Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A vintage perspective on "body positivity" and body acceptance

Shown are Google image results for body positivity.

Why does the current "body positivity" movement seems to be mostly focused on younger women, often posing closely together in their undergarments? Do you have to be under 35 to feel good about your body? Is it possible to be modest yet love your body, or do you have to strip down and put it online like the cool kids to prove that you feel good about what your body looks like? 

Those are some questions that I think are fair to ask if you simply figure the ubiquitous scantily clad imagery of young women as representative about what "body positivity" means. It all started, of course, with Dove which I detailed in my book. The difference between then and now that it's no longer acceptable to use the inherently offensive term "real woman" which heavily implies that there is such a thing as a fake woman based upon the shape of her body.

It wasn't until this past winter when I read a chapter in the 1978 book Act Thin, Stay Thin by Dr. Richard B. Stuart, the Psychological Director of Weight Watchers, that it all came together for me.

Inside is a "Body Acceptance Scale."

I was kind of blown away when I read it because it seems so progressive! By replacing "feeling fortunate" about your body with "body positivity" I picked out what I think is missing today:

Your Sex


Addresses both men and women.


Men seem mostly absent in the campaign; almost all imagery is of women.

Your Age 


Age is considered part of your body, because why not?? Shouldn't an aging body be accepted and something to learn to feel good about?!


Where are the images of middle aged, senior and elderly women in these campaigns, articles and memes?

Dr. Stuart points out that based upon a study, body acceptance scores are likely to increase as weight is lost. Today the message is that you should feel positive about your body at any size (but provided you are young and female?)

I wanted to put this up here to open a discussion. What jumps out at you when you read this outdated body acceptance scale? Do you think the current "body positivity" movement is positive?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Full circle vinyl / Perfect vinyl album storage cubes / Inspirational weight-loss update from a long-term blog reader

Last week I wrote about my vinyl adventures and how I arrived at a yard sale early but too late to get some of the albums I've been coveting, specifically the soundtrack to Woodstock and Crosby, Stills & Nash. This past Saturday I found a few non-vinyl treasures while out picking, some of which I posted to my Instagram. Once I had hit all of the yard sales on my list I headed home around 10:00 a.m. (I leave my house before 6:30 a.m.) but saw signs and stopped at an unadvertised yard sale, just like I had last week where I scored the psychedelic record box filled with magic. When I say "unadvertised" I mean that it wasn't listed online or in the paper. I asked the lady having the sale if she had any albums.

"I didn't bring any out."

"But they're in your basement?"

"Yes, I have lots of records in there. What are you looking for?"

"Classic rock..."

"Oh I've got tons of that. I can ask my neighbor to watch my sale so I can go to the basement and get them. Or maybe you can just come and look? But wait! I don't know you. Who are you? I can't let a stranger in my house."

I'm totally with her on that! So we chit-chatted briefly, then she scrutinized me a bit more before security let me through the golden rope, so to speak.  

Her basement was finished, meaning it wasn't musty at all. Records stored in basements can suffer a lot of damage from moisture and mold. She placed a large pile of albums on top of the basement bar. Oh! Good things! But then she placed another big pile beside it. And another. And even more!

"This is my entire collection. You need to know in the 70s I played Frisbee with some of these."

In summary, I bought all albums, about 150 of them, uninspected, with the understanding that some were in unplayable condition which was reflected in the offer I made her. It was a gamble for me but I was feeling good about this! We both smiled and reached an agreement. Turns out she's originally from New Jersey like me before I moved to NYC in grade school. Suddenly we were super chatty. She and her neighbor's daughter helped me load them all into the back seat of my car. By the time I was leaving we hugged good-bye as a man got out of his car and saw me with a big smile.

"What'd I miss?" he asked. "Did you buy something great?"

"Just some records."

"Oh, that's what I wanted!" Then, in a lowered voice: "Was there anything good?"

"Nah," I said not wanting to gloat. "Not really." But he knew.

Once home I unloaded them into my sunroom and started to process, mentally and physically, what I had just acquired:

One by one I wiped down the covers which weren't too dusty and checked the condition of the vinyl before I put each into one of three piles: Frisbees, Playable Keepers and Not My Taste.

After a few hours of what felt like Christmas morning I had whittled the keepers down to 110 albums (still pinching myself), two of which were in TMWBWEA's (The Man Who Bought Woodstock Et Al) pile: Woodstock and Crosby, Stills & Nash! There was only one Beatles album, Rubber Soul, but hey! Rubber Soul!! I was most excited about this, though:

What else is in there? Like a true Jersey Girl she collected all of Bruce Springsteen. Also: Fleetwood Mac, Little Feat, Poco, The Doors, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Moody Blues, Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Carole King, Carly Simon, Marvin Gaye, Boz Scaggs and more! There's even some 80s like The Police!

An instant (or slow) collection of awesomeness brings the luxury problem of: Where the heck do I put it all? I wanted a practical, attractive and active display as opposed to Rubbermaid bins in my basement.

Looking online I saw a lot of "eco friendly" faux wood particle board storage cubes but I wanted solid wood. Then I flashed back to when I asked TMWBWEA how he stores his 5,000+ albums, and he told me about a store in my town, Chilton Furniture, that sells Maine craftsmen made stackable 100% solid pine storage cubes. I took a ride over and came home with two of them, priced at only $35 each which is completely reasonable compared to what's out there! Plus they smell great!

I may paint them white; haven't yet decided but I don't want to cover up that natural refreshing pine aroma. I'll probably buy a couple more as my collection grows. Chilton Furniture does ship, so if you like what you see you can order their pine storage cubes online. (This is not a sponsored post.)

It really felt like things had come full circle from last week!

I want to share some things I've been learning:
  • A record that has some visible light scratches might still be very playable and pleasurable to listen to with only a few pops and little noise.
  • A perfect looking album might sound warped or skip.
  • When you go to yard sales, if you don't see any records out, ask very nicely if they have any they want to rehome.
  • Classic rock in volume at one pop, like more than a handful, is hard to come by. I've been out picking for close to two decades, and the past two weekends are unusual. The majority of what I see are polka, instrumentals and stuff for kids. Anything I'd want to buy is usually in terrible shape or the owners don't want to sell them, or their spouse forbids it.
  • You can get decent albums on ebay that have some cover damage or small imperfections but still sound great for under $3 each, including The Beatles, but the shipping will double or triple the price. It's very time consuming to buy a collection that way, one by one, nor is it any fun (for me.)
  • On the flip side it's time consuming and not very profitable to sell a large collection off that way, one by one, having to photograph and describe the condition in detail, then package and ship it. The only time that isn't the case is if you have something highly collectible in mint+ condition. 
  • Most record stores, a least around me, only pay pennies on the dollar. I found this out when I wanted to unload the Not My Taste pile. So I put it on craigslist and sold it within a few hours for exactly what I paid per album! 
  • I do not like new 180 gram vinyl reissues of vintage albums. Much like cast iron, with the older cast iron being much lighter in weight but higher in quality than new, heavier doesn't necessarily mean better. I had to return my 2012 White Album reissue because it was warped. My other three vinyl Beatles reissues have noticeable surface dimples that I've never seen on any of my vintage vinyl. Maybe it's limited to those I ordered, but online reviews are mixed.
  • Listening to records is good for my figure. I have to get up from where I'm sitting to flip them over or play a new one. There's more movement with taking albums out and putting them away. Hearing songs I love on vinyl fulfills me more than any junk food ever did. Plus, I never danced while shoveling it all in with both hands!
In closing I have some inspiration to share from long-time blog reader "RL" who bought my book almost three years ago:
I wanted to give you an update. Again, I can't believe it's been almost another year since I last updated! I'm now down a total of 75-80 lbs. I have a 5 pound fluctuation range that I've been maintaining at. I have no more weight to lose at this point. My body is happy at this weight.

In some ways, it felt like it took forever to lose that weight, but at the same time it feels like the time flew by. I can't believe I'm already done losing the weight!
Congratulations, RL! I love hearing success (and vinyl adventure) stories from readers!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Vinyl Drama

In 2013 I did a post about my Zeitgeist Music Machines. Since then I've done a little streamlining in my living room and purchased a new combination turntable, cassette player and radio that now sits atop my 8 track player. The sound is average, there's no bass or tone control but it wasn't very expensive and is a placeholder until I can find the perfect vintage stereo system at a yard sale.

This past weekend I had quite the vinyl adventure. I realllly want every original Beatles album along with classic rock which I mentioned in my earlier post but so does everyone else which makes for very competitive searching. But I wasn't prepared for what happened this past Saturday morning. (Two weeks ago I arrived at a yard sale too late and by that I mean I was 30 minutes early and she had already "practically given away" all of her Beatles albums.) I pulled up to the garage sale 20 minutes before start time and saw a man pawing through the album bin. I sized him up; I had never seen him before. I'm very familiar with the local competition. I semi-calmly walked over and asked if I could look through the albums he had already gone through and didn't want which is when I saw a whole stack of albums like Woodstock, CSN&Y, etc! 

"What are you looking for?" he asked.

"Classic rock."

"Oh, I don't like classic rock."

Phew! So I assumed that all of those vinyl gems were those he wasn't taking. 

"Oh, those are the ones I want."

"But that's all classic rock...." 

I don't recall his exact response.

"Can I buy them from you?"

Mind you he hasn't paid yet but I've been out picking for close to two decades. This sort of thing is not uncommon.

"I never sell my albums which is why I have over 5,000."

I wasn't feeling happy (or sorry) for him at this point.

So I fake calmly waited for him to finish taking every album I wanted and sorted through his sloppy seconds. I did find some. But! 

The neighbor of the woman having the sale said to me that he had all kinds of classic rock albums! I asked him if he wanted to sell them to me and he said yes! Then he ran over to his house and came running back holding a large storage box the same size as the original! Cue Chariots of Fire and slo-mo glory as the box is placed before me!

"I'll let you look after I'm finished picking through everything I want," I said to the Man Who Bought Woodstock et al. 

The thing is, this was all good-natured. I had a smirk and we were joking with each other and both were happy when we left. (Also I learned he's from out of town which is why I have never seen him. I told him to buy local. ha). We had each picked out exactly 11 albums for $8 from each seller, and for me that included two Beatles albums from the second seller! So I had 22 albums in great condition for $16!

As I headed to the next sale I stopped a yard sale that hadn't been advertised. I asked if they had any albums and the lady of the house replied that she did, in her basement, she'd be right back!

She brought up the vintage psychedelic record case pictured that was filled with classic rock! I asked how much she wanted? 

"Oh, $5."

Here's a sampling of what I scored on Saturday:

Everything is in very good plus condition. I was really excited about Jesus Christ Superstar! I've always loved that soundtrack, my mother played it a lot when I was little. It even has the booklet insert with the lyrics!

There was also a very curious Beatles find in the magic box of records: 

They didn't come with the cover, just the sleeves. I looked them up online and learned that "Beatles Alpha Omega" was a pirated compilation in 1973 by "Audio Tape, Inc." that was actually sold via mail order and advertised on TV and radio! Apparently copyright laws weren't as stringent back then. Rather than take legal action, Capital records put out the two anthologies: The Beatles 1962-166 and 1967-1970 (also called the "Red" and "Blue" albums) which I had coincidentally acquired at the first sale. 

The magic box also had the original Sgt Pepper's cut-out insert in between some of the albums. I photographed it next to the new reproduction that came with my 2012 reissue. Can you spot the original?

(My promised post of a vintage perspective on "Body Positivity" is still in the works, and by that I mean I've been thinking about it but this summer is so divine that my brain is a bit on vacation as far as my more cerebral writing.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I can finally shelf the search!

The above photo is of the shelves in my home in the 1960s. I love everything about this (well, except the booze but the bottles do look elegant)! The albums, the radio, the wood grain speakers but most of all, two things: The statuesque black woman playing a small string instrument, and the incense burner where my mother burned a lot of sandalwood incense cones while playing the vinyl shown, especially The Beatles

I had a tumultuous childhood which resulted in my having to live with and manage some very negative triggers throughout my life. Over the years I've learned to offset and/or overpower them with positive associations. For whatever reason the memories of those two objects always helped me relax. The power of positive association is very strong, just like the power of negative triggers can affect some of us in a deeply destructive way. My goal is to always surround myself with as much positivity as possible and practical.

A few weeks ago at the flea market I saw the exact same (but not my mother's--she still has and uses it) cast iron incense burner! I was so thrilled! The seller is also one of my favorites there. She always has the most random, quirky gotta-have-its. If you ever make it to Maine, check out the Arundel flea market and ask for Linda's table.

I found a fantastic sandalwood cone incense that's not dipped into a synthetic fragrance. The brand is Triloka and they have been in business since the 1970s. The scent is so calming and helps me feel centered. But because it is still smoke I only burn it outside to keep it healthier. The bugs do not dig it so it keeps them away from me.

Over the years I have tried to find the same mystical black statue that I once believed kept loving watch over me from atop those shelves decades ago. I put in various keywords into ebay and nothing close turned up so I gave up. But after finding the incense burner I was inspired to try again and this time while searching ebay I found her! She was made in 1963 and is signed Austin Prod. on the bottom. She made it to me safely all the way from a little town in Iowa and here is where she now sits:

I'm working on growing my record collection this year because listening to good music, especially from the 60s and 70s, is some of the best therapy out there for me.

Do you have any positive childhood associations with the things currently on display or use in your home? 

(My next blog post will be a vintage perspective on the current "body positivity" movement, but due to exceptionally beautiful weather it might not be up for another week or two.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What a 1960s shift dress can teach us about the growing movement with "vanity sizing."

I've written about vanity sizing in my book and also in my blog:

Zero Tolerance for Vanity Sizing

To streamline this post I'm going to repost two earlier vanity sizing graphics I created before I share the newest one with you:

The above two show the vast jump in sizing metrics between the 1950s and today. Now you can fill in some of that gap with sizing from the 1960s and 70s, but even better, I've pictured two sizing charts from the same manufacturer (which isn't always available) unlike the previous comparisons.

The Butterick shift dress patterns on the left are from the 1960s and the bridal dress patterns on the right are from the 1970s. No date is printed on either so I'm making an educated guess based upon the clothing and hair styles.

Shown are the backsides of each, the 1960s on the left, the 70s on the right.

Look at the differences in such a short period of time! Also notice they did away with a size 18 and introduced a size 8.

My takeaway from this is that your clothing size is not:

A measure of your health.
A medical consultation.
A substitute for a scale and tape measure.
A reflection of your worth.
A reason to beat yourself up.
A measure of reality. 

Have you ever gotten tripped up due to vanity sizing while trying to find a correct fit?

Monday, June 6, 2016

My home for wayward mid-century elves, a Fig Newton cake and other updates you may have not seen!

Yesterday I made a "Fig Newton" cake! I made the low sugar (only 1 tbsp per 1/8th slice) gluten-free sponge cake recipe from Thrifty Vintage Gluten-Free Recipes, filled the middle with organic unsweetened fig jelly and "frosted" it with unsweetened gum-free whipped cream. It's delicious! 

That update and others, like the gross ingredient discovery I made in "organic" big corporation cream are posted to my Instagram account because some of the things I like to show you are best shared as a captioned photo. You don't need an Instagram account to see my photos because they are public. You can simply bookmark Outdated By Design on Instagram.
If things seem quiet over here at my blog, I may be actively posting on IG, so I hope to see you over there. I'll still be posting here at my blog, too, but maybe not as often, especially during the brief Maine summer when I'm outside as much as possible. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"What A Way To Lose 110 LBS!" By Mama Cass Elliot, 1969

"I've invented a fabulous new diet. It costs only $2,000 for each pound you lose. It also weakens your natural resistance to disease. I can't guarantee it, but the Mama Cass Diet can give you acute tonsillitis, hemorrhaging vocal cords, mononucleosis and a dangerous case of hepatitis. At least that's what it did for me. I lost my health--and more than a quarter of a million dollars in earnings as a singer."

Mama Cass was both sassy and painfully candid in her talks about her unhealthy approach to weight loss in this 1969 article from March issue of The Ladies Home Journal. She could have chosen to keep her health problems a guarded secret, but obviously she chose authenticity. She admitted that she didn't consult a doctor about her drastic approach to weight loss because she knew starving herself "was wrong" and she "was in a hurry to weigh 110 pounds." 

I always have many eyeball rolls to give to the mid-century magazine reducing diet articles that are typically starvation diets comprised of dry toast, black coffee, bouillon broth, a few ounces of meat with quack diet ads and gimmicks in the same issue. It's this concept--what was once called a "reducing" diet--that trips up a lot of people today who confuse it with a daily diet which literally means "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  

Although 1969 was still a time when the majority of Americans were not overweight or obese and whose daily (non-reducing) diet and lifestyle kept their figures healthy, fad diets, starvation, gimmicky gums, magic couches and dangerous drugs were gaining popularity. They were dangerous and/or expensive carrots dangled in front of those who did need help.

Diets that referenced "Hollywood" or "The Stars" were a thing, as was feature articles that purportedly revealed the eating habits of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy and Cheryl Tiegs so women could emulate them:

From the 1952 article, Marilyn Monroe, How I Stay in Shape.

From my 1967 copy of "Twiggy Her Mod Mod Teen World", she reports that her favorites are "expensive and glamorous restaurants," fish-n-chips in London and hamburgers in America.

The above clip from my October 1974 (the year Mama Cass passed away) BAZAAR magazine may as well have proclaimed: "Every day is starvation day." 

Raw eggs, expensive dining out or a cup of tea as a morning meal to maintain thinness and beauty? No thanks! I shared the above examples so you could perhaps better appreciate the rigorous honesty in the article by Mama Cass and see that it was pretty radical compared to some of the other celebrity fluff diet coverage. She really delved into and openly disclosed her thoughts and feelings about being overweight in a fat-hating society. She admitted that "it's no fun to be heavy" and that she "used her weight as a defense against the world, as an excuse so I wouldn't have to compete with other women." Yet she definitely did not glamorize unhealthy eating habits to combat it.

On her starvation diet:

"Members of The Mamas and The Papas (John and Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty) noticed I was on a starvation diet, but they never said anything. My best friends, Gary and Annette Burden, encouraged me to stay with my diet. So did my husband, before we broke up. Another man came into my life after my husband and I separated, and he was the first person who taught me that if you really love a man and want to give him the best, you make yourself as presentable as possible."


"I didn't want Owen growing up to hear other children taunt her for having a fat mother."


"Somebody once said I had done for the young fat girl what Barbara Streisand had done for the ugly girl." 


"I even experimented with chewing food and spitting it out. But that didn't work. I guess I have taste buds all the way down to my stomach."

After her weight loss:

"I take out pictures of myself at 285 pounds and realize I was grotesque."


"I have learned my lesson. No more starvation diets!"

"I have become convinced that I could never start gaining weight again or start eating indiscriminately because my mind is now attuned to what's good and what's bad for me."


Reading this is heartbreaking, especially knowing that she passed away a couple months shy of 33 not from choking on a sandwich, but "fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity."

I wasn't aware of the tragic depths of her self-loathing that was a reaction to the shaming she received from others! There was so much scrutiny of her oversized body conveyed in the article and less of a celebration of her larger-than-life inner being and out-of-this-world talent. Knowing that she did eventually regain the weight isn't surprising though since we know that starvation diets have been studied and show that regaining weight is almost inevitable. But obesity can kill, and it lead to her untimely death.

Mama Cass was a human being struggling as a woman and celebrity in a culture that dictates that women be visually pleasing based upon whatever body type is currently in vogue. Besides being an accomplished musician, I think she was a role model for rigorous honesty and opening a dialog about body size and health.

This article got me thinking about the concept of "kindness at every size." Can we evolve into that? Embrace respect without glossing over the reality that obesity can kill the same way as anorexia or bulimia? That good health is tied to weight and how much and what we eat? And that regardless of one's health status, we treat each other and ourselves with dignity and respect?

(Oh, and that slam on Babs? Damn!)

Some related past posts:

An Ageist New York Times Pro-Obesity Editorial 

Study Shows "Dove Effect" of Plus-Sized Models Discourages Healthy Eating

The "Obesity Paradox" Is Full Of...Funding From Coke