LuluLemon Yoga Pants

Did you hear Chip Wilson from LuluLemon comment today on TV that the problem with the infamous Yoga pants is his customers fault because some of their bodies are not the right shape for the pants?

It is already on YouTube….Needless to say he did not score points.

Funny, for years we carried our spirit pants in plus and super plus and never had a problem or complaint about “thighs rubbing and causing a problem”.

It can happen, but for him to come across as blaming his customers might just cause a huge stampede in the wrong direction for LuluLemon.

There are just some comments that are the last straw.

Maybe women will start to take their $98 a pair somewhere else.



In My Opinion – Suzanne Bells Fashions Closing

It is with a huge amount of emotion I write what is my last “In My Opinion” as we have known it.  Retiring seems such an odd word for me to even say.  I never thought  about it and expected I would stay here for much longer.  Ha…well I should have known that the road would divert for me.

I suppose I really saw this coming in the last few years.  The truth is that so many circumstances converged to bring me to this point.  It is no surprise that retail as we have known it has changed, really changed in the 30 years since I have been in business.  I love to tell the story of Christmas pasts when we would spend months getting ready to decorate the store and fill it with liquid gold and silver lame pants and tops and more.  It was so sparkly and fun.  All of us went to Christmas parties and dressed up and had huge celebrations.  I guess we even had a” few” and drove home. Let me bring you to this last “Holiday Season” where we hardly put up decorations  and our customers were buying big shirts to stay cool while cooking the turkey.

Suzanne Bells Fashions logo  I know this will not feel great for many of you but I know that the time is right.  Aside from the fact I can feel 30  years on my feet in my knees, in this business leases and contracts are usually fairly long and my lease is up.  I have been fortunate to have a great landlord and been here in this location for 20 years.  Access is tougher, Vancouver city taxes are so high and a move was out of the question. Nothing a young entrepreneur and a few million wouldn’t fix.

I have always loved being in this business, most probably because I have had customers who have been so interesting and loyal.  I have  been very grateful for you.  Now that I am closing let me have my last words to you.  Thank you for being there when I first started and took what was a huge risk to follow my dream. Thank you for coming in year after year and reminding me that what I did was important to you. Thank you for allowing me to get to know you, and thank you for your stories that always made me laugh and cry.  Thank you for teaching me that I should never give up my fight for the right to live my life as a woman of size with dignity.   That in itself my friends has given me the drive to stand proud and speak on your behalf (self appointed of course).  Thank you for allowing me to come to work everyday with joy, how often can one say that about work? Thank you for teaching me so much, more that I can even express.

I have a good friend who always said to me that this business of fashion was always a cover story.  A reason to connect and share and help each other.  I for one have taken a great deal from you, I have learned to really listen and therefore really learn. You have probably not heard the last of me.  Although I have not got solid plans I am bursting with projects left undone.

This last 30 years would never have happened without some very important people.  My business partner Stephanie who has an amazing ability as a buyer, a very smart business person and my very best friend. Inez who you all know as the “model”,  has been here for 11 years and likes you all as much as I do. Jane Ham who was with me from the first days and always promised to stay until her husband retired ( now they are globetrotting) and Jody who we miss but is now a mom and calls us to make sure we are doing our jobs up to standard.

As I put labels on this “mail out” I see so many names I have not seen in years.  I would love to see you, just to say hi or for you to get a great bargain.  We will be here until we sell everything but I am not sure how long that will take.  I am told it can go quite fast…

In the words of Maya Angelou “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now!!!”



This year I am heading into my 30th year in business and I must say it has been amazing.  I say this often, I love my business because I have  all of you who I truly care about.  You have not only kept me in business but you are interesting, funny, sad, happy and a constant source of inspiration.  Every year I pick a focus word to help me improve. This last year I chose “acknowledgement” as my project.  Let me acknowledge how I am grateful everyday for you.  Thank you so much…

acknowledgementThis last year has been challenging, not only for me but for many of you.  You have shared some very heartfelt stories.  It has  been tough financial times and it seems like many things have surfaced for all of us to face.. Maybe this is a good time for the 2012 prayer to be “Dear God, my prayer this year is for a fat bank account and a thin body, please don’t mix these up like you did last year! Amen. ” Well, on that note I am going to share mostly good things that came my way ( often via you) .

My first thought goes to a story I heard recently.  One of my customers was with her grand daughter on a cold day waiting with a group of her pre-school chums.  They were cold, so grandma decided to teach them the Hokey Pokey.  “Put your right foot in…..” A circle of tiny girls in pink and very energetic boys  did wild jumps when they “turned themselves about”.  They all screamed with glee and had to have elbows, hands and bare legs touched to prove how warm they now were.  That vision has stayed with me and makes me smile,but not more than my friends grand daughter who on an “adventure” to Starbucks with her classmates stated that she had a hot chocolate and the “allergics” had juice.

As I mentioned, every year I pick a project for self-improvement. For me that meant taking the time to let people know how great they were, customer service, personal issues, just anything I really liked about their behaviour.  The most surprising thing was just how truly moved most of these folks were.  I just told them what a gift they had for “whatever”. To one woman I mentioned how kind she was when  I  observed her help a senior.  I said to her she had an impressive way of handling the situation.  She told me no one had ever said that to her before.  I intend to write about this in detail at some point as I had so many encounters and what it taught me was  how little it takes to make a huge impact.  This really had very little to do with me, I just observed and acknowledged the deed.  It was so obvious how touched most recipients were.  I mistakenly thought this was just us everyday people who tend to get ignored but no… I told a doctor ( I actually said to her ” I need you to listen to me for a moment”) ,that alone got her attention.  I praised her for being a healer, having a  superior bedside manner, that she showed no judgement about the fat issue.  She stopped in her tracks, got very quiet and said no one had ever said anything like that to her and she would never forget it.

This thing I do every year came about because I refused to make New Year’s Resolutions about diets.  I choose words instead and then try to live up to them.  I don’t always do a splendid job but it does help me be mindful.  I recommend it as a project if you choose to do one.  One cannot actually fail at this, just going there will change you.  One year I chose kindness, I am not always kind but I always think about it and am more kind than I was before I took it on.  Stephanie ( my business partner) suggested I should try humility this year..ha!!!

I am open to suggestions for my 2012 word project and I do love all your quotes and items of interest you send to me.  Here are just a few of that came my way, hope you enjoy them.

For 2011 my favorite quote is “Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want” Jerry and Esther Hicks.   My favorite Tweet is from Jenny Ellison who wrote “Eating disorders are up among children in the USA. Congratulation anti-obesity crusades for teaching kids that healthy equals skinny”.  My favorite response when a woman of size was asked  “What are you hungry for?” her answer: Powerful life changing results!!!

As one of my long time customers said, maybe the Hokey Pokey IS what it is all about!

Merry Christmas

Small Changes…

The following is for you to read if you wish.  If not, hooray for delete.

It never fails for me,  I start thinking about writing In My Opinion and things happen to inspire me.  In this case I spoke with two women on the same day who not only are customers but also friends.  They both had a similar theme, how can we change things in the world? One spoke of the abuse  and bullying fat kids suffer in school and the other felt there was just too much anger in this world.  Wow..

On the same day I received two you tube links. One  on “spontaneous culture” from Macy’s in Philidelphia and one on “spontaneous welcome” at Heathrow Airport.  I hope you have had a chance to experience one of these.  They are  easy to find on  Coming on the same day as my “how can we change the world” conversation,it had a profound effect on me.  These are popping up all over the world.  In the case of Macy’s, choirs and groups gathered on a specific day and were dispersed through the store.  At a given time an organ starts and in the middle of shoppers someone starts the “Hallaluhjah chorus”.  Many more join in to the total surprise of the shoppers.  I won’t say more except for me it was an incredible few minutes.  To me if felt joyful.  It also said to me that there are lots of people who feel like my two friends.  They found something to do to change the world for a few minutes.  It also felt a lot like hope. The one at Heathrow Airport was really interesting.  Same idea except these spontaneous singers greeted folks arriving in London.  It was amazing to watch.

I could hardly ignore the fact these things came to me all at once.  Can we change things this way?  I believe when we are in that sprit of joy great things can happen.  In my fairyland of a mind I see total equality, I imagine love of mankind instead of hate.  Those videos were a great lesson in the power of collective thought.  They really made me realize that people all over the world must be feeling what my friends expressed.  I love what they chose to do and it has made me really think of what I could do.  I do however promise not to sing……

I asked people at random what they thought they could do in a small way to make this a better world?  “Be kind” said one person, “give ice cream to sad people” said a very young girl in our store with her mom.  I loved that, works for me.. Love our differences said a man in his senior years.  I once read a great quote about accepting human variety but do we need more than acceptance??

I am going with the Italian proverb…After the game, the King and the Pawn go into the same box..

Moving Forward: Part One

Here are my words of wisdom for surviving life as women of size in a society that is crazy about dieting and the beauty culture. Part One

The number one thing in my opinion is to teach people how to treat you. This may take some practice but you might be surprised how fast others learn that they should not “mess with you.” This could take a book or  manuscript but for now this is the short version. Start in small ways and practice. We all have the right to choose our own lifestyles. If you are being hassled close to home you might want to start by saying “stop saying that” or “I will not be treated like that” ( walking away after such a statement works, especially if positive dialogue is not in the cards). How about ” I will not engage in that topic” or “I am so over this topic”. Sometimes if you are fortunate you can engage in a conversation about what you truly want from your spouse, partner etc. Seems we forget to tell those important to us what we want and don’t want.

I learned from a customer that her husband always assumed she wanted to be encouraged to lose weight. When they had the “what I want” conversation he was shocked to learn his wife hated his input. He revealed he was never concerned about her size, he thought she was great. Oh that overused word “communication”.

Watch for more points on living your best life as a woman of size.

“Sticks And Stones”

I have had several opportunities in the past few weeks to rant about the things people say… After much thought and my co-workers advise “We feel a blog coming on” I am going to attempt to get my say!!

Let me preface this by explaining that it rarely surprises me when I hear the way people talk about others, especially in the realm of the size issue.  I might also add that I am often the recipient of  ( be kind Suzanne) mindless comments.  One more thing, I have a firm grasp of who I am and what I really look like.  I have no delusions…That being said this is what started my week of the rant.

I was working with a customer for quite a while and in the course of our conversation she said to me about another person, “she is certainly as big as you are”. It really ticked me off and I was not fast on my feet for a comment.  It stayed on my mind all day and I was not sure what annoyed me the most.  I worked it out that if she had said “she is your size” that would not have bothered me even though I work hard at not using comparisons.  The real issue is that it seemed filled with judgment and that was a problem for me.  My customer was a woman of size so I wanted her to know better.  Looking back I now see she was struggling with her self image even though she was a smaller size.

Right on the heels of this a mother of a woman of size came in and said as loud as she could “my daughter is huge!!” She needs clothes because she is so depressed.  She is really big, I finally said how big ( for sizing purposes) and the answer was “half as big as you”.  I actually laughed because I knew right then I had something to learn.  I also said to the mother that it was little wonder her daughter was depressed if she talked to her like she did to me.  She was not impressed with me and left.

In the same week I had lunch with Kate Partridge who is the founder of Large As Life.  She is now a psychologist living in London Ontario.  I was asking her about her practice and one of the things she does is a workshop on “mindfulness”.  Well, seems it all starts fitting together.

I know about how important it is to me to be mindful of so many things.  It is something one has to first acknowledge and then start being aware.  No small feat.  With the kind of week I had it was yet another reminder that what you say and the words you use can have great impact, both good and bad.  It amazes me that even though I know these things I am constantly reminded to practice it.

Kate was saying it can be useful about what you eat and how you eat it.  She gave an example of one woman in one of her classes that decided she would pick her lunch meal and be mindful when she ate it.  Seems she ate the same thing nearly everyday. When she paid attention to every bite and the flavours and her enjoyment level she decided she really did not like it at all.  Interesting. I know it is the reason eating in front of the tv is not in our best interest, we tend to finish and then  are not  aware of how long it took to eat or how it tasted.  Really enjoying every mouthful and appreciating the meal seems good to me.

Well, I do believe when all is said and done that I needed to be reminded about my words and thoughts.  I have experienced some really remarkable changes in myself by correcting the chatter in my mind to reflect what I want.  It is just so easy to connect with the “I am so tired”,” I hate doing such and such”, “what a drag” “ this world is falling apart”. These are the kind of things we tend to also verbalize.  There are some that believe that we can create what we want with our words and thoughts.  I don’t know for sure if it is true but I do know that I prefer to be around people who are positive, I also feel better about almost everything when I work at being aware of my thoughts.  I have these chats with myself like oops cancel that thought I really mean……..

I love the expression that if all else fails be nice.  I try hard but given my age and my hot flash levels I cannot promise I will be so kind if I am confronted with judgment, especially about the size issue.  In fact it is on my agenda this year to combat judgment of any kind.  It is a never ending road of paying attention and catching oneself.

This is the best quote I found on the subject. “Our judgments judge us, and nothing reveals us, exposes our weakness more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows.” Paul Valery