Contrary to what we were led to believe, adulting is not doing whatever we want, whenever we want. Instead, we’re constantly responding to our bosses, our families, the news cycle.… And while we deeply wish that finding inner peace was as easy as ordering a new pair of shoes or polishing off a pint of Chunky Monkey, turns out it’s more elusive.
But what if a silent retreat isn’t in the cards? Who among us hasn’t closed her eyes and tried to meditate, only to give up in frustration? If yoga makes you crack up or cringe, what’s a girl gotta do to center herself?
Bare it All is here to help you find a few moments of Zen without resorting to weird breathing techniques. Read on for eight low-effort ways to clear your mind.
Some of us go our whole adult lives never really considering how the way our bras fit affects our self-confidence, our posture…even our mood.
If there ever was a time to check in on your bra fit, it would be every January. With renewed resolve plus the post-holiday lull, this month is ideal for taking two minutes for yourself. Reexamine your bras, and suddenly your wardrobe looks—and fits—so much better.
To make touching base with yourself and your bras as easy as can be, we picked the brain of Bare Necessities Bra Fit Expert Kristyn Polin to help you uncover what you didn’t know you didn’t know. By taking a quick, close look at how the bras you’re in now serve you—or don’t—you can finally unlock the angels-singing kind of support you’ve long been looking for.
See if you can find yourself in Kristyn’s common scenarios, then try her tiny tweaks that make a huge difference.
Alice Hurley’s older sister MaryAnne always looked out for her—so when MaryAnne needed a mastectomy, it was Alice’s turn to step up. Read on to find out what support can look like in this Breast Cancer Awareness Month edition of “Life with the Girls.”
The longer we live, the more my sister means to me.
Sis is seven years my senior. Calling her MaryAnne was for other people. We shared a bedroom with matching bedspreads. She did magical, thoughtful things: One Christmas Eve, my old striped stocking was replaced with a bigger, more cheerful patterned red felt one she had sewn and hung for Santa to fill.
The first time I left home for a sleepover, at Aunt Claire and Uncle Anthony’s Bronx apartment, Sis came with me. (I still cried.) She took me clothes shopping when I got my first New York City magazine job. She lived in a brownstone and invited me often to sleep over on her pullout sofa. (I was no longer scared.)
She took me under her wing. Our mother had died from colon cancer at 56, when I was still in college. Sis watched out for me. She was a scientist; I am a writer. She was a Peace Corps volunteer; I am an avid shopper. But our love overlaps.
Her mastectomy was in May 2019. My auburn-haired sister had just turned 65 and lived alone with her sweet also-auburn Dachshund, Buttercup. She had been widowed for two winters.
I had gone along to meet the breast surgeon. We had questions for Dr. Guth who, we agreed, reminded us of our late, beloved Aunt Claire—surely a good sign. We talked in the examination room about how Sis loved fishing and boats; she and her husband had met sailing. Without saying the words, I wanted Dr. Guth to know: This isn’t just any old patient. This is my sister.
“We’ll get the surgery done in the spring and have you back out on the water,” Dr. Guth said. We believed in her.
Sis chartered a fishing boat the Saturday before her surgery to take me and my family out on the Long Island Sound with her; she predicted it might be a bit until she could hold a rod again. She baked the fish we caught for dinner.
While I was with Sis, my husband held down the fort. I left our car in suburbia, took the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Port Authority, walked across town to Grand Central Station and boarded the train to Connecticut schlepping my jumbo, overstuffed pink tote (I read that pink makes both wearer and observers feel better). I arrived the day before surgery, feeling a bit like Mary Poppins unpacking in Sis’s guest room. I had books and salted cashews to share; pink tops and dresses; sneakers so I could walk Buttercup; and an umbrella, though, unlike Mary Poppins’, mine was only in case of rain.
I also brought, standing behind me, our parents, our Irish and Italian grandparents, our aunts and uncles, our two brothers, my daughters.… I stood alone before Sis, but I stood for everyone who loved her. I was the helper, ever upbeat and cheerful. We had been Girl Scouts, after all. I was dependable.
Yet I was also naïve. I didn’t fully register the deadly seriousness of having a breast removed. I didn’t anticipate the pain Sis would be in, how hard it would be for her to rest, to lift things. How she would be unable to bathe herself. I had not researched what a drainage tube entails.
“For the first time, our roles reversed. Though she forever has what I need in her handbag, now I had to bring my big sister what she needed: support”
For the first time, our roles reversed. Though she forever has what I need when I need it—hand sanitizer, a mint, tissues—now I had to bring my big sister what she needed most: support.
We rose in the dark of early morning, and I drove us into New York City, my cell phone updated with all the contacts I had to call after surgery. I took my place in the waiting room.
Once Dr. Guth said all had gone well and Sis’s lymph node sample was clean, I started the phone chain. I fetched her meds at the pharmacy. While doctors zipped in and out of her room, I made too many visits to the cafeteria, nervously eating to bury it all, to soothe myself: a bagel with cream cheese and lox, dark chocolate, endless coffee, fancy cookies, mashed potatoes, cheese blintzes, soft black licorice.
I slept on a cot by her bed. I liked being by her side again.
Back home, I checked Sis’ bandage and applied new tape. I changed her sheets and the water in the flower vases. I grocery-shopped, coming back with extra presents that would ultimately replace my presence: a pink petunia for the terrace; pink peony hand soap.
We sipped coffee and chatted. We walked Buttercup by the marina and watched the swans. I napped on the couch, safe in the presence of my big sister while I Dream of Jeannie, a show from our girlhood, was on TV. Even while she was recovering, Sis watched over me.
By June 2020, just over a year after the surgery, Sis was back on the water as Dr. Guth had promised, and I was there to celebrate with her. Covid had hit; we wore masks on the dock. She chartered a boat, and we caught big striped bass. Though some enormous swells rocked us, we held on for safety.
Sis and me, we were not going to let each other fall down or go under.
At a time when women are having fewer children than ever, Katie Arnold-Ratliff shares how fate and free will came together to shape her family size. Read about why a party of three suits her perfectly in this month’s “Life with the Girls.”
I’ve met women who’ve always known they wanted to be moms. I’ve met women who knew they didn’t. But I’m one of the only women I know who was never sure.
I grew up feeling I didn’t want kids, and then, over twenty-plus years, decided I did; was undecided; decided in the opposite direction; tried to get pregnant, then got divorced (this suggested the matter was closed); and finally, met a marvelous guy and got unexpectedly pregnant, ending the endless debate. My path to parenthood was less an ascending trek to a treasured dream than a train I kept boarding and bolting from, until fate punched my ticket for good.
It turns out the universe knew what it was doing. When I learned I was expecting, I was delighted, and since the day my son was born, I’ve felt monumentally lucky to be his mom. Now three-and-a-half, he’s a wonder: funny and zany and clever and sensitive. (Also, occasionally bossy and impatient and hangry and flatulent, but it’s all part of his charm.) If I could rewind time, I wouldn’t hesitate to make all the same choices that gave him to me.
But will I ever do it again—the is now the right time? pondering, the ovulation tracking, the goopy sonograms, the maternity pants that never stay up, the barfy glucose test, the massive hospital bill, the delirious newborn era, the maddening toddler era, the skipped naps, the bimonthly daycare colds, the potty-training nightmare, the circular arguments about how many bites of food were agreed to, a number now being reneged on?
Several years ago, before I was a parent, a friend said something I’ll never forget: “If you’re ambivalent about having kids, have kid.” She herself was a mother of one, and she understood the paradoxes of childrearing: It’s more and less intuitive than you think. It fills you up and it drains you. The days are long (a sample of my internal monologue: Please don’t ask me to play Halloween songs again, it’s May), and the years are short (sometimes I’m afraid to blink, lest I come to at his high school graduation). Some parts are effortless and others are torturous.
I adore my child, his inventive games, his adorably weird grasp on language (said upon drinking something too cold: “The ice pinched my teeth!”). But I also relish and fiercely guard my private passions, writing and reading, which I can only indulge when he’s not around. I love raising a child. I’m not built to raise more. I want to ease this marvelous boy into the world—then ease myself back into my own life. Luckily, my husband agrees. (He’s scheduled the procedure, thanks for inquiring.)
“Moms are supposed to love every aspect of mothering and be grateful they get to do it. But that’s frankly ludicrous”
I sense as I type this that some vestigial part of all our socialized psyches is screaming: BAD MOTHER! DEFECTIVE WOMAN! Moms are supposed to love every aspect of mothering and be grateful they get to do it. But that’s frankly ludicrous. I melted down hard in the newborn phase; I had a blast during months two to eighteen; toddlerhood was one long grinding battle of wills (our son has been called “the most stubborn kid our daycare has ever seen”); and now he’s occasionally threenagerish but mostly lovely and calm and hilarious. I can leave the room to pee without worrying he’ll somehow mortally injure himself, and he can tell me what he wants instead of wailing indecipherably for an hour. I don’t want to go backwards.
But hang on a moment, because I don’t want to give the wrong idea. It would be reductive to say that our one-and-doneness was born solely of the difficulty of parenting. That’s just one reason among many. Some are practical: We live in a sweet but small house; I doubt we could save enough for multiple college educations; I’m pushing forty, so the decision may not even be ours to make.
And the greatest reason of all, more than the exhaustion and the money and the renaissance we’re planning for our empty nest years, is also the simplest: We really love being a trio. There’s something magical about the way one kid and two parents fit together—in conversation, as two doting faces lean in to hang on one boy’s every goofy word. In a bed, when a sick kid materializes in the doorway and wants to snuggle between his parents. In moments of distress, when four arms are the right size to envelop his quaking little body. We fly in one tidy airplane row. We fit in one bench seat on the zoo’s train ride. “We are,” our son loves to say, “a three.” After a lifetime of waffling, I feel the rightness of that in my bones.
So, I will repeat the advice given to me: Unsure? Have kid. Experience what parenting is in all its contradictory splendor, then move on with your life. When my son does graduate from high school, I’ll be fifty-three. Practically still a baby myself! Whole decades before me!
Too often we mistake the present for an eternal future—we think that life will always be as it is right now. But if all goes as it should, you and me and all of us will be on this planet a long time. There are plenty of years in which to live plenty of lives. One in which you cast about for an answer to an impossible question. One in which you devote your life to raising a sweet little guy. And one in which you finish that job and turn back to what you love—not to the things that make you a mother, but to the things that make you, you.
In this Mother’s Day edition of “Life with the Girls,” Constance Costas reflects on how her lack of domesticity eventually (if accidentally) helped her daughter grow to rely on herself.
When my baby girl said mama for the first time, I looked over my shoulder, wondering if my own mother–the real one–had entered the room.
Oh, honey, I wanted to ask her. Are you sure we’re ready for that?
I’d been winging it through our first sleepless months together, getting it wrong as often as I got it right. Like an intern suddenly promoted to CEO, I hadn’t yet earned the title.
I grew into the mother role, though. We all do. And now that my daughter has reached her mid-twenties, I’ll tell you a little secret: An imperfect mother makes a far better teacher than a perfect one. How do I know this? Because my own weaknesses have become my daughter’s strengths.
The push in recent years for more inclusive flesh-toned palettes is getting to a good place—even if it’s long overdue. From ballet slippers to Band-Aids, product designers have awoken to the fact that there’s more than one “nude.”
Now nude bras are never not important, but these neutrals become even more necessary in spring, when the layers come off and the clothes lighten up. They can make getting dressed as easy as a spring breeze.
“We have been passionate about inclusivity from the very beginning, and we’re not just talking about bra sizes and body shapes, we’re talking about body-shades, too,” the brand Freya shared with us in a statement. “We feel every woman should be able to find herself in our lingerie.”
Bare Necessities pulled together six of our most popular nude and neutral bras in the widest range of skin tones because once you find your perfectly true-to-you base layers you can do you: seamlessly, flawlessly, and confidently. Read on to discover the best neutral and nude bras for 2021.
Today’s the day we’re all a little snippy and out of it from dealing with losing an hour of sleep: You can thank Daylight Savings Time for starting up again. (Admittedly a worthy trade-off, we would still argue, for the return of long, sunny days.)
So to save you some aggravation, and maybe even a few Zzzs, Bare Necessities rounded up six of the top tactics experts suggest to try to get through this groggy Monday-iest of Mondays. We’re taking our own advice around here, too. If nothing else, we can slog through it together and get on with spring.
Believe it or not, swim season is once again upon us. Of course, for many of us, shopping for swimwear has been a beyond stressful experience in the past. Fret no longer. Our resident swim expert, buyer Megan Puma, is here to help.
We caught up with Megan to find out what’s new in the world of swimsuits and, most importantly, how you can look and feel your best in a bathing suit. She’s sharing her top five secrets for a successful swim season.
One full year into the Covid-19 pandemic, Alyssa Hertzig has discovered a new way to practice self-care…and it’s about as old-fashioned as it gets. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” she shares how she stumbled across a way to cope that keeps her hands busy and her mind at ease. (And no, it isn’t not baking banana bread.)
There was a time as recently as 2019 P.C. (that’s pre-Covid, of course) when I was cool.
As a beauty editor, I spent my days attending fancy launches for new lipsticks, nail polishes, or anti-aging creams. I wore pants without drawstring waists and dresses that weren’t designed explicitly for naps. I had my hair blown out weekly in a salon, a practice that now somehow seems alien, dangerous and heavenly all at once.
Then the pandemic hit and, as it did for countless others, changed my life overnight. Events were canceled, budgets tightened, assignments disappeared. My life suddenly revolved almost exclusively around two things: 1) worrying that I or someone I loved would get sick, and 2) acting as a de facto school principal tasked with policing my first grader during remote school. Now, instead of lip gloss launches and article writing, my days were spent with my voice at an 11, screaming at my son to “KEEP YOUR FACE IN THE SCREEN!” and “LISTEN TO YOUR TEACHER!”
As it turns out, I’m a super mean principal. I felt stressed, angry, lost, and somehow both busy and bored. I desperately wanted a way to relax and temporarily escape, but with my usual go-tos like massages, pedicures or drinks with friends off the table, I was at a loss. (And showers are not self-care, don’t even go there.)
We women have learned not to tie our fortunes to a Prince Charming. Now on the other side of 50, with her children grown and flown, Jasmine Chang shares in this month’s “Life with the Girls” how she found true love the thoroughly modern way: Tinder, texts, a lot of tears, tenacity and, at long last, wholehearted acceptance of “good enough.”
There I was, approaching 50, and getting a divorce. Our marriage was in such disarray, honestly, that the finality of it all was more liberating than anything else. Even the kids were relieved.
Since my marriage had unofficially been over for years, I was looking forward to getting back out there. The problem was that I never was out there. I met my ex-husband at the tender age of 19 and had no idea how to really date-date. Luckily, I worked in a predominantly female office and everyone was supportive, loved giving me advice and rallied around me. They taught me the difference between a landing strip and a full Brazilian and coached me on how to dress for a man, not for other women. (Being an exclusive pant-wearer with the fashion aesthetic of Ellen DeGeneres, I found that more painful than the actual waxing.)
I wasn’t even really ready when I went out with old friends to a reunion of sorts, but there he was. At 49, I found myself in love with a guitarist, a man who was one of my ex-husband’s best friends. You know, the friend who always had a crush on you and never married. The one who said he’s been in love with you for years even though you were married to his best friend. I fell for it. His flattery and adoration enveloped me like a fleece blanket. Knowing I was lovable was an amazing feeling coming out of the tumultuous relationship my marriage was. I needed it so bad.
He was handsome as hell, always was, and I regressed to a teenager. After a make-out session (remember those?) he told me was going to Japan for two weeks, which he did that every year. I anxiously awaited his daily calls and texts where he told me how much he missed me.
Weeks after he returned, he broke up with me but couldn’t explain why. I really was 19 again, the hurt and sadness callow and raw. Turns out he forgot to mention he had a girlfriend in Japan whom he married a short time later.
After months of feeling sorry for myself, I reluctantly turned to dating sites. I was apprehensive but tried to think of it like a game. I remember comparing how many men reached out to me compared to my white girlfriends. We marveled and laughed at the number of sick men with Asian fetishes. I had to weed through piles of creeps to get to the few legit contenders. The process was exhausting.
“So many of us wounded hearts seek flattery, adoration, validation…”
So many of us wounded hearts seek any kind of flattery, adoration, validation. Why do you think so many men on these sites start a conversation with, Hi, beautiful? They may be idiots, but they’re not stupid. They know divorced women are vulnerable prey.
It took a few weeks to meet someone. He had two Porsches, spoiled my children with gifts and lavished me with vacations. He also never spent the night and would never let me near his phone. Red flags? Absolutely. If I squint hard enough, I can see them in the rearview. But we all bought what he was peddling.
“It’s your time, Jasmine.”
“You deserve a man with money, finally!”
“Men show their love with gifts.”
Everyone wanted desperately for me to be happy…including me. So despite the fact that he was the ethics officer of a Fortune 500 company, it came to light after four years that he was still married, had two children (he said he only had one) and had even become a grandfather during our time together. But wait, there’s more: He had another relationship with another woman going on the entire time, too. She’d had no idea, either.
It’s a wonder I didn’t crawl under a rock for good. This relationship should’ve closed me off from men forever. Maybe I had something to prove to myself. Maybe I hated being alone. But I was not going to let this con artist screw with my head when it was his that needed work.
A happy life is the best revenge, right?
I gave myself about five months to get over the shock of it all. Then I exhaled and jumped back in.
There were a few other guys that hung around for a little bit, but the relationships all ended for different reasons. I had fun with each of them and learned so much about myself. I found that I could talk to anyone for hours and make friends easily. I learned that if a guy wasn’t making an effort to find time to see me, he wasn’t into me. Eventually, you learn not to take it personally. Men can be such insecure beings.
It’s funny how the perception of love and partnership changes as you age. You’re no longer seeking someone who will become the father of your children or a provider, and that’s a huge load off. If you haven’t always been in charge of your own money, you learn to be. There’s so much less pressure to find theone.
Now, at 61 years old, I’m with a great guy, almost five years in. What have I mastered? Nothing. No one is perfect. No one. For those who still dream of forever-after perfection, forget it. I always hated fairy tales. My man is perfectly imperfect. He is very tall, has a thick head of hair, went to Yale for grad school. He is also very untidy–okay, a borderline hoarder–and leaves his mouth hanging agape a lot. But there’s something about him that makes me laugh, and we rarely argue. My dog adores him, too; what else does a woman need?
He is good…enough. Could I do better? Perhaps. But can someone explain exactly what “better” means? Rich? Been there, hard pass. Great-looking? George Clooney is still taken. A buff gym rat? I don’t want to have to compete with that!
Who runs the world? Women, obviously. So why do we do it, day in and day out, in beige and black? For an inspiring, empowering, thrilling change of pace any given Tuesday, we highly recommend reconsidering your bra and panty palette.
Color is arguably the most direct way to boost your mood—something we could all use more of in the winter in general and this year especially. Through a fashion lens, color is a tool we can count on to convey a feeling or idea to others and, maybe most importantly, to ourselves. A bra or pair of panties in your signature power color or, conversely, a bold hue that you wouldn’t wear in a head-to-toe outfit, can subconsciously brighten your outlook on the day. Such a small move, such a big payoff.
Whether you’d prefer to match your top and bottoms or come up with a pleasingly clashing combination, make spring—no, all of 2021!—more vibrant from the inside out. Start now.