Friday, January 30, 2009

An open letter to my senators and congressman....

Dear Senators Graham and DeMint, and Congressman Barrett,

Words cannot begin to express my complete and utter disappointment in your failure to vote in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Mr. DeMint, I admit without reservation that I am no fan of yours, as you are far too conservative for my liking. So honestly, I didn't expect any better of you and assumed you had voted against it. I didn't vote for you last time, and rest assured that I will continue to support your opposition. Good day.

But as for you, Senator Graham and Congressman Barrett, I have supported you over the years. This is primarily because you are from my area (the next county over) and you understand the concerns of the smaller towns and their people. Or at least I thought you did..... And given the fact that you are both from areas whose people made their living in textiles or other manufacturing operations, I thought certainly that a bill like this would hold great appeal?

So what was it? What was it about this law that made you say, "Oh no.... I can't vote for that!" I don't get it. All it did was extend the amount of time that an employee has to file a pay discrimination suit. It really didn't say that companies had to do equal pay -- that's another law's job. All this did was right a horrific wrong in the hopes that there isn't another woman out there that misses a window of opportunity to get what she truly deserves.

Now, why in the world would that interest me, other than being female and being in solidarity with my sisters? It's simple, really: my grandmother.

For all her imperfections, I give my grandmother full credit for raising seven children on a mill worker's salary. I'm willing to bet that she never made close to the salary of the men around her, even while working the same job with the same skills and education. The CRA of 1964 came a little too late to help my grandmother and by extension her children (my father included). You see, my grandmother had it tough, raising those kids on that paltry salary. Again, you will never convince me that she wasn't paid less, and then only because she had two X chromosomes instead of an XY combination. And because it was so difficult, none of her kids graduated high school when they were teens. They all had to drop out at 16 and help support the family. I wonder ..... if any legislation about equal pay had been available at the time, or a Lilly Ledbetter Act to ensure that she had some extra time to right the wrong .... might my father and his siblings have been able to finish high school? Might college have been in their future with scholarships or grants for lower-income children?

I also think of my mother. My mother returned to the workforce when I was 7. She was blessed enough to do office work, but I also am fairly certain that no man would have ever agreed to work for what they paid her -- only if he were truly desperate. She did it willingly to help keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. She and my dad made it possible for my brother and I to never have to have a job in high school unless we just truly wanted one. They made it possible for me to go on to college for more education and to get a job where I wouldn't hear the deafening roar of a loom in my sleep, or do work so monotonous and repetitive that years down the road, my body's cellular memory would still be screaming out in pain. They did that for us.

I also think of my godchild. In a few years, she may be entering the work force with a summer job or an after-school fun-money job. But right now, she's still young enough to not have to worry about that and can concentrate on being just a kid. Her mom and I are both strongly in favor of women's rights, and it's something we discuss with her on occasion. We both believe that whatever she chooses to do in life, gender should not be an issue in her employment. Frankly, for her sake, I'm glad the bill passed. Because believe you me, if she should ever find herself in that boat, I will personally help her put together the research --- not that she's not talented enough to do it on her own, I just want to be there for it! It ticks me off that she's growing up in a society that still thinks it's okay to discriminate in pay and opportunity simply because she's a woman. It makes me angry as all hell.

And this, Senators and Congressman, is just part of the reason for my deep disappointment. You all know women like my grandmother, my mother, my godchild. Me, for that matter. I want a working world where my gender is not a detriment -- I do not want you to give me any special consideration just because I'm a woman, nor do I want you to punish me because I'm a woman. I just want to be able to do the job, and have my performance, my abilities, and my talents judged -- the same as any man would.

November 2010, gentlemen. I will remember.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

A word or several about clothes.

Apparently, I am running a laundry porn operation or brothel. Because there is NO other explanation for why my laundry is seeming to multiply. There's some serious bow-chicka-wow-wow going on, which is causing everything to just grow exponentially. Okay, seriously, there isn't mad passionate lovemaking amongst my cottons, linens, woolens, and denims (although that would be a bizarre idea for a comic strip). There's also my addiction to clearance sales and thrift stores, along with a HUMONGO box of jeans and other goodies that my best friend lovingly passed on to me.

The one thing for which I'm really glad is that 90% of the clothes I have fit me -- not perfectly, but they fit. What doesn't fit, I'm clearing out, mostly by recycling them to Goodwill. Now, what sizes are there? It's a range of sizes -- what one label will call a 14 might be a 10 in another label or an 18 in yet another. You just never know until you try it on. And what looks fantastic on a hanger might just look less-than-great on your own body (and perfect on someone else's).

When it comes to clothes and a sense of personal style, I cannot recommend these three books highly enough:
These are fantastic resources, and I have read, perused, and re-read them often!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've been downsized....

But in a very good way.

Warning to my male readers:
this post involves the discussion of lingerie and body size, body image, etc. You've been forewarned! You're also welcome to click on the links and view the lingerie models, if that's your thing.

About 3 years ago, I found a great plus-size lingerie store in Atlanta called Silver Lining Plus. They were able to do a professional bra fitting, and put me in something to give me the illusion of a waistline (at a time when I had none). I remember buying $200 worth of bras that day, and getting the feeling that I could drive to Atlanta 2-3 times a year for some good foundations. Two weeks later, I joined Weight Watchers, and 6 months later, all those bras I bought were way too big. I made a return trip, bought a couple more, and repeated about every 6-8 months.

I was in the greater metro area last night and today, so I thought I would stop in and get at least one bra. Lately, I've been buying off the rack but it's kind of a crap shoot. You never know if it's going to fit just right, and the average retail store is not at all keen on having you try on bras! And one of the ones I'd packed has fantastic side/back support, iffy strap support, and is horrific where it counts most.

I got to Silver Lining this morning, and got in the fitting room. I explained to the salesclerk that I'd been dropping in every few months, I needed to know about my size for sure, and so forth. So she gave me a few to try on.... one of which was a cup size lower than what I usually wear, because of this particular vendor and how they construct things. When another clerk came in to assist me, she took one look and said, "Honey, I'm not taking your money today. You're at a point now that we don't carry very many bras in your size. You're in regular sizes now, so I'm going to send you to Intimacy over in Phipps Plaza. They're going to carry plenty of different designs that might be in the size you're used to now. We appreciate the business you've given us, and keep sending people our way that can use us!" They all hugged me and sent me on my way.

I just couldn't believe it. I'm now too small for them! BWAAAAH! But off to Intimacy I went. Alexa was my fitter there (so if you are in Phipps Plaza and get Alexa, you are in great hands!), and we tried on bookoo bras! The real kicker is this incredible purple bra I tried on with pink and gold accents and a little dangly jewel in the center. It was also priced at over $200. If I'm spending that much, there had better be bras, plural, in the bag. Yow. It was gorgeous, but that's a V-Day gift to me from the love of my life (wherever he may be, somewhere out there).

So I know where to go now, but I hate to leave the wonderful folks at Silver Lining behind. They are the best at what they do, and they have such beautiful clothing and lingerie!

BUT.... I also firmly believe that every woman deserves to be professionally fitted at least once in her life, if not once a year! It's worth every moment, and worth every penny to wear a well-fitting, supportive bra -- it not only lifts the girls, it lifts the spirit! Not only that, it's been documented time and again that at least 70% of women are in the wrong bra size --- no wonder our shoulders ache, our sides spill over, the girls are either swimming in too much fabric or barely constrained by not enough. Even if you don't buy the foundation there, at least you'll know what size to wear or what style to look for to meet your body's needs. Find a good foundations store near you, or a department store with a good foundations department -- for example, Nordstrom has a good reputation for proper fittings. Make the time to look your best and feel your best!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

To pause, perchance to reflect.....

Today, I'm pooped. I made it through the holidays in good form, did everything well, had a great Christmas and New Year's, and today..... I can't keep my eyes open through the playoff game. Eight straight days of getting up at my normal time (when usually I sleep in a bit on Saturdays and Sundays -- not much but some).

So instead of me doing some silly reflection on 2008, I'll let "Uncle Jay" do it for me........