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Posted on Apr 18, 2013 in Fashion, Giveaway | 176 comments

My Body, Dressed My Way (Giveaway!)

Hi my internet loves. I know I’ve been MIA for the past couple of days (not that this should really come as a huge surprise to you all at this point, of course), so I think a proper “hello” is due! So, I received a lot of questions about the lace dress I wore to my extravagant birthday dinner that Sean treated me to last Thursday. And I held off on answering those questions because I actually had a very specific post in mind in which I would talk about it. I actually had planned on posting about it Tuesday, but in light of the tragic events in Boston, it just didn’t feel right doing so. I still don’t really feel “right” about posting, but I missed blogging, and I missed you guys, and shocking though it may be to hear, my Hunger Games birthday party wasn’t the only thing to happen over the past week.

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That’s right. MELTED CHEESE AND FLAMING CHOCOLATE HAPPENED, TOO.

What was I talking about? Oh, right, the dress.

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To preface this, let me say that despite my 60-pound weight loss… and then 15-pound weight gain… and wherever exactly it is that I’ve landed now (I’m admittedly a little scared to weigh myself after my birthday dinner AND Melting Pot date with Aileen and Ai Rei AND birthday party–hahahaha, weight loss blog, schmeight loss blog) I have always had a fairly defined body type. Whether at 250 pounds or 186, size 20 or size 12, plus-sized or straight-sized or somewhere in the great unknown between, my general body shape has stayed pretty much the same: hourglass, with large ladies on top, wide hips, and a soft belly.

That’s me. And it’s taken a long (long, long, long, long) time to come to accept that. To accept the fact that no matter how much weight I lose or how thin I get, my body is probably never going to look like Rachel Bilson’s or Mischa Barton’s or, well, I’m not sure why I’m using actresses from The OC as the golden standard of ideal bodies, but you know what I mean. I’m not lean and lanky, I’m not slender and willowy, I’m curvy and tall and thick and–short of being seriously malnourished–will likely always be this way to one degree or another.

Now, let me be clear that I am not complaining about this fact. Not anymore, at least. Sure, I may not have a flat stomach (I cannot even tell you a single period in my life where my stomach has EVER been “flat”) or “thighs that don’t touch”, but even at my current weight, I can still appreciate my body for the things it does have. The things that some other women probably complain about not having. Boobs. A butt. Height. Long legs. A defined waistline, even if it’s got some extra padding around the front.

All that said, being comfortable(ish) with my body does not mean I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, thinking, “Oh! Glorious day! I feel beautiful beyond compare!” Accepting that my body is the way it is does not equate to having full, unbridled self-confidence. It does not automatically mean I feel beautiful and put together 100% of the time. It generally takes at least a modicum of effort on my part to feel confident and sexy in my own skin, and to achieve this, I need to ensure I am wearing clothes that A) fit, B) flatter, and C) I actually like. With an always-changing body that most definitely does not conform to Hollywood standards of beauty, this is not always an easily accomplishable feat.

To satisfy the A) criteria, I first have to accept that the size label on the inside of my clothes means NOTHING. Far more important than the actual number, is how the clothing fits. But, of course, that’s not always an easy pill to swallow, especially for those of us who have long equated clothing size (in addition to the scale) with our self-worth. But a size 12 is not a size 12 is NOT A SIZE 12. And because they’re all jerks, J. Crew and Old Navy and H&M and Loft and NY&Co and Forever21 all have very different ideas of what each size means.

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Sized up to 14 for this dress. Also, BAM. See what I mean? There’s no denying them curves. Oy.

Sometimes this works in my favor, like when I’m in the dressing room and I realize I need a smaller size, and suddenly all I want to do is announce to ALL THE NAKED LADIES in the dressing room with me that I can wear a size M sweater. Buuuut more often than not, it means that I have suck up the fact that I might need to size up, but that doing so does not make me less of ANYTHING.

To satisfy the B) criteria, I need to embrace clothing that flatters the body type I talk about above. This means getting over the fact that there are certain fashion trends I cannot pull off (farewell, sack dresses), and getting INTO the ones I can (like anything that belts at the waist).

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So while I absolutely love the blue Calvin Klein empire waist dress that I own (and wore to dinner with my two Ais on Friday in the pic above), I have to admit that it doesn’t really do much for me. It makes me look wider and thicker than I am, which, in turn, doesn’t make me feel great about myself when looking back over these pictures. Although, given the amount of melted cheese we consumed, I maintain that wearing something loose at the waist was probably a good call, purely from a practical standpoint.

Which brings us to point C): finding clothing that I actually LIKE, in addition to fitting and being flattering. I know, right? How much more can I possibly demand of the clothing industry?! Back when I was larger, I would settle for clothing that wasn’t particularly appealing all the time, simply because it fit. Did it matter that I didn’t particularly care for those colors? Did it matter that it pinched my underarm a little, or wasn’t the right length? Of course not! It fit over my head, it zipped up, it buttoned. That was the only thing that really mattered, because surely I didn’t deserve to actually feel fashionable or cute or sexy or beautiful. It didn’t matter that the clothes might not have been my style, or even that I HAD a style (which, if you were wondering, falls somewhere in the vintage/romantic/feminine/preppy aesthetic… I think). No, I just needed to find clothes that fit, that were more socially acceptable than the XXL hoodie and stretchy pants that I really wished I could have been wearing.

NOT ANYMORE. Enter, my newest closet acquisition:

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Shabby Apple I’m Late! I’m Late! Navy Lace Dress

Shabby Apple approached me asking if I would be interested in hosting another giveaway for you guys. (I held one waaaay back when that ended up being quite popular, for good reason!) I told them that I absolutely was interested, as long as they were comfortable with me using the giveaway as a means to open up a discussion on what it means to try and dress for your body type. Thankfully, they were MORE than on board, and let me pick a dress from their site to illustrate my point. I ended up choosing the I’m Late! I’m Late! dress from their Mad Hatter Collection (best collection ever, amiright?) and am could not be more pleased with my choice.

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Given that I’m not 100% happy with the weight I’m at right at the moment, this dress made me feel elegant and beautiful, while also making sure I didn’t feel self-conscious about the way my arms looked thanks to the lace sleeves. Cap sleeves tend to be a larger-armed girl’s worst nightmare, and it’s really difficult to find a vintage-style dress without them, so at least these had the extra covering too. The cut of the dress nips in at the waist while skimming over my hips, which is my ideal silhouette. I received SO many compliments on this dress! (It comes in purple, too, just saying.) In my opinion, this is very much a dress that exemplifies all three criteria: it fits, it flatters, and I don’t just like it, I LOVE IT. (It is just a smidge longer than is ideal for flattering my legs, but I think it’d probably be easy enough to hem up the lace on at the bottom.)

So now is your chance to find something that makes you feel equally as good! I’ve got a $50 Shabby Apple giftcard to give away to you guys, and all you have to do is…

1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook.

2. Leave a comment back here telling me something you’ve learned (or are learning) to LOVE about your body!

That’s it! I know this is pretty much old hat by now, but I like giving you guys as many opportunities to win as possible, so–as always–extra entries are given for liking HISTG on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and tweeting/posting about this giveaway. Just makes sure you leave separate comments for each one, and in order to win you MUST like Shabby Apple’s Facebook Page. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open to US residents only.

ETA: I’ll be picking a random winner on Wednesday, April 24th! Sorry for forgetting to mention that little nugget of crucial info, ha!

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Posted on Jan 15, 2013 in Fashion | 23 comments

Smackable

Howdy, folks! It’s a totally miserable, dreary day here in the DC area, so I hope that you all are having extra sunny Tuesdays to counteract the weather here!

So in my post last week about the horrors of going to a college with a legitimate reputation for hot girls, and the body-image issues that ensued when I tried to work out around them, I left off saying that I would report back in with details about the actual functionality of the Active by Old Navy clothing I had been asked to try. Well, here I am!

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I know that you’ve probably been seeing quite a few of these Old Navy posts floating around the blogosphere over the past week or so, and that can be kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great because no body (and nobody!) is exactly the same, wears the same size, has the same body shape, or likes the same stuff, so there’s a pretty wide variety presented within the same line. But on the other hand, I’m sure it can get a little grating seeing similar–if not the same–stuff over and over again. I’m sure it would feel that way no matter what the actual content–if every healthy living blogger coincidentally posted on the same day about what they ate, and nothing else, I’m sure that might get old too. (Oh, wait… awkward. Haaahahahaha.)

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Now, all that being said, I really do think that this line offers fantastic options for those who might not want to shell out $70 for a single piece of UnderArmour or Lululemon clothing. And as with ALL things, there are pros and cons. So now that I’ve had more time to wear, stretch, relax, and workout in these clothes, I figured I would report back in. Also, joy! A zillion more pictures of me! Bahahaha.

Okay, so let’s talk utility. Functionality. Usability. Being in the healthy living blog business, as well as having a sister who works for UnderArmour, I like to think I’m in a pretty good position to have an opinion about workout clothing. I mean, at this point, I practically own more of it than I do regular clothes (okay, well, that’s not true, because I am a shopaholic, but you get what I’m saying). Ironic, since I am always saying how much I hate working out, eh? Bahaha. Anyway, as I was saying, at this point I definitely know the things that I like when it comes to activewera: the features I look for, the fit that I want, etc.

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Which is why I’m happy to report that these items really do fit the bill for me! And, of course, remain a fraction of the cost of many other brands. I mean, I liked certain items so much that I doubled up on them, so that should really say a lot. So, let’s break it down, shall we?

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I actually tried on like, every single item from the Active line, because I was in such a giddy shopping mood, haha, but the pieces I ended up walking out of Old Navy with were:

Active GoDRY Mesh Tanks in black and neon salmon sizzle (also known as pink–what kind of name is that?)
Active Fold-over Yoga Pants in fiber optic (lime) and retro violet (purple)
Active GoDRY running top in silver

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Fit/Silhouette:

I love the fit of the tanks–fitted at the top but looser around my stomach–as well as the fact that they are SUPER lightweight. They are a mesh material that isn’t see-through and just feels really, really nice. I may or may not have slept in one at one point, that’s how comfy they are. I also really liked how long the tops were. Since I have larger, ahem, lady lumps than some, I find that it can be difficult to find tops that are the length I like (and I just really like the look of long tops in general).

Same for the pants–the fit is awesome, they’re not too long and not too short, which is actually kind of a hard balance to strike with yoga pants. They are nice and fitted through the thigh and knee, and the fold-over waistband is perfect for someone like me who still has a bit of a gut. Plus, the waistbands come in SUPER fun colors (I kind of wish I had gone with another bright color rather than the purple, actually, cause you can barely tell its purple and the bright lime green is so fun!)

I really like the fit of the running top, too. It’s not too tight in the shoulders, still skims over my stomach without being baggy. Also, the running top has THUMBHOLES. Which are the best. Because I find running gloves kind of annoying, actually, since I run with my phone for GPS/music and not all my gloves have capacitave touch. Also, I should probably note that I got size L in all the clothing, except for one kind of hilarious mistake which I will go into in a second.

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Function:

(Sidenote: even with a camera remote, self-timed jumping pics are really, really hard.)

I specifically went for more yoga/group exercise-style workout wear this go around, mostly because I already have SO MUCH RUNNING stuff (not that I’m complaining, I’m just saying). So while Old Navy does carry a line of compression running stuff, I was very deliberate in my choices. I did some yoga and a session of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred in the tank top and yoga pants and had no problems. The tank tops have sweat-wicking technology that did work insofar as I can tell (I am a SWEAT MACHINE) and the pants were stretchy and comfortable, without exposing my crack to Harry and Daxter in the process. I did find myself pulling at the green yoga pants a little bit during some of the more flex-intensive yoga moves, but it wasn’t terrible, and I think really it comes down to the fact that I probably should have sized down in the pants. I’ll get into that in a second though.

I haven’t tested the utility of the running top by actually RUNNING, but I will say that in the capacity I did use it (um, just, like, wearing it, haha) it definitely reminds me of a lot of my UA heatgear stuff, because I felt it was keeping me warm despite the fact that it’s super lightweight. So that’s a definite plus for outdoor runners/exercisers! And even though I did sweat quite a bit in one of the tank tops, I didn’t find it smelled super rank or anything afterward, which is a DEFINITE plus (though don’t ask me how I know that, hahaha).

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Sizing:

Okay, so here we come down to really my only issue with this line (and arguably, with Old Navy in general). The sizing is SO inconsistent. Generally, when I go into an Old Navy I assume the sizing is pretty generous. So whereas I may still barely be able to squeeze the girls into an L blouse at J.Crew, at Old Navy, I often fit into a size M. I mean, honestly, that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always loved wearing Old Navy so much, because back when I *was* bigger, and quickly climbing my way up to size 20, I could always count on Old Navy to hold strong as a size 18, hahaha.

However, with many of the items in their Activewear line, I found the opposite problem. I own a lot of compression leggings and capris for running, and I consistently fit into an UnderArmour size L without much of a problem. I mean, they’re tight, sure, but they’re supposed to be. But when I tried on the Old Navy compression leggings in size L? Could not even get them on. They were SO tight. And belive me, I tried! But I would have had to size up one, maybe two sizes in order to even squeeze into them. And maybe it’s a thing about my particular body shape (I gots THIGHS, yo!) but I found the same thing with their super tight, compression, built-in-bra tanks.

Somewhat hilariously (because I’m an idiot), I actually ended up grabbing the wrong size in the purple foldover yoga pants. I tried on the green ones in L, and they fit, and I really liked them, so I grabbed another pair in purple without checking the tag on the inside (only the size on the hanger). My mistake. By the time I got home (having already cut the tags off because, again, I’m an idiot), I realized I grabbed the wrong size! A much, MUCH smaller size. However, I still put ’em on, and I think you’ll notice in the pictures above, that it doesn’t really look like the purple pants are too small. In fact, I almost liked the fit better with the smaller pants (probably because I wear so much compression gear) than with the size Ls.

So, yeah. Super inconsistent sizing, for which I could really smack Old Navy (title reference #1!) because it makes online ordering a pain. So I recommend you definitely go into a store and try things on if you can (although I think they offer free return shipping if you order from their website anyway, so that’s really good).

And with that, we move on to the final workout clothing judgement criteria (and arguably the most important one)…

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Butt Smackability:

And yes, that would be title reference #2. Heh. Oh please, don’t even try and pretend like you don’t think about this factor when it comes to yoga pants. So yes, borderline-inappropriate photo aside, the pants in particular are, in my opinion, very flattering and they satisfy that need of mine to be both incredibly comfortable and look as good as possible in one fell swoop. So sizing issues aside, as long as you find the size that fits you best, I heartily recommend this line.

Only time will tell if it has the long-lasting durability that some of my other fitness clothing, but if you’re looking for a few bright, fun new pieces to add to your workout wardrobe, why not grab yourself an $8 tank top or $12 pair of yoga pants? If nothing else, maybe it’ll be a way to get your signficant other to appreciate you just a little bit more. 😉

AdvertisementThis post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com. Active by Old Navy is 40% off until January 16th! I received a gift card and stipend for my participation but my words and opinions are 100% my own. #GetYourActiveON

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Posted on Jan 14, 2013 in Dear Diary, Fashion, Food | 23 comments

Runway & Heartbreak

Haaaaappy Monday! Well, you know, not really. But it’s the thought that counts, right? I hope you all had amazing weekends! Mine started off with a bang and then eased into glorious lazydom. It was very nice, and super fun. And also a little bit heartbreaking. Which, granted, are things that don’t generally seem like they should be plausibly connected, but you will see what I mean in just a bit, I pwomise.

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So Friday night kicked off with me meeting the loverly Anne P. in downtown DC! Anne invited me to go with her to this LivingSocial/Rent the Runway mash up event. I love fashion, and I love Anne (uh, duh), so I was totally down!

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For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rent the Runway is an online service where you can rent expensive designer gowns for a fraction of the price they actually cost. So, for someone who didn’t want to shell out hundreds on a new dress for your second cousin Delia’s wedding, you can shell out like, $50 instead and get the dress for 4 days (there’s also an 8-day option). This particular event was a kind of pop-up Rent the Runway studio, where you could go and try on an offering of the dresses that the company offers on their website. Very cool, actually, since ordering things sight unseen is always kind of a risk.

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Since Anne had gotten invited as “press” (heh, a term I use loosely as a blogger, admittedly) we also got access to the press room where we were served adorable miniature pies, as well as champagne (win!). We chatted with some of the Rent the Runway folks for a little while, and then it was time to go get our dress-up on!

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I had a lot of fun fawning over and pawing at the various dresses that were there. They had dresses of all lengths and fanciness there–from long, floor-sweeping ballgowns to cute cocktail attire. I tried on a super cute Kate Spade number that I would easily have bought then and there, had it been for sale (thank goodness they only do rentals, haha!) as well as an absolutely GORGEOUS Rebecca Taylor strapless evening gown. I mean when else am I going to get the opportunity to try on a ballgown for funsies, eh?

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Just pretend my bra is part of the dress, mmkay? But seriously, if I had an extra $925 laying around, I would buy that dress in a heartbeat and just keep it hidden in my closet until someday I had an opportunity to wear it (you know, when I’m accepting my Oscar or something). It was soooo beautiful, and it skimmed over my curves in all the right ways and a bunch of complete strangers even told me how amazing it looked on me. *Sigh*

Somewhat disappointingly, the largest size that I came across was 12 (that I saw, at any rate), which luckily happens to be my size now. But considering me wearing this size is only a relatively recent occurrence, I do wish they had offered larger sizes than that. I mean, I don’t know if maybe they specified what the sample sizes were on the LivingSocial deal or something, but I just hate to think of someone buying a ticket to go to that event and then not even being able to try anything on. I know that a lot of high-end designers only make up to a certain size anyway (and a lot of times they’re not even gracious enough to go up to 12!), but still. Ah well, at least there were a zillion things for gorgeous Anne to try on! 🙂

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Anne and I did manage to get one blurry picture together at the event, haha. They were offering a 20% discount if you rented something at the event, but since I, sadly, do not have any debutante balls or inaugural dinners to attend in the next week, I didn’t end up renting anything. But I actually think I have a Rent the Runway credit thing I got in one of my Birchboxes (or maybe my sister gave it to me, I can’t remember), so now that I know the quality of the dresses, I absolutely think I’ll give it a try! Maybe for a wedding or something? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a long evening gown-appropriate event to attend…

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So after we left the event, the two of us headed deeper into Chinatown and ended up at Matchbox for dinner. I was super excited, because I’d actually never been before, and had always heard such wonderful things about it. It did not disappoint!

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I’d had two little pies (one was this, like, pico de gallo-filled pie, and the other was chocolate pecan, haha. Balanced?) at the event, so I wasn’t crazy hungry. I ended up opting for a soup & salad combo–definitely one of my more brilliant ideas.

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The salad had mixed greens, pears, blue cheese, and candied pecans. Droooool. The soup was a cream of crab with soooo much crabmeat I was in Heaven. Om nom nom. Anne got a different salad that looked equally scrumptious, and a tuna tartare dish to go with it. I hear Matchbox is particularly famous for their pizzas though, so I definitely need to go back!

Obviously, a very fun (and girly, heeee) way to kick off the weekend. The rest of the weekend was pretty much made up of somewhat lazy hangouttery (Sean and I saw Django Unchained, which was AWESOME) and tears. Lemme ‘splain.

While I was writing Terra I put myself on a bit of a self-imposed reading ban. At least insofar as young adult novels went. But now that I’ve actually gone ahead and written a book of my own, I’m finally allowing myself to go through the giant pile of books I had been purposefully putting aside. And I’m not kidding when I say it’s a big pile.

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Plus add three four seven more books that I have loaded onto my Kindle. (Also, publishers, STOP PRICING KINDLE BOOKS AS HIGH AS HARDCOVERS. Seriously. My bookshelves are already too full.

I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by other works, and since the books I love to read tend to fall into a similar (if not the same) genre as the book I wrote, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. So I’ve been plowing through my ridiculous to-read pile at a pretty good rate (already crossed Delirium off my list and am like 25% of the way through Uglies), and my latest accomplishment was…

THIS BOOK OF UTTER AND EPIC BEAUTY. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. God, I loved it so much, I just, I just, I just…

AUUUUGH IT WAS SO GOOD AND HEARTBREAKING. (Sidenote: Community comes back next month! HUZZAH!)

I mean, right off the bat (from the blurb on the inside cover, mind you, so no blaming me for spoilers) you know it’s a book about teenagers with cancer, so the fact that it’s a tearjerker should come as a surprise to no one. But, my God, is it beautiful. I loved everything about it: the writing, the teenaged characters who talk more like they’re forty and are so ridiculously witty and well-read it’s, well, ridiculous… even the I-can’t-even-call-this-bittersweet-it’s-too-sad storyline. I hate myself for waiting so long to read it. I finished it in 10 hours. Actually it was more like 6, since 4 of the hours in the middle were spent sleeping, but I swear, I was THISCLOSE to taping my eyelids open so I could keep reading straight through the night. As it was, I gave up just before 3 and started reading again around 7. Hours 8 and 9 were pretty much just spent sobbing.

Sooooo anyway, yes, I spent a good deal of yesterday morning in tears, but they were the good kind, even though they’re also the sad kind. Surely you must know what I mean.

And, thus, my weekend was.

I know, most profound ending to a blog post ever. You are welcome.

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Posted on Jan 9, 2013 in Dear Diary, Fashion, Working Out | 39 comments

Now and Then

So, alas, this post isn’t about the absolutely marvelous 1995 movie, Now and Then.

No, sadly (though we can get into all the various ways in which that movie changed my life when I was 7 another time) this post is simply about, well, me. And I would apologize for that, only I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t like to read about me talking about myself, you probably wouldn’t be on a blog that literally has my name in the title. I mean, just scroll back up to the header if you need a reminder, haha. There’s a picture of me, too. Just saying.

Anyway, one of the things I like best about this blog is how it enables me to have open (and thoughtful and intelligent and generally awesome) conversations with you guys about topics that are really near and dear to my heart. These also tend to be topics that not everybody really likes to talk about. So when I was able to submit myself for an opportunity to sample ON’s new line of Activewear and discuss how my workout wardrobe has changed over time, I jumped. Like, seriously, jumped right out of my desk chair. Not just because I was so excited to get a $50 gift card to go pick up some new Activewear items (don’t get me wrong, I was totally excited for that — $50 goes REALLY far at Old Navy! I got FIVE things and only went like $8 over!) but because I was also immediately inspired to re-open and re-discuss one of those hard topics. But one of those really necessary ones: body acceptance, body image, and body confidence.

Let me paint you a word picture. I went to James Madison University for college. JMU is a beautiful little (well, not really so little) school down in Harrisonburg, VA–the furthest south I have ever lived. It’s a really gorgeous place, with the old (er, historic) campus on one side of highway 81 and the newer part of the campus on the other side, bridged by… uh… a bridge. And when I first enrolled, as a wee young Freshman, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally naive to the concept of skipping 8 AM classes (oh, how quickly that changed) one of the shining gems of the newer part of campus was–and I’m assuming, still is–UREC. The University Recreation Center.

Actually, I just realized I don’t need to paint you a word picture. I can show you a real picture. Heh.

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Pretty nice, right? And it was–er, is. It’s got tons of machines, an indoor track, raquetball and basketball and whateverball courts, group fitness classes… and a ROCK WALL. Sweet, right? Only, I never got a chance to test out the rock wall. Not once in my four years there. In fact, I could probably count the number of times I actually ventured into UREC on both hands. (Well, okay, maaaaybe it would take three hands.) ‘Cause here’s another thing you should know about JMU. We have a widespread reputation throughout the state of Virginia (perhaps further than that?) for having really hot girls. I know. I’m so proud.

So anyway, here I am, just one of thousands of faces, enrolled in a school that is literally known for the hotness level of its female students. Talk about pressure. And, of course, we all know I had my eating issues, and my body issues, and those led to my weight issues… and by the time I started realizing that my weight was getting out of control, by the time I actually wanted to DO something about it, well… things didn’t go very well.

See, at first I thought, Okay, here we go. I’m going to go to the gym every day and eat super well and things will work out, you’ll see! Except I was already ashamed of my body, ashamed that I had gained so much weight, and comparing myself to every Jessica and Lindsay I passed certainly didn’t help (seriously, there were, like, six Lindsays living in my Freshman dorm). Because you know what those girls spent their spare time doing? Working out. Doing yoga. Going running. At UREC. In spandex capris and tight tank tops, and sometimes just in their sports bras. To say it was intimidating is like calling a jaguar a cat. UNDERSTATEMENT.

So each admittedly infrequent time I would actually get up the nerve to go to the gym, I was so afraid. So afraid that someone would see me, that they would judge me, that they would know I don’t belong. So I’d put on my baggy t-shirts and my loose-fitting sweatpants thinking that they hid my bulges, and I would pull my hair back and stuff headphone in my ears and pretend like I wasn’t watching the taut-bodied, long-legged girl reading Glamour on the elliptical. I’d huff and puff for maybe 10 minutes and then would get too discouraged to keep going, because I was so certain that SOMEBODY was going to look at me and think, “Ew, why is she even here? It’s not like it’s going to help…” and then I’d make sure I grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich from D-Hall on my way home.

Yeah, I know. It was messed up.

But the point of this story isn’t to dwell on the sad-sack Gretchen. Eventually she found in-office gyms and home workout videos and a diet that finally worked, and she ended up pretty okay. The point is to focus on the things that made her feel like she needed to cover up, to hide, to feel ashamed. Because even though, yes, I was overweight, it’s like there was a rule that said I wasn’t allowed to like the way I looked, or wasn’t allowed to associate with the skinnies, or wasn’t allowed to look cute at the gym. It was all self-imposed. A symptom of my complete lack of body confidence. And the ironic part is that before my senior year, I wasn’t even “that bad.” I didn’t reach my highest weight until 2009, the year that I graduated. I’m sure that I think I’m still heavier now than I was when I started college. (I graduated from high school around 185.) But, man, 197 pounds feels really different on this side of the void, that’s for sure.

I wish I had some photos of myself in “gym clothes” from back then. (But of course I don’t. I would never have let anyone take that photo, haha.) I wish I had something to really show you how low I thought of myself back then, how I thought I needed to hide, that how I looked was somehow offensive. How I hid my curves and rolls and completely HUMAN imperfections under unflattering giant t-shirts and old pairs of stretched out Soffe shorts.

So I don’t have photos of exactly that, but I do have a couple of photos that might help show what I mean:

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These photos are unrelated to gym apparel, obviously, but they make a point. Here I am, in giant, oversized sweatshirts–which I wore A LOT in the hopes that that they would fool the world into thinking I was smaller. Silly, right? Because in reality, all that wearing big, baggy, oversized stuff does is make you look oversized. Which makes you feel oversized, which makes you not want to show off the goods that God gave you. And the cycle continues.

So. We thank our lucky stars that those days are done, and we revel in the fact that the same girl who used to think like that and hide her body, well, now she wears stuff like this:

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And like this:

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I got a camera remote for Christmas and I am SO EXCITED but still figuring it out, haha. Can you tell?

And she doesn’t just wear them, she feels legitimately awesome in them. Confident. Unashamed. And yes, it helps that she’s lost a lot of the weight she put on during college and beyond. But her stomach still bunches up when she does crunches and things still jiggle when she’s on the treadmill and–gasp!–her thighs will always (ALWAYS) touch. But who cares? She doesn’t. And neither should you. What she does care about is the fact that the sweat-wicking technology in her tops helps keep her cool, and the spandex in her bottoms help her stretch and bend and reach without showing the world her buttcrack.

Old Navy has always been awesome about providing clothing that fits almost every shape and size of woman. It’s why it was one of my favorite places to shop THEN, and it’s still one of my favorites NOW. Because I appreciate the fact that they make it so that you can look good, no matter what number is stitched on the inside label of your jeans. I’ll go into detail about the actual utility of the pieces I’m wearing in a later post (for your reference though, I’m rocking the Active GoDRY Mesh Tanks and Active Fold-over Yoga Pants in both pics, with the Active GoDRY running top added in the second). The point is, workout apparel like this — clothing that clings and is fitted and has technology that helps make us better and faster and stronger… that is what’s important. And the fact that it all comes in awesome colors and flattering shapes and helps us look cute even when we don’t have that perfect body yet? That’s just gravy, man.

AdvertisementThis post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com. Active by Old Navy is 40% off until January 16th! I received a gift card and stipend for my participation but my words and opinions are 100% my own. #GetYourActiveON

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Posted on Jan 4, 2013 in Fashion | 26 comments

Fashion Friday: Lady in (Too Much) Red

So I was all set to do yet another holiday fashion post for you all, focusing on what I wore for Sean and my big cheese-y Melting Pot NYE date. Since, you know, the holidays are a pretty fabulous time to get all fancy and take advantage of my extreme vanity. (You know, the kind of self-obsession that propels me to post photo after photo of myself during these so-called “Fashion” posts every couple of weeks, hahahaha.)

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But as I opened up Lightroom to edit this batch of portraits, something struck me. A pretty intense wave of deja vu. Almost as if I’d seen something oh-so-similar before.

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Dress: BCBG Max Azria Outlet | Boots: Sole Society

But where? Where, oh where, could I possibly have seen this before?

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Oh yeah.

Untitled Work Hard, Play Hard

And oh yeah… and yeah.

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And ohhhhh… yeah…

Haaaaaaahahahahahahaha. Okay, just one more, I promise:

Granted, this picture is from my sister's wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)

Granted, this picture is from my sister’s wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)

So, yeah. Kinda taking that whole lady-in-red thing literally, am I not? I’m thinking this is probably a trend I should take a break from. Embrace some of the other wonderful colors in the spectrum, you know?

Back when I was in high school, I made this sweeping declaration (since you all know how much I do love to make sweeping declarations) about how my signature color was going to be orange (mainly because every other girl I knew was obsessed with pink and I wanted to be different), so I made a point to wear an item of orange clothing, or an orange accessory, EVERY SINGLE DAY THEREAFTER.

Unsurprisingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, those were dark days indeed) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister's head.)

Shockingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, the dark days!) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister’s head.)

Until, you know, I came to my senses… eventually.

2005. I still have that jacket.

2005. I still have that jacket.

Thankfully, that obsession with having a signature color has faded, but OBVIOUSLY there are still certain colors that I tend to gravitate towards more than others. I’ll work on broadening my color horizons for my wardrobe’s sake though, promise. (And in other news, that is probably the most vapid-sounding thing I have written/spoken/thought in a long time, hahahahaha.)

Are you/have you ever been the same way? Do you have a favorite/signature color — whether it’s purposeful or accidental?

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