Archive for regular-sized women

Puberty is a Rip-Off
In which I fish for compliments and ponder the struggles of being short.

So here’s a question for you…

At what age, exactly, did you first realize that you weren’t going to be beautiful?

Like, maybe you were okay looking, but when did you realize that you were never gonna be heart-stoppingly life-destroyingly gorgeous?

For me, it was a very specific moment. I was at the orthodontist in eighth grade, and he was looking at an x-ray of my hand to determine how much longer it would be until I could get jaw surgery.

“Well, you see,” he said to my mother, “there’s no real space left between the bones of her hand, so she’s pretty much done growing.”

And that was the moment when I realized that this was where I peaked.

See, I’m a pretty short person, and I don’t mean the tiny, fae-like sort of short. I’m more like the…stubby, hobbit kind of short. I’ve been short since day one. I was a short baby probably. I started out short, and whenever I grew, the other kids grew proportionately, so it’s just been a lifetime of shortness.

This has only been exacerbated by my twin brother, who is a giant. He has always been a giant. He is, currently, over a foot taller than me. They literally thought he was going to eat me in the womb. It’s probably the biggest injustice of my life.

And the real issue is that, when you’re a short kid and your behemoth of a brother is making fun of your shortness, adults always say the same thing: “She’ll grow.”

They talk about how they were short as a kid, or they throw around fancy words like “growth spurt” and “growing pains,” and it all adds up to that fact that I entered into puberty with certain expectations. There I was—little fifth grade worm Rachel—waiting to enter a pubescent chrysalis stage and bust out of it as sexy grown-up butterfly Rachel.

Now, I knew that there would be a given amount of acne, and I understood the whole business with a period, but those were all pitched to me as being mere steps in the process to becoming Adult! Rachel.

So in my imagination, puberty was a lot more transformative than it actually turned out to be. It would straighten my nose, fluff my boobs, plump my lips, and make me taller. And by the end I would be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, because that’s what adulthood is, right?

Now imagine all of those expectations, all of those hopes and dreams, and they’re all smushed by some orthodontist telling you that your height had peaked at five-foot-two.

Okay, five foot one.

People act as if puberty is very cut and dry, start to finish. There’s kid you, there’s teenage you, and there’s adult you. So I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the shock of a lifetime when I realized one day that, hey, adult me is already here, and she still has acne!

I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the disappointing thought that this is as good as it gets.

Please don’t misunderstand. I get by. I have no real issues with how I look. I actually think I’m pretty goshdarn cute. It’s just that I was all set to become a ten, and instead I settled into, like, a six and a half (in the right light). You know, all right, but nothing really special.

And that could have been the sad end to my puberty tale except that there’s a little secret nobody tells you in middle school—

It’s hard work to be pretty.

Being pretty takes time and determination and make-up and spanx. It requires a whole lot of effort. Pretty girls don’t just wake up that way. Well, okay, maybe some lucky jerks do, but most people don’t just wake up one day and find out they’ve become gorgeous (barring plastic surgery). Pretty is something you have to cultivate. Famous people and super models look that way partially because of fortunate genetics, but also because someone is paid a lot of money to spend two hours putting make-up on them.

And the thing is, you can approach this in a few ways:

  1. You can say, “screw it. Screw everything. Screw Tyra Banks and her stupid tv show.”
  2. You can say, “I have control over how I look, and I am able to make myself prettier if I want to.”
  3. Or you can embrace a cautious mix of numbers 1 and 2.

Now, I’m never gonna be on America’s Next Top Model. (Their minimum height requirement is 5’7, the fascists.) But I also sure as hell don’t look the same as I did at age thirteen. Even if I haven’t grown in height, I’ve learned about make-up, I’ve figured out how to dress myself better (thirteen-year-old Rachel really liked cargo pants) and I’ve taken plenty of bombin’ selfies. Turns out it is possible to take the bum deal that puberty gave you and make your own gorgeous out of it. And whether that means t-shirts and yoga pants or sundresses and sandals, we’re allowed to change ourselves into any version we like.

And, just a heads up, at six-foot-three my brother is well within the requirements of America’s Next Top Model, so that’s something for him to start working towards.


Rachel Sudbeck


Thanks to all the real girls


It’s that time of year when—for better or worse, for the right reasons or the wrong ones—Americans think about what they are thankful for.

I am thankful for so many things—my devoted husband, my loving family, my incredibly generous friends, and the fact that we’re all currently healthy and happy and gainfully employed.

But I’m also happy that things appear to be changing in terms of the way women are depicted in the media. Yes, people like Kim Kardashian are a reminder that things will never be perfect, but in a year when not-skinny Lena Dunham stars—sometimes half-dressed—on Showtime’s Girls…

and curvy Mindy Kaling stars on her own sitcom wearing super hot skintight dresses …

and 49-year-old Helen Hunt (who thankfully looks her age) stars in The Sessions—many times completely naked…

…there can be no doubt that our ideas about beauty are expanding.

And there’s no way I am not extremely thankful about that.

Back in my day . . . actresses had curly hair and a little meat on their bones.

Elizabeth Shue has a new movie coming out. Dave and I caught the preview at the multiplex over the weekend, and it made us start talking about all the great movies she was in when we were young . . .

 . . . Adventures in BabysittingRadio Inside, Leaving Las Vegas, and, of course, her breakout film, The Karate Kid.

Dave and I have both loved Shue ever since she was in The Karate Kid (the 1984 original), and one of the reasons we both liked her in that movie was because she looked like a real person.

In that movie, Shue had actual curves and curly hair and chipmunk cheeks and thick eyebrows. And she didn’t wear clothes that left nothing to the imagination or so much makeup that you couldn’t see her gorgeous freckles.

I’m not saying Shue wasn’t in tip-top shape because she was, which is obvious when she appears in her bathing suit during a scene at the beach, though it’s notable that it was a one-piece.

But I am saying you would never see someone who looked like such a down-to-earth girl-next-door in a film about two high schoolers today.

Instead, nearly every young woman—save some of the women on TV’s groundbreaking Glee—you do see playing a high schooler in film or television today has stick straight hair, a super skinny bod, a tiny nose, sculpted cheeks, shaped brows, plump lips, and movie star makeup.

And if we ever want to change our unhealthy obsession with thinness and perfection—especially among young girls—then we’ve got to go back to letting our female actors look like real people.

I Will Not Diet loooooooooooooves The Go-Go’s

I Will Not Diet is on vacation today, but I don’t want to leave you empty-handed, so I’m included The Go-Go’s original video for “Vacation” below.

Note that these women are all different sizes and shapes and they all have different looks. Also, none of them are flawless or perfect, but rather they are all beautiful because they look real.

That’s why we loved them. And the ’80s.


You’ve come a long way, baby!

197 pounds
Unless you are living in a cave, you know that Chelsea Clinton got married this weekend. Supposedly, the wedding cost something like six gazillion dollars. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Some people are up in arms about how much the thing cost, but at least the Clintons are doing their part to stimulate the economy, right?

What does interest me about the event is Hillary.

Specifically Hillary’s wardrobe choices.

On Friday night, the Clintons hosted a “private pre-wedding party” in lieu of a rehearsal dinner presumably so Chelsea and Marc could hang with younger and cooler people than her parents’ Washington friends, and what Hillary wore to that party truly astonishes me. Here is a photo from that night:

I mean, this is a woman KNOWN for her bad pantsuits:

sunny yellow pantsuits . . .

electric blue pantsuits . . .

tangerine orange pantsuits . . .

Pantsuits, pantsuits, pantsuits!

And on top of that, mother-of-the-bride outfits are notorious for being unflattering—there usually just a pantsuit in which the pants have been turned into a long skirt like this . . .

This is vintage Hillary. So you would think Hillary would have spent last weekend in one of those things, right?

After all, it takes a really hip lady to go to her daughter’s wedding in anything remotely fashion forward, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that the Secretary of State is not hip.

Smart, yes. Hip, no.

So why then did HRC get it so incredibly right this past weekend?

I really have no idea. Maybe she finally hired a good stylist. Maybe she’s feeling more relaxed now that she’s not constantly trying to convince everyone why she should be president.

No matter what the reason, you have to admit it: Hill looked good!

In fact, she looked so good that the rest of us—especially those of us who have average-size bodies (read size 10-16)—could stand to learn something from her. Let’s examine her Friday night outfit a bit more closely, shall we. . .

1) First and foremost, Hill is doing something I’ve probably never seen her do before: She’s showing cleavage! Cleavage—if you’ve got it—is a middle-aged woman’s best friend. (And if you don’t, you probably have great arms and shoulders you can show off instead.) By showing just a little decollatage, Hillary does an expert job of drawing our eye to what is probably the sexiest part of her body.

(As an aside, I can’t believe I just used the word “sexy” in the same sentence with a reference to Hillary Clinton.)

2) Her dress is fitted right below her bust line—at the smallest part of her waist. This choice serves the purpose of drawing attention to Hillary’s defined waistline, which until now I didn’t even know she had. When you look at this picture . . .

. . . it’s really obvious how much a fitted waist can do to flatter your body. My God, Hillary Clinton has a body! And she’s rocking that dress. Who would’ve thunk it?

3) She hides her upper arms. I don’t want to say that all middle-aged woman or all curvy women should never show their upper arms because I don’t believe that’s the case. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen a real-sized woman wear tiny little spaghetti straps and look gorgeous. But I do think that when ALL eyes are going to be on you—which is the case if you’re the mother of the bride OR the secretary of state—it’s wise to hide the part of your body that often doesn’t look as fit as it used to after a certain age.

4) She’s not afraid of color. What’s the go-to color for most women? Black. The black dress is so popular, we even have a name for it: the little black dress. I like a black dress as much as the next woman, but if you rely on it every time, it can get boring. Sure, it works for a less glamourous event—like a funeral or a business meeting or even a friend’s wedding. But at an event when you are the star attraction—or one of them, in Hillary’s case—color is always better. I used to be afraid of color, but I’ve embraced it over the past few years, and I notice that EVERY SINGLE TIME I wear a colorful dress, I get a compliment, many times from men. Trust me, this is a fail-safe.

5) She’s embracing the drama. If you think about it, this is a risky dress—that’s a lot of fabric she’s wearing, and it would be hard to pull off if you didn’t fully believe it. But not only does she believe in it, she looks happy to be wearing it. And her happiness is contagious. Look at Bill in this picture . . .

He couldn’t look more proud. Sure, his pride is probably mostly about his daughter, but if he didn’t have a happy, confident woman on his arm, he would not likely look this moved.

I can actually see more of a resemblance between Hillary and Chelsea in this photo than I ever have before. And I don’t think that’s because they don’t normally look alike. It’s because Chelsea is almost always smiling, and her mother doesn’t do it enough. If only we had see more of this Hillary during the election.

6) She’s wearing real heels. Have you ever seen a woman wearing a sensible pair of shoes with a fancy dress? It just doesn’t work. Sure, if you have to walk ten blocks to work, by all means, wear sensible shoes. But when you’re being picked up in a bulletproof van and escorted to your destination by the Secret Service, you’ve got NO excuse for not wearing some kick-ass shoes. Hillary shoes aren’t really kick ass, but they are the first real heels I have ever seen her wearing, so I’m thrilled by her footwear.

7) She’s wearing her hair down. So many women—at formal events especially—go for the updo, and it’s a hard look to pull off, especially if you’re not used to it. But there’s just something about a woman with her hair flowing that looks sexy at any age—think Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep, two women who repeatedly seem to defy their years.

8) She doesn’t have helmut head. As we all know, women of a certain age often fall back on helmut hair, and Hill has been doing that for Y E A R S (see pantsuit pictures above), ever since Bill first took office back in the early ’90s. But for some reason, she’s let it grow a little bit lately. Not only is it the longest I’ve seen it in years, it’s also the most natural. She looks carefree and, again, even sexy. (I even like the blonde mixed with the gray because it makes her look sunny and optimistic without making it look like she’s trying to hide her age.)

9) Finally, she broke out the statement jewelry. If you’re going to an event this big and you’re going to garner this much attention, your strand of pearls won’t cut it. You’ve got to pull out the big guns and either borrow someone else’s expensive jewelry or shell out the cash for some good costume pieces.

I never in my life thought I’d be using Hillary Clinton as an example of how regular-sized women should dress, but here I am doing just that. Let this be a lesson to all of us—it’s never too late to learn how to look fabulous.

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