Fatkinis in Paradise

Back in January, my family and I made plans to go on a giant summer vacation together to Cabo San Lucas. It’d be the whole gang — my parents, my siblings and siblings-in-law, my sister’s parents-in-law (they actually have a timeshare down in Cabo, and are prett much the whole reason this thing is happening), Sean, and me — and the timing, I figured, would be perfect! I’d have more than six months to get my body back to bikini-ready shape after typical holiday-season slacking. It was just the motivator that I needed to get back on the wagon and drop some libbies again, right?

Weeeeell, actually, wrong (as we already know.) I have indeed managed to shave off about 20 – 25 pounds from what I had regained, which is awesome, but in the months since I have clearly stopped making any attempts to hide the fact that I’m not actively dieting anymore. And yet, this tropical vaycay was still looming, looming, looming… and I realized that sooner or later, I’d have to face my body and whether it was bikini-ready or not.

Now, first up, my feelings about the term “bikini body” in general can now pretty much be summer up by the following (adorable) graphic:

But even so, hey, I’m not immune to the pressures that society puts on people to want to look a certain way. I mean, I’m a mass consumer of media in all its various forms, so of course I’m not, hahaha. So I would be lying if I said that the idea of baring skin by the poolside didn’t cause me at least a little bit of stress. But you know me, I’ve never really been able to subscribe to the idea that skinny feels better than food tastes or whatever, so ultimately it came down to whether I wanted to get myself all bent out of shape over how I looked at the beach, or if I wanted to, you know, continue enjoying my life the way it is. And I mean, I know I probably sound super douchey saying it out loud, but my life is pretty stellar right now.

S0 since I am, at least currently, totally uninterested in torturing myself both physically and mentally over a vacation (which, hello, is supposed to be relaxing anyway), I came to realize that the best way for me to get beach-ready probably wasn’t to agonize endlessly over my bodily imperfections. No, I’d take a different approach.

Rather than forcing myself to do a juice cleanse in the hopes that it’d shave another 1/4 of an inch off my general body circumference, I decided to do a mental cleanse instead. I rejected the notion that summer is limited to people who wear single digit sizes. I faced the fact that I am really not as important as I make myself out to be, and people out there enjoying their own vacations really don’t give two hoots what I, some random stranger with outrageously colored hair, am wearing at any given time.

I know, I’ve talked a bit about this kind of body acceptance before, of course, because it’s always been true. But my past posts were written with the looming idea that I still needed to lose weight. So, you know, I could love my body and all, sure. But in the back of my mind I was still telling myself, “Just don’t love it so much that you stop wanting to fix it.”

Weeeeell, obviously I have a little bit of a different perspective about things now. I don’t want to have to fix anything anymore. And you can say that’s just me being lazy, but it’s not going to change the fact that I fully embrace the fact that any body really can be a bikini body. After all, just like bodies, bikinis come in lots of different shapes and sizes. And whether you have thunder thighs or flat butt syndrome or belly flab or big boobs or small boobs or no boobs, you’d be pretty amazed at how great a relatively tiny amount of fabric can make you feel, if it’s the right cut.

This idea of there being different swimsuits for different bodies isn’t news, of course. I’ve been reading magazines for years, all offering advice on what swimsuits work best for different body types. Small bust, wide hips, broad shoulders, hourglass, there were options for all, and the features usually even came with photos of real-life women illustrating the effects of properly allocated swimwear.

In retrospect, though, I realize that while these articles might have been a great way to showcase poolside fashion, they still fell into the trap that a lot of  mainstream fashion does when it comes to dressing one particular type of body shape: they don’t really know what to do with it, so they just cover it up. Which, yes, granted, not everyone has a nice flat tummy to showcase between the top-part and bottom-part of your swimsuit, but does that mean we’re not allowed to show it at all?

I have distinct memories of flipping through magazine pages as the feature addressed pear-shaped and straight-shaped and hourglass-shaped figures and showcased adorable, fashionable bikini looks for each of them, only to finally get to the “Full Figure” or “Plus Sized” section at the end and have it be full of one-pieces and tankinis.

Yeah, kinda like that.

And hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some might fine one-pieces and tankinis out there. I’m a big fan, myself.

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Terrible iPad selfies aside, this is literally my favorite suit to ever exist in the history of swimwear. I pretty much just hung around the house wearing it all yesterday afternoon because I didn’t want to take it off, that’s how much I love it. I mean, aside from the whole wet swimsuit + full bladder predicament that surfaces every once in a while, I’m all about the one-piece. But I think you know that really isn’t where my issue lies.

I just don’t love the message that it sends when the media showcase all these different kinds of women looking fab in two-piece swimsuits… except for one kind. Because even larger, thicker, curvier, whatever-er women can still look totally bangable in ‘kinis, and not showcasing that fact, as unintentional as it may be, still perpetuates the idea that we should be hiding our bodies because there’s something wrong with them.

Luckily, I think the tide is finally beginning to turn on that front. Maybe it’s due to the resurgence of vintage-style clothing coming back into vogue (high-waisted bottoms FTW!), or maybe it’s because of body positive figures like GabiFresh (I believe she’s the originator of the term “fatkini”), but either way, I am so on board with all women being able to wear whatever the hell they want and hopefully feeling beautiful and confident while doing so.

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Which is why next week you will see me, proudly rocking my own fatkinis (given how much I’ve admitted to hating the word “fat,” I actually really love the term “fatkini”) and maybe even inspiring other women to do the same. It’s your body, after all. Wear what you want!

And that goes double when on vacation.

Wax On, Wax Off

I’m just going to say right off that bat that I really hope my parents don’t read this post, because I’m not sure how much they’ll approve of the topic we’re visiting today. What topic is that, you ask? Why, the magical world of bajingo waxing, of course!

See, I find this sort of thing wildly fascinating to hear about, but it’s not really a topic of conversation that gets brought up too frequently in my world. I mean, people need to know, you know?! And since I have now taken in my very first down-there waxing experience, I figured there might be a few other like-minded folks interested in hearing what all the fuss (or rather, what the fuzz – see what I did there?) is about. But, fair warning, if you’re not one of said folks, I strongly suggest X-ing out of your browser now, because who knows how quickly this conversation might deteriorate? I only have so many euphemisms for ladybits at my disposal, after all.

Anywho-ha, this all came about because in just a few not-so-short, very loooong-seeming days, I’ll be headed to the sunny sands of Cabo San Lucas. And, being that I pretty much plan on spending every waking moment of every day in my fatkini with a pina colada in one hand and my Kindle in the other, I thought it might be a good idea to head to Mexico with a, a-hem, clean slate, shall we say?

And since, as Miranda learned in Sex and the City, this face is pretty much the last thing you wanna see in response to your bikini line spillover:

I figured some preemptive steps might be a good idea. So I took to my friendly neighborhood Yelp and started doing research on waxing places. A few popped up, and after doing my due diligence, I ended up deciding to pay a visit to Sugar Baby Wax in Alexandria.

Now, I’ve been getting my brows waxed for years, so the general idea behind waxing as a hair removal technique is not exactly foreign to me. HOWEVER. One’s eyebrows and one’s chachi are not exactly the same thing, are they? And, being the masochistic individual I am, in the end I decided not just to get my bikini line cleaned up, but to take a full on visit to Brazil.

Spoiler alert: I’m bald.

Anyway, we’ve covered the why, so onto the ow. I mean, the how. We’re officially venturing into serious TMI territory here, folks, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I don’t even want to think about how many hoo-has my technician Valerie has come face-to-face with, because she was a total pro from start to finish. She asked me if I’d ever been waxed before, and walked me through the entire process when I informed her that this was my first time venturing below the browbone. She gave me a towel to drape over my nether-regions and left the room, instructing me to disrobe below the waist (I wore a maxi dress, so I just hiked it on up) and showing me that there were wipes in the changing area if I wanted to “freshen up” (which, as the conscientious and polite person I am, I really was worried about! #mindreader). So off came the laundry day granny panties, and I hopped up onto something that was reminiscent of the same kind of table-bench-thing you sit on at the gynecologist, only minus the classy stirrups.

She came back after a few minutes and all the security and safety I felt with that fluffy white towel draped over my thighs was literally whipped away within seconds. The towel came off. And there I was.

It took me a little while to get over the fact that I was on display like that (I’m a lady!) but Valerie was a consummate professional and never made me feel awkward about it at all. And from there on, it was pretty much what you would expect. On went the wax with a little tongue depressor-lookin’ thing, on went the fabric strip, off came it all. There was absolutely no double-dipping into the wax pot (run, don’t walk, from double-dippers!) and Valerie was wonderful at keeping my attention on her and not on the hair-stripping that was happening down below. She worked very quickly in small sections, and it was over before I knew it!

Of course, there’s one major part of this whole thing that I haven’t addressed yet: how much did it hurt? If I’m being totally, 100% honest… it really wasn’t bad! Believe me, I was SHOCKED. I expected to be wincing, tearing up, and breathing in through my teeth the whole time, but honestly, it was no worse than ripping off a bandaid. Just, you know, a lot of times in a row. And actually, it probably wasn’t even as bad as that.

Valerie was really great about keeping the conversation flowing, so there wasn’t too much time for me to worry about what was happening, and there were only one or two spots that stung enough to distract me from our conversation. Things did get a little bit awkward for me when I was told to hug my knees while she worked on the, er, rear-ish region (I basically just laughed obnoxiously through that part) but, again, it was quick and relatively painless.

After all was said and done, I got some soothing cream stuff for my tender, but hairless, skin, and that was that! It was definitely super weird at first, but I adapted pretty quickly, haha. Apparently regrowth takes anywhere from four to six weeks, although allegedly you might start seeing a few hairs earlier than that due to hair growth cycles (not 100% of your hair has surfaced at any given point – this is also the reason why laser hair removal has to be done over a long period of time.) Either way, I don’t think this is something that I’ll maintain on a long-term level, but to make vacations hassle-free (which is, of course, the whole point of a vacation, right?) then hey, why the hell not?

Have you ever ridden the bajingo waxing train? How do you maintain your down-there hair?

The Evolution of a Blog

Between the time I launched my original bloggity blog in August 2010 and now, it’s gone through no less than three major redesigns (I don’t even have screenshots of the original layout because it was just so atrocious) and header updates. I’ve written and re-written and edited and re-edited my “About Me” page, I’ve created landing pages and reworked navigation menus, I’ve moved widgets and installed plugins and worked and zonkified and given myself heart attacks by accidentally inputting wonky code and crashing my own blog.

Indeed, this blog is no stranger to change.

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Whether it’s because you desire some stronger, more professional branding…

… or you’re just itching for a fresh new theme…

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… updating and refreshing your blog is something I’d consider both healthy and necessary for most bloggers. But then why, one might ask, did I decide to take things a few steps further this time and change my entire blog — title included?

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The obvious answer is that I had lost quite a bit of my blogging mojo over the past few months… half a year… whatever… and needed a change in scenery to help me get back into the groove. Which, of course, is true, but it bears noting that all my past blog updates have generally yielded the same result. I mean, getting a shiny new header pic, changing a fontset, or installing a new theme is usually enough to stoke the flames of my blogging fire, so why’d I have to go so far as to change my name, my URL, my blogging identity?

Well, the truth is that I wasn’t just unmotivated to blog. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, to keep up with you guys, to be able to bear my soul (and/or vainly force you to look at pictures of myself) on a regular basis. It’s that when I did try to blog, I felt disingenuous. After all, I had a weight loss blog and I really wasn’t into losing weight anymore.

I tried to keep it up, to kick my weight loss efforts back into action and utilize the accountability that this blog has always provided me, but something just wasn’t right. It felt forced, it made me resentful, and thus, I continued to get worse and worse about updating this blog.

Of course, I know that not all of my readers were coming here solely for updates on my weight loss progress, and that many of my awesome internet friends actually (bewilderingly) seemed to enjoy posts simply about the goings-on of my daily life. But even when I did write about that stuff, I felt like I was ignoring the mission of my blog. Which made me feel like a fraud.

I felt like, because of the specific focus from which my blog was born, I still had to address my body and my attempts at losing weight. So, instead of being able to truly blog about whatever I wanted to, I still had to somehow fit in a line about my weight loss attempts… which had become nonexistent… which just meant I was coming up with excuses… and that made me feel lousy.

So. Where did that leave me? In a very sad place, of course! I was a blogger without a blog, essentially. At least, without one she wanted to contribute to. And so, after a few weeks of soul-searching and a few failed attempts at journal-writing (I mean, hello, what’s the point of baring my soul if people can’t comment on my thoughts?!), I decided that what I most definitely did not want is to stop blogging all together. But maybe I just needed to broaden my horizons a bit and open up the focus of this blog.

Now, let it be said that blogging without any kind of focus is really, really hard. A lot of people (myself tooootally included), say that they want to start a blog, so they go ahead and do just that. Only, their blog isn’t really about anything specific, so it becomes very difficult to think of things to blog about. And so, inevitably, they give up after only a few posts, because it’s just too hard to decide on something to blog about on a daily basis. (Again, I’m speaking from experience here. I must have tried to start at least 10 different blogs between my Xanga, Livejournal, and WordPress attempts combined.)

I liken it to being given a writing assignment in class. The teacher says, “Write a story.” And you spend an entire week just trying to figure out what you want to write about, let alone doing the actual writing. But when your teacher says, “Write a story about a kid who discovers a time machine,” your brain is immediately alight with ideas. You’ve got a focus, a direction, and you still get to figure out all the details on your own, but you’ve got a good place to start.

So when I started Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! as a weight-loss blog, it was great. I had a never-ending slew of inspiration for posts because, even if I ran out of ideas or things weren’t particularly exciting in my life that week, I could always bring it back to one thing: my weight loss efforts. I could blog about what I ate the day before, or I could report on my latest weigh-in, and that was that.

Until, of course, I didn’t want to blog about those things anymore, as mentioned.

So, here we are! I made the executive decision to rebrand my blog, which has had the simultaneous effects of rejuvenating my blogging mojo (because, y’know, it’s all shiny and new again) and also refocusing my blog mission to more accurately reflect my interests. And while I am taking a bit of a risk, since my new focus (body acceptance and love, partially, but mostly just my life) is much broader and less specific than my last one (weight loss and health), so far it seems to be working out pretty well! After all, it might be harder for me to think up interesting topics from time to time, but at least I won’t feel like a bit fat phony when I do.

All About That Bass

I am not a petite woman. This we know. At 5’9″ and 200 pounds, nobody would ever describe me as a small person. Which, as the mission of this blog tries to convey, is something that I’m coming more and more to terms with every day. Hey, I’m curvy, I gots booty, it ain’t no thang, right?

Well, unfortunately, as most of our media-laden, celebrity-stricken society continues to perpetuate bias against the big gals, just because I’m getting more comfortable with myself doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. Sure, there’s less straight-out animosity towards us totally lazy and disgusting fatties, but all that former vitriol seems to have simply been replaced by concern-trolling under the guise of being worried about the health of every plus-sized person in the world.

And while there are songs out there that celebrate the whole concept of being beautiful on the inside (Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” comes to mind), there has yet to be a Billboard chart-topper that specifically celebrates what we’ll go ahead and call the non-ideal body standard.

Enter: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” which my friend Lara sent to me just yesterday. First off, this is the catchiest song you’ll probably hear all summer, and I apologize in advance for the fact that once you listen to it, you will DEFINITELY have it stuck in your head for the rest of eternity.

Aside from possessing an outrageously catchy chorus, however, the song also has a pretty empowering message. As Meghan (looking absolutely fab-u-lous) sing-talks:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

Of course, it’s difficult to ride the line between empowerment and appreciation for one body type without dissing another. As a cursory glance at the comments section on Youtube will tell you (once you’ve tossed out the ones trolling on Trainor’s appearance, since we know all the dregs of humanity hang out in the Youtube comments section), there are quite a few folks who feel that Trainor’s song crosses the line into body-shaming, particularly with this line:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that

“Skinny shaming!” they cry. “I don’t have a booty, so you’re saying boys don’t want me?” they ask. And, to be honest, with my new persona of a body positive lady (and that’s all bodies, yo!), I was ready to jump on the bandwagon with them at first. After all, body image issues exist for women who are 80 pounds, women who are 280 pounds, and women everywhere in between. So regardless of whether you are bootylicious or a skinny bitch, I can see why some people took offense to that line.

But I also think it’s more complicated than that.

Putting aside the fact that the music industry is just as responsible for perpetuating the ideal of thinness as the television and movie industries (I swear, if I hear one more person say something about Adele’s weight…), if you really look at the full lyrics of the “skinny bitches” line, I think it’s obvious that there’s a different kind of message at play here:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
Nah, I’m just playing I know y’all think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

So, sure, it’s in a lyrical, rhyme-y way (since, let’s remember, this is a SONG which means the lyrics have to sounds good first and foremost, which has the potential to affect the clarity of one’s message), but Trainor is obviously not saying, “Skinny bad! Fat good! Yarrrr!” Rather, she’s saying that everyone’s got messed up body image (which they probably do), and in spite of that, everyone is already perfect (which they probably are). So instead of dissecting her word choice, let’s go ahead and bask in the warm fuzzies of that sentiment, shall we?

Here’s the bottom line for me: just having not-Megan Fox’s body in today’s day and age is hard enough on a personal level, let alone on a public one. Weightism is one of the most accepted forms of discrimination still occurring today, and since it’s just a fact that being fat is always going to garner way more criticism and judgment than being thin, I say that any attempt to make The Ideal Body more realistic is worth it.

So, yes, I am indeed all about “All About That Bass,” and its outrageously catchy bottom-line message:

Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me

I imagine that the majority out there will very quickly tire of hearing this, but I really do have the best job in the world.

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I mean, in what other possible world could I get paid to do things like hang out with awesome people, eat free food, and drink beer… all while dressed like a pirate wench?

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Of course, Elite Events are but one facet of this job, which has me doing all kinds of stuff — from marketing to business owner education to public speaking to writing — but since events are the easiest to show (and show off, hehe), I figured I’d share a few pictograms from my event last night at Heavy Seas Alehouse in Arlington!

The kinds of events that I plan range very far and wide (I’ve done everything from 20-person wine dinners to a 800-person mini-festival!) but ones like yesterdays are by far my favorite. You know, ones that are not too big and not too small, which gives everyone a real chance to mingle and get to chat with one another, and are all about promoting a great local business. And, of course, it always helps to have a fun theme to boot!

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Anyway, you probably get the picture so I won’t drone on for too much longer about how much I love my job. But, I mean, you can’t really blame me for wanting to talk about it, right? Also, I didn’t want to make this post take a floppity jillion scrolls to get through due to having too many pics, but check out the slider at the top of this post to see additional photos of the event, taken by my fabulous brother and sis-in-law (and you can see ALL the photos from the event here.)

If you’re interested in getting in on awesome events just like this where you live, just head on over to Yelp.com/Elite and see how you can get on the squad! After all, pirate-themes are just the beginning. I mean, I haven’t even gotten around to planning my Harry Potter or Hunger Games Elite Events yet…