Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XL

Okay, fair warning. I have my Ranty McRant pants on again.

This time the subject that’s been weighing on my mind recently is the ridiculous–and unfair–standards when it comes to women’s clothing. My musings on the subject began a while back when everyone was sharing a post written by Kallie Provencher for called “24 Things Women Over 30 Should Stop Wearing.” No, I’m not going to share the link here because the post is pure clickbait. My reaction to it when everyone was talking about it was to tweet “The one thing women over 30 should stop wearing is the censure of random strangers on the internet.” Suffice to say, there was a lot of eye-rolling. I feel bad for the author, actually. If she’s lucky, she’s going to spend more time over thirty than under it, and according to her, life is over at twenty-nine and counting.

A beautiful rebuttal was written here, however. WarningCurvesAhead posted a brilliant collection of classy, sassy women wearing whatever pleased them–and looking smashing while doing so. I want to be these women when I grow up. I wish I had a fraction of their sense of style and their confidence in carrying off what looks great on them.

But one of the things Kallie Provencher frowned upon women over thirty wearing was graphic t-shirts. Which brings me to today’s subject: sizing of women’s clothing. Now, I’m a sci-fi geek. You can pretty much ask me about any sci-fi universe and if I can’t whip your butt playing Trivial Pursuit, I will at least have heard of it and am familiar with it. And I love my fandoms; Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate… I love mashups and crossovers. I love fanfic, fanart, and fan vids. My friends know the way to make me squeal in the ultrasonic range, so high I can only be heard by dogs, is to surprise me with something from one of my favorite shows. Just this evening, the BF surprised me with a CD of ambient engine noise from ST:TNG. Just think, now I can hear the murmur of the Enterprise’s engines lulling me to sleep on an endless loop instead of the usual white noise machine.

One of the things I love doing is sharing my fandom pride with graphic tees.

About the same time these previously mentioned posts circulated, another post caught my eye: Man Tries on Girlfriend’s “XL” Clothing and Gets Pissed About Double Standards.

Yeah, because my friends and I have been talking about this, too.

Now, for the record, let me state I am a solid size 12. There was a period of time when I was closer to a 10–there are days when I’m closer to a 14, but 90% of the time, I’m a hard 12. I wear a 36 C sized bra. Now I know in these pictures, I might look ginormous, but remember, the camera adds ten pounds. (I know what you’re thinking here, but trust me, only ONE camera is pointed at me in these photos…)

Let’s start out with a T-shirt I bought a few years ago. It’s a medium, but unisex. This is important, as you’ll see later on. NOT a men’s shirt, not a women’s shirt, unisex.

Medium UnisexYou can’t see it clearly, but it’s a “Hello, My Name is” shirt, with “Inigo Montoya–you killed my father, prepare to die” penned in. It’s also autographed. That’s neither here nor there. What’s important is the size.

This is a medium WOMEN’S T-shirt. I love Agent Carter, and this was sent to me by a friend. A friend who knows what I look like, and assumed I would wear a medium T-shirt.

Medium Women FittedOkay. I got into it, though I look a sausage encased in Saran Wrap. That’s what it felt like, too. And believe me, getting out of it was interesting. I seriously thought about using a pair of scissors… I was very disappointed, needless to say. I love this character, the show, and this sentiment. I should point out as well, that many of the graphic T-shirts I would order, like this one, do not come in a men’s or unisex option.

Right, then obviously, a medium is too small. So, when I ordered a T-shirt for myself (a lovely mashup of Frozen and Doctor Who), I ordered a large.

Large Womens Fitted

Um, I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look all that much bigger than the medium to me. Okay, so maybe the material isn’t cutting off my circulation, but it is still sucking down to my skin like it was painted on. At this point, I *finally* took a good look at the sizing chart. That’s when I saw that a size 12 is an XL on most sizing charts for the graphic T-shirts I like.

Excuse me, WTF? 12 is considered XL? Since when? Since when does the size of the average woman in the U.S.–which is 12-14 by a Google search–considered extra-large? It brings me back to the pissed off boyfriend and the double standards of the clothing industry.

Okay. Deep breath. Order the XL. You like the shirt and you want to be comfortable. And you don’t want your arms to go numb when you’re wearing it. Exchange the large for an XL.

Here’s the XL:

XL Womens FittedNo, I am not kidding. This is the XL. It is microscopically different from the large, but honestly, it looks so much like the large I had to look at the time stamps to make sure I wasn’t posting the same picture twice. AND, I would like to point out, the shirt only comes one size larger–the XXL. That is insane. No, I’m sorry. It’s just wrong. What kind of message are we sending to young women (because obviously women over 30 shouldn’t be wearing graphic tees, right?) when 12 is considered XL? When there is so little difference between sizes that someone has to get the very largest size a product comes in just to be comfortable?

I honestly don’t know which is worse: vanity sizing, in which clothing companies mislabel clothing as being a smaller size than it is so women will feel good about buying it, or this. It  feels like a slap in the face either way.

BoysofSummer[The]FSOkay, rant over. In other news, Dreamspinner Press is continuing the Lazy Days of Summer sale until June 24th, which means you can get a copy of my award-winning The Boys of Summer for only a dollar! It’s the perfect beach read at the perfect price–but it won’t last long!

On Dreamspinner/Amazon/AllRomance




Fool'sGold-400x600And coming up next month, I’ll be releasing Fool’s Gold, a story about Olympic level eventing–just in time for the 2016 Games!


Sex in Romance Stories: Love it or Leave it?

Some time last year, I participated in a large informal survey of people who read fanfiction, and one of the surprise results was how many people skipped sex scenes when reading these stories.

Given the recent overwhelming popularity of certain fanfic-turned-original fiction stories, this astonished me, especially since with regards to romance, one would expect sex scenes to be an important factor in a story. Then too, there are some publishing houses that have a set formula that authors must maintain: a sex scene every so many pages.

I ran my own mini-survey among some fellow authors on a chat over Thanksgiving, and the general consensus was that if the sex was rote, if it didn’t reveal anything about the characters or move the story along in some fashion, many of my fellow authors skipped it as well.

I was kind of floored by this–after all, we’re romance writers! I like sex: I’m interested in the subject, I expect a certain amount of it in my romances, I enjoy writing a smokin’ hot scene that I hope will reveal something about my characters when they are at their most vulnerable. I put a lot of time and thought into writing these scenes, trying to keep their fresh and interesting. I assumed they were important to the reader as well–a major factor in what made a romance (erotic or otherwise) different from say, a mystery or a sci-fi story where the romance (if any) was a subplot.

And then last night, while reading a story in which the characters where a little too perfect, where they accepted even the kind of relationship assumptions that would try the patience of most of us and leave us in high dungeon (rather than making out in the closet when no one was looking), I caught myself skimming. *gasp* I know, I know!  But I did!

I asked myself why, and I realized that it was because of the complete lack of believability of the scenario as it was set up, and the improbability of the character reaction being what any real person would do under similar circumstances. Which lead me back to my poll of the Thanksgiving Chat. Now I want to know: do you skip the sex scenes–the presumed reason for reading the romance in the first place? If so, why?

You know what that means, right! Time for a poll!

Do you skip sex scenes in romances?

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And another one!

What throws you completely out of a sex scene?

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And one more…

What are some of your favorite sexual tropes?

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Okay, maybe a couple of more, but only for the purposes of curiosity.

Would you mind stating your gender? However you identify yourself...

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How about your age bracket?

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I read mostly...

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Right, well, it’s back to the WIP for me now. My deadline is looming and I’m entering what I hope to be the final third of the story. So enough procrastinating, yes? Yes!

2nd Annual International Walk Like Beckett Day!

Fandom is a funny place. I had to share this with you because, though I am a fan of ABC’s Castle, I’m not *in* the Castle fandom, as in, I don’t hang out in the fandom communities, or write fanfic for the show. I have nothing against either activity–I write fanfic myself for some other shows, but Castle isn’t one of them. Probably because I don’t think I could do justice to the complexities of the cases, or the banter between the leads.

Tonight is the season premiere of Castle, which I am looking forward to. Mondays are usually tough days at work–you get all the emergencies and critical cases that have been ill all weekend and now are truly a problem.  Mondays are usually little snapshots of heartbreak all day long.

I look forward to Castle because I enjoy the chemistry between the two stars, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. I love the witty, snappy dialog, I enjoy the crime solving. It’s become a Monday night ritual with my BF– I look forward to it all day, especially when work is wearing me down.

That’s the beauty of fandom–the reason why I value it so much. Fandom provides such pleasure over such little things. There’s the community of like-minded fans, the excited anticipation of new episodes, the fun of finding a great picture or gif to share, the creativity of the fanfic writers, the vidders, the artists.

One of the fun things I ran across is International Walk Like Beckett Day. The idea is simple: on IWLBD, you pull out your power shoes, that little leather jacket, the colorful scarf–whatever it is that makes you feel like Kate Beckett when you put it on. You walk with confidence. You expect respect and you receive it. Watch as doors open for you, as people smile at you.

Note: this is not LOOK like Beckett day. Most of us haven’t a hope of looking as gorgeous as Stana Katic, but we can ‘act as if’. And I have to tell you, the results have been astonishing every time I do.

The first time I “Walked Like Beckett”, I stopped by my bank on a whim and successfully refinanced my house.  I went in with confidence and assurance, and things were going so well, I also asked for the equity loan I was sure I wouldn’t receive.

I got it.

The second time I “Walked like Beckett”, I impulsively made a suggestion to a business that we combine our services–and things have ended up working out better than my wildest expectations. If I hadn’t been playing WLB in my head, I doubt I would have had the nerve to make the suggestion in the first place.

I also love The Closer. I love well-written shows with strong female leads–you have to admit, they are few and far between. And while I wouldn’t want to run my personal life the way Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson does, I admire competence in the work place. Whenever I need some gumption, one of my friends tells me to get my Brenda Leigh on.

It makes me laugh every time, but it also makes me square my shoulders, raise my eyebrow, and refuse to back down from what I need or want (even as I toss in lots of ‘thank yews,’ along the way).

I know people who get inspiration from favorite characters to improve their fitness, to deal with a tough home life, to stand up to a not very nice boss. I look to my favorite characters for all of these things and more–including swallowing my anger at times and acting with grace when I’d rather blow a gasket (Thank you, Captain Steve Rogers!). This past weekend, it allowed me to calmly relocate a copperhead out of the campground where we were staying when everyone else was on the edge of panic. I should point out that the relocation process included trapping the snake in a trash can and toting it across an icy river (that proved to be deeper than expected!) to release it on the other side—so yeah, pretty kick-ass when I think about it!  It had to be done though–the snake was right in the middle of the campground, and less than 20 feet away from where the dogs were staying.

So, who are your heroes? Your favorite characters? Does putting on a certain outfit empower you with the class and nerve of Peggy Carter (Captain America)? Do you work out thinking about that boxing scene in The Avengers?  Prepare for a presentation like Tony Stark? Walk in the door like you know what you’re doing and you’re the best one to do it? With calm, cool logic like Spock?

Who do you walk like?  What do you do to give you that little boost to emulate your hero? Share your stories–I really want to know!