Plus Sizes

Sunday, a couple friends and I embarked on a serious shopping day. One of those where the drive clears out the trunk in case we need the extra room. And we ended up needing that room, it was a very successful day, and on my part, all things which I’d been needing….well except for those Doctor Who pins.

I rarely go shopping, and even more rare that I make it to the mall. There are so many more stores that cater to plus sizes than when I was in highschool. All four of us are very different builds and sizes so we went into a variety of stores.

All this shopping and trying on items got me thinking about plus sizes. And why the heck did they ever become a thing? Why aren’t they just all ‘sizes’? I hadn’t thought of it before, because if you are working with a ‘small, medium, large’ type sizing, that does make sense to me that to go beyond that you’d need an extra small or extra large. But when you are dealing in numbers, who decided that everything above a size 12 was ‘plus’. Why is this necessary to draw this line in the sand dividing women into two catagories- those who fit in a size 0-12, and those who fit into sizes larger.

I think what annoys me is the dividing, and it’s not an equal divide. If a store carries a size bigger than a 12 and if it’s the same styles as the smaller sizes….it’s often in it’s own little corner, a fraction of the size of the rest of the women’s department. As if it’s only a small fraction of women who need a bigger than a 12, and those women should take what they can get.

I read once, I don’t know if this is still true, that the average size for a woman in the US is a size 10. Then why is it only 1-2 sizes away before you can’t shop in the same section, you might not find the same selection, and you will most likely be spending more?

(SIDE NOTE: Dear world, Please do not respond to this issue by shaming thin girls. You are just making the problem worse. Some girls are small, just as some are larger. This does not mean they are automatically unhealthy. /note.)

Why do we as a society constantly have to shame women for their size? Your jean size should just be a number. A convenient tool so that you can go into a store and have an idea of what size you will fit in. It should not be a judgement, should not a deciding factor of which part of the ladies department you get to shop in. If you can even shop in that store.

It was encouraging when we were shopping that there are so many stores that now carry lovely clothing in larger sizes. And while now I don’t fit into the smallest sizes in these plus size stores, I’m glad they exist. I wish there wasn’t a need for these plus size stores, because I was a young teen girl, I wanted to shop where my friends shopped. All my friends at that time in my life were no bigger than a size 4. They were not anorexic, or sick, they are just smaller ladies. We could not shop in the same place. And that should not be.

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Quality & Frugality

I like nice things.

I also for as long as I can remember have always wanted the ‘real’ version of something. I don’t know when this started, but I never wanted to settle for an imitation version of a product. This is where my aversion to fake plants comes from (but the handmade paper flowers? Those are neat). Even as a little kid I would rather wait years for the ‘real’ version of a toy then get the knock-off product. My mother was very long suffering.

But my path to adulthood was also paved with periods of time that I wasn’t making much money. That and a Grammy who would constantly be reminding me to be careful of money has led me to be a frugal person. I don’t enjoy spending money, but when I get something I want it to last.

I’ve been spending alot of time recently thinking about buying quality items, versus going and buying the Target version. The argument goes that you spend more on a nice item, and then you don’t need to replace it and you save more money in the long run. In the high end products side of it, ideally the item you are purchasing can be passed down to a future generation.

When it comes to cars, my family goes by this thinking. Which is why I was able to be driving a ’82 Celica until recently (and that my dad can fix anything….). It’s a bit more difficult with electronics because even if your betamax player still works…it’s irrelevant. Technology changes, and five years, or even two years later, the item will be obsolete or nearing obsolete.

In my sloshing through every area of my life and trying to take into account why I do what I do, I’ve been trying to figure out where is the line between buying a quality item that will serve your needs and being a good steward of your resources.

Hypothetical Example: Lets say I have $100. I need a purse that presents the level of professionalism I want to portray. Target has one for $25, that I know from experience will probably last me a good 10 years before being too worn out to be used in a business atmosphere. Etsy has one for $95 that will, assuming I don’t run over it with the car, last me twice as long, or even the rest of my life. How is my money best spent? How am I best using the resources that God has given me?

I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer. I also don’t think that the ‘buy for life’ mentality is always right. There are two main reasons why, 1) it doesn’t account for changes in style, losing an item, or theft. and 2) I’m not convinced that it is always being the best steward of the resources God has given us. I want to tread lightly here, and make it clear that I am speaking from where I am right now and not attempting to pass judgment on anyone else.

Most people I know right now are struggling financially. Some more seriously than others, but for the most part, everyone I know has to watch their finances carefully. Myself included. While some items will last me longer than others, I think that even if in nearer future you may need to rebuy an item than if you got the higher end version to start with, for some this is being the best steward of your resources. Also, the future is not promised. Jobs are hard to come by, and sometimes hard to keep.

It’s a crazy balance. One which I think I will always be figuring out. Being the best steward with what I have, and making wise purchases.

Modesty

Last week a friend of mine posted on modesty. She argued that we are to dress for ourselves and not for others. She said how modesty is ‘choosing to dress a certain way based on personal choice.’ And you know what, she got alot of backlash for that.

The whole modesty debate is so sticky because despite what some people think, you can not simply declare, ‘wear this and not that and therefore you will be Modest’. It is a simplistic approach that completely ignores the fact that we have different body types. There are busty gals who unless they wear a turtle neck, they will show cleavage. There is nothing wrong with them.

Note that I said ‘them’. What bothers me the most about the modesty debate is that it puts gals with certain body types in a lose-lose situation. If they dress in a way that flatters their figure, they are told they are being immodest. When you are curvy, or busty, unless you wear completely shapeless clothes, it will be clear you are busty or curvy. So if these girls dress in those shapeless clothes, they are told they are being dowdy.

No woman should be shamed for her body. Whatever her shape. And I believe every lady should be allowed to dress in a manner that makes them feel beautiful.

Modesty is an attitude. It is how you carry yourself, you present yourself to the world. How you dress has little to do with it. The busty gal who is showing some cleavage, can be more ‘modest’ then the girl who is wearing a tight turtle neck and a long skirt.

But the main reason I think the modesty culture should be talked about is because of the thinking behind it: that women are responsible for another human being’s thinking. I cannot tell you how many things I’ve read or heard, or sat through about not letting our ‘brothers in Christ stumble’. My mom put it best, for some men you could be wearing a ‘potato sack’ and they will still have lust in their heart. These men are accountable to God for their thoughts, you are not accountable for their thoughts. And before I go further, there are men who struggle, and I have great respect for those who work hard against letting their thoughts wander. I have more respect for those men, then the ones who think ‘oh, had a lustfull thought, it’s that girl over there’s fault.’

This attitude that is being taught, that men are incapable of controlling their own thoughts and actions, is insulting to men. In my opinion, it is even more insulting to men, than to the women who are told they are responsible for keeping these men from stumbling. Those who argue this are basically saying that men are incapable of controlling themselves if someone might be wearing a low top.

Both men and women, we are accountable for our own thoughts and actions. If I see a handsome young man, I am responsible for my thoughts. Not him. Regardless of what he is wearing. Same goes for men, they are accountable for their thoughts.

Life & Expectations

Sometimes I wonder if I’m part lizard, because if I’m cold I just stop.

That has absolutely nothing to do with what I am writing about today.

Here is my question to you, has anyone ever looked back at their life and went, ‘yup, that’s exactly how I expected it to turn out’? I cannot think of anyone I’ve ever talked to who has been able to say that. Second question, have you ever looked back at your life and wished it turned out how you imagined when you would sit and picture your adult life? This one I’m sure there’s more people who would say, yes, yes I do….but I would still argue that many would not want their childhood dream life.

Some peoples lives seem to fall into a rhythm, one thing after another, all the pieces fall into place when they are expected to by society and yourselves. It can be hard to feel like you are on the outside looking in, watching people pass milestones as you feel like you are stumbling through molasses.

If you find yourself, years after college, sitting at your average job, driving your average car, and preparing for an evening of Netflix with your cat, and wondering is this it? Did I miss my opportunity to do something amazing? Will I ever do something amazing?

The future that I imagined what would happen after high school, and what actually happen do not even vaguely resemble each other. What actually happened was so much bigger and more amazing. While those years found me still driving a 30 year old car, and without a significant other, (and I never did work for Borders) it taught me a very important lesson: God’s plans are bigger.

It would be easy to tell that story, and I love that story, but it’s not what I want to tell. There are plenty of places that tell stories of Big and Amazing Things God has done with your life. It’s easy to see how God works in our lives when Big Things are happening. I would say it is not as easy if you’re curled up on your couch, watching Netflix with your cat. And it’s even harder when months or even years have gone by that life feels like it has settled into a predictable routine.

I want to encourage those out there who are begging God to show them their future, their life, their purpose. Those who feel like life is crushing them in it’s mundaneness and who truly and wholeheartedly want to serve God and do Great Things for Him.

You are making a difference. By listening to a friend who is going through a difficult time, or going to work with a smile, you are serving God. You are showing your light. Even though your world may feel painfully average, you do not know who you may touch, who you may be the encouragement their soul needs that day. You do not have to travel to the other side of the world or be world famous to make an impact.

God knows your heart. This time of frustrating dullness may not last forever, and if it does? You can still serve Him there. And even if it is not what you imagined, God is still in control and even if it doesn’t feel like it, His plan is still better than anything you could imagine.

Books and Collections

Sunday afternoon I sat on the floor with my tea balanced on a stack of theology books and my cat attempting to get into every place she shouldn’t. Which I didn’t mind too much, because it meant she would find the spiders first. And with that I went through my little library.

I’ve never counted my books, I think I have a goodreads account but I’m not sure, but I have enough books to fill two bookcases and form seven stacks on the floor (where the spiders live, the evil spiders.)

For the last year I’ve been applying ‘why’ to….everything. Why do I own this? Why do I keep this? Sometimes I answer myself with a ‘I don’t know!’, and put the item right back where it was. I don’t always need to know an answer that I could defend. I have gotten rid of a ton of things, stuff that just has been around because it’s always been around and I’ve never really liked it or used it it’s just….there. The only section that had remained largely untouched was the library. Because more books is always better, right?

Last week I was thinking of a few books that were tucked away in the back stack on the floor, purposely put ‘out of sight out of mind’. And the ‘why’ popped up….do I ever intend on reading these books? No. Are they lovely enough to exist on a shelf purely for the cover? Obviously no, or I wouldn’t have tucked them away.

So on the floor I sat, pulling all the books out that were on the floor, only encountering one dead spider, and three cups of tea later had a large stack to give away. It was easier then I thought it would be, and sitting back looking a the smaller seven stacks on the ground (one stack entirely devoted to Artemis Fowl!) I was incredibly pleased how it looked. Now that space that had been previously taken up by books I never intended on reading or read and didn’t like, can be used for books I actually want in my library!

There are still books in my library I will likely never read, but they will have always have a place. There are still a few books that I have read that I did not like, or absolutely hated (Yes, you Breaking Dawn) but I will continue to keep because I like the covers. And then the section near to my heart, which is safely tucked on a shelf and certainly not in the spiders’ playground on the floor, are the old books. The oldest book in my library is a copy of Macbeth dated 1785. I love having those slivers of history tucked away.

Gift of Singleness?

A few days ago I woke up with a thought. One of those that just hits you over the head and you have to process and fill in the gaps and then get it out in a straight line to see if it all makes sense and then you stare at it thinking why did I never think of this before!? And why have I never heard this topic spoken of this way before. And because I have never heard this topic spoken of this way before…am I wrong?
The thought stemmed from the night before reading a terrible article on the gift of singleness. I hadn’t realized before reading this article exactly how much it bothered me that ‘the church’ (for lack of more precise term) whenever presented with a young (or old) person who is not in a relationship and/or has never been in a relationship immediately they get slapped on ‘you have the gift of singleness, next!’. Sometimes, I hear it referred to as ‘well, you have the gift of singleness but this can be a temporary gift.’
This has always bugged me, but I had been too lazy to sit down and figure out *why*. I know part of the why, and that is often it’s like a brush off and comes across as a ‘stop whining’. But there was something else and that was my lightbulb moment.
Taking it back to Scripture, I want to start with the passage where we get this concept of the gift of singleness. For context, read all of 1 Corinthians 7. But I’m going to pull some passages to copy here:
“But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:6-9
Here is how I have heard this section taught, outside of a directed at singles context. If you have the self control, stay single and focus on the Lord. If you crave intimacy- get married.
“But I want you to be free concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-33
Through the Christian life there will tribulation, and especially when Paul was writing to the Corinthians- it was difficult times, what he is saying here is it is easier to focus on the Lord when you don’t have a spouse to focus on! If you read through the whole chapter (which I highly recommend) you will see how Paul is basically saying don’t commit sexual sins if you ‘burn’, get married! But if you don’t burn, and are alright with being alone- that’s great, focus on serving the Lord.
The single person being referred to in this passage is someone who does not desire marriage. That is why I do not think it is inaccurate to call it a ‘gift’. I do not believe Paul is referring to a single person who desires marriage.
God is not a cruel God. His gifts are good gifts. Let’s stand on those two truths for the rest of this post. If we are going to accept those two facts as truth, then why would He give a ‘gift’ of singleness to a person who craves marriage with their heart and soul? That is not a good gift, that is the act of a cruel God.
I am firmly established in my later 20s, and I have seen older singles who desire marriage and a family with every ounce of their being. They have cried out to God, and begged Him for a spouse. And before you prepare your list of ‘well if they only..’, these are intelligent, sociable, handsome/beautiful people. They have done everything ‘right’, and for reasons only the Lord knows, they are single. I do not believe these people have the ‘gift’ of singleness. They remain pure because God commands it, not because they don’t desire intimacy.
So, if we’re stripping away that singles who desire marriage do not have the gift of singleness, and establishing that God is a good God who loves us, what does that leave us with? I believe this passage is the answer:
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me- to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God gave Paul a ‘thorn in his flesh’. We do not know what it was. But when Paul asked God to remove, God answered with an amazing answer that literally gave me chills as I typed that out: My grace is sufficient for you.
I want to argue that for the single who does not want to be single, God is not giving them the ‘gift of singleness’, but instead for that time in their life (or their whole life) that is their thorn in their flesh. Their challenge that God has given them so He can shine brighter through their weakness. And His grace is sufficient.
This is how I choose to view it. And the mere concept of Christ being reflected all the more powerful through my weakness? Amazing. Simply amazing. I’ll lean on His grace through my weakness, and hopefully encourage others.

The Local Church

Did you know if your hands get cold at the office they turn red? I thought they’d turn blue, but no, it looks like a small child attacked my knuckles with a sharpy. Only on my right hand, my left hand apparently is living in a different climate because it is fine.
I asked the midget what I should write on today, because a couple hours ago, when I couldn’t write, I had a bunch of great ideas! …And then I walked down the hall and got distracted. (There wasn’t even anything shiny!)
She said to write on ‘stop being so hard on the church’.
It is very popular to list how terrible ‘the church’ is. How it is full of hypocrites with plastic smiles, and how church culture has replaced Scripture in importance. It’s an easy target, because there is truth. There are churches who focus more on being relevant with today’s society then they do with standing on the Word of God. And there are people who put on a show when they go to church and make sure they only show a squeaky clean image.
But what I fear often gets forgotten in these rants is this: The church is made of sinners. Christ came to die for sinners. If Christ loved those (you) sinners so much to die for, why is it unforgivable that sinners are in the church? Let me pause for a moment: the following is not an argument for you to stay in a church where you feel you do not belong. There are times where it is perfectly acceptable to move on. That said, that is not what I want to focus on.
The church is not perfect. And frankly, if it says it is, and everyone says they are inside— I think it’s time to find a new church. But neither are you. (This is not an excuse to be a jerk to people who are trying their best to be their best– you can tell the difference between someone striving and someone putting on a show) The purpose of going to church on Sunday is to grow in your understanding of God’s word, and to have an opportunity for ‘iron sharpening iron’ (Proverbs 27:17). Ideally, it is to be a save haven for you to go to. Your local church has alot to live up to.
In my opinion, why so many people are angry and hurt by the church is they have rested their faith and security in the church instead of Christ. I have seen church splits, and church discipline of people who I looked up to, it is devastating. Heartbreaking. And makes you want to reject ever trusting another human being (or believer) again. But going back to people are sinners. I am a sinner. My pastor is a sinner. Which is why our faith needs to rest in Christ and Scripture alone.
In conclusion, work to build up your local church, not tear it down. Rest your faith in Christ, and know that He will not fail you.