This Autumn/Winter season is jam-packed with possibilities for us Curvy girls and Plus-Size style savvy. The high street has caught on to the fact that the average size in the U.K has historically NOT been represented and has bought its Curve ranges to the forefront. No longer are bigger beauties maligned by swathes of disgusting fabrics and unflattering cuts. We can now dress exactly how we want, or even, exactly like everyone else. Fashion companies are no longer making interesting and fashionable clothes for the smaller sizes only, we can be included now too!
This weekend I had an absolute blast at the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool. Being surrounded by so many mainstream stores who now stock clothes for the larger contingency of the U.K (which statistically is actually more people than it isn’t.) made me and a whole host of other women very happy. The ranges from the likes of BOOHOO, VERY, MATALAN, SIMPLY BE, PRETTY LITTLE THING, YOURS and RIVER ISLAND were impressive and exactly what we have been crying out for. There were also a myriad of smaller and less well-known, Plus-size fashion brands, which had some simply divine collections and stand- out pieces which will make any Curvy woman look utterly draw-dropping and on-point fashion wise.
So, with that in mind, I have compiled my ‘top tips’ for any curvy, fashion-forward individual this Winter.
Jumpsuits have always had a special place in my wardrobe. They are at once playful and stylish. This A/W season sees the jumpsuit jazzed up to the max with multi-coloured examples and jumpsuits adorned with glittery lines. Jump suits are also mega comfortable except when us ladies need the toilet and have to strip to our underwear! Then the struggle is real!
LOVEDROBE SILVER WRAP JUMPSUIT £22.40 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) SIZES 16-22
This jumpsuit is so on point for the Winter season. Its spangly top half is everything you need to feel festive whilst its simple trousers mean it is not too over the top. Could be worn with heels for a night out but equally with some shiny flats for a more toned down look. Who can resist this gem of a jump suit at such a price!
LOVEDROBE LACE TRIM JUMPSUIT £21.00 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) SIZES 18-28
Also from Lovedrobe and not ticking just one of my must have boxes but two (lace), we have this gorgeous and feminine lace detailed example. It is such an elegant and flattering design. Its faux wrap over tailoring is great for accentuating those killer curves. This would look stunning with a sequinned jacket and heels.
LOVE4ALL £29.99 (BFS) SIZES 16-32
Now this dress is a real elegant show stopper. The colour is so lush, vibrant and screams Christmas! The wrap design is so comfortable and makes your curves the envy of all those who come into contact with you! It also has three quarter length sleeves which are a particular weakness of mine as I like to cover my arms, also brilliant for keeping warm in the colder months. I would love to dress this down with a fur body gilet and flat pumps or thigh boots.
Glitter has jumped straight out of festival season and into the Winter Wonderland! It is now Tres Chic to wear as much glitter as you like! I love to wear glitter on my eyelids that coordinates with the colour of my outfit. You can also make a big entrance with glitter in certain areas of your face. Down the side of your face, from the top of your eye to your cheek, looks pretty rocking!
I had the pleasure of being ‘glittered up’ by Emily Charlotte at The Curve Fashion Festival. She runs a company called Reflections which produce the most amazing glitter products and all at a great price. To top it all off her glitters are completely cruelty free.
BOOHOO SILVER SEQUIN DRESS £35 SIZES 6-24
Even though my face doesn’t show it…I absolutely ADORED this sparkling, silver sequin extravaganza from boohoo. It was actually really comfortable and not at all scratchy like some sequinned dresses can tend to be. It also was quite light, so will be easy to dance in at those Christmas parties!
Their range was filled to the brim with sequins, glitter and fur trims. You will feel like Hollywood royalty when wearing any of their dresses. I guarantee it. This silver dress also comes in a slinky black. It is now only £35.00 in the sale at present, so get buying ladies as I am sure this will go fast! This comes in sizes 6-24.
SEQUIN WRAP SPLIT FRONT MIDI DRESS £21 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) SIZES 16-22
Just admire this bombshell above! How gorgeous does she look? This is my fellow Curve model and friend Kaisa, who always looks unstoppable in anything she wears but particularly in this dress from BOOHOO.
The all over sequinned look is bang on trend this Winter and will blow your blues concerning the cold weather to the North Pole! Who could resist being joyful when they are this sparkly!
PAPAYA CURVE AT MATALAN LUREX GLITTER DRESS £20 SIZES 18-28
I came home from the Curve Fashion Festival with a spring in my Plus-size step and also this beautiful dress. It feels like liquid gold on your skin and glitters like it too. I felt like an absolute Queen in this and you can too for the unbelievable price of just £20! That really is a price to be shouting about. Well done Matalan!
SIMPLY BE, JOANNA HOPE VELVET DRESS (BERRY) £49 SIZES 10-32
The incredibly statuesque Kaisa models the Joanna Hope Cross Front Velvet dress in Berry. You can achieve this look for a steal, as this dress is currently on sale at Simply Be for £49! Velvet is one of my all time favorite materials to wear, it makes me feel like I am channeling Marilyn Monroe! Add some extra sass, like Kaisa has done and compliment your look with some lavish metallic heels, statement jewelry and a figure hugging belt.
LOVE4AALL £32.99 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) SIZES 14-24
RED LACE DRESS £29.99 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) LIMITED SIZES LEFT
It seems that lace being on the runways has emerged again, not that it ever left my wardrobe! Here are some sensual examples from Love4All. The black number is elegant and classic with its 60’s style tailoring. You really wouldn’t need much else other than this dress to turn heads.
The red example is just darling. I especially love the neckline. It almost invites a little nibble of your neck under that mistletoe!
LOVEDROBE BLACK FAUX FUR CHEVRON JUMPER £31.50 (BLACK FRIDAY SALE) SIZES 16-26
Fur is always suitable for the colder months and now we can all feel morally safe as there is so much faux fur available to us. This cute jumper from Lovedrobe will keep you nice and toasty whilst slaying it fashion wise.
LOVEDROBE KOKO BLUE LEOPARD PRINT SHIRT £20.30 SIZES 16-26
Animal print never seems to go out of fashion and why would it when it looks this good!? This shirt has the cutest bow wrap detailing that will chinch in that waist and flaunt your curves. I absolutely love, love, love this!
TOPSY CURVY LEOPARD PRINT SKIRT £8.00 SIZES 16-26
Oh hello neon and animal print! I have been waiting for you! This skirt is what every vixen needs in their wardrobe. This skirt skims your booty like butter off a hot knife. and the colours go so well with a whole myriad of different palettes. Either with flats or some sexy boots this skirt is THE perfect addition to your Autum/Winter wardrobe. A MUST have!!
Whatever you Plus-sized ladies wear this Winter I am sure you will look fabulous but I do hope this article has given you some ideas and inspiration on ways to make your Festive wardrobe that extra bit decorative.
(All prices were accurate at time of writing.)
Last weekend I thought I’d better prove to myself and others that I had fully embraced this body positive mind-set and decided to attend one of the Ms Curvaceous UK modelling competitions. For those women who applied you would have two options, to attend a body confidence workshop and modelling audition or just the workshop. I thought that I should bite the bullet and give both a go!
So, on the Sunday morning at 9.30 I arrived at the Arbor Hotel in London, not knowing what to expect. Prospective models who applied had been told to wear black trousers and a tight black top with heels, which, if you have seen the pictures on my blog, you will recognise that this attire is not my standard look. We were asked to wear minimal make-up with our hair away from our faces. I didn’t mind this as I rarely wear much make-up to teach in, so just some mascara and lip stick sufficed. I did find it daunting however to have my stomach area so exposed as I normally prefer to wear something flowing that skims my ‘tummy tyre’ but in the spirit of loving my body I went ahead. It felt quite liberating actually to not be conscious of having to keep checking my top hadn’t rolled up or keep pulling it back into place, something I am sure most of you plus-size women are used to doing.
As I stepped into the foyer of the hotel I was greeted by a crowd of amazingly beautiful plus-size women of all different shapes and ethnicities. It was quite astounding to feel at once not out-of-place in a room full of women. Most of the time I am the largest in a room which either makes me feel self-conscious or I have a tendency to over-compensate by being the loudest and most audaciously confident. I am sure my fellow Curvaceous ladies have all felt this at one time or another. However in this room I felt pride. Pride that these fellow women who had undoubtably struggled with negative body image or fat shaming in their lives had shown up, had put on their big girl pants and bravely attended.
The hotel itself was a gorgeous venue, reflecting the resplendent nature of the ladies who attended. A castle fit for these curvaceous Queens! We were asked to file downstairs and all sat in the awaiting seats in the conference room. I had the pleasure of speaking to the gorgeous Corrine who won this years’ (Ms Curvaceous 2018) crown. She was so amazingly friendly and really made me feel at ease and as if I was in the right place, I was, up until that point feeling like a bit of an intruder!
The founder of Ms Curvaceous, Theo, introduced himself and the mission of the Ms Curvaceous competition. He explained that Ms Curvaceous aims to empower women of size 12 and above, who have been traditionally marginalised by the fashion industry, body-shamed by society and generally made to feel like second-class citizens because of their size. The competition, whilst still ending in only one winner, aimed to bring confidence to its auditionees, which is why they kindly offered a free confidence workshop before the audition process.
The next few hours were filled with specialist make-up and fashion advice and information about Ms Curvaceous itself and what we could expect. For me though, the most extraordinary and moving experience of the day was when we all shared our personal experiences and why we wanted to be part of the Ms Curvaceous movement. Many stories were filled with emotion and memories of discrimination by both family and strangers. It was during these moments, where strangers told their most personal stories, that the beauty of these women really blossomed. In those moments we were one, united in our struggles that had brought us together that day. Complete strangers hugged one another like lost friends, ladies cried next to each other, people listened and nodded their heads in agreement having experienced the same shame and humiliation too. No longer were we alone, fat and useless but together in the struggle, radiating love and acceptance. As fluffy as this all sounds, every word is true and actually doesn’t do those sacred moments justice. The solidarity I felt in that room was such a powerful thing.
Next the beautiful Models Su and Corinne demonstrated their best catwalk moves….shit began to feel real but I was longing to do my walk and strut my stuff! Each one of us took it in turns to practice our cat-walks in front of the entire room! All the ladies in the room were so supportive of each other and whilst it was nerve-wracking, the elation I felt afterwards was overwhelming. I could have done it again and again!
To finish, we could either use what we had learnt in the confidence building workshop and enter the audition or were free to go home, feeling beautiful and empowered. I wanted to stay and give the competition a try!
My group of about 25 women were taken up stairs to one of the hotel lounges, where the beautiful Su, who had competed in Ms Curvaceous previously and is now a successful Curve model, was helping us rehearse our runway walks. Su was so encouraging, with just the right mix of understanding and constructive criticism. She really succeeded in making me feel prepared for walking the runway in front of the judges.
Before the catwalk audition we all had to be photographed. 3 photographs in total, head, body and full length. I think mine went ok although I’m sure I was very shiny because I sweat when nervous! Ewwww. The photographer was lovely! (I’m sorry I can’t recall your name) but he really made me feel relaxed and at ease.
Next for the grand finale, the big number, THE CATWALK! Luckily enough the judges were the current MS Curvaceous crown holder, Corinne and the captivating Shanika, who previously competed and is experienced in, and amazing at, walking the runway. They were calming and kind and told me to do my best walk up and down three times and don’t forget to pose! In and instant it was done, I couldn’t even remember what I had done or the poses I had show cased. I simply hope that I was good enough to maybe get through to the next round, maybe they can see some potential.
All in all I thought the day was the perfect mix of deep emotion and light-hearted fun, topped off with the audition process which actually was easier than expected. If nothing ever comes of the audition process I met some amazingly talented, inspiring women who are beautiful both inside and out and I am eager to follow all their progress wether as part of the Ms Curvaceous competition or as a spectator. Well done ladies! I salute you.
So as some of you may be aware from my previous Blogs, my Mother unfortunately has terminal cancer. She hasn’t got long left. it is because of this that I have started to rethink how I want the rest of my life to be and do the things that bring me and those around me the most pleasure. Facing the death of someone so close to you really puts things into perspective and makes you confront the things in your life that once seemed important but now seem meaningless. I guess I am attempting to streamline my life, trying to cram as much happiness and contentment in with my job, friends, family and experiences as possible. Life appears now so fleeting when once it stretched out before me, the end never in sight, much like how the Summer holidays seemed as a child.
Now life seems urgent, too precious to waste. Adventures too important to pass by. The hug that used to feel obligatory now feels necessity. The weekly phone call, which once felt strained, now feels like a life-line. The semi-forced family Christmases, which used to feel like a chore, now feel like meetings with the utmost poignancy.
so with this emerging feeling of not letting life pass me by, I want to able to feel freer to perform, to do the thing that makes me feel the most terrified I can possibly feel. Sing. I have always loved to sing but I have also always struggle to stand up and perform or to put my talent out there, to show people my voice, but if I don’t conquer this fear now, while I have the chance, I fear that I never will. Below you will see some footage of me singing. I cannot describe to you how excruciatingly scary it is to put these out there, yet here I go, making myself vulnerable to the public. I hope you enjoy them.
I have always loved to sing, in my room alone or with my sister when we shared a family home but unless I have had a few drinks inside me I find it so difficult to sing in public. so in the spirit of confronting ones fears I am posting footage of me singing with a live band. Hope you enjoy!
When I look at this photograph of myself I think “damn girl, you look sexy!” Isn’t that wonderful for us to feel? It is so pleasing when your outfit comes together and your hair and make-up (if you choose to wear it) is on point. it can make all the difference to ones confidence and enjoyment of the night. I am sure many of you can relate to times when we have not felt like this. Maybe you feel awkward and uncomfortable in the clothes you are wearing or your hair just wont play ball. It can completely negative effect the wedding, party or date you are attending.
Feeling sexy and confident are perhaps the best feelings to have because once you feel confident, everything else usually falls into place. Who has ever gone out wearing simpler clothes than normal or less make-up and for some reason felt even sexier than normal. Sometimes we can’t put our finger on the exact reason but whatever it is, it feels wonderful. What isn’t wonderful however is the reaction we most likely get from others around us.
I can hold my hand up and say that I have, countless times, been groped by men in a night club or had women turn their nose up at me because, in their eyes, I have too much cleavage on show. Most of us dress up or try to look good for our own sense of contentment, so that we feel sexy and beautiful in our own skin, not for a reaction or leering from others, men or women. Those instances are mostly completely unwelcome and can make us question our outfit or lipstick choices in the future. It is becoming much more publicised, these instances of abuse, groping and even rape that we face everyday. There have been some ground-breaking campaigns recently, such as the #metoo campaign, which have highlighted just how common sexual abuse of women actually has become. Sadly it seems that not everyone is in agreement with the #metoo campaign. The actress Lindsay Lohan gave her opinion on the subject of reporting rape or sexual abuse:
“You have these girls who come out, who don’t even know who they are, who do it for the attention.”
There are probably millions more instances of molestation that have occurred and not been reported to the police or publicised. Instances women may think are too insignificant to report because of that age old excuse, “well that’s what men do.” Even if you have been touched in a way that you think is inappropriate, such as a pinched bottom or grabbed breasts, it should still be reported, even if it is just to the bouncer or your boss. who knows if that may dissuade the person molesting you to go on and commit more heinous crimes.
But as I write this I feel fiercely hypocritical. You see, at 17, I was a victim of rape, and I didn’t report it to the police. The main reason…I thought I had somehow brought it upon myself, that I had been too sexually suggestive, that I was wearing clothes that enticed my attacker, that somehow it was my fault.
I was at 17 quite a sexualised young individual. what I mean by that is I did like to flaunt my assets, I enjoyed the male attention I got from it, I equated that, I guess, with love. so in essence, when I awoke from my sleep to find someone grunting and writing inside of me, It raced through my mind the question…had I put out signals to this person that I was fair game, that I wanted this even.
Now, many years later, I know that my reasoning for this horrible crime came from a place of extremely low self esteem, of no self-worth but sadly there are many of us in society who still believe the notion that if women dress suggestively the are “asking for it.” Ultimately this state of mind needs to stop. There is never, NEVER any excuse for rape. It doesn’t matter if a women decides to go out in the shortest skirt you could imagine and a crop top that you can see her nipples underneath, she is not displaying an automatic free pass. It is completely wrong to perpetuate the notion that if a woman dresses sexually, she is up for sex. I could not put it more eloquently than the model Amber Rose, who during a conversation on the subject of #blameculture she stated
“It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on, when I say no, it means no.”
You would think that all women would be united in this notion but sadly that is not actually the case. Statistics, compiled in the ‘Wake Up to Rape’ report summarised that women are actually more likely than men to blame the victim! I am not sure what that shows about society but it is a fact that shocked me to the core. Unfortunately the patriarchal mindset from the past has been so deeply embedded into society’s psyche that it will take a long time for us all to be on the same page, that a women or a man for that matter never deserves to be raped. I believe that the more people who speak up about this issue and make it more prevalent and less taboo to discuss, the more likely #rape victims would be to report their attack. I wish deeply, in hindsight, 16 years ago, that I had felt blameless.
So I plucked up the courage to showcase some of my blogs to a writers help group on Facebook. As most of you know it can be extremely emotional and even painful to write about subjects we find difficult and of experiences that have caused us years of misery. This has definitely been the case with my blogs surrounding the issues of eating disorders, weight and body positivity.
It was therefore a proud moment for me, when I faced those inner demons who ridicule and tell me I am not good enough. I posted the link to my blogs and nervously awaited feedback.
I awoke the next morning with a smile on my face, the sun streaming gayly through the window, a bird on a branch started singing to me about how it would help me with my household chores…(hold on this isn’t a Disney movie) Well anyway the gist of that morning was that I woke up with a new sense of hope, a new sense of achievement, of winning. I bounced happily up the stairs to the living room (I live in an upside down house, the bedrooms are on the ground floor.) and checked on Facebook for the constructive criticism or praise that surely awaited me?
Then I was confronted with this….
Well John Lord, I can honestly say that whilst I welcomed criticism that I could take on to improve my writing , I didn’t, in all honesty, expect this to be what greeted me from my computer screen.
The first thing you feel when you read cruelty like this is shame. I admit, I do at times still feel shame when confronted about being plus-size, especially when it isn’t anticipated. If I enter into a debate knowing that I may be needing to defend people who feel marginalised or even my appearance, I can argue and discuss with the best of them but this really threw me. This attack was in no way written to aid in my future writing. it wasn’t concerned with my writing flow, the wording, the eloquence. It was written purely to hurt and perhaps provoke an argumentative response back. When tackling trolls such as this, I know that being responsive in a negative way actually relinquishes more of your power than it seeks to repair.
I consider comments like the above to come from someone who has a deeply hurt soul, someone who perhaps doesn’t have any self- worth themselves so seeks to diminish it in others. Now I can perfectly understand the opinion that what I write about isn’t to everyone’s taste and interest but to detail that it “isn’t story material” is simply denying someone their voice, to try and attempt to shut a person and their experience down. It is basically saying that my story is not valid or worthy because I may be seen as “disgusting” to some. This ideology MUST change! We can not allow this marginalisation to continue. The mainstream media, film, television and advertising world promote the notion that you have to look a certain way to even be listened to or taken seriously. Now there has been some amazing progress in some instances, such as the amazing Tess Holiday adorning the front page of Cosmopolitan or the emergence of a greater diversity in the modelling world, but at the moment it almost seems like most people consider this as a novelty rather than as part of the norm.
It is evident also that acceptance of anything but the mainstream ‘ideal’ has a hell of a long way to go. I often see comments in online newspapers which fat shame the celebrities that are being written about. so much hatred poured onto the comments section of an activist on Instagram and the role of plus size actresses only ever being a comedy one. Take Amy Schumer for example or Melissa McCarthy. Now I know that they started off as comediennes but it would be wonderful if they were given the opportunity to branch out into different roles, but still, it seems, that society ,as a whole, has a problem taking larger people seriously.
Every day I feel more inspired and driven to activism by such people as the aforementioned Tess Holiday or the brilliant Megan Jayne Crabbe (BodyPosiPanda) who has written some utterly fantastic stuff on Body Positivity.
It is evident sadly, that what we campaign so tirelessly for has not reached a wide enough audience, that some members of society still feel it necessary to voice their opinions that fat equals gross, that just being you is not good enough, that unless you look like what they want you to, you shouldn’t be given the platform to be heard. I hope for the day when the whole of society embraces each other for our inner merits, not base their opinions on the outer. Which is why I will not let people who bully me win, I will not be silenced by those who seek to shut me up. I shall continue to feel inspired and spurred on by those lovely activists around me who campaign for a better world and more diverse representation. I will still write and if I want to stuff my face with doughnuts while I do so, I bloody well will!
Any body who knows me will agree that I have always been a proper poser. When I was a child, 23 stone, with or without make-up, and once I had achieved my goal weight, It has always been the same.
I love being in front of the camera. I’ve always loved how my face looks. I have spent hours putting on differing make-up looks and posing. It wasn’t until I had lost weight and felt comfortable in clothes that I gradually moved the camera down to encompass my body too. A big achievement for me!
And so, with this new found confidence, brings me on to a new exciting chapter in my life. I am going to try my hand at Curve Modeling. Wether or not I actually have what It takes, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I want to give it a go. What have I got to lose? O.K perhaps my self-esteem, if I get rejected. But I am hoping my new found confidence is not based on what model casting agents think of me. I am so enamoured with the body positive and Curve movement, that I can’t let this particular band wagon pass me by!
Wish me luck!