Thursday’s TPS Report: Navy tweed jacket

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Navy tweed jacketI am not one of the people who can wear this kind of boxy, cropped jacket — but if you are, take note: this navy tweed jacket is on a pretty big discount at J.Crew.  It is a classic shape, and the model looks really cute in it — I’d wear it with trousers and pencil skirts if I were her.  The jacket is on final sale — was $268, marked to $90, but it comes down to $71 with code OURTREAT (sizes 6, 8, 10, 12 only as of this AM). Navy tweed jacket

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  1. Anybody have any experience with Piel leather? I’ve been looking for a work bag and saw a colleague carrying the Piel Computer Tote (link to follow) around. It’s under the pricepoint I was considering and looks nice in person.

    Or…other suggestions for a brown leather work tote that can hold my laptop + misc. stuff on a daily basis as well as business trips?

  2. @ petitesq :

    Just wanted to say thanks – you suggested a purple top for me on Monday’s TPS Report, and I’m wearing it today and love it. And it’s really soft! Thanks :)

    from Almost There

    • Hooray!! I’m so glad it worked for you!

      • I ordered this and I thought it was so pretty and interesting (and great colours – I tried “galactic green”) but I would recommend majorly sizing down. I’m returning the one I ordered unless I can try a smaller one.

        • Almost There :

          I agree, I went one size smaller than my normal, it runs pretty big. I got it in the dark green and the dark purple, er, vineyard and galactic green.

  3. I love this jacket. It looks great on those of us who aren’t tiny but are totally lacking in curves.

    TJ: I’m going to a meeting with a former high ranking government official tomorrow (like a mini-prime minister). So exciting. It’s invite only and billed as an intimate conversation. Pencil skirt, nylons and non-matching jacket okay? For context: I’m a doctoral student, it’s in an academic setting.

    • Always a NYer :

      So exciting, totally jealous! Your outfit sounds great, although this would be the perfect time to break out that off the shoulder suit we all have in the back of our closets ;)

      • Sadly it’s in storage ;) And I cannot believe I wrote ‘mini-prime minister’ above. There are nationalists who would have my head on a pike.

        • Haha. I chuckled when I read mini-prime minister, I was picturing a doll-sized Cameron.

  4. NOLA:

    The black heeled Me Too boots arrived. Fit easily over my calf, look great. Currently, everything is skimcoated in ice around my house, so I think I won’t wear them today, but they are lovely. Thanks for the recommendation.

    To everyone else with muscular (or fatted) calves, I have a 16.5 inch calf, they are these, and I have room in them:

    • Almost There :

      Those are hot!

      What is skimcoated?

      • very thin layer. I think it’s a word from home improvement, like you might skim coat some plaster onto something. Basically, ice isn’t thick but it’s everywhere.

    • Awesome! I have exactly the same calf measurement. I tried mine on with denim leggings and they even zipped easily there. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear them! Really warm here now – it’s supposed to get up to 85. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to take them to Denver next week.

      So glad they worked for you, too!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Cute! Those are too high for me, but I really like them. I got an 18″ circumference pair of Lumiani boots last night and they didn’t fit either. I don’t know what the problem is. The widest part of my calf is 16.5″ and the size that I bought were the same size as the ones used for the circumference measurement according to Zappos. I’ll have to keep looking. Thank goodness for free shipping and returns!

      • I just rigged up a piece of paper to measure my calves in my office. (This is embarassing). I’m at just under 16″ – do you think they would be too loose? I can’t afford them but I really really want them (and need them frankly).

        • Sorry, I meant to reply to EC MD

          • Not really — the back half is lycra so its stretches to accomodate. The buckles also adjust and I think you could tighten them down. I tried them last night with just nylons on and had enough room that I would fit jeans or cords in them, but they don’t bag at all with just nylons.

            They are really high, but they have a hidden platform in them so they are more comfortable than they look. I find Me Too to be a very comfortable brand for my foot.

          • OOOH! Thanks so much!

    • Seriously love these so much! I need them ASAP!

    • I don’t know what the measurements are but the Aerosoles With Pride may work for those with wider calves. It has double zippers and it’s faux leather.

    • To Cat from SF Bay Associate :

      To hop onto this boot thread, Cat, you were right – the Canadienne Dawson were not as cute as the Aquatalia Toast. I think I’m keeping the Aquatalias :). In particular, I really didn’t like the straight-across-the-ankle seam joining the shaft of the boot to the shoe part in the Canadiennes, as opposed to the much more vertically curved Aquatalia seam. The horizontal seam really stumpified my legs. I suggest all C-ladies be on the lookout for those horizontal seams on knee-high boots – it was REALLY unflattering.

      • Ugh. I’ve been closely following the boot discussion and was going to pull the trigger this week (well I did, but the ones I ordered were backordered and then cancelled) and now my car broke down and will be $1,7oo for the repair. That would have bought some really great boots.

  5. After reading yesterday’s Beauty Wednesday thread I think I’m going to take the plunge on one of the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palettes. I’m leaning towards Naked II, but does anyone out there recommend one over the other? For reference, I have dark hair and light olive coloring (can get sallow in the winter if not careful!).

    Also, looking for endorsements of a light to medium coverage foundation (more of a tinted moisturizer, really). I’m having a baby in 3 months and need to streamline the beauty routine for a bit.

    • Legally Red :

      I have red hair and pink skin, generally look best in jewel tones, and I love Naked I. It’s pretty much all I use these days. I’ve also been wondering about the differences between I and II, though.

      • Dark blonde hair, fair skin with pink undertones. I also use Naked I pretty much exclusively.
        I find the colours warmer than those in Naked II.

    • Always a NYer :

      I have the Naked II palette and love it. For reference, I have very fair skin with pink undertones and dark hair.

      As for the light to medium coverage foundation, have you looked at the new Laura Mercier compacts? I loved the formulation and it would have come home with me had they had a shade light and pink enough.

      • Hmmm I love this rec but live somewhere where I’d have to order without trying (no Laura Mercier within a zillion miles). How do people do that? Just guess your coloring according to the computer screen?

      • Legally Red :

        Maybe I’ll check out Naked II then!

      • LadyEnginerd :

        That’s interesting. I was warned off using the new LM tinted moisturizer compacts as a full-face foundation at the counter because there’s not that much of it in the compact as compared to the tube (designed for touch-ups). They told me to use LM liquid tinted moisturizer in the tubes and then use the compact for touch-ups (because it will go on over powder, unlike the liquid stuff).

        But hey, I use foundation so infrequently these days I might just go buy the compact and have it be cost-effective, because it’s taken me a year to get thru the LM tinted moisturizer starter kit from sephora…

    • Anon Analyst :

      If I recall correctly from what I’ve read on beauty blogs, the Naked II palette works better with cooler skin tones. I have the original Naked Palette and love it. I have darker skin and yellow undertones. Makeup and Beauty Blog had a good review and swatches of the different shadows.

    • I have both of them and love them. If you get the Naked II, spring for the eyeshadow primer. It comes with the Naked I.

    • Can anyone talk about the relative glitteriness of the Naked palettes? I checked them out but truthfully they just seemed to have too much glitter for work. Do they go on as glittery as they look in the pan?

      • Always a NYer :

        I was worried about that as well but found that they are more metallic/shimmery than glittery. My go-to colors are Tease, Pistol, Verve, and Bootycall (which are a mix of matte and shimmer, like the satin finish in MAC eyeshadows).

      • They do have a good bit of shimmer, but you can apply sparingly to minimize. The colors are highly pigmented so you’ll still get the effect. Or you can do what I do – dip my blending brush in the matte Naked shadow and use it to blend, which matte-ifies the sparkle somewhat.

        (although as an office drone, I welcome a bit of sparkle to my day!)

      • locomotive :

        I find that Naked II only has 2-3 very glittery shades that I reserve for going out. I’m Asian and fairly pale with black hair and I really love Naked II – I think the colors are more flexible and have used every shade in the palette. I don’t think I would have been able to do that with Naked I

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I have Naked II and I think our complexions are similar. I got the newer one because I thought the first would make me look too yellow because of all the golds. Although I do love a good gold shadow from time to time.

    • I really like the Maybelline Age Rewind products – they have a concealer and a foundation/tinted moisturizer, they come in quite a few colors, they’re pretty reasonably priced and easy/fast to use.

  6. e_pontellier :

    NYC ladies: I’ll be wearing jeans, a black blazer, and a turquoise shirt. See you tonight!

    • springtime :

      So jealous of you guys! Have fun!

    • Cornellian :

      i know i’m late to the game, but what’s your address again? or where are you meeting?

      • e_pontellier :

        You can reach me at e.pontellier.r et te [at] gmail [dot] com. We’re meeting up at Grey Dog’s on W 16th St btwn 7th/8th Aves, around 8PM. Hope you can come!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Argh, I can’t make it tonight. I’m apparently trying to be Martha Stewart for my party this weekend and I have to make cupcakes tonight so that I can frost them tomorrow or Saturday because tomorrow night ill be making sangria, brownies, marinating chicken, etc. I forgot how much work hosting a party is, especially while trying to fit in 65 hours of work during the week!

      Have fun! I’ll make it to one eventually!

    • I may be on the later side (8:30/9), but I’ll be there!

  7. Kitten Heeled :

    Looking for some basic advice on health benefits:

    I recently started a BigLaw job and I need to decide whether to sign up for health insurance, dental, etc. While in law school, I was on my husband’s health insurance- which, although not the best, is completely paid for by his company (so is dental and vision). For the time being, his health insurance has our routine annual appointments covered. But, in the next 2-3 years, we plan to have children. Do I need to sign up for health insurance with my firm, so that we are double-insured, or will his health insurance be enough? Is this something policy-specific that I need to speak with his insurance company- and if so, what questions should I ask to ensure all my pregnany, labor and delivery costs are covered? If they are not all covered, when should I sign up for health insurance through my current firm- now? next year? right before TTC?

    Thank you everyone in advance. My husband and I both come from below middle-class backgrounds and have never had health insurance until two years ago when he started his job. We have no experience with this and don’t know where to find the answers and usually don’t even know what questions to be asking!

    • There are a lot of factors to consider. What you want to understand is how much you will end up spending out of pocket (in total) through each plan, and where double-coverage might be helpful/appropriate. If you have two health plans and both have very high deductibles (the amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in), you’re not going to save anything by being double-insured!

      So for your DH’s plan, you are paying $0 out of pocket on a monthly basis for the plan, right? Next, look at what it will cost you for various pregnancy-related expenses. Under DH’s plan, do you have a deductible for hospital visits? How much? How much are the deductibles under your firm’s insurance? How much are your copays/coinsurance for visits? Is your preferred hospital/OB in network under both plans? How does each plan charge you (ie is it “employee, employee + 1, employee +2, employee +3 or just employee + family etc)? Once you have a baby, how much of the ped. visits are covered? Is there a pediatrician you like in network?

      Typically you sign up in Oct/Nov for 2013 benefits. Though, keep in mind that any “life event” (having a baby is a Life Event) allows you to make changes outside the typical cycle. Someone that has given birth can speak specifically about which birth costs are billed to the baby vs. the mother- that’s something worth considering as well.

      I suggest calling your OB as well as perhaps your current health plan to get a sense of what is/isn’t covered. Then talk to your company’s benefits rep and/or someone you know at your firm that has had a baby on your firm’s plan to get an idea of the pitfalls of the plans.

    • AnonInfinity :

      Does your firm pay the entire premium? I would start there.

      Check also on deductibles. Some plans have high deductibles but then pay 100% (no copays). Some employers also contribute money to a health savings account for employees to help cover the deductible.

      There is usually a number you can call to ask your questions so you don’t have to read the entire policy, which can be confusing. I’d call reps for both policies and ask what costs associated with pregnancy, labor, delivery, and new baby are covered.

      IMO, it’s easier to switch insurance as you’re starting a new job because you don’t have to wait for open enrollment and remember to do the paperwork at that time. You should ask these questions now and decide what you want to do before the window to sign up at your firm closes.

      Also, do not double insure yourself unless you are completely positive that having one policy will not interfere with coverage by your other policy. In other words, if you sign up at your firm, drop the duplicate coverage with husband. If you have never dealt with getting an insurance company to pay, etc., it would be a nightmare of red tape trying to figure out which company would have to pay what.

    • You should be able to get a summary of benefits for each insurance plan that tells you how much is covered for maternity, etc. You don’t need to be double covered, but if your plan has siginficantly better maternity benefits/infertility benefits, insure yourself under that plan. Husband and future kids can be under his plan if it’s cheaper. Make sure your preferred hospital and OB are in-network with whatever plan you choose. I *think* you can switch from one employer sponsered plan to another while pregnant, but I would triple check that. Easier to get the insurance figured out before you get pregnant. Also, get your short term disability insurance before TTC. It’s pretty much impossible to get coverage once you are pregnant.

      • Diana Barry :

        Yes, and also get life insurance. It is much cheaper when you are not pregnant. We ended up getting my policy when I was pregnant (hadn’t done it before) and my premium is about 2.5x my husband’s.

        • As you are big law, the life insurance papers should have been included with the health insurance papers.

          • Diana Barry :

            Yeah, I meant a larger policy. As I recall the biglaw LI policy is only about 1 or 2x salary. The policies that we got are around $2M each.

    • This is assumed in the above posts, but just want to reiterate – don’t forget to include a maternity rider in whatever insurance you decide to go with. It may not be automatic, and without it the insurance company may not cover a whole lot. If maternity coverage isn’t already included in your husband’s insurance, then this may mean an additional cost to the premiums, which should be factored into the analysis.

    • big dipper :

      I think the above advice is excellent re: out of pocket costs.

      A few other random things to consider –

      (A) Vision – Some health plans also include a vision component – where you can visit an optomologist once every 2 years for a check up. That could be an added benefit if you wear glasses.

      (B) Spousal Surcharge – Some employers penalize employees who’s spouses have other insurance available and remain on the employee’s plan. For example, your husbands company might charge him an extra $500 now that you have other coverage available but are remaining on his plan. You should see if your husband’s company imposes this kind of penalty.

      (C) Continued Coverage – Are your current doctors covered by your new BigLaw employer’s plan? If not, are you willing to switch doctors or pay the higher out of network fees?

      (D) General Flexibility – The importance of these questions varies by how much you value flexibility in choosing providers/seeking care, but you might want to consider the following questions. Is the plan a PPO or an HMO? What happens if you want to see a doctor that’s out of the network – how much will that cost? Do you need a referral from your primary care physician to see a specialist? What happens if you get sent to the ER when your visiting a friend across the country – are you covered out of state? Are you covered at reduced levels?

      As a general note…BigLaw tends to offer great benefits, comparatively. It’s possible that you’r new employer is offering more or better coverage at a lower cost than your husband’s current employer (not necessarily, but it could be). You might also want to consider switching both of you to the BigLaw plan.

    • "Allergies" PSA :

      Get the “Summary of Benefits and Coverage” for both plans and compare them. See which one covers the services you will need better. Also consider whether you will pay more out of pocket (premiums and your share of services) if you are covered by either his or yours and pay the rest yourselves, or if you are covered by both and one is “primary” and pays first and the other is “secondary” and pays second.

      Also, I found out this year (the first I’ve ever had high medical bills) that the “annual out of pocket maximum” is really important. My policy has a $3,000 maximum amount that I must pay. Once my out of pocket costs hit $3,000, I don’t have to pay any more this year. (I hit that about half way through my surgery in September).

      Don’t be afraid to call both companies and ask a slew of questions.

    • Two very important concepts that no one has mentioned here: first, if you are thinking about having a family in 2-3 years, there is no problem staying on your husband’s coverage for now, and switching to Big Law coverage during an “open enrollment period” in the future. In other words, at least once a year, you get to choose whether you join your firm’s health insurance policy. It’s not a once in a lifetime thing. As others have noted, open enrollment is usually in October or November. So, if your big law health insurance policy is better, but more expensive, you can stay on your hubby’s policy for two years, and then switch when you are thinking about trying to conceive. Second, some BigLaw employers will actually pay YOU to be on your husband’s policy. I’m in academia, and my husband’s BigLaw employer pays him $700 a year to be insured on my policy. It’s way cheaper than them paying to insure him. So, see if your firm will pay you to be insured elsewhere.

      • Exactly Anon! If your husband’s job pays 100% for coverage for both you and him, with no penalty because you have an insurance option elsewere and neither of you have any kind of medical issues that require specialised medical treatment, stay on his insurance for now. If your insurance for your new job is also 100% paid for both of you (or even just you) you should sign up for your insurance as well, as it can’t hurt to be double covered. The only exception to this is if your husband’s plan is a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) as those have limits as to what the secondary insurance can be – in that case just stay on his plan.

        If you want to post more specifics on your plan vs his (costs, deductible, co-insurance, etc) I could give you a more informed explanation, but for right now with no kids, FREE health insurance is probably the way to go.

        And for info as to what the insurance terms mean (deductible, coinsurance, copay, etc) here are some definitions, but its still confusing – I know I didn’t really understand my insurance for until I’d had it for a few years.

    • I also wanted to let you know that if you don’t have much experience with a BigLaw salary, you and your husband should probably meet with a financial planner to learn how to manage your finances.

      It can be quite overwhelming to get a big check and not know what to do with it. You want to save it, but putting it into a savings account is probably not the best option.

      I recommend “Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich” by Lois Frankel, but any intro investing book will be useful. I also looked up Edward Jones and found a woman financial planner near me, and went with her. Not everyone loves Edward Jones, so find someone that works for you. They usually have free consults.

  8. AnonInfinity :

    I seem to remember a couple of months ago, a woman posted because her significant other felt like she should be able to do more pull ups.

    She (and others) might be interested in this article that explains a little bit about why women are generally terrible at pull ups. I think some amazing women here can do them? RAWR!

    • Legally Red :

      I would’ve appreciated this in grade school gym class as I felt humiliated just hanging there from the pull up bar.

    • Pull yourself up :

      I don’t consider myself amazing, but I can do plenty of pullups.

      I wasn’t always able to do pullups. Yes, you need to do a variety of back/arm exercises to develop the muscles properly, but really, the only way to get better at pullups is by.doing.pullups. Use a chair to push off or a band for assistance to start, or have a buddy support your body. Do negatives. Work up to it.

      This article makes me angry. I don’t know what kind of researcher would have someone doing all kinds of exercises OTHER THAN ACTUAL PULLUPS in order to be able to do pullups. “Using an incline to practice a modified pullup” – what does that even mean?

      TL;DR – I could not do even one pullup when I started, and I’ve always been fit. Now I can do many strict, deadhang pullups in a row. No, it didnt’ happen overnight. But good grief, this article makes it sound like it would be easier for women to fly to the moon.

      I think what irritates me the most about this article (and these types of articles in general) is that they are akin to telling women (or men, or whomever they are geared towards) that it is okay not to try something, that they are hardwired to fail anyway. WTF?

      • Word. The assisted pull-up machine at the gym is one of my favorites. Makes me feel super strong every time I decrease the counter-weight.

        • Cornellian :

          If you don’t mind, how much counter-weight do you use? I usually use 80, and I’m 130. I have no idea if this is a lot or a little…

          • I weigh 160 and I’d typically use 100, which was very easy for me. If I was consistent with my workouts and wanted a challenge, I’d go for 85 or 90. So I was pulling 60-70 lbs, which is arbitrary in my opinion. Every person has different muscle compositions and goals.

            For strength training, you should be struggling to complete a set in order to build more muscle. If you’re just looking to tone, then setting a lighter weight is fine. If you want to push yourself, remove 5 lbs and see how it feels.

          • Cornellian :

            at Godzilla, I guess I mean I put 50 lbs on, so I’m lifting 80, which is how I think about it, somehow. I think maybe I need to try to do it with just 30 lbs 3x once in a while, since I’m not getting any stronger doing this over and over.

          • Check your machine and see if there are smaller weights that you can put on there (every machine is different), so your counterweight is 45, 40 or 35. Or, go hardcore like you’re suggesting, RAWR.

      • Cornellian :

        We always did the buddy system for “tear down” workouts where you did decreasing sets of pull ups until your arms wanted to fall off, but I never thought of using an exercise band at the gym.

        I also wonder if part of the reason women don’t do these things is that the gym can be sort of intimidating. Even in peak shape, I might be able to bench press 110, which is nothing compared to what men who work out routinely can do, and I sometimes feel like I’m getting in the way.

        • Confession: I find the gym SUPER INTIMIDATING. I joined a gym this year after not having been in a “classic” gym since high school. I walked around, realized I had no clue how to use any of the equipment and asked for someone to show me what to do. I told the trainer that I want to build up my monster muscles and had him show me EVERYTHING. Once I knew what I was doing, I couldn’t give a hootenanny about the men in the gym. And, uh, I may have developed a superiority complex over using the machines and weights and not spending all of my time on the treadmill or dance class like the other women at my particular gym.

          • Cornellian :

            Yeah. At the risk of outing myself, I live in a “rough” area of the city and go to the gym there, and I have once in the last six months seen a woman working with free weights (aside from the sub 15 lb barbells). There are many very large and intimidating men, but they’ve actually all been very polite. It’s not really their fault they can lift me with one hand.

            As a former gymnast, I definitely have a superiority complex over my insistence on lifting weights, with low reps and high weight, and not counting 30 min on the elliptical as my work out. On a practical level, lifting weights can make your resting metabolism SO MUCH HIGHER. Even when I’m running 40 miles a week, I don’t feel like I really need to eat that much more per day to keep up (maybe 500 calories?). If I add weight sessions to that I am SO HUNGRY all the time.

          • fellow weight trainer here. I love heavy weights.

        • I love weightlifting – it totally changed my body shape. Between my twice-weekly 45-minute weightlifting (and abs) class and my once- or twice-weekly ballet class, I have muscles!

          My weightlifting class is majority women. We do about 15 minutes of abs work and then half an hour of weightlifting that includes machines, free weights, and bands, interspersed with squats and lunges. When we have new people try the class, the men usually end up queasy or needing to lie down, I think because maybe they try to push too hard too fast? I don’t know, but it’s interesting.

          I, too, feel superiority for lifting weights instead of just doing cardio. I also tend to look down on 1) people who do a million reps using a tiny amount of weight and 2) people (usually men at my gym) who will sit on a machine FOREVER and then lift the weight, like, twice. My exercise philosophy is push hard for a short time period, I have no interest in spending hours at the gym, so I don’t understand people who dillydally there.

          I think this post is making me seem like a not-very-nice person. Oh well.

          • I try to push myself to up my weights periodically. I had very little upper body strength so I did a lot of reps using a small amount of weight but I’ve really pushed it up! I do a lot of cardio but added weights about a year and a half ago and I LOVE it.

            As for the men who sit on a machine, ours are college boys (I use the university’s gym) so I just ask them to move. They usually know I’m faculty so they politely move if they’ve been sitting there hogging the machine and checking their phone.

          • Nah yo, you’re just beasting at the gym. That makes you AWESOME.

      • phillygirlruns :

        agreed. the only thing that helped me get a pull up was DOING PULL UPS.

        i can do a weighted chin up with 25 pounds hanging from my waist, pull up (pronated grip/palms out) with about 20lbs, and can do several regular, strict, bodyweight pullups and chinups in a row. i am not a magician or a super-crazy athlete. the strongest women at my gym are closer to +50lbs or more on their weighted pull ups.

      • You can use a machine at the gym that has pulleys and handles on it. You hold each handle, lean back with your feet at an angle to the machine, and do pull ups that way. I know that’s not a good description, and there are ways to make it harder or easier, but my trainer had me do them that way when I was first starting out.

        You can also get underneath the bar on a squat rack in a more or less push up position ( except you are facing up), and pull up using the bar.

        I still have very little upper body strength, even after 1 year of personal training. Sigh.

    • When I was in high school (and a very, very jacked swimmer) I could do the most “true” pull up of any girl on my team — and I believe I topped out at 15-20. And my muscle mass tended to focus at my upper end (i.e. I was built more like the boys) at that point (I could also bench 150 pounds). Pull ups are stupid for girls.

      That is all.

      • Diana Barry :

        Yep, same was true for my gymnast friends in HS. And they were STRONG.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          Definitely. I was freakishly strong back in my gymnastics days. I always hated conditioning, but being able to do 1-armed pull-ups and things like handstand push-ups seems so awesome to me now. Although I can’t do either (or even regular pull-ups) anymore.

      • phillygirlruns :

        15-20 strict pullups is a CRAPLOAD of pullups.

        • Cornellian :

          I’m all over this thread but how do you make sure they’re strict when you’re alone? In gymnastics they had chairs in front of and behind our legs so you couldn’t kip, which I think is the easiest place to cut corners. I don’t think bringing folding chairs to my gym would be appreciated.

          • phillygirlruns :

            i am frequently guilty of forcing my last rep by lifting my legs/bending at the waist. or frog kicking. there’s not much else to do besides forcing yourself to stay honest.

            kipping pullups are a totally different animal – i can do lots of those, but it’s just different.

    • Cornellian :

      Oh, I was hoping for something more revolutionary than that.

      As a gymnast who could, at my peak, do probably 25 chin ups and 15 pull ups, I’ve always suspected it has to do with the relative width and angles of our body making our leverage in our arms less effective. Women generally have narrower shoulders relative to their body, for example.

      I’ve been doing sets of 5 assisted chin ups (where the machine takes part of your weight) at 80-90 lbs (of my 130) forever, and I don’t seem to be getting any stronger. Maybe it’s not in the cards for my post-gymnast body.

    • springtime :

      Ugh, no matter how much I work my upper body at the gym, I just cannot get that much stronger. Yet, my legs are crazy powerful and I can squat like a pro.

      • Cornellian :

        I think that’s pretty common among women. I also find upper body strength harder to build as a I get older, which is strange, since I’m not experiencing the same with lower body strength… Maybe just because I’ve gotten heavier?

      • Legally Red :

        This is me. Training for long distance running comes easily to me. Trying to do one pull up? No matter how much I work at it, I just end up hanging there.

        • springtime :

          Finally! An article that acknowledges having longer limbs makes it harder (I’m tall). I get tired of people saying everything athletic should be easier for me because I’m tall.

          • Legally Red :

            Haha. I’m not tall, so I don’t have that excuse! I just can’t figure out how to increase my upper body strengh. Strengh training, including upper body work, just makes me a little faster.

          • As a fellow long-limbed person, I can tell you that it’s way harder to lift what your shorter-limbed friends lift. On my team in college, we were specifically paired with lifting buddies each year based on body type…it’s just leverage. Long-limbed folks are working with a longer lever, really.

        • Cornellian :

          I had the opposite experience when I started running. I had a six-pack and visible definition in my quads, but could barely make it around the track. Now I have a marathon under my belt and can’t do pull ups. I think it’s just hard to keep both up at once.

      • I guess, to be fair, I don’t know that I’ve gotten a lot stronger (as judged by using heavier weights) in the past few years. But my arms look good and I can change the giant water jug at work and lift other things I need to lift, so I’m good with that.

        • Haha. At my last job I changed the water jug pretty frequently because 1) I drank a lot of water so I felt responsible and 2) my coworkers complained about how heavy it was. Made me feel macho for a good five minutes of the day ;)

    • I have spent YEARS trying to strengthen my lats, practicing, doing everything I could to do a pull up. Including being so focused I developed tennis elbow and a weird tear in my shoulder which just kills. I had bought into the whole HIIT and drank the crossfit plus paleo koolaid. And I can say for my apple shaped 5’8 15lbs overweight body and biglaw lifestyle, it did not make me happy healthy. I was really muscular with lower bodyfat, but HUGE and always stressed. I went cold turkey and turned back to yoga, a little bit of barre, and long easy runs and my stress levels are WAY down and my body functions much better. And after all the misery of big time strength training, I always still failed at doing one proper pullup.

    • SpaceMountain :

      So many former gymnasts! I remember the days when I could do 20+ chin-ups, as well — days long gone. My 7th grade daughter is a gymnast, and she is in such incredible shape. I guess it comes from being young and working out 18 hours a week, while I work out maybe 3 hours a week, if that. Something I’ve always wondered about is the long-term benefit of a childhood spend in gymnastics. I haven’t done a back flip since I was 18, but I suspect all those years in the gym have helped me stay in shape over the years, even now in my 40s, possibly through a good understanding of how my body works under stress or something.

      • Cornellian :

        I think it gives you great body awareness (also body image issues, unfortunately), which lends itself to all other sports/future workout regimens/injuries. I think I picked up yoga so quickly because I “knew” where my body was and which way it would bend, etc. I think it also gives you a high pain tolerance, which comes in handy later in life.

      • Another former gymnast here! I did it 20-25 hours a week for 8 years, and even though I can probably barely do anything more than a cartwheel anymore, I think it set a great foundation for me.

        For one, it made me realize how much I liked working out/being active, and so now, as an adult with a busy job/life, I try make it a priority (even on the days when I’d rather go home and do nothing). I’m also really coordinated/have great body awareness, which makes trying other activities lot easier for me. +1 for the high pain tolerance too. Lastly, reminding myself that I could easily do 10-15 pull ups when I was 10 is great motivation for getting myself through my arm workout in barre class now.

        On the negative sides, it gives you body issues (at least it did for me) and it only exacerbated my perfectionist tendencies.

    • Oh yes, this was me! Thanks for the article – it’s definitely interesting.

      As an update, my fitness regime went totally out the window about 6 weeks ago after moving into my new house, because we have been spending all our time unpacking, painting, fixing things, etc. So my gym time has been minimal. But now that things have settled down a bit I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.

      Pull-ups without counterweights are still a long way away for me. But I have been finding that it really feels good to do them on the assisted pull-up machine. I started out at 80 lbs counterweight and am now down to 60 lbs, and I like feeling stronger and knowing I can do that. For me, whether I can do a pull-up unassisted is immaterial. But if it keeps feeling this good, I’ll keep doing it.

      I’ve also been doing the 100 push-up challenge (which also went by the wayside about 6 weeks ago). That also feels great, which is not something I *ever* thought I’d hear myself say!

  9. Almost There :

    Forgot to put on mascara today. It feels like I forgot to put my head on my shoulders this morning!

    • I did that once and looked in the mirror and couldn’t figure out why I looked different. Duh.

      • Likewise, I have a hard time figuring out why I look different on days I forget mascara, but it’s definitely noticeable.

    • It’s a good day when I have every major piece of CLOTHING on…so you’re doing pretty good in my book.

    • You ever have one of those days when people are like, “Oh De, you ok? You look sick, or really tired?” And then you’re just like “I forgot to put on make up this morning, thanks.”

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      Yup, I did that once, except that I only forgot on one eye and put some on the other!!

    • I accidently wore hjeans to work today. I am leaving early and taking off tomorrow to go out of town for the weekend and as such forgot that today isn’t Friday. OOPS!

    • Senior Attorney :

      I do this from time to time. So now I keep an extra mascara at the office so I can put it on as soon as I remember!

    • I realized I forgot mascara o my way to the elevator.. but I was already late.
      This got me thinking about maybe keeping a mini mascara tube at work

  10. momentsofabsurdity :

    I wore an angora sweater today and I am shedding. all. over. everything.

    Literally everywhere. I love this sweater (Victoria’s Secret Angora Scoopneck sweater in blue/gray stripe) but this is annoying!

    • I had a purple angora sweater in high school and all my friends were covered in it by the end of the day. I love the cozy look but it drives me bonkers.

  11. Always a NYer :

    For fellow Clarisonic users – How long does the purging last? I just started using my Clarisonic brush again and my skin is all broken out! When I first got it my skin was a broken out mess so I only saw improvements. This time my skin only had a few spots but now they’ve multiplied. I remember reading that this happens because the brush brings all the nasty gunk to the surface but am wondering how much longer I’ll have to go before my skin is clear again. Btw, yes, I am using a new brush head.

    • For me, it’s cyclical. When it happens, I lay off the clarisonic for a couple days, clean the brush head really well, and when I start again my skin is right as rain. I’ve found that if I give my skin a bit of a break when it’s starting to break out, the breakouts are less and less frequent with fewer and fewer spots.

  12. Anon for this :

    Need the wisdom of the hive this morning. I’m mid-20s, live about a 4 or 5 hour drive away from my parents and haven’t seen my parents in a couple months. I haven’t been home though since May. Last night my mom and I got into a huge argument about this. My mom and I usually get along great, but she can be both very critical of me (my weight, my appearance, my apartment, my job, my boyfriend) and very passive aggressive. I usually just deal with it by trying to minimze the amount of things she can criticize me for – staying slim, making sure my hair is done and I’m well-put together etc. and ignoring her passive-aggressiveness when I can. Yesterday I had a bad day and my defences were low and I unfortunately got dragged into an argument I didn’t want.

    Anyways, I was discussing it with my boyfriend last night, and he said that he doesn’t foresee him and my mom getting along well because he just gets angry when someone is so image-obsessed and critical, and he also indicated that he would get frustrated with me being so concerned about what other people think about me.

    I was actually shocked at this because I didn’t think there was anything odd about my mom’s behavior – all my female friends seem to experience some sort of critical viewpoints from their mom.

    Thoughts? Is this normal mother-daughter relationship? Would standing up for myself more make a difference? Is he wrong in taking such a hardline stance? This has been the dynamic for so long that I can’t imagine something else – I just don’t know if other moms are like this…

    Apologies in advance for the novel!

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I think there is often something critical in the mother-daughter relationship. I think sometimes, our parents understanding of us is so wrapped up in the innumerable hopes, dreams and expectations they have for us that sometimes, they get frustrated when who we are and who they want us to be don’t line up.

      Like you, I try not to engage with my mom when she’s being critical. I often say, “What you’re saying is hurting my feelings, so I’d rather not talk about this anymore.” I think I’m also uniquely sensitive to some things that, if I heard them from a friend, wouldn’t bother me that much but because my mom can’t just stop and let something go, they drive me nuts when my mom expresses them.

      That said, MOST of the time, she’s not hurting my feelings. If you feel like your mom is more of a negative force in your life than a positive one, I would say that’s atypical.

      • “I think sometimes, our parents understanding of us is so wrapped up in the innumerable hopes, dreams and expectations they have for us that sometimes, they get frustrated when who we are and who they want us to be don’t line up.”


        • Anon For This :

          Honestly, this is what I’m most afraid of about having kids. I am so incredibly hard on myself that I can’t imagine how I might handle having a daughter who doesn’t live up to my expectations.

          /end terrible person confession

    • Hmm…I’m close with my mom but she can be pretty critical about appearance which is weird because she has a super casual lifestyle and never wore makeup or cared about her hair etc. I think it stems from her personal insecurities and when I remember that, it helps me take it in stride. She wants so much more for me and since I’m a pretty high achiever generally, pointing out physical stuff is how she ‘helps’. However, it’s hard when something is normal to you is viewed by an outside party.

      We’re separated by a ocean and skype makes it difficult to nitpick (or compliment, I’ve lost a load of weight but I find the compliments that this entails a bit difficult to handle).

    • No advice on the mom front because I don’t have that kind of relationship (though I don’t think it is abnormal, based on friends’ experiences), but the boyfriend’s comment is interesting to me. Perhaps it’s that he’s in his 20s and hasn’t learned that being tolerant of your partner’s parents is a big part of making a relationship work (at least with people who talk to their families frequently), but that’s a red flag for me. If this is a serious relationship, you guys need to do some serious thinking about how you are going to all get along, especially if he’s already essentially said he’s going to be frustrated with you as well as your mom.

      I say this as someone who has big issues with her in-laws. I’m gritting my teeth and taking it like a big girl, but if I’d known when we started dating that this was what I was in for, I would have gotten out. If you and your boyfriend are going to end up in a similar place, cut your losses now.

      • I don’t know — I think it sounds like her boyfriend is looking out for her and concerned that she may be running her life based on her mom’s criticism. Critical, nitpicky moms might be “normal” as in common, but I don’t think it’s all that healthy and certainly isn’t likely to foster a loving adult daughter-mom relationship. Maybe I have that perspective because my mom and mom-in-law are both super uncritical and loving, but why would any daughter want to visit her mom if all she hears is passive-aggressive comments and criticism? Parents need to offer advice and suggestions, absolutely, but it’s not their job to examine every inch of you and let you know repeatedly that you really should lose 10 pounds and really should do your hair differently, etc.

        I completely agree that in-law relationships are super important. You might want to talk to your boyfriend about how you view your relationship with your mom, how you deal with her criticism, and how you would like him to support you in that relationship by doing X (ignore her comments, change the subject, tell you after meeting your mom that you’re beautiful and amazing and perfect, whatever you need). But I wouldn’t “cut your losses” and dump your boyfriend just because he expressed concern about your mom’s behaviour towards you.

        • I agree re the boyfriend — my DH wants me to be happy, and when my parents are the source of what is making me unhappy, he is critical of them. I don’t see anything unusual about that. Our respective in-laws, however, are generally not terrible, so we don’t struggle with this issue too often. I have friends with different relationships with their spouses/in-laws though, where they feel like they can’t or shouldn’t say anything against the others’ parents. I don’t understand that because I could not be in a relationship like that (not to sound judgy, but I simply can’t operate like that).

          I also think – OP – you also need to have more discussions with your BF about this seemingly hardline that he has taken. It’s one thing to want your significant other to stand up for themselves (which it seems like what it is that he actually wants), it’s another to say that he’ll be frustrated with you because of it. Perhaps it’s just a poor word choice, but I agree with the advice to explain the relationship between you and your mother, explain the ways that you usually try to shield yourself from this, and also that, you know, you’re human and sometimes our parents affect us.

    • My mom died when I was 24 but she and I always struggled with this kind of thing. I was always overweight or dieting. When I lost weight, I was “good” and when I was overweight, my mom agonized over it. She also desperately wanted me to dress nicely, etc. She was tiny and I am not. It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable with myself and my style and my body. I still struggle with my weight, but I feel like I dress for myself – professionally and stylishly. I work out 6 days a week and I am fit and strong even if I’m not tiny. I do all of this FOR ME, not for anyone else. My family are still utra-critical but I just try to ignore it. But that’s a lot easier for me to say now, in my late 40s. You’ll get there, but you need to get self-confidence from within and keep in mind where this is coming from where you mother is concerned.

    • Anon for This :

      FWIW, my two cents are it’s common but not inevitable from the mom’s perspective – there are mothers who don’t criticize their daughters appearance. And frankly, I don’t blame your husband; he loves you and thinks you’re wonderful – of course he doesn’t want to see someone pick you apart. And of course he doesn’t want to see you feel like you have to turn your life around to respond to it (and keeping your physical appearance a certain way because of someone else is kind of intense from a certain outside perspective even if it doesn’t feel that way to you).

      That said, for some mothers, they’re probably not going to change. That just depends on the person. For me, those kinds of comments from my mother were destructive enough – at least as applied to me; other people probably wouldn’t have been bothered to the same degree – that they had to if I was going to continue to have a relationship with her. But that’s something you and she have to figure out. But if it does bother you, I think it’s something you should think about addressing with her.

    • I don’t think your boyfriend is wrong. I would find it hard to watch you appease your mother that way to. It doesn’t matter if other mom’s are like that. Do you want that to be your relationship? Do you want to do things just to appease her? Sometimes that is a strategy to deal with certain people, but I have never had to earn my mother’s approval.

      My mom is one of my biggest supporters, if you are just looking for other data points. She has only ever commented on my weight when I gained 30 pounds relatively quickly, and she addressed it out of concern for my mental health, since I had always worked out but had stopped and wanted to know if there were other things going on in my life bothering me.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Your mother’s behavior is not ok. For all of my mother’s many, many faults, not once has she criticized my appearance, and my DH would be really angry at her if she did. My BFF’s mom would also never do such a thing, though you are likely to get a mini-rant against The Man when she sees headlines promoting weight loss and makeup on magazine stands.

      The only way your mother is going to change is if you set boundaries and you enforce them. A close friend is first generation Asian-American, and her parents have very “traditional” ideas about what women should look like and do. They criticized her appearance constantly (If you don’t lose weight, you’ll never get married. Why don’t you wear makeup? You need to look nicer.). She now warns them that she will leave/hang up if they do say things like that, and she does. Yes, it causes drama, but their behavior is unacceptable and she’s learned through therapy to finally stand up for herself.

      • It’s pretty common among Korean Americans, that you need to be a size 2 and be 100 pounds.

        It was super hard the first time I told my parents (and my little sister) that my weight/appearance was off limits – but then they finally got the message that it was not okay, and our relationship has been much better since. I’m pretty sure they’re still being judge-y about it, but at least they don’t try to “fix” me.

      • Oh SF, I wish I had your mom! My parents are also very critical of my appearance and weight, and I did exactly what you suggested — I told them if they made any comments at all about my body I would refused to acknowledge those comments, and if they persisted I would hang up/leave. I enforced this for both positive and negative comments, because it was starting to give me a serious complex when I lost weight because of medical issues and they kept complimenting me. It’s not a perfect solution (I know they still think those things about me, even if they don’t say them), but it has allowed me to have a slightly more sane relationship with my parents.

        • Almost There :

          I have the opposite problem and I also hate it. My mom is obese, and when I’m skinny she almost comments how I’m “wasting away” and need to eat a hamburger (I have never been close to being underweight). When I’m on my heavier side, she never says anything. It makes me feel like when I’m skinny, she comments because she’s guilting me because I’m thin and she’s not.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          HAHAHAHA you do not want my mom. Oh my goodness you don’t want her. You may have seen my posts about being in therapy and on antidepressants. Guess why. She is a huge failure as a mother in many ways, but it is true that she has never criticized my appearance.

          • Ha! Fair enough :) I’m right there with you on the therapy and anti-depressants… I guess we all come out of childhood messed up in our own unique and special ways!

    • Other commenters have covered what I was going to say about thoughts in dealing with your mom, so I’ll just add, from my anecdotal experience, no, that’s not a commonly occurring characteristic among mother-daughter relationships I see (mine & close friends). Though my mother and I vehemently disagree with each other about a lot of stuff, she doesn’t criticize my physical appearance or how “together” my life is. And when she does criticize, it’s constructive & not attacking me – likewise for my close friends’ mothers’ criticisms of them (which do include physical appearance stuff).

      • Neither of my parents have ever criticized my appearance. My lefty political leanings, now that’s another story.

        • Anon in DC :

          My mother has never ever criticized my appearance, and I love her for it. We have plenty of other issues, though!

          And my own girls are still very little, but I solemnly vow never to criticize their appearances, jobs, apartments, or clothing. I can’t make any promises on boyfriends yet.

    • I will add that I think this is one of those dynamics that can develop when you are a teenager and your mother is trying to “model” good behavior in the only way she can imagine doing so (by telling not doing) and then you never break out of it. So sure, when I was a teenager my mom would occasionally look at the juniors clothes I insisted on trying on (despite them being completely unflattering on my decidedly not petite figure) and say “oh honey, I don’t think that’s good for you” and I would freak out because I was 15 and hormonal and thought she was saying I was fat. When really I was just built like a line backer (see above).

      But in the ideal world, you grow out of this dynamic when you move out of her house. But it doesn’t always happen and you have to set boundaries. But avoiding her and just trying to be perfect when you’re in her presence is definitely not the way to go. And its really really great that your boyfriend thinks your awesome, but you need to talk to him about it not being a him vs. her dynamic with you caught in the middle. What about instead it being you guys as a team, working on making you stronger in your dealings WITH her — and trying to alter your relationship with her — in the many healthy ways that others have talked about in this thread. That way he feels like he’s engaged in the process, rather then just shutting himself out of it. And he’s engaged in you in the process and in helping you to feel more confident in it.

      Anyway — those are my two cents. And next time you go over there — don’t worry so much about your hair. :-) I’m sure its beautiful.

    • e_pontellier :

      I hate my mother. You’re not alone. I never voluntarily contact her. It’s pretty irritating that my DH thinks she’s great and will go to lunch with her.

      • transition :

        I’m not sure if this is a detail you’ve mentioned before, but this is a pretty major breach to go out of his way to spend time with someone so awful to you… I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that!

        • Is there any possibility that you’ve somehow married someone with all of the same personality traits as your mother and yet you can’t see that clearly yet?

        • Ditto. I thought, how awful that your husband knows you don’t get along and goes out of his way to hang out with her. That isn’t presenting a united front. I’m so sorry that you are going through this.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Whoa. Yeah. That’s new. Dude, e_p. I’m sorry, but your situation just sounds worse and worse the more details you share. I hope you can go on some kind of retreat for several days so you can be in a safe place to reflect on how wrong this situation is and how you deserve so much more than what you’re getting. You hate your mother but your husband hangs out with her?! That is so far beyond unacceptable that I can’t adequately articulate how much. It really sounds like your husband never has your back, and your mother clearly doesn’t either. And you don’t have your own back. So who is on your side???

          • LadyEnginerd :

            I agree. That’s definitely way, way beyond the norm. It’s normal to follow your partner’s lead with how they deal with their parents (sometimes with a little hesitation. I said normal, not ideal :)). His undermining your boundaries with your mother is absolutely unacceptable. On the other hand, it does make your relationship with your husband make more sense to me (not in a good way). Do you see patterns from your family growing up repeating in your choice of partner and your marriage?

            What does your therapist say about this? If there’s anything you’ve told us you haven’t discussed to your therapist, you should print out your comments related to your personal life and give them to your therapist to look over. As much as I’d like to send Godzilla to rawr and kidnap you to go to a meditation retreat to heal, this is beyond our pay grade and something I hope you’re talking over with a professional.

      • This should be another red flag.

    • I don’t have this sort of relationship with my mother, but my father is highly critical of my (and other people’s) physical appearance. It was really destructive to my self-esteem, and finally I told him to stop. I don’t think this is something that *should* be part of a normal parent-child relationship. Think about it from the perspective of you being the parent telling your daughter that she’s overweight, doesn’t look good, is failing at her job/apartment/boyfriend, etc. Would you do that?

    • AnonBodyRant :

      I think that image, appearance, and body image are issues that a lot of women struggle with. We feel insecure, we tear ourselves down, and we bond over fat talk. When it comes to mother-daughter relationships, where the parental dynamic is already often one of parents transferring issues to children and children defending their own-personhood, it really makes sense to me that it’s common to see this kind of issue; mothers who are insecure want to “help” their daughters by ensuring that daughter has nothing to “worry” about, and daughters who are insecure feel even more defensive about body issues than they would about, say, their current dating partner or the color of paint in the kitchen. The irony, of course, is that mothers then make their daughters even more insecure.

      Arg… it frustrates me thinking about it this much. My own family’s dynamic is definitely this way, and my mom’s mom is still a major part of our lives, so I get three generations’ worth of it. My sister coped with it by developing a devastating eating disorder, which my family recognized was partly their fault (she got so many compliments when she was 100 pounds — she’s 5’7″). I coped with it by gaining weight like there was no tomorrow (at 130 lbs, 5’5″, I was “already fat,” so why did it matter?), and just putting it out of my mind. I honestly had no idea something was wrong with my sister until she was hospitalized. She was “so pretty” and I just thought that all skinny girls ate next to nothing for dinner and exercised for hours a day (one more reason I didn’t mind being “fat”!). I was so naive. We’re both doing better, but it’s been long enough since my sister’s treatment that a lot of the fat talk is starting to creep back in…meal times turn into discussions of how fatty the salad dressing is, I get told I look “beautiful and healthy” when I show up 5 pounds lighter (I’m still overweight, and they have no idea how “healthy” I am or am not). The good news is that I’m coming to terms with this and with my body, and I think my sister is, too (with the help of a lot of treatment). I’ve realized I can be conscious of my body and my eating habits without being them, which is what I think I always feared. Tracking calories to lose weight (that I need to lose!) doesn’t make me body-obsessed. Exercising regularly doesn’t make me a fanatic.

      Sigh. I think that even the best parents can’t help but leave their children just a little afraid of their own demons. We just have to hope that we can face them down and impart a little more strength, wisdom, and serenity to our own children — to help them face our demons.

    • transition :

      A few things…

      1. There is often a complicated relationship between mother and daughter but you mentioned being critical and passive aggressive. Those aren’t healthy in any relationship.

      2. Do you wish you were more assertive? If so, work on this so that you’re happier with yourself since that’s the only one between the two of you that you can change or control.

      3. What was boyfriend’s point? Is he saying that this will be something he’ll always want to take your side on and will have to grin/bear it when he’s around mom in the future or is he saying he sees this as something that will prevent your relationship from reaching the stage where he meets your mother at all? In terms of partner support, could you be truly happy with a partner who handles this mother/daughter relationship the way he’s saying he will or will that not be enough for you long-term?

    • I think standing up for yourself might not make a difference with your mother’s behavior, but it will make a difference for you. I think that it is common for mothers to place their expectations on their daughters in terms of appearance, but you have the right to dress/eat/groom whatever way you want.

      Reading your post it concerns me that you work so hard to please your mom, and that it could easily spiral out of control. I think that your SO sees this too, and may just be concerned for you, and sees your mom as the catalyst for this.

      Working on boundaries with your mom may help you, and work with your SO on trying to not make it a him vs mom kind of thing, but that you and him are a team and you both work together for your common well being.

    • First, it should not matter whether or not others consider this common or normal. Just because other people put up with inappropriate behavior does not mean that you should. If all of your friend have alcoholic parents and put up with all the things that go with that, it would not mean that you were under an obligation to put up with it too.

      I have a lot of sympathy for your boyfriend’s position. He has identified your mother’s behavior as being destructive to you. He is also seeing that you seem to be willing to put up with it. He’s telling you now that he’s not ok with that. I can see his point. Your mother tearing down your self-esteem and you allowing her to changes how you see yourself. It changes how you interact with your boyfriend. He’s identifying this as a deal breaker for him. If needing someone who just accepts your relationship with your mother is a deal breaker for you, then you guys should address this now.

    • Anon for this :

      OP here – thanks all for the support and kind words.

      A few thoughts:
      1. I realize I’ve been avoiding my mom and going home because I’m never sure when I’m going to be criticized, and I’m obviously trying to minimize it. The things she critiques me on are generally always minor and superficial – i.e. my apartment isn’t clean enough, my boyfriend isn’t good looking enough, my bangs are too long – so while I think it’s coming from a good place, it’s not generally constructive.

      2. I don’t want this type of relationship going forward but my mother is the least self-aware person in the world so I feel like grinning and bearing it is easier than explaining to her that her comments are hurtful. I’ve tried in the past, and her response is generally more passive-aggressive and I end up more upset.

      3. And my boyfriend is great, but has very low tolerance for BS. He hasn’t met my parents yet but I’m sure when he does, my mom will be nothing but pleasant to his face (what I hear is likely a different story). And in the future (as this is likely heading to marriage), I’m sure he’ll hear more of it but his reaction will likely be not to say anything in public and leave the room. So I think his reaction is part wanting to protect me and part because he just has no patience for this type of behaviour. Whereas I’m fairly assertive, but have something in me that wants to please other people, so maybe I just need to grow out of that.

      This just all kinda sucks because I’m excited for him to meet my family, and I know he’ll probably get along great with my dad, but he already has this view of my mom in his head, and I’m scared he might not go into this with an open mind with respect to her.

      • Sorry, but nitpicking at you, your choices, people you care about is not something that comes from a good place.

        You do not need to protect your mother from your boyfriend’s opinion of her. She makes her own choices. While you have grown up learning to shield her from the consequences of her actions, you have no obligation to shield her from other people’s reactions — including your boyfriend’s.

        From your posts, it seems you still allow your mother to control quite a lot of your behavior. That is totally understandable, given this is all you have known. But now that you are seriously starting to think about building your own family, it might be time to really think about what you want out of relationships. Because your boyfriend already has such a strong opinion on the matter, you might consider talking to a therapist about this to get a more neutral sounding board to find boundaries you are comfortable with.

        • I should add, that just because your mom does things that aren’t necessarily coming from a good place doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you or that she is a bad person. These behaviors can be functions of her own issues.

          But just because she is a good person or has great qualities, doesn’t mean that you need to put up with what she dishes out or that you have try to convince others that they need to ignore the bad stuff — especially when the bad stuff hurts someone they love.

      • Do your parents ever come visit you? It’s not a one-way street.

        My Dad and I are pretty close, but on different sides of the country. When he complains that I don’t call enough, I remind him that his phone works, too.

        To avoid criticisms about apartments, etc., you could meet for lunch in the middle on a weekend.

    • Anon for this :

      OP here – thank you all so much for the kind words, support and advice.

      I have a few thoughts:
      1. I know my mom is coming from a good place. That said, her critical comments still hurt and make me feel like I’ll never be good enough – I have a great job, friends, SO etc. but my hair is messy or I can’t keep my apartment clean enough, or my SO isn’t good looking enough. I’m not ok with this, especially when I know I am doing well, and my SO is a great guy that I’m lucky to have. I’ve been avoiding her recently because I don’t want to deal with this.

      2. I don’t want this type of relationship with her, but she is the least self-aware person ever, so whenever you call her on her behavior, she is even more passive-aggressive, and I get more upset that it just seems futile. My coping mechanism is just to let it roll off my back and vent to friends afterwards. I’m well-aware this is not the most direct way to deal with this, but in my mind, she will not change now. So I can only control my reaction to her behavior.

      3. My boyfriend is great (so I don’t think cutting my losses is an option) but he has very little tolerance for this type of behavior. He is very much of the viewpoint that he’s going to do his own thing, and if his parents or extended family complain, he just doesn’t care. I can’t do that – I still care about what my family thinks, and probably always will. He hasn’t met my parents yet – this hasn’t turned him off of meeting them (he knows we’re in this for the long haul and they’ll always be a part of my life) but part of me is scared he’s already made up his mind about her.

      I think he partly wants to protect me, is concerned that I’m going to spend my (and by extension our life) worried and stressed about how my family is perceiving me and us, and also just has no tolerance for this type of BS. He is going to be supportive, but I’m sure if this type of thing comes up while he’s around, his reaction will be not to say anything in public and likely leave the room. I just don’t want him frustrated at me when I’m upset about something my mom said.

      Anyways thanks ladies… it helps a lot to just write all this out and reflect on something that’s been bothering me for a while.

    • My mom has made similar comments about certain things, and our relationship really improved when we had a major conversation about where it was all coming from. I actually sat her down after she was making some comments about my little brother needing to watch what he eats, lose weight, etc. I think since the conversation started about something that wasn’t about me, I was able to be a little more rational.

      Once we talked, I realized exactly what was behind some of the comments, and it really made me more understanding and patient with her. For example, she had seen my dad gain a lot of weight, injure his knees and back so he wasn’t able to enjoy a lot of activities and it turned out she was really anxious that my brother was developing similar habits. She was dealing with the anxiety poorly, but it was eye-opening to realize the comments weren’t mean spirited. Similar things came out for so many of the things that she’s critical about.

      Now, when I get the comments I remind myself that it isn’t about me, it’s about her and try to remember that there’s something else at the root of this. And when I’m able to say please don’t take X out on me, it helps remind her and she backs off.

      Is there anything that could be triggering this comments from your mom? If you BF understands a little more about why it might help him out too.

  13. Diana Barry :

    Dang it, Kat, I looked at the J Crew sale and now I have a couple of pencil skirts and a pair of pants coming in a week! :-0

    Oh well, might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, I suppose – can anyone find me a pair of oxblood booties with a 3″ or less heel in a size 9 wide? :)

    • I did too… my new cardigan is heading my way .. on top of the large jcrew factory order I already have coming

    • Okay. This is hard. How do people with wide widths cope. I hate how many cute shoes I can’t recommend. I have looked at ALL MY SOURCES. And lets see. I think these are cute, but they are cognac not oxblood — I know I know — technically different.

      • You have no idea how much it irks me to say that’s the best I can come up with. Would you consider another color? CAN you wear non wide widths? Rawwwrr. I hate failure.

        • Diana Barry :

          Not failure! Usually what I end up doing is taking the regular widths to the cobbler for stretching, if I love them otherwise. The regular width shoes I can wear are:
          nine west (sometimes)
          ivanka trump (I think)
          clark’s (with stretching)
          gentle souls

          Does that help? :)

        • Diana Barry :

          And actually, I lurve those. Ordered!

        • onehsancare :

          You think WIDE is a problem, try WIDE and needing size 5, too!

      • We buy shoes that are too big and hope that they can doctored into staying on. Or we RAWR at the cobbler when he can’t stretch the shoes enough. Mostly, we stick to “classic” shoes.

      • Ugh, welcome to our world! I have SO. MUCH. TROUBLE. finding shoes that fit comfortably. I want cute shoes, but I can’t spend a fortune, and the options are already so limited when you need wide widths. I can’t even really order online (though I intend to start trying more), because the width problem means that I can literally be any size from 8.5 to 10, depending on width and insole and style. Seriously. Please, some enterprising young fashion lady must be reading this: fix this problem! I promise there is a market for cute wide shoes!! :)

      • Donald J. Pliner fits my wide feet without going to wide sizes. They’re pricey, but I can sometimes find them at discounters.

  14. Have any of you ladies thought about privately banking your newborn’s cord blood? I’m 28 weeks pregnant, and my OB was really pushing it at my last appointment. I’m somewhat skeptical, especially given the price. We don’t have other children and aren’t planning on having more than one. There was a brief discussion of public banking about a year ago on this site, and it seems to me that the public route would be a better use of the stuff, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • Diana Barry :

      We didn’t – my husband’s cousin, who is a neonatologist, advised against it. Basically the things you can use it for are really rare.

    • I didn’t do banking. I looked into donating cord blood, which you can do at some hospitals, but we couldn’t do it at ours. We don’t have any family history of things that it could be used for, which might have influenced my decision. My understanding is that it is expensive and at the time an expensive optional expense was not in our budget. And we did the same for baby #2.

    • We didn’t either. In some cities you can donate it to the public cord blood bank, but you need to sign up pretty soon. Also, they may not need your donation since they can only handle so much inventory at once. Here is some information on donating

      CyroBanks and LifeBanksUSA are some other companies that may work with you if you aren’t at a participating hospital.

    • We thought about it but decided not to based on the cost and the rarity of the reasons cord blood is used.

    • I know this is probably irrational, but I’m actually AGAINST private cord banking. I think it preys on people’s worst fears, and also highlights a huge gulf between haves and have nots. Essentially, it’s selling you (at not small cost) the idea that you can protect your family from tragedy with some amount of money. I think public cord blood donation for research and use is a much better direction to go — it allows for the possibility that your child could be helped, but also hopefully advances disease treatment and research for all people.

      Okay, that’s a little ranty and quixotic, but that’s how I feel. We were planning to donate cord blood with my first, but the cord was too short and the baby was in a little bit of distress, so it seemed like skipping that step was safest. I would definitely do it with number 2, but I think the hospital I’m delivering at isn’t set up for that. Most large urban or suburban hospitals are though.

      • I completely agree.

      • I agree with EC MD and I am a little concerned about your doctor pushing it hard. Was he pushing hard as in “you need to decide whether or not to do this now, don’t wait until the last minute because it takes time to set things up”? Or “you need to do this because it’s the best thing ever” salespitch? Is it possible your doctor is getting somme kind of kickback for signing women up for private cord banking? If that’s the case I would personally find a new doctor as I think that crosses the line on ability to be objective.

        • Research, Not Law :


          We donated our first’s cord blood to a public bank. It wasn’t possible at the hospital where I delivered my second, otherwise we would have done it again.

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        quixotic. Learned a new word. Thanks!

      • Agree with this. Although when a friend who is of Norwegian ancestry had a baby with her husband of mixed Korean/Central European ancestry, I kind of wondered if it would be worth banking some cord blood, because in the rare event one would be needed, a matching bone marrow donor might be tricky to find.

        But in general I agree, donating for public research is probably a much better idea.

        • That is one situation (or one example of a situation) that I think banking may be of value — you are right, people of mixed race ancestry have a lot of trouble finding appropriate donors for BMT, etc.

          Also, just a note — I shouldn’t say “public banking” essentially it is donation. I lived in Seattle, and a co-op between the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Childrens Hospital accepted donation of cord blood for research purposes. I doubt it was truly banked in a way that I could have ever asked for it back had we needed it on a personal level.

    • We didn’t bank. At the time (8 and 6 years ago), I was really uncomfortable with the lack of regulations and any type of GCP in the banking area. I don’t recall that there were public and private banks at the time. I’m a regulations girl and wanted to know that anything we banked would be maintained in the utmost, cleanest practices, with no chance of adverse events. I’m sure things have gotten better with time.

      I also wasn’t sure of the benefit versus our questions. The real benefit of banking is a sense of security against potential diseases-what if our baby were to develop x type of cancer? etc. Again, I wasn’t convinced that the banks would have kept it in proper condition to be used later. This was years ago, I’m sure the industry has made advances since then.

    • Anon for this :

      For a different perspective – we did it, for 2 kids. Our ob/gyn was nuetral on the issue, although had done it with other couples and was familiar with the process. My DH had had cancer 5 yrs before 1st child, and thankfully went into remission after some tough treatment. I think we looked at banking as a ‘just in case’ kind of thing – if ever a serious issue came up, which we had demonstrable evidence that it could indeed happen to us or our kids – maybe, just maybe, having it banked would be helpful somewhere down the road. If not for that experience, I doubt we would have done it, and it is very expensive, both the initial fee and then the annual fees.

    • OP here – thanks to everybody for your input. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts on this.

  15. I think some other moms are like this—but that doesn’t make it right. I’m lucky that my mom isn’t critical of me, but I have many friends whose moms are or were critical of them.

    You don’t deserve to be spoken to this way. I’m confident you know what you look like and it’s none of her business. If you are complaining to her that you can’t get a date (which apparently you can) or that you can’t get a job and she said that perhaps the problem is that you only wash your hair every month and so you look dirty, I’d be okay with that. But if she’s critical because she thinks you are too fat or skinny or thinks your hair should be brown when it’s red, then none of that is her affair. Likewise, unless she has well-founded concerns about your apartment or your boyfriend (for example, your apartment is not safe, your boyfriend is abusive), then how you live and where you live also isn’t her affair.

    The women I’ve known who have been successful in standing up to their moms have held a hard line. They’ve said something along the lines of: “Mom. I have heard your comments. These are the choices I have made in life. I am no longer going to listen to you criticize me for my weight/appearance/apartment/job/boyfriend. Now let’s talk about something else.” And the next time she returns to the topic, you repeat “Like I said, Mom, I’m no longer going to listen to you criticize my body/job/etc.” And if she refuses to move off of the topic, then tell her “I see this is not a good time for us to talk. Please call back when you’re ready to discuss something other than my body/job/etc.” And then hang up the phone. Once she finds out she can’t be mean to you anymore, she will stop.

    Consider: Would you talk to a daughter of your own the way your mom talks to you? Would you let someone else talk to your daughter (assuming you have/will have one) the way she talks to you? What if your mom tries to say these things to your daughter; would you put your foot down then? You’re just as valuable as any daughter you have or may have.

    You deserve to be treated well. I’m hoping your boyfriend is being protective of you because he too believes you deserve better. Now you have to believe you deserve better.

  16. Paul Green shoes? :

    Have seen a lovely Paul Green shoe. They are pricey, but have heels that I can live with. No stores with me sell them, although I can order on Zappos. Any thoughts as to how they run and how they stack up against other brands in that range (Ferragamo, SW, etc.)? Thanks!

  17. What kind of jacket do you wear with a camel pencil skirt that is not part of a suit (it is The Skirt)? I have a tweed blazer that I was considering, but I just don’t know. How would you wear it?

    • I have that exact skirt. I’ve actually worn it with a navy blazer, which ended up looking pretty good and kind of winking at the classic preppy guy uniform of a navy blazer and khakis (I wore a white shirt, gold necklace). That said, I think a tweed blazer, so long as it has any kind of gold, camel, or khaki thread to it would be very nice. Any pattern/mix that pics up the hue should be fine.

    • big dipper :

      I’ve worn a navy blazer and a dark khaki blazer (that’s a weird color description but this blazer is a weird color) with mine. I also think any darker jewel tone would work – hunter green, dark red (oxblood?), dark purple, etc.

    • Legally Red :

      I’m wearing a purple-ish maroon jacket today with a camel pencil skirt today.

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      I wear either a dark brown or a navy blazer with mine. If I had a tweed, dark green, or dark purple blazer, I would wear those, as well (and now want blazers in all those colors).

  18. Cornellian :

    Related to the pull up question!

    How much can you bench press? Once? Ten times? Or, how many proper form pull ups can you do?

    • Confession 2: I can’t bench press for squat. It’s terrible, the way my arms tremble trying to lift that stupid bar. Forget about form. I WILL CONQUER YOU, STEEL MANIFESTATIONS OF MISERY, RAWR.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      When I went into law enforcement I had to bench press 98% of my body weight, unassisted, one time, to pass the test. It took a TON of training, but I did it. Men had to do 110% of body weight. I now can’t do bench presses or push ups at all due to a permanent injury to my ac joint. I can’t say I miss it.

    • Statutesq :

      I haven’t maxed out since high school, so now I’m curious about how much I could bench if I wanted to. Now, I do 3 sets of 15 with 55. In high school the most I maxed out at was 120 I think.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i rarely bench press – i think the last time i did was about 6 months ago, and my 1RM was 125 (bodyweight of 145ish). it’s probably about the same now, MAYBE 5lbs more.

      i did max out on my strict overhead press this weekend, and could not even get 90lbs to my eyes, let alone overhead. i am a hamstring-dominant beast though – deadlift 300 and squat 220, which i’m pretty happy with.

    • I can bench press my weight. (and am working towards 110% but it is SO hard) I can squat almost 2x, but I am terrible at pull ups. I’m really short (T-rex arms!) so I think that definitely helps.

      I’m terrible at any sort of running and after trying the couch to 5k for the past year, I think I’m just going to accept it. My stocky irish genes are built for carrying sacks of potatoes, not speed.
      I really like weightlifting, and wish I had started doing it sooner!

      • phillygirlruns :

        a double bodyweight squat is no joke – i am JUST BARELY at 1.5x and consider myself pretty effin’ strong. weightlifting is amazing – i wish i’d gotten into it years ago, too.

  19. phillygirlruns :

    somehow my boss and i both decided that today is BRIGHT RED BLAZER day. ugh. thankfully we don’t have any meetings or anything together, because we look like the bobbsey twins.

    • Cornellian :

      We are three women with twelve men in my group, and we’re all wearing an identical color today, which happens at least once a week. We really, really dont’ coordinate it.

    • My office staff and I have the uncanny ability to coordinate outfits without even trying. Often times I’ll show up in the same color as my MA or my office manager. At this point, we just laugh. It’s totally like Mean Girls though (which day do we wear pink?)

    • Whatever, my mom and I (both lawyers in the same city) have shown up to bar events both wearing bright red blazers. No prior coordination, obviously. Doesn’t help that we also look alike.

      I have been feeling uninspired with my red blazer lately. What are you wearing it with?

    • This happens in my office with bright colored pencil skirts. A group of women (including myself) always ends up wearing them on the same day, and we look like some office-attired version of the Supremes. Good for a laugh :)

    • I’m wearing a bright pink long sleeved shirt and black trousers today. One of my staff has the exact same outfit on. Doesn’t help that the bright pink draws attention…

  20. Anon for this :

    My boss died unexpectedly yesterday – heart attack or stroke while on vacation in Hawaii. He was a mentor, friend, hard-working and almost universally loved. He was the best boss I’ve ever had. He first hired me in 2000 and was my reference for other jobs before he hired me again in 2010. I am just heartbroken for his wife and grown boys, our team and the larger community. I still can’t believe it.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. Lots of hugs to you and his loved ones.

    • I am so sorry for your loss.

    • So sorry for you, his family, and all your co-workers! Take care of yourself and let yourself grieve and cope in whatever way works best for each of you.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’m so sorry for your loss as well. If you are the “fixer” type that can’t sit still and it would be appropriate for you to do so, check his calendar, check with his assistant, etc. to be aware of any upcoming major work deadlines he had, particularly if you are a lawyer, so you can request the necessary extensions. Most people don’t organize their work in such a way that someone else could just pick up with no notice. It often takes a long time to figure out what all is going on and what needs to be done. Just making a list of all the things that need to be covered/done is hugely helpful!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • So sorry for your loss.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I am so sorry.

    • I’m so sorry.