She’s one of the most beautiful in the world, but it was the news of Angelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy that took my breath away. In yesterday’s My Medical Choice op-ed for the New York Times, Angelina shared the story of losing her mother to cancer and her decision to proactively treat a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which doctors estimated increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer by 87 percent. Without her breasts, the risk factor drops to less than 5 percent. That she replaced them with implants is neither here nor there. She still lost her breasts. They’d been with her for 37 years. I’m not overly attached to mine—they’re nothing to write home about—but I have wondered how I would feel to lose them, even if it meant I lived to 92. Women are so hard on themselves, and when you work in an industry built on looks, the self-scrutiny is heightened. But good hair days have nothing on good health. I want to look in the mirror each morning and be grateful to see my strong, illness-free self staring back. That is more than enough. Considering the stress and sleep deprivation I put my body through, it’s more than I deserve.
Fact: More than half of U.S. Women will wear sleeveless attire this fall/winter. Are you one of them? I am. Or rather, was. In olden times (this summer) I wore sleeveless year round because a) my arms are one of the smaller parts of my body, relatively speaking; and b) the shift dress is my version of the power suit. Just add tights and pumps when the weather turns cool and voila—I’m channeling Rita Wilson on The Good Wife. Lately, however, I’ve been feeling bad about my arms. Somewhere between a new job, kitchen remodel and this beloved blog, exercise fell by the wayside—and with it my sinewy arms. For the first time in my life I don’t really have the confidence to go sleeveless. Turns out this is perfectly normal: 57% of women believe that you need to be confident in your body to pull of the sleeveless look. Turns out I don’t like feeling bad about my arms one bit.
Which makes it rather apropos that Dove’s latest feel-good campaign is all about encouraging women to go sleeveless. The girl power surrounding this brand is so contagious, I can’t help but get with the program. Life is series of priorities, and if we don’t put ourselves at the top of the list, who will? To get my arms in gear by the holidays, I’m determined to ramp up the 6 a.m. spin classes and throw in daily push-ups for good measure. I may even get into yoga if it means getting Gwyneth Paltrow arms. Of course all of this exertion leads to sweat, for which I’ll fittingly be relying on Dove Go Sleeveless Soothing Chamomile Deodorant. There’s something about a fresh, shiny new stick of deo that feels like a clean slate, don’t you think? That, and this one provides a miraculous 48-hours of protection and softer, smoother underarms in 5 days. Never underestimate the power of a good deodorant!
Are you going sleeveless this season? More importantly: How do you feel about your arms? Discuss!
We talk a lot about outer beauty on this blog, not because we’re superficial but because we feel good when we look good and want you to, too. Sally McGraw is on the same mission. On her massively popular blog, Already Pretty, she encourages women to embrace their own bodies and enhance what they’ve got through personal style. This week she’s living the blogger dream, publishing her first book: Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well. Unlike so many fashion rags, this is an accessible, body-positive self-guided makeover tool to help you define and hone your own personal style. If you’ve ever struggled with finding styles and shapes that flatter your figure, this is your book. It’s also your lucky day because Sally is awarding one BB reader with a complimentary copy. All you have to do is leave your name below and share your most pressing style conundrum. She’ll be popping over to answer them. For everyone else, Sally is bestowing her three of favorite pearls of counter-intuitive style wisdom:
1. Sleeveless garments are more flattering than short sleeves
Short and cap sleeves often bisect the arm where it’s widest, so they can actually make arms appear larger. (Not a problem for those concerned about thin upper arms, but definitely an issue for those concerned about large upper arms.)
2. A floor-length skirt can actually make you look TALLER
If you have long legs—especially if your long legs happen to be attached to a short torso—a skirt that disguises most of your lower half may make you look shorter overall. But if you have fairly balanced proportions or a long torso and short legs, a floor-length skirt will give the impression of height—even if you’re a short gal overall.
3. Fitted garments make you look slimmer than loose ones
If you are self-conscious about your weight, shape, or size, your instincts will probably tell you to do everything in your power to cover and distract from your weight, shape, and size. But when you wear loose, formless garments that mask your body’s form, including where it curves and dips, you create the impression of more bulk. It may feel strange to think of tighter clothing as flattering to a larger body, but showing the world a defined form will create a more pleasing silhouette than showing the world a formless mass.
Got a piece of counter-intuitive figure-flattery advice? We’d love to hear it!