Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on “plus size.”

Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.comLost in the Middle | www.eccentricowl.com

Recently, Elana over at Room 334 posted pictures of herself wearing a swimsuit, looking every bit as adorable and stylish as ever. When I finally got to look at the post, I was really refreshed by the normalcy — a girl at the beach in a cute swimsuit who wasn’t claiming insecurity based on body type, who generally wouldn’t have posted bikini pictures not because she thinks her body is unattractive but because she doesn’t feel the need to plaster it in everybody’s faces, who is just… normal. My favorite types of bloggers have always been those to whom I could relate — not super thin, not voluptuously plus sized, but average. I have a soft spot for the everyday woman, and Elana has been one of my favorites for a long time because she is so relatable in that area.

But then, just a few days later, she posted again with the disheartening news that, without consulting her prior on how they’d like to use her photos, the company who sent her the swimsuit for review had hashtagged her as “plus size” and put her in an album called “Suriana Curvy Girl.” And I was confused.

If companies and/or popular society saw this girl as a plus size woman, did they think the same of me? Elana and I wear the same dress size and the same shirt size, but I have bigger hips, especially right now through pregnancy. If someone would add a girl whose hips are smaller than mine and whose figure at best I would have called “curvy” — something I’ve used to describe people who are thinner AND bigger than me — as plus sized, what would they call me?Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

For years, I have worked to be a normal size. I have lost weight, I have gained confidence; I have gained weight and lost confidence. I have hated my thighs, loved my waist, watched numbers shrink and grow, felt my insecurities do the same, and I have slowly but surely done my best to fit into the category of average, because to me, my average-sized friends are so beautiful. More than that, though, I have worked hard to appreciate other things about myself and have confidence that is outside of what number my jeans bear.

I have read a lot of articles for and against the term plus size, but I’ve never really formed an opinion on it until now. In the past, plus size was an easy way to categorize clothes, much like you would use “juniors” or “petites” or “misses” sizing. The cuts were just different, and therefore needed that label. The women who wore them were of above-average sizing (not a bad thing), and as I would have also categorized a petite blogger or a mom blogger, there were plus size bloggers. And as the years passed, being a plus size blogger took on a lot of (much deserved!) positivity and garnered applause for their bravery — to put themselves out there as a woman whose body was not what society hailed as ideal, in clothing that was attractive.

As I watched the self-proclaimed plus-size blogs grow in popularity right alongside the modelesque sized bloggers, sometimes I felt a bit lost. I have nothing against plus sized or model-sized blogs, and in fact love to read them, but I am not plus sized, and I am not model sized. I am not hailed as brave for wearing clothing that is attractive. I am not sought out by media for having a thin body type that is currently praised as ideal. I am not applauded for wearing a swimsuit to the beach as a woman my size.  I am average. I am simply accepted and forgotten as a part of popular society. And because I have aspired so much to be where I am, it’s disappointing to realize that to the larger part of the published world, what I have to offer may not be considered simply because I am not a groundbreaking size.Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

After all, how do you market an average body? How can one gain attention for a size 8 woman whose figure is similar to so many others? How can you promote groundbreaking or trendsetting when someone wears size twelve jeans? Where is the controversy, the attention-grabbing headline, the hashtag that garners the most clicks? How can you create desire with someone who does not have a figure every girl aspires towards, or admires for its bravery to be different?

The fact is, in all of the movement to promote body diversity, there still is not much diversity going on. Between the truly plus sized and the fairly fit bodies, there is a land that is rarely covered by the media that considers Jennifer Lawrence to be fat, where Lena Dunham is slammed for apparently promoting obesity, and where models with better figures than me are considered “plus size.” There are only a handful of companies who truly advertise with diverse bodies, but even then fall more on the sides of thin or plus than choosing to showcase an average-sized girl.

Reading Elana’s blog post sparked a lot of thought on my part. What do I really think of the term plus size? Who do I consider to be so? And why does it even matter?Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.comStripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

Much as Elana was more offended that no discussion was had prior to a company posting her as a plus size girl, I would be offended if someone were to label me as plus size — not because I think it’s a bad thing to be a plus size woman, but because that is a misrepresentation of who I am. I have often admired plus size bloggers and occasionally wished I could be considered part of that group at my current weight because it looks like fun and I think they are beautiful. But my measurements fall far short of being plus or thin, which excludes me from two very popular categories.

However, I would not want to be included simply because the numbers on my scale or the shape of my body makes me a marketable term. And I would not want to be labeled as such without my knowledge, because that is not how I choose to represent myself. Calling a person plus size should be something used respectfully, thoughtfully, and with prior discussion with that person as to how they would like to be labeled. Despite all of the work going into reclaiming “plus size” as a positive thing, how it is used should always be coupled with sensitivity, respect, and consideration.

After all, humans are not insusceptible to the negativity that comes with having a unique feature. No matter how much it might look like they don’t care in public, nobody knows how much they struggle in private. Nobody knows how that label might affect others who see it applied. Nobody knows how much it could hurt when it’s something they’ve never considered themselves to be.Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

Dress, heels, belt, and scarf, thrifted | earrings, vintage/grandma’s

And above all of that, I don’t think the term “plus size” should be banned; banning it implies to everyone that it is a bad thing to be, and demeans those who are happy to be plus, who take pride in their above-average curves, who value that term as a part of themselves. Nor do I think that it should be “reclaimed” and promoted, as many are trying to do right now. Rather, I think it should be normalized. Because the other options can both cause damage. Just as marketing a thin body has damaged the lives of many young girls, so too can running the opposite way and saying that plus size is the new norm. Those who are simply average get caught in the controversy between thin and plus size, and nobody stands up to say that they, too, are perfectly acceptable and beautiful in society.

Normalizing the term could negate the unwanted effects of those who might use it to bully and those who unknowingly feed the need-to-be-that-way fire in the minds of girls who idolize a body type that is not their own. Normalizing it means you can be a happy, healthy person regardless of which section you shop in and nobody will argue. Normalizing it means a woman with rolls can wear a bikini to the beach and nobody bats an eye. Normalizing it could mean that society would begin to promote all body types, and not just the extremes. That suddenly the ideal body type is not just one shape, size, or number on the scale, but many.

Perhaps then, marketers would not need to label someone as something they are not simply for clicks and views. Perhaps then, we could be one step closer to a healthier mindset of what beauty is in young girls today. And perhaps then, nobody would get lost in the middle.

Please note: this is not a post to bash plus size or thin bloggers or women, but to challenge the way marketing is used in the fashion industry, and to spark thought about whether or not these terms are harmful, and how we can make a change to continue along the road to all-inclusive body diversity in stores today.

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1960’s housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves

1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com  If I look a bit tired in these photos, it’s because… I am. This morning I dredged my way out of bed at somewhere around 7:05, took a look at the makeup left over from yesterday (I have this bad habit of not washing my face at night), and decided that since I hadn’t taken outfit pictures in 10 days and Asa was still asleep, I didn’t care about the leftover makeup or the tiredness and I was going to just do it.

And I’m glad I did, because it’s so much easier to take pictures in the morning when the sun isn’t quite blazing into the yard yet. 1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com   The entire time I was taking these pictures, I just kept thinking “I wear your grandma’s clothes; I look incredible” (thanks Macklemore) because my husband very much thinks this is a total grandma dress (it is) and this coffee cup was my grandma’s, and the scarf, earrings, and pin are all from my grandma’s era. Basically, probably everything I’m wearing except my shoes and glasses belonged to someone’s grandma before I thrifted it. 1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com

Speaking of glasses, this is my fifth pair from Firmoo, who I am always so incredibly thankful to work with, and I feel as though I never change my praises of them; I love this pair. I Googled Firmoo the other day to see what the internet was saying about them, and came across a few bad reviews (took a long time to arrive, frames were flimsy, bad customer service) and I just have to say… in all of my experiences working with Firmoo, never once have I encountered any of these issues.

I would say, having owned five pairs of their glasses, that’s a pretty good record! The frames are always comfortable to wear and not too heavy (I don’t like heavy-feeling frames); the prescription is always spot-on, processing and shipping feels like it takes nothing (two weeks at most?), and whenever I’ve had a question I’m always contacted back within a day. 1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com 1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com And perhaps this is partially due to the fact that I am gifted these glasses and work hard to provide them with quality reviews; maybe as a blogger promoter, I get better service. I don’t know. I tend to assume that I am treated the same as any paying customer (I’d say paying customers should be treated even better – if that’s possible, because I’ve always gotten awesome service and product).

Point being, I have recommended Firmoo to SO many people because I think that they have great price ranges, style ranges, customer service, and overall they are a company that, through being able to work with them, has made me a loyal customer. They are the first place I will look when I need new frames, and the first company I recommend when people are looking for new frames. Not because they are sent to me complimentary, but because I have always been extremely happy with them. There are definitely companies I have worked with multiple times that, the more I worked with them, the less I wanted to recommend them because at first glance they seemed great, but then quality slipped and over time it became clear that they were concerned first with getting their names out there. Firmoo is not one of those!

1960's housedresses, flower pins, and headscarves | www.eccentricowl.com

Vintage dress, earrings, brooch, and scarf, thrifted | cup, grandma’s | shoes, Modcloth | glasses, c/o Firmoo

I have been thinking about sponsorships in general lately, and how when I first started getting contacted for sponsored posts, free items, and other types of marketing, it was so new and exciting that I accepted nearly everything offered to me with the excuse that I didn’t really have money to spend on new clothes, so why should I refuse when they were offered? And whose business was it anyway why I chose what I chose to receive? But over time, as I’ve settled more into my blog and my style, I’ve realized I’d much rather be selective about what I promote; I don’t want to be accepting free product just because it’s free and exciting. I want to be working with companies who actually fit with my style aesthetic, who provide great service, who I would recommend to others, and whose pricing is in line with what I think is fair.

Sometimes, it’s really tempting to accept the offer to receive a free $300 formal gown to wear and review, but I would never actually purchase something like that in real life so why should I be promoting it?

It’s a subject I don’t think many bloggers talk about, and I think they should. I don’t think there is any shame in admitting you were sent a product for free; the work we put into showcasing that item can take a good chunk of our time and effort. As bloggers working with companies, we provide photography, styling, modeling, written articles, ad space, recommendations, site traffic, and a personal touch to everything we share. So in reality, we pay for those complimentary items with our time, effort, blog space, and talents, which is something that took me a long time to realize.

Do you promote items on your blog? What is your policy for accepting sponsorships or free items?

Happy Thursday!

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Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses

Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.comMarvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com

Hello lovelies!

Today I am working on what feels like a massive Etsy update, tackling the boxes I have yet to delve into and posting some of my most treasured finds (wedding dresses! 1960’s wiggle dress! 60’s and 70’s slips/sheer robes! 1970’s maxi dresses!) which is hard. All of the things I got through photographing today are things I’ve been hoarding because… pretty. Even though they don’t fit me, or they wouldn’t fit my style/life at all. Having an Etsy shop is really good for me, because it forces me to break my hoard-all-the-pretty-vintage habits and share what I’ve found with someone else who can actually wear the garments and enjoy them.Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com

As you’ll notice, I’m not pregnant in these pictures. Don’t worry, baby girl is just fine! I’m just too ensconced in Etsy updating to do my own outfit photoshoot today, so I’m sharing these pictures instead, which somehow never got used and are from August of last year!

I don’t know how that happened; usually I’m over-eager to share my outfits with you all, and end up posting the same day that I’ve shot an outfit. But somehow, as I scrolled through my files of outfits for different ways I’ve styled this skirt, I discovered I never posted this one. So here we are!Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.comMarvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com And now looking at the images, I have to say: I miss those shoes terribly. They were my first shoe purchase from Modcloth, and I literally wore them to pieces. Literally. The bottoms cracked, and they split across the sole into two. So much for that. But I had them for two years, and wore them excessively, so I’d say they were a pretty good buy.  Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com

Now to replace them. My mustard T-straps will probably be the next to go, since they’re a sort-of replacement shoe for these, being wedges and strappy, but I still need a good pair of red wedges. And… just more pregnancy-friendly shoes in general. I have been banned from wearing high heels of any sort (low wedges like these are okay) from now until baby girl gets here (side note: I am so ready for her to arrive so that I can actually use her name) because the other week I slipped on loose gravel and took a slow fall to my knees, effectively scaring my husband. I wasn’t even wearing heels, but he banned me anyway. Haha!

And we’re all okay, though my scabby knees might argue otherwise.Marvel skirt, red tank top, and retro sunglasses | www.eccentricowl.com

Tank, Target | skirt, self-made | belt, thrifted | shoes, sunglasses, and headband, Modcloth

I hope you are all having a lovely week! It’s been gloriously sunny and warm this week, for which I am extremely thankful! Lots of walks to the beach are in order.

Be sure to check my Etsy shop later for some gorgeous updates (or, you can wait until I get everything posted and do a massive Etsy update/thrift haul combo, because that’s going to happen. And as always, use OWLREADER for 15% off!)

Happy Wednesday!

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Mixing polka dots and florals… again.

Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com

Yesterday morning, Asa woke up hysterically crying and clingy.

This is really unusual for him (I’ve heard some kids just always wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but he usually wakes up chirping “hi! hi! hi!”), so I knew right away that he was sick and expected a day full of runny poops and barfing. All day, though, he just remained lethargic, barely ate, drank lots of water, and only wanted to sleep and cuddle. Throughout the day his temperature stayed around 98 degrees, so I wasn’t too worried. But last night, before my husband and I clocked out for the night, we went in for one more check on him as is our custom, and discovered he was so feverish that he was actually red all over, and the thermometer informed us frantically that he was pushing a 103 fever. Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com Now, we only have a thermometer that takes underarm or under tongue temperatures, and since it’s pretty impossible to get a crying toddler to keep a thermometer under his tongue, we were only able to take underarm, which is the least accurate of the bunch. After sponging him down and giving him water and generally just calming him from the hysteria that erupted when we picked him up (he had just been laying there looking at the ceiling, making not a peep until we touched him with our comparatively cold hands), we re-took his temperature and it was a slightly less alarming (but still very worrying) 102.

So, for the first time in his life, Asa slept with us in our bed. It was past midnight by the time we had him all settled down, and after a failed attempt by my husband to take him back to his own bed (Asa kept handing over his blankie and wanting up, which is usually a sign that he wants his crib), little boy fell into a fitful sleep on my husband’s chest, and we were able to gently deposit him into the middle of the bed. It’s amazing how such a little body can hog so much space; my husband and I both assumed the other had lots of room because we both slept on the very edge — Asa’s head was at my husband’s chest, and his feet were somewhere around my stomach. He knows how to get the most space for himself, I tell ya.  Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com We spent most of the night alternatively checking his head and underarms for temperature changes, knowing that if his fever didn’t subside he’d need a doctor’s visit in the morning, and by 6am when my husband’s alarm went off, Asa’s fever was down to 100. He promptly sat up as soon as the alarm went off, said “hi”, tapped my back (I can’t stay in one position too long right now, so had my  back turned), dropped his pacifier, said “uh oh!” (his current favorite phrase), and, after a little bit of “talking”, handed my husband his blankie, reached out his arms to be picked up, and waved goodbye to me.

This time, he did want to be taken to his own bed, where he slept sporadically until 9:30am. I wish I could say that I slept too, but I’ve discovered recently that if I attempt to go back to sleep after having woken up past 6, I get up feeling groggy and queasy and more miserable than when I just do without sleep.

Thankfully, when Asa finally woke up for good (well, temporarily; he was only up for two hours before he asked for a nap), his fever was completely gone and he was merely a toned down version of his usual silly self — staying put on the carpet where I deposited him to change a diaper for nearly 15 minutes after I’d finished and gone to grab a few things, only truly waking up after he ate a banana, halfheartedly piping up “uh oh” whenever he dropped a toy or a binkie — and I’m pretty sure he’s on the mend. Whatever bug got him yesterday was short lived, and now I’m just hoping my husband and I don’t get it, too. Mixing polka dots and florals... again | www.eccentricowl.com

Shirt, Target | skirt and belt, thrifted | shoes, Modcloth

So today, you get pictures that are nearly a week old now, from a day when I threw on this shirt and skirt and said “why not?” once again — my outfit mantra now when I try on things that are perhaps more bold than I was thinking that day, or more outlandish than I normally wear. I seem to pair this shirt with florals (or patterns in general) much more often than I realized, and it is definitely one of my staple closet basics.

I’m becoming very glad that I’ve shot a few double outfits in the last few weeks, on days when I had extra time and had a few things I wanted to style, because on days like these, when there’s very little chance I’ll get dressed, it’s nice to have a backup plan.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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