Hello and welcome! My name is Karley and I am a mom, freelance beauty (and sometimes sports) writer, jewelry designer, and blogger. You may know me from my blog, Chic & Green. I am a curvy girl. I guess we all have our different interpretations of "curvy". Some people use this word as a polite way to say "fat."  Some us it to refer to those with an hourglass shape. Others mean it as simply, a person with curves.

What is a curvy woman? I call myself curvy. I am not overweight according to my doctor or the charts. Not anymore. But I am still curvy....I am a size 12. At my heaviest, I weighed over 200 pounds and was a size 20. Twenty. Yep. Two zero. In the late spring and early summer of 2008, I had just had it. I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror. I cringed at pictures of myself.

So I decided to change my ways. I am an emotional eater. I used to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's almost every night. I didn't join a group, do anything wacky, consume quarts a day of cabbage soup, do colonics, or anything else like that. I have taken off more than 50 pounds (the exact number depends on the day and time of the month...54-57 pounds would be accurate). It hasn't been a crash diet. We're talking a 2 year deal. I love to cook. I love to bake. And, boy oh boy do I love food

The main thing for me has been portion control. It's not rocket science--it's using a salad plate instead of our mammoth dinner plates. It's filling half with veggies and fruits, the rest with meat/protein/starch. I don't drink pop (soda to some of you), nor do I put sugar in my drinks. I don't eat processed foods. It's really simple. I eat well and allow myself splurges. Instead of eating 3 donuts in a sitting, I will have a coffee and 2 donut holes.

At my heaviest weight...I could hardly walk up the hill at the zoo.

I also exercise. This is important. Without eating well and exercising regularly, this wouldn't have been any kind of permanent weight loss.

So I am much lighter, but I am not a toothpick. I am not skinny. I am not "thin" or any other word you want to use...I am average. Normal. Curvy. I am a healthy woman with curves. I wear a size 12 in most brands.  In some, I need a 14. It all depends on the fit.

October 2010...down just over 50 pounds, a few more to go.
I am so, so proud of my weight loss, but I am so frustrated when it comes to fashion. Designers and the media need to wake up. The average American woman is a size 14. Does the typical fashion model look anything like a real woman? NO!

I started this project for the curvy girls...I started it in the hope that we can all grab that confidence we should all have and EMBRACE who we are.

I have long been pondering a new project relating to styles for real women and after seeing so many women around me being nit picky over their bodies, I decided to create The Embrace Your Curves Project.

How many of you have looked in the mirror in the fitting room and thought to yourself, "Oh, this will look perfect when I lose five more pounds." Or perhaps you can think back to being in the fitting room trying on bathing suits and being extra hard on yourself. Maybe you fall into the cycle I sometimes do. I remember trying on bathing suits this summer and the routine would be something like this:

"Wow! You're down to a size 12. The last time you tried on a bathing suit, you were a 16." So my inner voice gave me that praise for my hard work. And then, snarky Karley would come into play, "Well, you may be a size 12, but you still have wide hips and a couple bumpy patches on the backs on those thighs. Maybe you should lose a few more pounds before wearing that suit out in public."

Have you been there before? I think most of us have. I have a friend who has three young children. She is a beautiful person inside and out and is so self-critical. We can get together on any given day and talk about how we baked cookies and then we beat ourselves up for being at a weight loss plateau. I know many of my friends and I will do this. I think it is common. Instead of cheering ourselves on for losing weight, being healthy, and getting regular exercise, we find some little thing to criticize.

It is time to stop being our own worst critics. It's also time for fashion magazines to get real. I read In Style, for example, faithfully. I can pretty much guarantee you that the average readership of fashion magazines is not 5'11 and a size 2. If I could open a magazine and see beautiful, real women on every page in all shapes, ages, and sizes, I would be thrilled. Some of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood have curves and aren't toothpicks. They have curves and look healthy:

Queen Latifah

Sarah Rue

Khloe Kardashian

Christina Hendricks from "Mad Men"

America Ferrera

Sarah Ramizrez

Camryn Manheim