I guess I’m sometimes into memes, but I also dropped the ball (no, not really) because I was too busy enjoying my actual real vacation that lasted more than three days, so I’m not putting this out until January, instead of all the other folks who do this at the end of the year. Anyway, I am not a wealthy person, nor am I generally speaking a person who does gifts for the holidays. But I do like gifting things to people I love when I think it’s something they will love, so this is my virtual basket of gifts for my favorite people.
So. The Best Stuff of Last Year for You to Try This Year: Body Edition.
I learned a lot about my body this year, from where I got my angst about it to where I learned to fat shame to what I like it to look like. More on those things some other time. Here are the things that make me feel good about my body. This is the area of my life where I’ve become a total obnoxious evangelist this year, and I’m only half sorry.
- Oyin Handmade: I’ll start at the top of my body. 2014 was the year I decided to stop buying cheap hair products and instead spend more than I can truly afford on good stuff, because down the line it means spending less (you need more cheap stuff to look good; plus eventually you need more haircuts and stuff to fix the damage) and having healthier hair overall. Once I remembered that with curly hair such as mine, you should only be conditioning every other day or so (and I hope you’re only shampooing once a week TOPS), I bought Oyin’s Juices & Berries spray to use as rewetting mist for days I don’t get my hair super wet in the shower, or for halfway through the day if I need to reboot my hair for some reason. It’s excellent. You should also buy their leave-in conditioner, Hair Dew. Both of them are worth buying in the gigantic bottle. I put them in teensy bottles for my gym bag and refill them when necessary. They smell good, feel good, and keep your hair cleaner and healthier overall. By the time you shampoo again, you won’t be nearly as greasy and nasty as you thought you were.
- Dear Kates: I actually discovered this brand in 2013 through an ad in Bust magazine, but 2014 was when I really started to rely on them and appreciate the company’s overall philosophy on bodies and feminisms. Just as I’ve started spending more money on fancy fitness clothes than work clothes (Clinton Kelly says you can dress like you’re French – i.e. wear the same outfits every week – so long as you bathe like you’re American) because they really do work better and make me feel better (so I’m shallow – so what?), I’ve also decided that more expensive underwear designed for women’s bodies is better than keeping some shitty cotton undies around for that time of the month (or that time of every three months, because there is not enough sick time or clean sheets in the world for me to deal with that business 12 times a year). Dear Kates are period underpants made out of material that is good at masking smells and absorbing things and just generally making you feel less like a disgusting beast when your body betrays you and does disgusting beast things at whatever interval that it does. Yes, they are massively expensive for underwear, but cost per wear is what you should be looking at when it comes to apparel, and what’s more, THEY WORK. You will feel human when you wear these. And the company is in general pretty excellent at celebrating bodies in a less pandering way than Dove. Anyway, you’ll get 25% off your first purchase if you type in XOHannahGomez at checkout, so you’re welcome.
- Panache: As someone who cannot buy bras at Target or a certain store at the mall that contributes to the epidemic of wrong bra sizes and terrible body self esteem because my size cannot even pretend to be what is sold on racks, I love this company for making bras in my size (30H, generally), and, the most exciting thing ever, exercise tops with built-in bras. Because let’s make something clear: “built-in bra” should not mean “extra flap of material with elastic that will only help a twelve-year-old and will force everyone else’s breasts over and out of the shirt.” It should mean “built-in bra.” And this top has that. I feel like a normal, everyday girl who can wear things from stores. Except that it costs an arm and a leg and you have to buy it online. No way around that. Wait for a sale, I guess. I got mine for $49.
- Ann Taylor Loft: Everyone has the one place where they can get jeans, and everywhere else they can get ill-fitting denim pants, you know? LOFT is my home for jeans made for my body. And pants in general, actually, because they know the difference between size and shape, and they design and define their pants by both of those things, so that I know I’m a curvy skinny in jeans or a Julie in trousers no matter what numbered size I may be today. Each cut and style is available in all sizes. It’s brilliant, past due (sorry, but the Target and Levis versions of those were bullshit), and if they ever go away, I will be up shit creek without a paddle, because my LOFT jeans and pants are my favorite things in the whole entire world.
- Cycling Classes: #sorrynotsorry, but I joined a fitness cult, and I’m going to come right out and say I love it so much that I also starting working for it as a second job. It’s amazing. I have liked spinning classes any old time I’ve tried them, but the cycling classes I take now, which are more full-body and include core and upper body work, are absolutely amazing. I had not been pleased with the way I let my body go to waste over the past few years, not even so much because of the size (though the size shaming from my family made it hard) but because I remember when I used to have a slightly more athletic build and be stronger, and I was no longer muscular or fit, and it made me feel crappy. I also use exercise endorphins as one of the drugs that helps manage my bipolar II disorder, no lie, so it was important to me to get back on that horse. I have slimmed down, so people say, but I mostly care about the fact that I’ve gotten my breathing difficulties in check and can see muscles on my body again. If you live near a SoulCycle or Flywheel location, that’s similar to what I’ve been doing, but if you live in the Bay Area, talk to me about Uforia Studios and the amazing discounts I can get you and the joy you will get.
Single most exciting body thing coming in 2015: I spent money I really shouldn’t have and ordered a Garmin vivosmart. I’m a librarian, remember, so I like data. And I am prone to anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies, remember, so I also love having something else to nag me and make me feel inadequate. It’s going to be an amazing year.