Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. Be you a lover or a hater, I hope you’re having a good day. I’ve always liked it. It’s nice to have day to celebrate love. I mean sure, we should be spreading it all year round. It is still nice to have day dedicated to getting smoochy.
I don’t have one true love this year, but I can still have a little fun with v day. Fun aside, I find this year that I am thinking about someone in particular. Someone I probably ought not to ponder over, but I can’t help myself.
Sometimes you feel a connection to a person even when it makes no sense. You go through the hurt and happy. Back to pain Then more happy. It’s impossible, puzzling & never going to work. You still can’t entirely walk away. Or is this just me?
I’m not sure why easy rarely features in my romantic choices. Perhaps I like a challenge. I do know it’s hard to give up on a person who feels like home.
My sister planned a gorgeous trip for my 40th birthday present. Unfortunately Covid put paid to her plans. Last week we were able finally to set off on a different, but equally lovely getaway. It was worth the wait.
She found a swish spa hotel Mull & we embarked upon an island adventure. We spent a little longer than expected in Oban due to a ferry cancellation, but made the most of our time. A stop at the book shop to stock the boy with local themed books followed by a wander around McCaig’s Tower made for a splendid start.
My nephew was very excited to drive onto the big boat. He loved spotting Islands & lighthouses even more. The views from the ferry were beautiful, but the island scenes stole the show. Mull is magical. The autumn foliage gave everything a folklore feel.
The wild sea views from out hotel were even more spectacular. Located right on the ocean shore overlooking the sound, it was perfect. Our suite came with its own hot tub much to the boy’s delight. He adored jumping into the bubbly water in the pouring rain & watching out for lighthouse beacon. We swam everyday after our explorations. Then rounded off the day in soaking in the pitch black.
We spent our days enjoying winding drives amidst stunning scenery. The landscape was so captivating that we had to stop more than once to drink it in. We visited Tobermory (or Balamory to the boy), perused the local crafts in gift shops & baa’d enthusiastically at many sheep.
My clever sister found us the most incredible deserted beach at Calgary Bay. A cove of silver sands & slatey blue sea. Our little beach bum built a sand pirate ship, terrified me with seaweed & had the time of his life. It was one of those completely perfect days that I know I’ll always remember. I sat on the freezing cold sand, listening to the waves with the boy on my knee. I could feel his little heart beating from his toddler exertions and felt wholly happy.
Needless to say we have all fallen in love with Mull.
On one of my recent insomnia fuelled drives for distraction I stumbled upon an interview that persists in my thoughts. It was Anderson Cooper discussing grief & loss with Stephen Colbert. Both had significant losses early in life. Anderson talked of wishing he had been physically marked by the experience. This is of course a reality I am familiar with. Which led to some slightly self indulgent word therapy.
He talked about how he felt it might be easier to have a permanent sign of the damage so that others may be aware of his condition. An idea I suspect he’d soon realise the error of if he actually did bear a mark of loss. He continued that he thought people should know that he wasn’t necessarily the person he should be. Tragic events had diverted him from the person he started life as. This concept felt lifted from my very own brain. Of course much thinking ensued.
When Anderson talked of being marked he suggested a scar running down his face. His reasoning being that in the wake of his mother’s recent death people had offered condolences, but also shared their experiences of loss. He found this sharing to be comforting and it’s not a thing that generally happens. The scar would show his pain & people would feel able to have those conversations. Colbert agreed in part as he recognised the feeling of his loss being a continual part of his life, whilst the world at large rarely considers it. All sentiments I relate to. I do often struggle with just how often I think of my babies when they’re rarely acknowledged by anyone else. That led me to ask myself questions I had thought settled.
I understand their reasoning, my experience just doesn’t bear it out. The look of my self harm was never a factor I gave much thought. Outside of the need to hide it from others, the visual of impact was a non issue. I never cared. Ugly scars were just a by product of a necessary thing. The pain & blood & release & expiation were essential. If mutilation was a consequence of that so be it. I don’t think it occurred to me that I had another option. Yet, now, clothed in the aftermath it does seem fitting.
If I could exclude third party reaction it would make sense. I can see a twisted symmetry in my flesh being ravaged, but still living. At my core that’s how I feel. I contributed to my destruction and then I toiled to repair the ruin. Of course, you can’t escape the opinions of others. Those who care about you are hurt by the reminder of your pain. Those who don’t know you are as often cruel as kind. Carrying your story everywhere is a complicated matter. Anderson might end up preferring the anonymity of a metaphorical scar.
The second part is harder to reason. For a very long time I wanted nothing more than to be the person I was before. It took me years to accept that wasn’t possible & several more to realise that wasn’t my fault. I still missed that fun, capable, handle it all girl. Still wondered what she may have become, but I didn’t hate the me that life had created anymore. Little by little I learned to like myself. I started to believe that might be able to take all the broken pieces & make something beautiful.
The universe had other ideas. It really does enjoy smashing me up. Each time I lost a bit making a whole seemed less & less likely. Now that I know for sure how unlikely, those other mes feel important again. I keep thinking about who I could have been. Which variation of myself was I supposed to be?
I can’t help but imagine that original version of myself would have made a shinier, happier life. That 19yr old was a powerful force. She’d have been unstoppable at forty. Even if I’d sustained the original hit there all there a still multiple variants. All these possible lys that could have existed if you subtract chips along the way. Sure, that could probably be said for anyone; I just don’t know if everyone can so clearly identify the points of impact. It makes it easier to compare the before & after.
I had made peace with the person I am. I don’t reject her now. The what if’s have simply grown louder. There could have been so much more. In the end I don’t care about the scars. I’d even take Cooper’s imagined facial disfigurement if it gave me a chance at one of those parallel lives. The older I get, the more certain I become; I want the more.
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Global warming has given us another insane heatwave. It’s hard to keep cool in this weather. If you are concerned about what others may say about any flesh you reveal, it’s even harder. So, I thought I’d cover some old ground just in case any new readers need some tips. Here’s my guide to getting comfortable with your body.
Look at yourself.
I think the first step is looking at yourself. Really look. Stop avoiding mirrors and rushing to get dressed after a showers. Get comfortable naked. And in your underwear. And different types of clothes. Touch yourself, not the way (well, that way if you want). When it comes to your body familiarity does not breed contempt. Getting to know your body leads to acceptance, which is the first step to self love. You’ll be surprised how quickly you learn to enjoy your jiggle.
Photograph yourself every chance you get. Selfies, nights out, big events, pictures of your feet, anything. Get used to looking at yourself living your life. I used to duck out of pictures because I hated the way I looked in them. Forcing myself to be present in those pictures plus taking hundreds of myself is the only thing that let me see the truth. I didn’t like the things society had taught me not to like. I hated my rounder face, flabby arms & chunky calves because I thought I had to be something else to be worthy. Once I started appreciating those pictures for what they were; a record of living, I could enjoy them. The more I looked at images of myself and others the more I could see that everyone had those terrible unflattering shots where they look nothing like themselves. Everyone had those snaps that amplify their perceived flaw. Everyone has those pictures in which we miraculously look like a model version of ourselves. None of it matters. What matters is having the memory of that time & place. Capturing that moment of you living your life. Seeing myself living & loving in those pictures showed me that my body was absolutely good enough. Your body is just the vehicle that allows you experience the world. What you look like at any given time matters much less than what you’re feeling & seeing & loving.
Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Change your reading, watching & following habits. Ditch investing in anything that is focused on diet culture & traditional beauty standards. Discovering the Body Positive blogging community changed my life. For the first time I was seeing fat people who liked themselves. People with bodies similar to mine proudly taking up space & looking amazing. When you submerse yourself in spaces that reject fat phobia you begin to feel differently about yourself. To begin with I was in awe of those plus bloggers. I thought I could never have their confidence or be so beautiful. As I learned more about bopo and started unlearning all I previously been taught about my body, I had a revelation. If these fat women I was admiring were stunning, sexy & elegant then I could be too. If I see beauty in other fat bodies then what I despise about myself is not my wobbly belly. Click unfollow on anything that makes you feel not good enough. Replace that stuff with content that embraces diversity and honours people who look like you.
Make a list of all of the things you want to do but feel you can’t because you are fat. Not just wild ambitions, everything. Do you worry about eating crisps on the bus? Think you shouldn’t wear a short skirt or even shy away from getting on top with your lovers? Put it all on the list and then start doing them. Start living your life. Pick the easiest ones first. Trust me, your confidence will grow. There will always be someone who does not like you loving your fat self. There will sometimes be looks or comments. You will stop feeling crushed by them. When you realise how much you gain from accepting your body as it is and experiencing your life to the max, someone saying you’re fat no longer matters. Losing weight will not make you happier. All you problems shrink to fit into your smaller body. You can live now.
Stay tuned for my advice on avoiding all the discomforts summer can bestow on is chubs.
1. My BFF’s baby turned 1 year old. I’m still not sure I completely believe it. It feels like it’s been a whisper of time since we welcomed her into world. Her first birthday party was as delightful as she is. I am excited to watch her grow. I’m also beyond thrilled to my bestie so utterly happy.
2. The leaves are doing their magical autumn thing & turning all the beautiful burnished tones. I love this season. I love trees. I love when Mother Nature starts doing her thing.
3. As the nights turn chilly the tv heats up. This year the bar has been set high. The Bodyguard & Killing Eve smashed it. Upping the game for proper must see tv. The return of No Offence has filled the Joanne Scanlon sized whole in my life. With Line of Duty on the way back soon I may never leave the house again. What do they all have in common, incredible intelligent female leads. It is fucking lovely to see so many strong fully formed parts for women. Oh & a good Glaswegian showing too.
4. My big brother also had significant birthday this year. I can’t say I’m that happy that he’s turned 40 because it means it’s proper looming for me. I am however delighted that he threw such a good party.
5. Tess Holliday rocking the cover of Cosmopolitan. Here’s the thing, I’m not actually a massive Tess fan & I’m definitely not a Cosmo fan at all, but I still love her cover. It’s progress. The photograph was a joyful declaration that fat women aren’t going anywhere. We exist, we are accomplished, beautiful, strong, diverse & we deserve representation. Also, Piers Morgan still has his knickers in a twist about. Upsetting Piers is always a plus (see what I did there???).
6. The nights may be drawing in, but they’re doing it in style. The last few weeks have produced some stunning sunsets. I was lucky enough to capture this beauty.
7. Then there was that day that I woke up with a bloody gorgeous arse. A very different view, but no less impressive.
8. I suspect I’m late to the party again with this one. Better late than never though. I only recently discovered Cigarettes After Sex and have fallen completely in love. Their music is ethereal, sensual & poignant in equal measures. Do yourself a favour & add them to your playlist.
9. September 18 will go down in history as the month that I finally mastered the glittery smokey eye. It took almost 4 decades, but just look at this magnificent artistry.
20. Which brings me nearly to my final entry; my birthday. On Saturday I will turn 38. Yup, that’s scary. I plan to celebrate the hell out of it anyway. Stay tuned for birthday hi jinx.
Last week I received a package that thrilled me. I commissioned a portrait from the incredibly talented Spunk Rock Star. She is an artist I discovered on Instagram & can not get enough of.
My portrait is, of course wonderful. I selected a picture of myself from a few summers ago. I had spent the day on the most beautiful beach with special people and felt completely content. Helen (aka spunk rock) totally captured that serenity. I can’t wait to get it framed & find it a perfect spot to live.
Having a stunning portrait of myself feels very decadent. I can’t recommend it enough. If you want to take my advice, Helen will not disappoint. She also creates super sexy kink art, which I just love. Her Etsy has great sales regularly, you can pick up originals, prints & even these very cool pins. The very best way to support independent artists is to buy their work. I think for a long time I was a little intimidated by the idea of commissioning art, but I am so glad I got over that. I’ve bought some brilliant & unique pieces from artists (mostly found on insta) this year. I definitely intend to continue because it’s doubly satisfying; you get an exceptional hand crafted item & you know you supported someone in doing the thing they love. It’s a good feeling!
This week’s celebrated woman is someone I have the pleasure of knowing. She is a bopo goddess, a thrifting maven, accomplished public speaker & possibly the bubbliest person I’ve ever met. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Hayley Angell.
I met Hayley at a blogger event in Glasgow & was instantly impressed by her vintage look. I was also a little intimated by her polished confidence. I don’t find these events very easy. I have a lot of anxiety around new people & situations. I have even more anxiety about hiding my discomfort. The moment I spoke to Hayley I felt more at ease. Her sincere warmth allowed me to collect myself & have a good time.
I obviously immediately commenced following her on social media and have done so since. Hayley’s accounts are bursting with life affirming energy. Her honesty about her body positive journey; discarding control garments, trying new activities & generally enjoying her body is inspiring. She recently discussed her experiences as a plus size women taking burlesque classes. Despite outward proclamations of inclusivity she still felt it was assumed that fat women would be less assured. She got the sense that fatter folk were quietly ushered into the background. It takes guts to be open about this stuff. Even more to be honest about how often we convince ourselves that we belong at the back of class. Thus, she used her Instagram account to launch #stepforward a reminder to all plus size people that we are worthy of taking up space & being seen.
The Body Positive community has given me so much. I always want to say thank you to those who inspire me. I also want to spread their work because I know it can bring others happiness. Hayley is one of those fabulous women who can help you change how you see yourself. She is an insta must follow.
Bopo aside Hayley is, as I mentioned, a thrifting magician. Her Instagram is worth following for her second hand style alone. If you need tips on trawling the charity shops for fashion gold, Hayley is your woman. If you simply enjoy seeing a person enjoy themselves & clothes, she is still your gal.
I’ve only met Hayley in person once, but I would not be without her online presence in my life. For a shot of genuine self love, go press those follow buttons.
A couple of weeks ago I got in a taxi (not an unusual occurrence) & engaged in the usual polite conversation with the driver. The weather, had I had a nice day & so on. Then he went quiet for a minute & said ‘can I ask your advice on something?’
This is the kind of question that usually rings alarms bells, but for some reason I decided to give this guy a chance. He had talked about his children in our short conversation & came across as a decent person. I’m glad I trusted my gut. He wanted advice on how to help his son, who had been self harming.
The taxi driver never alluded to my scars, but I presume that’s why he thought I might have advice to offer. He explained a bit about his son. How he had changed schools after a move, found it hard to make new friends, become more insular. Then how his wife had discovered their son had been injuring himself & how they were both lost. They’re son didn’t want to speak to anyone about it, they didn’t know if they should force the issue. He was increasingly unhappy, so far their attempts to help had been unsuccessful. It broke my heart. This man clearly loved his child. It was just as clear that he was utterly out of his depth.
So, I told him I had experience with self harm. Explained that it could serve a few functions. That is was habit forming & yes, it was a sign that his son was really struggling. I stressed that I wasn’t a professional mental health worker & that everyone was different, but in my experience it was best to get help as soon as possible. It was also important not to make his son feel forced into anything. Research some options & present them to his son, try to let him make choices. I suggested he make it clear that he & his wife were always available to talk about anything & offered some organisations he could contact for more advice. That was about as much as I felt able to say to a stranger during a taxi ride. I didn’t know any details of what was going on for his son, so I didn’t know what would be best for him. It felt insufficient, but when we arrived at my destination he refused to take payment. He said my words had lifted a load because now he felt like there was help for his son & he had an idea of how to find it. I got emotional, wished him the very best & thanked him for my free lift home. We parted & are unlikely to meet again.
So, why am I telling you this? I’m sharing because the more I think about it the surer I am that this kind of thing should happen more often. I think the reason it doesn’t is stigma. That taxi driver took a chance; he shared sensitive information & asked me to do the same. He dared to break a taboo & admit that he needed help. The result, hopefully is that his family will find that help. How many people struggle with mental health problems and never find the courage to ask for help? How many people just never know who they can turn to?
I’d love to live in a world where it didn’t even take courage to tell someone you’re hurting. It shouldn’t be so hard or so hidden.
If you are experiencing mental health difficulties it is imperative that you seek help right away. Mental Illness almost always get worse & harder to treat when left to fester. There is no shame in not being ok. You deserve any & all hell to feel as good as you can.
Your GP is always a good first step. Take someone you trust to advocate for you if you can.
MIND offer a variety of local services. You can find the in your area here.
SANE offer specialised mental health support. You can contact them on 0300 304 7000.
You can also call The Samaritans 24/7, 365 days a year on 116 123 or email email@example.com
I’ve had a busy week. My days have been shared between being sick as a dog and being blissfully happy. Ideally I’d have forgone the first few days of stomach misbehaviour, but a few days glorious days with my tiniest nephew definitely made up for it. Anyway, both kept me busy & left me short on blogging time. Thus, I give you, another quickie.
This week I’m shouting about statement earrings. I have a bunch of ear piercings and vacillate between loving & neglecting my earring collection. I am very much on an oversized kick at the moment. If it’s dangly, chunky or brightly coloured I’m into to it. I feel so much more dressed up when I hook a giant decoration on my ear.
The only trouble I’m having is finding designs that everyone doesn’t have. As much as I love those big tassel earrings, they are just everywhere. Regular readers may have noticed that I like to put my own twist on things. Luckily for me I managed to find these beauties without breaking the bank.
Oh & yes that is another sneaky Nyx purchase. I can’t resist their liquid suede range, especially when the shade perfectly matches my nails.
So, hello, brand new year. Unfortunately it’s also hello to diet talk overload. Yup, it’s everywhere. The diet industry goes crazy in January. Over the years I have managed to switch off from most of the weight watcher ads & gym discount flyers. I basically make it my business to mute the diet industry; I don’t buy magazines that tell me I’m not good enough, I don’t follow social media accounts that constantly talk about weight loss & I shun brands that use body shaming in their advertising. Of course, I also actively participate the body posi community. This works well for me. However, more and more I am realising that I simply cannot escape the notion that fat is just awful. The problem is that lots of the people I really like & choose to have in my life are, to be frank, fat phobic.
I understand that everyone will not share my views on body positivity. I also accept that other people are free to do whatever the choose with their own bodies. In fact I am delighted when people find a way to love themselves. However they do it, finding genuine peace with yourself is a wonderful thing & I applaud anyone who gets there. What I don’t appreciate is having to listen to all the fat phobic crap that others believe in. I will never understand why people think it is ok to express their revulsion of fat people to me, a fat person. If you had brown hair & I repeatedly made negative comments about brown hair, you’d probably feel hurt, or pissed off. Well, surprise, surprise, fat people have feelings too.
You can feel however you like about your own or other people’s bodies. If you want to do slimming world or Atkins or eat raw, knock yourself out. Run & lift & body pump until your heart’s content. If your internal voice mocks & degrades others based on their physical appearance that probably needs investigation, but it’s still entirely your affair. Once you voice those insults out loud, they become my business too & the truth is, I don’t want to hear it.
I do not want to hear how terrible you think celebs looks when they gain weight. I don’t want to listen to your jibes about naked fat bodies in movies. When you talk in disgusted tones about your own fat, you are telling me what you think of me. Your talk of how your own much thinner body is not fit to carry a child or how being fat makes a person a terrible parent, you are commenting on my abilities. Every time you comment ‘I’m a fat bitch’ on picture of food you ate or tell me what is ‘bad’ about every item on a menu you are pushing your issues on me.
And here’s the thing, I can’t stop you. You are free to say & feel whatever you please. You can hate your body & my body & Rebel Wilson’s body & Cameron Diaz’s body too. You can laugh & be rude. You can continue to say right to my face that you find people like me to be entirely undeserving of respect. I presume that often you are oblivious. I get it. Sometimes we are blinded by our own internal struggle. Everyone has moments of complete, but unintentional insensitivity. Sometimes, though, you know. You know that you are degrading fat people in front of a fat person. Mostly, we’ll let you get away with it. I know I do. I excuse & ignore. I tell myself you did not mean to be cruel. Well, no more. This is me giving notice. In the future I intend to point out that the body you’re mocking is just like mine. I will tell you that I don’t want to hear about your diet. I will mute you on social media if your timeline is toxic because I can do as I please too. I choose not to engage in anymore bullshit. I wish you well with your own self love journey, but I will no longer be party to my own debasement. You do you. I am going to do me.