Archive for August 31, 2010

Eat, eat, eat, and then eat some more

196 pounds

As much as I hate to admit it, classes started yesterday here at WKU, and that means I have to go back to a much more challenging schedule . . . getting up earlier than I want, showering every single day (can you imagine?!), squeezing in exercise whenever I can, and—most importantly—eating on the go.

To be honest, it’s a recipe for disaster.

And, because of all the stress, I can’t help but find myself longing for the quick fixes—fast food, hi-cal carryout, frozen pizza and other meals that come in a box.

But if I start eating like that, we all know what will happen—my body will retaliate, and the scale will go up, up, up, and up some more

No, I can’t give into those very strong desires, and there are two ways I’m avoiding doing that.

The first way I’m overcoming my stress-fueled desire for junk food is a trick you can read all about in my “Nothing beats a home-cooked meal” post. Suffice it to say that when school is in session, Dave and I try to cook all of our meals for the work week over the weekend. We have to be at school Monday through Thursday this semester, so we each cook one meal on Sunday and make enough that those two meals will last us four days.

The second way I avoid junk food when I’m this busy is by making sure that I eat healthy snacks all day long–a snack between breakfast and lunch, another between lunch and dinner, and then sometimes a little one later in the evening.

These snacks don’t have to take much preparation either—anyone can put a piece of cheese and and an apple in a bag or grab a container of yogurt—but I love making gourmet snacks so they are even more appealing. Last night I spent ten minutes making homemade salsa (tomatoes, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, lime, and red vinegar), and I ate a half-cup of that this afternoon with a few tortilla chips this afternoon. (The homemade salsa makes store-bought salsa taste about as appealing as motor oil.)

I’ve also been known to repeatedly make cottage cheese dip to eat with raw vegetables like red pepper, cucumber, and carrots. (If you’re interested, the cottage cheese dip—modified from Moosewood—is made by simply blending cottage cheese, feta, dill, and green onion.)

The result of eating little snacks like these all day—about every two hours—is that you’ll never really feel hungry and, therefore, find it much easier to avoid unhealthy temptations. I put this theory into practice today, and by the time I left school, I didn’t have any desire to pig out, which is usually the case with me after a long day at work.

By no means am I the first person to advocate this technique—we’ve all heard of it before—but it really does work. And it’s especially effective when you’re dealing with an unusual amount of on-the-job stress and fatigue.

Step #1: Like yourself a.k.a. what makes me different from everybody else

196 pounds

I realized the other day that there are some basic things I have yet to say on this blog, so I’m going to try to say them over the next few weeks.

When I started this blog, I began by slowly outlining my belief system and the ways which we can all lose weight without dieting. But I only got through five of those steps (which are are still included below right—scroll WAY down—under the title, “How to Lose Weight without Dieting”), but I need to get back to those steps and finish them.

Tonight I want to start filling in those gaps by addressing a question that has been posed to me lately: how is this blog—and my approach—different than any other program that proposes a change in lifestyle?

1) First of all, I want to say that in many ways my approach is NOT drastically different than any weight loss program that advocates lifestyle change. The way to lose weight and keep it off is by making a lifelong commitment to being healthy—yes, that includes exercising and eating healthy foods, but it also means doing those things in moderation AND giving into indulgence from time to time.

2) But, more importantly, the number one thing I advocate on this blog is accepting ourselves the way we are. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I believe we have to like the way we look before we can even begin to be healthy and/or lose weight. And that’s what makes this blog and my approach different from everyone else out there.

Because I believe that most “healthy living” programs are predicated on the belief that if people find themselves unattractive, they will want to change their lives, they will want to diet.

And I just don’t buy it.

(On top of that, I think it’s an ugly kind of fear-mongering.)

I believe, instead, that only people who truly like themselves can make that change.

So if you haven’t yet figured out what you like about the way you look, it’s time for you to do us all a favor: put on your favorite outfit, go look in the mirror, and find something to like.

I know that if you look hard enough, you can do it.

You are what you eat

196 pounds

There is only one official month of summer left, and as a result, I’m noticing that there is less and less food in my CSA basket each week.

If you don’t know, CSA stands for “community shared agriculture,” and members of a CSA “invest” in a local organic farm every spring and then get “shares” of the farm’s produce every week during the season—for us, that means from May to November. The cost for our CSA is $400 for six months if you pay all of it up front, which works out to be a little more than $15 a week. Not a bad deal for a good-sized basket of organic produce.

In May the basket which holds our share is pretty light—filled about halfway—but by June its overflowing with the best vegetables and fruit I’ve ever eaten in my life. At that point, there is usually too much to fit in one basket, and we have to carry watermelons under our arms like footballs from the pick-up spot. We get everything from beets to blueberries, and we love it all.

But now we’re in a slow period. Most of the summer produce has been harvested, and as we wait for the fall harvest to come in, our baskets are again only half-full. And when our share arrived tonight, I thought about the fact that even half-full, the CSA is still an amazing deal.

And this makes me wonder—if it’s such a good deal, why is it so hard to get other people to join? We’ve told all of our friends about it, but we only know five people who are doing the CSA with us this year.

Some people complain about the fact that we don’t know what we’ll get every week, but for us, that’s half the fun. The first time we got beets last year, we had no idea what to do with them. By now we know that there is nothing better than tangy beet risotto or warm roasted beets on top of a bed of mixed greens and goat cheese.

Still, most people we know don’t seem interested, which makes me marvel at our inability to adapt.

We all know that organic food is the best thing we can eat—the only problem is that it’s expensive, a problem easily solved by joining a CSA. As I said in my last post, scientists have now proven that chemicals and pesticides make us gain weight, so I’m not sure why anyone would pass up the opportunity to get pesticide-free produce for such a cut rate.

And I’ve witnessed a similar problem with locally grown, grass-fed beef.

A friend of ours—who is also in the CSA—decided to raise his own steer a few years back. We would go over to his house for dinner parties and cookouts and see the handsome animal in his backyard, feasting on acres of gorgeous Kentucky grass and flirting with the neighbor’s cattle. After a few years, it was time for the steer to deliver on his promise of providing our friend—and many others (since it was too much for one person to eat)—with a winter’s worth of beef. Our friend invited a group of us over for one of the first meals, and I was surprised to see that another friend of ours—a meat-eater, in fact—turned his nose up at the offering.

“I don’t eat anything I’ve met,” he said, but I didn’t get it.

This was a person I knew had eaten frozen dinners for lunch—meals with mystery meat and dehydrated vegetables—but he was unwilling to eat locally raised, grass-fed beef?

Was I missing something?

The problem is that we don’t like to think about where our food comes from. We just like it to appear on our plates—in edible form—like magic. (That might be why eating out is so appealing.) But the truth is that juicy hamburger you cooked on the grill last 4th of July came from a cow. And, unfortunately, it probably didn’t come from a local cow or a cow who eats grass and it almost certainly didn’t have as long and happy a life as our friend’s cow.

The same could be said about our CSA produce. Yes, sometimes the corn shows up with a few worms, and more often than not, the carrots are always dirty. That’s because corn grows in a field, and carrots come out of the ground. And once we realize that, maybe we won’t be so obsessed with our food looking so neat and clean. Because, in the end, that neat, clean package of ground beef and that beautiful winter tomato probably come with chemicals and fillers that will make you feel pretty dirty in the long run.

"Smothered in Delicious Yellow Chemical Sludge"


Thora Birch as Enid in Ghost World, 2001

198 pounds

A few weeks ago I went to see The Kids Are All Right, an amazing movie, which just happened to be playing at a massive thirty-screen multiplex that had recently changed ownership.

The first sign that things were different occurred when we pulled up, and there was no longer a sign of any kind telling people what was located inside the building. Instead, there was just a piece of large poster board with the name of the theatre painted on it in thick black paint. Now remember this is a thirty-screen multiplex, and it just had this poster stuck to the front.

I knew immediately something wasn’t right.

When we were waiting in line at the ticket booth, we also noticed that there were a half dozen employees flitting around with artificial smiles on their faces, asking customers if they needed help with anything. It felt like we had died and gone to Stepford.

But the weirdest thing of all happened when we got to the front of the line.

Every single person who bought a ticket was rewarded with a coupon for a free medium-sized drink and a small bag of popcorn. At first I thought these coupons were being passed out at random, but soon it became obvious that EVERYONE was getting them.

Initially I was excited about our luck—I almost never splurge on popcorn or drinks at the movie theatre. Not because I don’t want them, but because they cost so darned much.

(If you haven’t been to the theatre in a while, you should know that you can no longer get a small drink and a small popcorn for less than ten dollars, which means this theatre was passing out the equivalent of ten bucks to every viewer.)

But not long after I got my free snacks, I started to feel differently about them.

As we walked to Screen 22, I looked around and considered all of the other moviegoers. Some were big and some were small, some were pretty and some were not, but despite our many differences, we all had the exact same thing in our hands: a small popcorn and a medium drink. It felt like the theatre owners were using some kind of mind control to make us all do the same thing. It felt like we were pod people. And suddenly my free popcorn and soda seemed rather grotesque to me.

In the theatre, I ate some of my popcorn and drank some of my soda, but it wasn’t the same—my enjoyment was half-hearted, and I barely finished a third of what I had. I just didn’t want it anymore. It was like I was experiencing the same thing people always say about country clubs: nobody wants to be a member of any club that will have them. And I didn’t want any part of an unhealthy snack that someone had just handed me, free of charge. Not only did I not really want it, I was also hyper aware of how gross it was—the yellow chemical sludge* known as butter movie theatre land was collecting inside the crevices of my artificially colored popcorn like an environmental disaster.

At the same time that I was disgusted with the food, I was also disgusted with myself—Had I really longed for this stuff on so many occasions before? What was it about this crap that had appealed to me so much? In that moment, I had no idea why anyone would voluntarily pay for such a snack even though I’d done it more than a few times myself.

The result was that I wanted to eat less popcorn and drink less soda—that night and every day since then. And it made me wonder if part of the appeal of eating something so unhealthy is that we’re not supposed to eat it.

When I was sixteen, I had jaw surgery that left me unable to eat solid foods for six weeks. In the time leading up to the operation, my doctors told me that it was one of the only times in my life when I could eat whatever I wanted because I’d be losing a lot of weight during my recovery. For a few days, I ate junk food 24-7: Twinkies, Doritos, Mac ‘n Cheese. But after a day or two of that, I got sick of it and went back to my normal diet.

I think that’s exactly what happened at the multiplex that night—since I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted, I didn’t really want any of it anymore. Of course, that made me ask myself, what would happen if I let myself eat whatever I want all the time?

I’ve always believed that indulgence is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and I’ve always known that if you deny yourself something you want, you’ll only want it more. But I’ve also believed that giving into those temptations every once in a while helps you keep your cravings in check. But maybe—just maybe—if we gave into them whenever we wanted, they would lose their appeal forever.

I wish I could say I believed it was that simple to kick the junk food habit, but I’m not entirely convinced. But I will say this: I’m staying away from the yellow chemical sludge as long as I can.

*That’s what Enid (pictured above) called it in Ghost World.

Chemical planet = round people

198 pounds

As just about everyone on the planet knows, we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic right now—as a society, we’re all getting fatter. Even babies are getting fatter!

And if you’re like everyone else, you probably think that’s because we are all eating too much crap and moving too little. Though there’s some truth in that, that’s not the only reason we’re getting fatter. (And it certainly doesn’t explain why babies are getting fatter.)

Another reason we’re growing out rather than just up is that we now live in a chemical world—a world of BPAs and pesticides and EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals). Scientists are now calling these chemicals “obesegens,” and their research is showing that they are one of the main reasons our collective girth keeps expanding.

As explained by the White House’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity, obesegens throw our hormones and regulatory systems (and therefore our metabolisms) out of whack*, making us gain weight no matter what we eat—whether it’s a cheeseburger or lean piece of salmon. And that’s because so much of our food is exposed to these nasty chemicals. According to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D. and curators’ professor of biological science at the University of Missouri, “Obesogens are thought to act by hijacking the regulatory systems that control body weight.”*

The only choice we have then is to remove these obesegens from our diet. You can do that by eating more organic pesticide-free foods and grass-fed meats and by avoiding foods that have been stored or heated in products that contain such chemicals, such as plastics and cans. (This also means that you shouldn’t heat your food in plastics or put plastics in the dishwasher because of the hot water.)

There are a lot of websites that make a distinction between certain kinds of plastics—they say things like, you can use this plastic but not this kind or you can eat this kind of organic produce but not this kind. But I wouldn’t doubt it if ten years from now, we found out that this information wasn’t accurate and that all plastics are evil. So why not just avoid them altogether? Go out and buy yourself $100 of glass containers and look at it as a long-term investment in both your body and your future. And, on your way home, be sure to stop by your favorite organic produce seller, ideally a local farmers’ market.

"It’s not like you get worse. You only get better."—Louis C.K.

198 pounds

I’ve been watching a new show on FX called Louie, which is based on the life of comedian Louis C.K. The reason this show kicks my butt every time I see it is because though it is incredibly funny, it is also so freaking smart. I don’t expect that. I expect a good television show or movie to be one or the other, but not both. And this one is.

Not long after getting hooked on this show, a few of my friends recommended that I watch Louis C.K.’s comedy special, Chewed Up, which I finally did tonight.

If I liked Louis C.K. a hell of a lot before, I am completely in love him now. I mean, I really luuuuuuuuv him.

I love him because of the totally honest way he talks about eating during this special—especially the segment about eating Cinnabons—but also because he admits his real weight. (I love anyone who does that.)

But the main reason I love him is because of the stuff he says about middle-aged women.

Throughout the special, he repeatedly mentions that he and his wife don’t have sex anymore. He talks about how having kids has changed their relationship, but there is also something melancholy underneath these jokes (which makes sense because they ended up getting divorced a year after the special was made).

But what’s interesting is that he also says that even though they don’t have sex anymore, he still wants to have sex with his wife because she is a real woman. Then he explains that, for him, there is a difference between women and girls and that he is no longer attracted to girls. Girls, from his point of view, don’t have enough mileage on them. They haven’t really lived, and it shows in their cute faces and their pristine bodies, which, believe it or not, make them less appealing to him.

But his wife was different. She was an actual woman. He explains that her eyes had grown darker over the years, her hair had a few grey streaks, her face had even sprouted some lines. And that’s what he liked about her. He liked that she was so real. That she had really lived and wore the signs of her life and that made her more attractive. He actually said that she was sexy to him because of this. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said (or something like that). “It’s not that she doesn’t look her age. It’s just that her age looks good on her.”

I mean, really, come on.

How can I not love this guy?

How can I not love a guy who finds his forty-year-old wife sexy because she shows the signs of getting older? It’s almost like he’s not playing fair with me. Because I mean, after admitting this, I honestly have no choice but to love him.

*Louie airs Tuesday nights at 11:00 p.m. EST on FX.

Loving whatever size you have and aging gracefully

198 pounds

Since I wrote about women who don’t have a lot up top in my last post, today I want to write about women who do have something upstairs.

I once heard Madonna say that when you’re in your twenties, your breasts stand at attention, when you’re in your thirties, they start to sag a little, and when in your forties, they are hanging pretty low.

In general I would agree with this assessment, but what I take issue with is the implication that this is a bad thing. Sure, when I was in my teens and twenties, the girls were pretty perky, standing proud every day, but they were also not quite big enough to offer me any real cleavage, which was for all practical purposes nonexistent. But now, twenty years later, I’m all about the cleavage.

Which raises the question, which is better—perky breasts or ones that give you good cleavage?

If you ask me, the answer is both. When they were perky, I loved that about my body, but now that I have cleavage, I love that too—possibly even more.

And maybe that’s because we’re not supposed to look—or be—the same as we age. I wouldn’t give up my cleavage for anything right now—even my former perkiness—and when I see middle-aged woman who have breast implants that look like they could take someone’s eye out, I think it looks not only fake but ridiculous.

During a recent trip to visit family, I had the pleasure of seeing Solitary Man, an independent film about a divorced couple played by Susan Sarandon and Michael Douglas. In one scene, Douglas’ character visits Sarandon’s and finds her in a low-cut top that perfectly shows off her cleavage. I have to say that Sarandon looked amazing. But more than anything, I loved that—at the age of sixty-three—she was still working it. And why shouldn’t she?

Dave and I saw that movie with my mother, and I wondered then why Mom almost never shows off her assets, which are plentiful. I think it’s because we’re taught that after a certain age—possibly after childbearing age—women aren’t supposed to be sexual creatures.

Well, I think that’s a load of crap.

And I’m thrilled that Sarandon is bucking the trend.

The same week we saw that movie, I also spent a good deal of time with my two nieces, who are now becoming very curious about women’s bodies. They talk about them constantly and are always launching questions in my direction that I find hard to answer. Maybe because they think they can get more out of their aunt than their parents? Perhaps, but I also know their mother is pretty up front with them about this stuff too.

No, I think that they are just trying to cull information from as many different sources as possible, so they can make up their own minds about this issue. One of the things they taught me is that some women have “sporty” breasts—read small—while others have big “pillows.” (Cute, huh?)

But I noticed that they didn’t make a connection between body size and breast size. They claim that when they grow up they want to be really skinny but have big pillows, a fact I digested with horror while also taking the opportunity to explain to them that there is usually a direct correlation between body size and breast size and that not very many women get to mix and match, per se.

They seemed to get it, and by the time Dave and I were heading home a week later, they knew how to answer the question, “Which size is best?”

“Whatever size you have,” they said in unison, and I smiled with relief.

Even skinny women get the blues . . .

197 pounds
I’ve had the good fortune of going shopping with many wonderful women lately—sometimes I’ve been going out just for fun, and other times I’ve been with a friend who was on a mission. These women have come in numerous body shapes, and it’s been a joy to see them all look beautiful at any size.

But what I can’t get over is that all of them—no matter how thin or how curvy—have very real insecurities.

One of these women, for example, is very thin and incredibly well toned—she wears a size two and has Halle Berry’s muscular arms, Jennifer Aniston’s shapely legs, and Emily Blunt’s tight little butt. But she didn’t see any of that when we were in the dressing room recently.

Instead all she saw was her chest, which is a bit on the small side. She was, in fact, so worried about not having enough up top, that she refused to wear anything that didn’t have wide enough straps to accommodate her padded bra, which she claimed she needed to look normal.

When I finally convinced her to try on a very fashion forward strapless dress from the clearance rack, I was astonished by how amazing it looked on her—it was both hip and adorable at the same time—and she was really rocking the look: the dress was short enough to highlight her toned legs, and her long dark hair hit her shoulders in just the right place to draw your eye to both her sculpted arms and her gorgeous hair.

But she couldn’t see that.

“You look incredible,” I told her.

“Are you kidding?” she said in a suspicious tone. “I don’t have anything up here.” She put her hands on her chest and cupped what she saw as her inadequacy. Then she nodded at me. “If only I had what you have.”

I gasped. Her comment shocked me that much.

She was wearing a dress that fell halfway between her ass and her knees, and there wasn’t an ounce of cellulite in sight, but she wanted what I had?

Then I laughed because, from my point of view, the situation was completely ludicrous—I wanted what she had, and she wanted what I had.

“You’re crazy,” I finally said.

But my friend could not be swayed. “You don’t get it. I can’t wear a dress like this. I have to have something with sleeves.”

The irony of the situation did not escape me.

Though I have a few select sleeveless dresses, I avoid them almost as much as I avoid fried food. I’m just not that comfortable revealing my arms, which I see as a bit too fleshy for display. On the other hand, my friend has supermodel arms, but she won’t show them off because she thinks her breasts are too small.

Together we made quite a pair.

Despite my protestations, I didn’t talk my friend into buying that fabulous dress, but I did win in one regard: since then I have not thought twice about wearing my own sleeveless outfits, bare arms and all.

A side note: Need another reason to go sleeveless, strapless, and/or braless? Do it because you can. Far too many women in the world aren’t allowed to show their arms, shoulders, and cleavage, and that’s a reason to revel in them.

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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