Guest Post: Why I love My #Selfie

13335849_10154323988412022_7277487513200349573_nI can’t remember exactly when I stumbled across Hayley and her lovely blog A Stitch to Scratch but it feels like a good couple of years ago. I’m very glad that I did too, as Hayley has an aura about her than not a lot of people do. She’s so talented as well, knocking up some really interesting pieces, from toys to secret books and more recently, her own dresses. I’m beyond jealous of her skills.

I feel like we’re also on the same page when it comes to the big stuff, such as self-image and loving ourselves, body positivity and the power of a damn good jumpsuit! Hayley also rocks one of the most impressive lipstick collections I’ve seen (something I’ve never got to grips with) and although some of our tastes differ, I feel like we can learn from each other, which is the whole point of new friends and getting yourself out there.

So please enjoy this post by this blog’s honorary Maid of Honour and then check out her blog as it will likely inspire you to knock something up, MacGyver-style (but prettier).

The wonderful Christa invited me to guest post over here on one of my favourite ever blogs, and well, I was never going to turn that down!

I started out wanting to write a witty post about a subject near and dear to both our hearts – the sacred selfie – and it became something a bit more honest.

I’m glad of that, because I don’t tend towards streams of relatively unfiltered thoughts and feelings, and it was quite cathartic to write this little peice of my brain down for you all to share in.

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Why I love my #Selfie

A month or two ago on your average Saturday morning, The Boy and I were getting ready to go out somewhere thrilling like Sainsbury’s or Wilko’s. I’d done my hair and makeup, put on something pretty and took out my phone to snap a selfie.

Then The Boy looked over at me, rolled his eyes and said

“You’re so vain.”
“I’m not!”
“You’re always taking pictures of yourself.”
“Not because I’m vain.”
“Then why?”

– and that’s the killer question isn’t it? I’ve seen a fair few blog posts on selfies, lauding and condemning, and few tapping into the why of it all. When he asked me, I knew what the answer was, but I still had to sit and think for a second before I could answer honestly and with the right words.

I’m so pro-selfie. I think that putting yourself out there for the world to see is no small thing, and it should always be received with positivity.
Sometimes I hear that looking at other people’s pretty selfies makes someone feel worse about themselves, and that makes me so sad, especially when for me, it’s such a tool for the opposite.

It just makes me want to say: we’re all on the same side, ladies. We should celebrate each other’s talents, skills, beauty and all around fabulousness. We have to stop tearing each other down to feel better, or on the flip side, seeing someone looking great and feeling worse about ourselves in response.

I’m of the steadfast opinion that no-one can shame you down by being their special self. Someone showing off their height doesn’t make you shorter. Someone being beautiful, doesn’t make you uglier. It’s so hard to try and stop judging yourself against everyone else like a standard, I know, but it’s also unfair to expect people not to shine a light on their own awesomeness for fear of someone else feeling shitty in comparison.

I’m sure many people out there have their own reasons for taking their selfies, some very different from my own, but for me, personally, it pretty much comes down to self-consciousness.

When struggling with your self-image the last thing you want to see is yourself. You actively avoid mirrors and photographs. Taking selfies takes that fear and inverts it. It says this is me and I am beautiful. I am not afraid to photograph myself, to have that lasting image out there.
In the past decade I’ve gone from a sad teenage girl who physically averts her gaze from any reflective surface for fear of having to look at herself, to the positive woman I am now, readily – nay happily – snapping photos of myself and putting them online for everyone to see what I look like. Ten years ago that would have terrified me, because even I didn’t want to see what I looked like.

Taking regular selfies combats the insecurity that sometimes still eats away at my brain. It’s regularly reminding myself that I’m good enough. It means everyday I get more comfortable with what I look like. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in the way that I look at myself, and selfies have been a big part of helping that progress along.

For me, a good portion of taking a selfie is saying, this is what I look like, and it is good. To look myself dead on and think positive thoughts. Putting that selfie online is I am proud of the way I look. See here, world, this is me, aren’t I fabulous?

Sometimes they never go online and I keep them just for me, as a memory.

To remind me that dress did not look frumpy and sack-like.

To remember that that very bold lipstick colour looked amazing, in case I ever have any doubts.

13941089_10154502260442022_523495384_nI have this one here of the first time I ever wore (or owned) a jumpsuit. Christa inspired me to get one with the way she always rocks hers, but I was so nervous to wear it I put it off for a whole month. When I plucked up the courage to don it, I snapped this selfie, to look back and remember that it did look good, for the next time I wanted to wear it but was too scared.

Bottom line: Let’s face it – who doesn’t like to see a picture of themselves looking great?

And to end relevantly, here are a million few of my recent selfies. Just because. (Though I must admit, my Instagram feed is being clogged up with pictures of kittens, rather than my face at the moment!)

Do you #selfie? Why? Why not?

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Guest Post: She Just Might Be Out of Her Mind, Well She’s Got Baggage and It’s All the Emotional Kind

13697208_10153946965846026_8482657056586518980_nThis week’s Guest Post comes from one of the most beautiful writers I know. I’m not a fan solely for the stunning prose and vivid imagery conjured up by her words, I’m also a bit of a fan girl for the frank way in which Lydia speaks. She’s also incredibly inspiring when it comes to her inner strength and I hope she knows it.

Lydia and I met ‘doing nails’ at a short-lived salon in Brighton and although that never took off, I’m very grateful for the talented and interesting folk I met there, which of course includes this lady here. If you like what you read here, which you definitely will, go check her out on her own blog, Belle of the Bluegrass.

It is often said that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. I don’t believe that’s particularly true, but what I do believe is that you can start to love yourself and become more relaxed in your body when someone else loves you. Learning to love yourself through someone else’s love of you.

We all have our insecurities and body hang ups, no one is fully content but being a plus size woman my body image comes under the scrutiny of strangers every time I step out of the house. I hear sniggers and whispers, catcalls and some incredibly confronting comments upon my appearance from people I have never met before. For some unknown reason society has deemed it almost acceptable for this behaviour to occur.

Over the past few years I have tried to take ownership and be happy in the body I have, finding inspiration and courage in the body positive communities of plus size women on social media. I have finally found women with bodies that represent me; looking amazing and doing incredible things. I’ll admit there is still a long way for us to go in changing people’s perception of us, whether that’s within the clothing industry or having TV and film recognising us as something other than just the ‘funny women’ and realising our potential as the sex symbol.

Throughout my life I have rarely sought the approval of others in anything I have done. Yet, when you label someone for long enough, even the strongest of us can start to believe it eventually. The mean words that get screamed at me in the street start to penetrate the force field I have tried to build around myself. And sometimes, if the blow is hard enough and hits just the right spot, a crack can appear. A chink in my armour. These words that I have had thrown at me over and over since the age of ten have taken their toll on my self-worth. Slipping in to my anxieties and seeping into the way I conduct myself daily, these aggressive mean-spirited narrations have altered me as a person.

It took me five months to gather the courage to meet my boyfriend, terrified that he would run away screaming on sight because I am not a conventional size. Of course he knew this before we met in person and my anxiety wasn’t allowing him the benefit of being a decent human and accepting me as me.

Until my early twenties the men I often encountered were still being governed by what their friends might think, regardless of how they actually felt. That coupled with my underlying force field traumas always left me in the role of the good friend. I stopped trying around men, I wasn’t interested in playing this weird game of snakes and ladders. I didn’t want to keep seeing them slide down snakes every time they realised my appearance, even if they liked it and liked me, wouldn’t be accepted by their peers. Living in that weird limbo just cracks the force field further and I didn’t have time for that.
But then this man entered my life unexpectedly. I wasn’t looking to be rejected by someone elses insecurities so I never even tried things like Tinder. This was just a photo sharing app I downloaded as a way to distract myself after my mother passed away. I posted a selfie, always knowing my best angles, you wouldn’t even know I was plus size, but he was still sweet and interested even after I told him.

Having my fleshy curves admired and my wobbly stomach kissed can work wonders for a girls confidence. The parts of me that I was only just coming to acknowledge are entirely accepted and honoured by this man. He is not embarrassed of me as I was myself, standing by my side and telling me that I am beautiful. I think stretch marks are bewitching; mermaid scales and secret silver streaked maps written across my body. I didn’t always feel that way, embarrassed by them when getting changed for P.E. and having other girls ask what they were. Whilst I desperately wanted to be like these confident plus size women I admired, it took seeing myself through his eyes to make me believe that it is possible. I feel less need to try and make myself smaller and apologise for my appearance. He tells me I am beautiful, unprompted, even when I am convinced I am looking my absolute worst. Feeling more at peace and less aware of the looks and whispers going on around me. I have seen my friend, who had her own body confidence issues, become more accepting of herself because of the way her boyfriend loves her.

I am not saying that my self-worth is reliant upon a man, because I don’t think anyone should be reliant upon someone else to feel worthy in this life. Sometimes though, it takes standing back and viewing something from a different angle to really allow you to appreciate the beauty. And with every kiss and sleep laced declaration of love, the insecurities I have had over the years become smaller, beginning to fade away. My nonconformist body is loved by this man and now, in turn, by me.

L

Goals – Six Month Check Up

It seems I saw out 2015 with much hope in my heart, setting some interesting personal challenges and then adding to them in early January. Since we’re half way through the year I thought it might be fun to recap and see where I’m at with those.

Instead of being all list-y, I’ll break this into lifestyle categories I think.

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Travel & Adventure

Well, I’m no closer to NYC but I have been up to the North! We stayed in a hotel so I think it counts. Seriously though, I don’t think there’ll be a foreign break this year as too much has come up for us financially but Glynn is taking driving lessons so there will be some adventure. TBH I’d be happy with a road trip just us at this stage. We’ll get more exotic when we can.

Work & Education

New job? Nope. But things are better so I’m much happier. I do crave more creative freedom but that’s okay, I feel my blog helps with that.

I haven’t signed up for the coding course yet but I am about to do an online Forensic Science and Profiling Diploma, because my obsession with true crime has obviously gone way too far! I’ve also picked up a sketch book and I’m looking to start a 10 week drawing class in September. So not bad on the extra-curricular front if I say it myself!

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Health & Well-being

I’m still going to the gym around 3-4 times a week and I can feel noticeable change in my hench-ness. I’m enjoying doing this for myself, with no motive other than wanting to feel stronger.

I think I’m doing better at not running myself down for not looking like other people. I try not to say derogatory things about myself. We all have low days though and on those days I stay away from mirrors and do nice things for myself until it passes.

General Life

I’m saying yes to more good stuff and no to more shit – and that feels bloody great. I don’t spend too much time with people I don’t care for and that feels even better.

I also feel like I’m getting better at the over-apologies. They’re born of insecurity and, for me, are a hangover from a bad relationship, so I’m happy to work on letting this characteristic go. I know in my heart I have nothing to be sorry for, ever and I have as much right to be present as any other fucker.

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Finances

Well, I’m not rich but I did pay off a large chunk of debt just after Christmas. I’m currently on a no-shopping ban too which is helping.

Look, I’m always going to have a bit too much of an interest in online shopping and there will always be good months and bad months but we’re doing okay. We’d love to buy somewhere in the next few years and that is going to require massive dedication and sacrifice, so I feel okay about being a bit free and easy at the moment.

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Self

I have been tattooed a couple of times in 2016, including my very favourite Wonder Woman tattoo which I realise I haven’t even photographed since it’s healed. I will try to do that properly soon. I’ve been reading more, been taking some fine #selfies and all in all I’m a happy lady.

I know I have to write more, I know sometimes I have a tendency to coast through life at a comfortable pace but generally I like life and the people in it. I’m lucky to have a good family and I’m in good health, so for now there’s nothing to really complain about.

~

There’s still time to make change and get better at my new hobbies, especially the drawing. I have a weird feeling there’s a distinct illustrative style buried within me and I just want to coax it out!

I think the sign off on this 6 month catch up is just to keep on keeping on. Which is what I intend to do.

How’re you guys doing? ❤

All images via Unsplash.

The Pursuit of Happiness: Hair

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Picture via Tumblr/Adele’s Instagram

I’ve decided to start my own Happiness campaign which sounds cheesy AF and it is but fuck knows I need it right now.

The concept of happiness to me is ever-changing. Every now and again, and don’t get me wrong I’m not miserable or sad as I type this, I just feel like I need a joy injection. Just a little something that delivers a swift shot of euphoria to keep me going.

This can be in the form of almost anything, from a new lipstick to three great days in a row at the gym (even one tbf). It can be a series of really good #selfies or a drinking session. The point is it doesn’t matter what it is but you’ll recognise it when you see it. Or more to the point, when you feel it.

So I’m going to spend this Summer exploring the things that make me happy. I’m going to start with this post on hair which is a hugely superficial sounding thing but is actually, in many ways, a much deeper topic to explore.

Wondering what the flip I’m going on about? It’s okay, that happens a lot round here. To hair!

I got my barnet cut off last weekend (image in that thumbnail over there on the right). Big fucking deal you might be thinking but I’ve been a long-haired lady for at least the last decade so bite me. I’ve been having it cut gradually shorter for the last couple of months but wasn’t happy with the overall effect (basically nobody noticed). This is likely because I was too scared to ask for what I actually wanted, something I am renowned for.

Eventually I got exactly what I wished for with a new (and amazing) hairdresser who just got me. It’s short man, and I bloody love it!

My husband does not. But that’s okay, it’s a shock to the system and essentially it grows out of my head so I get to choose. He’ll hopefully come round to how happy it makes me and deal with it.

I mean it’s not like he’s gone off me or anything but it has opened my eyes once again to men. The delicate feelings of poor overlooked and misunderstood men.

I’m not attacking my life partner per se but it’s a head of hair for fuck’s sake. Why shouldn’t a woman do what she wants with it? Why is the (mostly male) concept of femininity so wrapped up in the length of a woman’s hair?

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Forever my inspo but also for hair right now ❤

Femininity to me is so much more and sure, it’s hard to define but it’s more than just a hairstyle (and it’s not gender specific either, yo).

We can’t all waft about with Khaleesi locks and it’s okay. Neither could Daenerys if she was doing anything other than breaking chains and fucking about with dragons, she’d at least have it up in a jaunty pony out of the way. But still men expect us to look that way, like a ‘woman’ at all times, comfort be damned.

Truth is, my long hair was cool and all but it was hell and I never maintained it the way I ‘should’ have. It got badly tangled the closer I got to ‘trim’ time and it was humiliating to sit in a salon having someone comb out the knots for 20 minutes at a time. I felt like a horse and not a prize-winning stallion, let me tell you.

So I decided to change it, for maintenance and also to change it up. Looking through Facebook I’ve had the same do the entire time. I want to look cute as much as the next person – and now I think I do.

I look upon my new hair as a political statement (albeit a small one). One in the eye of the men who’ve asked me what I’ve done to my ‘lovely long locks’.

The Italian man in the Co-op whispered about it with his colleague as I perused the sandwiches for god’s sake. How about I’m not your property?

How about you ring up this Cheese & Pickle, my man and shut your damn mouth?

So yes, I’m looking into happiness on the whole. Who knows where it may take me? But for now, I feel great about my new look and can’t stop running my fingers through my glossy bob (or ‘lob’ = long bob). I’d say that’s a pretty good start.

What makes you happy? (You answer doesn’t have to be existential, it can be as basic as you like) ❤

Get Me Bodied

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Last night I fell into bed at the usual time utterly exhausted. Had I climbed a mountain, or run 10k? Nope, just the usual: spent more than a ‘healthy’ amount of time on Twitter.

I can’t blame my favourite social media app for all these feelings of inertia but a conversation started on there that began to melt my brain, and then got me thinking about all the other negative talk I hear on a day to day basis.

It gets to the point where you can feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and for a moment there I wanted to shout; “Stop the world, I want to get off!”.

Then I remembered that the new patch on my denim jacket urges me to consider what Kathleen Hanna would do and I know I can’t just lie down until it passes. Not that this blog post will change society in 350 words obviously, but at least I can get it off my chest.

It’s about bodies (who knew?).

The thing that triggered me yesterday was news of a plus-size issue of Glamour magazine. Cool. But apparently, or at least this is how it looks to the outside world, they’d struggled to actually fill an entire issue with ‘acceptable’ women of size so they’d turned to Amy Schumer as one of their poster children.

She’s not plus-size in my eyes but by that stage I didn’t know what dress size she was so, whatever (obviously it wasn’t going to be a large one). Schumer, on social media, reposted the cover with the a “Hey Twitter, what are your thoughts?”. She went on to say she had nothing against being plus-size but that as a US size 6 (plus-size begins at 16), she doesn’t consider herself to be in that category. She also claimed she was never told or asked that she’d be in this edition, and that she’s offended by it.

This whole thing does raise the question of why she’s so bothered about the association to this label, especially when she’s started off by being so body positive. I get that the label is not for some. Ashley Graham wants to be referred to as sexylicious ffs! But from what I’ve seen, Amy has made a career out of fat jokes about herself, I guess she just doesn’t think it’s cool that anyone would consider her that way, beyond herself. It’s just such a mixed message.

I’m not saying she’s wrong for raising the point of how this labeling could affect young people but I just… I’m tired of it all.

Not even to mention the fact that they could have filled this issue with hundreds of incredible fat ladies who aren’t models and made this issue actually something special.

I’m tired of fat people still not having it better in 2016. I’m tired of insidious fat talk seeping into my every day life and never being put in check. I’m tired of Amy Schumer’s poor comic delivery if I’m honest.

Most of all, I’m tired of thinking about my own body all the time. Like, all the shitting time!

Out for drinks on Friday I found myself talking about this vessel I call my body wayyyyyy too much and it was only because one person in my party likes to bring it up. I’m not sure why: to make me feel different? Special? Not good enough? It’s likely not malicious but it’s helped me on my way to typing this out. Shut up about it already!

Normally I’m all for this chatter. I’m getting better at it and I accept myself a hell of a lot more than I did ten/two years/one year/six months/a day ago but sometimes I just feel worn down. I think it’s the beauty industry altogether, with fat just being one branch of it.

And you know what else, I’m a privileged fat person at that – I’m white, at the smaller end of the plus-size spectrum and I’m represented a hell of a lot more in the media and all around than a lot of other women. So I have much less of a right to be moaning right now.

So, before my head falls off (at least I’d lose half a stone, amiright? BOOM):

  • Is it okay to be fat? Yes.
  • Do fat people deserve the same considerations as thin people? Yes.
  • Is it a form of rebellion to love yourself despite the fact people around you are telling you not to? Yes.
  • Is it okay to hate yourself every once in a while, despite all your body po personal achievements? Fuck yes.
  • Is it okay to be thin and beautiful? Yes.
  • Is it okay to opt out of triggering body talk? Always yes.
  • Is it okay to call someone up on their casual fatphobia? Yes.
  • Is it okay to feel down about bodies in general and write an incoherent post about it on your blog? God I hope so.

Finally:

  • Is it okay to dislike Amy Schumer (not for this) but still sort of enjoy Trainwreck (2015)? I don’t care what the answer to this one is TBH.

That’s where I am head wise today. If I were given the opportunity to be a brain in a jar for a while I might take them up on it just for another perspective.

One day you know maybe there won’t be the need to assess women by their size and conversations like this will be a thing of the past. I look forward to that day but until then, call me plus, give me clothes that fit and less of the fucking attitude.

What’s on your mind today? ❤

Day 13: Thank You

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13. “I bet if Britney Spears knew you, 2008 would have gone differently.”

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is this:

When somebody tells you that you look nice or that you’re beautiful, have nice eyes, are clever – whatever, you should always say “Thank you” and accept the compliment.

I overheard a friend telling someone we knew the above years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Thank you.

Not “Really? Are you mad?”, or “This old thing? It cost me a penny!”. Or any other negative retort, just “Thank you”.

Try to accept the nice things people say to you because they mean them.

I know it’s easier said than put into action though. I have to catch myself every single time but it’s important I think to realise the difference between self-deprecation and putting yourself down.

Nobody should ever feel the need to put you down, least of all yourself.

You are fucking fabulous, accept it.