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.

Why We’re Here in the First Place

Remember that very first post I ever wrote in this blog about how my body is essentially broken and regularly requires doctor visits and MRIs? (No? Oh, you should totally spend the next few hours reading all my posts from then till now.) Well, kids, I’m sorry to say the back/hip pain is back, and it is back with a vengeance.

I’ll admit that I eventually stopped going to physical therapy because I was working part-time at BYU and part-time as an accompanist and was also in “Hello, Dolly!” and even when I did have time to go, it was unlikely that I’d haul myself out of bed at 6:00 in the morning for it (especially since I was feeling so much better at that point). So I said, “I’ll be back, I promise,” and walked out the door and then kind of didn’t go back. Not because I didn’t think it wasn’t working or anything — I just stopped. And then we went through a couple periods of no having health insurance. And, you know, life.

And for awhile, I was able to cope with everything pretty well. I remember laying in bed, early on in the crisis, crying because I could not bear the idea of living in pain like that for the next 50-60 years, but I got used to it and grew weary of worrying about what was going on in my body, if the labrum was tearing yet again, if I had pinched my SI joint even further. And living the way I was for 50-60 suddenly didn’t sound all that bad. It was definitely doable. And I was hiking and biking and doing outdoor things with Husband I’d completely avoided the summer prior because I was rendered essentially immovable. And it was fun! And I loved it! And I started to think I was going to live a normal life after all.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

Okay, scratch that. My brain will never let me live a normal life. I am already planning a makeup night in mid-January because I’m an incessant pre-planner, while singing the song of my people I’m doing for the vocal competition tomorrow over and over and over again in my head and biting my lips because that’s a new OCD thing I do (???). BUT, mental instability aside, I was physically ready to conquer as much world as I was interested in.

But then things started to hurt again. And Husband noticed one side of my hips remarkably higher than the other. And sleeping became a thing only healthy people did because there’s no comfortable position I can get in to actually fall and stay asleep. And sitting? Well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t do it in a non-ergonomic desk chair 5 hours a day any longer.

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Do I feel discouraged about this? Well, yeah, naturally. It’s not like I thought I was invincible, but I was holding out this modicum of hope that things would stay as benign as they’d been so I could be reminded that I’m not infallible but also so I didn’t want to cry all the time. All this has led to me eating a lot of chips. Also candy. So, I suppose, the only thing I can do is head back to my physiatrist and get another prescription for physical therapy (which will inevitably be for something ridiculous like four weeks) and go to the office twice a week for three or four months and try to beat this thing once and for all.

And if all else fails, I’ma get a cortisone shot rammed in my back so everything goes numb. Or … however it’s supposed to go. Because we’re there, guys.

The Wintry Day

Things happen when it’s colder than Alaska in a landlocked state. Lots of things. For starters, if you live in a place like Utah, where they focus more on making pre-dinner cocktails illegal rather than cleaning up the air, you get an inversion.

Wait, what’s that? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Right? I had no clue what an inversion was till I moved to Utah. It wasn’t even sort of a real thing to me. Oregon has fresh, clean air, full of oxygen. And rainbows and fairies. But my sophomore year of college, I discovered the inversion and everything that meant.

Gross, dirty, nasty air. That’s what it means. Gross, dirty, nasty air that doesn’t go away for weeks at a time. They instituted red light days (I’m not making this up), in which elementary, middle, and high schools were actually canceled because HEAVEN FORBID children get lung cancer from walking outside. But if you’re a college student, the general advice is: Don’t breathe as you walk to campus.

And, I’m sorry to say, inversion happens in Utah County as well, which I had the misfortune of discovering a couple weeks ago.

This is a photo of a mountain.No. Seriously.

This is a photo of a mountain.
No. Seriously.

Inversion looks like fog except it makes you sick. So that’s fun.

Other things happen too, though. Like your limbs start to lock up and, as you’re walking up the 104 stair staircase to your office building, you start to get the distinct feeling that you are going to fall backwards to your frozen, bloody doom.

Then your nose hairs will freeze up. That feels gross, btw.

Finally, when you reach your warm, dry destination, your body will officially start to shut down. Your organs will fail to function. You will have a headache and a backache and a stomachache and your feet will hurt, despite your best efforts in wearing long pants, wool socks, and knee-high boots.

Knee high boots and boot socks

So far, I can confirm that my spleen, appendix, and duodenum are completely toast. My lungs are shutting down as I type (and cough). It’s been a good run, guys. I’ll miss you. I know you’ll miss me too.

Vertigo: A Love Story

Confession: This isn’t a love story at all, but I thought that was a nice sounding title.

As it turns out, the vertigo hasn’t gone away yet. This has made for an exciting week (remember, I got it on Friday), although I have yet to collapse, pass out, stumble into things, or ram the car into stuff (although it could be easily argued that my ramming the car into stuff wouldn’t be vertigo related at all). It’s like I’m walking on a trampoline and sitting on a waterbed. All the time.

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

For the most part I haven’t really been that concerned about it. I haven’t gone to the doctor, I don’t really feel as though I need to, and I’m still going out and doing things. It will really suck if I have a brain tumor. But as the week continued to pass on, I realized there was one large thing that should strike fear and terror into my heart: airplane trip to Oregon.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Yeah, I’m going to Oregon tomorrow for ten days. I know you’re totally jealous. Unless, of course, you live in Oregon, in which case you understand why all my other readers should be jealous. Anyhow, the Oregon part doesn’t strike fear and terror (although the fact that I will have to return to … *sighs* … Utah is such a bummer). The airplane trip part does. There’s a fairly large part of me that’s concerned that, given my current state of feeling woozy while standing/sitting/laying down/walking/leaning, an airplane will suck.

Walgreen’s … I can’t get away from it: So we decided, to celebrate our nation’s independence, we’d hit up the grocery store for cereal and the drug store for — this being on the Internet will probably make Mom sad — an ear wax removal kit. And some generic Bonine.

Image courtesy of walgreens.com

I mean, we got some fireworks in. Vertigo on the 3rd level balcony of an apartment complex is kind of fun and mostly horrifying. So not all is lost. But there’s something kind of really tragic about spending the 4th of July flushing out your spouse’s ear, watching a warm stream of water fill a bowl. With, you know, other stuff.

Before you get too grossed out: My ears are perfectly clean. Which is a little disappointing because I was hoping the vertigo would magically go away.

Before you read this, turn on “The Star Spangled Banner” in the background, softly, but increasing the volume a little bit at a time: So let’s take a minute to recognize this great country and how easy it is for us to drive our Asian designed cars to 24 hour drug stores (which do not, incidentally, have chopsticks. Totally disappointing.) and buy things like ear wax removal kits and flush out Husband’s ears for fun.

Yay Amercia!

Googling for My Health

I’ll admit that I always occasionally Google medical stuff. You know, symptoms I have, how to deal with what the doctor just diagnosed me, etc.

Fact: The Internet is ruining our lives.

Image courtesy of someecards.com

Since being officially diagnosed with shingles this last Friday (hey great news — I apparently caught it super early, so it’s just gotten worse since then!), I knew I was in for a miserable weekend. What I didn’t anticipate was missing a week of work, being holed up in our apartment, unable to lower my left arm most of the time (swollen lymph node). Which is super fun, let me tell you. I’ve gotten a lot accomplished; the 3rd season of “Drop Dead Diva,” the 12th season of “Law and Order: SVU,” a good chunk of “Hot in Cleveland,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Flashpoint” and “The Next Food Network Star” and Modern Warfare 3, not to mention Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Image courtesy of jspaan.blogspot.com

You know how sometimes you’re like, “I wish I could just take a day or two off work…”?

Yeah, you don’t want shingles to be the reason. In case you were curious.

I won’t gross you out bore you with the details of all the great symptoms I’ve been experiencing for the past few days, but they involve a lot of “oh gross”es and “this huuuuuuuuuuuuurts.” Husband has been really patient with all the whining and the knowledge that he might come home to a bowl of generic Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner, along with a pile of dishes. Also a stir-crazy wife.

A short story from college that will set up the conclusion of this blog post: I was required to take a Human Development course as part of my general education, which was generally interesting given the fact that I wasn’t a Human Development major. We literally learned about the human life cycle from beginning to end, and I was all sorts of upset when I learned menopause actually lasts around 10-15 years. Please, Lord, let me die before that happens. 

I couldn’t help but turn to the Interwebs tonight after missing a second day of work and realizing there was little to no possibility of my going for the rest of the week, just so I could figure out what I might be dealing with. Sure, I had shingles when I was 6, but it was during the summertime and I didn’t have a job and it definitely sucked, but it was also relatively forgettable. As it turns out, my blistery rash (I know, that is too much information for you to be stomaching right now, but I promise it’s the last gross thing I’ll write…for now) might last up to five weeks.

Five. Weeks. 

This is like the menopause experience all over again.

Except what makes it really horrible is that I’ll eventually get menopause for real. Unless I die first. I certainly hope that happens.

Of course I won’t take five weeks off work — that would be ridiculous and also I would literally go crazy off my rocker and also Husband would eventually tire of Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner (although, maybe he wouldn’t — perhaps I should run a little test). I like to think the uncomfortable part will be over by next week. I’ll already be traveling to Oregon for my high school reunion with a blistery rash in July.

Yeah, that’s hot.