Part One of Three. I’ve divided my posts into Trip Preparation, Tourist Experiences, and Public Health Research.
In late June I traveled to Ghana to complete my practicum for graduate school. This research project was the last thing I needed to finish in order to earn my Masters in Public Health from UMass Amherst (online!). My project was on barriers to women’s reproductive health care in the Upper West District, a rural area with a recent rise in teenage pregnancy rates. I met amazing people and learned so much about Ghana, health care in resource poor areas, and shifting attitudes in cultural beliefs. I also saw millions of goats.
Preparing for my trip to Ghana was a little more challenging than I expected. It was almost impossible to find accurate information on what to bring, where to go, and what to see. The organizer of our trip passed along a list of suggestions and gave us a list of things we absolutely needed to do and be aware of before the start of the trip.
Yellow Fever Vaccine – In order to enter the country, you must have received the Yellow Fever Vaccine and carry proof of your vaccination. Go through your primary care physician and request a referral to a travel medicine provider. When I saw the travel medicine nurse she had printed out all of the potential risks in the areas I would be traveling to and gave me the meningitis, typhoid, and Hep A (first of two) in addition to the YF shot. The other benefit of going through primary care is that insurance will cover the cost. If you choose to go through a private company, like Passport Travel, the YF vaccine will cost you $300 out of pocket. There is a shortage of the vaccine in some areas and you may end up having to use a private company. Before you reach customs at the airport, an agent will ask to see your yellow vaccination card. If you don’t have one, you will be given one once you receive the YF vaccine.
Malaria Pills – Travel Medicine will also prescribe you medication to prevent Malaria and treat Traveler’s Diarrhea. There are two types of Malaria medications: one that will give you insane nightmares and one that won’t. I would push for the one that doesn’t make you wake up screaming. Think it’s not that bad? Read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It’s great; you should read it anyway.
Travelers Diarrhea – You will most likely get diarrhea at some point on your trip. Even though we were all vigilant about not eating uncooked vegetables and using bottled water to brush our teeth, nine out of ten of us experienced it on this trip. It’s not any worse than regular diarrhea, but may last for a few days. Make sure to take the medication prescribed to you as soon as you feel like you’re sitting in a Chevy and you feel something heavy or when you’re walking through the hall and you feel something fall. Hi, I’m 36.
Air Conditioner – If you are lucky enough to have one, leave your air conditioner on any time you are in your hotel room. The cold keeps the mosquitos away. You can bring a mosquito bed net with you just in case there are creepy crawlies when you enter your room. I brought one, but didn’t end up using it.
Deet – Make sure the bug spray you bring contains deet. These mosquitos are aggressive and can kill you. They want to kill you. Malaria is the numero uno cause of death in Ghana. It’s not even close. Avoid areas of standing water as an extra precaution.
Bottled Water – Thankfully there is no shortage of bottled water in Ghana. Only buy bottles that have a plastic seal around them as some will refill these bottles and sell them. You will know they’re not legit from the fact the water is brown. Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Don’t even rinse your toothbrush with tap water. If you’re really concerned bring water purification tablets, but a one liter bottle of water in Ghana cost less than a dollar.
Hot Water – Do not expect to have hot water on your trip even if you’re staying in the best hotel in the area. When you check out the bathroom you will see a large bucket and a smaller bucket or bowl. Bucket showers are way more manageable than showering continuously under cold water. Do not drink this water.
Wifi – You will think “Oh, my hotel has WiFi! I’m set!” but you’re not. Hotel WiFi is very slow and unreliable. The hotel in Wa gave everyone a new login and password every single day and it would kick you out the minute your screen went dark. If you need to be connected to the outside world, add an international plan to your phone before going. For $60 AT&T gave me unlimited calling and text as well as 1GB of data.
Money – The official currency of Ghana is the cedi. The exchange rate when we arrived was $1USD = 4.6 cedis, but the cedi continues to depreciate and $1USD was worth 5 cedis when I left. There are not many places to exchange money. If you go to a bank it is a giant pain in the butt. I spent two hours in Accra exchanging $200, but there was air conditioning so it’s all good. Your best option is to retrieve money from an ATM, but note that only Visa cards can be used in ATMs. You can exchange money at the Accra airport as well. When we asked the receptionist at the hotel where to exchange money in the area, he walked us over to the market for a black market exchange. Literally, a room with no windows, one dude, a desk, and a calculator. He gave us a pretty good rate, but I don’t recommend this and certainly wouldn’t have gone without a local who knew the money man.
Airport and Transportation
Checked Luggage Tags – In order to leave the airport when you arrive in Ghana you will need to show your checked luggage receipt to an agent. I couldn’t find mine once and they looked at my passport instead.
Pink Shirts – When you walk out of the doors at the airport you will be overwhelmed with the amount of people offering to help you. The ones that you should absolutely avoid, but are almost impossible to, are guys wearing pink shirts. They are the most aggressive. The hotel I was staying at was supposed to come get me, but I couldn’t find anyone from the hotel or see a sign with my name. I tried calling and it was busy. A kind, pink shirted man offered to help me and called the hotel as well. He offered to take me to the hotel and I explained that the hotel charged me $20USD for pickup. Long story short he asked me to be his girlfriend a few times because I am white, asked me if I “like black,” became upset when he learned my boyfriend isn’t black and then charged me $55USD when we arrived at the hotel. Other people on my trip were charged $15USD and $30USD for the exact same ride. After 20 hours of traveling I was too tired to fight, but he received an epic eye roll. Welcome to Ghana.
Extended Airline Layovers – When I was initially scouting for airfare the cheapest flights I found included 20hrs+ of layovers in Egypt and Turkey. I briefly considered it but had no idea where I would go or what to do with my luggage. Egypt Air and Air Morocco offer free hotel stays for layovers four hours or more. One girl on the trip flew Egypt Air, got a free hotel close to the airport, and a tour of the pyramids arranged by the airline when she arrived. My only comfort is knowing I now have enough miles with United to travel to Peru.
It’s been exactly five months since I had the vertical sleeve weight loss surgery. The first few months were easy peasy. The weight was coming off at the rate it should be, I had far more energy due to the amounts of protein I was consuming, and my slimming body made working out and attending boxing classes way more fun and productive.
The only issue I’ve been having since surgery is my inability to poop more than once a week at best. When I had traveler’s diarrhea in Ghana it was the best and I am currently researching “how to give yourself diarrhea” to increase my quality of life. Even combining stool softener, Miralax, Milk of Magnesia (which I immediately chase with a popsicle), etc doesn’t move things along. This is common and gets easier over time, supposedly, but this was my only real post-surgical problem and I could manage it.
Over the past month I’ve been vomiting fairly frequently. It comes on immediately, usually after I’ve eaten or in the middle of eating. I have thrown up fish, eggs, chicken, ice cream, protein shakes, and, after being put back on a liquid diet a few days ago, water. No specific food or beverage seems to trigger it. I assumed that this was part of the healing process or a sign I need to eat slower. I ate slowly and the vomiting became more frequent. My surgeon is concerned I’ve damaged my stomach, especially given how much I’ve thrown up. I foolishly thought that I’d be fine since I had been doing so well before. I ignored the advice of family, friends, and WebMD. I’m seeing my surgeon today and will hopefully get answers and not a hospital stay.
When I was put back on liquids this week I was upset and frustrated that I couldn’t eat anything and that I had to start from scratch. I just want the ease of eating a cheeseburger, which is now the hardest thing for me eat due to the carbs in bread and inability to digest red meat (usually takes three months after surgery). Going out with friends is already challenging enough given my eating and drinking restrictions. I’ll be in Chicago for a conference this weekend and wanted to eat actual food, but what do I do now? I can’t bring popsicles to a professional conference. They’ll melt.
Eating was difficult in Ghana. Most meals contain carbs and all chicken and fish are served with bones (which is gross) and I ended up losing 12lbs as a result. I figured that once I was home and eating my usual diet most of those pounds would come back, but I kept throwing up and kept losing weight. As of this morning I’ve now lost 16lbs this month and weigh 174lbs, a weight I have never seen, and the weight loss center’s projection for the amount I would lose over the next 10-12 months. This number is always much lower than the actual expectation, but I’m only five months in.
Even though I’ve lost 76lbs I’m dealing with body dysmorphia. I don’t think I look any different despite what photos, family, and friends tell me. When I put on clothes that are too big I think “Wow! My clothes got bigger!” When I couldn’t put my phone in my pants pocket at the airport because it made my pants fall down I thought “Wow! This phone is really heavy!” Getting dressed in the morning is a chore because I have no idea what fits me and I’ve been too tired to try anything on.
Boohoo, right? Well, I did this surgery to be healthier and I’m not feeling all that healthy right now. I’m losing weight way too fast now, have zero energy, can’t poop, but I can vomit!
I feel like this is some Disney movie where I swap my ability to digest foods for a size 14. I should be celebrating this accomplishment. I’m 12lbs away from having lost 100lbs at my highest weight, but I want to accomplish that as a healthy individual who has worked hard, changed her way of thinking, eating and approach to self-care.
Last week Universal Standard, a clothing company focused on making basic staples available to women sizes 10-30, launched an ingenious promotion offering their popular Tee Rex t-shirt free of charge. The shirt retails for $50 and, after receiving mine, I can see why. This shirt is cut in a flattering way and contains a bit of stretch while keeping it’s shape throughout the day. It is the softest piece of clothing I have ever owned and, this is big, it practically repels cat hair. It is the perfect black shirt.
For the past few years I have been obsessed with the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I tend to buy things I like with no real vision and end up pairing everything with jeans or black pants. Universal Standard offers kits containing some of their most popular pieces that would serve as the starting point for any capsule wardrobe. They offer a kit exclusively for active wear, a best seller kit and a few different options for work wear kits.
Universal Standard’s goal is to “making sizing irrelevant.” Next month they’ll be offering all their closing in sizes 6-30. Right now, the Tee Rex is already being offered in these extended sizes. Inclusivity is important and simplicity is underrated. My quest for a regular white button up shirt has ended.
Perhaps the best part of Universal Standard, and what ultimately justifies the price for me, is that they will replace your clothing free of charge if you change sizes (within a year of purchase). As someone currently rapidly losing weight, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive clothes that won’t fit in a month’s time. I can’t stress how important this is for everyone woman. As we get older, become moms, live healthier lifestyles, our bodies change. Things that were once in one place have shifted to another and some parts might just vanish without warning. Universal Standard understands that. They support these changes in women without just trying to cater to women that have always been considered “the other” when it comes to fashion.
So, shut up and take my money.
Today marks one month since my weight loss surgery! Overall, I feel really good for someone that has not had any caffeine in over a month. My diet is 60% protein and I have developed a hatred for chili and a love of sugar free Popsicles. My hospital stay was incredibly uneventful and my recovery at home was filled with watching Frasier, reading and knitting. Three things I wish I was currently doing.
My family and friends have been wonderful and supportive. I’m grateful to my friends and boyfriend for being flexible around my eating needs and just meeting me at places that serve decaf tea. My boyfriend checks in with me during meals to make sure I’m doing okay and will split meals with me. I’m still figuring out what full and hungry feel like and how to not get food stuck in my chest. Watching people eat has become fascinating because I don’t understand normal bites or finishing a meal anymore. Sometimes I get sick to my stomach watching someone eat or while watching the intro to a Food Network program about big burgers and milkshakes. Cake decorating shows are fine because those are works of ART.
I haven’t really noticed a physical change in my appearance, but some of my clothes fit different. I can no longer tell if my pants are falling down because they are too small or I am too big. I feel like the 18lbs I have lost so far were all in my face. I haven’t been back to the gym yet because a full day of work is exhausting and I have four seasons left of Frasier. I’m building up my strength by walking to work and walking wherever I can.
Overall, I haven’t craved very many things. Sometimes I want a single breaded piece of chicken or a Cadbury Caramel Egg, but that feeling subsides once I eat something. I’ve been tested though. At times when I would normally turn to food for comfort, I have had to figure out some other way to cope and that mostly means me just owning my feelings and coping like a big kid. And I have been tested. Believe me.
One thing about this process that has aggravated me, and I will reiterate here that those close to me have been amazing, are people that give me their advice about what I need to be doing right now. Having 2/3 of your stomach removed is pretty traumatic on the body and I’ve been given very strict dietary instructions by professionals who counsel those that have had weight loss surgery and been successful. So, forgive me if someone should tell me that I shouldn’t be eating sugar free pudding because xyz and I lose my shit. The list of foods I can eat is still so small. Everyone’s journey is different and I shouldn’t have to defend my necessity to temporarily subsist on very specific food items. No, sugar free pudding is not ideal, but it’s a different consistency than chili and doesn’t require I chew it 96,000 times so it doesn’t get stuck.
I’m so happy that I did this and am glad that I did it when I did. I went into this knowing it was exactly what I wanted and felt prepared. My success is 100% based on changing my behaviors and following the set guidelines. The surgery is just a tool to support my success and ensure it’s long lasting. There will be tough days, and there have been some, but I’m confident in my ability to process and manage those emotions and thankful to have a fantastic support system.
Right now I am 2.5 weeks away from losing 2/3 of my stomach and I couldn’t be happier. The nurse called me to change my surgery date to two days earlier than originally scheduled and I said “You could change it to tomorrow and I’ll be there.” I’m ready for this change and this new chapter in my life. I’ll be healthier and while that is why I am doing, there’s a part of my that is screaming “HOLY CATS YOU COULD BE THIN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE” and fighting back tears. I don’t know how this is going to go or ultimately where I’ll end up, but the promise of things radically changing for my body, finally, feels like a reward for all the hard work I put in five years ago. I’m going to do the same hard work, but the weight will stay off this time.
I have goal clothing. Recently I bought a Candice LaRae shirt from Hot Topic. I’m 35. I bought the shirt in a medium (unisex) because I have been that size before so this isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. I want to get back into my sailboat dress. My goal stores are Patagonia and Banana Republic. If I can walk into Patagonia and try on a jacket and have it fit that will be enough. I don’t even need to buy it. Success.
I’m pretty sure the Dunkin Donuts I go to will have think I died. They’ll first realize this when they have a surplus of pumpkin syrup and don’t run out mid-September. The delivery guy from my favorite Chinese take-out place is listed in my phone as “Food is Here” because he sings that to me when I answer his call. I had to put him in my phone because I blocked him one time for trying to deliver food to me I didn’t order and thought I was being harassed. I doubt any of you have had to put that much energy and forethought into your take-out orders. I like him; sad to lose him as a friend.
I’ve spent less time thinking about the actual surgery including, but not limited to, the procedure, the hospital stay, the recovery period and the rest of my life and more time thinking about what I can accomplish with those two weeks off from work. My list includes reading a bunch of books, rewatching Happy Endings and trying to trick people into painting my living room (“I thought I had more energy and I’m still too sore. The paint is over there thank you.”)
Only recently did I decide to put my non-profit financial management certificate program on hold because math is hard and financial statements are boring AF. I tried to take another graduate course that I don’t need so I can get my financial aid to pay for my remaining two classes and a three week practicum in Ghana, which is essential to the work I want to be doing, but I am two days late. I’m stressed, angry, sad and I’m forced to change my thinking when these upsets happen. With all the money I’ll save on not going out to eat or drink I will probably be able to go to Ghana three times. Positive thinking? (I will figure this out, I always do.)
What I’m saying is that I have taken on way too much, per usual, and I’m very tired, per usual, and my gym membership goes unused, per usual. This all falls under the category of not taking care of myself, which is so unbelievably important in general, but especially after surgery. I’m forced to develop an entirely new set of coping skills for when I’m feeling stressed. So much of my time, focus and energy will be spent on making sure that I am following the guidelines and doing what I need to do because I have one chance with this one year to lose what I can so I can live the life I want. Mom’s spaghetti.
There can be no more over doing things. I’m forced into being my #1 priority. Last year when I told my boyfriend I was going to sign up for roller derby intro classes he said “You can’t even find the time now to get to the rink and skate before it even starts.” Even a month ago when I received an email classes were starting again I had to stop myself from responding with “I think I’ll miss two weeks because I’m having weight loss surgery” and instead wrote “Please let me know when your next round of classes are happening.” I’m really proud of myself. When I love things I throw myself in and that sometimes means that things are done half-assed. That’s not fair to the other people whose passion is that thing I am constantly dropping the ball on.
Everything will be moving forward in the direction I have always wanted things to move in. Maybe I was too scared to be successful or I keep myself too busy to prevent myself from getting hurt and endless over thinking. This surgery is going to change the way I do almost everything and help me prioritize what is actually important.
A few weeks ago I had my first meeting with my psychiatrist regarding my weight loss surgery. I’m anxious over not having an official surgery date and every day that goes by feels incredibly long. January is just around the corner and I need to eat as many Qdoba burritos as possible before then*.
I’d like to reiterate that I 100% understand and respect the choice to keep this surgery private. It’s just like any medical procedure or diagnosis. For me, it helps to talk about this, process it through writing and hopefully share a positive experience that might take away some of the stigma surrounding this surgery.
During my first appointment we covered a lot of ground. He asked me if I would be okay if my relationship with my boyfriend ended. I replied a tentative ‘yes’ because I have no idea how things are going to change for him, but I know it requires him changing his lifestyle to accommodate mine. That’s a huge ask.
“Well, the reason I ask,” the doctor said, “is because some people like their partner bigger.”
I sat on this for a moment. “Why don’t you have a dating service side hustle to hook those dudes up with chicks like me? I could be married right now.”
It’s amazing they’ve given me the go ahead on this.
“Has anyone in your family struggled with their weight?” he asked.
“Yes, my mother and my father…” He opened his mouth to ask the next question. “My maternal grandmother…patnernal grandmother…pater-”
“…nal grandfather. My maternal great…”
He told me that in the first year I’d lose roughly 30% of my weight, putting me around 170lbs which is 15lbs lower than the lowest weight I reached on my own. My sleep apnea will go away! That’s great news because I am SICK of it. An integral part of my c-pap didn’t make it with me to New Orleans last week and I tortured my roommates with my snoring. Like, it became an open house discussion. I also had two sleep apnea attacks that week which was the most I have endured in that small of a time frame. Now there’s this super fun thing where the vacuum cleaner hose doesn’t fit tightly with the mask, it disconnects and sprays distilled water air in my face while making a loud WOOOOOOOOOOOSH noise. Please take 2/3 of my stomach now.
I’m grateful for all the support of my friends and family. So many have been eager to set up dinner dates with me and I look forward to that time with my friends. I am concerned about how I can socialize with some of my friends post-surgery. Telestrations or Mancala, anyone?
The more I think about it, the more positives there are to this. Of course there’s the health and being irresistible to all men (so they say) stuff, but random things specific to me and my quality of life. For example, the smaller I am, the less yarn I will need to buy to knit a sweater and the less time it will take to complete it. For a month after the surgery I don’t have to cook or food shop AT ALL. I have clothes from sizes 12-20 taking up valuable closet real estate which means that I won’t need to buy any clothes for a year. What will I do with all this freed up time? Well, grad school, but also Telestrations or Mancala, anyone?
Next on the schedule is Immersion Day. I’ll spend the whole day with the entire hospital team learning about their roles, the surgery process and what to expect after. The follow up is lifelong, and while that may seem like overkill to some I immediately breathed a sign of relief over having access to ongoing support. Once Immersion Day is done I need to complete three hour long workshops, see my psychiatrist again and meet with a nutritionist a few times. Then my real work begins.
*Obviously these comments are jokes, but Qdoba is really, really good, you guys.
One year ago most of us woke up massively hungover with very little sleep. Maybe we woke up around 4am, opened the CNN app saw “PRESIDENT TRUMP,” thought “haha no way” and went back to sleep only to wake up, open the CNN app and see “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”
We’ve all come up with our own ways to cope over the last year. There’s been venting our frustrations through crying, punching (things, not people) and yelling at people via ALL CAPS on social media. Part of my coping was turning to YouTube. I find ear wax removal and ingrown hair videos meditative and satisfying, but I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m presenting to you my favorite, hilarious videos and clips that were all a flicker on my phone, computer and television screen for the last twelve months.
Here they are presented in random order. It is my gift to you and I hope they bring a smile to your face while you wait for Betsy DeVos to hand in her resignation.
Stephen Colbert // The Colbert Report // Munchma Quchi
Amy Sedaris once told a story about the rare time Colbert broke character at Second City and proceeded to go ape shit in the back hallway over his disappointment. That makes this clip all the more enjoyable. (Go to 2:22 in the clip)
Saturday Night Live // The Californians
And speaking of people cracking up….
Eric Kelly // Boxing Lessons
If you watch one video, please let it be this one. There are so many quotes in this five minute jewel. Most notably, “Everything is not for everybody.” A friend of mine introduced this to me a few years ago and it’s one of the funniest and, strangely, most inspiring clips I’ve seen.
Jurassic Park Theme Song // Melodica Cover
Just listen to it.
Kane (WWE) // Hard Fart Victory
WWE’s Big Red Machine meant to “hard fought victory” – it’s a great seven seconds.
Saturday Night Live // Haunted Elevator (Featuring David S. Pumpkins)
This came at the perfect time.
Mr. Show // The Story of Everest
This is my favorite Mr. Show sketch.
Mr. Show // The Audition
This is my second favorite Mr. Show sketch.
Tina Fey and Leonardo DiCaprio // Supermodel’s Vagina
Larry David/Saturday Night Live // Goodnight
I’m Having Weight Loss Surgery and I Don’t Care About Your Opinion (but I want it to be an informed one)
This post is not some grand announcement of a major life decision, but in order to explain it best I have to contextualize it. Here’s the quick breakdown that will lead to my major point: I’m having weight loss surgery because I worked my ass off, lost weight, gained most of it back, have sleep apnea and have been told that this surgery will help manage my PCOS. I want to be healthy, active and, aside from being unable to consume copious amounts of sushi in one sitting for the rest of my life, there is no reason not to do this surgery (except for the potential for a medical condition I’m referring to as “tube boobs.”)
It’s not as simple as “okay your stomach is smaller now just go back to your life!” There’s screening, counseling, mandatory weight loss management programs and so many expectations and goals participants need to reach. Weight loss surgery is not a fix; It puts you in a better position to be more successful with maintaining your weight loss. You have to do the work in order for it to work. Even with the surgery and all the ongoing support it’s really, really hard.
But most people don’t know that, because some that have the surgery aren’t comfortable enough to talk about it. There is this belief that surgery is quitting. That resulting to surgery is typical lazy fat person behavior and with that brings a level of shame for the surgeree. I will admit that I believed this, was fairly vocal about it, and gave it as my number one reason for not considering it for myself. I judged people that didn’t choose the road to weight loss that I did and all that mounted was growing resentment. It wasn’t fair of me and I’m sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt. My feeling at the time was “why doesn’t everyone just do what I’m doing?” It doesn’t work like that; Everyone is different.
I didn’t know the facts and, even though I don’t care about your opinion, I want it to be an informed one. One where a person’s decision to do what is in their best interest for their health and body isn’t really anyone else’s business. I want people that have never struggled with their weight to be able to empathize with those that have and understand that there is nothing wrong with undergoing a procedure that will make life infinitely better and longer.
For four years I went to the gym every day, avoided events where I would be tempted or that took place during Zumba class, counted points, scanned items in the grocery story and became overwhelmed and obsessed with the process. It took me four years to lose 70lbs and one year to gain 50lbs. I would cry if I gained even just a little weight. Now I have sleep apnea, which for those not in the know, is when you literally stop breathing for a period of time while sleeping and possibly die. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night choking to the point of vomiting. The treatment is sleeping with a mask on my face that makes me look like a combo of Bane and Gonzo with a Shop Vac hose nose. When I say goodnight to my boyfriend after I’ve put the mask on, the air being shoved up my nose and down my throat expels out my mouth and blows his hair back. If there is an option that would help me reach my goals of a better quality of life, I’d be really stupid not to do it. And if there is someone in your life that has expressed to you they’re considering weight loss surgery, please support their decision. They’re taking control of their health and your support means the world.
I’m at the beginning of this journey and looking forward to each step which will hopefully help me become more comfortable with the procedure and life after. The support I have received so far has been amazing and I want to thank friends and family members of mine that have had this surgery and been total bad asses in accomplishing their goals. This isn’t about taking the easy way out or a desire to wear a size four, it’s about being healthy. I want to sleep without a mask that leaves weird lines on my face, participate in physical activity that I love without being held back, and, live longer than my mother who also had PCOS, developed diabetes in her early 40’s and was gone by 46. I want a better quality of life where I don’t put my life on hold to go to the gym, search endlessly for flattering clothing and just feel good every day. We all need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. No matter how we approach it, it’s going to be riddled with road blocks. I gave up for a while in a number of ways and I’m ready to embrace this and get to where I need to be and want to be for me even if that means not eating as much sushi in one sitting as I previously could.
This morning I woke up early so I could get my grubby little mitts on two exclusive items from Premme, a plus size clothing website that launched this morning and features the designs of IRL BFFs Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason. These two ladies have been fashion and home decor heroes of mine for over five years and I have been waiting this collaboration even though I never really expected it. It’s like season four of Arrested Development only way, way better and in no way absolutely disappointing. (Yes, I watched it only once when it came out and I will watch it again someday.)
A few years back Gregg launched her own swimsuit line, exclusively sold through Swimsuits for All, consisting mostly of bikinis and, you know what? It sold out within hours. I wore my galaxy-kini to the beach and this dude (in a thick Boston accent) yelled “Yo! You look like you’re from space or something. Love that.” It felt nice to be complimented on what I was wearing instead of trying to hide under a monstrous t-shirt because the only bathing suit available was either a tankini or an animal print one piece with a skirt. While those items aren’t my jam, I understand that they may be someone elses. It’s more the lack of options available for curvy girls with a little fashionista just waiting to emerge into a one piece jumper.
Growing up finding clothes was difficult and the lack of availability combined with having to shop in different sections from my friends greatly impacted how I felt about myself. Clothing is a basic human necessity and being unable to find something that fits, let alone makes me feel confident, makes you feel like you’re not enough. You don’t deserve to look good and you should be punished for it.
Premme is important because for the first time two women that have made careers out of blogging about fashion have launched a plus size clothing line. Majority of mainstream fashion designers don’t want to make extended sizes because they feel their designs don’t translate well onto larger, voluptuous canvasses, but what they fail to do is design anything with the larger lady in mind. I’m not mad at these designers, I get it. It’s much easier to design something that fits 0-12 and can look flattering on all those sizes, but I am challenging designers to get more creative. You can do this.
Asos and Eloquii have fabulous lines, but can only be purchased online and have whack return policies. Old Navy offers it’s plus size line only online as well. I love Target because they have mannequins in all sizes and carry the Ava and Viv line (which Mason and Gregg offered feedback on) where I can get the staple items I need without breaking the bank. Can we talk about Dress Barn for a minute? They carry many of the same items in sizes 0-30, but DIVIDE THE STORE IN HALF starting at a size 14. Seems dumb, right? Well, it’s because they charge about $6-8 more for the same item in a plus size. Dress Barn is fired and they do not get a link.
We’re ready to be surprised. Any designer or store that sells fashionable plus size clothing will be welcomed with open arms. Just look at Stitch Fix. They saw the light and started offering plus size items from their designers created exclusively for Stitch Fix for a total of 90 brands. Three of my favorites: Market and Spruce, 41 Hawthorn and Pixley are doing plus sizes for the first time through Stitch Fix and KILLING it.
So, designers, listen to me because you have got to want some of that $20.4 billion in plus size sales and we want to give it to you or listen to Tim Gunn and just stop insulting us. I can do math, DRESS BARN.
If you look at my Chrome browser at home you’ll find two tabs open: Gmail and the google search result for the gif of Lenny Kravitz’ penis busting through his pants at a concert in Sweden back in 2015. The gif has been open in my browser ever since I mentioned it to my boyfriend and gasped in horror at him never having seen it. The search for an uncensored version online was extensive and I’m scared I’m going to lose it forever.
For those that haven’t seen the gif and are unable to find it without the sweating/laughing emoji over it, Kravitz is playing his hit “Fly Away” (too many jokes), squats down at the edge of the stage to play to the audience, his pants rip and his dong just bungee jumps out of his pants and right back up in the blink of an eye. (Note: I swear I saw one gif with Britney Spear’s face over it. I didn’t have the sound on, but if it didn’t say “It’s Britney, bitch” when it escapes, what’s the point?)
It’s not that I like looking at Lenny Kravitz penis and if he had come forward and said “Guys, don’t look at that, please. I’m so embarrassed,” I gladly would close the browser. John Mulaney’s George St. Geegland from Oh, Hello! mentions the incident in their Broadway show and notes that “this did not get enough attention at the time.” Let’s give it some attention.
This image is funny for a million reasons. Sometimes I sit and watch it and make “BOIIIING!” noises or try to imitate a slide whistle. Other times I just marvel at how brazen and shy something can be at the same time. Often I’m reminded of my trip to America’s Stonehenge where I saw an alpaca’s penis for the first time, which is just like a human penis, you’re welcome.
Other times I’m amazed. How did this even happen? It just dick punches through his leather pants. Leather is made from cow hide, which keeps a cows insides where they belong. I checked and no part of a cow, minus a prolapsed uterus or anus, has ever exploded through it’s own skin. Yes, prolapsed uterus and anus are known to slip out from time to time, but that happens with age to cows and to people. Be mindful of the whereabouts of your uterus and anus at all times! Someone will need to put it back in for you.
It’s almost poetic, the way it happens. Kravitz doesn’t miss a beat and continues playing, but I don’t really know what happened after that. I’m more focused on the gif and I will never close that browser window.