Category Archives: Self Image

No Ifs, Ands Or Butts. Jane Solves The Age Appropriate Clothing Dilemma.

A friend of mine has a pet peeve. It annoys me, too. But it annoys her more.

Women wearing clothes that are not age appropriate. 

You know the type. The one with kids approaching their teens but they still buy their own clothing in the junior section. Wearing the trendiest of trendy. Ripped jeans. Bikinis. Short shorts. Thongs. Body piercings. Micro mini dresses.

This friend of mine. The one with the pet peeve? She’s not envious. She could rock any of the above styles. She just believes that women should dress their age.

I’ve just never really given the topic much thought. It’s not something I notice unless it’s an in-your-face kind of offense.

When pushed for an opinion, however, I agree with her. I feel embarrassed for the offender. I’m not saying we should all don mom jeans or support hose (does anyone wear hose anymore?). But I don’t shop in the junior department. My jeans ride closer to my waist than my……well, you know what I mean. Bikinis have been replaced with tankinis. And shorts are at a length where everything is in its place. At all times.

Yes.

I said, shorts.

Because, apparently there is a debate about whether women over 40 (gasp!) should even wear shorts. I came across  this article and was aghast. Seriously? I’m going to have to get rid of my entire summer wardrobe. Because, Baby, I’m well over 40. I’m pushing the next decade. And I never gave wearing shorts a second thought. Which got me thinking……what IS age appropriate for me?

I did what I do whenever I’m wondering about something.

I Googled it.

And stumbled upon this article, “Forbidden Fashion For The Over 30s.”  I agreed with much of it. Body piercings, super low riding jeans, micro minis. Forbidden.

And then they listed things I don’t think anyone should wear: scrunchies, tube tops and Crocs.

But they also listed things that I’m guilty of wearing (at age almost-50): tie dye, collegiate sweats, and flip flops (but not all at the same time, of course.)

What is appropriate fashion for my age? What can I still rock and what should I drop?

I admire the Helen Mirrens, Diane Keatons and Christie Brinkleys of the world.

They exude style and class. No one questions what they wear out the door. (Except Mr. Blackwell, of course) They look put together. Fabulous. And can you believe Christie Brinkley is pushing 60?

But I don’t have a private stylist that helps me choose what I should wear and stops me when I try to leave the house in something that I shouldn’t.

After Googling and reading and scanning countless pictures I’ve come to only one conclusion: If it feels comfortable, if it looks at least somewhat put together, if it is properly cleaned and mended and ironed and covers the important bits – who gives a flying flip what I wear out the door? I’m going to be comfortable. I’m going to feel good when I put something on. And it will be age-appropriate because I say it is.

No ifs, ands or buts.

Unless, of course, my butt is peeking out of my low rider jeans. Then, please. Stop me. And send me back to change.

Because no one should ever be subjected to that.

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Filed under Because I'm Curious, Self Image, Soapbox

News Flash! Average Is Beautiful! (Then Why Am I Having A Fat Day?)

I had planned to be a bit more timely with this topic. When I sat down to write as Glamour magazine’s plus sized picture first created its stir (Sept. 2009), I found I didn’t have much to say. But today, catching sight of myself in the mirror (naked!) and then trying to find something to wear that felt good, looked flattering; I felt myself spin into the dreaded spiral, landing smack dab on my chubby butt. Ugh. I’m having a fat day.

I have a confession to make. Something I’ve told very few people. When I was in my twenties and I saw overweight people I thought, “Oh. No self discipline.”  I was the skinny kid. The pencil thin teen. I was so skinny in high school my parents were afraid I might have an eating disorder. They took me to the doctor and he told them I was a healthy, very active (I was a competitive swimmer) typical teenager with an enviable metabolism.

When this “thin” trend continued into my twenties – when I wasn’t even working out  – I patted myself on the back and attributed it to healthy eating (Seriously? I drank Coke with almost every meal!) and discipline. I simply didn’t over eat.

I was also diagnosed as infertile at this time. Every doctor, every specialist said, “You need more body fat.” So I tried. I really did. Ice cream is my weakness and I treated myself every day. I may have gained a couple of pounds but it didn’t make much of a difference and I couldn’t seem to gain any more. (I know. Tragic, huh?)

Then I hit age 35. And my periods slowed to about 3 a year. And I was tested. And this time the doctors and specialists said, “You’ve hit early on-set menopause. And weight gain is a part of it. You’ll need to be careful with what you eat.” I wasn’t worried. I’ve never had to worry. If I even THOUGHT about losing weight, wished I were a little lighter; the pounds simply melted away. So when the numbers started creeping up the scale I started thinking. I started wishing. As hard as I could. It didn’t work.

And then, the kicker. I got pregnant at age 40. “Pregnant?” You ask, “I thought you were going through menopause.” That’s what I said to the midwife. She laughed and asked me if I slept through 10th grade biology class? “If you have a period, no matter how sporadic, you can get pregnant,” she said. But I’m infertile, I said. “Evidently not,” she smiled.

I gained 35 pounds with my pregnancy and I’m still struggling with the last 15. Not bad? No. Because I was near the top of my healthy weight range when I got pregnant. This sent me over.

0814-lizzie-miller_vg_01

I wear the same size as Glamour’s plus sized model. A size 12. I wish I were back in a size 8 but as I’ve learned, that method doesn’t work for me anymore. What annoyed me about this picture is that she looks pretty healthy to me. Oh sure, she has a little tummy but no back fat, no thunder thighs, her arms look fairly toned. Ok. So she’s in her twenties and I’m 45. I’ve been through childbirth. She probably hasn’t. But a size 12 is plus sized? Are you kidding me?

Now thank goodness she doesn’t look heroin-thin. That’s just scary to me. In fact, whenever I see models that are heroin-thin I have to turn the page as fast as I can. I can’t even get a good look at the clothes they’re trying to sell me. I’m just too weirded out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am positively thrilled for the Dove soap ads of real women. I’m glad the media is even questioning our portrayal of what “real” is. But all this cheering and amazement that we could find a normal, average sized woman beautiful is downright scary.

And frankly, it still made me feel fat. I looked in the mirror this morning, saw the same tummy she has and I feel fat. And frumpy. And plus sized. Yeah, I should lose a few pounds. But that is getting so much harder as I’ve aged.

So, I sit here.

Feeling fat.

And all this media coverage saying size 12 is beautiful hasn’t made me feel much better at all.

(To celebrate her high school graduation, my daughter and I are on a little hiatus together. A mother/daughter hiatus. I will be posting some of my favorite posts in the interim. Enjoy!)

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Filed under Self Image

Mean Girls Alive And Well In Our Schools And Neighborhoods

I had a “Hey! That reminds me!” moment while reading a post by The Kitchen Witch this week. She addresses the topic of bullying. It reminded me of a difficult time in my parenting years and I started worrying all over again….

When my daughter was young, she went to school where I taught. A snobby, elite college prep school. Because she was “a teacher’s kid” all the other kids knew her place in the social pecking order. But because her personality was so bubbly and charismatic she was easily one of the most popular kids in her class. Plus, the school was small. And the thing I loved about our school was that because of our size (or lack of size)  – if you alienated an individual or another small group you were committing social suicide. Because next year? That group of kids you ostracized may be the only ones in your classes. And you might have to go friendless that year.

I taught in the high school. There was very little drama. Few cliques. Everyone was pretty much accepting of one another. And we had a quite a mix of students. Mix of skin color, economic status, social abilities. We had students with Tourette’s or weight issues that were part of the “IN” crowd. I know it sounds idyllic – but that was the amazing thing about our school. Small class sizes = Big acceptance.

My daughter started gymnastics at age 6 and by the time she was 8 she “would just DIE without it.” (Her words. Not mine.) So we found the best gym we could afford (1 hour away) and made the sacrifices necessary. By the time she was 9, she was working out 20 hours a week. At this level of competition many of the other girls were homeschooled. To preserve our sanity, we followed suit.

For four years.

And then suddenly, she quit. Without warning. (A story for another post)

So we offered her the option of continuing homeschool or going back to the private school or public school. She chose public school.

We found a school system, closer to “The Big City,” that we felt would be more diverse than the area schools where we currently lived that also offered a sound education. We moved into a lovely subdivision with a country club name. I foolishly expected educated, accepting neighbors. Because the school was more diverse than the area we last lived, I expected open, accepting students for my daughter to bond with.

Eye-opener #1.

While homeschooling, we saw the movie Mean Girls. We laughed at the over-the-top dramatization of high school life, of a girl assimilating to organized school after being homeschooled. When it was time for my daughter to start school, she jokingly asked if I thought the cafeteria would be like the scene in that movie. Of course not, we laughed.

Eye-opener #2.

And then there were the bus rides home. Sheer torture. Our school system has middle school and high school students riding together in the same bus. My daughter was an 8th grader. She hated it. She begged me to drive her to school. But I wouldn’t. I told her there was good and bad in every situation and she had to figure out a way to deal with the bad. Talk to the bus driver. Sit by the bus driver. Ignore it. Figure out a way to work it out. She wouldn’t tell me exactly what was going on, just that there were some mean girls on the bus that liked to pick on her.

Eye-opener #3.

Our subdivision was large enough that every kid on that bus lived where we did. They were our neighbors. About a month after riding the bus and days coming home with tears in her eyes and then racing to her room and slamming the door, she finally told me what was going on.

Her brothers were about 2 and 3 at the time. #1son is also adopted from Korea and he absolutely idolizes his big sister. Many days, if they heard the bus in time, they would race to the front door and look out the window shouting her name, hopping up and down as she got off the bus. This particular day I could see the agony in her face. Girls were shouting out the window. But as soon as they saw me, they slunk back down in their seats. As she walked up the steps of our front porch she saw the boys. She started to smile but as she opened the door she fell to her knees and clutched #1son and started sobbing.

She said she saw his pure, happy face and she never wanted him to ever have to hear what she was hearing.

That’s when it all came pouring out…

“Chink,” “Gook,” “Got any eggrolls in that backpack?” “I hear Chinese girls like it _______,” “Go back to your real home!” “Are you a Chink or a Jap?”

I. Was. Mortified. I felt like a failure, unable to protect my daughter from such evil. I had told her to ‘just handle it.’ ‘There was good and bad in every situation.’ But this wasn’t just bad. It was pure evil.

I wanted to call the school. Call the bus driver. Intervene in the biggest way possible. Drive her to and from school every day. But my husband, voice of reason, had a better idea. We sat down. We talked to her. We talked about how to cope. How to handle different situations. We talked about what it meant when people acted that way. And then she decided to continue riding the bus. She decided how to handle any future confrontation.

My husband said, “Better this happens now, while she’s living at home, when we can help her deal with prejudice than if we shelter her all her life and then set her loose in an unpredictable world.”

Her new approach worked. A few weeks later, a minute after she got off the bus, a car pulled up in our drive-way. A young boy started walking up our steps. I asked my daughter who it was and she shooed me away and went out onto the porch. They talked for about 30 seconds and she came inside.

“He told his mom what was happening and she made him come over and apologize. He said he was really sorry.”

A day or two after that, an older boy on the bus apologized to her for the other kid’s behavior and how sorry he was for not stopping it. But she didn’t believe him. She told him so. He said he meant it. After that he always sat a few seats away from her. Whenever the “mean girls” would start at it, he’d tell them to stop. One day he even got in their faces with a heated exchange. He was a fairly popular boy with them and they listened. The “teasing” stopped.

I was never bullied. I was never a bullier. But I never leapt to anyone’s defense, either. I never had the courage to step up, as that young man did on the bus. And as I read TKW’s post I thought about the parents of the bullied. How helpless we feel. Shamed. Stunned. Inadequate. Unable to protect our child during every minute of every day.

This event happened in 2006. At a time when I though we, as a nation, were beyond such hatred and ignorance. My sweet #1son is now attending a small, private school with such close supervision and such diversity we haven’t had to address this issue yet. I would hope that by the time he is 14 we won’t have to. He’ll be off to a bigger school by then. But there are no guarantees.

How do I stop it? How do I prepare him? How do I protect him?

And how do I keep myself from these inadequate, shameful feelings?

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Filed under parenting, Self Image

I Can Only Be Me

There are times when I struggle with how honest to be in Blog World. How private do I want to be? What secrets am I willing to reveal? How vulnerable do I want to be to complete strangers? Ok, some of you aren’t complete strangers anymore, but you get the drift.

I started this blog as an experiment. I had an idea for another blog, with a much more specific purpose. I created this blog to play around, get my feet wet, see what it’s all about. And I have to tell you: I’m having a blast.

Most of the time.

The other times I struggle. Not with what to say – but if I should say it. And if I’m saying it “right.” Oh, I have plenty to say. I’m not kidding. There have been times when I have the posts scheduled a week out with 6 more drafts waiting in the wings. But do I share it? Who else will I expose by sharing it (my family)? Who will judge me and what will they think when I share it?

And then there’s the pressure I put on myself. I wanna be funny like Shauna Glenn and The Bloggess. Or cerebral like Steven. Or host the perfect parties like Velva. Or write, with such grace as many of you do, about your children, your lives, your adventures. And now this is becoming a link-fest — but I think you understand what I’m saying. I read and read and read other blogs and I think, ugh. I could never be that funny, kind, smart, adventurous, have such great photos, write that beautifully, etc., etc., etc., after etc.

All I can do is what I do. I can only be me.

Hey. Now that’s a revelation. And I’d love to say I discovered it myself. I didn’t. I found it here.

I have a conversational tone to my writing. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a valid style. I’m more the straight man with a few funny one-liners. Everybody needs a straight man. (Funny aside: when you google “famous straight man” about 1/2 the hits are about being gay vs. straight than about comedy duos. Oh, how the times they are a changin’!) I’m a Google nut. I’m interested in so many things I’ll never be an expert at any one thing. Eh, there are too many experts out there, anyway. I write in incomplete sentences. I like incomplete sentences. I’m a rule follower that sometimes doesn’t play by the rules. Deal with it.

You’re going to judge me. I’m going to offend you. Some may never come back to this blog again. But I promise you this: I will always be honest. I will always write from the heart. I am not perfect. I have moments and pieces of me that I’m not proud of. And you’re going to hear about one of them tomorrow.

 But it’s who I am.

Imperfect ME.

(P.S. Don’t forget about our get together Friday, November 13th. Collect the craziest search terms for your blog and we’ll all share them on Friday. You can write them in the comment section or blog about it – but don’t forget to link/comment here so we can all see them! See you Friday!)

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Filed under Self Image, Soapbox

Operation Beautiful Dot Com

Cammy, over at Classroom Confessions, pointed me into the direction of this site and I love it. It must be shared with you all! About a week ago, in my post about the media/modeling industry and our standard of beauty, I quoted Kate White at Cosmo who said, “Women have to complain and then back it up with their actions — with their pocketbooks”  Well, here’s another thing we can do!

At Operation Beautiful they are encouraging you to end “fat talk one anonymous post-it note at a time!” As a parent of a teenage daughter and a six year old son that has started asking if certain foods will make him fat I’ve become acutely aware of how my own self-image challenges the people around me. Fat talk is all around us. We can stop the cycle at home but here’s an opportunity to stop it worldwide. Every little effort is like a ripple that will spread.

Please check out this worthy cause and get involved. I’ve already put my post-it pad and pen in my purse. I’m starting today!

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Filed under How We Roll, Self Image

Size 4 is the New Plus Size – For Models, That Is

Yikes! Size 4 is the new plus size for models. Seriously. Read about it here. I certainly don’t want this to become a theme on my blog but we’re hit with yet another round from the media. Only this time, it looks like they’re trying to be on our side. Filippa Hamilton, a longtime model for Ralph Lauren was apparently fired because she could no longer fit into the size 0-2 sample sizes. She’s 5’10”, 120 lbs. and she wears a size 4. Size four – for those of you that feel inadequate with numbers. F-O-U-R.

Filippa Hamilton is gorgeous. She’s young, beautiful…but fat? You decide.

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Other countries are now putting a ban on underweight models. America, and Ralph Lauren apparently, need to follow suit.

But what can we do about it? The msnbc article suggests that it’s in OUR hands. And they’re right. We need to STOP drooling over fashion magazines that portray unrealistic women. Reconsider buying products that celebrate emaciated women in their print ads. Write to your favorite magazines and demand realistic representation of women. Kate White, editor in chief at Cosmopolitan magazine, said it best: “Women have to complain and then back it up with their actions — with their pocketbooks.”

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You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

I was popping in on one of my favorite blog’s (Passions and Soapboxes) and I saw that she received an award. The “Your Blog Is Bloody Brilliant!” Award. Go Robin! She was sharing the love with some of her favorite bloggers. I was reading her list and saw some of my favorites, too. Then she started talking about Jane. And I thought, wow! Cool! Another Jane. Let’s check it out. Imagine my surprise when my blog popped up when I clicked the link. (Yes, I really am that naive.) Thank you, Robin, for liking my blog. I am still such a newbie here – so I am extra honored.

bloodybrillinat

Sharing the love, I’d like to point you in the direction of a few of my favorite blogs. Or should I say a few more, because Robin took some of my other favorites. Ok, who am I kidding? I have way too many favorites. I wish I could just spill my entire Blog Favorites folder but I have to narrow it to five choices so here goes….

And the award goes to (drum roll, spotlight scans the list, sparkles dazzle us from your shiny titles, love your dress – who is the designer? Oooooo and your date is so handsome!)….

The Absence of Alternatives  – She makes me think. She makes me laugh. She makes me ponder the universe. She loves a healthy debate. I like how she shakes up my complacency.

Burp and Slurp – An amazing young woman with amazing insight and encourages you to think out of the box. And then has a yummy recipe to accompany her post. The photos make me want to run to my kitchen and create.

Country-Fried Mama - I suppose I identify with her because she is from the north and transplanted in the south, like me. Although, I’ve lived in the south now for 25 years – her adventure is a bit more fresh. But it’s fun to see the world through her eyes. And I’ve really enjoyed her Mmmm, Mmmm Memories meme.

Tomatoes on the Vine - A food blog with great stories, pictures and recipes. I love seeing what she’s going to cook up next.

The Zen of Motherhood - Fun. Interesting. Sensitive. A wonderful, eclectic mix of mom interesting stuff.

So there you go. My list of 5. And look at that! We didn’t have to pre-empt the evening news. Now go visit them and see what you think. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

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Filed under off topic, Self Image

News Flash! Average is Beautiful. Then Why Am I Having a Fat Day?

I had planned to be a bit more timely with this topic. When I sat down to write as Glamour magazine’s plus sized picture first created its stir I found I didn’t have much to say. But today, catching sight of myself in the mirror (naked!) and then trying to find something to wear that felt good, looked flattering; I felt myself spin into the dreaded spiral, landing smack dab on my chubby butt. Ugh. I’m having a fat day.

I have a confession to make. Something I’ve told very few people. When I was in my twenties and I saw overweight people I thought, “Oh. No self discipline.”  I was the skinny kid. The pencil thin teen. I was so skinny in high school my parents were afraid I might have an eating disorder. They took me to the doctor and he told them I was a healthy, very active (I was a competitive swimmer) typical teenager with an enviable metabolism.

When this “thin” trend continued into my twenties – when I wasn’t even working out  – I patted myself on the back and attributed it to healthy eating (Seriously? I drank Coke with almost every meal!) and discipline. I simply didn’t over eat.

I was also diagnosed as infertile at this time. Every doctor, every specialist said, “You need more body fat.” So I tried. I really did. Ice cream is my weakness and I treated myself every day. I may have gained a couple of pounds but it didn’t make much of a difference and I couldn’t seem to gain any more. (I know. Tragic, huh?)

Then I hit age 35. And my periods slowed to about 3 a year. And I was tested. And this time the doctors and specialists said, “You’ve hit early on-set menopause. And weight gain is a part of it. You’ll need to be careful with what you eat.” I wasn’t worried. I’ve never had to worry. If I even THOUGHT about losing weight, wished I were a little lighter; the pounds simply melted away. So when the numbers started creeping up the scale I started thinking. I started wishing. As hard as I could. It didn’t work.

And then, the kicker. I got pregnant at age 40. “Pregnant?” You ask, “I thought you were going through menopause.” That’s what I said to the midwife. She laughed and asked me if I slept through 10th grade biology class? “If you have a period, no matter how sporadic, you can get pregnant,” she said. But I’m infertile, I said. “Evidently not,” she smiled.

I gained 35 pounds with my pregnancy and I’m still struggling with the last 15. Not bad? No. Because I was near the top of my healthy weight range when I got pregnant. This sent me over.

0814-lizzie-miller_vg_01

I wear the same size as Glamour’s plus sized model. A size 12. I wish I were back in a size 8 but as I’ve learned, that method doesn’t work for me anymore. What annoyed me about this picture is that she looks pretty healthy to me. Oh sure, she has a little tummy but no back fat, no thunder thighs, her arms look fairly toned. Ok. So she’s in her twenties and I’m 45. I’ve been through childbirth. She probably hasn’t. But a size 12 is plus sized? Are you kidding me?

Now thank goodness she doesn’t look heroin-thin. That’s just scary to me. In fact, whenever I see models that are heroin-thin I have to turn the page as fast as I can. I can’t even get a good look at the clothes they’re trying to sell me. I’m just too weirded out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am positively thrilled for the Dove soap ads of real women. I’m glad the media is even questioning our portrayal of what “real” is. But all this cheering and amazement that we could find a normal, average sized woman beautiful is downright scary.

And frankly, it still made me feel fat. I looked in the mirror this morning, saw the same tummy she has and I feel fat. And frumpy. And plus sized. Yeah, I should lose a few pounds. But that is getting so much harder as I’ve aged.

So I sit here. Feeling fat. And all this media coverage saying size 12 is beautiful hasn’t made me feel much better at all.

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Filed under Self Image