Tag Archives: clothes

Beauty and the Beast

24 Feb
The keys to beast mode.

The keys to beast mode.

One of the main reason many people decide to diet and exercise is so they can look good. Is it shallow? Maybe. Does it have its benefits? Absolutely.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to drop a few pounds to be beach ready by summer. Some people want to drop a whole human in order to look good at their weddings. People who take this approach, I’ve found, are very sensitive about their appearance. These people will have a problem with what I call “the beast.”

The beast is what happens to you when you get in a zone in your workout. After weeks of trying, you’ve gotten into the supported headstand at yoga. You’ve completed that fourth mile and are on your way to the fifth. You’re able to peddle through third position in high gear without giving up. You’re in beast mode! Congratulations!

The price you pay for beast mode is sweat. It’s sticky, wet clothes. It’s limp hair. It’s the look of a drowned rat. Yay! You can work out. Boo! You look like you’ve just survived a shipwreck.

How can those of us who take pride in our appearances reconcile the process that does this to us? Here are a few tips to let your pretty girl rock while you sweat it out.

Bright Is Right. One of the reasons so many running clothes are bright is because you need to be seen, especially when you’re running in the dark. One of the added perks to these bright colors is that it can literally brighten your day. Wear that bright tank top to the gym one day. Think of your workout wardrobe as a mood ring. If you want to pump up your energy, wear something red. If you need a perky pick-me-up, try something green or yellow. Color looks good on everyone, so try one to boost your mood.

Post-Sweat ‘Fit at the Ready. I’m a firm believer in preparation, and this tip is all about preparation. If you know you’re going to bang it out on the weights, grunting and sweating all over the place, have your change of clothes ironed and hanging up in the locker room. Motivation is a good way to keep a positive outlook. If the beast comes out in the gym, at least you know she’ll stay there.

Tie It Back. Nothing says keep it moving like a good pony. When I was growing my natural hair out, I couldn’t wait until the day I could just pull it up into a ponytail. A sleek pony will do the trick every time. Right now, I’ve got my hair braided, which was my go-to style when I began my weight-loss journey. Braids can be pulled up into a pony with ease, and it always helps you put your best face forward.

Smell Goods. Your toiletry bag at the gym should be stocked with the following: your favorite body wash, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and lotion. If you need to wash your hair after the gym (I don’t), an unscented shampoo will work. You don’t want to overload the senses when you walk out. A light-smelling lotion will offer all the whiff you need when you step out.

Confident Strut. One of the reasons ‘Yonce can say she woke up like dih is because she worked her butt off to do so. If you are between ideal weights and still in beast mode, no one will really know but you. So strut your stuff, diva. You’ve worked hard. You’ve put in work. You may not have gotten right where you want just yet, but you are on the path. So get your get ’em girl shoes on and Naomi Campbell walk because you did the damn thing today.

Never let the thought of the beast keep you from embracing it. Getting into beast mode is what will get you to your goal. It’s the fire you have inside pushing you to where you want to be.

Plus, being in beast mode is just temporary. We don’t walk around sweating all day (I hope). No one curls 10-to-20-pound weights all the time. It’s something we do to achieve the goal. And if your goal is pretty, then you’re going to have to deal with the ugly.

How do you reconcile your inner beast with your need for beauty?

photo credit: Arya Ziai via photopin cc

Full-Figured Fashion Week

5 Feb

uptown-rick-owens-2Diversity on the runway has always been a big issue in the fashion industry. Designers have every right to place the clothes they’ve constructed on a model that fits with their aesthetic. But what does it say about the designer when all of their models look the same?

I can go on for days about the lack of racial diversity on the runways. There are others who do it on a regular basis. What I’d like to focus on is size diversity. We all come in multitude of sizes and we all can appreciate beautiful works of art. Fashion Week, for me, is a time when stunning works of art are put on display for our critique and enjoyment.

With Mercedes Benz Fashion week in New York starting tomorrow, I’m realistically hopeful to see different sizes on the runway this year. Last fall, designer Rick Owens stunned Paris audiences with multi-cuved, multi-hued models performing a stepshow on the runway. The women stomped down the catwalk with fierce aggression showcasing some pretty unique items. There were thigh jiggles, big boobs, little boobs and hair of every texture. It awe inspiring.

When I first stumbled on the show, I couldn’t help but rewatch it. And then it hit me that I was seeing something different, but not different. I see women like that all the time—at work, on the train, on the street. They’re everywhere…except the runway.

Yes, I’m “skinny now,” but I haven’t always been this way. I’m not not that skinny. I’ve said several times on this blog, my thighs jiggle and I’ve got a pooch of a stomach. And guess what else? I wear clothes. I like fashion. I get excited for fashion week.

Can the barrier that was broken last fall in Paris carry over this week in New York? Will designers look to other boy types to market their wares?

Fashion Week began as an opportunity for designers to showcase their goods to buyers. The commercial aspect of the event didn’t grow to its current height until recent memory. Buyers are still at the shows, they’ve just been pushed back a few seats to make room for the Kardashians. That’s fine. But the Kardashians aren’t the rail-thin girls we only see walking the runway.

I don’t take issue with the current crop of models being hired to strut. Personally, my favorite model these days is Joan Smalls. There is, however, room for designers to show buyers what a woman curvier frame would buy.

The fashion industry can be exclusive, but it doesn’t have to be. I only hope designers will recognize that a diverse runway will only help them in the long run.

It was a personal exercise to consider curves and size ranges in the clothes I sell. This was a great way for us in the studio to study more ways to make clothes available to more people. It was as simple as that.
—Rick Owens in Vogue Turkey

What do you think about diversity in the fashion industry? What other types of models would you like to see draped in your favorite designer’s clothes?

The Gym Rat’s Ugly Truth

25 Nov

I tried to to sweaty-glam in this selfie. Really, I was just stinky.

There are a lot of people who don’t like working out. I’m one of them. But if you look at fitness ads, all of the women seem focused, yet happy about their current situations. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re achieving their goals with determination and barely breaking a sweat. You want to be that person, don’t you?

Have you ever watched women’s professional sports? None of them are happy. Serena Williams is the queen of the death glare. She grunts like she’s in labor. The only time she smiles during a tennis match seems to be after she’s demolished her competition.

You have to sweat. You end up smelling. Your clothes stick to your body. There’s nothing attractive about working out. Yet, there are all of these boutique fitness-wear shops (I’m looking at you, Lululemon) to try to make women feel attractive when they’re sweating like they’ve been in the desert sun all day.

Some women use this fancy wardrobe as a stepping stone to impart pretty-girl instincts in the gym. There’s the woman who comes in only a sports bra and teeny-tiny running shorts to only do a 15-minute walk on the treadmill. There’s also the woman who wears a full face for her low-resistance turn on the stationary bike.

I’ve never used the gym as a place to pick up potential mates. For the most part, it’s because I look a hot, dirty mess when I work out. If I’m paying $40-$50 a month to use the facilities, dammit I’m gonna actually use them. This means sweat stains in places you didn’t know sweat existed. This means hair either in a pony or, in my natural case, pulled up into a fro. I can’t wear sweatpants because my legs get hot. Yes, my legs get hot! Did you know your legs sweat? Because I didn’t until I started working out regularly.

I must—repeat must—have a towel nearby at all times in the gym (on a run, the open air keeps me from sweating into my eyeballs). I drip like I’ve just come in from a downpour. And, like most people, I recycle my workout clothes. There’s an old Sinbad joke where he talks about the two piles of laundry college kids have: dirty and funky.

(Joke begins at 4:20 mark)

Gym clothes are the same way. I will wear my dirty, stained gym clothes for days…until they start smelling. The gym can kind of be like elementary school, and no one wants to hang out with the kid that smells.

If you’re like me and don’t wash your gym clothes every day (don’t judge me), funky comes around a lot more often than you’d like. When you’re running in the open air, being funky doesn’t attack you as hard as it does in the enclosed gym. And let’s not forget that you have to take those sweaty, sticky clothes home.

When working out before work, you have to carry your gym bag with you all day. Make use of those extra shopping bags from the grocery store. You can hide the funk until you can get those clothes home to hang dry. And, please, for the love of all that is holy, let them hang dry. Nobody likes to be around the gym rat with funky, moldy clothes.

Added bonus: Gemma Correll did a cartoon of what’s advertised as fitness wear and what’s actually worn. Funny stuff.

Perception vs. Reality

22 Nov
What they see...

What they see…

One of my favorite movies from the ’90s is “Clueless.” There’s a scene where Cher is trying to calm Tai down after she spies the object of her affection dancing with another girl.

Tai:  Do you think she’s pretty?
Cher: No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

While going from one weight class to another isn’t exactly like this, there are similarities. People see you the way they want to. You can offer different perspectives, but the onus is on the observer to take that into account.

I don’t live near much of my family. The family that does live nearby, I only see every few months. (New York keeps people busy.) I also work out a lot. Like…a lot. When I began my journey toward a smaller me, I knew the outcome would surprise some people. My five-two frame held more than 170 pounds for most of my adult life. You don’t really notice the change yourself for a while. But when someone who hasn’t seen you in months tells you you’ve lost so much weight, you start to reassess your appearance.

Then comes the time when you’re literally inches from your goal weight and again see people you haven’t seen in forever. That was a bit difficult for me. I knew I’d lost a lot of weight and was nearing my goal. I knew that I wore a smaller dress size and that my face was thinner. But it was another thing to have people tell me that I need to start eating.

What they remember...

What they remember…

One family member actually asked me if I was starving myself. That hurt the most. I pride myself on having been able to do this the healthy way. I work out about four to five hours a week. I eat several small meals a day. But I don’t deny myself a good craving if the mood hits me. I love cookies and cake. My favorite snack is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. (Seriously…I do not share these things. They’re amazing.)

It’s a slap in the face (though unintended) for people to perceive me as doing something harmful to myself because the image they have in their heads is one that doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve lost a lot of weight and managed to keep most of it off for going on five years now. That’s the reality.

Always remember that, because friends and family will always view you as the rotund person you were, no mater how many pounds you drop. I’m still coming to grips with that. I haven’t lost a great deal of weight recently—three to five pounds here and there. But after not seeing someone for a year, people seem to remember the big girl from six years ago, not her smaller version from last summer.

There are a couple ways to remedy this. Visit your friends and family more often. Keep your Facebook and Instagram pages updated on your progress so there won’t be so much sticker shock when they see you in person. Or just do what I do, and remind them that you haven’t lost that much weight since the last time they saw you.

It’s somewhat like a child growing up. You remember your nieces and nephews as babies and toddlers. Then one day you’re home for Thanksgiving and they’re asking for the keys to your car. There’s an adjustment period—for both you and your loved ones—to come to terms with the new person standing there. Just try not to bite their heads off for making off-putting comments in the guise of compliments.

How I Got Into a Bikini

1 Nov


My weight has always been a struggle. To be accurate, I have been overweight for most of my adult life. My love of muffins made my muffin top obvious, which was bothersome. When I tipped the scales at 200 pounds on my 5-foot-2 frame, I looked pregnant. I even found myself accidentally trying on clothes in the maternity section. The thought of going to the beach or the pool in a bikini would never cross my mind. Yet, here I am, 50 pounds lighter and in basically a bra-and-panty set walking around in the sand.

Just posting the above photo is a test in courage. I have never—repeat: never!—worn a bikini. My mom put me in one pieces as a kid. In my teens, I was still thick, so i kept my stomach under wraps. Adulthood hit, and the pounds kept coming, and what’s the point of being that girl at the beach? You know her, the girl who looks either pregnant, European or both. I was neither, so why subject myself to such judgment.

I could have put on a two-piece a couple years ago. I was never comfortable, though. I’ve always been body conscious. I’m hyper-aware of the attention people pay to me…because I hate it. I’ve always been the blend-in-the-background kind of gal. That’s my speed. And it’s a non-bikini speed, even if you are on the beach.

So I began with low-cut suits, like the white one above. My boobs looked good. They always have. No harm in deflecting attention away from my over-sized stomach and hips.

Then I went on a cheat. I would wear tank-inis. No one could say I didn’t wear a two-piece to the beach, right?

Soon my friends began to catch on to my scheme. They could see my progress before I did. It’s the nature of the beast—people closest to you pay attention to you and your exploits. When you’re working out and constantly monitoring your diet, you don’t really notice the progress you’re making. One pound here and two pounds there don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Every week you notice the few pounds that you’ve lost, but you can’t really see it in the mirror.

You don’t really notice it when you’re wearing the same clothes over and over. Sure those jeans feel a little different, but maybe next week they’ll feel snug again.

It isn’t until time passes and you try on something like your bathing suit from last year that you notice the change your body has taken. And because I was going to the beach this summer and didn’t want to flash anyone underwater (again), now was as good a time as any to get some new swimwear.

So I polled the masses (my friends). I went to Macy’s and tried on a couple suits. I sent a pic to one of my friends who is not only hard-core when it comes to fitness, but is one of my biggest cheerleaders. Her words when I asked if I was beach ready, and I quote, “YEP!!! U ready!!!! When we beachin?”

With that, I felt I could do it. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. I still keep a one-piece at the ready for when I feel huge. My stomach isn’t flat or toned. I’ve got cellulite on my thighs. I need a halter bra to keep my girls up. But I’m not the worst-looking person at the beach (vain, I know, but I feel judgment everywhere). No one’s staring at me. So I can deal.

What’s your Mount Everest when it comes to clothing choices? What’s the one thing you want to wear when you’ve reached your goal?