Mother. Plus size model. Fat Activist. Diet Industry Dropout.
Mother. Plus size model. Fat Activist. Diet Industry Dropout.
Well, it’s been quite the ride! This is the 102nd post on She Might Be – at least one a day since we launched back in September. I thought I would take this opportunity to take a look back over the first few months of She Might Be and a look ahead to what we have in store for you for 2017, before we sign off for a much needed Christmas break!
So to start with, here are a few stats for you – we’ve written over one hundred posts, on everything from reclaiming the word fat to a series on plus size women in history, a sprinkling of beauty, a myriad of fashion and everything in between. We really do have something for everyone – a recently launched men’s section, opinion pieces, interviews, style guides and the best bit? All of it body positive. We will never make you feel less than your worth.
We’ve used twenty-one different writers, all of us different ages, sizes and shapes. We are spread out all over the country and we all have very different styles, but the one common denominator is we all have plenty to say! How about you? Do you have lots to say? We want to hear it! We are always on the lookout for more writers, so drop us a message and get involved. Conversely, if you have an idea for something you would like to see covered by the team, the drop us a line about that too.
So that’s where we are and what we have done so far. What can you expect in 2017? We have lots lined up for you. Interviews with some of the leading lights in the body positivity movement. An in depth look into the plus size beauty pageant industry. All the latest style, fashion and beauty trends!
Have an amazing Christmas and a happy new year from all of us at She Might Be!
I have been wanting to write this post for a long time. All of this year and most of last. I am beyond sick of brands – and in particular, ones that cater for plus size customers – all over social media, shaming, being offensive and (worst of all in my book) – repeat offending and then not apologising when they are called on their nonsense.
Let me make one thing clear – I am not adverse to naming and shaming. One look at my Twitter feed will tell you that. I call people out on body-shaming whenever I see it. I don’t care WHO you are or how big your brand is, if I see you fat-shaming or skinny-shaming, I am going to have something to say about it. BUT – I will not be naming names in this article. Not because I want to be coy or mysterious, not because I am scared the brands concerned might not want to work with me (Ha! I wouldn’t want to work with them!)-no. Simply put, I refuse to give them any sort of publicity. Even bad press is still publicity and they don’t deserve a millisecond of your attention, far less your hard earned cash!
Also, She Might Be is a body positive publication – we in no way want to be promoting anyone with a negative record. With that in mind, let’s get started.
So today, a sponsored advert appeared on my Facebook timeline, from an apparently new designer, bearing the words “we are proud to design clothes for Real Women. For You”.
For “Real Women” ? Seriously? So who are you alluding to here that may NOT be a real woman? Because – NEWSFLASH – anyone who identifies as a real woman IS a real woman, it is not the job of a brand to decide who a real woman is – get over yourselves! And furthermore, if you are such a champion of “Real Women” (and sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to achieve with the random capitalization there) – why are you advertising your clothes literally on a coat hanger?! And the models on your page all seem straight sized, yet you are calling out other brands for not working with Ashley Graham, when your own range at first glance appears to stop at size 20? Please.
That’s before we go into the brands who keep on posting memes containing fat jokes, making pointed remarks about eating habits, questionable comments about health and still think plus sized people are going to want to buy from you? Nope. I will take my fat pounds somewhere that doesn’t think I’m a joke, thanks.
And by the way, I am well aware that there are people behind the social media accounts and people are flawed, all of us, and mistakes can be made. Once. When it keeps happening, and we keep raising it with you, and you keep doing it – well that tells us all we need to know really.
Then there are the brands that have turned insulting their customers into an art form. I am thinking of one brand in particular here and could give you many, many examples. Suffice to say, when a regular customer emails in a polite query regarding the quality of an item she has purchased from you (one of many items), it’s not cool (and definitely not polite) to reply suggesting maybe she needs to buy a bigger size or get some shapewear! GUESS WHO’S NEVER SHOPPING THERE AGAIN?
I wrote this tweet right at the start of 2016 – not long after I received that email, and after we had had brand after brand messing up and posting insulting, shaming things every day for a week. I left it pinned to the top of my Twitter page, envisaging it would stay there for a couple of weeks, until the crazy died down (the festive season seems to bring out the absolute worst in some people). It’s still there. Every time I think I might swap it out for a different tweet, another brand messes up. Sometimes, not for the first time.
Advice for clothes shops/brands in 2016 – you sell clothes. You are not health/fitness/lifestyle gurus. Your shaming is alienating customers
— Daisy (@MissInformed11) January 5, 2016
If you can’t be trusted with your own Social Media accounts, get yourself a Social media Manager – ask us for details, we know several really good, competent ones, who would enhance, not destroy your business. Use your Social Media as a force for good, engage with us, talk to us – find out what will make us willingly hand over yet more money to you. Don’t use it as a stick to beat us – we’re fat, we’re not idiots and we’re no longer prepared to be your punchline or your punchbag.
Because in case you hadn’t noticed, we vote with our feet – so maybe take YOUR feet out of your mouth and think about what you are saying, before you alienate all of your customer base.
I took some time out to chat with the very lovely Vicky-Lou, designer extraordinaire and the brains (and beauty!) behind Vixen Curves.
First of all could you tell me a bit about your background – did you train in any kind of fashion design or was it just a hobby to begin with?
Most definitely a hobby!! I’ve spent my career up to this point within the NHS and while studying my nursing access I enjoyed making bits and bobs here and there to take my mind off of the work! A hobby turned into a passion.
When did you start Vixen Curves?
I decided to go for it full whack in January this year! I’d spent years drawing up and designing pieces and after lots of interest in them on my own personal Instagram page, I decided to put all my time and effort into making women feel incredible no matter what their size or shape.
Was it a slow starter or has it taken off really quickly?
Overnight things seemed to go well!! I never expected things to go as well as they have! It was a big lifestyle change, to take the plunge into the plus size industry, especially with alternative underwear and accessories and I wish I had done it sooner.
What makes your brand unique?
That’s such a good question, I guess the items that are created could be for sizes 6-30 but I decided to make this primarily plus size , Vixen Curves is a one woman show, a show that wants to create beautiful items for women of all sizes. I’ve always been a curvy woman and that’s why I particularly want to cater for women like me.
Do you have a team of people working for you ?
No, it’s just little old me ….!!
What is your best selling item?
By far the two best selling items are the Midnight Amber harness and the caged skirt …. The caged skirt is one of my most favourite pieces. I designed this a long time ago and it’s taken a lot of hard work for it to work perfectly
What is your personal favourite item?
I love the dominatrix body piece, there is something so sexy about the harness caged look on a curvy body, I love how every inch of the body can be restricted beautifully.
Have you had any strange requests?
Oh most definitely, I get some amazing requests from people of all walks of life, including celebrities who want to stay anonymous of course. 🙂
I know you sell amazing harnesses in various designs and colours, plus of course the aforementioned cage skirts. I think I’ve seen tutus on your site as well. Are you going to branch out into other areas?
I would love to branch out into other items, but lingerie will always be the way forward for Vixen Curves, I hope to introduce a bondage section for February 2017 including bralettes for big boobies.
What has been the highlight so far for you on your Vixen Curves journey?
My customers and the change in their confidence. Nothing compares to the feeling of receiving a message or a photo with a woman who is thanking you for making her feel confident – again, I’ve been there. I’ve been made to feel less than sexy and I promised myself I would never let anyone or anything make me hate who I am ever again. This is what makes me carry on, wanting to help other women feel confident.
What’s next for Vixen Curves?
Great question, I think Vixen Curves hopes to get some items in various boutiques across the UK and also hope to be stocked a major plus size clothing brand soon…but I couldn’t possibly tell you which – you will have to watch this space!
Do you have a message for our amazing She Might Be readers – especially if anyone reading likes the look of your harnesses but is worried about sizing or fit?
The plus size world is a community, we all share the same worries and the same issues. No matter what you think about yourself right now, I want you to know each and everyone of you is incredible already. My harnesses do not change the person you are but they enhance your confidence to allow you to become who you truly should be. The items are made in sizes 16-28 and super stretchy material is used for comfort! The only way you can truly get the point of a Vixen Curves harness is to try one. My Instagram page is full of confident women of all sizes rocking them all over the world! Comfort is key especially when you are fabulously bootiful!
I think I can speak for pretty much everyone involved with She Might Be, when I say that yes, of course we all wanted to be part of this amazing online plus size magazine. All the latest fashion and beauty, amazing body positivity, fat politics and a range of issues and ideas that are so very relevant to each and every one of us.
But more than this, I think we all felt that this was needed. There is literally nowhere, either online or in the real world (and yes, for a lot of people the internet is the real world) where plus size women are allowed to be at ease in their own skin.
We needed a safe space. Where no one would try and sell you happiness by dragging you down in the first place. Where it is okay – more than okay – celebrated – to be who you are and to exist in your body.
It’s hard enough to love yourself when the whole world is intent on telling you that you are wrong for doing so – we will only ever support you in your journey to self acceptance and hopefully self love.
This is a very safe space. Apart from right here in this list of things we won’t do, you will never see us talking about diets, about food, about health & exercise, about shape wear, about flattering, about changing anything about yourself for the sake of someone else’s opinion. (Change on your own terms is a different matter entirely).
We believe all of that is your prerogative, your choice because that’s your body and this is your life. We know only too well how insidious these things are, when they pop up everywhere – billboards, magazines, TV ads – even amongst friends, family and colleagues. We are constantly under siege – bombarded.
You have been conditioned to think there is something wrong with you – or maybe, that there is something wrong with thinner women, who make different choices. It seems like the entire world is hating on womens’ bodies and here is where it stops.
Here are some thoughts from some of our writers on why She Might Be is important to them:
Georgina Grogan: I really feel that She Might Be, a completely body positive space, is SO needed on the internet. There are lots of magazine, blogs, spaces on the internet for fat women, but I can’t name one of them that hasn’t talked about making yourself look slimmer, dieting, weight loss, or something else that contributes to the hate women and men have for themselves. Despite being mainly plus size, we would never bash a straight size person.
Sera McDaid: I think She Might Be was a space desperately needed to encourage women of all sizes to come together. As someone who has been a size 32 to a size 12 and now a 16 and just about every size in between, I’ve always felt I was wrong or not represented. At the smaller scale at a 16 I feel vilified sometimes if I chat about plus size and when I was a size 32 I wasn’t catered for or represented online at all. It also promotes real life body shapes, which I think is important. Basically it’s a space where nobody is left out or excluded. I love that. I do think it’s a good move to ban talk of diets or eating plans. There is enough of that everywhere you turn. The USP of SMB is that it focuses solely on everything else and your size doesn’t come into it. Hugely positive area. It was needed I think. Size has nothing to do with anything and it’s a huge positive move forward to create a space that is active in showing exactly that and showing it by omission. Size doesn’t need to be debated, it’s simply your body. I think it’s a powerful point made by not making it.
Sophie Griffiths: The media makes plenty of money out of telling women to hate themselves – and that is not a plus exclusive issue. You can look on any magazine rack and be criticised on a personal level while picking other ladies apart. SMB is different. It’s about self love, not self hate. There is no need to talk about diets or numbers because there are so many places that are just FOR that, which means there is no risk of anybody being hurt by those kinds of conversations. Being able to maintain that difference while supporting others on every stage of their journey to body positivity (and that includes those still intent on changing, not loving, themselves) is really quite special.
Katt Martin: SMB for me, is finally that safe space filled with true body positivity. Where I won’t be hounded by images that put others down to raise ourselves, where I don’t have to worry about an article or person writing about how my body isn’t good enough or that I need to change to be TRULY happy, where I know every writer there has gone through everything I have gone through, that it’s full of sisterhood and love. And that’s why SMB is so important, to spread the word that you’re loved, your body is good enough, you life is good enough and you don’t have to change a single thing if you don’t want to. It’s that safe space for all plus size women and men, where they can go to finally relax away from a world that shoves diets, how to “flatter” or “disguise” their so- called flaws, down their throats and just be happy!
Zoe IKIWN: To be fair, you can go literally ANYWHERE ELSE to see, hear, experience talk about diets / weight loss / slimming etc and to know there is somewhere you can read about fashion, beauty and lifestyle (even the odd bit of history!) without having to keep your guard up is a bloody relief!
That’s why we are here. This is a safe space where we can all be ourselves – we are all entitled to live happily in our own skin. She Might Be will never make anyone feel like that’s not enough. We are all enough.
The Language of Love
What is your inner voice saying to you right now? The one that you only hear inside your head, the one that is often – usually – speaking utter nonsense, but is the one that pulls you up short and sometimes make you die inwardly.
Whose words does that voice use? Are they your own thoughts, the deep, dark ones that you keep locked away? Or those of someone who has tormented you in the past, with words that cut and wound – the scars still raised and itchy, even though the actual words have long vanished?
Pro-tip…you don’t have to listen to those words any more. You can choose to replace them with different words, better words – more accurate words – and I’m going to show you how.
Think about some of the things you say to yourself –this could be out loud (I have a penchant for talking to myself, do you?) or more likely, the really nasty things, could be internal. Never vocalised, just running amok in your head, ruining your day.
Every time you have a negative thought. Stop. Think about the language you just used. The words you just chose. The names you just called yourself. The insults you just levied in your own direction. Imagine yourself as a child. The child you were. A small, vulnerable child – looking to the adult you have now become, for reassurance, validation, love. Picture yourself saying those words to her. Imagine how they will affect her. You know the hurt you’re about to inflict, you know the pain and confusion and all the insecurities that you will be putting upon her – you know, because you are her. You feel it.
Now think of a different, better way of talking to her. Tell her she is important. Big up the things she is good at. Allow her to make mistakes and forgive her. She is (you are) human – we’re flawed and we’re meant to mess up. We are people, we’re not machines! (And even machines malfunction from time to time). Praise her, cherish her and love her. Love you.
There will be plenty of folk who want to do you down – some people will do that deliberately, some will do it unintentionally, with clumsy, ill thought out remarks – don’t be one of those people! No more self-sabotage!
The negative thoughts you hold about yourself – if you wouldn’t say it aloud to a friend or family member, to someone you love, then please don’t say it to yourself. Be kind and speak kindly to yourself.
You are important and valuable and so worthy of love – start treating yourself with the same basic decency and respect you show everyone else.
Be your own safe space, starting from today.
This is a subject very close to my heart, mainly because this stuff is life-changing. I can’t tell you exactly how to get body confidence – we all have to tread our own path and find what works for us. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all prescriptive solution – but there are some things I can share with you that might lead you in the right direction.
Your body is your business.
Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are or who you should be. Their opinion of you is exactly that – theirs. It’s not yours; it’s none of your business and it certainly doesn’t define you. It doesn’t matter if this is the opinion of friends, family, strangers in the street – no matter who it is – their opinion is NOT your reality.
Your body is your home. Don’t tear it down. It’s where you live. We just get one body – you may as well love it because hating it isn’t going to help you.
I know you sometimes feel that fear holds you back, keeps you stifled, stops you from doing things you would like to do and being who you would like to be. Here’s the thing…fear is a liar. It fools you and deceives you and tricks your brain into imagining far worse scenarios than could ever really feasibly happen.
Fear is a liar. It’s inside you. You are bigger than your fears, you have them surrounded. You can mute them. Acknowledge your fear, sit with it but don’t let it stop you. You’ve got this.
One thing that I hear time and again, as a prime example of something that destroys confidence, is cat-calling and fat-shaming (fat-calling?) in the street. It’s important to remember this – if someone is slinging insults at you in the street, they have shown you exactly the kind of person they are, and in doing so invalidated their own opinion. And the so-called shame? All theirs – don’t think about taking it away with you, in fact don’t think about it at all.
Again, it’s nothing really to do with you, it’s a manifestation of their ugly personality and a demonstration of their own shortcomings.
Of course, it’s not as easy as that when the person being hurtful is a loved one and I will cover that in some depth in a future post.
The single, most valuable piece of advice I can give you today, from one fat woman to another is this – stop thinking of the word “fat” as an insult. It’s not an insult, it’s a description, in the same way tall, short, thin, muscular and blonde are descriptors.
Kitty has covered this perfectly in her post, Reclaim Fat – go read it, this is really important! And the reason I am telling you, is this – you’re the person affected here. I could tell the fat shamers this until I was blue in the face, do you think it would make a scrap of difference? It wouldn’t. So if we can’t change the way the word is used – we can change the way we hear and understand it. Take back the power and then it won’t matter when someone calls you fat.
Finally – love yourself. Cherish yourself. Fall in love with your body – if you’re not ready to love the way you look, at least appreciate your body for all that it can do. Nurture the child within, that you once were and set yourself free from societal and self-imposed pressures – walk your own path, live your own way – be yourself. You are more than enough – you always were, you always will be.