a woman on a dock looking at the water during a sunrise with the text get ready for fun in the sun

How To Find The Perfect Swimsuit for 2017

It's time for 2017 swimsuit seasonI spent a considerable amount of time this afternoon trying to curate a decent article on swimsuit styles this season for our social media feeds. Considering it either is, or soon will be, hot enough to wear one in most of the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d have no problem (here comes the assume thing).  All I found were slide shows of teeny bikinis and one-pieces with more cutouts than fabric. The one common factor is that most would require you to become BFFs with a very skilled waxer. I even found an article that classified bathing suits by age.

Oh, FFS1, people.

I know it’s intimidating to go out with half of our body showing – especially when there are others who are very comfortable with most of their body showing (and look lovely doing it!).  It has never been easy for me. (swim shorts = best swim invention ever)  When I was younger, I worried about the size of my butt and my thighs. Now, it’s gravity. (cruel, cruel gravity!)

It took a lot of re-framing (and the wisdom of age) to change my perspective. Unlike all of these fashion articles, I now treat my swimsuits like a vehicle to fun. If I want to get in the pool to cool off, I need one. If I want to go to the beach to hang with friends and surf the waves, I need one. If I want to go snorkeling and see the pretty fishies, I need one. It’s not about being on display for anyone, it’s about getting to the good times.

I guess putting that in print  or on the internet doesn’t make anyone money. Fashion magazine would be out of business if they admitted that we are not the sum of our clothes. Since the “experts’ couldn’t do something that I felt I could pass on to you, here’s my real world bathing suit shopping advice (my expertise: being a woman and shopping for 30+ years):

  1. Buy something pretty/in a color your like.  If not, black works!
  2. If you truly are having issues with how you look, ruching is a fabulous invention.
  3. Try to find something that isn’t wedgie-prone (unless, of course, that’s your thing)
  4. Look for a zipper pocket. My swim shorts have these, I never realized how useful it could be…
  5. If you aren’t about a bikini, try the tankini – merely for ease during a trip to the bathroom (some stores sell tops in extra-long, so it looks like a one-piece without getting fully naked in a public restroom when nature calls)
  6. Don’t be afraid to buy separates – even from different stores.  Black bottoms go with everything.
  7. Do not wait!  By July, most of the selection is gone.
  8. If you hate the way that it looks and ruching doesn’t help, try to imagine all of the fun you’ll be having when you’re wearing it. If anyone judges you, isn’t it really on them?  Who are they to decide what you get to wear and how you have fun?
  9. If your straps aren’t adjustable, check out The Strap Saver for a custom fit without sewing.

What are your favorite “real world” swimsuit shopping tips?

Happy warmer weather everyone!

 

1This is officially the first time I’ve cursed in this blog. It takes fashion sites and swimsuit season to do it!

two blue footed boobies, birds that are native to the Galapagos Islands

This Place is for the Birds So We’re Flying the Coup

The blog is going on Spring Break! Until we return, please enjoy these Blue-Footed Boobies. (The store, however, remains open and all orders will be shipped out on our regular schedule!)

A person holding a large weight with a single finger and the words don't let it weigh you down

Weight Has Nothing To Do With It

I have an amazing friend named Marie. She’s one of those people who adds a magic touch to everything. One (pitifully small but relatable) example: Marie baked chocolate chips cookies one day (before work, who DOES that?) and they were the best I’d ever had. Yummy and moist, yet crunchy…  It turns out that the recipe was from the back of the chocolate chip bag. Only she could take something we’ve all tried and turn it into a masterpiece.

Recently, Marie and I were talking about bras and she mentioned that she needed some new ones. I suggested meeting up at one of my favorite boutiques. The owner did a wonderful job fitting me so I knew she’d be able to help my friend. I was shocked at Marie’s reply:

“It’s hard to find the right bra and I’m not exactly tiny. I never feel comfortable in those stores.”

Wait, WHAT? When I asked a few more questions, she said that she felt that stores like that and beautiful lingerie were only for thin people.

This conversation sent me off into a mental tailspin. It’s not new that too many of us value ourselves based on a number on the scale. I’ve written about this before, but it’s been abstract or about the big things in life. Women not going after a job or love because they felt that they didn’t deserve it. Here was small, but important, direct cause and effect: I do not deserve pretty underthings because of my weight.  I was at a loss. My next thought was: we must fix this.

Maybe this is a chicken/egg problem? Maybe starting the day by caring for ourselves (possibly by putting on a pretty lingerie set) would teach us to appreciate ourselves. Small things like that may make a difference. After all, studies show that matching underwear can be very powerful.

Maybe some healing can come through perspective? We do not miss a loved one more because their weight was socially acceptable. We miss them because of the who they are and the kindness in their heart. Shouldn’t that kindness be most important? If we don’t decide what we value, who does?

I don’t know how to overcome this and show women that the content of their character is more important than weight. Anyone who has values that say otherwise can have at it. I’d rather spend my time with people with depth. Grrr. Who decides what number is right, anyway? It varies so much by era and culture that it’s arbitrary.

How can we be expected to function and be happy if we withhold the littlest things? And what happens if we need to be good to ourselves before we can feel worthy and not the other way around? If someone as smart and talented as Marie is falling into this trap, how many other women are as well?

I know I’ve raised more questions than answers. I had no idea how deep this went for some. I’m so lucky to have had a mother that taught me that I was worthy of things, regardless of my size. (especially pretty underwear!) I doesn’t mean I’m perfect or that I still don’t have things to learn about taking better care of myself. (more on that later…) I don’t know if repetition is the key to learning but I’m going to keep writing about this until we get it right.

As I wrote this blog, one phrase kept running through my mind from the movie Back to the Future.  Marty gets important information about his situation and refers to it as “heavy” (80s slang for “important” or “serious”). Doc Brown only understands the literal meaning of the word and consistently replies “Weight has nothing to do with it”. He’s right, though, weight has nothing to do with who we are and shouldn’t impact how we feel about ourselves.  Trust Doc Brown. After all, he invented the Flux Capacitor and that’s what makes time travel possible. He’s clearly a smart guy!

A woman holding up her hand to the double helix of DNA, balancing science and health for peace of mind

Decoding the Double-Helix

I’d be remiss in my quest for early detection if I didn’t use every avenue available to me. One of the newer ones (at least to me) is DNA testing. When I met Dana Donofree of AnaOno Intimates and she mentioned that she knew of a DNA study at the University of Pennsylvania that might match my background, I got excited. I knew that it might not tell me everything, but it might reveal something that mammograms and MRIs could not.

I reached out to the group and Dana was correct. It was a perfect match. They were going to test my DNA for 23 genes whose mutations are linked to a high breast cancer risk. My only cost was my time, gas, and tolls. (and they sold real Philly soft pretzels in the lobby of the hospital, so it was totally worth it)  

I filled out a large amount of paperwork about my family history. They wanted to know about births and deaths of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and children. They also asked detailed questions about my own health history. It felt like it went on forever, but it was worth it. I was accepted to the program.

It took 2 trips to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.The first was an initial counselling session and blood sample. The second was the results and a follow-up appointment with a doctor.

Being on the oncology wing of a hospital, once again, was difficult for me. I can’t help but think of my mom. I tried my best to ignore the fear and sadness that seemed to hang in the air. Instead, I concentrated on sending healing vibes to every woman in the waiting room. By participating in research I was going to keep more women out of this place, not just myself.

My first appointment was with Jessica Long, the genetics counselor. She took an extensive family history, which was mostly a repeat of the paperwork that I’d filled out. We talked about some things that couldn’t be put on a form, like memories of how myself and others had reacted to these family events.    

I felt the most important question was what I’d hoped to find out and how I thought it might influence my treatment in the future. I feel strongly that there’s a genetic link in my family (although I have no proof). My mom moved out of the house (and out of the state) when she was 21, so (I feel) it’s unlikely that it was environmental. If it’s a choice between amputation of my breasts and life, I choose life. However, the evidence would have to be compelling to take such a drastic step. I am not considering it now. If they found nothing, I would continue with the R.I.S.E. program at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

We also talked about family attitudes about DNA testing. My mother was reluctant, at first, to be tested. (My results would have more meaning if I knew her results.1) It involved many long talks and a lot of education. They spoke with a genetic counselor and it help them to understand the process and the meaning of the outcome.  My mom then agreed to the test. According to Jessica, this is not uncommon. Although we can’t see our DNA, it’s very personal. I was relieved that my parents had come over to the “knowledge is power!” camp.

My first trip to Penn was full of interest and hope but I dreaded that return visit. (yes, of course I still got a pretzel. 2, in fact. One for breakfast and one for the drive back. Did you really have to ask?)  It felt like every other breast cancer screening test that I’d taken – this is going to be the “smoking gun” that tells me that I’m next.

Except, it wasn’t. I met with Dr. Susan Domchek, who was very nice and explained my results clearly. They found nothing significant. An added bonus was that they didn’t find any markers for ovarian or colon cancer, either. My family history was still the most significant factor. I asked the same question that I always ask “What can I do?” The reply was the same as my doctor from MSK: “Live a healthy life, in moderation, exercise and try to lower your stress.”  

They offered to follow up with me annually about any new DNA-related discoveries. I agreed that they could continue to study me, as long as they wanted. Even though I don’t know if we learned anything yet, I’m so glad that I did this and grateful to Dana for connecting me with the program. This data could be very important to my future.

If you have a family history associated with a specific illness, I highly recommend researching genetic testing. It’s possible that some spit or blood can provide any additional information to improve your health. Researchers are constantly finding new applications for this data. Someday it could reveal a path to prevention, or a cure.  The National Society of Genetic Counselors might be a good place to start to speak to someone near you.

 

1A negative test result can be more difficult to understand than a positive result because what the result means depends in part on an individual’s family history of cancer and whether a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation has been identified in a blood relative.

If a close (first- or second-degree) relative of the tested person is known to carry a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, a negative test result is clear: it means that person does not carry the harmful mutation that is responsible for the familial cancer, and thus cannot pass it on to their children. Such a test result is called a true negative. A person with such a test result is currently thought to have the same risk of cancer as someone in the general population.

see https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet for more information.

an envelope with hearts falling out onto a wooden table with the text share your love

A Love Letter to a Friend for Valentine’s Day

On a day dedicated to love, I want to talk more about a our ability to love ourselves.  (get your mind out of the gutter – I’m talking self-esteem!  What you do in your own private time and whether you choose to do it with someone else is none of my business :) )  As I talked to my friends and we share our concerns, I’ve found that the way that I view them and the way that they see themselves are completely different.  It’s almost alarmingly different.

It’s so frustrating to see that we don’t know our true value and instead, dwell on flaws that may or may not exist and regardless – do not matter in the bigger picture. I think we would all see things so much differently if we could take a look at ourselves through a loved one’s eyes, even only for a few minutes. In a hope to change at least one perspective, here’s a love letter to one of my friends. I want to show her how things look from my view.

Dear Kitty,

We’ve known each other for almost 5 years now and I want you know how important you are to me. Our chance meeting was a pleasant surprise. Your support and friendship has helped make the past few years much easier (and fun!). One of the biggest surprises is that we’re so much alike. (although I have given up on General Hospital, Frisco will always live in my heart)  There’s really only one major difference that I can see, and that’s how each of us views you. In this short time, I’ve watched you put caveats on too many things that you do. My one wish for you is that you could see you how I do, so I thought I’d share it in a letter, with love, this Valentine’s Day.

You are beautiful. And before you say “oh, you have to say that”, you know I’m a person of facts, so bear with me. You have an amazing smile (and on this one – you know it.) It lights up your whole face – and the whole room. Your eyes show a kindness that feels rare these days. It’s backed up by a loyal friend who is always willing to listen (another rarity). Personally, I love your curls and your hand with makeup. I’m not quite so skilled. You always look so…  put together. I can usually barely manage jeans and a t-shirt! It’s a sign of the effort that you take with how you present yourself.  Who you are and how much you care shines through.  It makes a lovely picture.

It’s not all about how you look. Your accomplishments are many. You live in one of the biggest cities in the country and make your way as an independent woman. You have traveled the world and explored new avenues. Few things hold you back when there’s something that you want to do. You’re always telling me “oh, I went here this weekend” or “I have this party to go to”. You work hard at your job and I have a feeling are a bit of a perfectionist in that area!  You’re brave, strong, and go after what you want.

Your ability to take care of your health is second to none. You say “I have to” but no, you don’t. Most people wouldn’t go to the gym 5+ days a week. They’d live with the aches and pains because, in the short run, it might be easier. Humans are big on the path of least resistance. I don’t think you’ve ever glanced at that road. What you do takes determination and perseverance.

I know you’ve had many losses in your life. Some around you haven’t treated you like you’ve deserved and I’m very sorry for that. If it’s caused you to put up walls to protect yourself, I understand. My only worry is that the right people are missing out on an amazing woman because of this.

I also know that sometimes you get distracted by numbers, as if they could tell the story of who you are. That’s so… one-dimensional. If you could see what I see, you’d know that anyone who likes to count is too busy looking down to the real you.  They don’t deserve to have you in their life.

So, Ms. Karryall, this is the you that I see. That I love. That I cherish as a friend. A smart, beautiful, fun, capable, independent woman. I hope that you can reconcile this with who you think that you are because you may be missing out on some amazing stuff that’s right in the mirror.

Love,

Shari

While this love letter was directed at one person, it was really written to everyone who struggles. Chances are you could swap “take care of your health” with “take care of important thing in your life” or “traveled the world” with “conquered awesome activity” and it would describe you or someone you know. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things that we do or when we do, we shrug it off. YOU. ARE. AWESOME. If you’re not sure, ask your BFF.  They’ll tell you all about it.

Is there someone who you love that doesn’t see themselves as you do? Why don’t you tell them about it on this Valentine’s Day!

The Other Strap Saver

The Other Strap Saver

.The Other Strap Saver - a school projectLast week while Beth and I were at Made in Monmouth, I received a media email alert based on “Strap Saver”. My first thought was “Wow, who’s writing about us now?”. After a glance, my mind quickly changed to “oh no… what’s THIS?” The link led me to a twitter account @strapsaver_ with a logo that included a bra and a tweet saying “Fix your life, one strap at a time.” The product was for retrieving rogue bra straps.

I spent the next 15 minutes chewing my bottom lip and wondering what to do about it. Was someone using our product name? Didn’t they look these things up? Would I need a cease and desist? If so, how was I going to manage THAT?

To say I’m protective of this company is an understatement. I’ve worked hard to build what we have.  I know I’ve taken the right measures to keep it safe, but not everything is within my control. Earlier this year, I was concerned about competition from a 3M product called the “Hold Tight Strap Clip.” Despite our trademark and provisional patent, I worried about the same potential problem – would I have to protect against someone undermining our brand? (in this case, it was more trademark than patent)

I decided to read the tweet again for insights – the hashtag was #echsinnovationexpo and the other Twitter account mentioned was for a Mrs. Something-or-Other. Slowly, the gears in my brain started turning again. It’s a high school. The Mrs. is their teacher. This product is not being produced. I think. Ok. Phew. Back to Made in Monmouth. Let’s sell some Strap Savers!

I went home that night and talked about it with Marc. We had a quick laugh over my tendency to jump to conclusions and tried to figure out what to do next. One part of owning a trademark is using it in business and another is defending it. If there was evidence that I knew about this and let it go, it wouldn’t look good for me if there was a future problem – even if this was just a high school project.

I decided to follow them on Twitter and headed to their website to contact them. I wrote to them (what I hoped was) a very nice note saying that I thought their product idea was cute but explained about ownership of the trademark to The Strap Saver. It was not a problem if this was for a class project, but if they were going to sell it, they would need to change the name. I even tossed in about needing to defend the trademark so that hopefully I didn’t sound like a crazy adult going after a school project. (file this under “things I’d never thought I’d have to do as a business owner”)

I heard back from them right away – explaining that yes, this is just a project and no, they didn’t have plans to produce it. My favorite was the closing line: “We’re all just a bunch of 14 year olds just trying to get by.” All I could think was “I hear you!”

The interaction did lead to something helpful for them. They needed an expert in the field to answer some questions. So far, no one had gotten back to them! I gave them some answers about their project and my thoughts on existing solutions to slipping straps.

While my reaction to the situation still makes me smile, I’m very impressed with these young women.  They put together a great website and a very funny video. The branding is clear and the logo is cute – which I think was their goal. I think it’s important that teachers are having students do this type of work while they are still in high school. (also – maybe include a section on researching intellectual property?) Young adults will start to understand the process of developing their own ideas into viable products. This could have been Beth or I a *cough* few *cough* years ago, if we had all of the opportunities of the internet at that age.

Their project is due today.  I hope they get an A.

Be Sneaky and give great gifts this holiday season

Give Gifts Like a Ninja

Be Sneaky and give great gifts this holiday seasonThe art of the ninja lies in the power of surprise. Their ability to hide is their greatest strength. A considerate gift-giver uses their knowledge to sneak away and find the perfect package for their loved ones – and then stash it until the big reveal. The joy lies in the unexpected (unless it’s 16th Century Japan and you’re the target, not the ninja). It’s these characteristics that inexplicably tie these things together. (hey, it’s called poetic license, deal with it.)

The holidays are fast approaching (doing their own sneak attack) and we’re all preparing for our ninja gift-giving roles. It’s the annual attempt to show our loved ones how well we know them by finding the perfect present. Let us help you out! The Strap Saver is ideal for your favorite frugal fashionista, bathing beauty, gym junkie, petite pal, “gifted” girl, and couture cutie – anyone who wants the perfect fit for their strappy clothes. We offer 4 sizes, 3 colors, and 2 strengths, so we can shorten almost any strap. (Purchase The Strap Saver here!) If you know their bra size, contact us and we can help you find their likely strap size. If we’re wrong, they can exchange it!

If you’re unsure of your friend/parent/sibling/significant other/favorite celebrity’s size, we also offer gift certificates. They are delivered to your inbox immediately, so they are also perfect for the last-minute shopper.  (although our new shopping cart doesn’t offer the prettiest email, so if you’d like us to send you something nicer, please contact us with your order number and we’ll email you print-worthy gift certificate with your codes)

We wish you the best of luck in all of your stealthy gift-giving pursuits!

Habana, Cuba

Bras Around The World: Cuba

A beautiful street corner in Habana, Cuba

One of my dreams in life is to set foot on every continent and now that I’m obsessed with bras, I plan on checking out lingerie stores as I go. If I find anything interesting, I’ll report back in our new series “Bras Around the World”. Here’s the first part!

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Cuba. We took a tour that started in the center of the country in Camagüey and ended up in Habana (and it’s Habana, not Havana – like Rome vs Roma. Who knew? Apparently the Cubans…). Cuba is a beautiful country with wonderful, friendly people. It was amazing to get a view that most Americans have never seen. I could go on and on about it, but this is about the bras (if you want more, comment below and I’ll add more about what we saw).

To start, material things aren’t plentiful in Cuba* due to the US embargo and the collapse of their major trading partner, the Soviet Union, in 1991. Given the potentially limited options, I wanted to understand their bra culture. I was able to check out two different options, a department store in Camagüey, a the third largest city located in the center of the country, and a lingerie store in Habana, the capital.

bras behind a counter in a department store in Cuba

Bras behind the counter in Camagüey

The most surprising thing about the department store in Camagüey was that all of the bras were behind the counter. I wasn’t able to touch them (and I didn’t want to bother anyone since I wasn’t going to buy). The selection was limited in size, color and style compared to what I’m used to seeing, but the store wasn’t that large.

The bras ranged from $4.50CUC-$8CUC – which equals approximately $4.50-8USD. It might not sound like a lot to many of us, but Cuban salaries are low. Although the official average salary is $25/month, a recent survey says that they make $50-$200/month. That means a single bra is .2-.7% of a Cuban’s income in this store.

Lingerie store in Habana, Cuba

Lingerie store in the capital

I was curious if I would find something different in the capital. Giselle, our tour guide, warned me that they don’t really have many “lingerie stores” like they do in the US but one had recently opened in Galerias de Paseo, an upscale shopping center across the street from our hotel.  Giselle was very sweet and offered to translate for me. I also brought samples of The Strap Saver with me. I was curious what they would think of our product.

My first impression of Boutique Diamante was that it looked like a mini-Victoria’s Secret. It was bright, colorful, and full of women eager to find their next bra. The bras were more expensive here than Camagüey, $8-$20, but they were prettier as well. The store also had a much larger selection.

The friendly managers of Boutique Diamante

The friendly managers of Boutique Diamante

The best part of going to the store was what I learned by talking to managers. Yes, as I suspected, bras are not easy to find in Cuba and they are very expensive. Despite the expense, the store still managed to do a brisk business. The inventory in that particular store was imported from Panama. The women were interested in The Strap Saver and thought it was a great idea – once I was able to demonstrate it. (I speak French, not Spanish!)

Giselle, our tour guide

Giselle, our tour guide (yikes, I’m tall)

We started to talk about size and durability and that’s where the conversation was the most interesting. The bras that they have in Cuba don’t seem to be made as well, especially the ones imported from China.

They also do not have the variety of sizes that we do. The store did not carry anything larger than a size D. Wait, WHAT? I explained that the American woman’s average size was a 36C and it’s not uncommon to find bras through a size H. They were very surprised.

I asked what a woman does who is larger than a D (I’m a 32DD!) and they replied that she either makes do with what she has or hopes that she knows someone from the States. Either way, we all agreed that it’s very expensive to be a woman in Cuba. Unlike food, housing and education, bras are not subsidized by the government.

Marc and I overlooking Parque José Marti in Cienfuegos (it was HOT!)

Marc and I overlooking Parque José Marti in Cienfuegos (it was HOT!)

I learned so much about people, life and bras while we were in Cuba. Because they have access to so little, they waste little. Much is repurposed and I admire that, even if it’s done out of necessity. I hope that they do not lose that once the embargo is lifted and they have access to more.  Instead, I hope that we can learn from their ingenuity and creative problem solving skills.

Also – there was one way that I found that the Cuban women are unified in their bra culture that’s “better” that American women are not – I was told that they ALWAYS hand wash. :)

*this is not a comment on either the US or Cuban governments, it’s more about the way that things are.

The Strap Saver Extra Strength

Saving the Straps on a Sports Bra

The Strap Saver Extra StrengthDisclaimer: This review was written by a family friend who was given the product for free. All opinions are the writer’s own. The writer is also really smart and potentially a future President of the USA – I’m hoping some free product might put me on the short list to get a tour of the Oval Office. Yes, I know this may be considered pay-for-play, but calm down everyone, I’m not asking to be made the official strap shortener of the USA, it’s just a tour.

The Strap Saver 1” is not only for women who wear larger cup sizes, but also people who prefer sports bras.  I wear sports bras regularly, whether I’m working out or just laying around the house all day.  Because of this, they get stretched out and wear down quickly.  And sports bras almost never come with adjustable straps- it just is what it is.  When the straps don’t fit right, the bra doesn’t compress and support like it’s supposed to.  The Strap Saver is a fantastic idea that could potentially fix this issue for good so I wouldn’t have to keep throwing out sports bras because the straps were too stretched out to support my chest.

7e583d5bf983433abc1cc77caa3d34c1The Strap Savers come in a tiny bag, small enough to fit in your pocket but big enough to not lose.  The Strap Savers themselves are about the width of a quarter and made of a durable metal, resistant to bending or breaking.  They are metallic and blend in easily with any color straps.  For a bra that already has sliders, you only need one for each strap.  For a bra without, you can still use the Strap Saver by adding an extra one on each side and following the instructions for a bra without sliders.

I didn’t have much luck when trying it out on sports bras with wider straps because they were also thicker*, but on the thinner-strapped sports bras I have, The Strap Saver worked wonderfully.  On a sports bra, it is a little difficult to get on the first time, but the bag comes with instructions to aid you.  Once you get it the first time, it becomes much easier to get on and off.  You can leave it on one bra to fix the strap problem permanently, or you can take it on and off as you need and use it on all different bras.

afb0d2b1f49843929c117b7e8f1c7c62It is lightweight and smooth, so it doesn’t add any extra bulk to your bra strap.  Once it is on the bra, you can’t even feel it there.  It lifts up the front of the bra, enhancing the amount of compression the sports bra provides and ensuring that the straps stay up and in place. Once you put a shirt over the bra, there is no bulge or impression of the Strap Saver visible through your clothing.  It is an invisible, bra-saving solution.

 

*We’re aware of this issue and have sent our engineers off to find a solution!

A woman hugging herself with the text "how do you look at yourself"

When Will You Embrace You?

Learn to embrace yourselfWhen Beth and I were at the Monmouth County Fair, we met Darlene Campbell of Campbell and Kate. They make custom-sized button-down tops for large-busted women. After I stopped kvelling over the beautiful shirts, the topic turned to our blogs (this one and hers, Hourglassy) and our mutual passion for spreading the word about body positivity. She introduced me to the documentary Embrace. It’s about the worldwide culture of body loathing and shaming and how it’s reached epic proportions – and why it needs to be stopped.

As soon as we watched the trailer, we knew we had to be part of this. Check it out: (it’s only 2 minutes!)

Did it resonate with you like it did with me? I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. “This body of mine, it’s not an ornament, it’s a vehicle.”

How would you describe your body? Right now, I think I’d say that mine was ok – but a few years ago, I might’ve said exactly what Taryn said. I hated my body. I hated that my clothes didn’t fit. I hated that I’d had big boobs since I was 11 and, as a result, my posture was (is?) terrible.  I was frustrated with my migraines, lack of coordination and overall… unremarkable appearance, except for my height. Even my mousey brown hair started to turn gray at 25.

About 5 years ago, I made a concentrated effort to be kinder to myself. (If I wasn’t going to do it, who was?) I don’t know what made me change my mind (could be all the therapy…) but I do know things changed after. Life became a little easier.  Instead of hating my clothes, I sought out ones that fit – even though it took extra effort (clothes come in tall, who knew!). I ran a 5K (v e r y  s l o w l y). I took up yoga (which I have since dropped and I miss, but that’s another blog). Things aren’t perfect, but they are better.

But, until I watched this trailer, I never considered that this is the body that graduated from a 5-year program in 4 years from Syracuse University. Or that moved to NYC without a job and became a success. This is the body that hugged my mom and brought her comfort. My body helped to start this company and will hopefully someday help women like her with Jill’s Wish*. I need to celebrate that. Someday, I plan for this body to bring change to this world.  If you’re reading these words and maybe wondering about how you treat yourself, maybe I already am.

I don’t know why it’s so much easier to hate our bodies or why we say things about ourselves to ourselves that we would never say to another human being. We call ourselves all kinds of nasty, hurtful names. If someone said something like that to our friend, we’d never stand for it. Yet, so many women live with awful, negative self-talk.

I can barely digest the idea that 91% of women hate their bodies. Even if that’s an exaggeration, isn’t that a lot of wasted energy when we’re all so beautiful? And even if we weren’t (but we are), we’re so much more than our looks.

I haven’t seen the full film yet but I’m anxious to see the answers that she finds. Is there a way to fix this? How would we feel if we woke up every day loving ourselves instead? How much brighter and kinder would the world be? What if we didn’t pass this on to our daughters? What would that mean for our future?

I have so many questions – ones that I hope are answered in this documentary. After all, this is our life, aren’t we entitled to control how we feel about our own bodies?  Why do we give that gift to others?

There are many screenings of Embrace around the country, find one near you. Bring your sisters and your daughters – it appears that we have a lot to learn.

What would you do with all of that extra energy if you weren’t worried about your appearance?

*As of 11/30/2017, 5% of all sales are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.