Review: Voodoo by Scantilly

I wrote last year about my love for Scantilly, Curvy Kate’s erotic line. I’ve bought many more sets from the range since then and my love hasn’t faded. Unfortunately though, in that time, my love for my body had started to dwindle as I’ve gone through some personal changes lately which have had a bit of an impact on my mental health. The amazing Grace (hehe) at Brastop got in touch with me a few weeks ago to see if I would like to review one of the new Scantilly sets. Of course I jumped at the chance, and Voodoo arrived at just the right time. Lately when I see myself, I have to get used to my appearance each time as it has changed recently. When I’m feeling really down, it’s harder o accept these changes and all my body positive wisdom is nowhere to be found. Voodoo arrived the day after quite a big episode of hating my body, and I was actually nervous to try it on. I thought I’d hate what I saw, and was worried about how I’d be able to write a review if I was feeling shitty and couldn’t take photos. 

Oh, how wrong I was! This set was made for me. It really feels that way. It is ridiculously comfortably and just works so well with my shape. I was worried that the strappy briefs would cut into my hips – like everything does – and make me look like a sausage but I love them so much and think I look frickin hot! 


I received the bra in a 30HH and the fit is spot on. It may look difficult to put on when you first see it, but it’s pretty easy to figure out which straps are supposed to go where, and then you just put your arms through like any old bra. The only issue I have is with the satin layer. The stitching isn’t quite right so it doesn’t match up with the cup underneath. This means the seam on the satin layer sort of comes to a point and looks like a huge nipple on the side of my boob. I tried tightening all the straps to see if it would smoothen out, but it didn’t work. I realised that pulling the satin down towards the wires made it sit better, so I might see if I can figure out a way to put a little stitch at the bottom without destroying the whole bra! 


To be honest, it doesn’t bother me too much as the overall look of the bra makes up for it. I’ll just try and remember not to wear it under tight clothes! The straps look so sexy showing underneath a sheer blouse or lower cut top. I actually wore mine one day with a grungey plaid shirt and I really liked the contrast!

The knickers are soooooo soft and comfortable. Like I said above, I was worried about the fit and had asked Grace for advice about sizing. She said to go for the 12 as the main part sits low enough and you can tie the strap as loose or tight as you want. I initially though I should go for a 14, but I’m glad I listened to Grace as that definitely would’ve been too big. I tie the strap as tight as I can and it still feels loose enough, so I’d imagine if I had a 14 the strap would just slide down my belly! The back of the knickers are sheer and have no VPL, which is my favourite thing. 


All in all, I’m extremely happy with this set. It was a welcome reminder to be kind to myself and to see the beauty in my body. I’d sort of forgotten how much lingerie has helped me in my bopo journey, but Voodoo helped me rediscover my passion and love for it. So thank you Scantilly, and thank you Brastop for making this lovefest possible!

A year of H Cup Chronicles

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The photo that started it all

The 4th of February marked one year since I started this blog, so I thought a little bit of reflection was in order. I’ve been thinking about things I’ve learned (about blogging and myself), opportunities I’ve gained, people I’ve met and other things. This is what I came up with:

I don’t love blogging
I’m not really surprised by this, even though I love writing. I hate writing reviews though, and when I first started I thought that had to be my main focus. While I understand that lingerie reviews are extremely helpful, especially if you find a blogger a similar size and shape to you, it doesn’t have to be all I write. So maybe I’m still trying to find my “voice” or style as a lingerie blogger. There are so many things I can write about using lingerie as a base. There are also lots of things I’ve wanted to write about for a while but have been scared to because I don’t want to make readers feel awkward (namely any family members who may read), but this is my blog and I think I’m starting to realise that it’s a really good outlet for my opinions. And also I can do whateva I want. I don’t love the culture of blogging. It sort of feels like you have to say certain things and make certain friends and suck up to brands to get places. Obviously, again, I’m doing what I want and blogging isn’t my only thing. I don’t actually consider myself a “blogger”, in fact that identity comes really low on my list of things I’d label myself as. But at the beginning I felt a kind of pressure to talk a certain way and try and be part of some clique, but I found that when I stopped caring and actually started talking and writing like myself, I made more of a space for myself and seemed to resonate with more people. I don’t love blogging, but I do like helping people and I love talking about lingerie so I’m not going to stop. I’m just going to continue to figure out what works for me.

I’m so much more aware of my body
I think this started a bit when I became a bra fitter and was able to fit myself, so I was always very conscious of what my boobs were at and it became a sort of non-toxic way to track any changes in my weight etc. But taking photos of myself in lingerie and constantly seeing those photos means I know what every angle of my body looks like, which has been equally a joy and a bit of a bummer. I’ve always had a warped view of what my body looks like, be it thinking I was slimmer when I was heavier and the reverse. As body positive and confident (most of the time) as I am, there’s always been an element of denial involved with how I view myself. Lately I’ve been denying the weight I’ve put on, and especially the fact that I’ve gone up at least two cup sizes. But, body positivity lets me decide the best way to make changes in my life, if any, and also because I don’t want to change my name to J Cup Chronicles, I will make changes. I don’t weigh myself because it makes me want to hide in a cave no matter what number is on the scales, but weight loss is an inevitable result of exercise, and I do want to take running up again mostly because it was the best natural high ever. Also, the 40+ bras I own in 30H are just too much of a legacy to get rid of. It’s not all bad though. Looking at endless photos of my body does make me appreciate it more, and notice things I like about it that I didn’t like before. It can actually be quite a nice self care practice if you’re in the right frame of mind for it.

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First blog photos by my sister

Men don’t care about your relationship status/sexuality/boundaries/feelings etc etc etc
And apparently posting photos of yourself in underwear on the internet makes you “fair game” – for trolling, unwanted dick pics and sexual comments, bodyshaming, slutshaming, pretty much anything negative can be justified by these creeps because the internet is “public domain” so we just have to “accept it”. Nah. Sorry. I can guarantee 98% of the people who do stuff like this would never do it away from the comfort and anonymity of their computers. Everything seems so much more acceptable when nobody really knows who you are. But it simply is not.

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Men forcing their sexuality on us via the internet isn’t less acceptable than men groping women on public transport or catcalling in the street. It’s still harrassment. And I still don’t really know what to do about it. Sometimes I’ll call people out, name and shame and argue or whatever, especially if I’m in a good mood and don’t feel largely affected by it. Sometimes I really let it get to me and wonder if I should quit, because there will always, ALWAYS be men who do shit like this. (And really, when men are getting away with rape in offline world, they’re sure as frick gonna get away with online harassment but that’s a whole nother conversation). The easiest and quickest thing to do is just to block them and move on and secretly hope that they’ll realise and rethink their actions. But they won’t.
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The odd time I’ll get a sincere apology (usually after I’ve contacted the perpetrator’s girlfriend/wife etc), and it does feel like progress, but a lot of the time it feels like a never ending uphill struggle. But it’s just another reason to keep doing this. On top of helping women find lingerie that fits and makes them feel good and promoting body positivity, I like to think I’m doing my small part in slowly but surely destroying rape culture.

My time and work is worth money
Sometimes. The thing about this crazy social media age we’re living in is that bloggers are doing a heck of a lot of favours for brands, sometimes without realising. Brands get so much free publicity these days, and a lot of the time they will ask for your time for nothing in return. It’s okay to ask for something in return. Getting free stuff isn’t enough. What if it doesn’t fit/suit/feel comfortable or you just don’t like it? If you’d bought it with your money you’d return it. And brands that offer a 10% discount or free shipping in return for a review or shoutout are bullshit. Do not waste your precious time on them. That’s kinda why I hate reviews, and only do them for brands I actually like or really want to try.

I’ve met so many wonderful people
There are people I haven’t even met in real life yet that I know because of this blog but I feel like I do know them. Being selected to become an ambassador for Leyah ShanksThe Body Confidence Revolution introduced me to a group of amazing bopo warriors, and they feel like a secret little family I get to have. I’ve made genuine connections with a lot of the other lingerie addicts on Instagram, and even got to meet some in person last year. I really believe that I’ll eventually meet so many more around the world one way or another. I met Nicole of MyMilla at the Moda tradeshow in August when I was just in the very early stages of setting up Ellen & Hick, and a few months later I got to model in her photoshoot and meet even more amazing people. I also did a super fun photo shoot with some friends in an abandoned swimming pool and a shoot in the forest with another wonderful friend!

 

Lingerie needs more gays
This will be short but sweet as I want to write something longer about this. Lingerie is still largely marketed in a way which targets straight women in relationships with men. Valentine’s Day shopping guides often tell men what to buy their women, and women are also told to buy this sexy set as a “gift for him”. Barf emoji. It’s 2017, we KNOW gay couples exist, but also can we get over the lingerie-is-for-sexy-times thing? ALSO, can we stop using lesbian imagery to sell lingerie? Everyone deserves representation but trivialising and over-sexualising our relationships to appeal to the male gaze is not how you do it. TBC.

Lingerie needs more fat women
Please note, I regard “fat” as a descriptor only and not an insult. Because apparently plus-size in the fashion industry only refers to a very small bracket of women who are the “good kind” of curvy. Women with bigger than average boobs and small waists and bigger than average butts and thighs are not representing fat women, and using this body type predominantly in plus size campaigns just creates another standard women must strive for that not everybody can or wants to reach. Representation matters.

And of course, lingerie needs more women of colour
Someone on twitter got me thinking about this by getting me to scroll through my lingerie newsfeed and count how many out of every ten photos featured a WOC. Sometimes it was 1/10. Once it was three. But mostly it’s 0/10. It’s great to see brands like Nubian Skin who are creating real nude shades for WOC, but they’ve had to do that because of the lack of representation and disinterest from other brands in doing anything about it themselves. REPRESENTATION. MATTERS.

The lingerie industry kinda sucks
Like most things. But I still love it and wanna be a part of it and hope that my own lingerie business and my passion can be a part of the change.

 

Review: Gypsy by Rochella Lingerie

I first found out about Rochella at Moda in February 2016. I was about to leave when I spotted a rail with gorgeous lingerie in the kind of prints I always fall in love with. Pretty, feminine pink and lilac and blue florals, as well as some cute polka dots. I was even more excited to find out it was a new full bust labelling, catering to back sizes 32- 42 and cups D-J (not all cup sizes available in all band sizes). Rochella is a luxury line, and at a higher price point I was hesitant to buy a set, especially as they don’t do 30 backs. But when I was offered a set to review, I was more than happy to accept. 

Please note, I was sent this set free of charge and all opinions are my own. And boy, do I wish my opinions were different on this occasion. I was sent Gypsy in a 32GG – the “sister size” to my normal 30H. And while I’ve gone on and on about putting on weight and how that means things fit differently, I’m not entirely sure that’s a factor this time. I also received the matching suspender briefs in a 10/12. Let’s start with the details.

To look at, this set is so beautiful. The stretch satin fabric that makes up the majority of the cups is soft to the touch, and has a lovely silky shine to it. The colours are just gorgeous, and I think the contrast of soft pinks and black works really well. 


The inside is lined with a lavender-ish polyester fabric, and there is a cute little gold pendant on the centre wires stamped with the signature “R”. 


The briefs are nice and full, with sturdy detachable suspender straps included. The keyhole detail at the back of the briefs and the sheer mesh adds a little raciness to the daintiness of the floral print. 


Onto the fit…Ugh I hate to give a negative review but I have to be honest for the benefit of both potential customers and the brand. Rochella is still a relatively new brand, and feedback like this is really important to take on as they continue to learn and develop their product. The first thing I thought when I put the bra on was just how loose it was. Obviously I’m used to wearing 30 bands, but even on the tightest hook this felt like it just wasn’t supportive enough. This would lead me to believe that the bands are not totally true to size and someone who does wear a 32 normally may also find it loose. I know straps aren’t meant to do much of the holding, but these also felt rather loose, and almost flimsy. They are a tad too narrow for a full bust bra, and felt uncomfortable after a few hours wear. They also constantly twisted in on themselves as I moved around doing normal things. This is probably because they’re too thin. You can see below that I have them tightened practically all the way. If I wore this bra a lot, they would stretch out super quick and become useless pretty fast. 


The shape of the cups does little to redeem these issues. Because the bra is too loose and my bust is pulling it downwards, I get this weird sloping effect, combined with a pointy shape. Which is just not flattering at all, unfortunately. 


It looks great front on, but you can still see that my boobs are sitting a bit too low and the sloping effect is still kind of noticeable. 


Overall, the bra just doesn’t feel supportive enough. The fabric doesn’t seem sturdy enough to support bigger boobs, and I worry about how long it would be able to hold up. I hate saying all this, but I do think it’s important. If they ever make bras in a 30 band, I’d be very keen to try my true size to see if it is any better. 

The briefs were more of a success. They are really soft and comfortable, and don’t cut into my squishy hips (a problem I have even if I size up 3 sizes). However, the fabric again felt slightly flimsy. When I first tried them on, they felt tight, and I didn’t think I’d get them on without ripping them. There is a tightness under the soft band which feels really dodgy everytime I put them on, and I always let out a sigh of relief once I get them on safely. I do love the shape though, and find them really flattering. 


Again, I’m really disappointed with how this set turned out. But hopefully this feedback will be helpful and Rochella can take it on board as they go forward with their designs. 

Review: Viva by Pour Moi

I’ve been wanting to do a few more “helpful” reviews – for example of brands I don’t already talk on and on about, and ones that I’ve actually wanted to try myself but couldn’t find many other reviews about. So it was pretty good timing when Brastop reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in trying something from their new season stock. I asked about a few things I hadn’t tried and Grace from Brastop very generously sent me the Viva set from Pour Moi in grey.

I’d had my eye on this colour for a while because grey is just so classy for lingerie (and I love grey, it’s very key). However I’d never had the chance to try any Pour Moi lingerie. I was familiar with their swimwear from working in Bravissimo – and I’m actually really obsessed with the Crazy Daisy bikini, which will be mine one day. So I was pretty excited about the chance to try this and review it for you all!

I received the bra in a 30H and the deep briefs in a 12. I originally asked for a 10 but Grace said the pants come up very small, and she was right. The 12 fits comfortably but they do look small for that size. I definitely don’t think I would’ve felt good in a 10, so if you are ordering pants, keep that in mind! I know “deep brief” and “high waisted” are not the same, but I wish they just would be. I love that these briefs come to my actual waist and not hit me awkwardly in the middle of my hips, but if they could just come up the tiniest bit higher. Just to completely cover my belly button. But I like them! They are still very comfortable and although they’re very plain, the colour and the mesh panelling makes them a little bit more special than a bland, everyday set.


The fit of the bra is pretty much perfect! I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve put on a bit of weight recently and have been back and forth between a H and HH, so I was kinda nervous this would be too small. I think I’ve evened out back to my “normal” weight again though as my boobs aren’t as sore and heavy and I can wear most of my 30H bras again without yucky double boob. Thank goodness!


The Viva is described as a full cup, which I would have to disagree with because to me, a full cup comes up higher and shows very minimal or no cleavage. The wires also don’t come up as high in the middle as other, true full cup bras I own do. This is fine for me though, as full cup wires are generally too high for me and hit me in the wrong place, which can be pretty uncomfortable. The straps are set slightly wider like you would expect of a balconnet style. I love the ruching detail on the straps too, it’s another little touch that makes this bra slightly more dressy.

I know I always do it, but I just can’t help it – I compare the shape of everything to my Cleo bras. It’s just my preferred shape, and obviously has become my standard that I hold all other bras to! The wires are slightly wider on the Viva, so of course I’m not going to get the same projection, but I’m still pretty happy with the shape. It’s ever so slightly more east to west than I would prefer, but the cups also give a lovely round, natural shape. The sheer upper layer also gives it a little bit of racy-ness you wouldn’t get from many other of your everyday sets. I did find that I had to tighten the straps quite high to get the lift I wanted – but this is again something I find from most other brands bar Cleo. I think my shallowness on top and my short shoulders mean I find most straps too long anyway. It’s not uncomfortable to wear them as tight as I have them currently, however. And I definitely think this style would be great for other full on bottom breasts. The band felt true to size and was firm enough for my liking.

Overall, I am really happy I asked for this style. I love the colour so much, and this has already become a go-to bra. It’s really comfy to wear and I do like the shape under clothes. The Viva full cup comes in a range of other colours, and the collection also offers a longline up to a G cup, as well as a padded plunge up to an F cup, and a suspender belt in selected colours. I can see this becoming a firm favourite, and I’m definitely interested in adding some of the other colours and suspender belts to my collection!

Things that are absolutely, definitely normal about women’s bodies

Trigger warning: much of the language used in this post refers largely to cisgender women’s bodies. While I completely support and am an ally to the transgender and non-binary members of my community, I can only speak from my experiences as a cisgender woman. 

We all know how the media and societal beauty standards impact on how we see ourselves, and the way we choose to present ourselves to others. It impacts what we buy, what we wear, and can really get right into our brains until we start to truly believe we aren’t good enough as we are without buying into all the diet crap, cosmetics, clothes, fitness regimes etc etc. I had the idea to write this post after a conversation I had with a friend about this sort of thing. We were talking about things we thought weren’t normal about bodies, and how much it can control you. She said she always thought until very recently that nipple hair wasn’t supposed to be a thing on women’s bodies, and she always felt very self conscious about it. So, first on the list of things that are absolutely, definitely normal about women’s bodies is nipple hair!

In fact, hair in general is normal. We are mammals, after all. Yeah, some people have more than others, and women especially are taught to believe that we should get rid of all our body hair so we can appear visually appealing to men (and not at all like a baby alien). Whatever you choose to do with it is completely up to you, as long as you’re happy. But just remember, it’s there for a reason and if you decide to let it grow wild and free, that’s totally okay. Body hair that is normal includes:
1) Armpit hair
2) Leg hair
3) Butt hair – on the outside and in the crack
4) Stomach hair – women can have happy trails too
5) Chest hair – not just limited to nipples!
6)Arm hair – this is something I used to be embarrassed about because I have such dark hair, which is more noticeable on my arms and hands
7) Hand hair – we all have it, lil hairy hands and knuckles
8) Pubic hair – gotta stop censoring this and acting like it’s disgusting and wrong
9) Foot hair – which extends to yer toes too!
10) Back hair
11) Facial hair – something which is very embarrassing for a lot of women, cuz god forbid you don’t look “feminine” enough. I have this one chin hair that always seems to appear over night. It’s jet black and grows to like an inch long. I don’t know who it thinks it is or where it comes from, but it’s normal too.


We are not symmetrical. Our faces and bodies are naturally asymmetrical, because that’s just how it is. I have a slight underbite and crooked teeth despite having had braces. I also have wonky eyes if you really pay attention, but it doesn’t affect my life in any way.

 

Fat, and all the different ways it sits on our bodies, is also totally normal. Belly rolls, back rolls, cellulite. They are ALL FINE. Try to remember that lots of tiny, insignificant things that are seen as flaws, are photoshopped out of ads and other photos. Even the models in all the ads we’re bombarded with daily don’t look like models. I’ve seen them on the catwalk, and they do actually have cellulite and jiggly bits. And they’re made to feel just as bad about it as we are.

 

Stretch marks are meant to happen, whether or not we’ve been pregnant. They are a sign that our body went through something, and adapted to accommodate the changes. The opposite of stretch marks is not smooth skin, it’s ripped skin. Your body is protecting you all the time. Stretch marks are frickin fascinating and beautiful, and EVERYONE has them.

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Boobs come in so many shapes and sizes, just like people, and yet we’re still led to believe that one very specific boob type is the “perfect” type. It’s extremely rare that they’re actually round and perky, no matter the age or weight or circumstances of the person they belong to. Believe me, as a bra fitter I’ve seen all the types of boobs you could imagine. They are as unique as finger prints, and all are good and normal. On the subject of boobs, may I remind you that nipples are also completely normal. There’s nothing sexual about any part of a boob, whether or not we’re forced to hide or censor the nipple in photos and in life. Nipples again are just as varied in size, colour, shape and placement. Yours are fine the way they are.

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My boobs are long and low and my nips are at the bottom – which is totally fine!
The last thing I want to mention real quick is the dReAdeD vulva. Learn your anatomy, cuz the vagina is on the inside and you can’t see it from looking at a woman in her underpants unless something has gone very, very wrong. Some women have what has been termed a FUPA, or fat upper pubic area. Ya know the way Cosmo magazine has solutions to all your gross, fat body problems. They even have ways to reduce the size of your FUPA. JESUS CHRIST. Please don’t think this is okay. Please don’t feel like the size of your vulva somehow dictates your worth as a person. PLEASE DON’T READ THESE MAGAZINES. The size of you FUPA and the length of your labia are both perfectly normal, and if you’re worried about what someone you’re dating might think when they see it, chances are all they’re thinking is how excited they are to see it. There is nothing wrong with it. Please leave it alone.


There are so many other things about your body that are normal. Freckles, moles, scars, birthmarks. Try to see the beauty in your individuality and reject the narrow beauty standards we’re expected to live up to.

 

 

Large cup sports bras: Bravissimo, Freya and Royce

I am by no means an athlete, but to keep myself sane and happy  I try and do some form of exercise when I can be bothered. The endorphin rush is great and that feeling the next day in my muscles is so good, but I don’t guilt myself for not doing “enough”. I get bored of things quickly so I try and mix it up – zumba, running, pilates and now yoga are all things I try to do at least once a week. Pretty much anyone with boobs will know the struggle of making any vigorous or sudden movement and trying to keep them from falling out of your bra or hurting too much. Sports bras are another one of those things that have been readily available for pretty much ever in the core sizes (up to a D/DD), but anyone above that will most likely have had issues trying to find something to work for their bodies. When I first started running, it was before I knew my correct size so I wore two sports bras at the same time because one poorly fitting one was not enough. The two together still wasn’t enough, and I had to do an awkward arms-pushed-into-boobs run to try and keep them from flinging all over the place. It’s not funny. It can be really painful. So shut up.

My first sports bra REVELATION was after I finally discovered my true size and decided to buy the Bravissimo Inspire sports bra. I can’t remember why I chose this one out of the range they offer, probably the price to be honest. But I’m so glad I did because to this day it is still the best sports bra I’ve ever tried. The one I bought was from back when Bravissimo were first trialling this, but when it finally came back into stock this year, I sold the crap out of it when I worked there. It’s super high impact, so really great for stuff like running or zumba – anything that has you constantly moving up and down. It’s unbelievably comfortable. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing a sports bra after exercising and end up wearing it all day. The shape is a bit pointy, but I really don’t care because when I’m getting my sweat on I’m not really worrying about what shape my boobs are, as long as they’re under control.

 

When I was running 5k 3-4 times a week, unsurprisingly I lost a lot of weight. The first Inspire I had was a 32J. When that became too big, I panicked because it was no longer in stock. I tried all the sports bras Bravissimo had in my size, and the next best thing for me at the time was the Freya Active Core. I got this in a 30H. It doesn’t feel quite as supportive as the Inspire, but it still does the job for running and other high impact activity. One day when I was hoking through my drawers, I pulled out an Inspire in 30HH which somehow I completely forgot I’d bought when my size changed. The love affair lived on. But now I felt like a super serious athlete with TWO WHOLE SPORTS BRAS.
The shape and the fit of the Freya is quite similar to Inspire. There isn’t quite as much structure or lining to the cups though, which is where I think the extra support comes from in Inspire. It also doesn’t come up just as high enough as I’d like, but I don’t bounce out of it so it’s not really a massive issue. I would still definitely recommend giving this style a try.

 

The final sports bra I’d like to share with you is the Impact Free sports bra from Royce. It’s a wire free option. Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. I could sleep in this. And I really, really don’t like sleeping in bras, even non-wired ones. The material of this bra is the softest thing I’ve ever felt, and the squishy soft cotton underband makes it feel like you’re wearing nothing at all (nothing at all, nothing at all…).  I’ve tried a few non-wired sports bras in my previous searches, and none of them did anything for me. I know a lot of people wear non-wired sports bras for high impact activity, but they just never seem to work for me. So I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I got from the Royce bra. Personally, I don’t love it for running – I went for a run wearing it last week and while the support was pretty good, I’d much rather wear one of my underwired ones. However it was perfect for yoga when I was doing a lot of leaning over and bending and stretching. That’s not to say it won’t be good for high impact for other people. I know a lot of customers I fitted were happy to wear it for running and such. It may be important to note that I went for a 32H in this bra. I remember it being much tighter than most other styles when I was fitting. I think I would be able to wear a 30, but it wouldn’t be very comfortable. The level of support in the 32 is enough for me to feel secure.

Learning to love me more (again)

Disclaimer: I’m not gonna write this like an academic article with great paragraphing and points that flow smoothly from one to the other. This is a way to process my brain stuff from the last couple of months to figure my shit out, but I think it’ll still be a good read and hopefully help other people deal with some shit too. So, if you don’t like stream of consciousness stuff and random paragraphs, *shrugs*.

 

A few weeks ago I had a photoshoot in a forest beside the river with my friend, photographer and fricking inspirational goddess, Dalyce Wilson (here and here). I only met Dalyce in March of this year. I think I desperately needed someone who understood that I wasn’t getting over my broken heart, and we bonded over the sadness while laughing through the ridiculousness of it all. Do you ever meet someone and like, ten minutes into your first conversation with them you’re just thinking, this is going to be an Important Person? Dalyce is one of those people. I just instantly felt so comfortable with her, like I could say anything and it wouldn’t be judged, but that I’d find some sort of answer or solace or understanding through talking to her. She left last week for Thailand on a one way ticket, and I never said goodbye to her even though I meant to. It was my typical anxiety-ridden, talk about doing stuff then drop off the face of the earth thing that I do quite a lot. I’m pretty sure she’ll understand, and also that she was probably too busy getting ready to worry about it too much. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll see her again some day and we can just pick up where we left off.

Anyway. We’d talked about doing a photoshoot for ages, because we were both craving some sort of creative collaboration. I had all these ideas and visions, but when it came to the day all creativity seemed to have left me with my confidence and self-assurance (which have been in hiding for a little while), but I felt like I was in good hands with Dalyce. Also, it’s really fucking weird getting your photo taken in your underwear by an actual person when you’re used to just propping your iPhone up and taking selfies in your room. Not weird in a scary way. Dalyce wouldn’t make you feel like that. But it’s easier to do dumb poses by yourself than to try and do them in front of someone else and act like that’s totally normal. Dalyce was good at directing me though, and once I warmed up it felt pretty good. I didn’t even try to hide when families and cyclists were passing by.

I felt so energised and inspired after the shoot, which is kind of a normal feeling after being with Dalyce cuz she just exudes that woman magic – I hate myself for saying that but it’s the best way I can describe it. I was more motivated and felt slightly more equipped to keep pushing through the shit that is being unemployed and trying to become self-employed and being 26 and living with my mother and feeling like a lost 16 year old and losing all confidence in myself and trying to ignore the dark, negative thoughts I thought I’d pushed away forever years ago and trying to remember how to deal with hating my body when I only just learnt how to love it and feeling sort of worthless and pointless and pathetic but not wanting to give up. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit stuff like that when you’ve created this online presence and preach about body positivity and believe so strongly in the message that all bodies are good and beautiful and normal, but then one day look at your own and suddenly it’s changed and this time you don’t know how to accept it and be positive and love it. I’ve been looking at my body lately and the immediate thoughts I have are so negative and destructive and just SAD. I haven’t felt this way in such a long time. I got used to being pretty happy, and confident, and self-assured and really believing in myself. I got used to looking at myself and loving what I saw, and not giving a shit what people thought or said about me. I guess I kind of forgot that I’m still just a human. Things change. And especially when you’ve already dealt with the good old depression, and “got over it”, you feel like you’re cured somehow and that you couldn’t ever possibly feel bad again. It super sucks, but that is just not how life works. Mental health is a journey in itself. It isn’t something that stays one way forever. And sometimes a bunch of stuff happens all at once, so it makes everything seem so much worse and harder to deal with. But hey, I’m still here and I’m pretty sure I’m doing the best I can, which is all we can ever ask for.

So, a couple of days after the shoot, I got the photos from Dalyce. I was so excited to see them and the first couple I looked through I loved. Then I started seeing things I didn’t like. Things I wanted to change. I should’ve stood differently. Angled myself that way, sucked that in, hidden this, worn something else. I noticed how much weight I’d gained and all I could think was that it was bad, shameful, disgusting. But then I saw this photo:

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I know it doesn’t show an awful lot of me or my body, but, it also kind of does show a lot of me. I saw a bunch of little things all at once that would have made me sad the day before. Seeing it did make me cry, but it was happy cry. It was relief, and love, and release. I saw stretch marks, hairy arms, scars, fat that wasn’t there a couple of months ago and fat that has always been there. I saw some breast tissue falling out of my bra which as a bra fitter makes me cringe but as a human, I can accept it and see past it. I also really fucking love my tornado tattoo and what it means to me. And this is just such a beautiful photo. I looked through the rest of the photos and still picked out the things I didn’t like. About myself. The photos are so gorgeous, because Dalyce is super talented and sees beauty in so much. But no, the photos are also gorgeous because I’m in them. I had to keep reminding myself that when I was standing in the middle of those trees where anyone could pass by, I wasn’t thinking about my fat or stretch marks or boobs or anything else. I was barely even conscious of my body or how I looked. I was just having a really good time with my friend. It was peaceful and relaxing and so badly needed. I want to share a load of the photos from that shoot, because I really do love most of them. But even though there are ones I don’t like as much, and in most of them can pick out things that bother me, I’m going to write something I love about myself in each one. I’d highly recommend everyone do something like this for themselves with their own photos.

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I like how in the first photo, I’m making the exact same face my great-grandmother is making in a photo I only recently saw of her. I like how dark my hair is, and how my skin looks in this light.

I have terrible posture from years of trying to hide my body, but that’s part of who I am now. I’ve put on weight and my belly is bigger, but that’s one of the most human things to happen and if I was looking at a photo of anybody else with this body, I wouldn’t see anything bad. I like my hands, and the side profile of my nose which I have never liked before.

My lips have a natural pout, which friends have made fun of but it looks pretty good. They are such a nice shape. I have a great smile, and even when I’m taking the piss it still makes for a pretty good photo.

I have a great pair of legs. They work, and they keep going even though I’ve had trouble with my knees for over ten years. They respond to different types of exercise, and heal and get stronger.

My freckles are really pretty and my eyes are amazing.

My face is good and kind and interesting.

I love my cheekbones and my dark eyes. My eyelashes always seem to stand out and my hair is shiny even if I haven’t just washed it.

My back rolls are cute, and so are my front rolls. My face is super cute too, and I know it makes people happy when they see it.

I’m just a person. It’s impossible to love myself all the time, but when I’m not feeling it the best I can do is to not say negative things about myself and try to remember what is good about me. Body positivity, just like life, is a journey. There are setbacks, and obstacles, and bumps in the road. But it’s how we deal with these things and what we learn from them and the kind of person we become through this that is important. And if we really can’t see how beautiful we are, sometimes it’s good to remember that we aren’t our faces and our bodies. We are people with unique and interesting qualities.
I’m kind, caring, passionate, intelligent, ambitious, introverted, funny, anxious, loyal, hardworking, warm, friendly, curious… I’m so much more than my body. But when I remember how to love it and be kind to it, it makes life a whole lot easier.

 

 

(Bra is Clara by Panache, briefs are by Marks and Spencer, suspender belt is by What Katie Did and stockings are by Charnos)