Rachel Heart

Rachel

Rachel is an elaborately decorated cupcake come to life who lives with her cat Ivan in Dallas.

Posts by this author:

King Nerd and the Fall of the Nice Guy

Nerdy men are having a rough month.

A little over a week ago, actress Chloe Dykstra published an essay detailing her abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend. She didn’t name the boyfriend, but it didn’t take long for the public to figure out she was talking about Chris Hardwick.

Chris started Nerdist, and is a man I have called King Nerd for years. I can’t say I was surprised to hear that he was a complete asshole – I had always had a weird feeling about him. But my ex absolutely loved him. Which makes sense, abusive assholes recognise each other in the wild.

abusive relationship king nerd

Something about men who identify themselves as nerds, who feel that they have been wounded by women as teenage boys, is extremely dangerous to women. Men who felt victimized by women fail to understand that they can become abusers themselves. And let’s be honest, the “victimization” they feel is often rejection – a feeling that women deal with by internalizing, and men deal with by externalizing. That’s why a man immediately tells you “you’re fat anyway” right after you tell him you’re not interested.

So many “nerdy nice guys” get stuck in the mindset that women are bad to them, and that they cannot possibly be bad to women. This is where incels come from. For the men that don’t get sucked into the incel world, they see being in a relationship as a position of power. Relationships are not partnerships to this kind of abusive man, they are dictatorships. Suddenly, they feel extremely entitled and yet more insecure than ever. Now, now they have something to lose – so they hold on to their girlfriend – TIGHT.

Facts? or Feelings?

Society rarely demands men evaluate their feelings, so they never second guess these feelings of insecurity and entitlement. Women constantly check and recheck our feelings against reality because we’re constantly told that we’re hysterical. Men are never told that they’re being overly emotional, and thus, their feelings are reasonable by default.

King Nerd insists he did nothing wrong. He feels that he was reasonable and that this is normal relationship behavior. And that’s the really scary part. Legions of fans are also insisting that this is just a “bad relationship” and not anything morally wrong, or an abusive relationship. This pervasive mindset that nerdy guys are nice because they don’t like sports like those “Alpha Males” needs to be reevaluated. Gamergate showed the world the misogyny behind these “nerdy nice guys” and from the tweets regarding Chloe’s essay, nothing has changed.

Chloe’s essay was written to be a warning. Let this post serve as a call for introspection.

Check your feelings against reality. Make sure that your partner is supportive without being stifling. Check out Freedom Programme to learn more about abusive relationships, and help to get out of one.

Follow:
Share:

Mid-Quarter Crisis

What do you call a crisis in your 30’s? It’s a little past a quarter-life crisis, but not quite a mid-life crisis. Let’s call it a mid-quarter crisis.

Mid-Quarter Crisis

(All photos feature last season’s GabiFresh bikini from Swimsuits For All.)

I worked in the same industry for 10 years, with 7 of those years with the same company.

I thought I would continue working there for at least 3 more years – there’s a 10 year benefit I had my eye on. I was let go a little over a week ago. There were a number of contributing factors, from my health to my “new” boss and I never really getting along, but it was still completely out of the blue and unexpected.

Luckily, I still work for the lovely Dia&Co, and I was able to up my hours with them to cover my monthly expenses. Unluckily, I live in America, so right now I don’t have health insurance. Therefore, I am still looking for a new full time position. However, I plan to fully take advantage of this time.

Mid-Quarter Crisis

Working for Dia&Co means working from home.

Working from home affords me a beautiful luxury I’m not used to: Time. I have worked full time for 12 years straight. Sure, for several years it was evening shifts, but it was still full time, which meant extremely limited time to myself. Working full time also meant being too fatigued to do anything once I had a day off, or got home from work.

I’ve registered for a college class.

I haven’t taken a class in 13 years. I have meant to go back to school for years, at least four. I know exactly what degree I want and how to get it. I have the university of my dreams’ course catalog in my nightstand. I was just stuck in the safety of my full time job. Now that I’ve been jolted out, I can’t believe I lost so much time.

Mid-Quarter Crisis

So – here’s to time.

Here’s to the time to finally take my brand new tripod out of the box and use my brand new camera (I bought a year ago) to take the photos I’ve had in my head since I moved into this apartment complex. Here’s to taking that damn statistics class. Here’s to following my actual dreams, and not just my dream of security. Here’s to coffee on the patio. Here’s to breakfast at 11am. Here’s to Mid-Quarter Crises. May we all be so lucky to be so thrown out of our routine.

Mid-Quarter Crisis

Follow:
Share:

My Dia&Co Experience

In late January, an instagrammer I follow posted a notice that Dia&Co was hiring for part time stylists, based right here in Dallas.

Even though my job was ramping up to a busy spring, I decided to apply. I love clothes, I love shopping, I spend most of my weekends endlessly clicking through plus size clothing anyway, why not get paid for it? Right?

Dia&Co blush trench coat

(Me in my Dia&Co/Junarose blush trench coat. Just call me Rachel Sandiego!) 

I had seen plenty of Dia&Co ads on Facebook. I actually commented a bit disparagingly on an ad once, as it had billed itself as workwear but every sample outfit had jeans. However, my mother is a subscriber, and she seemed perfectly happy with the service.

Let me back up. Dia&Co is a plus size subscription styling service.

Whenever you request a box, a real live person reads through your profile, looks at any photos you’ve uploaded, and even looks at any social media profiles you’ve linked. Your stylist tries to get an idea of how you normally dress, what your body type is, and what pieces they think you’ll like/appreciate/want/need. Then, the stylist writes you a personalized note about how to wear the items included. The box gets packed and shipped out, then you have 5 days to try everything on and decide what you’d like to keep, return, or exchange. If you keep everything, you get an extra 25% off.

Way back in September, I went to a plus size pool party. It was awkward. I did meet a lady there who was the head of styling at the Dallas office of Dia. I kept my previous denim comments to myself. She asked if I was going to attend Curvy Con, which was happening the next week. Dia is the main sponsor of Curvy Con. At the time (and now!) I was dying to go to Curvy Con in New York, but just couldn’t swing it, so she definitely had my attention. We chatted more about being a stylist, we took some pictures in the Texas-shaped pool, and then we exchanged numbers and instagram handles.

And then I kinda forgot about it. Until I saw her post that they were hiring for part time. And then I found out that I needed a new car. So a second job was on the cards.

The interview and hiring process was lengthy, but I think it was necessary.

There was a video interview, a take-home styling test, and then an in-person group interview, which included another styling test and a typing test. I was surprised to see how many straight size ladies were in my group interview, and then how many were at the 2 day orientation and training we attended after we were hired. The orientation/training was great. We got to see a lot of the garments in person, to see house brand quality (high!) and sizing (fair!). We also went over different body types, different clothing shapes, different styles, and each of the in-house brands. Some of the body shape and clothing info was a little redundant for me, as a fat seamstress, but it was definitely important for the straight size employees to understand how many factors go into clothing and fit for plus sizes. 

Once those two days were done, we were on our own to work from home. Our lead stylist still oversaw our progress to make sure everyone was getting the hang of it. All boxes and styling notes were double checked before being sent out. Corrections, suggestions, and ideas were given to each of us via Google Docs.

I couldn’t resist and have so far styled 2 boxes for myself.

I am really pleased with the quality, fit, and style of the clothes — especially our house brands you can’t test out in a store beforehand. It’s been really fun to know that I’m helping under-served plus size women throughout America try new styles and find their confidence through clothing. The downside of that is reading their personal styling notes – things like, “I have a fat stomach and I should never show it” and “I hate my butt, I have to wear long shirts to cover it”. It’s a bit jarring to read how many women have such strong insecurities.

Dia&Co dress

(My favorite Dia&Co/Rachel Roy dress) 

I don’t have cable. I don’t read magazines. My instagram feed is BoPo beauties and DrakeOnCake. I have been living in a body positive, pro-visible belly outline, anti-diet talk bubble and I didn’t even realize it. I feel very lucky, and very proud to be able to help create that bubble for other women through She Might Be and through Dia&Co. While critics may call it an echo chamber — not all echos are bad. It’s perfectly okay to have positive ideas and feelings echoed back at you.

I personalize styling notes to each customer.

I try to use mine to help women feel confident and empowered by the items I’ve chosen for them. Dia&Co is focused on empowerment. We share positive feedback and happy customer photos throughout the company, and cheer on our beloved customers. Within the first month of work, there’s been a call for deserving organizations that we can help. Confidence through clothing can be looked down on as shallow. However, feeling confident in an outfit can be the building block to feeling confident in other areas of life. I walk taller and speak more confidently when I’m not afraid of people looking at me. That leads to doing better at work. One tiny step snowballs into a happy, content life.

If you’d like to sign up for Dia&Co and are in the US, my affiliate link will give you a $20 discount.
Dia&Co blouse

(My Beth Ditto Collection skirt and Dia&Co blouse.)

Follow:
Share:

I think I have been healing

healing

Not to be maudlin, but I love Sylvia Plath. I first read The Bell Jar as a depressed teenage girl, hiding it in my pillowcase. I identified so strongly with Esther/Sylvia and her feeling of being on the outside looking in. As I’ve gotten older and thankfully grown out of my major depression, I identify more with Sylvia’s poems, and their tone of growth and healing.

I’m very proud to say that after 18 months of individual therapy and 20 weeks of group therapy, I have graduated from counseling at my local rape crisis center.

It was an emotional last session; my therapist Anna, reassured me that I am always welcome to participate in any of the group sessions they offer after we talked about my plans for the future. Then we went straight into the last session of group therapy, with the 4 women who participated through all 20 weeks.

Those women are, quite possibly, the strongest, best women I know.

Together, we ached. It is a strange and powerful feeling to know that everyone in the room knows your biggest secret, and shares it. Those weeks together were like a movie montage — laughing, crying, hugging. Usually in the same session.

The #MeToo movement has had a similar feel to me.

A shared background, interpreted individually, bringing people together across all social lines. That has contributed to the smooth transition out of therapy and back into “civilian” life. I hope that we, as a society of interconnected social media accounts, continue this feeling of community and allow more survivors to come forward and share their stories. Waiting, aching, healing — and now, feeling more complete than I have in years.

Please take from this that not only is it okay to speak out: it is good. Not only can it help you heal, but others can use your strength as a weapon in their own battles. Keeping an open discussion about mental health is really important for helping to end stigma and shame. Its okay not to be okay. 


image taken from the She Might Be Instagram.

Follow:
Share:

On Target with New Brands

I recently participated in a market research study regarding the new range of women’s apparel at Target. I was really excited to participate, because I love Tar-Jhay, and because I hadn’t bought any clothing from them in years. Ok, and because I got paid.

Target is introducing several new clothing brands, and reinventing themselves. The study focused mostly on their new brand A New Day. The tagline for the new brand is Style That Goes Wherever You Do, and with sizes ranging from XS-4X, they’re working towards inclusivity. In the store we were in, the plus sizes were in the branded section, but still on their own racks. I actually prefer that, it’s easier to tell if something will come in my size or not. The campaign seems really focused on including plus size customers.

To their credit (and my delight), they did have lots of advertising featuring plus size models. Target - A New Day splashpage

They’ve also introduced two additional brands: Ava & Viv, focused solely on plus size customers; and Who What Wear, a trend focused streetwear brand.

I was a little disappointed in the Ava & Viv brand section, as in the store it was around the corner from the main clothing area, and the clothes just weren’t my taste. I’m also disappointed to see that online, Ava & Viv doesn’t have their own fancy splash page, like A New Day does. To be fair, it looks like Ava & Viv is more focused on basics, rather than trendier fashion pieces. As an American, I am very excited to see the Ava & Viv line has a great ASOS knit midi skirt dupe, no more shipping charges!

Who What Wear has a great look, with a ton of work-friendly yet very trendy pieces. This line is reminiscent of Misguided or Boohoo, with a more sophisticated finish. This is a collection that really looks like me. I look forward to trying out the pretty blouses and the professional dresses.

Who What Wear header

The fun of a research study is getting to tell them exactly what you think.

I felt liberated to tell them that the plus size clothing being placed around the corner was annoying. It feels like they’ll happily take my fat money, as long as we keep it on the DL. It’s offensive. I’m not your middle school girlfriend, this can’t work if you’re not proud to be with me. Since the women interviewing me were all thin, they were surprised that was something so important.

Consequently, I’m excited to try out these new pieces and to see how the quality and sizing compares to my usual haunts. I’ve been spending my extra pennies on housewares lately, so my wardrobe could definitely use a little refresh before the cold weather hits Texas.

Some of my favorite pieces from the new brands include:

striped jumpsuit

This gorgeous jumpsuit that is giving me serious Danielle Vanier vibes.

faux leather holiday outfit

These faux leather trousers, perfect for holiday parties.

Floral pencil skirt

This floral pencil skirt that will slot in perfectly with my normal work clothes.

striped shirt dress

And this shirtdress that will look just as good with tights and boots as it will with sandals and rolled up sleeves in spring.

Follow:
Share:

The Black Sheep Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for those with even the best family situations, and they can be near impossible for the black sheep. Oh good, a room full of people disappointed in me! Let’s have a nice meal together. Great. Luckily, I’ve put together my top survival tips for getting through the season while still proudly being the black sheep.

black sheep

Know Your Boundaries.

Once you know your own emotional boundaries, you’ll feel so much more relaxed even in uncomfortable situations. If you have a hard boundary on weight talk, counter Aunt Eve’s remarks about your body with a simple, “I’d rather not talk about it.” If she persists, repeat yourself again and, if possible, leave the room for a moment. You don’t have to bend your boundaries for family.

 

“No” is a Complete Sentence.

This is another big one for boundaries. You do not have to explain anything, to anyone, for any reason. A firm, but polite “No” is the only explanation you need to give. “Come give your Uncle a kiss!” No. “Are you seeing anyone special this year?” No. “Can you watch your cousins while we go to a movie?” No. Consider this your permission slip to not explain yourself.

 

Make Time for Yourself.

Giving yourself the quiet alone time we all need can be especially difficult if you’re staying in the family home, or if you have guests staying with you. Commit to giving yourself the space you need for just 30 minutes a day. Even if it means sneaking out to your car and parking a block away to browse instagram, give yourself private time to breathe. Can’t leave? Shut your bedroom door and pop on some headphones. You’ll feel so much better prepared to socialize after you’ve given yourself a break.

 

Be Yourself.

Let your freak flag fly! There’s no use making yourself miserable by playing a role for family that already judges you. Make the weird reference no one else will get, but you find hilarious. Put on your favorite film, even if you don’t think the rest of the house wants to watch it. Been reading a lot of fanfiction lately? Let your family know you’ve been reading a lot of independant fiction from up and coming writers you’ve found online. Live your truth.

 

There’s No “Right” Way to Celebrate.

If you just can’t face family this holiday season, you can have a full, happy celebration without them. Let yourself enjoy your office party, a get together with friends, even just watching Christmas movies at home. You haven’t failed Christmas if you don’t spend it with family. The important thing is to celebrate in ways that fulfill you, whatever that means to you personally.

 

Follow:
Share:

Linking Depression and Obesity

hi res in bed

Kaiser Health News recently published an article, detailing a medical breakthrough: depression and obesity are intertwined.

This is probably not news to you if you are, like me, fat and depressed. It shocked me to hear that this has not already been explored by the medical community. And then, the biggest shock — “Scientists don’t know why.”

Really? Scientists don’t know why? Did they ask any of their fat and depressed patients? Sure, I might not know the biological reasons why, but I can detail several reasons why my fatness and depression are linked.

Depression says “What’s the point?”

My weight has many causes: some genetic, some medical, some my decisions. Generally, I try to eat pretty healthily, as I tend to get heartburn and gastrointestinal distress pretty easily. I feel my best when I don’t eat meat or dairy. It’s not about weight, it’s about not spending the next day feeling nauseated and in pain. I do a pretty good job sticking to meals that I know are “safe” for me to eat. However, when I have a lousy day and my depression is really bad, it’s so easy to go “Ugh, what’s the point?” and grab fast food on the way home. I am weak to the siren call of the double quarter pounder with cheese. And I buy it anyway sometimes, because I know it will make me feel better in the short term. Depression says, “What’s the point in eating healthy, you already feel terrible, do something you know will feel good.” It’s a very short term reward, a hit of dopamine, to eat that burger I know I’ll regret.

Fat people are treated poorly by society

Constant messages that your body is unacceptable are depressing. Mentally healthy people struggle with their body image in the face of the media’s obsession with thinness and health. People already predisposed to depression take the criticism even harder. Facing the insidious idea that you are wrong and bad and should feel bad about it, it’s hard to feel good about yourself. Even going to the doctor for help with a mental illness can be a trial. Often, no matter what you see your doctor for, they’ll start the consultation by telling you to lose weight. Have a sore throat? Lose weight. Ingrown toenail? Lose weight. So depressed you can barely make it to work every day? Try getting some exercise! Knowing that your concerns will be brushed off and you’ll be chastised for your body make it much easier to avoid seeing a doctor at all.

Antidepressants often cause weight gain

The side effects of the most common antidepressants almost all list weight gain. Seeking treatment for depression while fat can cause you to get fatter. Even if you remove morality from weight, gaining weight can be difficult to handle just in a day-to-day-life kind of way. Your clothes stop fitting, and  it gets expensive to buy more. If you start to feel better mentally, the pressure to lose weight creeps back in. Trying to find the right prescription is difficult enough, but if your doctor won’t prescribe you one known to cause weight gain, the list of options gets smaller and smaller. What if the pill most likely to help is also the one most likely to cause weight gain? Depending on your current weight, your doctor may not even prescribe it to you.

At 23, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, the most severe form of depression

My depression seemed to cycle. I would be okay for long stretches of time, sometimes even years, and then I would suddenly sink for months. The first time I took an antidepressant, I was 14. I gained weight, but I was able to do my school work and participate in activities again. After a little over a year, I went off it on doctor’s orders. I went back on a different one at 17. And 19. And again at 21. And 23. When I was last prescribed an antidepressant, the doctor told me to take it for at least two years straight, hoping that it would permanently change my brain chemistry. So far, it seems to have worked. But having depression is like being an addict, in that you’re always in recovery. I’ll always have depression, even if I’m not currently depressed. I’m not as high-functioning as I could be, but I’m at a point of feeling “good enough” that I don’t want to try any new medications and upset this balance.  

My depression and weight are absolutely linked. I’m curious to see if the medical community can get past their bias against fat people to find out the biological reasons why. I’ll be waiting, fat and depressed, to see if they can improve my quality of life.

Follow:
Share:

Winter Coat Daydreams

Living in Dallas, I very rarely need a real winter coat.

However, this doesn’t stop me from window shopping for them. I have a little daydream about living somewhere with a real winter and think about how great I would look in all the new coats every year.

 

Daydream #1 is creative cool in the city. I need a statement coat. Something to stand out. Something a bit weird.

Eloquii leopard print
This leopard print coat from Eloquii is perfect for that. The beautiful emerald green collar gives it a little pop and it definitely stands out in a sea of black wool. This is sized from 14/16 to a 26/28 US, which means it’s great for UK size 30/32. The best part? It’s currently on sale for 40% off!

 

ASOS Ruffle Skater
Maybe leopard print isn’t for you. This hot pink skater coat with ruffles still stands out of a crowd, with a huge pop of color. I love the skirted bottom and the frilly shoulders. This is a steal at £75 and is available in UK sizes 16-30 and US sizes 12-28.

 

Day Dream #2 is Boogie Nights. Pair those bell bottoms with some disco or some folk music, whatever floats your boat.
ASOS Faux Fur
ASOS Curve is bringing back 70’s glam with faux fur coats this season. Everybody can be a little bit Jerry Hall with the help of a faux fur. This midi-length is available in UK sizes 18-28 (size 30 is currently out of stock) and US sizes 12-24.

 

Modcloth Cape
This tweedy vintage-y cape from ModCloth can also make your 70’s dreams come true. Sizing up to a US 4X, so just add bell bottoms and clogs.

 

Daydream #3 is Ultra Luxe. Luxurious fabrics, cool, cultivated styles, and being the HBIC.
Universal Standard Beas Coat
The Beas coat from Universal Standard is perfect for my ultra-luxe, ultra-boss alter-ego. Cosmopolitan, polished, no drama, no trifling. Just lush fabrics with high quality finishes. Universal Standard offers international shipping, and this is available in US size 10-28.

 

Navabi Shawl Collar
Isolde Roth’s shawl collar coat from Navabi is another ultra-luxe option. The rich color is unusual enough to stand out without sacrificing the sophistication. This is available in UK 14-26, with size 28 being sold out, and US 10-22. Use She Might Be’s exclusive code “SheMightBe15” for 15% off.

 

Daydream #4 – Hello Snowbunny
Evans Puffer
This Faux Fur Hooded Coat from Evans is perfect for trekking through the snow on the way to meet bae in a mountain lodge. Since this is a daydream, Tom Hardy meets me there with a glass of champagne and a fire blazing. This coat will get you almost as warm. Since there’s just the one Tom Hardy, heat things up with this coat, available in UK sizing 14-32 and US sizing 10-28.

 

River Island Parka
If you’re a more rock n’ roll type of snowbunny, this faux fur parka from River Island might be for you. This parka mixes soft faux fur with shiny coated fabric and silver zips. Soft with a hard edge, great for grunge snowbunnies on the go. Available in UK sizes 18-28 and US sizes 14-24.

 

What’s your winter coat daydream?

Follow:
Share: