The ethical fatty paradox…

I’ve been working on/thinking about this piece for a while, but there have been moving parts. With COP26 happening a few miles from my doorstep now seemed the time to float it.

Finnisteon crane, the armadillo & hydro buildings on clydeside

I’m a big supporter of supporting small brands, especially local ones. The benefits of shopping small are multi fold and many naturally align themselves with anti climate change measures. Ethical business practices including zero waste, natural ingredients, recycling materials, vegan products, less environmental impact of using locally sourced material & taking to market close to that source are all more prevelant (& easier to confirm) in small business. There are of course also the direct human impacts of living wages, supporting passion projects & allowing sustainable lifestyles to thrive. It all adds up to small brands being a sensible & compassionate way to spend your money.

What’s more, this thinking is going mainstream. We’re all really staring to get on board with this thinking. It’s a slow burn, but the flames are building. Ethical consumption is becoming a hot topic. All of which is wonderful, except for the people who are excluded. There are barriers to ethical shopping. Some of which are not at the fault of the business. For example, cost. Paying a living wage, sourcing ethical material, handmade items etc all necessarily drive up price. That more people can afford those prices is a societal issue (which also massively impacts climate change). However, sometimes the exclusion is a choice & that’s where your favourite fat nag comes in.

As a fat disabled freelancer I find myself forced to buy from places that would not be first choice. Having a variable income & a fat arse means I have to rely on fast fashion much more than I would I like. I do really try to support ethical brands, but with clothes in particular it is a struggle. I usually wear a uk 20/22, which though on the smaller side of the plus range, is still battle underrepresented outside the big high street brands. If I did not have access to the internet my wardrobe would rapidly diminish. I would love to shop in the many cool independent shops that Glasgow has spurned, but it honestly isn’t possible. There are limited options for t shirts & more expensive made to measure items. For most items, matching even high end big brand prices is still a dream.

The reason it’s taken me so long to put this together is that I tried a little fashion experiment. I searched a selection of small independent stores in Glasgow for my own or larger sizes. When I couldn’t find any I contacted the shops to enquire if they planned to expand their ranges to include larger people. The answers I received (or not) were deeply predictable.

Amaryllis Boutique

The largest size I could find on their site was a UK 20 & that was only a few items. I contacted them late September to ask if they had any plans to extend their range of sizes. I have yet to receive a response.

Hayley McSporran Studio

The largest size I could find on this site was a UK 18. This brand is billed as slow fashion made in Glasgow. I contacted them in late September & did receive a quick response. However, it was the familiar story of being a very small brand & so unable to expand their sizing. I’ve never bought this argument as an independent small batch creator is entirely in control of what they produce. If inclusivity were a priority they would work it out.

Nancy Smillie

This site was the most confusing. Most of their clothes had no size information at all. I contacted the shop mid September & received a quick reply. Their clothes are ‘one size fits all’, which apparently will fit a size 12-18 depending on required fit. I’m sure all my fellow fatties will be as dubious of ‘one size’ as I am. It almost always mean, not for you. However, when I asked about plans to extend sizing they did say that added new lines/designers every season and they may stock larger sizes in the future. Although that answer is vague it did at least show willingness to expand.

Gallus Alice

I contacted this shop in late July to ask if the had plans to extend their size range & have yet to receive a response. The biggest size I could find on their website was an XL & that was only available for some t-shirts. There’s no size guide on the site, so I don’t know what the XL translates to. I can say that I have tried to shop here (they have lots of cool things) & nothing came close to fitting me.

Pampas Glasgow

The largest size I could find on their site was UK 16. I contacted them in August & have yet to receive a response.

The point of this experiment is not to damage these brands. They are all small independent businesses stocking desirable fashion. Rather I just want to show the lack of options for the would be ethical fat consumer. Please continue to patronise independent local boutiques. It is important that we help this type of business flourish. However, if you notice that your fav has a limited size range please ask them about that. There is a huge untapped market, we need customers to show interest in larger sizes to prove that.

If you are looking for small Scottish brands to support you can find some here & here .

Wilde life…

I am incredibly excited to be working* with the amazing Wilde Mode again. They make the best knickers (& more) in the entire world. Handmade, perfect fit and the coolest prints. What more could I ask for?

Well, let me tell you. Inclusive sizing (xxs – 10xl), eco friendly materials & packaging, diverse advertising, all staff earning a living wage, gender neutral, vegan owned, zero fabric waste & they even plant a tree for every parcel they send. This is exactly the kind of small business we should all be supporting.

Plus, the products are as good as their ethics. I simply can’t get enough these high waisted knickers. I don’t know why but having a big FU on my knickers makes dealing with rotten days so much easier.

If you need even more incentive, there’s still time to grab a bargain in the summer sale. Go!

* Brand Ambassador.

The tiniest lifeboat…

My mood has been struggling to stay a float of late. I’m trying hard not to wallow, so I’m going back to basics & celebrating my lifeboat moments.

The sun came out. A few bright, fresh days have made me a little perkier. Shaking off a few layers & enjoy the outdoors. I even shaved my legs for the first time in forever. Mr sun better not disappear.

Pale white legs with green words tattooed on calf

Receiving surprise Easter treats. My clever little nephew found my favourite choccies (I think his Mummy helped). I am excited to get stuck into my delicious minty egg & luxurious floral fondants. All vegan & completely yummers.

Hotel Chocolate  Mint Easter Egg & Violet Creams

Having a swing park adventure. The stay at home order has prevented me seeing my little ones as much as I like. That of course makes every adventure extra special. This week I got to play pirates in the swing park with the boy. He made some new friends to enlist into his band of pirates. He is always the Captain, Auntie ly gets to be the bad octopus pirate & much hilarity ensues.

ly is laughing in a swing park with her nephew behind her
Toddler in cloud leggings going down a slide on his tummy

A mini makeover will go along way when total transformation isn’t possible. I’ve been hating my ugly brown sofas for ages, but have failed to find a replacement I love. Not being able to physically shop hasn’t helped. Who wants to buy a sofa without ever plonking their bum on it? After much deliberation I seized upon a colourful temporary solution. I’m super pleased with the results.

Before
After

Stay at home order lifted. I am beyond excited that we’re actually on the road out of lockdown. The weather is coming up, infection rates coming down; if this keeps up we could be in for a bloody good summer.

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Pigs in zen…

I turn 40 this month, which means I have to accept that I‘m definitely an adult. Thus I realise that I will not achieve some the things I wanted to when I was grew up. One such thing being, rescuing animals from slaughter.

I’m not fit enough to care for farm animals, so my dreams of saving livestock & showering them with love will not be realised. The next best thing is to visit & support sanctuaries who can do just that. Which brings me to September’s Charity of month. Tribe Sanctuary does exactly what I dreamed of; they rescue and care for animals that might otherwise end up on someone’s plate.

Tribe sanctuary logo

You can visit this gorgeous brood, gift items from their amazon wish list or make a simple cash donation. I have always been passionate about animal rights. I believe all creatures should be respected and cared for. Look at these wee faces & tell me they don’t deserve all the love.

Orange and black highland cows eating straw
Moorag & Lachlan
Piglet in front of fireplace
Huxley
White ram with black spots on face eating grass
Rooster on grass with chickens in background
Rudy

You keep making me ill…

Body Positivity has crept into the public conversation. On the surface it seems body diversity is gaining ground. We see larger models in ad campaigns. The high street is beginning to pay a little more attention to fat customers. Social Media is awash with bopo content. However, if you scratch the surface virulent fat phobia still thrives. Any progress is good, but the dangerous aspects of weight stigma remains strong. Medical bias against fat bodies wreaks havoc. As a chronically ill fat woman I frequently face this issue. In ten years of battling illness and the medical community, I have seen little improvement.

When I began having health issues, I accepted the consensus that was fat was bad and thin was good. I was in the process of some seriously unhealthy dieting when I initially experienced quite serious gastric pain. There were other symptoms, vomiting & difficulty eating, but pain was the standout. I progressed from short bursts to hour long stints of excruciating pain. My GP said it was most likely indigestion and/or heart burn. They could be surprisingly painful, I was told. Change my diet, lose some weight and things will improve. I tightened up my already drastic diet and continued to lose weight. My symptoms did not improve. In fact, they worsened. I began to have prolonged periods of pain. It would last for days at a time, leaving me unable to eat or move or sleep. It felt torturous. By this time, I was being sent to A&E by my GP and attending myself when the pain become unbearable. Drs continued to tell me it was heartburn/indigestion. They all said the same thing, change your diet and lose weight. I was prescribed omeprazole but had no investigation. No one listened when I told then I was hardly eating. No one cared that I was losing lots of weight. All the DR’s were dismissive of my pain. Most were patronising. Some were hostile. No one helped. This continued for over a year. On my penultimate visit to A&E I was in so much pain I could barely talk. I had thrown up so much that I was only bringing up bile & blood. I saw a deeply unpleasant man who vacillated between me being an hysterical woman and being convinced I was an addict seeking drugs. He gave me a cup of peptac (which I promptly threw up) and sent me home. I felt utterly beaten that night. I knew something was very wrong.There was no way I could feel this bad and there not be problem. But no one would listen. I was tired of being judged and looked down upon. I went home and cried.

Luckily, my mum visited me a few hours later. She was shocked when she saw the state I was in and insisted we return to A&E. With someone fighting (& I do mean fighting) fit to advocate for me I was finally taken seriously. A Dr finally ordered the simple blood test that would diagnose me with pancreatitis. By the time those bloods results came back my body had gone into shock. Had I not returned to the hospital that night I would have likely died. I spent 7 days in HDU. I was catheterised. Fed only fluids via drip and given a morphine pump. I don’t even recall that first week in hospital.

Afterwards I discovered that although I didn’t fit the usual profile for pancreatitis (often older men, big meat eaters, heavy drinkers), I did have classic symptoms. The pain I had been describing was textbook. The onset and progression of symptoms was exactly what was to be expected of pancreatitis. Had someone taken a minute to listen to me I could have been diagnosed on my first trip to A&E. I really believe if I hadn’t been a fat woman, that’s probably what would have happened.

I had several more bouts of pancreatitis and a number of gallbladder issues were diagnosed in the subsequent months. Ironically, I was to discover that my weight was not the problem. The most likely culprit was spending my 20’s yo-yo dieting. The fad dieting & resultant weight loss that Dr’s had always encouraged made me ill.

Almost dying because medical professionals wouldn’t look past the size of my belly wasn’t horror enough, I have also since been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. A condition I did not suffer from before all the trouble with my pancreas. Pain specialists have told me that the physical and emotional trauma of such a prolonged period of undiagnosed severe illness is likely to have caused the fibro. So, I not only had to suffer multiple times with acute pancreatitis, I will now deal with chronic pain for the rest of my life. I wonder how different my story would if I were a size 10.

Near death experiences aside, almost every medical interaction I have involves some discussion about my weight. With multiple chronic conditions I am a complicated case. Every new symptom no matter how unconnected involves answering questions and listening to lectures about how fat I am. I must push for investigations & interventions because the first advice is always ‘lose weight’. Often, I must identify possible problems via my own research. You would be shocked at the number of times professionals have dismissed my concerns only for my theory to be confirmed when they finally do the necessary tests. I have my cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure tested an inordinate number of times and am usually met with shock that they all measure within ideal levels. When I tell medical professionals that I do not wish to discuss weight loss, my request is usually ignored. Explaining that I endured years of disordered eating and misery related to trying to reduce my size has no impact. My mental wellbeing seems entirely unimportant. Even when I am brutally honest about the fact the I used to starve myself, purge & use appetite suppressants Dr’s still advise diet plans. When my eating was at its most disordered, I was never dangerously thin. So, I was never considered at risk. The sizest attitude towards eating disorders is a whole safety issue in itself. For the record I am vegan with digestive issues that limit my diet. It would be difficult for me substantially change what I eat even if I was inclined to. All this falls on deaf ears. Weight loss remains a priority for almost every Dr I see. When I have stomach flares and lose weight because I can’t eat, I am congratulated. When I am in hospital unable to stop vomiting nurses will joke, they wish they couldn’t eat for a while. It is relentless and exhausting.

*

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Fat does not necessarily mean unhealthy. Even for those who would benefit from lifestyle changes will not be motivated by harsh judgement. The impact on mental health of all this fat shaming is enormous. We know that diets do not work. Most people regain all the weight they lose and more within a year. We also know that yo-yo dieting damages our bodies. Medical weight stigma makes people less inclined to seek medical advice. If you know you will be shamed and belittled and ultimately get no help anyway, you stop asking. This bias against fat patients is dangerous on so many levels. It’s a risk to our mental health, to our physical wellbeing and to our very lives.

* health-and-the-fat-girl.tumblr.com

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Check my nails…

I’m finding all this stormy weather a bit of a style block. It’s hard to look put together in a gale. The desire to stay even somewhat warm & dry is cramping my sartorial creativity. I have therefore expressed my individuality on my finger nails.

The Baba helped me select a new sparkly polish & I used it to full effect on this shatter design.

I can never get enough of that glossy black polish.

The non stop downpour inspired me to get a little nautical. There is certainly more romance on a wild sea than a drenched city street.

All those grey skies called for a little colour.

If a little colour feels good, one might as well go for a lot of colour too.

It’s getting hot in here…

It is hot. Too hot for some of us. Fat bodies have a few trouble spots in these kind of temperatures. This is my guide to keeping cool & comfortable.

Sunblock

I know this is pretty obvious, but it is essential. Remember to reapply often & maybe even up your factor. Also check that your sunscreen protects you from UVA & UVB rays.

Aloe Vera

If you do get a little too much sun, aloe vera is amazing for sunburn. Just pop a leave on the fridge and squeeze the gel inside straight into your skin. It is instantly soothing. Even if you’re not burnt the sun can dry you out & aloe is also an amazing moisturiser.

Beat the Chub Rub

Thunder thighs are glorious, but they don’t half chafe when you slip a sun dress on. I used to rely on bicycle shorts, but I hated having to add another layer. I was delighted to discover Ivy Verdure. It’s a stick that you roll directly onto your thighs and the will glide off each other all day. I’ve thoroughly tested it and it really works. It will last all day. Even when you’re dripping with sweat & on the go for hours it holds up. You can use it to prevent blisters too. Oh & of course it’s vegan.

Talc

Bung some on the soles of your feet to stop your shoes getting gross when you feet are going in bare. A little under big breasts holds off the dreaded boobs sweat.

Ditch the Underwire

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I cannot cope with underwired bras on this heat. For the last few months I’ve been thanking my stars that I found Wilde Mode comfort tops. They’re super comfortable & supportive. Plus cute as hell. My second bra recommendation for my more well endowed folks are these amazing invisible vests from Primark. They are the slinkiest, loveliest vests I’ve ever worn. They hold my frankly ridiculously saggy tits firmly in place whilst feeling like they aren’t even there.

Spritz Yourself

If you haven’t already, get yourself some cool spray. It’s everywhere from high end brands to the poundshop. Weird as it seems, it really works. Just a little can of water & some magic things that stay cold. Keep it on your handbag & spray on your pulse points for a quick chill down.

Hydrate

This is most likely apparent to all. Just in case, drink water. Lots of it. As much as you can get on your gob. Hydrate, hydrate, hysdrate.

Do You

Last, bit absolutely not least, wear whatever the hell you want. You don’t have to ‘get in shape’ for summer. You don’t have to hide anything. All clothes are for all bodies. Have fun, feel good & wear what you like.

My week in pictures…

Last week I tried to cheer myself up with a change of scene and mini treats. I had a little work in Edinburgh, so I booked a hotel and mixed business with some pleasure.

I received an exciting offer that included a photo shoot. I wasn’t sure I was up to doing a big scary thing, but pushing myself was a good idea. I definitely needed a reminder that other people recognise my talents. Work aside I took the opportunity to see a couple of my Edinburgh people whilst I was through. I spent an evening each with a couple of my favourite men and even got a tad drunkity two nights in a row. I rarely do much past 6pm these days. It was bloody lovely to get dressed up and have some adult fun. Cocktails & carry on was the perfect distraction.

ly h kerr, rose wine, Edinburgh castle, neon lights Nail art, lingerie selfie, #projectpostit and blurry lights

It was also amazing to relax. Stepping away from my day to day life made it possible for me to temporarily shut off the falling apart portion of my mind. Crisp white sheets, starting my day with a swim and a yummy breakfast (that I didn’t have to make) all did me good.

Tattooed feet in hotel bed

Back in reality I tried to not to kill off my sapling of good cheer. I took my baby nephew swimming, it’s almost impossible not to feel good around that boy. I’ve taught him to say LaLa, what I what I called myself before I could say my name. Believe mewhen I tell you, my heart skips a beat every time he utters those two syllables. I bought myself beautiful flowers and delicious smelling candles. Ruffled the feathers of fuckwits with my radical accessories. Then indulged in some soppy, feel good films, tried Greggs’ yummy vegan sausage roll and attempted to not to stress about the mountain of tasks I didn’t conquer. It’s the little things in life, right?

Fresh flowers Political badges, vegan sausage roll & tulips

Merry & Bright…

Merry Christmas, Darlings. However you celebrate I hope it was Merry & Bright (or at the very least safe).

I spent Christmas Day with the Toyboy’s family and all the days round about with mine. We had two little ones enjoying their very first Xmas and four bigger kiddies getting all hyped up about Santa. It’s a cliche, but Christmas really is better with children around.

I received lots of pretty presents & indulged in many delicious vegan treats (thank TB’s Mum & Sis). Of course I got spruced up for Mr Claus. I always got a fancy Christmas Day outfit when I was a kid & I’ve kept the tradition going in adulthood. This year I went for full on Sexy Fat Ballerina.

ly h Kerr, sexy fat ballerina

Bodysuit – Boohoo

Skirt – Ella

A plus size full length tutu is not actually that easy to come by. I ordered one on a whim and then fell for the idea of being a fat arsed prima ballerina. Unfortunately the first one never arrived. The second took much hunting down, but all that internet searching was worth it. This is a LOOK.

My clever sister somehow managed to predict my Xmas colour scheme and gave me the perfect accessories as part of my gift.

Next stacking rings ly h Kerr

Earrings & rings – Next

We’re now in that no man’s land between Xmas & Hogmanay. I intend to sleep lots, eat a tonne and cuddle little ones. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same.

Oh & Bronan loves his present. So much so that he barely moves off it. It’s a cat nip scratcher btw and god help anyone who even thinks of touching it.

Bronan Kerr

It’s that time again…

Just like that it’s time for another Friday quickie. Of the cruelty free variety. Part of my little spending spree was a few beauty treats. All of which were shiny & lovely.

It was my actually my sister who needed a mascara, but it looked so damn good that I kinda want a tube too. When the Urban Decay goddess told me it was half price I was apple paying the shit out of it. It was a good impulse buy. One coat gives me luscious long lashes. Two provides just as much volume. Troublemaker is giving no trouble.

Urban Decay Troublemaker
Urban Decay Troublemaker

Next is a staple for me, Barry M Plumpy Toocoat. It’s always the final touch on my nails. It provides a convincing gel finish & definitely gets me a few extra days out of my manicures. I love how much extra shine it gives my nails. The only down side is that it goes gloopy a little quicker than I’d like. I’ve yet to actually get to the bottom of a bottle. That said, at under a fiver and still giving a professional look I’ll forgive the small amount of waste. I don’t see me switching topcoat anytime soon.

Barry M Plumpy Toocoat

I have a bit of a thing for Barry M. It was one of the first ‘drug store’ brands to go completely vegan & cruelty free. It’s also one the best. From reliable beauty essentials to super funky fun cosmetics Barry is always ahead of the game. All of which is my excuse for never being able to buy just the one thing I needed. Case in point, this holographic eyeshadow topper. Shimmery two time goodness on it’s own. Multi coloured light catching magic when applied atop another eye shadow. I went for a purpley blue, but there’s three more shades & I suspect I’ll purchase the lot. I recommend that you get your hands on some too.

Barry m holographic eyeshadow topperly h Kerr

Troublemaker & Holographic Topper