One of my 16 in 16 aims for 2016 was to get better at applying make-up. I’m generally a bit lazy about wearing make-up and tend to stick to eyeliner and mascara to get me through day-to-day. I’ve been blessed with a good complexion so never really bothered with foundation or face make-up very often (and when I did it tended to be the wrong shade!) but now I’m in my mid-thirties I’m starting to notice I’m not quite as fresh faced as I once was. So I began to have a little look around for something to get me started with this whole flawless, fresh faced minimal look… I had literally no idea!

Since I read that Benefit aren’t truly cruelty free I decided to look at the alternatives Cruelty Free Kitty recommended and decided I liked the look of Too Faced, mainly for the silly names and pretty packaging (I told you I had no idea!!) But also because they’re a vegan brand, which really appeals to me! Somehow I stumbled across their “Secret to No Makeup Makeup” palette on eBay and thought it would be an excellent starting place!

Once it arrived I couldn’t wait to get it open and have a look! The tin is very cute (with a magnetic closure) and has an insert with techniques on how to apply it (perfect for a total novice like me).

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Here are my first couple of attempts at using it:

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Sorry about the frowny face (below, top left), I went out in the sun for good lighting and my winter eyes hadn’t adjusted! It shows the makeup well though!

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Bottom left is about 4 or 5 hours after application – there’s still some there but not looking quite as fresh!

So far I’ve just used the pallet on its own with no base underneath – I think I probably need a tinted moisturiser or light foundation to create a better flawless look. I also haven’t got any brushes yet(!) so this was achieved with my finger and a blendy egg makeup sponge – not bad, hey?! (brushes have been ordered now!) 😂

I’ve tried everything in the pallet, I’m not sure what I should be using to apply some of the creamy products yet but the bronzing veil and the powder blusher blend well with my trusty egg! I love the subtle sheen of the bronzing veil – and it isn’t too dark or orange!

I think this is possibly my new make-up bag staple… Although it doesn’t look like Too Faced sell it anymore so I guess I might be out of luck…!

In the meantime I’ll be enjoying my new found makeup friend, especially when my brushes arrive!

The F Word

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people use “fat” as an insult or as a negative, to mean unattractive or something that we must avoid at all cost. It’s not exactly helped by women who are happy to make money from the plus size label who are then repulsed by the idea anyone is calling them fat – as if that’s the worst thing anyone could be. It’s such a huge disappointment and a contradiction of body positivity and acceptance to see these women basically undermining their own cause. I wonder if they really understand the issue. It portrays such a confusing message to almost anyone with any hang ups about their body.
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Then there’s the back-handed compliment when someone thinks that by denying you are fat they’re being complimentary… “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful” with the age-old misguided assumption that waist size and beauty somehow correlate. In my experience they simply do not. If anything, confidence and self-love are more relevant contributing factors when it comes to beauty, and more importantly self-esteem and self-worth.

I also take issue with those who offer criticism of bodies thinly (ahem) veiled as concern for their health – that we’re glamorising obesity and promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I was so disappointed by the negative comments the beautiful blogger babes who went on This Morning to challenge body shaming received on Twitter (although I guess that kind of challenge does tend to bring the arseholes out of the woodwork!) and so much of it came down to people claiming fat=unhealthy. Which is often not the case.
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Health and wellbeing is determined by a number of elements, these include: physical, psychological and social wellbeing (different theories have others, but even just these 3 are enough to illustrate my point) and it’s about striking a good balance with all 3. Just because you can see that I’m fat doesn’t give you a right to tell me I’m unhealthy – you are only witnessing one part of the puzzle, and it may not even be a significant part!

Recently, The Lad Bible decided to apologise to Wentworth Miller – not for the fat shaming but because of his mental health. So basically they think it’s OK to take the piss out of a body shape – as long as there’s no underlying mental health issue to blame for the hideous fatness. If he hadn’t had mental health issues, would he have been fair game?! Is the media implying there must be an underlying excuse for fatness in order for it to be acceptable and berating to be off limits?! I’m absolutely not in support of that.

When I was at my thinnest just before I got married I was smoking, regularly drinking more than my daily unit allowance, taking weight loss medication (which is no longer prescribed due to health risks) and I didn’t exercise as much as I do now. I had the typical pre-wedding stresses and was worried about having my parents in the same room for the first time since I was about 10! I was also still embarrassed and ashamed of my fat body, particularly when looking at photos of myself after a dress fitting. I was the THINNEST I’ve been in my adult life!
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Today, I’m easily 6 stone heavier (I no longer stand on the sad step so I don’t know my exact weight), several dress sizes bigger, I don’t smoke, I drink in moderation, I exercise 3 times a week covering cardio, weights and toning, I’m learning to love my body and what it has given me. So why would I want to go back to the thinner me, who at times hated herself?! I can run and dance for longer, lift heavier weights and I can look in the mirror and be happy with my own reflection. So am I really less healthy because my waistline is bigger?!

And besides, my health is my concern. Mine and my doctor’s. All bodies work differently. You do not need an explanation or an apology for my fatness. Just accept it without judgement.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a guy post on Instagram that he felt wrongly accused of body shaming by saying he didn’t think a particular fat body was attractive. Dear Mr Instagram: you’re more than welcome to have your own views on what is or isn’t attractive to you as an individual – that’s just personal preference… but please don’t expect the rest of the world to be disgusted by a visible belly outline or some chunky thighs. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – let people make their own minds up. Finally, please understand that these bodies have not been posted on Instagram for your approval – they’re there to give fat bodies exposure, a place in the world – so people who are struggling to love their own bodies can see beautiful bodies just like theirs and that it is OK to love and nurture their own. If you don’t like it simply look the other way and keep your damaging negative comments about someone’s body to yourself. (This applies to all body shapes and sizes, not just fat ones!).

It’s not the word “fat” that I have an issue with at all. This week at work I overheard some kids describing me as ‘the fat one’ and colleagues were confused that I wasn’t upset or looking to address their language. I believe that if you’re using “fat” as a simple adjective to describe the shape of something that is actually fat then that’s fine, but if you’re using it as an insult or a derogatory term it isn’t acceptable. I think it’s time to reclaim ‘fat’ as a descriptive word, not an insult. Come up with something more imaginative… or (like Mr Instagram) keep your comments or negativity to yourself – especially if the body you are describing is not your own.

Some people are genuinely happier when they are a particular size (either thinner or fatter) – if that’s what makes them happy as an individual – that’s their choice. Some people don’t have much control over the size of their bodies, no matter what they eat or how much they exercise – I have a friend who is fairly thin who was actively trying to put on weight but despite eating a very high calorie diet and not exercising at all (she never does) she was unable to do so. Some people would envy her tiny frame and visible hip bone – she hated it. I’m not advocating that any one size of body is better than another, it’s about how you feel about your own body that matters here. We shouldn’t be made to feel bad for loving our bodies. Surely by loving it we’ll be better equipped to take care of it in the long-run?

Fat shaming an individual is not going to change their weight. It’s not going to change the so-called ‘obesity crisis’. Fat does not equal bad. Fat does not equal ugly. Fat does not necessarily equal unhealthy. Fat is just fat.

Like my Mam used to tell me – “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”

#WeAreTheThey – One Year On

This week marks 1 year since Debz from Not So Secret Wannabe Princess started the #wearethethey hashtag in response to some moronic pop star’s body shaming remarks and (with the help of some amazing ladies and gents of all shapes and sizes) managed to get the body positivity agenda trending on Twitter and reported in the press! I like to think Debz’s campaign managed to reach some people who may have been feeling crap about their bodies and showed them beautiful, confident bodies that looked a bit like theirs.
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So to celebrate and remember the success of #wearethethey we’re sharing some of the amazing stuff from the last 12 months. I haven’t really been blogging long enough to have any of my own successes or to have inspired anyone (except myself!) so I decided to share my story about life before body positivity, the impact reading body positive and plus size blogs had on my life and why I’ve tentatively decided to write my own.

As a slightly overweight child and a fat teenager I was influenced by the world around me – people I knew in real life, things I read in magazines or watched on TV. There were very few fat role models or celebrities and literally no fashion lines for anyone under the age of 30 in plus sizes. I was frequently told (both directly and indirectly) that being fat was a bad thing and by being fat I assumed I was a bad thing! I truly believed my fatness made me unattractive and less likely to find love (due to the shape of my body and the unfashionable clothes I was obliged to wear). I tried to hide my fatness from the world for as long as I could and I was devastated when someone finally noticed. My self-esteem plummeted and I began to feel worthless. I didn’t enjoy exercise (because I was berated by the teacher), I was embarrassed by my body and I found comfort in food. There will be people who know me in real life that may have thought I was confident and outgoing growing up, but most of the time I felt I was playing the part of the funny fat side-kick in order to hide the truth.

Being repeatedly told that fat=unhealthy or fat=unhappy or fat=unattractive didn’t motivate me to lose weight, it reinforced my belief that I was a failure. That I was a bad person for being fat. That my fatness would hold me back. I don’t think that kind of mindset is helpful to anyone.

Fast forward to my late 20s and early 30s – as I became a parent, I realised didn’t want my kids to grow up with the self-doubt and self-loathing I had for my body. I wanted them to love and care for their body no matter its size. I started to see women on Twitter who were fat, confident and beautiful, wearing clothes I wanted to have the confidence to wear. I then bought a dress or two that I’d seen some of these ladies wearing and then a few more (if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know how that quickly spiralled out of control!). I experimented with vintage inspired make-up and hair. I basically found a place in the world where I felt happy and confident in my own skin!
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I feel so incredibly lucky to have stumbled upon so many incredible inspirational women through Twitter, Instagram and reading blogs who promote body positivity, self-love and the ability to feel worthy, beautiful and happy in a plus size body. Their presence online has been life changing for me. I suspect without finding them I’d still be looking for the miracle diet rather than actually caring for my body – and I wouldn’t own a single dress! (I shudder at the thought!). There are so many ladies who have inspired me on my own body positivity journey (some in real life or online interactions and some just through me admiring their work). In order to give them the thanks they deserve I plan to write more about them in future posts. But for now here’s a few that have really helped me – thank you, ladies!

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Feeling Flabulous (Fatty Boom Tatty) and Does My Blog Make Me Look Fat? – some of my earliest blog finds and definitely my biggest fashion inspirations.

Pamper and Curves and Not So Secret Wannabe Princess – for their bad-ass way of making me view all bodies differently.

Seeing Spots, Curvy Wordy and Miss Kathryn’s Misstakes – who told me I could blog too if I wanted to!

Secret Plus Size Goddess and The World through Kats Eyes – who were so incredibly lovely in real life and continue to offer me support with my own blogging journey!

There are literally loads of others – I could go on all day!

The obsession with fat=bad is such a damaging one. When I hear someone say “eugh, I feel so fat” I wonder what they really mean. I assume they’re talking about feeling unhappy in their skin, maybe feeling unhealthy or unfit?! Well I am fat and for the first time in my life I’m thankful that I don’t feel any of those things! I’ve ditched the diets after nearly 20 years of feeling like a failure and joined a gym in order to improve my general health, fitness, strength and wellbeing. I’ve joined gyms before and felt embarrassed about going so my attendance has dwindled. But this time around I’ve managed to sustain regular, high intensity exercise (now 3 times a week) for about 2 years – and I think it’s partly down to finding exercise I really enjoy and because for the first time I have a bit of self-love and body confidence so I’m much less self- conscious. (Read more about my exercise regime here). And guess what – I’m fitter, stronger, healthier and I’m STILL fat!!

I feel that it is so important to spread the word that all bodies are good bodies, to show that fat bodies can be happy, healthy, fit bodies and to help make bodies like mine more visible – that’s why I decided to start writing a blog about my own journey to body acceptance. Even if I’m the only person who reads my posts – they mark my own personal journey and constantly remind me that it’s OK to be me.

I am enough.
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If you’re reading this, so are you! If sharing my story, posting pictures of pretty dresses and accepting my wavy hair helps even one person to begin to change the way they feel about themselves then it will be worthwhile. Reading blogs was enough to help me. You only get one body in this life. Look after it the best way you can – by showering it with love.

Fat does not equal bad. Fat does not equal ugly. Fat is just fat.

We are the They and we want to be heard!

Elomi Energise Sports Bra – Out with the Old, in with the New!

Last week I decided my poor old sports bra was not quite giving me the support it once did… I was feeling a bit more jiggle in boob area than I’d been used to!

I’ve talked about being a big fan of the Elomi Energise sports bra in a previous post, but I’ll elaborate: it offers excellent support to my 40HH mammas, with underwire that goes beyond the breast tissue and 4 hooks on the band. The straps can also be clipped together to make a racer back which gives even more support. I was finally star jumping without fear! I was also amazed by how well the first one had lasted – I’ve been wearing it up to 4 times a week for roughly 2 years and it’s probably the only time the underwire hasn’t escaped through a weak spot! With all that in mind I decided not to tempt fate by trying something new and being disappointed so I just to buy the same one again! 😊

When I put the replacement bra on I could feel just how stretched out the old one was!

Here’s a couple of not very well lit pictures to show you how stretched out the old cranberry one is in comparison to the new black one:
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The pics below are after I’ve worn the black one twice, so it’s not lying completely flat but you can see a big difference!
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You can even see the underwire has bent out a bit in this one… (what can I say, my boobs + gravity is a powerful combination!)
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I have no idea of the expected ‘shelf life’ of a good sports bra so I asked a couple of my favourite big boobed exercising blogger babes how often they replace theirs. George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Kat from The World through Kat’s Eyes both said it depends on the bra but usually when they start to feel loose or the wires poke out. Both ladies said they have several on rotation so it’s difficult to tell! I think we all agree that you get a lot more out of a bra if you look after it: handwashing and reshaping regularly. A well-fitted bra will also serve you longer as it’s supporting in all the right areas rather than one element (e.g. the straps) over compensating and getting stretched out too quick.

I’ve discovered 2 key points as a result of comparing the old and the new:
1. You shouldn’t wait for the underwire to poke you in the eye before you replace your sports bra! It’s about the all round support.
2. Elomi make a pretty robust and long lasting sports bra – well worth the money!

Here’s a post-workout selfie, taken after my first class in my new bra:

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I love a new sports bra – I won’t be waiting so long for the next one!

Do you have a go-to sports bra brand?! Just in case I decide to mix it up!! 😂

Not So Stylish Surprise!

Last month Modcloth did one of their ‘Stylish Surprise’ sales where they offer a kind of lucky dip kind of arrangement – you order a ‘stylish surprise’ for $20 (low enough to avoid a UK customs/import charge), selecting a dress or shoes or similar and wait excitedly for your parcel to arrive…!

I’ve got several Modcloth dresses – mainly bought through blog sales or off ebay – so I thought I’d roll the metaphorical dice and see what showed up! For the bargain price of $20 I thought it was worth a try.

Today my “dress” arrived… You’ll understand the speech marks when you see it…:

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Erm… Yeah… OK… Not exactly what I had in mind…! 😂

So on the advice of a couple of my lovely blogger friends, I contacted their customer services (through the chat function on their website) and a very helpful lady offered a full refund without any issues! I also got a code for $5 off a $50 purchase, which was a nice gesture (although if I spent $50 I’d have to pay customs fees). All sorted in less than five minutes too.

The top is actually quite nice, although it isn’t something I’d generally buy or wear. It’s a medium weight sweater that looks kind of knitted on the outside and like a sweatshirt inside… I could wear it over a shirt for work or its perfect for casual wear or the gym. I’ll be able to make use of it.

So although my surprise was initially a big disappointment (and if they want my money again then they need to do better in future), the top is kind of stylish and the customer care from Modcloth was a refreshing surprise!

If you want to see lots of people who were very happy with their stylish surprises you can find loads on Instagram by searching the hashtag – which shows that it really is the luck of the draw…!

Doppelganger Bridesmaid…?!

I spent an amazing impromptu day yesterday catching up with my cousins and our kids. It’s a rare thing for the 5 of us to be together in the same place now we’re all adults – especially without any of our parents or partners! It was lovely to spend some quality time together and I felt lucky to be a part of it!

One of my cousins is due to get married in July so naturally some of the chatter today was wedding prep related – including the bridesmaids dresses…

Back in December whilst at Simply Be for a little blogger meet-up I bought a dress (by Little Mistress) that I’d fell a little bit in love with…

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Then last month I managed to find some bargain comfy heels on eBay for less than a fiver (I even raved about them on Instagram!) and so I thought I was pretty much sorted!

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Until yesterday…

My cousins were excitedly telling me about their bridesmaids outfits and how they had a sequin top and a cream/beige tulle skirt. Alarm bells began to ring… 😮 The final blow was when they showed me photos of the gorgeous skirt (by Little Mistress) that they’d be wearing and the incredible sequin top (by Coast) that they’d chosen. My cousin clearly has excellent taste… They were going to look incredible! And I was going to look a bit like I was trying to be a bridesmaid. 😭

I’m sure I’m not the only person who worries about turning up at a wedding dressed in the same colour dresses as the bridesmaids (let alone the same bloody fabrics and embellishments!) for fear of looking like you’re trying to muscle in. Fortunately my cousin and I are pretty close and she knows that it wouldn’t be my intention to purposely dress like her sisters and be Honorary Bridesmaid Number 3, but it’s still kind of better to avoid it if possible!

I’m thankful that we had this traumatic “hilarious” realisation 3 months before the big day rather than in the actual church looking down the aisle… with the wedding photos as a perpetual reminder. So it’s back to the drawing board for me (it seemed mean to ask her to choose different ones!?!). And best of all – it gives me an excuse to buy a new dress!

Fortunately I have a couple of other events this year where I can wear my dress – so it won’t go to waste!

So, thankfully I managed to dodge a bullet this time! Have you ever been to an event in the same dress as another guest? Ever dressed similar to the bridesmaids or Mother of the Bride?! How did you react?!