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.

Ireland Part II: Glendalough, Kinsale, and Blarney

Well, when I last left you, we had just finished our epic tour of Dublin, Ireland, made complete with whiskey drinking, Guinness pouring, and lots and lots of potatoes. But I did admit that Dublin as a city wasn’t really my favorite. Luckily, all of that changed literally the minute we piled into our rent-a-car and headed south.

Welcome to IRELAND.

As mentioned, the catalyst for our trip to Ireland was the fact that Sean’s fraternity brother (ZBTs for life, yo!) was getting married in Cork, so we had to make our merry way down the island to get there. Which, as it turns out, is really THE way to see Ireland. It was such a beautiful drive! Well, partly due to the fact that I wasn’t the one driving (wrong side of the car AND wrong side of the road? No thanks.) but seriously. I mean, you can see for yourself:


Our plan was to make our way leisurely down to Cork, which is located on the southern tip of Ireland, so we stopped in beautiful Glendalough en route.


I’m still not 100% sure of the historical significance of Glendalough, but I do know that it was pretty stinkin’ beautiful.


And made for some picturesque photo ops, hehe.

Plus, on our way back down from the lake, it felt like I found Rapunzel’s tower! 😉

We drove through a few adorable towns on our way down to Cork, and eventually made it there late that evening. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos in Cork, but I definitely remedied that over the next couple of days, haha. The next day, we were off to visit Kinsale, a tiny coastal town about half an hour from Cork.



The entire town was so exceptionally CUTE. And with tons of adorable shops, a handful of old stone churches, a marina, an old prison tower, and a couple of ruined forts, it was a full day!






The next day, we packed up the cars once again and headed out to Blarney, which is only about 15-20 minutes from Cork and happened to super close to where the wedding was taking place! You may have heard of it, if only due to the much-famed legend of kissing the Blarney Stone, hehe.

Which is, of course, exactly what we set out to do!



In order to get up to the Blarney Stone, which is located on the very top of the castle, you have to climb up these ridonkulously narrow and steep stairs — up, up, up! One thing is pretty clear: people back then were not the same size as people today, hahaha. Once we got to the top, though, all the squeezing was definitely worth it. Check out the view!

The actual Blarney stone is a specific “brick”, for lack of a better word, that’s located on the interior of the castle wall, down a bit. In order to kiss it, you have to lay on your back and hang onto these handlebars, then leeeeeeeean back and give it a smooch. There’s an friendly Irish man there to help you, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my own picture of me kissing the stone, but I DID get a photo OF the photo of me kissing the stone, hahaha. Fair warning, it is incredibly unflattering, hahaha.

So there you have it! Supposedly I am now blessed with the gift of eloquence, and I can say I’ve kissed the same piece of rock that hundreds of thousands of people have kissed before.

Anyway.

The grounds around Blarney Castle are well worth a walkthrough themselves, even after you’ve finished swapping spit with the stone. It’s just such a beautiful place!

So for those of you who might consider skipping Blarney since it’s so touristy, I still recommend going. There weren’t a ton of people there when we went, and there’s just so much to see! Caves, absolutely GORGEOUS flowers, and even a poison garden!




And, yep, that last photo is of EXACTLY what you think it is, hahahahaha. It was in his huge metal cage so people couldn’t reach through and snag some for themselves.

And thus wraps up our trip through scenic Ireland. Next stop, a true blue Irish Wedding! Which included a tradition that I just might have to adopt for my own future nuptials. But I’ll get to that. For now, you’re off the hook, hehe.

Ta-ta!

Ireland Part 1: Dublin

Well, I went all the way to Ireland and all I got was… drunk. Yep, pretty much, just drunk, hahahahaha. No, no, no, I jest. In all seriousness, this is what I did: I drank a lot of beer, and ate a lot of potatoes, and walked the entire city of Dublin like 3 times over (it’s not really that big of a city, haha), and came away with a lot of great memories (and photos, obvi!).

I know that me recapping my adventures abroad is probably fairly boring to some of you, so I’ll try to keep the monologue short and just get straight into the good stuff — pretty, pretty pictures.

And away we go!

Welcome to Dublin! Sean and I flew in on a redeye, leaving at 10:45 PM our time and getting to Ireland at around 10:00 AM their time. It was only a 6.5-ish hour flight, but that time difference — whew! We got seriously messed up because of it. Worst thing was that our hotel room wasn’t ready when we got there to check-in, so we had to go kill some hours in a zombie-like state before we could nap ourselves into the right timezone, hahaha.

We took it pretty easy that first day (since we were also one of the only couples who had arrived). We were actually in Ireland with a bunch of Sean’s friends — his ZBT fraternity brothers — as we were all attending a wedding at the end of our trip!

Bros at Trinity College in Dublin.


Trinity College is where the Book of Kells is kept — one of Ireland’s most famous artifacts. Unfortunately, by the time we made it over to the college on the first day we were out and about, the line was ridonkulously long. So we just snapped some pics and would be returning the next morning. In the meantime, we knew exactly what we could go do…

Oh yeah.

Dublin is the location of The Old Jameson Distillery, where the original stuff was manufactured. Since then, the actual factory has relocated to Cork, in Southern Ireland, where I hear there is a similar museum tour/walkthrough you can do. It was really cool, and very informative! I know now more about distilling whiskey than I ever thought possible.

It’s just too bad that the only way I can drink it is with lots of gingerale, hahaha. You got a free drink with your admission, and could opt for drinking it neat or as a cocktail. Clearly, I chose the latter because I am a wimp.

As mentioned, we went back to Trinity College the next day to see the Book of Kells.

I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the book itself, but believe me when I say that it is pretty freaking cool to see how well-preserved this 1,000-year-old book is.

Possibly even cooler than the book itself, however, was the Long Library, which is part of Trinity College (I think they have a program that specializes in book restoration or something?). Anyway, it was a VERY awesome (and legitimately long) space with tons and tons of ancient texts lining the walls.

As someone with a healthy respect for books (hmm, I wonder why? Hahaha) I found this to be a particularly impressive part. 🙂

Some of the other places we visited on that day were Christ Church, which is a beautiful Anglican/Episcopalian cathedral with really awesome catacombs underneath (and is still in use for church services today!).

And we also got to pay a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was even more impressive.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral is where Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver’s Travels, amongst other things) served as Dean. He actually wrote all of his works while living and working at the cathedral, and is buried there. More writer’s history!

The last big thing we did on our second “real” day in Dublin was… well, you know.


The Guinness Storehouse is a very impressive self-guided museum tour, that comes with free a free pint of beer at the end, of course! In comparison to the Jameson Experience, the Guinness Storehouse is definitely much grander, more modern, and I think targeted to the younger crowd. The museum itself reminded me a lot of DC’s Newseum, with lots of cool interactive displays and whatnot. It’s also HUGE — it was like 7 stories high!

My absolute favorite part of the entire Storehouse was the “Guinness Academy” experience, where you are taught to pour your own “perfect pint” of Guinness. It turns out the pouring process for Guinness is a little different than your average bear beer.

You are supposed to pour the beer in at an angle by pulling the handle towards you, but only ’til it’s about 3/4 of the way full. Then, you let it sit for a little bit…

…until the stuff (I don’t know what it’s called, haha) settles and you’ve got that classic dark brown/black Guinness color. Then you PUSH the tap handle forward to fill up the rest of the glass until the head is perfectly at the top. Ta-da!

I got a certificate for my sweeeet pouring skills, lol, and got to use up my free drink ticket on my own perfectly poured pint. Which I then proceeded to only be able to finish half of because DAMN, Guinness is a HEARTY beer!

We then headed up to the Gravity Bar on top of the Storehouse to enjoy the absolutely breathtaking views and finish off our pints.

If you hadn’t used your ticket in the Guinness Academy, you could also get your free pint up there. The bartenders up there were putting DESIGNS IN THE HEAD OF THE BEER. It was nuts.

Freakin’ beer artists, they are!

So that wrapped up that day in Dublin quite well. We grabbed some grub at a local pub, went out for a bit that night, but all the walking and being in the sun (Ireland was having a heatwave the entire time we were there — it was nuts! It didn’t rain once, and I actually got SUNBURNT. Like, pretty bad. Ridonk.) made me pretty exhausted so we ended up turning in relatively early.

The following day was spent drinking in more of Ireland’s history at the National Museum of Archeology, as well as spending some time in St. Stephen’s Green, which is a giant park that they said Central Park in NYC is actually modeled after!

Sean and I ended up splitting from the rest of the group that afternoon because I really wanted to check out the Dublin Writer’s Museum.

Ireland has such a rich history of Nobel Prize-winning writers — W.B. Yates, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney are all Irish!

All in all, I’m pretty sure we covered everything there really was to see in Dublin in our few days there. I will admit, as a whole I wasn’t incredibly impressed with Dublin as a city. I hope that doesn’t offend anybody, but for the most part it just seemed very much like an average city. It obviously has a much richer history than anywhere in the States, but it was hot, dirty, and there were a lot of depressing signs of the economic downturn all over the place (shuttered up shops, etc.)

Luckily, Dublin only marked the beginning of our trip to the Emerald Isle, and I can promise you that things are about to get very, very beautiful.

For now, though, I’ll let you go. I’m heading off to Houston tonight with my brother and sister-in-law to see my grandmother (so they can perform the traditional tea ceremony for us, since she couldn’t travel to attend their wedding). This short trip is to be followed with me heading to Oregon for a GIGANTIC Powell Family Reunion on the Oregon Coast!

Whew, the ride never stops… but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂 See you on the flip!

Out with a Bang

O hai, final day in May! You kinda snuck up on me there. This month has seriously been a complete whirlwind, with some seriously cool things having filled my schedule (the Chobani dinner and — have you heard me mention it enough yet? — Reach the Beach in particular come to mind!). Last night I got to finish off the month with a delightful performance of The Music Man at the Arena Stage in DC.

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76 trombones led the big parade…

I’d never been to this theatre before, but it was a pretty cool concept! It really was set up like an arena, with the audience sitting on all four sides of the small stage in the middle. It definitely meant that there was some creative staging, although I’ll admit that having the actor’s backs turned to us some of the time wasn’t totally ideal. I thought the actress who played Marian was quite spectacular, but while the actor who played Professor Harold Hill definitely captured the spirit of the character, well, he was just no Robert Preston.

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Of course, prior to finishing out the month of May with a flourish of Prof. Hill’s conductor’s baton, there was other thing that took up a rather large chunk of my time. You know, that laying on the beach drinking highly caloric frozen cocktails thing. That St. Maarten thing. And I know that I’ve already given you a snippet of the photos that I managed to take myself (though few and far between they were, relatively), but my glorious photog brother Ben and his fiancee Taylor have officially finished editing their multitude of photos… and you know what that means!

I feel it should be noted that I did, after all, manage to fake enough bikini confidence to brave four of the five days in one. And for those of you who may be curious, every single one of my bathing suits came from Old Navy (though the hot pink bikini is probably the only one that is still in stores). LET THE PHOTO OVERLOAD COMMENCE! (All photo cred goes to Ben Powell Photography.)



My mom, my sister, and I playing around the hotel pool.

We stayed at the Summit on the Dutch side of the island. It’s really close to the American University of the Caribbean, so we’d actually stayed here before when visiting Dan and Jen while he was in school. (My family spent Christmas 2008 in St. Maarten, and I also returned the following March for Spring Break my senior year.)

There was the cutest pair of Frenchies that belonged to the owner of the hotel’s restaurant, “Deep Bleu”! They kept us company during a few of our lunches. One of them had that amazing ugly-cute messed-up teeth/hanging out tongue thing that some smooshy-faced dogs get. Totes adorbs.

We spent most of our time lounging around the pool that first day, but made a late afternoon jaunt over to Mullet Bay, the closest (and best!) beach to where we were staying.


It didn’t take long for all of to hop into the water, which was delightfully temperate. I love bobbing around and jumping in the waves, it’s so much fun! It took all of one wave to knock my mama over, haha. She’s so cute. 🙂


Salty, sandy, and already freckled!


The hilarious thing about this shot is that it wasn’t even staged. We were really all standing like this, haha.

After we got cleaned up from our beach adventures, we headed out to a local restaurant called The Boathouse for dins. I vaguely remember having come here before. I got mussels, which were okay, and a guavaberry colada which was delicious. Making and selling guavaberry liquor is one of the only non-tourism related streams of revenue for the island!


I AM A GIANT.

Note to self: bring a fellow female who is taller than 5’2″ on your next vacation so you won’t feel so awkwardly ginormous in pictures like this.


There may or may not have been karaoke during dinner. Heh.

After a full day in the sun and a filling meal, I was way too wiped out to go out or anything that night. In hindsight, this was probably a very smart decision, since my sister and her hubby both met some of their med school friends at a nightclub and were not in the best shape the next morning, bahaha. I think I was fast asleep by 10:00, and I didn’t wake up once during the night, which is rare for me (I’m a very restless sleeper most of the time). Comments like this tend to make people hate me, but it really is true that laying around in the sun all day takes it out of you. Must be all that Vitamin D creation, eh?


Overview of Marigot from the fort

The next morning our group ventured into Marigot, a little… town… area… place? over on the French side. It boasts St. Maarten’s only indoor shopping mall (about 1/16th the size of Tysons Corner, haha) which is filled with very expensive stores. It also has a WONDERFUL French bakery called Serafina’s, where I procured a small salmon quiche and a bite of everyone else’s croissants, hehe. This is also the place where I got the Harry & Daxter chocolates that I mentioned in my other post.

Marigot also has the big outdoor souvenir market where you can buy anything from dresses and handbags to paintings, jars full of sand, and rum. Oh, the rum. My wallet is rather glad that I abstained, since my past trips to St. Maarten had me coming back with all sorts of trinkets, but it was still fun to walk around. After we wrapped up in Marigot, we dropped the ‘rents back at the hotel and us “kids” went over to Baie Rouge. No pictures of that particular beach seem to have made it through the ringer, but rest assured it was very fun!

Later that day, in the early evening, I also went to help take Ben and Taylor’s engagement pictures back at Mullet. There’s nothing quite like that sunset lighting, I tell ya. I can’t wait until they’re done editing all of them, some of them came out really cool. Here’s one little teaser:

Can you believe I took that? Sure, it was with Ben’s amazing 5D Mark III, his amazing lens, and with his specific tutelage, but still. I’m quite proud!

The following day was spent at Orient Bay, arguably one of the most popular tourist beaches on the island. They have a great setup where waiters come out to your beach chairs and bring you drinks, food, whatever! I tried to ask our server if they had coconut water, since down there you can sometimes find vendors who will just pop a straw into a young coconut and hand it over, but he said sorry, he took the last one! I settled for another BBC instead.





Me and my “big” sister, hehe.

Our final full day in St. Maarten was spent with a final trip to Mullet Bay, cocktails by the pool afterward, and a full-scale family photoshoot. (Oh come on, would you really expect anything less?

Aside from missing my pops, who is in Africa right now on a work trip, this is the entire combined Powell & Robinson gang (including one future Powell, of course!).

And just the polka-dot-tastic Powells, hehe.



We spent our final hours on the island at Sunset Beach, which is the beach right in front of the airport. You can see the planes coming in right overhead, and if you’re not careful where you’re standing when the planes take off, you can get sandblasted right into the water!! I took another couple of shots of Ben and Taylor underneath an incoming 747, so hopefully one of them came out and I can show just how close the planes fly in. It’s super cool!

Okay. Phew. I think that just about covers it. For those of you who have made it to the end, I commend you. What a month, eh? I hope you all had a May that was as incredible as mine! Bring it on, June. 🙂

Scenes from St. Maarten

Oh hai!

I’m officially back (physically, at least) from the sunny shores of St. Maarten and am rapidly readjusting to life in the real world. I’m feeling fairly anxious about all of the work I have lying in front of me, but I’m trying not to crumble under the self-induced pressure. I think I needed to bring a little more of that island mentality back with me, eh?

At any rate, here are a few snapshots of my family vacation. The main reason for going down was to attend my brother-in-law’s medical school graduation (he attended the American University in the Caribbean!), so when you see him dressed in an awesome and hilarious robe, that’s the reason why. I’m still editing a bunch of photos, and Ben took the majority of them (I got to be the photographer for Taylor and his engagement shoot on the beach!), so prepare yourself for even more photo overload as the week goes on!

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The view from the balcony of my room. I know.

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The poolside bar.

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My sister Jenny, lounging; the most amazing frozen cocktail ever: The B.B.C. (Bailey’s, banana, & coconut)

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Jenny & Dan, his parents, and my mom at his graduation.

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I missed Harry & Daxter so much that I picked up chocolate versions of them at a fancy chocolatier in Marigot. Harry was filled with peanut butter and Daxter was filled with chocolate ganache and POP ROCKS. 😀

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My “big” sister, my cleavage, and me hanging out at Mullet Bay.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Here’s to short weeks and shorter workloads… in my dreams. See ya on the flipside!