LOSING WEIGHT!

And then ... to today!!

And in all of these photos, from beginning to end, I was between a size 14 and a size 18. I became sexier, happier, and more beautiful because I had someone in my life to give me that nudge, that validation that I needed to finally be able to realize it myself. I AM BEAUTIFUL!

Things aren't perfect; I still have a long way to go and this blog is going to document the steps in that process. For instance, I'm hoping to leave the beauty sector for a post or two and talk about exercise and mental hygiene, both of which I could really use right now.

Ok ... it's 4 in the morning ... and I can't think of a better way to end this post than to say: I hope you continue to follow me on my journey to beautiful! *gag gag gag*

Friday, November 18, 2011

My New Skin Makes Me Want to Dance in Front of a Mirror

The other day I went back to the salon and picked up my AMAZING new face creams. Honestly, if there was another way to highlight the word "amazing" I would do it, because that's how great this stuff is. I've gone through phases where I take better care of my skin, so I'm not a complete stranger to good skin care. But I've never gotten results that were big enough to "wow" me -- to really make me think it's worth it to spend those extra few minutes a day and those valuable extra dollars on skin care products. But this stuff makes me want to spend my days caressing my cheeks and dancing in front of my mirror.

What is it that has me dancing, you ask? It's a brand of creams by a German company called Jean D'Arcel. Unfortunately, it's something that has to be imported, so if you don't have a distributor near you it might be a pain to get. But if you can get your hands on it, it's definitely worth it!I have dry, sensitive skin with a few red splotches, so the beautician recommended I use three products: the Nano Q10 + Omega 3 + 6 Energizing Day CreamNano Q10 + Omega 3 + 6 Energizing Night Cream, and Couperose Cream (applied in the morning with the day cream to treat the red patches).

All in all they came to a little over $100, not including the other products I use as supplements (cleanser, toner, scrub, makeup remover, mask). Yes, that is a bit pricey, but for me the fact that I can look so beautiful even without makeup makes it worth it. And when I feel like I look beautiful, I act differently: I walk down the street like I'm the sexiest person alive, I smile much more brightly, I speak much more confidently. And with great skincare products, I can dash out of bed in the morning and just throw on some clothes, mascara and lip gloss and feel beautiful. Isn't that worth $100 every couple of months?

So I'll end this post with my new daily skincare routine. Hopefully it might help someone else get better skin! And if anyone has any suggestions on how to improve on it I'd love to hear them!

  1. Remove eye makeup with a makeup remover
  2. Remove dirt with a cleanser (I use Neutrogena's Deep Clean Cream Cleanser)
  3. Spray a bit of toner (I use Twinlab's NA-PCA with Aloe Vera) on a cosmetic sponge and remove any last traces of dirt
  4. Pat face dry with towel
  5. Two sprays of toner, one on each cheek, and use fingers to press into face
  6. Jean D'Arcel products. In the morning: couperose cream on the red spots, followed by the day cream; In the evening: night cream 
Once a week I also exfoliate with a Glo Therapeutics' Pumpkin Enzyme Scrub while in the shower. 

Thanks for reading! Next post is going to be fun, because you'll finally get to see some pictures! As Not Blue At All pointed out in yesterday's post, there's no reason why pictures and the camera can't be a fat woman's best friends!

Also in the works ... a special gift giveaway! I'm taking the idea from Healthy Hedonista and am going to send a gift to one lucky person who follows my blog and reposts my giveaway on Facebook and Twitter. What exactly this gift will be is still up in the air. I'm open to suggestions!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Secret to Fat Beauty ... Beautiful Skin!!!

This week I had a revelation: all my life I've been focusing on how being fat disables me. "Oh, I can't get the guy I want because he thinks I'm too fat!" "Oh, I can't go clothes shopping with X, because I won't be able to fit into anything but socks!" "Oh, woe is me!!!!"

But in order to feel better about myself, in order to become the new happy, healthy, beautiful me, shouldn't I flip this kind of thinking around? In other words, how does my fat empower me? What does it give me that I wouldn't have as a skinny woman? I'm not going to lie; my first thought definitely turned to my lovely ladies (which are by definition fat). But once I had managed to pull my mind out of the gutter I quickly realized what I also have in abundance: SKIN!!! This is the one lasting beauty change I could make that's bound to make people stop and say "Wow," if for no other reason than that I have so goddamn much of it!

To be perfectly honest, I had a little help with this epiphany. Last week I got a facial in preparation for the aforementioned photo shoot. I didn't put too much thought into it, to be honest. I just went on my new favorite website for discount beauty services/products, Lifebooker.com, found someone who was offering a discount, and booked a facial.

When the ladies in the salon complimented me on how beautiful I looked after the facial I smiled, but chalked it up to them trying to turn me into a repeat customer. When the woman who did my makeup the day after complimented me on my beautiful skin, I figured it was just because she had a close-up view of the post-facial me. When the photographer thanked her lucky stars that she wouldn't have to spend too much time on Photoshop fixing the blemishes in my skin, I thought the same thing. When two drunks on the side of the road complimented me ... you get the idea. But when a good friend and even a fat-phobic colleague complimented me on how nice I suddenly looked, even though I had made no other change, it really hit me: my extra skin is an asset, not a disability!!!!

Basically, all this is to say that I've decided the first step to a new, beautiful me is taking better care of my skin. So, starting with the next post, I'm going to kick off this blog for real with a post on my new, improved skin care regimen, as well as a few before and after photos (yikes!). Hope you're as excited about it as I am!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Now?

Last week I went to have pictures taken. It used to be my least favorite thing to do in the world: freeze an image of my ugly, fat body in time to be seen by myself and others for decades to come. At best I thought these pictures might make good "before pictures" for when I finally got around to losing the weight and magically transform into a beautiful butterfly. "What's the point of taking care of myself?" I thought, "Polish a turd, it's still a turd!" Sure, I would go through phases of trying on makeup and nicer clothes. Sometimes I would even start to diet and lose a good 10 or 20 pounds. But, in the end, I still thought of myself as a "turd" -- someone whom no amount of polishing could fix. I would unfailingly return to my bun and my comfy pants; I didn't believe I deserved much more. I still based my conception of beauty on the size of my waist. This conception was only reinforced by the well-intentioned, but nevertheless hurtful comments by friends and family urging me to lose the weight so I could get a "nice body to match my pretty face." I felt sad, worthless, and unloved, burdened by the idea that happiness was 80 lbs away.

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful man, who, much to my surprise, actually thinks I'm beautiful the way I am. I laughed at him, at first, thinking he must be either blind or crazy. But he kept saying it over and over and over again with such sincerity that I actually started to believe him. Suddenly my pictures seemed less horrific, even the "bad" ones! I started buying nicer clothes, dressing up more often, and wearing makeup again. I was no longer used these things to bribe myself to lose more weight as I had in the past; I was truly starting to love and accept my own body ... fat and all! I even started doing things for myself, such as getting facials and doing my nails. I was feeling good!

I was feeling so good that I decided to do something very daring: have boudoir pictures taken. I liked the pictures that I had taken of myself at home, so why not spend the money to have them professionally done? After many appointments to prettify myself for the camera, the day finally came! But when I finally got the opportunity to go through the pictures and select the best ones, I was in complete shock: I looked so FAT compared to the other women in the sample pictures! Fortunately the initial shock wore off and I was able to select some pictures that I liked. But even though I felt the pictures I had selected came out well, I was nevertheless still devastated. I had been hoping to come out with a few "PG" ones to show a select few friends, to prove to them once and for all that I am beautiful the way I am. But looking at those pictures and comparing them to the pictures of "beautiful women" in the photographer's sample book, I realized they would probably only see the same thing I was seeing: my big belly. I'd once again be the pitiful fat girl, except this time I would be the pitiful slutty fat girl.

After crying for a bit, and many consoling reminders of my true beauty from my saint of a man, I finally realized: that is fucking messed up. Why in the world should we be taught as young women that only skinny, bony women are sexy? Why should I feel like I have to hide my belly fat at all costs, while showcasing my large breasts (which are also technically FAT)? Why should I have to feel judged, pitied, and humiliated should I happen to mention that a top didn't fit? Why should I feel shame when my friends rant about some "fat bitch"? (What does her being overweight have ANYTHING to do with her being a bitch, anyways?) Why should I feel humiliated when a classmate loudly announces that she would never date a certain man, because he was way too fat? Who does it help? No one, as far as I can tell. But it causes a whole lot of hurt.

More importantly, I realized that in spite of the progress I had made, I was still a part of the problem. I still didn't think I was beautiful, solely because my belly had fat. I hate to admit it, but I also would have had similar thoughts about any other girl my size or larger. I need to change the way I think of myself before I can begin to change the way both others see me and I see others. I need to have a healthier image of myself before I can begin to be truly happy, which is what I deserve to be.

I hope you'll continue reading. Hopefully this journey will be a lot of fun. I can't imagine how pandering to my physical and mental needs wouldn't be!