Friday, 28 February 2014

Love EVERY Body #3

Hi folks. The third assignment for Love EVERY Body focuses on our shoulders, arms and hands: 'This month's assignment is to talk about our shoulders, arms and hands. If you've ever had some kind of injury to an arm or hand which has prevented you from using it for a short time, you'll know for yourself that working arms and hands are a blessing, no matter what they look like. If you have the full use of both arms (and I'm not assuming you do) that's a bonus.'

I'm a little late in posting this, whoops! Anyway. I'll start by saying that I am blessed to have the full use of my shoulders, arms and hands; although I am occasionally bothered by RSI in my right shoulder, I can't complain really.

I don't really have any thoughts on my hands or shoulders, they're kind of just 'there'. Indifference I guess is the word I'm looking for. My arms on the other hand, well, two words...bingo wings. Yep, I know a lot of people have them, but I still hate mine. I would much rather my arms were fat and round than saggy; it's that horrible flappy lump of flesh that I can't stand. I have, however, made progress...I am now relatively comfortable with bare arms, most of the time. I don't feel that I need to cover them up or be ashamed of them, at least. So, whilst I certainly don't love my arms and don't think I could even say that I like them, they're...there.

Image © James McCauley for Marisota/SCPR (Big Fat Betty [Me!] Modelling the AVA Collection | You can find links to the other bloggers taking part at the bottom of Leah's post here or search #LoveEVERYBody on Twitter.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What Being a Fat Woman
is Really Like...

Inspired by the recent Cosmopolitan article of the same title, Claire (of Monkey See Monkey Do Monkey Wear) asked on Twitter if anyone would be interested in doing a blog post with their take on the questions posed. I hadn't yet read the article, though I'd seen it and put it on my 'to do list'; I decided not to read the article in full before giving my answers so that I could be sure that I wasn't subliminally repeating what I had read.

How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?

9 times out of 10 I feel extremely annoyed. The sorts of comments this brings to mind tend to come from people half my size, although to be honest I don't often experience this these days (as in I rarely experience people commenting to me about feeling/being fat). To some extent it depends on the context and I can completely understand that if you've put on a few stone you might want to lose it, but to be frank I don't want to hear about it.

Having said all of that, (to me) there is a huge difference between 'complaining' about feeling/being fat and having one of those days where your body confidence and self esteem are low; I wouldn't want anyone who is feeling that they're having difficulties in that respect to feel that they can't talk to me about it.

How has your body image changed since high school? College?

My body image, confidence and self esteem has grown significantly since school. I was bullied throughout Primary and Secondary education; not always because of my weight, but mostly. There were very few of my peers who were around my size, or at least that was my perception; I was a size 16/18 around the time of leaving school, but I viewed myself as being a lot bigger. I felt ugly and abnormal because of my weight, as well as unfeminine and unattractive for lacking a 'womanly' shape. In addition to my weight I had acne, not to a significant extent but enough for it to play havoc with my body image. If you're familiar with me/my blog you'll know that my body confidence and self esteem have improved significantly over the years, but I'd say that my body image is still a work in progress.

Have you tried dieting? What happened?

I've been on either Weight Watchers or Slimming World at various points with various successes, although they've never really stuck. Some years ago I lost 1.5 stone and more recently (the latter part of last year) I lost over 2 stone (following Slimming World). I unfortunately found the return to university life difficult from a healthy eating perspective and gave up completely over the Christmas break, resulting in putting back on 1 stone or there abouts. Oh, yes, healthy eating - that's what I'm about now. No diets. No 'you can't have this or that', but tasty treats in moderation and plenty of nutritious fruit and vegetables. I say now but it's very, very hard to get back into having any kind of discipline over what you put in your mouth. But, it's for my own good; for my health, not for my size or my weight.

Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?

My Dad is fat, my Paternal Grandfather is fat, my Mum was fat and my Paternal Grandmother was fat. They've all been different sizes but predominantly fat. I believe that my body shape and size is genetic therefore my weight is at least partly genetic, however, the fact that I am fat is not (entirely) genetic. I'm sure nobody needs a Science lesson as to what fat is and how it forms, but a lot of it has to do with what I eat and how much I exercise.

Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?

I'm not completely unhealthy, but I could be healthier. People however, in general, assume that I am completely unhealthy because I am fat. You might catch me in a McDonalds once every 4 months but that single trip petrifies me because of the judgement imposed on me by society; many people seeing me eat that solitary meal will presume that is what I eat all the time. Even professionals assume I am unhealthy and that any new ailment is related to my weight; because of this (at least in part) I have been suffering with an undiagnosed and untreated sleep condition for nearly 10 years.

My difficulties and experiences are often belittled as being caused or effected by my weight. I'm also damned if I do and damned if I don't; going to the gym or exercise classes, or even exercising in a public space, could be a potential source of ridicule and have been in the past (I gave up doing PE at school for this very reason).

Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you're at? Have they always been?

My Dad is as supportive as he could possibly be as an older male trying to relate to his 26 year old daughter; he knows that I do my best to be healthy but that it's not always my main priority in life. He supports me when I am trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle but doesn't ridicule me when I am not, although he may make the odd comment on my 'grazing' habits on the odd occasion (I eat a lot) they are not meant to harm me. As far as I can recall my parents have never been negative towards my weight, I mean they would be a bit hypocritical if they were! As with most children I was taught and somewhat disciplined to eat vegetables that I disliked and generally had a balanced diet.

How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?

Stop segregating and hiding us. There is no shame in offering plus-size clothing, it does not need to be on the highest floor and in the furthest corner, that is on the rare occasion that it actually is available on the high street. Keep on trend but also offer us basics; why is it so hard to find a plain t-shirt that is the right length, fit and fabric for a plus-size woman?!

Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?

Look at the wording of this question and the original article and there is your answer. The magazine article chose to interview two women, not two men, or even a woman and a man. In addition, the question says 'how' which to me presumes the answer is yes. In my view, plus-size men are ignored and somewhat marginalised due to the acceptance of masculine fatness in society. It is presumed that plus-size men do not experience issues and that their opinion is irrelevant, but you would only need to look at the plus-size fashion options for men to see that there is very much a need for a discourse around what it is to be fat and male. Or at least that is my view, as a plus-size woman...

Do you think there's an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?

Lazy. Unhealthy. A burden on the NHS. A plague on society. Unattractive. Undesirable. Unwanted. A fetish. Desperate. I could probably think of a lot more if I sat down and really thought about it. I respond and I don't; it depends what it is, when it is, who it is, the context, how I am feeling at the time and probably 101 other things. For example, it is easier for me to challenge a random person that I don't know, than it is to challenge a friend, or to challenge a professional. However, sometimes I feel that 'random people' are not worth the time or the effort. Sometimes I am of the opinion that it isn't my responsibility to educate the world. Sometimes I really cannot be bothered. When you've had a lifetime of labels and self-fulfilling prophecies, it isn't easy to be that strong, educated, empowering person that you want to be.

Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?

No. Someone else's health and/or body is not your concern unless that person asks for it. I'm also pretty sure that the majority of people are aware of their weight and how 'concerning' it may or may not be, but I'm also pretty sure that whether they are or aren't aware expressing your 'concern' isn't going to help. My body, my rules.

What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?

I honestly couldn't specifically tell you anything that people have said, in my view the negativity is more to do with how people have made me feel. Equally, the majority of negativity that I now experience is indirect and is mostly related to the perceptions of fat people by society and my own perceptions of my body in conjunction with previous patterns of behaviour.

How did you respond?

See assumptions & stereotypes, the answer is pretty much the same.

What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?

Being complimented on my body or appearance is a strange concept to me and something that I have only recently started to accept; I am not very good at receiving compliments relating to anything to be honest. I'm not sure what people have said or what I'd wish them to say, I'd have to think a while on that, but I can tell you what not to say...for the love of all things please do NOT say that I'm curvy. I do not take it as a compliment because I am not/do not view myself to be curvy and I feel that saying it is purely trying to make my fatness fit in to yet another socially accepted norm/standard.

Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?

Yes, but predominantly through fat activism and blogging. I socialise with many fellow plus size bloggers, fat activists and fat people in general; particularly as I attend two fat-friendly club nights (Club Indulge and Big Girls Paradise) and run a monthly meet-up (fatchat). However, I do not choose my friends on the basis of their size and I will not necessarily be friends or get on with every fat person that I meet (in case that was not blatantly obvious), but I can certainly say that there are certain aspects of being fat that it is positive to share with other fat people.

How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?

Before I moved to London and started meeting new people and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, my dating and sex life was somewhat limited. Actually, my dating life was non-existent and my sex life sporadic. This was mostly down to a lack of confidence and issues with my body image; looking back it makes sense, as how could I expect anyone to find me attractive with such a negative outlook and perception of myself.

I wouldn't say my sex or dating life was perfect now or as active as I'd like it to be, but it's getting there. I feel more confident and beautiful than I have ever done so before and I am also starting to think about and own my sexuality, femininity and other such traits. Really it's not about my weight our about me being fat, but the effect that has had on my mentality.

When you've been single, has your weight affected your dating life?

See above, I don't think there's much point in separating the two.

Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?

Do you feel weird if the guy you're with only dates smaller women? I rest my case. (That means the answer is no, by the way. I don't feel weird or think it is weird at all).

Do you feel weird if he's only dated slimmer women before you?

See above. If someone finds me attractive, they find me attractive, end of.

The end! I'm not sure if I lost the will towards the end of this or if the questions were just straight forward for me. Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts and own perceptions! I'm really looking forward to reading the answers given by the other bloggers taking part, too. Here's the links so you can take a look as well:


Sunday, 23 February 2014

JABC (Feb)

Whoopsie, looks like I missed January's Just Another Blogging Challenge theme. Anyway, February's is 'Love is in the Air', it being Valentine's Day and all that jazz.

I've never been massively into Valentine's Day, nor am I against it. Yes I know it's corporate pocket lining nonsense but it's still, well, nice. Anyway, I'm not in a relationship so it's not of particular interest from that point of view...so, where else can I go with this theme? Some heart themed plus size fashion perhaps...


#1 New Look Inspire Monochrome Heart Print Sleeveless Shirt (Sizes 18-26, White or Navy), £17.99 
#2 Drown Soda True Love Double Heart Necklace, £8.99-£11.99
#3 Asos Curve Skater Dress in Cupid Heart Print (Sizes 18-28), £22.00
#4 AX Paris Heart Print Swing Dress from Simply Be (Sizes 12-30), £35.0

Don't forget to check out the rest of the JABC crew (or search #JABC on Twitter):

Steph – http://www.seeingspots.co.uk
Kaye – http://polishedcurves.com
Naomi – http://www.diamondsnpearls.co.uk
Victoria – http://www.thecurvedopinion.com
Em – http://terribletumbles.blogspot.co.uk
Beka - http://thegirlwiththeplait.blogspot.co.uk
Gemma – http://www.pinkgemmaplus.blogspot.co.uk
Katt – http://www.acurvycupcake.blogspot.co.uk
Toni - http://www.theleftofperfect.blogspot.co.uk
Abi - http://aisforabi.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Outside My Comfort Zone #26

Oops, I missed #25! Anyhow. This challenge is 'Looking Back' and was chosen by Stephanie (of Seeing Spots) who wrote: 'My theme is looking back and I’d like us to all look back over the last 12 months since the challenge started and see how we have changed.'

12 months ago is probably when I started wearing things I wouldn't normally wear, although I certainly wasn't as confident or as comfortable as I am now. There was a lot of new and interesting things going on in my life; such as my test shoot with Models of Diversity and being an Official Blogger for the first British Plus Size Fashion Weekend. Looking back, although the physical changes are probably only minor (hello longer, bright pink hair), mentally, in terms of body positivity, I have grown a lot and mostly for the better.

Images © Big Fat Betty, L-R: [Top] One of my first nights out with bare arms (March 2013) and My first bodycon (May 2013), [Bottom] A happier and 'pinkier' me (January 2014) | It's less than 12 months ago that I wore my first bodycon dress, and only recent (thanks to OMCZ) that I wore my first pencil skirt. I still have some body confidence issues, but I'm taking things one step at a time and blog challenges like this are a big part of that.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the OMCZ crew (or search #OMCZ on Twitter):

Natalie - http://awheelbarrowfullofstyle.blogspot.co.uk
Nikki - http://www.nattynikki.com

Stephanie - http://www.seeingspots.co.uk
Becky - http://www.doesmyblogmakemelookfat.com
Mary - http://www.marysbigcloset.blogspot.pt
Hollie - http://www.prettybigbutterflies.com
Erin - http://erinslittlebigcorner.blogspot.co.uk
Debz - http://www.wannabeprincess.co.uk
Becca - http://thegirlwiththeplait.blogspot.co.uk
Rebs - http://sullen-hearts.blogspot.co.uk
Katt - http://acurvycupcake.blogspot.co.uk
Leah - http://www.justmeleah.blogspot.co.uk
Mookie - http://muki7x7.blogspot.co.uk
Danielle - http://www.daniellerharris.com
Beverley - http://www.thecurvyword.com
Sam - http://fattyboomtatty.blogspot.co.uk
Gillian - http://www.weegillie.com
Sarah - http://plussizeproud.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Event: Plus Size Market

Images © Mookie (of Mookie's Life), L-R: Charlotte (of Black Heart Creatives), me and Mookie (of Mookie's Life); Carmen, Mookie (of Mookie's Life) and I; Miranda (Owner/Founder of Club Indulge) and Carmen, Mookie (of Mookie's Life), Miranda (Owner/Founder of Club Indulge), Leah (of Just Me Leah) and Debz (of Wannabe Princess) |  I am rather late with writing about this (and a lot of other things), oops! On Saturday 14 December I attended the Plus Size Christmas Market in North London, organised by Club Indulge. It was held at the 3 Oceans in North Finchley which was a lovely venue; the market was in the basement and there was a bar upstairs on the ground floor.

Entry to the event was £2 per person (with free mince pies and other snacks) and I paid £10 to have a stall, which went towards the cost of hiring the venue. I had a very generously sized table and Miranda (Owner/Founder of Club Indulge) also very kindly lent me a clothes rail. I'd brought so much with me though that I filled the space with ease!

After flitting about and generally getting in the way, I set up next to Mookie (of Mookie's Life) and Carmen. These lovely ladies kept me company throughout the afternoon along with Mookie's partner. Leah (of Just Me Leah) and her partner who joined us later on. Debz (of Wannabe Princess) also popped in for a browse and I also caught up with Anita Bellamy (of Plus Confidence in You) who was selling some lovely items of clothing.

Although there weren't masses of people selling items like you'd see at a car boot (for example), there was a great selection and plenty to be swapped and/or sold. In addition to the plus size ladies that had brought their clothing and accessories to pass on, there was also new lingerie, jewellery (shout out to the awesome Black Heart Creatives!) and a range of beauty treatments available. There was also a Costa just across the road, bonus!

Unfortunately the market wasn't very well attended, I don't know the exact numbers but I'm guessing I saw about 10 people max who didn't have stalls/were with a friend who had a stall. I only sold a couple of items but at least covered my costs for the day, which I know many did not and this can be off-putting to people to try again.

I did still enjoy myself and I'm glad that I went, but I had thought that this would have been of interest to a lot of people so I am still a little puzzled as to why people didn't attend. Not anyone's fault at all, these things can't be helped and we (or rather the people that put on these great events) can only keep trying.