I’m No Angel, But Is Plus Equal?

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Lane Bryant ad circulating on social media.



And while the message of plus acceptance is something I have rallied behind for the past decade, this morning I had a hard time associating myself as one of these women.

I watch the glamazons in the Plus Is Equal campaign and admire both their bravery and beauty as they strut their stuff in national ad campaign for the largest plus-size retailer, Lane Bryant. They are each gorgeous, flawless and idols to women of a larger size like myself.

So this morning when my boyfriend complimented my body, I had a knee-jerk reaction of shrugging him off. It’s especially fitting since today I’m dressed from head to toe in Lane Bryant fashion items. From my bra and boyshorts by Cacique to my Lane Bryant-branded pencil skirt, tank and half-sleeve jacket, I’m a walking billboard. Today, I’m feeling casually elegant, super confident and a bit naughty.

So why shrug him off?

Good question.

Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?

I’m sure all women have this issue. We become obsessed by parts of our body that we don’t feel are adequate enough, and we project all our negativity toward ourselves. For me, size has always been my concern. I target hate toward my arms and my stomach. So I was instantaneously forced to look and ask myself why I couldn’t see my own body in the same light that I saw the “Plus Is Equal” campaign woman.

For all we want to post on social media about self-acceptance, it’s easy to fall back into centuries old body shaming practices. We’ve been raised to sit up straight, project our chest, whittle down our waists, plump our lips, shave our unwanted hair, grown our head hair long and luxurious, wear heels to elongate our legs…and blah, blah, blah. There are so many expectations on our appearance that it’s easy to fall into self-sabotage comparing ourselves to these widely accepted, often contradicting, standards.

No matter how many memes we post, no matter how many compliments we get, no matter what our level of self-confidence seems to be…the one thing we can count on is that ALL women harbor the same kinds of doubts about themselves. It’s an unspoken rule.

So what are the rules to accepting ourselves with so many lingering self-doubts?

According to NEMA (National Eating Disorders Association), there are 10 tips for body acceptance.

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.

And while these all seem well and good, they are each a monsoon of emotional baggage for most women. Today I battled with #4 but any given day…

Which of these do you battle with most on a daily basis?

Kristie LeVangie Takes On Maura Kelly: Size Matters

by Kristie LeVangie

Too much of a good thing…can be wonderful. – Mae West

Sometimes, people just do obviously stupid things. In 2010, it was a writer for Marie Claire magazine, only I’m going to hold Marie Claire guilty as well since they obviously had to give permission to publish this heinous article. Tisk, tisk, MC.

So what’s the controversy?

Well, if you were hiding under a rock that year, or if you are fat and lazy like me and can’t get up from the couch, perhaps you haven’t heard that Maura Kelly posted a “fattie” bashing article on MarieClaire.com. More to the point, she posted a “fatties having sex” bashing article. You can read the full article here, but I pulled some of my “favorite” quotes for you below to save you the time and hassle of reading such distasteful reporting. Comments included:

“Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese!”

“Yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room…”

“I’m happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it’s cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you’re getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there’s plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me.”

“But … I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It’s something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.”

I think you get a sense of the hateful, condescending tone of the article. Again, tisk, tisk, Marie Claire. (And dammit, it even interfered with my enjoyment of the season 8 Project Runway finale. It’s tainted Nina Garcia!) *throws hands up in disgust

Maura’s reaction to the sexy scenes in the new CBS sitcom Mike & Molly was probably just one of those assignments she wanted to get out the door. It was a bad day when it backfired, wreaking havoc across the internet by anyone remotely overweight. And truth be told, there are a variety of backlash blogs to read on this issue.

I, being the queen (in every plus-size reference you can muster) couldn’t let this topic go without discussing it since it involves sex. Now could I?

And let me first start by saying, I’m not going to harp on the fact that many overweight people can’t “control” their weight due to health or hereditary issues. I’m not going to point out the fact that Maura throws out advice like an expert weight loss instructor but has no professional qualifications. (She’s a writer, not a personal trainer.) And I’m not going to ruminate about the possible causes of her disgust with obesity. This is not a personal attack on Maura, but a reaction to her article.  (And of course, by not stating I’m going to point them out…I totally just pointed all that out! lol)

I weigh more than 200 pounds, and not only do I love sex, I have it…LOTS of it. If people are genuinely disgusted as Maura might suggest, why is it that I have no trouble finding a viable partner for pleasurable pastime activities? If obesity is truly disgusting and that ideal is shared by the majority, then why do the same men continue to knock at my door?

And I’m sure Maura’s next move would be to say that any woman giving it away so willingly will have no problem finding a man to take it…no matter what she looks like, but sexuality has historically been represented by curvier women. To support this argument, I would call out the great painter, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, or the sex icons – Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. Hell, even Roseanne and Dan got frisky on mainstream sitcom television in my teenage years. Bill Clinton chased a plus-size Monica Lewinsky around the oval office, and even the promiscuously innocent Betty Boop proved cartoonized fleshy women can be lusted after. Hell, what about the ever notorious Elizabeth Taylor or the ever gorgeous Tyra Banks? Neither of these women has been at a loss for male companionship. And just try to deny of the beauty of Queen Latifah.

Curvy women have been celebrated, adored, and lusted after. This is nothing new.

Mike & Molly brings my sex life into the mainstream again. It represents for millions of women, like me, size 14 and up, that weight isn’t an excuse for turtlenecks and barnyard animal-embroidered denim shirts. A little cellulite is NOT an excuse for a missed orgasm. We, as an overweight society, have become so uncomfortable with ourselves because we listen to the media, subscribe to fashion magazines and just generally love to beat ourselves up. I say, No more!

Being sexy is a state of mind, not a thigh measurement or achieved qualifier on the bathroom scale. Sexy is about confidence, fun, exploration and mental intoxication. Sexy is about indulgent living, succumbing to temptations and living through our senses.

To all plus-size goddesses reading this, please don’t let the “Mauras” of the world mind-fuck you into devaluing yourselves. If the majority of us are size 14 and above, why are we continuing to let mainstream media cater to our lettuce-grazing, calorie-obsessing toothpick buddies?

Mike & Molly, while not a show personally enjoyed, is a representation of a more “real” couple, a couple most of us can identify with—far more relatable than reality shows like The Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of ANY County, State or City.

And it’s blatantly obvious that Maura doesn’t watch much porn. Entire sections of porn libraries taut BBW fetish films and even feederism films that celebrate chunky lovin’.

I’m not calling out Maura because she’s thin. I’m not calling her out because I have hostility over my own size. I’m calling her out because that’s what I do when I see blatant closed-minded comments and blanket assumptions set out for the world to see. By publishing her article, she made herself free game to rebuttals and discussions.

I hate to be the one to lay it out for her, but fat people fuck. I even hear fat people fuck better. Size is a fleeting sign of the times. 1000 years ago, I would have been more sought after than my bony counterpart.

And with that I say, “Pass the ice cream.” Let’s talk about fat sex.

Share your thoughts.

Healthy to a Tea

Since starting my dietary change, I’ve discovered a renewed love for tea.  The magnitude of my affection dawned on me this morning as a sipped a Bigelow Chamomile and drove myself to work.

I’ve always loved tea.  Mostly a chai girl…or more specifically, a Masala girl (as Chai is the equivalent English bastardization of this Indian original).

Did you know that next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world?  (Don’t tell Starbucks…although they make a mean Earl Grey.)

It’s believed it’s been around since the second millennium B.C. when the Shang Dynasty in China may have used it medicinally.  Of course, the Brits made it a social event in the 17th century.

Interesting that 80% of the tea consumed in the United States and Canada is cold.

Did you know that there are 6 different types of tea and some of them are shown to have significant health benefits?

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Ooblong (or wulong)
  5. Black (or called Red tea in China)
  6. Post-fermented Tea (or called Black tea in China)

Tea is rich in an antioxidant called catechins, although the highest concentration can be found in White and Green tea varieties.  It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, flavonoids, vitamins, caffeine and several polysaccharides.  What’s all this mean?

Green and black tea have been found to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.  And Green Tea, the rockstar of all teas, has been found to protect against most types of cancers: oral, prostate, digestive, urinary tract, pancreatic, bladder, skin, lung, breast and more!  Green tea has even been proven in trials to reduce body fat by a small amount for a short time as it stimulates your metabolism and reduces the risks of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  It also is proported it can improve cholesterol levels.  Meanwhile, black tea has been shown to protect the lungs from exposure to cigarette smoke and to reduce the risk of stroke.

A wide variety of commercial teas also show signs of slowing or terminating viruses.

And I was pleasantly surprised to stop by a local coffee shop a few weeks back and discover Jasmine Green Tea.  It’s just what it sounded like Jasmin flower-infused green tea.  The aroma was amazing and the taste was bold and took some getting into.

by Kristie LeVangie

So now, let’s settle one of the longest-lasting debates of my lifetime outside of the chicken and egg, that is.  Which has more caffeine– coffee, tea or me? (Well, that’s kinda it.)

Per 8-ounce serving, tea has between 30 mg and 90 mg of caffeine.  For 7 ounces of coffee, it’s a bit more complicated depending on your brewing method, but it’s 80-135mg for brewed and 115-175mg for drip.  Compare that with 100mg of Caffeine per 1.5 – 2-ounce serving of Espresso.

So you’ll see…there’s a slight possibility your tea has more caffeine than your morning Starbuck’s injection, but probably not.  Too much caffeine overstimulates your body’s nervous system and some pretty nasty side effects can result with amounts exceeding 300mg regularly.

But never fear, the 30 to 90 mg present in your morning cup of Darjeeling or English Breakfast tea, is just enough to heighten your mental alertness.

I drink Green Tea everyday.  Some days I’ll add another variety to mix it up a bit.  Tea is calorie-free, so if you can avoid the additive pitfall and learn to drink it straight appreciating the flavor, it’s a win-win.

So share with me.  What’s your favorite blend?