Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Event: Definition of Size
Art Fundraiser (Part 2)

Event: Merry Christmas! On Saturday 30 November I attended the Definition of Size Art Fundraiser, hosted by my good friend Anita Bellamy (of Plus Confidence in You) (see Part 1 here). It was a fantastic event! As a supporter/volunteer for the day I arrived early and helped to set up and generally flitted about throughout the day, checking people in (all technical like) and selling raffle tickets along with the other volunteers. Speaking of the raffle, there were so many fantastic prizes! Thank you to everyone that donated items and bought tickets, it gave a huge boost to the fundraising. I bought some tickets myself and was very lucky to win a couple of items, though sadly not any of the clothing prizes I was lusting after! I'm not sure how much we raised in total, but I was personally overwhelmed by people's generosity.

Images © David Rochester (top) and Irena Vondrasova (bottom), L-R: Sarah of Sarah Smiley, Terri (one of the models) and I; Brick City; Anita Bellamy (Organiser/Founder) and the exhibition preview images | Everyone had a great time and there was a fantastic atmosphere. There are too many people to thank so I won't start the individual thank you's except to the ladies that kept me sane on the day, you know who you are!

I am looking forward to meeting with Anita and the other volunteers early in the New Year to start planning the main exhibition.

To find out more about the project visit Anita's website. Keep an eye on the Facebook group, page and Twitter for future updates!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Curvissa Christmas Party

Images © Curvissa | Hi folks! I hope you're all enjoying the festive season and are ready for the big day. I expect a lot of you are partied out with Christmas do's already, or perhaps yours is still to come; either way, there's still New Year's Eve to look forward to! If you haven't picked that all important outfit yet, fashion brand Curvissa may be able to help; they've recently revealed the secrets of the office Christmas party via their research and a set of party stereotypes. Head on over to their site and see if you can spot yourself, or someone you know! I know I can recognise a few, thinking back to parties from the past (there's always a #2 about!).

Unfortunately Christmas do's aren't much of a thing for me now as I currently work part-time whilst studying and, although the office has a small gathering, it's usually when I'm working as I do the evening shift. Still, I did wear some reindeer antlers on my last shift before Christmas as my festive contribution!

According to the research results, the majority of Londoners (22%) take 15-30 minutes to get ready for their Christmas party...not me, if you include a shower I'm in the region of 60-90 minutes, and even then I still seem to be waiting for my friends!
A whopping 67% of women pay attention to what others are wearing at their Christmas party, and 97% don't regret wearing something festive themselves. It's evident from this that fashion plays a key part in Christmas parties and it's a great reason to get glammed up (I miss this a lot!). 

As I love any excuse to shop, I took a look to see which of Curvissa's Christmas party stereotypes I match up with. I think my closest match is #4 The Intern. I have, for Christmas do's past, spent a lot of time finding a dress and matching it with heels, accessories and make-up! I'm no less of a shopaholic now and would be unlikely to wear 'something from the wardrobe' for a party. With this in mind, I headed over to Curvissa's website to show you what I would've worn to a Christmas do this year...

I absolutely adore this Evening Wrap Dress (£59.00, Sizes 14-32)! It's a classic LBD and would definately be wearable again. I love the flattering shape and wrap detail, which is why I'd choose it for my Christmas party dress; pair it with a gorgeous necklace (such as the pictured Pendant Necklace, £12.00), some heels, a clutch bag and off you go! Plain dresses are also great to team with the current trend of statement necklaces. *Sigh* perhaps someone can invite me out post New Year?! ;) hope you all enjoy/enjoyed your parties! TTFN!

Written in collaboration with Curvissa

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Just Another Blogging Challenge (Dec)

Ahh I'm so enjoying taking part in all of these challenges, I hope you're enjoying reading them too. December's theme is 'Christmas/Ugly Jumper Party!' Sadly I don't have a Christmas jumper (or an ugly one) and I'm brassic, so instead I'm going to share with you the festive items that I would buy - a sort of wishlist!

I've got a huge obsession with scented candles at the moment and Yankee Candles are the most popular, for good reason! I've only had one before which was a sweet mango scent and was a present from a friend, but I also recently won a competition with Fashion World and the prize was a Yankee Candle! I can't wait for it to arrive.

Speaking of scents, I'm also a huge fan of Lush Cosmetics, especially the Snow Fairy Shower Gel and Rock Star Soap! I'm hoping a friend can pick up some sale bargains for me after Christmas, as I won't be near a store to investigate.

I'll hopefully have one or two more posts before/over Christmas, but just in case I forget, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! I arrived at my Dad's yesterday and I'm really excited for Christmas Day. We're having roast lamb and my Dad makes the most amazing trifle that I look forward to every year (it's my favourite). Hopefully I might get a glass or two of Baileys as well ;)

#1 New Look Inspire Red Ho Ho Ho Christmas Jumper, £22.99 (Sold Out)
#2 Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle in Snowflake Cookie, £19.99
#3 Black Heart Creatives Christmas Pudding Necklace, was £15.00 now £7.50
#4 Lush Cosmetics Stardust Gift Box, £25.95

NB: Prices as displayed online on 20 December 2013
Images © their respective brands 

Don't forget to check out the rest of the JABC crew:

Steph – http://seeingsp0ts.blogspot.co.uk
Kaye – http://polishedcurves.com
Naomi – http://www.diamondsnpearls.co.uk
Victoria – http://www.thecurvedopinion.com
Em – http://terribletumbles.blogspot.co.uk
Gemma – http://www.pinkgemmaplus.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Outside My Comfort Zone #22

Hi folks! This challenge is 'Work Wear' and was chosen by Hollie (of Pretty Big Butterflies) who wrote: 'Work wear is so boring and I have to spend 9 hours a day in an office! Show me how to spice up work wear in whatever way you can. I want to look smart / casual but still fashionable! It's so easy to hide behind a desk but I want to walk through the office in style. Come on ladies, show me your sexy secretary look or your quirky call centre attire! Can't wait for the inpiration! :)'

Despite having seldomly worked anywhere with an even remotely strict dress code (even though I work in administration), workwear is something I feel I 'know' about or can at least make suggestions on in confidence. Although I tend to wear jeans and a t-shirt for work and make little effort, office 'smart chic' is one of my favourite looks and I'm a huge fan of power dressing (I look forward to the day when it's actually appropriate for me to wear a suit). The following aren't really examples of that as such, but of smart-casual looks I've worn in the past that I think would make appropriate workwear...

Images © Big Fat Betty (Above) and New Look (Left) | Notice a theme? In all bar one I'm wearing a cardigan or blazer. It's not really common to have bare arms (or not entirely) in my line of work. Asides from the added warmth for this time of year, adding a cardigan or blazer means that you can wear items that you wouldn't normally wear to work (a vest top, for example), thus giving you more options without having an 'exclusive' work wardrobe. I've also pieced together an outfit from my favourite store, New Look; items #1 and #3 are available in other colours and the shoes (#5) are also available in black.

#1 Inspire Black Sleeveless Wrap Top, £14.99 (Sizes 18-28)
#2 Inspire 31in Black PVL Tailored Trousers, £19.99 (Sizes 18-32)
#3 Inspire Bright Red Waffle Textured Blazer, £17.24 (Sizes 18-28)
#4 Gold Chain Sleek Torque Necklace, £5.99
#5 Extra Wide Fit Dark Red Patent Toe Chain Trim Court Shoes, £22.99 (Sizes 3-8)

NB: Prices as displayed online on 10 December 2013 

Don't forget to check out the rest of the OMCZ crew:

Stephanie - http://www.seeingsp0ts.blogspot.co.uk
Leah - http://www.justmeleah.blogspot.co.uk
Mary - http://www.marysbigcloset.blogspot.pt
Becky - http://www.doesmyblogmakemelookfat.com
Rachel - http://www.adressisforlife.com
Natalie - http://awheelbarrowfullofstyle.blogspot.co.uk
Nikki - http://www.nattynikki.blogspot.co.uk
Rebs - http://sullen-hearts.blogspot.co.uk
Verena - http://aplussizefashionobsession.blogspot.de
Rebecca - http://theplussideofme.com
Hollie - http://www.prettybigbutterflies.com
Sabina - http://www.femmefatalexsabina.blogspot.de
Katt - http://acurvycupcake.blogspot.co.uk
Mookie - http://muki7x7.blogspot.co.uk
Erin - http://erinslittlebigcorner.blogspot.co.uk
Debz - http://www.wannabeprincess.co.uk

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Feature: One Big Fat Run

Images © One Big Fat Run | If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I've been looking to do feature posts on fellow fatties; small businesses, models, artists, etc. Julie from The Fat Girls Guide to Running got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in doing a feature on One Big Fat Run; I said yes, of course!

What is One Big Fat Run (OBFR)? The title says it all really; fat people, running, together (virtually or otherwise)! The first OBFR took place on Sunday 25 August 2013, with over 100 participants worldwide and is now a monthly event. Julie's dream is to get one million fat people participating in the virtual collective, which brings both physical and mental health benefits. Julie started running in 2005 and you can read the story behind The Fat Girls Guide to Running here, it's a great source of inspiration. Her website is written in a very down to earth and approachable way, but also contains lots of useful information such as How to Run (for beginners) and suggestions for those running essentials.

If you'd like to take part in the OBFR Xmas Special and future events, you can sign up via Facebook.

Website: http://www.thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/fattymustrun

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Outside My Comfort Zone #21

Hello lovelies! This challenge is 'Emulate Another Blogger's Style' and was chosen by Rebecca (of The Plus Side of Me) who wrote: "I know it's best sometimes to keep things simple, but I've recently been thinking about how fun it would be to emulate another blogger's style that is very much so out of our comfort zone. It could be a blogger within or outside of the the OMCZ group, but I know there are plenty of bloggers out there whose style I love but have not dared to wear."

This sounded very exciting to me, but also a big challenge! I struggled to think of a blogger who's style would be outside of my comfort zone but also that I could do justice to (and find things for in my wardrobe, of course); I couldn't, so I decided to focus more on bloggers whose style I admire and that differs to my own. I had a few ideas and chose to emulate Sarah of Sarah Smiles. Sarah is a true retro beauty and, not having the latest fashions to hand, I decided to focus more on her hair and make-up style than fashion.

Images © Big Fat Betty (Left) and Sarah Smiles (Right) | Sarah's hair is always so perfect! Mine isn't quite as glamorous, but for my first attempt at victory rolls I'm quite impressed (I google'd for a tutorial, there are loads of them!). I used my Soap & Glory eyeliner pen and MUA lipstick (Shade #1) to complete the look.

Images © Big Fat Betty (Left & Right) and Sarah Smiles (Middle) | I'm still chuckling at how I've inadvertantly copied Sarah's pose! Unfortunately I didn't have my photography assistant (AKA the flatmate) or my mini tripod to hand and thus the photographs aren't that great I'm afraid. In hindsignt, I was in a bit of a rush and should've accessorised; just a wide waist belt would've finished off this look perfectly. I (almost) always wear a cardigan and tights (or leggings) and not doing so was definately outside of my comfort zone; I think I'd consider showing a bit more skin more often if it wasn't for the weather! The dress is from Dorothy Perkins a good few years ago and the shoes are the Wide Fit Black Suedette Low Wedges from New Look (£14.99, sizes 3-8). I'll definately be doing Sarah's hair and make-up look again but I don't think this dress was the right choice.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the OMCZ crew:

Stephanie - http://www.seeingsp0ts.blogspot.co.uk
Leah - http://www.justmeleah.blogspot.co.uk
Mary - http://www.marysbigcloset.blogspot.pt
Becky - http://www.doesmyblogmakemelookfat.com
Rachel - http://www.adressisforlife.com
Natalie - http://awheelbarrowfullofstyle.blogspot.co.uk
Nikki - http://www.nattynikki.blogspot.co.uk
Rebs - http://sullen-hearts.blogspot.co.uk
Verena - http://aplussizefashionobsession.blogspot.de
Rebecca - http://theplussideofme.com
Hollie - http://www.prettybigbutterflies.com
Sabina - http://www.femmefatalexsabina.blogspot.de
Mookie - http://muki7x7.blogspot.co.uk
Erin - http://erinslittlebigcorner.blogspot.co.uk
Debz - http://www.wannabeprincess.co.uk

Monday, 2 December 2013

Event: Fat Sexualities

Disclaimer: The views and wording of this post are my own (Big Fat Betty) and are not a verbatim account of the event, nor intended as a representation of the views of others; however, I have tried to recall and replicate the specific wording used by the panelists to some extent, but have only used quotation marks when I am certain that it is a direct quote. Should you have any concerns over the contents of this post please feel free to e-mail me at info@bigfatbetty.com.

Image © Raquel Van Nice (Rubenesque Burlesque) | On Tuesday 19 November I attended the Fat Sexualities talk organised by Gender and Sexuality Talks (London), having responded to their search for a blogger to cover the event the organisers very kindly gave me a complimentary ticket (though I can honestly say that I would have attended regardless, being very interested in the topic and intrigued about what would be covered). Gender and Sexuality Talks is a non-profit organisation which aims to bring together academics, professionals and the public 'to provide a forum in which to broaden minds, educate and critically debate emerging and recurring issues related to gender and sexuality throughout wider society' (Gender and Sexuality Talks, 2013).

The panel consisted of Dr Charlotte Cooper, Bethany Rutter (of Arched Eyebrow and DOMO), Ingo Cando (of Wotever World) and Dr Caroline Walters; it certainly provided an interesting mix and a wealth of knowledge and experience. I also felt comfortable with the panel and that I could relate to them in some way, even before they spoke, and I'm honestly not sure why. Perhaps it was to do with the nature of the event and the physicality of the panel, or maybe it was their mannerisms, I am not sure; but it was certainly different to, say, an academic seminar. I felt en par with the panel in some way and part of the event as a whole, although I didn't participate in open discussion I felt that I could and would have felt comfortable in doing so. The event operated under the Chatham House Rule, meaning that participants could not be identified (with the exception of the panel members); whilst I have no issue with being identified, I can completely understand that others may not wish to be and think that operating under these rules goes a long way towards promoting a safe and accepting environment where participants can speak openly without fear of reprisal at a later date.

The Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was started by Dr Charlotte Cooper, who explained her understanding of fat sexualities by reflecting on her own experiences. The frankness and openness of her approach really appealed to me and gave me the opportunity not only to relate to some of the experiences that she expressed, but also to gain a better understanding of the experiences of others and highlighting that fat sexuality is not homogeneous (ergo sexualities). Dr Cooper also discussed other important points such as the domination of fat discourse by health (issues) and the difficulty of accessing resources and support for those not 'in the know'.

Ingo Cando discussed the lack of positive imagery for fat people, particularly in relation to sex and sexuality and, more specifically, pornography. She shared her experiences of supporting women to create their own pornography and I recall being particularly struck by part of a quote from one of the participants; 'I see what they see and I look beautiful'. This resonated with me, as someone who has been (and somewhat still is) on a journey to discover their beauty; it's something you have to see for yourself and, whilst pornography (or indeed creating your own) may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's one of many methods which can achieve that goal.

Bethany shared her experiences of her earlier years as an undesirable, unfuckable teenager (this is certainly how I felt as a teenager and even in early adulthood; in fact, pretty much all of my life until a couple of years ago), with no choice and no active role in her sexuality. She also discussed the difficulty of unlearning harmful and negative messages and society's portrayal of fat women as monstrous, desperate, disgusting and embarrassing to be attracted to/have sex with. Bethany has found that non-monogamy has been useful and empowering for her and that she now finds rejection less of an issue since she has debunked the mythical link between rejection and being fat.

Last but not least, I really enjoyed hearing about Dr Caroline Walters' studies and her current project, an edited book on fat sexualitues. She also highlighted the issues that she has experienced since losing weight, including the presumption of others that she is no longer able to research issues relating to (being) fat because of this. It reminded me of my own fears of judgement on the basis of weight loss.  I await the release of the book with eager anticipation.

Question & Answer Session

I must admit that this was quite difficult to follow from a blogging perspective, but I shall do my best! Gender and Sexuality Talks (London) trialled a new Q&A system at the event, utilising post-it notes; I thought this was a great idea as it gave further anonymity and another option to those not comfortable with speaking for whatever reason, it seemed to work well. I racked my brains for a question myself and alas couldn't think of anything, but there was also the opportunity to directly ask questions during the session in addition to the post-it method. Here are a couple of the Q&A's that I managed to note down in full (or near enough)...

Are BBW and associated fetish scenes also a form of empowerment? Dr Cooper responded that yes, they are, and many participators become radicalised. It is an accessable environment where participants are able to experience their sexuality. Dr Walters highlighted the contributions to visual representations that have come from the scene.

How do you get started in fat activism? There is an assumption that there are a lot of groups out there waiting for new members, but there aren't. Fat activism is irregular, often ambiguious and experienced in micro moments (such as a conversation, wearing something, eating ice cream in public). Basically, the answer is to do something...!

There were many other Q&A's and discussions including questions relating to race, gender identities and sexual preference. I felt that this part of the event inparticular was very well balanced in terms of the variety of questions and responses.

I hope that this post is useful and interesting to those that didn't attend, and equally that those who did find it to be an accurate view. I must say from a personal point of view in terms of blog coverage, I will strongly be considering taking a recording device to future events in which it would be permitted, as there is so much more I wanted to share with you all but my notes are somewhat minimal on these points. Lesson learnt and I had an enjoyable evening!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Gender and Sexuality Talks (London) on a successful, thought provoking event. There next event is 'Human Rights, Labour Rights and Sex Work' on Wednesday 29 January 2014. Tickets can be purchased here.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Love EVERY Body #1

I was very interested when the lovely Leah tweeted about her idea for a new blogger challenge relating to body positivity and immediately signed up. The first assignment is: I'd like you to write a letter to your body, acknowledging the things you've been through together. For example: What accidents and illnesses have you had? Do you have scars or tattoos? Have you been operated on? What have you been through in your body, good and bad? What highs and lows have there been? Does your body make you feel happy, sad, disappointed? Do you feel at one with your body or is it the enemy? What parts do you like and dislike? What parts do you want to work on being happier with? These are just suggestions. Make your post your own and feel free to add photos, art, a poem, or any other creative endeavour.

Now, I'm in two minds about this. It's either going to be fairly easy or incredibly difficult! Dear body...I certainly like you a lot more than I used to, but I'm not sure that I can say I love every part of you just yet; I'm getting there, one step at a time. We've been through a lot together and there have been some difficult times, mostly when I haven't loved you or taken care of you because the opinions of others have made me feel that I should't do so. This is mostly due to bullying, which will probably take up a fair bit of this letter...

I guess I should start from the beginning. I've always been fat, or at least 'chubby', and I've always been tall (well, more like average now) and had big feet (again, it's now more common for people to have feet my size). My earliest memories of body dissatisfaction are from Primary School (age 10-11, at a guess), when I was ridiculed for not wearing a bra. In hindsight I didn't really need one (though felt that I did because of peer pressure and wanting to be 'normal'), which was confirmed with even more humiliation when I went to Contessa and heard the Sales Assistant saying to my Mother that I didn't really need a bra. Also in Primary School, some of the girls started talking about periods; there was one girl in particular that asked everyone somewhat private questions that she actually had no right to ask, but at that age you are not really empowered to challenge such a thing (in my opinion). Again, others had started their periods and I hadn't (which I should've been thankful for, really). Last but not least, the early experiences of getting changed for PE without being separated from the boys were incredibly humiliating. Last but not least, I had already started to be bullied in Primary School, though I can't recall why; although I do remember being told by someone that somebody had called me a 'fat cow' and I responded by calling her a 'skinny runt'...fighting body shaming with body shaming, as you do until you grow up and learn better.

Secondary School was quite possibly the most miserable time of my life and when I hated my body the most (looks like I've stopped writing to my body...bear with me, it's strange to write!). I was bullied for my turned-up nose (Miss Piggy, I was called), thick hair (Macy Gray) and weight (Kelly Osbourne, which I think was a weight/hair combo), as well as my intelligence. I was probably around a size 20, dropping down to a 16-18 by the end of school. Around the age of 14 I had a long-term and long-distance relationship with a lad who was 5 years older than me and (at the time) incredibly attractive, which then became another point of bullying through jealousy; I don't think people could bear the thought of anyone being attracted to a fat girl. I left compulsory education and attempted college, but the bullies followed. Living in a town where you're more likely than not to see someone you know on every road, it was somewhat inevitable. Not long after that, due to circumstances outside of my control, I moved away. Asides from an infrequent jibe in the streets, the bullying stopped. For some time there wasn't a great deal to report, asides from the general feeling of being unattractive.

Fast forward to 2008, when I started modelling. I began to learn to love my body through the lens and, oddly, other people's perceptions of my beauty. I was, and still am, very proud to be an artistic nude model; it's not what I started off doing, but is predominately what I have done for the past few years given the increased interest in the artistic realm of body diversity. (NB: Some of you may have seen my work via my blog, which has now been removed as I made the personal decision not to amalgamate the two, knowing that some people would not wish to see it and also I did not want introducing my blog to automatically be introducing myself as an artistic nude model; if you are particularly interested in seeing my work, leave your e-mail address or another contact method and I will pass the details on to you).

Fast forward again to September 2011, when I moved to London and started university. I'd already started to become more interested in fashion and my appearance and had also started to believe that what I look like doesn't matter so much, friendship isn't based on looks and maybe love isn't either. In May 2012 I started attending Big Girls Paradise with my best friend, Lauren; despite its criticisms (which are irrelevant to this post), these events are at least partly responsible for taking my body acceptance journey to the next level and sparked my feelings/belief of being attractive and fat. It wasn't long after that, in June 2012, that I started blogging and opened myself up to the body positive awesomeness that is the fatosphere; I must've been living in ignorance to not realise that there are people out there who look like me and are struggling or have struggled with the same things.

So, body, you can put the majority of my current goodwill towards you down to blogging and networking. There may be parts of you that I still detest, such as the ever-so-irritating facial hair, but in general I at least like the vast majority of you. I like being cute and squishy, I no longer hate my small breasts and maybe I even like them a little bit, that turned-up nose isn't really pig-like anymore (and even if it was, you got it from Mother and should be thankful for it) and that thick hair is a blessing, even if I have to drag a comb through it like a rake. You have made me very happy by sending the acne packing, although I wish you'd do the same to the current breakout! Both my body and I have a lot to be thankful for and I hope there will be more to come. Perhaps Love EVERY Body will help me to love my body in its entirety.

You can find links to the other bloggers taking part at the bottom of Leah's post, here.