The Judgment Reflex

As a certain pop singer once said, “only god can judge ya”. That does not really stop the rest of us from tyring, though. Judging others is seen by many as rude or disrespectful. But have you ever really tried not to? I mean really?

A few years ago I took a class that included mindfulness exercises as part of the class work. One week I was tasked with writing down my judgmental thoughts for a whole week. I filled two pages by the end of the bus ride home from class. While the intent of the class was to stop me from being my own worst enemy by judging myself, I found myself fascinated at how often I judged others.  I don’t consider myself the kind of woman who thinks she’s better than everyone else, but when I really started to pay attention to my thoughts I found that mine were filled with judgement about other people’s behavior, their children, their body odor, etc. I even spent a good day or two wondering if I was some sort of terrible person. Then I decided that since I was not acting on those judgements or giving them a voice, that I would use one of the other techniques I was learning and I let the thoughts go.

How long can you go without judging someone?

Wet and Wild, ELF and Nyx Cosmetics

Why would someone my age uses the cheapest cosmetic brands on the market?

Answer: because most of the time, they WORK.

As a kid, Wet & Wild seemed like a godsend right up until I tried my first lipstick from them. 99 cent lipsticks? Yes thank you. Then, after buying one at a Scott’s drugs, I faced my first real cosmetic letdown. It was horrifying – pure rough wax across my skin. My lips felt sticky and tasted like I’d chewed on a candle. A day later I had my first ever blackheads, all around my lips. I walked away believing the adage “you get what you pay for.”

Even so, the brand has endured – and improved. Their lipsticks now go on smoothly. I don’t experience dermal consequences after. The liquid liners tend to stay on. The waterproof mascara, while not as lash-enhancing as I’d like, does not run, ever. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit the cheap stuff is now part of my routine beauty arsenal.

As an added bonus, this US based company supports the nonprofit Dress for Success – and affordable beauty care is an important part of that, since many employers tend to be suspicious of women that eschew makeup.

Product from Wet and Wild I love:

These days I absolutely love their lipsticks.

Wet & Wild Lipstick 2013

Back in the day, Wet & Wild was it for truly low-cost cosmetics.

Nowadays we have some new players in the field of cheap cosmetics: Nyx and E.L.F.

In recent years, E.L.F. entered the US market. That’s “Eyes, Lips, Face” for those unfamiliar with the acronym. Over the years, I’ve become the granola crunchers of makeup snobs. I prefer the natural. I even (shhh) make my own. But sometimes, as much fun as that is, I still consider the first time I open a new tube of lipstick or open an eye shadow compact thrilling. Perhaps it’s because my family had strict rules about makeup use. Perhaps it’s just that cosmetics are an externally applied alterative substance. That’s expensive. It takes money to get that high.
E.L.F. is cheap.

Unfortunately, E.L.F. is also made in China – and I discovered the brand right after the whole “lead in children’s toys” Target scandal and the “lead in almost every lipstick” scandal right before that. Even though my vanity is full of the stuff, I fear I’m painting myself in lead and about to go down like a lady of ancient Rome.

Even with that fear – hopefully irrational – E.L.F has a lot of my favorite go-to products.

I decided to risk it anyway when one of their multicolored eye palettes came up for sale over Christmas last year. It was just … gratifying… to buy one. I had always hoped to get more of that sort of thing in my stocking as a kid but really that only happened once or twice. So I indulged – because it was cheap, and easy. I still have a palette from 2011; the one this year is just so beautiful I have to restrain myself whenever I walk past it:

Buying the E.L.F. kit satisfied a childhood craving to have all the colors and thereby to have full access of all the knowledge about what the colors can do.

But the product I love from E.L.F?
The Mist and Set:

Of course, it doesn’t negate my paranoia about what all is in it… but it works really well. My makeup holds up all the way through water aerobics. (Only a concern when I have somewhere to be immediately after.)

But makeup trends changed – plus, I’m always nervous about the long-term effects of what I put on my face. After a visit to Ulta - a place I only discovered about two years ago – I found yet another cheap cosmetic source: Nyx Cosmetics. They are another US and LA based company, like Wet & Wild; they offer cruelty free cosmetics. They also apparently buck the cheap-seats trend in some ways because department store Nordstrom is among their distributors.

My first contact with Nyx involved two products: their lipstick and their cream eyeshadow.

I love the cream eyeshadow. The lipstick, however… it brought me right back to my first experience with Wet & Wild lipstick. I just avoid their lip products altogether.

However, the cream eyeshadow is one of my favorite makeup go-tos and I have, piece by piece, been buying up their full range of colors. It has strong pigment but it does dilute a bit as it spreads. I’ve been using Maybelline eye tattoo eye shadow as a base and then adding the Nyx over top; it works beautifully, fixing the color so it pops.

Nyx Cream Eye Shadow 2013It’s one of those fun, alterative luxury feelings.

You may ask why the next tier up is not grouped in with these. Most, because to me they’re still a chunk. As a kid I always bought Maybelline – it was the best I could afford. I still love Maybelline, but I’ve also found L’Oreal, Sonia Kashuk and No 7 to all have great things – that are often beyond my limited budget. Seriously, the cost for cream blush is generally horrifying – thus E.L.F. stepping in is a relief (yes, I have tried and also like the Maybelline powder/gel blush, but it’s usually sold out!)



Fit Mom makes record sales for Curvy Girl Lingerie

Honestly, the Fit Mom “what’s your excuse” meme never reached me. First off, I’m not a mother. I’m just a random fat lady. Second, people were pretty good about dissecting how making people feel bad about their bodies does not motivate them to adopt a fitness lifestyle… quite the opposite, as research has revealed. (Also, fitness does not always negate fatness. Look at what they do, not at how they look.) But when it came across my news feed that the “controversy” Maria Kang’s arrogance generated wound up making a record sales day for Curvy Girl Lingerie I had to laugh – and share.

There’s been a lot of “fat people are terrible,” and “they’re destroying the world.” Except … we aren’t. Most of us aren’t even sitting on our butts eating bon bons. We’re just fat. Maria Kang went looking for someone to pick on – and it backfired. She’ll just have to comfort herself by kissing her abs and thinking superior thoughts by herself.


Melissa McCarthy’s Old Navy ad

Melissa McCarthy’s Old Navy ad is far less creepy than Lana del Ray’s Blue Velvet ad of last year and way less disturbing than the whole racist/misogynist mannequins situation. Even so, here and there I’ve seen a few people in the fatosphere objecting to it. McCarthy is dressed as a frumpy housewife; it looks like she is not wearing a single Old Navy product.

On the one hand, yes, she is gorgeous. On the other hand, McCarthy is a fantastic comic – there’s a reasonable chance she concocted the character she’s playing in the ad herself, just because she really likes playing characters.

Old Navy has been a bit weird about the messages it sends to all its customers, and the message it sends to its plus size customers are so weird that I suspect the entire corporate  board needs therapy and medication.  On the one hand, they relegated all their plus sizes above a 20 to online only. On the other hand, they are one of the few stores that aren’t dedicated to plus sizes only that offer a decent selection of clothing. On the other hand, it’s 50/50 whether the fit or quality is good. Some of my longest lasting pieces have come from Old Navy. So have some of my biggest disappointments. At least, however, they make returns as easy as they can – as long as you supply your own packing tape.

It does raise the question: McCarthy would certainly fit in their plus size clothing – so why not take the opportunity to show her off in one of the cable knit dresses? Why are they so afraid that their straight size customers will bail on the brand if they see their plus size customers dressed well? When in history has this ever happened?

As for McCarthy – I guess I’d have to know what her input into the ad was.



Holiday Baggage

The holidays almost always include some sort of travel. It’s almost as much part of the wardrobe de jour as the holiday party dress and the ugly Christmas sweater. While most of you are probably set with a suitcase, the overnight travel bag or that large-enough-for-emergency-everything bag – and the polite, small clutch for clutch for life occasions – are often also needed. Make it distinct to avoid aunt Ethel accidentally making off with it and then gambling away your holiday Sephora stash at the next pinochle tournament in her retirement home. Well, if it’s distinct you’ll know Aunt Ethel’s kleptomania is not an accident.


The Travel Bag

My not-so-dirty secret? When I need travel stuff now, I just go to Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Ross, whichever is closest to where I happen to be at the time. I can reliably find decent quality luggage for way less than the college tuition prices it usually starts off at. If, however, your time or transit restrictions require you to shop for this online, your best bet is Overstock.com – which is essentially an online version of the aforementioned stores.

Nicole Lee Cheri Dolly Rolling Laptop bag 2013

Nicole Lee Cheri ‘Dolly’ Carry On Rolling Laptop Tote

The Clutch

I am still on a search for a satisfying clutch. Things obtained from Etsy are starting to fall apart. Something like this seems classic and appealing:

Tablots plus size black clutch 2013

The Sassy Tote

This bag from Lane Bryant made me smile:

Lane Bryant plus size face travel tote 2013

Obviously, choices are limited here. But you can always check Fat Chic Clothing Search. for travel totes.

Vintage Abercrombie and Fitch 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch plus size line: #fitchplease

Vintage Abercrombie and Fitch 2013

So, after all of last summer’s brouhaha last summer when the CEO said “nope, no fatties, never ever ever,” insisting a plus size line would damage their brand. I said at the time of the first announcement: “This has of course been cared about by no one, ever – except for the designers that seem hell bent on losing money.”

The near immediate stock dip over the summer provided some of the best Schadenfreude in 2013.

Even so, they seem determined to make their plus sizes a thing – although there is speculation it will backfire. Abercrombie & Fitch, in true douchebag style, has been horrible to just about everyone involved in their company somehow. In a twisted way, they may have done those of us that wear plus sizes a favor by rejecting us for so long. Because they’ve got some really bad corporate karma going on. Really bad.

Over at the investment site Motley Fool, Michael Carter names their sins:

“Some of the company’s issues have involved forcing employees to buy and wear Abercrombie clothing without reimbursement, the hiring practices of minorities, the mistreatment of customers, labor practices, controversial product themes and advertising, and more recently, the infamous 2011 push-up bra aimed at seven-year olds.”

This may be an abbreviated list. Who knows what nonsense never makes its way back to OSHA or to state employment commissions.

In addition, it seems that misogyny is indeed part of Abercrombie & Fitch’s branding. So you can guess what quality of design we might expect to receive. This gem, from Deborah Bass at the Decatur Herald Review, really highlights Abercrombie & Fitch’s attitude towards their female customers:

“The brand doesn’t offer XL or XXL women’s clothing or pants over a size 10 for women. However, the brand does offer XL and XXL clothing for men because Abercrombie & Fitch has said that it wanted to provide sizes for jocks but assumed that female athletes wouldn’t be larger than a standard large. For years, people grumbled but nothing changed.”

A significant part of A&F branding has been to behave like jerks. They are often grouped in with Urban Outfitters (of no plus sizes and equally bad karma) and The Gap (of the Old Navy that relegates its plus sizes to online only.)  While having more choices in the plus size sphere is always a relief, the attitude of A&F marketing/CEO and the way their closest competitors have treated their desired target market – let alone us, the undesired but new target market – fails to inspire confidence.

It seems like A&F is also taking a page from Old Navy and only offering their coming plus size clothing online. So, like the Gap/Old Navy, they want our money but want us swept out of sight – thus protecting their “brand.”

Tony Posnanski of the Anti-Jared weight loss blog points out the most serious problem with Abercrombie & Fitch and their entire niche of the market:

“Many companies realize it after the controversy of their fat-shaming hurts their bottom line. These companies are calling people fat when they are not fat. Is wearing a size 12 fat? No. Many women run marathons who wear a size 12. Many women work out six days a week and eat clean and wear a size 12. Many women do CrossFit and wear a size 12. In my eyes, size 12 is not plus-size; it’s average.”

As of December 3, Abercrombie and Fitch stock fell nearly 30%. I had joked about losing money, but I expected such a burn to go slower. Apparently investors tolerant of the other shenanigans have lost patience with the madness – Abercrombie & Fitch is the cool kid no more. With such severe losses, they have to be willing to try anything – and so they are grasping for the plus size customer they previously refused …because in the minds of their CEO et. al, we fatties will take anything.

Abercrombie expects to release their extended sizes line in spring of 2014. Someone should tell them that Apple Bottoms beat them to printing “Phat” across our asses.

Are you willing to buy plus sizes from Abercrombie and Fitch?

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It's not about trying to look thin