Thursday, January 17, 2013

"I'm Only Concerned About Your Health."

We postpone Thesaurus Thursday to bring you a letter.

Dear Only concerned about your health,

You said this when commenting on X's picture the other day, and there is something I've wanted to ask you:

Are you?

Are you actually so concerned about complete strangers' well-being?  If you are, I want to see that you've signed up to coach intramural soccer classes; that you make healthy bag lunches for the homeless; that you have taken direct action yourself to make other people's lives better (so dealing out any humiliation or condescension for your cause will discount these; they don't make lives better). Or, as is more likely, did you feel "safe" behind your computer screen and have the compulsion to comment because you did not like the way X looked, then try to justify publicizing the sentiment by adding the word "health"?  Are you worried about X driving up healthcare costs and actually only concerned about your wallet?  (I don't want to debate that here- what matters is whether you believe it).  Simply put, are you pushing your own agenda when telling X to lose weight?  Because if you are, you are not "only concerned about [X's] health."

Have you lost weight and feel great, or do you know someone else who feels great after weight loss, and you are so entrenched in your own happiness that you believe everyone else should feel the same way?  I think you do truly believe that you're doing the right thing, but telling others what to do because of your own personal experience is misguided.  As they say, "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data,'" (Brinner) it is 'anecdotes.'  Your/your cousin's/your friend's sister's boyfriend's situation will not necessarily apply to X.  You think that X will feel better after losing weight; this indicates that you assume X isn't already leading a fulfilling and active lifestyle, which is rather presumptuous on your part.  Also, because the weight-loss industry needs to be profitable, we are bombarded with the success stories and tend to forget that there are a lot of people who lose 20, 50, 100+ pounds, don't feel great, and wonder why emotional hangups and body image issues didn't disappear along with the weight.

Concerned, I think that you are not actually concerned.  You never take the time to get to know anything else about X's lifestyle after telling X that she is fat and should lose weight "for her health."  You never inquire about physical endurance, percent muscle mass, blood work ups, or cardiovascular tests.  You simply take it for granted that a doctor has found high blood pressure, clogged arteries and a failing heart, or signs that these will eventually occur, in X.  Assuming something about the internal workings- physical or emotional- of another person based on that person's looks alone has a name.   It's called stereotyping and is a form of prejudice.

For argument's sake, let's say that X does lose weight because of you and is very physically healthy in the end but develops such an obsession with counting calories that it interferes with daily activities and makes it hard for her to maintain friendships.  Will you be calling X out and saying, "I'm only concerned about your mental health," then?

I somehow don't think that you will.

Only concerned about your conscience.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday: "Flibbertigibbet."

While "flibbertigibbet" has become slang for a gossip or chatterbox, it originated as a Middle English word for a flighty or whimsical person- usually a young woman- hence its use in the song "Maria" in The Sound of Music.

Pictured: Not a flibbertigibbet.

Her parents perceived her as a model student and grounded young woman, but her teachers saw her as a flibbertigibbet who never settled down.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eee eee eee!

 It was released to day and arrived this morning:

Mr. Nerd has asked me to hold off starting it until he has an opportunity to start listening to his audiobook version, but it's just so new and shiny and sitting there tempting me with all its revelations and conclusions.  I can't wait to know what happens, then... then... I'll know what happens....  It won't be a surprise anymore.  It will be over.  Oh, no, it's Harry Potter all over again.  Send it back! Send it back!  I can wait longer.


No.  No I can't.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Confessions of a Wannabe Cosplayer.

I haven't been in a costume since Halloween my freshman year in college.  That was almost eight years ago now.  Yet every time I see an adult in costume going to a convention- or just a Halloween party- I get rather jealous.  The truth is, if I could dress up every day, I would, and I don't know if I'm just too timidly introverted to go to events that encourage dressing up or if I'm afraid that I'm just not nerdy enough to fit in with the crowd that does attend. I don't mean that as a sleight, either; I envy their enthusiasm and (sometimes) considerable skill.   You see, I don't play video games, and when I look at pictures from, say, DragonCon, I see row after row of characters I don't recognize, and I feel... a bit like a mathematician who has just been shown the numbers π, e, and and declared, "I don't know what those mean" to the bemusement of her peers.

√-1 23 Σ π.
My grandmother made four on Thanksgiving.

Then, there's the Booth Babe vs. Talented Cosplayer issue. I'm not too proud to admit that I would gravitate toward costumes that show off my shape.  In the past I found that being in costume made me feel more confident about my appearance; I actually think that wearing an awesomely fitting costume, no matter your size or shape, can give you a whole new perspective on and appreciation for your body.  Sometimes I worry, though, that because I have no sewing or artistic talent (at least in clothing/armor/accessory design), I'd be more in the position of finding characters with whom I have some features in common/don't think would be difficult to copy and trying to emulate them using off-the-rack items and be considered a "fake."

I was going for Charlie Chaplin-as-a-Blues-Brother. Don't judge me.

I am also aware that a significant portion of cosplaying females wear scraps of regular clothing covering enough not to be arrested.  I don't have a problem with skimpy clothing, if you're not in a school or workplace with a specific dress code and are complying with state laws.  But I wouldn't want to fall into the trap of wearing less with the mindset "I'm trying to attract attention by doing this," because that is simply unfair to those who truly deserve the attention even when they are fully covered up.  Yet I am naturally drawn to outfits I find physically alluring.

So, when I fall head over heels for corsets like this:

then tell myself that I can't wear it in everyday life and probably won't ever attend a party or con to wear it to, I wonder whether I'm being practical... or just letting social anxiety and fear get in the way.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday: "Center Gore."/ Bras!

Yes, I know that "center gore" is two words!  This week I am combining a Thesaurus Thursday post with an educational... braducational?... post.

The center gore is the triangular (trapezoidal, if you're picky) piece of fabric between bra cups.

The center gore did not lie flush against her breastbone, and she correctly took this as a sign that her bra did not fit.

You can be nerdy about many things, and as crazy as it might sound, I am a bra nerd.  My obsession revolves around the amazing self-esteem boost and reduction of physical ailments that women can get from wearing a properly fitted bra.  For years I wore 34DD's and dealt with shoulder pain, didn't want to exercise because I had to wear three (yes, three) sports bras, and wore over-sized sweatshirts to try to hide (or alternatively, wore "normal" clothes for my age that looked anything but age-appropriate on me).  Then I started researching bras.  I was re-fitted into a 32FF/30G at the time, and it's been an eye-opening journey ever since. In the right size, a bra can actually make your chest appear smaller and fit into clothes easier; also it can keep you from damaging your back and shoulders!  Yet somehow women, especially in the U.S., rarely get properly fitted. This is because a) we've been trained to think that talking about breasts is taboo and must revolve around s-e-x, and b) fitting myths abound, sometimes held over from an era in which bras were engineered quite differently.  I hope to dispel some of these myths here.


Myth: B cups and below are small, C's are average, and D+ cups are large.

Truth: Cup size is dependent on band size.  Two bras of different cup sizes can have the same cup volume. Going by cup volume is also called "sister sizing"; to find sister sizes, for every band size added go down a cup and vice versa. A woman who wears a 28D will have the same cup volume as a 34A, but will measure closer to 28" around the rib cage than 34".  

This woman is modeling a Curvy Kate bra.
Curvy Kate starts at a D cup.
She is likely a 28D/DD.

Victoria's Secret would probably first try to sell this woman a 34A because that's what they have in stock in a sister size. Sometimes women do need a sister size of a bra because it runs small or large, but just because a bra is a sister size doesn't mean it will fit.  A 34 on the woman above would be ridiculously large.

Myth: If you feel like you're being suffocated or pinched anywhere, it means that your band is too tight.

Truth: This is a quasi-myth, I suppose, in that if you have a cup that fits AND you feel like you're being suffocated, your band is too tight, but this is rarely the issue.  Usually, the band size is too large and the cup size way too small, making it feel like the bra is too tight overall.  Make sure that ALL breast tissue is fully encased in the cup with no spillage, including at the armpits.  A Sophisticated Pair has an excellent video of how to put on a bra that can help you before determining if your cup fits well.

Myth: You can calculate your band size by looping a measuring tape around from your back at band-level to the front of your breasts, the method shown on Victoria's Secret's website and used by their fitters.

Truth: Do you wear your bra band over your breasts?  No?  Then see the next "truth" to see the proper way to measure.  Looping the tape over your chest will almost certainly give a band size that is too large.  A too-large band will ride up at the back, can cause shoulder and back pain from tightening the straps to hold the bra in place, and can cause underwires to cut into breast tissue (often painfully) as your breasts start to fall out the bottom of the cups.The band should be firm and parallel to the floor on the loosest hook to extend the bra's life, and you should be able to slide just two fingers underneath it around the back.

A poorly fitting bra band.

Myth: You calculate your size by measuring beneath your breasts around your rib cage, adding 4, and then counting inch by inch to get cup size.

Truth: If you use a tape measure to determine your size (a good place to start but shouldn't be relied upon as much as look and feel afterwards):

1.  Measure snugly beneath your breasts around your rib cage with the tape parallel to the floor and add 0- nil, nada, nothing- to that to determine band size.
2.  To determine cup size, measure around the fullest part of your breasts; each inch above the band measurement is a cup size.  (*Edit*- this varies by brand, but most often will go <1"=AA, 1"=A, then for every inch after that: B, C, D, DD, DDD/E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K, etc.)

It's probably best to do this without a bra if you only have ill-fitting ones, leaning over to get the full-bust measurement.  Remember that if this size does not feel comfortable, you can always try on other sizes around it to see what fits best.  I don't know a single woman who has been properly fitted who owns only one size.

Myth: Only preteens and super-slim women need sub-32 bands.  

Truth: If you followed the measuring directions above, you've probably realized that your actual band size is smaller than you thought, often closer to your waist size.  Seeing that it's not hard to believe that people like Brittany whom I mentioned in the last post, author of the blog Thin and Curvy, needs a 24 or 26 band with a 24" waist.  Also, if a woman has "squish" around her rib cage or upper back, she could need a smaller band size to provide enough support.  Conversely, some women do have very tapered waists and will truly have a band measurement 3-4"+ larger than waist size, but having done a lot of research into bra sizing, it's rarer than you might think.  In fact, some bra bloggers have started the Bra Band Project in an effort to show that the sub-32 market is a lot larger than most people think!  (*Edit*- see the underbust survey done by June of Braless in Brazil for even more information.)


As you start to become more acquainted with bra fitting, remember, don't listen to people who say, "There's no way you're a/an __ cup."  As mentioned above, it's totally dependent on band size, and you know what feels best on your body.  Don't listen to the people who say that you're not normal if you wind up wearing something like a 32J; it's a perfectly normal size, and they're probably in the wrong size themselves.

These women all wear G+ bras.

You also might hear that adding nothing to your rib cage measurement to get band size is "vanity sizing."  Actually, as well as accounting for bra bands not having any stretch at the time, adding 2-4 inches was also part of vintage vanity sizing.  Women wanted to get as close to the "ideal" measurements of 36-24-36 as possible and so liked the way "36something" sounded.  You'll even see this happening when modern actresses give their sizes or others try to guess them. I'm not even sure how having your actual rib cage measurement on a label can be vanity sizing?   My shoes state the number of inches my feet measure; is that vanity sizing?  Either way, adding 0 is what usually works for modern bras.  Sometimes subtracting a bit can even help!  After some crazy weight fluctuations in college, I now wear anywhere from a 28GG to a 28HH.  I rarely need a 30 and sometimes could really use a 26.  I don't feel "flattered" by these sizes or think they "mean" anything about me.  My chest is just another part of me like my eyes or feet or fingers.

Think of getting fitted as a mani/pedi, or exercise, or any relaxing or healthful activity.  Once you walk out with a properly fitting bra, you'll stand up taller (often quite literally!) and feel a little more put-together, and you're doing your body a favor by taking care of it.