Looking Good, Feeling Confident

I didn't add "in every size" because it's irrelevant.  Everyone deserves to feel good right now, the way they are.  We can all spend some "spoons" on grooming each day.  It will only go toward making the day nicer for us and those around us.  Fashion and beauty is not irrelevant as soon as someone gains some weight.  It's actually even more important to maintain the narrative that you're attractive and fun to be around, when you're ill.  People react strangely to the ill.  They don't know what to say.  They wonder if you're the same person they joked with last year.  They miss you while they're sitting 3 feet away.  Paying attention to your looks is a good way to signal that you're still the same person, and can be there for your loved ones.

There are several resources online for looking good while obese.  There are even websites that strongly refute the idea that people must lose weight and attempt to lose weight until they succeed.  Or that it's necessary for good health to do so.  In my case, I think obesity is a sign that my body has been damaged by the neglect of several female specific illnesses (PCOS and gluten induced thyroid problems especially), however, I do believe that everyone needs to live their best life now.  I'll try to keep this brief, however, a selection of hints for where to look for good information should set anyone on the right path to finding fashion nirvana in their size, and everyone has their own style they might want to seek out independently.  

First, let's talk a bit about fashion strategy.  There are several how to articles out there for wearing plus size clothes in a flattering style, but this one fits with my observations of what works.  Several of them are far too vague and just repeat old and inappropriate advice, such as "balancing" your body shape.  If you do that when you're obese, you end up looking square.  That advice only works for women who have waists.

The other strategy I have for you is about makeup.  The reason makeup looks "bad" on older women is that we're going to the grocery store and buying makeup that is designed for teenagers.  Even concealers in stores are not full coverage.  So first step:  locate a full coverage, liquid or cake, foundation makeup, that matches your skin tone.  You don't need to wear it every day, and if you prefer it lighter, you can just thin it with a face cream, no big deal.  But for full effect, you need total control over any blotchy places.  Being overweight means it's harder to walk up a flight of stairs and not have your face bloom into a red blotchy mess.  Full coverage helps that.  Accept no substitutes, and you may have to visit a department store counter to get it.

I have a supply of my favorite one, but it's discontinued, so I can't recommend it. If you're completely at a loss for a brand, then try Ben Nye.  I know it looks like I'm suggesting something not normal.  But I learned this from my younger days working on stage crews in volunteer community theaters.  This is the actual foundation, and once you get used to using it (with a moistened sponge), it melts onto the skin invisibly and you can add more without getting that caked on look.

Technically cake foundation includes clay of some type.  In the case of Ben Nye, it's kaolin clay.  Today we are told to apply primer before foundation to make it last longer and prevent shine, but if you use a cake foundation with clay in it (kaolin), you don't need to.  The only downside is, you can't forget to remove it at night, or you make a serious mess of your pillow.

As women get older, management of the eyebrows becomes more important.  My eyebrows went from thick and interesting in my youth, to bushy and creepy in my 30s, and now they're downright deviant if I let them grow in.  It's not that they're bushy, it's the way they've thinned out... makes them look, wrong.  So the single most important thing you can do for attractiveness is learn to pluck your eyebrows (I know, ouch, right?).  

Sit on the couch with the TV on a favorite show, and a tissue on your shoulder.  Point a light directly at your face and use tweezers and a mirror.  You might draw guidelines first if you want.  Also, use hand sanitizer before you start and keep a spray bottle of Bactine handy and use it while you pluck.  Spray it on your hands, not your eyes and then apply to eyebrows, then pluck. Less painful. After every pluck, wipe the hairs off on the tissue so the hairs don't fall in your eyes.  Here's another how to for eyebrow plucking.


The second tip is for those who don't like makeup but have a problem with shine/oil.  You can find a good mattifier, but sometimes it might be a men's product and sometimes NOT gluten free.  It fits some people's lifestyle.  After all, makeup is not a requirement but a fun extra.  I opt for mattifier often because it's less hassle.

I learned the importance of a good mattifier when I took a job at a nursery (as in plants, not children).  The heat and the constant exercise was really hard on makeup.  And even if I didn't wear any makeup, my face still looked like a sweaty mess without mattifier.  It can actually be used alone just to stop the shine across the bridge of the nose, and on the chin.  Here are some current options.  I guess they're called primers now.

Cheap option:  You should know that there is a cheap and easy option for avoiding the sweaty-shiny look for both men and women...  buy some Noxzema face cream/wash (any drugstore should have it in the US - this is the safety check website).  Just washing with it should work if you're not wearing makeup and spending most of your time indoors. But you can also just put it on as a face cream for all day wear if the AC is out at work!  If you don't like to wear makeup, but you still want to look "neat" and your face tends to shine too much, then this is your fix.

You can go farther, buy a set of colorful eyeshadows, some water resistant mascara, and maybe even a lighted mirror.  Perhaps a hair iron (see here for why that is actually a healthy thing to do for your hair), or a new curler.  How far you take it and how fun you make it is up to you. 

All that preamble about makeup is because the next article I'm going to mention has a beautiful plus size model in it, who is perfectly groomed with a multiple step makeup process.  The clothing styles are indeed lovely, but it wouldn't work half as well if she hadn't spent time doing a full-vamp on her face and hair.  The only downside I see is that some of the outfits would look more rockin' if she was wearing high boots and/or stockings.

Now that you're making mental plans for what kinds of clothes you'll be shopping for this summer (who wouldn't after seeing that?),  here are some mail order places to look for plus size clothes that really look good. (an example)  And let's not forget the more ordinary and affordable ones such as Roamans and Woman Within, plus the brick and mortar ones Lane Bryant, Catherines, Fashion Bug Plus.  There are a lot of new clothing labels on Amazon now also.  And you can even get a tailored made to order suit like that.  But my experience with Amazon is that the sizing is often completely wrong. 

Just keep clear of anything that sounds too scammy.  You're buying clothes, so if someone uses the word "investment" that's a red flag for probably overpriced. Always call and ask who pays shipping if there is a return, and keep in mind that a small change in size might be handled faster and better by taking the item to a local tailor. I really miss having family around who can modify clothing.  It was a luxury I took for granted.  But there is always a decent tailor shop somewhere.

Finally, I write a lot about women, but I like men a great deal.  I mean like them as in, I'm fond of their foibles.  Romantically I am married to a very shy man who, like me, feels more comfortable in the woods than in a ballroom.  Well, honestly I feel ok in a ballroom too, but I still prefer the woods.  Anyway...  where was I?  Oh yeah...  so if you have a beloved shy guy in your life with a fashion handicap and a few extra pounds, you might want to mention this article to him gently and then disappear so you don't see him reading it.  Sell him on the idea, by telling him that he's going to help make you look good. Which has the virtue of being true.

Whatever you do, maintain your confidence by looking good even if you're staying home all day.  We might be spoonies, but we still have our pride and that's important.

When you're having a good hair day, always take a picture, you never know when you'll get in touch with a friend and want to send them a "decent" picture of yourself.  The "I look presentable" days are harder to achieve with chronic illness, but the struggle is worth it and you can look over the pictures and think, I can do that again today.  It's motivating. Oh, and black and white can make anyone look good.


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