Weekend Reads #159

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Happy long holiday weekend, if you're in the US and have a job that gives you federal holidays. Photo by Matteo Modica on Unsplash

Weekend Reads

How to discuss Bill Cosby with Bill Cosby apologists. (SLTA)

On the road with Dr. Jill Biden. A good read (and good example of an active First Spouse) regardless of your political affiliation. (Vogue)

Is this the end of the imperial fashion editor? (New York Times)

How I found peace and happiness calling Kentucky’s cicada hotline. (Slate)

In a series where stars recall their teenage obsessions, Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes frontwoman and now solo artist) shares hers and sees how much she has changed since then. (The Guardian)

When someone in the fashion industry tells you something is the best hack for style, you buy it. And when a fashion friend told me she swears by this oily spot remover that doesn't require water or laundering I immediately bought it.

SuChin Pak Is Processing Everything: The groundbreaking news anchor is still making sense of her MTV experience. (The Cut)

Some of this site's Week of Outfits are really meh or unrealistic, but this one is really good. And yes, I am now following her on Instagram! (Cup of Jo)

It's true, stress does turn hair gray (and it's reversible). (Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

Women are having fewer babies because they have more choices. (New York Times)

There is a lot of info you can read about chemical sunscreens versus mineral sunscreens. Chemical ones don't take a lot to rub in, mineral do, but there are benefits and negatives to both. This 2019 NPR article does a brief non-selling overview. Sunscreen is a very personal choice, but my favorites:

Black US farmers dismayed as white farmers’ lawsuit halts relief payments. (The Guardian)

If you have watched the show We Are Lady Parts (see my review below), you'll love this article that shares influencers and Easter eggs from Nida Manzoor, the creator, writer and director of the series. (New York Times)

Packing for a summer getaway, I bought one of these to tuck in my bag. Color me influenced by influencers and IRL friends who say it's great for touch-ups on the go!

I write about the law, but could I really help a prisoner? (New York Times)

Pinterest bans weight loss ads due to eating disorder concerns. (The Verge)

Why surrounding yourself with art matters, and how to do it. (NPR)

I think this is an interesting discussion about the term Midsize for folks sized 10-14 (I don't know where up to 18 came from as mentioned in the article, is that new?). I for years called myself a cusp-sized blogger but was told that was problematic. My friend promotes herself as a midsize influencer and regularly gets criticism for the term and told to use Small Fat instead. But what term do you use when you can't fit into the majority of designer brands because they don't make them large enough but you also don't fit into plus sizes? I have stopped using any term and just share my clothing size. With social media becoming a place to find relatable bodies, hashtags and terms have become more necessary for searching and I've wondered what to use. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic. (In the Know)


Luca poster

Our family watched Luca, the latest Pixar movie available on Disney+. Luca is a sea monster 13-year-old, an only child, who lives at the bottom of the sea (which only seems to be maybe 20′ below the surface) along the Italian Riviera with his parents and grandmother. He is a goatfish herder by day, and his parents are very protective and refuse to let him go to the surface. One day he does and finds out when he is dry, he becomes a human boy. He meets a fellow sea monster/human boy who becomes his bestie.

Bestie is Alberto, a cliche young teen boy who is left to his own devices because his parents are not around. However, instead of showing him as a bully or a bad influence, he is very relatable and you really fall for him. Alberto is brave and industrious and a ton of fun. He motivates others to think and act outside the box and be bold. He makes things up as he goes (including the truth) and is both jealous and supportive. I love how a parental figure in this movie saw this and gave bestie stability and responsibility without forcing him to be someone he is not.

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Hijinks ensue as the boys befriend a human their age, sign up for a triathlon, get bullied, find similarities and differences, and end with everyone finding their right place in the world. While the boys have an amazing, as all the reviews say, “coming-of-age adventure,” I personally think the elder female sea monsters have the coolest existence.

Our kid LOVED Luca. She found it one of the best films she had seen in a while. We parents found more than Luca's bestie cliche but heck, isn't every Disney/Pixar film a cliche wrapped up in colorful and beautiful animation? When Luca ended, our kid mentioned she saw the correlation between Luca and Alberto passing as humans but constantly fearing being caught as with how LGBTQ+ folks, as well as Black and mixed-race individuals, have been in the same situation, passing as being like the rest but knowing if they're found out they would go from being accepted to shunned, arrested, or killed in an instant.

Luca has been compared in many reviews to Call Me By Your Name and the character of Luca even resembling Timothée Chalamet though there is never any romance between any characters throughout the film. I really enjoyed this funny take from SLTA. The director Enrico Casarosa said the similarities are coincidental only. Casarosa is quoted as saying, “We hoped that sea monsters could be a metaphor for all sorts of being different – like being a teen or pre-teen. That moment where you feel odd. There's all sorts of ways of feeling different.”

we are ladyparts

We finished We Are Lady Parts and you haaaaaavvvveeee to watch this show! It is a British TV comedy short originally shown on Channel 4 but now available on Peacock, which for me is a free app through my cable provider (I read it's also available on the Global TV app and Showcase Canada). This is one of the most enjoyable shows I, my husband, and our 12-year-old have watched in a long while.

We are Lady Parts is about a female Muslim punk band named Lady Parts. Yes, you read that correctly. It follows Amina, a grad student looking for a husband, who ends up the guitarist for this punk band. She feels pressure from her best friend and their circle to act a certain way, but her parents and band mates see more for Amina.

we are lady parts

I adored every single character, loved the music, the use of color, the actors, and I loved how We Are Lady Parts shows the diversity of the Muslim community. Women are seen as strong, smart, and independent while being true to their faith and culture. The music is awesome, the friendships are inspiring, you see true growth and realistic relationships tested and celebrated. All this and it's darn entertaining fun. Please watch this and share it with others!

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Finally, my husband and I watched Fitzcarraldo, a 1982 film based on a true story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald who to fund an opera house in the Amazon, decides to become a rubber baron and with it, move a steamboat over a mountain. Yeah, this movie is a wild as that statement. It's by Werner Herzog, who is a very unique individual, and stars Klaus Kinski who was also… quite an individual. It is available on Tubi and Amazon Prime.


The film was originally to star Jason Robards and Mick Jagger but when Robards got dysentery while filming, they had to scrap the 40% of the film they had completed and start over. Someone died on set, one guy cut off his foot with a chainsaw, crew offered to kill Kinski, and no special effects were used. Yes, they truly pulled that steamboat over a hill. If you watch this film, have a computer or phone ready because you will be Googling the hell out of it to find out the amazing stories behind this film, the actors, the real people, and Herzog.


I shared a quick moment of this on Instagram Stories and my friend sent me this profile on Herzog that was in The New Yorker back in 2006. It's a longread, but a good one to comprehend the person behind Fitzcarraldo, as well as many other famous films by Werner Herzog. Strap in, this is a bumpy ride!

For Your Entertainment

“So f*ck everything else and let's just be.”

Good motto for this summer, eh? And this song from Xavier Rudd is a perfect addition to your summer playlists. And if all those viral videos of folks roller skating these days have you wanting to dig those dusty rollerblades out of your attic, this video is going to make you want to steal the skateboard from that teen who lives down the street.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I first learned about body/fat acceptance from the blog Shapely Prose which was active around 2007. The authors referred to themselves at around size 14-16 as “inbetweenie” (which I don’t love since it sounds childish) when larger than that they would self-identify as “fat,” and anyone who wasn’t fat was identified as “thin.” As a size 10 at the time, I had a hard time with being considered thin. But the idea of size 10 as small fat also sounds silly to me. The power with self-identifying as fat is reclaiming a slur that’s been used against you, even implicitly by advertisers, etc. But would anyone really consider a size 10 fat? This is the first I’ve heard of midsize but it sounds like a useful way to capture a reality described above–that while you probably don’t face grave bias from doctors, on planes, having your body depicted as jokes by Hollywood, you do face issues locating clothes in your size.

  2. Hmmm . . . I think one of the misperceptions of the “fat acceptance” folks vis a vis us cusp or midsize women is this notion that midsize is somehow privileged. These days, I just don’t buy it. I am close to your size, Alison, though with a rather different shape (big tummy, way smaller boobs!), and I increasingly find (especially since Covid and the growth of my upper tummy) that misses 12s and 14s just do not work for me and my disproportionate being. But if I try a plus size retailer, even one claiming to start at size 10, I almost always swim in the smallest size (I tried the Eloquii pants you recommended for big bellies, and they were huge on me—a size 14 could be too large, but it should never be huge on me). At least up to a certain point, I wonder if nowadays, a heavier woman is going to find more options in plus size than a midsize woman can find in either misses or plus. I’d love to see a side by side comparison. And would the fat acceptance folks admit that at least some plus retailers are vanity sizing like crazy?

    I guess putting your size out there is the safest way to go—I barely understand Instagram and I put myself out there at midsize, but maybe it’s time to kill my account and stop trying to chase acceptance. Calling myself midsize was not about me saying “at least I’m not fat.” It was about me not sharing the issues a fat woman has, but still having issues that are not trivial.

  3. Never heard of “midsized” as a category. The article you linked to seems to think it’s what I’d consider to be smaller plus sizes, not the 10-14 you mention.
    If the average woman wears a size 16-18 I’m going to say that the size 10-14 is trim, but not tiny.
    I have noticed a couple of web sites -The Gap, Anthropologie come to mind but there are others- have been featuring models who’re not size 6. Some of them only when you click the size range you want, others you can pick. I do like to see clothing on someone who is closer to my size.

  4. I had never heard of of the term mid size either, but I like it as a descriptor.

    I am general two-three sizes bigger on top than bottom.

    So I always feel like I have one foot in “standard” sizes and one foot in plus size.

    Right now I am anywhere from an 8 to 22 depending on the brands.

    Size inclusive brands are important to me in theory, but in practicality.

  5. I haven’t read your whole post yet but I had to tell you I lived Fitzcarraldo! When people say they cant find interesting stories to watch I’m always telling people this story is amazing. I used to swarm the Indie section at Blockbuster and stumbled upon it years ago. I’m glad to see someone else enjoy it.

  6. I always enjoy your reccs. I liked the first episode of Lady parts on peacock but then hit a pay wall (peacock premium). I also thought this was an interesting followup read to the article you linked about the death of “Girl boss” : https://www.harpersbazaar.com ” ‘ The Devil Wears Prada’ and the “Big Break” Myth “

  7. I guess I’d be a mid-size petite or petite mid-size. Mid-size sounds a bit more neutral than small fat. I know that many so-called plus-size women are embracing the adjective or identity of “fat”, and I understand why, but small fat just sounds a bit ridiculous.
    I haven’t embraced every feature in Cup of Jo, but I’ve generally appreciated and supported the Week of Outfits feature. It has shown a wide variety of women in different sizes, with different tastes. I love seeing that. Along with the more typical thinner woman in more minimalist or edgy style, I’ve really appreciated the featuring of diverse races, diverse sizes and shapes, including different ages and 2 women with disabilities so far (yes, could be more!). I’ve also liked the different types of wardrobe budgets and genuinely high and low-cost items. In general, each woman seems to have exercised thoughtfulness and high intention in creating their favorite outfits. Appreciate the wide variety of professions, though yes, they are generally urban, middle-class, white-collar professional — social worker, teacher, librarian, lawyer, entrepreneur, stay-at-home parent, scientist, creative (architect, art director, stylist), antiques dealer.

  8. Great round up Alison. I really enjoy getting your takes in things you’ve watched.

    As for midsize, I agree with Jill P (above). I actively search for the hashtag because I want to see clothes on a similar body. Unfortunately, a lot of people who use the hashtag are younger and so their style doesn’t translate. I can tell you that the big Over 50 accounts all push diets. So, I have stopped following them.

    I follow you because you are in my size range, not tall (so many bloggers are), and I like your style ( fashion, politics, entertainment, beauty, health and wellness, etc). And I like that you are midsize.

  9. I was bathing suit shopping and was telling my son I was happy to find something in Macy’s because my size is tough. I am pear shaped, size 16 on the bottom and a 12 on top. Years ago I was firmly plus size and wore a size 20 in jeans. This in between zone is really hard to dress and I didn’t know that “midsize” was a term, but I think it’s good. I have been both plus and average size so I know the difference in the way the world treats you at different sizes and it’s terrible. That said, I don’t see why having a descriptive term to help people find their size would make others feel bad. I don’t like “Small fat”, that feels bad because I don’t think fat should be in a description at all. I would not have wanted to be “mid fat” when that is what I was. Mid plus size sure. Leave “fat” out of it is my opinion You wouldn’t call an SUV fat, you would describe it how it is.

  10. Ok, not going to lie, i had no idea these terms“mid-size”, ‘small-fat’ etc even existed, and not sure what to make of them. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is naming or shaming. I am wondering and interested in other peoples thoughts on this.
    I’ll add that i follow this blog not because of your size, but because of your approach to fashion, how it fits into our lives and our world, and how our lives shape our fashion and our world.

    1. It was a typo and I removed it. I didn’t change any other text, it was never supposed to be there and the sentence makes more sense without the S. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  11. For what its worth from a Baby Boomer, how you label your size on any public space is dicey. I definitely don’t like Small Fat. I like your approach quoting a size.
    I have been a regular reader for years and continue to enjoy your smart posts that include everything from fashion to how to financially contribute to organizations during crisis and info to support community groups. You’ve come a long way and have really come into your own. In a general way, you have also helped me stay current with the younger generation. Not an easy task since I’m not on any social platform but I’m grateful for the info.
    Thank you and keep up the good work!

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