Peace

Lately I’ve been feeling really at peace with myself. Like, I actually like who I am, enjoy who I am with others and I accept what I look like too.

Do I wish I looked like Cara Delevingne? Sure, probably. Would I knock off 5-10 years of age if I could for a fresher face? Yes. But there’s something to be said for finally arriving at a place that says you’re happy enough with your lot and wouldn’t change much, if anything about anything.

This time last year I was falling apart. I was so unhappy I was making myself sick and my anxiety was through the roof. I doubted everything and couldn’t take my mind off my own misery. I hated every move I made, thanks to a horrible working environment and wanted to shrink myself down so I took up as little space as possible.

I took stock and got out of there, slowly building myself back up and now, even on a lack lustre day, I feel blessed.

I just think sometimes when you’re feeling yourself and you like who you are, it’s worth acknowledging it. God knows we spend so much time beating ourselves up when we feel the opposite.

How are you?

The Girl with the Prison Tattoos

download2I’ve talked about my relationship with tattoos before. Where it began, how I used them to rebel, how I used them to express myself, gain strength and empowerment, accept my body and sometimes just for shits n’ gigs. So what on earth else is left to say?

I thought I would try to tattoo myself recently because honestly, why not? Stick and poke has become super popular, even more so than it was back when I got my first, administered with a needle tied to a piece of bamboo in Thailand.

So, as with many things over the years, I thought I’d give it a go myself. Like singing and stand-up comedy, there’s always something that makes me wonder whether this new thing, whatever it is, could be my thing.

This time it isn’t but it’s still good to try, right? Turns out stick and poke tattoos are hard to master. Who knew?

My first was quite ambitious. I chose a Beyoncé lyric because why wouldn’t you? And then I just went for it.

DISCLAIMER: I should note here that I bought proper tattoo needles and ink and then did a shitload of research on poking your own skin (which meant watching a ton of horrible amateur videos). I made sure my ‘station’ was cleaner than Rory Gilmore’s mind and that, my friends is all I can tell you. 

img_2874You can argue that my first tattoo didn’t turn out that great. The reality is that I got bored and uncomfortable in the position I was hunched in. I used a very thin needle (3s), which made it harder to punch the ink into my skin.

It stung a bit but it wasn’t bad. I was more paranoid about cleanliness. I think I’ll definitely go back for another go, why not? I’ve since been given a bit of advice by a tattooist on needle size (start with 7s) and he thinks this will clean up quite nicely.

Maybe I’ll share the results, who knows? Not so bad for a first attempt though, right? Plus, Queen B always.

~

img_0698I’ve wanted tattooed cuticles for TIME and that is the main reason I bought the needles.

I love how these have turned out but I suppose it would be very difficult to fuck up what is essentially just a full stop. They took forever but I am so happy with them. It also feels kind of badass rocking my own ink, administered by me.

I’m not sure this is the secret new career for me. Gone are the very brief dreams of me discovering a (deeply) hidden talent and rising through the ranks to become the finest stick and poke tattooist in the land, revered by all, feared by many. Or something.

I’ve been asked by a couple of friends to do some dots on them though.

Which is kind of the same thing. ❤

Express Yourself

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Click on image to see more of european.son.420’s work

Bit of a cheat post today.

You might have noticed that I failed to post yesterday and am making up for it today with a 2 for the price of 1 deal. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as there are 31 published posts by the end of October, roughly one a day, right?

Right.

This barely counts as a post but I thought I’d share. I got this tattoo this afternoon by an artist I’ve been admiring for a while on Instagram. He was very lovely and I’m in love with it.

I got another but I’ll share that for Halloween as it’s fitting.

I think I’ll also take some time in the last week of Blogtober 2016 to talk about my relationship with tattoos. Consider me inspired by my old mucker Meghan Lightle. It’s a topic I find endlessly interesting. Maybe you guys will too.

Happy Sunday all, hope it’s been a wild one (or, like mine, not) ❤

 

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?

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

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? ❤

Painting the Walls

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I’ve never identified more with an illustration found on Twitter before (Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas kindly sourced the artist, who is Suzeart).

This is exactly how I view my tattoos and how wonderfully that’s been put here. Too often I’ve told myself I’ll wait until I’m a certain way (thin, obviously) before I treat myself to nice clothes, a decent haircut – new tattoos. Once I even set myself the goal of a new tattoo at every significant weight loss milestone – how sad is that? If you want ink and can afford it, why wait? Treat yourself NOW dammit.

I didn’t really start to love myself until I started to take some ownership. To witness other fat ladies online doing something as radical as loving the fuck out of their bodies had such an impact that I can’t really put it into adequate words. I knew I had to start taking responsibility too. This involved taking back the word “fat”, using it as a descriptor rather than a derogatory term, accepting what I really look like and not hiding away in shame.

And not putting my body down.

That’s the hardest part for me I think, seeing myself caught on camera by someone else and not freaking out, feeling crushed by how grotesque I am. But nobody said it would be perfect, or easy. Learning and maintaining a strong sense of love for oneself is an ongoing project as far as I see it. I very much doubt you one day arrive at a permanent plateau of total and utter satisfaction for who you are – or maybe some people do.

I started getting more into brightly coloured tattoos about 2 years ago. Before that I had tattoos, but they were mostly rebellious or part of my rites of passage. I was lucky enough to make friends with a tattooist who could facilitate this on the reg and together we changed the landscape of my chubby little arm forever. Although we’ve both moved on and I see Alex now instead, during that time I started to think of myself as less of a useless lump and more of an empowered person, doing what I wanted without permission.

That felt good and although I’m nobody’s door mat, I sometimes find it hard to demand things for myself. Painting the walls and hanging pictures all over my body is a form of expressing exactly who I am, without having to use the words I so often stumble over.

I put myself under the needle again yesterday afternoon and let me tell you that ribs are a whole other ball game when it comes to tattoo pain. Youch. So so worth it though to be able to rock the piece below.

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Yes that’s side boob

This is my new mantra BTW. When I feel the need to run myself down to others or be derogatory or rude about my looks, I shall stop and remember that I love myself. More than that, I completely adore myself, rolls and all.

It’s fitting somehow that I went through Hell to get this tattoo (not really, my tattooist is very good) – a nod to the journey *puke* from utter repulsion to self-acceptance. None of it’s easy, for any of us but if we can at least get on the right track, we’ll start a happy life-long relationship with someone who will love us for the rest of our lives, and love us better than anyone else can.

It’s okay, I’m going now. I just wanted to share the above illustration and a few of my thoughts on moving into your body fully and decorating as you see fit.

I know tattoos and body modification aren’t everybody’s idea of expression but I think this can translate to how you wear your hair and make up your face, how you dress – not everything has to be permanent or set in stone. I just happen to like my paintwork that way.

Always have, always will ❤

Lest we forget my inspiration for the above skin decoration, my original post featuring Artist Yayoi Kusama.