An Open Letter to Clothing Manufacturers

or, “I’m Tired of Your Body Shaming Antics” by Mary Nelson

To whom it may concern:

Look, I get it. Designers create clothing for humans who are abnormally tall and small; we see it on the runways every day, these willowy ethereal women who are small chested, with no hips, legs for days. But I think we can all agree that these women are few and far between (Gigi Hadid walks nearly every runway, it seems, as does Kendall Jenner), so I think it’s probably high time we started creating clothing for the Every Woman. You know, the one who’s had a couple kids, who doesn’t have a personal trainer or dietitian on hand, the one who is doing the best she can every day, working that hustle. Or, say, for the ones who are like me — 5’1″, with a comfortable fanny pack of stomach fat, a booty and thighs, and not much waist or legs. Because we exist, and we’re pretty awesome.

And here’s the problem: you’re body shaming us, the whole lot of you, and it needs to stop. We can all band together as women on a mission, fists raised in the air, talking big talk about how size is just a number, but when all is said and done, those numbers can really bum us out big time. (I’m not going to address the larger issue of wedding dresses and formals being sized entirely differently than street clothes, which is really the pits because a bride shouldn’t hate herself leading up to her wedding day because her wedding dress is a ginormous size she doesn’t normally wear nor want to. Another letter, another day.)

I decided recently that I wouldn’t let you bully me into feeling bad about myself, about being malcontent about my current state, about focusing on things less important than nearly everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel a little twinge of disappointment when I have to go up a size. Did you know that I suffer from four mental illnesses and was somewhat recently diagnosed with binge eating disorder? Did you know that much of what I eat isn’t even necessarily what I WANT to eat but rather feel compelled, obligated, almost forced to? Did you know that I’ve been spending several months working on my mental health, putting it ahead of my physical health for the time being because it just seemed more important? Did you know that some days, despite knowing how much seratonin could be pumped into my broken brain, getting out of bed and going to the gym feels akin to trudging up a mountain with no end in sight, no food, drink, or oxygen, and a backpack of rocks in tow?  So why do you feel the need to make me feel bad when I put on a pair of pants?

I’m not as thin as I used to be. My metabolism kind of gave up the ghost when I was 23, but a recent medication has killed whatever was remaining, making it very difficult for me to lose weight despite some of my mediocrest efforts. I like the way butter makes my food taste, and carbohydrates are some of my dearest friends. So I understand that I wasn’t going to be able to squeeze a tiny frame into size 1 pants for forever. That’s fine. 1 is a ridiculous number anyhow. But do I feel like a Large? Not really. I feel like a … normal human person who’s 32 years old and carries her weight in her abdomen (which isn’t a LOT of weight, mind you.) My husband, who is 6 inches and 40 pounds heavier than me is a size Medium/Large, so it seems to me that I should, at the very least, be a Medium, don’t you think? Why do men get to feel good about themselves while we are forced to feel awful?

Just this morning I saw a picture of myself that is four years old, a time in my life where I was certain I was fat. I was adorable. I looked great. I was 20 pounds lighter than I am today. But I was always concerned about how my clothes fit me, whether I had a smooth silhouette, and I waited anxiously for the day I couldn’t fit into them any longer (which did, inevitably, come). I wish I’d been able to just enjoy the size I was at the time, I wish I could chill out about the size I am now, and I wish I could compel a cease and desist against you, dear manufacturers, for making women around the nation (and perhaps the world? I’m not sure about clothing sizes around the world, plus there are a lot of countries full of people who aren’t morbidly obese like America) feel shame for who they are. We all know that the former size 14 that Marilyn Monroe was so known for wearing is akin to a size 8 today, and there was literally nothing back then that equated today’s 00.

It needs to stop. You need to get your crap together. And for heaven’s sakes, start sizing women’s clothing the way it should be.

A Message to the Girls of the World

I’m thirty, which to some of you is painfully old (like your parents) and to some not too bad. But one thing is certain: I’ve experienced a lot of stuff in these thirty years, despite you thinking perhaps we old folk don’t get it (we do).

Being a grown up is both enjoyable and adversely terrible. Like, you can take naps, but it’s kind of frowned upon by some, and if you take one too late or too long, your body clock is thusly screwed up for the next month. And you have to pay for everything, which let me tell you is a mega bummer. Your mom isn’t around to clean the house, so unless you’re fine with living in squalor, you have to clean it. Every week. Dishes: the bane of our existence. Even with a dishwasher, trust me. They’re just always there no matter what.

PAP smears suck about as much as you assume they do. The key is never have sex and then you can get one every three years (I’m kind of kidding but also kind of not because seriously no one likes to go to the OB/GYN). Sometimes you just don’t want to wear a bra, in which case don’t. You’ll find that home becomes wherever the pants aren’t — they’re the first thing to come off, and I don’t say that in a crude, sexual manner. I mean it in an “Adults hate to wear pants” way.

Don’t let yourself go when you get married. I’m not sure if this is a myth or reality, but it seems to happen all the time (I started to let myself go on the honeymoon, which God bless my husband for sticking around this long). I don’t mean to stress about your weight or your hair or your makeup or your clothes, but trust me: you feel better about yourself and your day when you’re clean and are wearing real clothes rather than sweats. Leggings are real clothes, I kid you not. Invest in several pairs because they’re like sweats but not. If you find a guy who wants you to always have long hair, ditch him.

Image  courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

I’ve put Husband through the ringer with all my many hairstyles, and there have definitely been some he hated. Guess what: he didn’t divorce me, and he still kissed me when he got home from work. We may have come to an agreement that such hairstyles won’t make an appearance again forever awhile, but in all reality, I wasn’t particularly crazy about them either (don’t tell him. He’ll get a big head.)

If you find a man who makes you forget yourself, tells you what to do, makes you feel lonely, hates the things you love to do, doesn’t support every single hobby you ever try out, even the lame ones everybody knows won’t work out — if he seems to only love you conditionally, if you can’t fart in front of him, if you’re worried about what he’ll think when you take off your makeup and slide in your night guard, HE. IS. NOT. THE. ONE. Look, I get it, you’re hardwired and built to have a companion all the days of your eternity, so you just wanna be with someone all the time and snuggle. I got married about six years later than I thought I might in high school (high school Mary was really eager and hopeful), and I’m glad I had to wait. It helped me weed out the idiots and hone in on exactly what I didn’t want, so when I met Husband, it was quick and painless.

Men can still be as awful as boys and teenagers, and there’s something inherently worse about that because they’re grown ups, so they should know better. Chances are, they were raised by their mothers to become gentlemen, and they just missed the mark. Heartbreak is inevitable.

Enjoy making out now because when you get married, it’s basically never going to happen.

If you want the cookie, eat the damn cookie. I went a stretch counting calories and measuring my food, and sure the end results were freakin awesome, but I was truly miserable the entire thing. Just remember: portion control. Eat what you want, just a little less of it as you get older. Because trust me when I say you’ll turn 23, and your metabolism rate will give up the ghost. Exercise in the way you want to — if you hate running, then seriously don’t run. I mean, really. Life is way too short to spend a portion of your day in the gym doing something that makes you unhappy (even if it’s making you chemically overjoyed. Endorphins aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.)

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Money will get tight at some point in your life, unless you marry an heir/heiress who is just independently wealthy. Being forced to live budget-friendly will help you out for the rest of your life, even though it feels awful at the time, but DO NOT under any circumstances, buy store brand cheese. You can save money elsewhere — cheese is not the place to do it. Same goes for butter, unless, I suppose, you’re allergic to lactose. I’m so, so, so sorry. Cheese is what will get you through every single hard time, so splurge a little. Buy the Tillamook.

Even when you’re a grown up, you’ll be able to sense when people don’t like you. Don’t let this deter you — be nice, always, and surround yourself with people who think you’re as great as you think they are. Find others who laugh at all your jokes, like all your Facebook status updates, and go to all the movies your husband won’t (chick flicks, documentaries, based on true stories, dramas, Jane Austen, etc. If it doesn’t blow up, he’s not going to want any part of it.) Sometimes adults form mini cliques. It’s just a human thing.

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

This will become easier the older you get. I promise.

Despite what a lot of people say (and I assume they do this to snow themselves and everyone around them), sometimes people have pretty perfect lives. Their houses are big and clean, their cars are nice, their kids are well-behaved, their marriages are great. Don’t let anyone else’s life affect yours. It’s an attitude thing, you get me? If you want a happy life, be happy, and things will work themselves out. You might be thirty years old, living in a condo you’re renting that has mold along some of the windows and an upstairs neighbor who floods your laundry room and entryway. You might really suck at vacuuming and dusting, and you might drive modest cars because that’s what you can afford. Doesn’t mean your life is any less perfect than someone else’s. So applaud the frenemy who started her own blog, the one who got married at a big venue, the one whose husband makes $150k/year. We all need to stick together and help a sister out. It’s cool if their lives are different from yours. Different never means better or worse. Ever.

And remember:

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Tangled (except not)

That was me being witty just then. You’re welcome.

Let me tell you a fun story about my hair that literally spans three and a half years. This one time I decided I was going to donate my luscious locks because people in this world just need wigs made out of my hair. They just do. So I started to grow it out and grow it out and grow it out.

There came a point when I realized long hair, one length, sans hair product, style, or color was not really attractive, but I was doing it in the name of disease, and I forged on ahead. [Also, in all seriousness, I’ve watched too many family and friends suffer from cancer, and I felt, at the time, as though it was the only thing I could do that would make a difference. It still doesn’t feel like enough.]

Behold the one piece of photographic proof that Asians can get wavy hair.

Behold the one piece of photographic proof that Asians can get wavy hair.

But then I decided to get married. And we hit this brick wall of: do we keep the hair or do we whack it. Because, you know, I didn’t look good. And there’s this thing about looking good on your wedding day. As it turned out, my hair was the exact length it needed to be for Pantene Pro-V’s Beautiful Lengths program, and so, two weeks before I married Husband, I cut eight inches off.

I also got an eyebrow wax.

I also got an eyebrow wax.

Husband’s family was dismayed because they’d never known me short-haired. Fact: I am a short-hair girl. Have been my entire life. There were two points, up to that juncture, during which I had long hair: fourth grade just … because, I guess, and pre-wedding. It might happen again, who’s to say, but I get antsy and prefer it short anyhow.

But this isn’t about my preferences. This is about The Hair.

So it was separated into several little ponytails. It was cut. It was bagged up. And then … it just kind of sat in my house for awhile. I brought it to campus, certain that if I were within a few minutes walking distance of a post office, I would unquestionably mail it. There is something kind of gross/weird about keeping one’s hair in one’s work desk for two years.

And then I took it back home because it was clear that plan was, how shall I put it, total crap.

I mean, it's clean. And harmless.

I mean, it’s clean. And harmless.

But there’s a time limit to how long you can hold onto donatable hair, as it turns out, which is five years, and it would seem a real pity to tell everyone I was going to donate it, cut it, and then not actually donate it. In fact, it would have been arguably really stupid of me, and I don’t do stupid. I only do rad.

HOWEVER, the hair, it is in a baggie, it is in a padded envelope, sealed, and addressed, AND I WILL MAIL IT TODAY IF IT KILLS ME.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Hair

On the night I decided, on a whim, to dye my hair red, from a $6.99 box purchased at Target, with the claims that it would turn my nearly black hair dark red (in fact, those claims were absolutely true), having never dyed my hair before, my blow dryer died.

Hey, mom. Sorry I didn't tell you about this before you read this blog post. I didn't want to give you a heart attack over the phone or hear the disappointment in your voice. It's better this way, I'm pretty sure.

Hey, mom. Sorry I didn’t tell you about this before you read this blog post. I didn’t want to give you a heart attack over the phone or hear the disappointment in your voice. It’s better this way, I’m pretty sure.

Yes, another blow dryer death. It’s funny because the first time I colored my hair (yes, I did it twice in one night because the roots were freakishly light and the rest of my hair was still marginally dark brown), I managed to blow dry it just fine, and I set the dryer down on the counter as per usual, but when I went to dry it after the second go around (I’m not sure it worked. I still kind of have a reverse ombre. I’m over it.), nothing happened. No air whatsoever.

So, in fact, my lousy hair color job, which will lead to my hairstylist to make fun of me for weeks to come (I’m already over that because, you know, sometimes you need to color your own hair just to see what happens — my mother will disagree with this on several bases), is not the low point of my day. The low point is that the blow dryer, purchased to replaced a blow dryer that suddenly died, … suddenly died.

This wouldn’t be such a problem if I had longer hair, which I’ve been wishing and hoping for ever since the afternoon I realized I’m way prettier with longer hair. I could throw it into a ponytail or let it air dry or try those beachy waves that are so popular these days. Alas and alack, my hair is relatively short, and to not blow dry it will lead to my looking not cute.

I hate not looking cute.

UPDATE: I’m a moron. The blow dryer is fine. So the real REAL low point is that I wrote an entire blog post about my dead blow dryer right before discovering it was fine.

Red hair, dry

It’s Getting Real All Up in Here (Don’t Read This, Mom)

No, seriously, Mom, stop reading it if you’ve even made it this far because I’m going to talk about lasers in my eyes.

I’ll give you a minute to walk away and center yourself to find a happy place.

Mom's Happy Place

Mom’s Happy Place

That’s probably not my mom’s happy place, but it’s a big enough image to keep her from seeing what I’m about to write.

Lasers in my eyes.

How it all began: I was born with less than awesome eyes (but don’t worry, the rest of me is awesome and compensates). When I was in kindergarten, I complained to my parents about not being able to see the board as clearly as I thought I should, so Mom took me to the eye doctor, where a man told me I was perfectly fine.

Fast forward to second fourth grade when: the school called my parents because I effectively failed the vision test. At that point I think I had about 20/200 vision, so that’s neat. I still don’t like that eye doctor man, and I blame him for the majority of my life problems.

Anyhow, I spent 20 years wearing glasses and about 12 of those wearing contact lenses, and I was pretty certain for most of that time I would be happy as a clam with corrective eyewear. [As an aside, how do we actually know clams are all that happy? What if they’re all suicidal?] But then … I got a little bit older and a little bit wiser and I realized corrective eyewear is a terrible terrible thing.

Terrible terrible

Terrible terrible

There’s one thing more terrible than eyewear: Not wearing makeup. Before you go all feminist on me and tell me I’m fine without makeup and don’t need it because I have a special spirit inside blah blah blah, I like wearing makeup. I like looking at it and buying it and putting it on and wearing it and trying new things. I’m even considering a lifetime of makeup artistry, so I’m not the sort of girl who can be swayed with anti-cosmetics propaganda. Makeup is just a great thing.

And to be perfectly honest, I look kind of weird without it. You know Scooter and Skeeter from “Muppet Babies”? No? Well, you should, first of all. Anyhow, when they removed their glasses, their eyes disappeared. Just became little black dots, when, with glasses, they were huge and white irised.

It’s a lot like that for me.

I blame the monolid. It’s an Asian thing, and I’ve grown to accept it, but you’ll be pretty hard pressed to find me outside my house not wearing eyeliner. I have four of them, just in case of an emergency.

So you can probably imagine how excited I was when Laura, at the Eye Institute of Utah, told me not only did I need to abstain from makeup for three days prior to the surgery (WHAT THE HECK, LAURA!?), I would also need to abstain for a full week post-op.

These are my makeup brushes. I luff them. I will miss them.

These are my makeup brushes. I luff them. I will miss them.

Um, I’m sorry, Laura, I think I must have misunderstood you when you said I couldn’t wear makeup for ten straight days. That can’t possibly be right. After all, I’m giving you full permission to bore holes into my head with lasers that will burn my retinas and make me blind, so the least you could do is give me a little leeway and allow me to look pretty afterward.

Nope. Laura didn’t budge. Laura is a little heartless.*

So I go like a lamb to the slaughter this Friday afternoon. I really don’t want to do this at all, but people tell me I won’t regret it (we’ll see, people, we’ll see), and Husband promised to buy me anything I wanted, short of plastic surgery or a new car. Anything I wanted. I’m making a list right now. You know, just in case the Valium makes me forgetful.

*Laura probably has a heart.

Preemptively, I’ve Decided

The last time I had to wear glasses (so as to, you know, legally drive and not kill people or maim myself and see colors and shapes) during inclement weather was circa 2000. It took years for me to shed the trauma that was rain-drenched glasses and the impending steam upon entering a room.

Photo courtesy of emergingrunner.com

Photo courtesy of emergingrunner.com

But a little while back, I called the Eye Institute of Utah and made an appointment to see some eye surgeon who would look at my eyeballs and determine whether or not I was a good candidate to be shot in the face with lasers. I suppose the final straw was losing my glasses temporarily (and that one contact lens, which I swear to you, I still haven’t come across and we don’t vacuum that often.)

It’s not like I actually want eye surgery. I don’t want anyone clamping down my eyelids for any reason (I’m pretty sure I saw that in an episode of “Criminal Minds” once, and it scarred me for life.) I don’t want lasers being shot into my retinas. But I also don’t want the body of a 90-year-old or facial hair, and life has proven to me that I’m not going to always get my way. You’re welcome about that facial hair thing.

Anyhow, back to glasses in the rain.

When I made said appointment, a very nice lady told me I’d have to go sans contact lenses for a week prior. Because apparently contact lenses leave residue on your eyes (another tidbit of information I could have gone the rest of my life without), and the highly skilled doctors of the world apparently don’t have vivid enough imaginations to, you know, PRETEND LIKE THE RESIDUE ISN’T THERE. So, beginning last Thursday night, I took out a perfectly good set of contact lenses, placed them into some Opti-Clean, and prepared myself for what was to come.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Glasses suck. The only people who have successfully deluded themselves into thinking glasses are awesome are hipsters who either wear glasses without any lenses in them or glasses with lightweight plastic lenses. For those of us who wear actual, real-life glasses, the novelty is completely gone.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
He also listens to the Black Eyed Peas ironically.

Case in point

My vision is so bad that I can’t really stand farther than one inch from my bathroom mirror to apply my makeup.

The handle of my foundation brush is about seven inches long.

You can see my dilemma.

Another case in point

My most recent short haircut isn’t glasses friendly at all, but of course I didn’t realize that when I got it. The only solution I’ve come up with, to avoid the inevitable “fa-winnnng” of my sideburns (you know exactly what I’m talking about and don’t try to deny it) is to aerosol hairspray my glasses into my hair.

That’s a real thing. I’m actually doing that every day.

Look how happy I am that my ears are coated in spray can glue.

Look how happy I am that my ears are coated in spray can glue.

So, I’ve preemptively made the executive decision, regardless of whether my eyes are actually good candidates, that the Eye Institute of Utah may bore holes into my brain with their lasers. They can clamp my eyelids back and make me temporarily blind and ruin my morning come January or February or March or April or whenever it is that I get the gumption to actually go through with this Godforsaken procedure all so I don’t have to wear glasses ever again for the rest of eternity.

I’ll Just Fly Away

After yesterday’s “Wait wait you’re Asian AND you’re a staff employee!?” experience, plus a little depression over Husband being on his work trip (seriously it’s such a good thing I didn’t marry a businessman because I would have died within the first year of marriage I’m quite certain) and an addiction to What Not to Wear (Stacy and Clinton, if you’re reading this, please let me be on the show even though I’m not a trainwreck), I decided I needed to start dressing like grown-ups dress in an office setting.

Image courtesy of tv.zap2it.com

A little backstory that will be remarkably uninteresting to probably 90% of you, but you’ll read it anyhow because you’re awesome: My wardrobe has taken an interesting journey over the years. This one time in college a roommate told me I dressed like a news anchor. I’m still trying to decide if she was complimenting me or insulting me. When Husband and I met, he could see past my middle-aged wardrobe and baggy, straight leg jeans (look, I was kind of chubby. Whatever.) and love me for who I was, although once we were married and I lost a pretty significant amount of weight, he took me shopping to update my look.

The thing is: he owns about ten ringer tees from Old Navy and wears socks with Crocs. I know. So he’s probably not the type of person I should listen to when it comes to clothing.

And apparently the problem that has now arisen is that, although I’m no longer dressing 20 years older than I should, I’m now dressing about 10 years younger than I should.

So I pulled out all the grown-up stops; wrinkle-free white blouse (with the collar popped THANKyouverymuch), tan dress pants, brown dress shoes, and jewelry. Like, awesome jewelry. And all day I felt like I commanded a certain level of respect. I didn’t worry about wearing the same outfit as an 18-year-old freshman. I was taking names and kicking butt.

Until …

The Low Point

I went to the restroom and discovered my fly had been down all morning and almost all afternoon.

So that’s cool.