Do it before you Die.

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.

 

 

 

 

Confront your fears.

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!

Feeling sexy is brilliant, it is the reaction we receive from our sexiness that is not…

 

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.” 

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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.”

 

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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.

 

This needs to end NOW!

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….

 

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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!

 

 

Adventures of a wannabe Curve Model.

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!

A New Direction…

My blog up until now has been filled with posts about weight loss, negative past experiences as a result of being over weight and writing clouded by the mind-frame that we MUST be slim to be happy, accepted and successful. it has taken me32 years,  2 failed and potentially life threatening gastric bands and falling in love with myself to be o.k with my body the way it is.

It hasn’t been an easy journey and many of you can relate to what I write about. Sometimes I feel like I am feeding the negativity and discrimination by being so focused on body positivity or lack of BUT it is necessary for us to fight to bring such subjects into the forefront, to promote ourselves and our journey. If we are Plus-size, if we are LGBT, if we have a skin condition or a disability, if we in anyway feel marginalised, our voices maybe need to shout the loudest for a while until we feel equal, included and accepted.

My most recent blogs therefore are less concerned with my negative experiences from the past but more with the empowerment of underrepresented people, for those of us that feel swallowed up in a society that only promotes and includes a certain media ideal. I welcome any constructive criticism, dialogue or debate as I feel this promotes community and therefore a greater sense of inclusion. Please feel free to add me on Instagram, join my group on Facebook or comment on the blogs published here.

Sending peace and love to my fellow Warriors, activists and promoters of equality and inclusion and for those people who are maybe not clued up on the possibility of an equal world…take a read and join the party!

Love

Plus-size Vintage Madame

x x

 

Don’t Make Body Image the Centre of Our Universe.

I have fluctuated in weight over the years from my heaviest at nearly 24 stone to my smallest at 9.

I am now the picture on the right. I am now able to eat a meal without throwing it all up. I can take in the nutrients that my body needs to function properly and whilst I am what medical professionals would call “over weight” I no longer suffer from iron deficiency, I am vastly more energetic and I am the most comfortable in my own skin that I have ever been.

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I am learning to not define myself by size but by the impact I make in the world, the happiness I spread in other people and the worth I feel from my achievements. The way the world perceives beauty seems to be changing for the more inclusive but there is still a massively long way to go. The changes start from within. Once we have exorcised our inner body image demons, we can begin to spread self love and body acceptance in others. One thing I am trying to do differently that I hope will be a small positive step is to move away from body based compliments and discussions surrounding dieting.

I am aiming to perhaps compliment others on their professional merits, their patient nature as a parent, their loyalty as a friend. Highlighting the non image based wins can go some way towards a society that does not consider beauty akin to success. Let’s love ourselves and of course our bodies BUT don’t make body image the centre of our universe.

#bodyimage #bodypositive #compliment #praiseeachother #weightissues #selflove #selfacceptance #bekind #transformationtuesday #change #betterworld #healtheworld #love #spreadhappiness #plussizewisdom #plussizeadvice #bbw #bodypositive #loveyourself #proud #positivevibes #plussizes #curves #eatingdisorderrecovery #wls #curvesdontmeancant

Body image and our feelings of inadequacy.

Today I want to talk about inadequacies. More specifically our feelings of inadequacy and where they come from. For me, my feelings of being inadequate  arose from my negative body image and the way that most people in my life regarded me as somewhat a failure because of my size. Whether it is conscious or not people will judge you on your size and shape, this may and I believe, in most cases, have a negative effect on your life. It definitely did for me. This is something I am really working on to change. To not internalise other people’s negative views of me, based on size.

As I have shared in my blog before, I was told that I wasn’t a good role model for children at school because of my size and would never get employed by one. Whilst I think there is something to be said for being a healthy role model to children, I believe that my weight, at that time, had no bearing on whether or not I was capable of the job. (I got the job in the end)

It is difficult to feel adequate in a world that automatically paints you as not so if you do not conform to society’s ideal in the way that you look. It can have excruciating and long lasting effects in various aspects of our lives. Our self-worth, relationships, parenting or fear of becoming a parent. I for one am afraid of becoming a parent, not for the sole reason of, but including, projecting on to them the ideals that have been projected onto me around image and how the world expects you to look. I feel it is something that has so profoundly affected me, that I cannot allow myself to become a mother until I have overcome the issues of self-hate and inadequacy. In essence I wouldn’t want to fuck up my own children!

I am slowly, and with the help of some very inspirational people on social media, self-reflection and taking the time to show some self-kindness everyday, beginning to reach the point where self- love and feeling adequate are a reality.  Of course I still have days, like today where I feel people may judge me for my size or putting on weight but it is at these times that I focus on and congratulate myself for other things. I am a good friend, a confident public speaker, I made it a whole year teaching. These are what make me worthy, these are the real achievements, not the numbers on scales or the sizes on jeans. (I don’t know why I chose to write jeans, I literally never wear them)

I consider it so important now for society to stop projecting worth on others based on how they look. Times are changing and we are seeing more diversity in advertising, on T.V and in the modelling world, however there is still a hell of a long way to go. Body positive warriors and indeed just ordinary people who may be plus size, still get backlash and hate wrapped up in the guise that being happy to wear what you want and show your body, regardless of size is glamourising being unhealthy rather than just being who you are, wearing what you want and expressing yourself.

I long for the day when I truly accept myself but I long even more for a world that accepts each other not in spite of but because of our differences.

#Curves don’t mean can’t!!

I have been thinking a lot lately about what exactly changed about my life when I lost a huge amount of weight? What did I do differently? It is definitely true that I found it easier to walk, to dance, to make love but looking back I never let my weight or what I looked like stop me from doing any of these things. People that know me would say that even at my biggest I am the first one on the dance floor, the first in the sea, the first ready to make myself look like a fool and eager to try new things.498A8165-2807-46C8-8B74-5349435FE5EB

I consider it very important, after all my weight loss and gain experiences that we do not shy away from doing things or experiences just because we look a certain way. Do not deprive yourself of swimming in that lake or trekking that mountain or running that marathon.  Yes it may take you a little longer than others and if you’re bigger, like me you will probably sweat more than all of those gym bunnies but don’t let that put you off! Sweat and sweat proudly!9A27AD85-FF63-4D37-8F18-97867E50A2AA

It is not just something that concerns weight (however this is where  most of my experiences lie)  People May hinder themselves from doing things for a multitude of reasons that must be ignored. For example like me you may have a skin condition that stops you from wearing certain clothes. Screw em. Wear them.  Do you have a scar that you always keep covered up for fear of everyone’s scorns and stares.?…be proud of your body, every part of it! Show your scars to the world, you never know who you may inspire.39556CF7-4778-40BB-8189-E2A3E49CB469

You may not want to try tap dancing classes or persue that Interest you have in hairdressing because you are an alpha male…again, screw em.  You should join that choir if you can’t really sing, or that paint class when you’re rubbish at drawing a straight line even! Go on that trampoline if you are bigger than everyone else, show em how it’s done! Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do something or enjoy an experience simply for being who you are.E1C00420-1BCF-49A8-8968-784C1287B7B9

#curvesdontmeancant

(please use this hashtag if you do something you never thought you would!)