THE CS BOOK CLUB: Brittany Gibbons’ Fat Girl Walking

The last few months, I think I have gotten the same piece of advice/instruction from almost everyone I know—“Stop stressing.” And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Mr. Socialite says it daily. My mother has been saying it a lot lately too. Even my physician went as far as to write a prescription literally saying….”Stop Stressing and go have fun.” Thanks Doc. Great advice but easier said than done.

The sad part is I know I stress a lot. Sometimes it’s warranted and other times it’s due to the stars. Yes, I said the stars. Being a Virgo has its privileges but there are some nasty side effects—one of them being the never-ending quest for perfection and the stress that comes with this (Ask me how many times I have actually started this post and why it’s taken me almost two weeks to finally post it, SMDH). But I am learning to manage stress and being a Virgo a lot better as I get older. One of my coping mechanisms is reading.

Just as much as I like to write, I love to read. Magazines (I’m subscribed to a million of them), the newspaper (I blame you Mama Socialite for that one….I read 3-4 different local newspapers every day. Seriously how different can each retelling of the same news item be?) , Blogs (Bloglovin’ is one of my most active apps on my phone) and of course books.

Books are like the ultimate vacation. Where else can you travel to exotic places, time warp to the past or future; or even live someone else’s life (without being on the lam) for free? Alright….maybe for the cost of the book or download but free if you go to the library (support your local library!). For me, books are the ultimate escape from the everyday. And sometimes they are almost as good as a therapist or sister-friend. So it’s no surprise that I am launching the Curvy Socialite Book Club. The CS Book Club will feature new and old books alike (truthfully what catches my fancy at the time) with my thoughts on the book, the author and more.

To kick things off, I will talk about fellow blogger extraordinaire, Brittany Gibbons’ book, Fat Girl Walking.

Many of you know Brittany Gibbons already—maybe not by her real name but at least by her blog’s name, Brittany Herself. She is ranked as one of the top bloggers in the Plus Size/Curvy, Mommy and Lifestyle categories. I think Brittany first came across my radar after I read some coverage about an experiment in body image and self-love were she had sex every day for a year with her husband, Andy (yeah you read that right—yeah she tells us all about it in her book). To be honest, I always thought she was brave as she bared everything for the world to see (she’s also known for wowing the crowd as she stripped down to a bikini during her TED Talk a few years back). But how did Brittany Gibbons become the fabulous body positive activist and champion for the everyday woman? Simple…she was just herself.

Fat Girl Walking is one of those books that reads more like a conversation with your BFF rather than an autobiography. In it, Brittany shares her life story of growing up as a “big girl” in Ohio and dealing with mental illness, obesity, family, dating (not easy at any size) , eating disorders and more. Chock full with hilarious stories riddled with pop culture references as well as some of raw painful moments that out right broke my heart, I found myself sitting their laughing out loud (and sometimes at the most inopportune times—try cracking up in the quiet car on the Metro North….if looks could kill….) and even shedding tears throughout the whole read. She pretty much bares her soul to the reader to giving us all the good, bad and sometimes out right gross details of it all (yeah the post childbirth stories will have you second guessing kids if you don’t have them already) At the end of the day, she takes us on an intimate journey of how she came to love herself despite—rather in spite of—her size.

Fat Girl Walking is definitely a must for your summer reading list….no matter your size.

Brittany Gibbons…herself

ALL ABOUT THAT FACE (The At Home Spa Series…Part 1)

My name is Tamara and I’m a beauty addict.

There I said it. The first step is admission…right?

You see, for me, the love affair with skincare/cosmetics and make up was born more out of necessity than the actual love of playing dress up or desire to look older for a crush. I was a teenager who was plagued with bad skin. Well not really bad skin…more like sensitive skin that just looked really bad.

The teenage years, the 7 to 9 year period in a young person’s life, that parents the world over dread. Raging hormones cause extreme mood swings and wreak havoc on the body—especially the face. For me, when the breakouts started the real lessons in skincare began. Trial by fire—and almost in a literal sense.

Remember the “Noxzema Girl?” Also known as Rebecca Gayheart (I just found out her name the other day), the Noxzema girl had teens around the country (and maybe even the world) believing that slapping on some cold cream every night was the cure all to acne prone skin. Don’t get me wrong…it did work for some. But this chica soon learned she had sensitive skin. And my using the famed product resulted in mild chemical burns on my cheeks (where the breakouts were the worse) and extreme scarring. Hence sensitive skin that just looked really bad.

Over the years, I would experiment with a variety of products– from all natural soaps, glycerin soaps, high end products (my mom was a huge fan of Chanel and Lancôme) , beauty counter staples (like Clinique) and later cocoa and shea butters (which actually over time helped fade the scars). It took a few years, but my skin finally cleared up– just in time for college. By then, I was already a skin care junkie.

Fast forward to present day.

One of the perks I love the most about being a blogger is getting the chance to test some of the newest beauty products to hit the market. From established brands to those just bursting onto the scene, I love trying them all. Lou (my postman), Alex (my FedEx guy), and John (my UPS guy) are the couriers of my addictions. I literally do a happy dance when I hear the doorbell ring. A new product to test!

After Fashion Week my skin needs a chance to recuperate from the 24/7 make-up, lack of sleep, and all the wine and champagne (water? What water?). Add to all the stress of 7 days of nonstop running around the city and partying– the onset of fall and its blustery winds; all of which do a number on one’s visage. For the past month or so I have been all about the face (get it? Thanks Meghan Trainor for the title idea) — testing a number of products. Some were hits and others…not so much. But after a four week trial period I’ve come up with a list of faves that I think my fellow beauty addicts will be adding to their home spa arsenal.

DERMOLOGICA DAILY MICROFOLIANT

Dermologica Daily Microfoliant

Not a new product by any means (it first hit the market in 2001), Dermologica’s Daily Microfoliant is a definite must have as we transition into the fall and winter. A powder exfoliant, this rice-based formula activated with just a little water to gently but effectively lift dead skin cells for smoother, brighter skin. A half to 1 teaspoon’s worth goes along way– releasing active ingredients papain, salicylic acid and rice enzymes. I guess that’s why it’s been one of the brand’s best sellers worldwide since its debut. Safe for daily use, I use it every morning after cleansing my face. Afterwards I follow with a serum and a moisturizer with an SPF.

MONAT REJUVENIQUE OIL INTENSIVE

Rejuvenique Oil Intensive by Monat

Speaking about serums…I’m in love with Monat’s Rejuvenique Oil Intensive. Actually a dual purpose product (seriously who doesn’t love a product that multitasks?), the Rejuvenique Oil can be used on both your hair and skin. For the purposes of this trial I focused on its benefits for use on my skin. Utilizing its key ingredient Abyssinian Oil (derived from the crambe seed), Rejuvenique Oil does what its name suggests—rejuvenates the skin by replenishing and repairing the skin by providing nutrients, Omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants that help prevent premature aging. With the late nights (as I write this post at 1am…) and lack of sleep due to stress, work and life in general, why look older than you are? This product is super light and absorbs quickly into the skin. I use it twice a day (in the morning after cleansing and before moisturizing and in the evening as a treatment). A little goes a long way. For those of us who are a little wasteful with oils, Monat has conveniently included a dropper which miraculously supplies the perfect amount to cover your face and neck.

CLAYSPRAY MATTIFYING RED CLAY

ClaySpray Mattifying Red Clay Masque

I have declared time and time again that I have the oiliest skin in New York. But after recent weeks, I am about to relinquish this title. Thank you Clayspray! I am singing the praises of the brand’s Mattifying Red Clay because it literally has changed my T-zone from an oil slick mess to a normal forehead, chin, and nose. Though many an aesthetician has told me I should thankful for oily skin (they claim it “keeps you young”), I can’t stand the shine that takes the sexy dewy look (let’s face it you can achieve that with bronzer) to looking like I just slathered Vaseline on my face. Since using the Mattifying Red Clay masque, it’s like I have a whole new face (I’m close to saying “bye Felicia” to my blotting papers). Why does it work? Well, the masque uses enriched mineral clay which helps regulate oil secretion in the skin, helps combats blemishes and purifies by really giving you a deep cleanse. Added benefit…the Mattifying Red Clay has minerals that have anti-aging capabilities including silica to boost collagen, iron to activate circulation and magnesium to heal the skin. It absorbs impurities while helping regulate the oil in your skin. Used in conjunction with ClaySpray’s H2O Spray (mineral rich mountain spring water), twice a week I use the masque on my t-zone. I let it dry and then rinse off followed the remainder of my facial routine.

ILLUMASK ANTI-AGING MASK

illuMask Anti-Aging Phototherapy Mask

Don’t we all wish we had the latest and greatest beauty products and technologies at our disposals like our favorite celebs? Please…many have an aesthetician on call (or better yet on staff) for their skin care emergencies. Since many of us aren’t that fortunate and daily trips to the spa aren’t in our budgets, we have to opt for the next best thing. Introducing illuMask. Now this is a product that brings the daily spa treatment right into your home. IlluMask uses phototherapy (the process of using “good” light to treat the skin) which has been used by dermatologists, spas and skin clinics forever. With illuMask you can get a top quality high end treatment in the comfort of your own home using a similar technology. I admit, it does look a little space-agey. It uses red light to even the skin and reduce roughness and infrared light to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The other thing—invoking the spa experience) you are forced to be still for 15 minutes (the length of the preset treatment). For a month (each mask is set to give you 30 treatments—yes they advise for optimal results to use this everyday) I carved out 15 minutes where I would put on some relaxing music (thank you Songza for your Yoga activity setting) and let the mask do its thing. Because there is no way for you to see (no eye holes) there’s no checking your email or texting to be done. But it is worth it. It works. Mr. Socialite (like most men…doesn’t really notice much) made a comment about my skin looking really nice. So illuMask is Mr. Socialite approved.

SILK’N REVIT MICRODERM

Silk’n ReVit Microderm

After attending a holiday preview event a little while ago, I was introduced to the brand Silk’n. A boutique brand, the company is known for providing professional aesthetic devices for home use. In a contest at the event, I won a ReVit Microderm Kit. It is everything! ReVit is all about creating beautiful skin—ReVitalizing it by removing dead skin cells using a very soft vacuum like process with a gentle “diamond peeling” tip. Sounds fancy right? Let me get down to the nitty gritty… ReVit literally slough off the dead skin cells helping to improve skin tone, texture and elasticity as well as reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines and acne scarring (yay!). And the best part…it only takes 5 minutes. The other thing I love about it is that you can see the results after each use. What do I mean by that? Well you can literally see the skin flakes (gross but sooo cool—skincare geek) after each treatment. Recommended for use twice a week or as needed, the kit comes with three detachable diamond peeling treatment heads—Precision (for small and hard to reach areas), Fine (for a more gentle treatment) and Coarse for a more powerful exfoliation. Perfect for the face, neck and hands (the places that can show the most damage), the ReVit is definitely another must have for your at home spa. Be careful while letting others in your household try it. They’ll get addicted and you will find out that they are using it twice a week too (yes I’m calling you out Mr. Socialite!).

Alright…now I feel like a pusher (you know, that person who introduces you to the drug—thank you  former First Lady Nancy Reagan and the whole SAY NO TO DRUGS campaign of my youth for instilling that in my head)—talking about how amazing you will look and feel after using these products. You know you want to try ‘em. You know you’ll like ‘em. It’ll be worth it…believe me. You know you can trust me. LOL. Besides it’s the holiday season and between Thanksgiving and the one million parties that will take place between then and New Year’s you skin will need it. Just click on the links in each post…you want regret it!

* To learn more about each featured item, click on each product title to visit the brand’s site.

SHOPPING NEWS: Eva Mendes teams with New York & Company for new collection

Eva Mendes has always been on my personal best-dressed list since she first began making the rounds at major red-carpet events.  She had this chic yet sexy and confident style about her—a sophisticated feminine swagger.

I’ve always picture Eva as that girlfriend with the perfect closet. Everything she puts on just looks great on her. Not only does she know how to dress for her body type but Eva has an innate style sense that can’t be taught.  Ok, so not all us are blessed with the ability to step into our closet and walk out a style icon, but thanks to Ms. Mendes and New York & Company, at least we can look like we did.

Back in February of this year, Ms. Mendes announced that she was collaborating with the affordable fashion retailer on a new collection. On Wednesday, Eva debuted the vintage-inspired line at store’s flagship in New York City.

Recently, Eva Mendes recently spoke about her foray into fashion design. “The challenging part of this process was knowing that I had women, especially my sisters, counting on me to make them look good,” Mendes tells the Huffington Post. “I take this very seriously … I can’t wait to get feedback from women about what works for them and what doesn’t. I hope I don’t disappoint them!”

Full of stylishly flirty pieces, the Eva Mendes Collection features dresses, skirts, blouses and accessories with an ultra femme feel. And every piece is under $100 (except for the coat which comes in soft pink ad camel). The collection launched on Thursday (September 19th– this blogger’s birthday). Many of the pieces are already sold out. Shop the collection here.

For the line’s launch on Wednesday, Eva Mendes wore a white draped bodysuit, black brocade pencil skirt and necklace.
Eva’s favorite dress from the collection is this front tunic style that is priced at $69.95. “I adore this dress,” she said, in the collection notes. “The silhouette is simple, flattering, and feminine.” It’s my favorite too…bought one for myself as a pre-birthday gift.
Another super cute piece that can be paired with jeans, slacks or a skirt…this polka-dot printed blouse for $49.95

This isn’t the first venture into the design world for Mendes. She launched a home décor line, Vida, with her former beau George Augusto.  In 2008, Eva launched a line of bed linens with Macy’s. She later teamed again with Macy’s to launch a line of dinnerware in 2010.

Want learn more about Eva Mendes’ inspiration behind the line and see more of the collection, check out this video from New York & Company.

RED CARPET STYLE: 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

During awards season, another weekend means another awards show. This past weekend, Hollywood feted their shining stars at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

So who scored big in the style department?

There were a few “blue belles” making grand entrances in navy including Amanda Seyfried in Zac Posen, Nicole Kidman in Vivienne Westwood and Jennifer Lawrence (now infamous) and Marion Cotillard both in Dior Couture.

Looking chic and sophisticated in classic black were Claire Danes in Givenchy, Naya Rivera in Donna Karan Atelier and making an artistic statement on the carpet, January Jones in Prabal Gurung.

Someone once said a redhead shouldn’t wear red. We’re glad the ginger haired Jessica Chastain didn’t take that advice. She looked ravishing in a red Alexander McQueen.

Kerry Washington (in Rodarte) and Sofia Vegara in Donna Karan were beautiful in winter white.

Other red carpet notables… Viola Davis in a teal Monique Lhuillier and Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas in a cute blue cocktail dress.

Amanda Seyfried in Zac Posen (Getty Images)
Amanda Seyfried in Zac Posen (Getty Images)
Nicole Kidman in Vivienne Westwood (Getty Images)
Nicole Kidman in Vivienne Westwood (Getty Images)
Jennifer Lawrence in the infamous Dior Couture gown (Getty Images)
Marion Cotillard in Dior Couture (Getty Images)
Claire Danes in Givenchy (Getty Images)
Naya Rivera in Donna Karan Atelier (Getty Images)
January Jones in Prabal Gurung (Getty Images)
Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen (Getty Images)
Kerry Washington in Rodarte (Getty Images)
Sofia Vergara in Donna Karan (Getty Images)
Viola Davis in Monique Lhuillier (Getty Images)
Gabrielle Douglas (Getty Images)

AWARDS STYLE: 2013 People’s Choice Awards

Last night’s People’s Choice Awards served as the official kick-off to the 2013 Awards season. It also gave us a glimpse of possible trends for this year’s red carpet fashion.

So what were some of the popular trends from last night?

White proved to be the most popular color last night eclipsing traditional black and the recent trend of brighter palettes. Notable standouts included Taylor Swift in a beautiful Ralph Lauren gown with a deep plunging neckline, Morena Baccarin in Donna Karan Atelier, Regina King and Nikki Deloach.

taylor swift
Taylor Swift in Ralph Lauren (Courtesy of Getty Images/Huffington Post)
jennifer lawrence
Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence in Valentino Couture (Courtesy of Getty Images/Huffington Post)
regina king
Regina King (Courtesy of Getty Images/Huffington Post)

 

Valentino was also a popular choice at this year’s awards with the Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence and Katy Perry opting for the famed fashion houses creations.

For more images and my full commentary on the red carpet fashion from the 2013 People’s Choice Awards, check out my article on the Examiner.