Katy Somerville

Katy

Living in the land of Oz, running on stars, caffeine, lipstick, birds, and pessimism.

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I was Mermaid for Lovin’ You

My fiancé and I are just two months away from getting married.

Thus we decided it was obviously a great idea to move house in the next fortnight, because hey, let’s amp up the anxiety as much as possible. We also have a four month old puppy, but I digress.

In the midst of packing to move house I came across my homemade, scraped together Ursula from The Little Mermaid costume and had to decide whether to ditch it or pack it. How often could it possibly be acceptable to dress as Ursula? Or a mermaid for that matter? Let alone wrap prop moray eels around myself like a boa?

In the last three years my hair has been all sorts of blues and greens and in betweens. It now sits at semi-normal, regular ol’ brown with pale purple Frankenstein’s Bride-esque streaks. My hair was/is definitely my small homage to Ursula and all mermaids, little or otherwise, when it is just not socially acceptable to be rocking a full mermaid fin à la Bette Midler as Delores De Lago circa 1980.

As a little girl who was born in 1984, I have a very vivid memory of seeing Disney’s The Little Mermaid at my local cinema. Ariel then became my favourite Disney princess – quickly shafted for the library dwelling, possibly interspecies-erotica-loving, Belle… but that’s a topic for another day!

Like many kids all over the world, I got mermaid obsessed.

 Mermaid

The exquisite Amber of Style Plus Curves looking glorious

However, whereas Ariel wanted to be where the people are/see them dancing/etc, I wanted to be Under the Sea with funky snails playing tiny saxophones and dads who threw concerts in my honour. To have a giant clam shell bed and be friends with Ursula, because let’s face it, we all know she’s the freaking coolest.

From the 5 year old, dark haired girl with scabby knees, who wanted a tiny clam shell bra, impossibly wide eyes and perfect hair to the 33 year old with scabby knees, who realised that she couldn’t swim; living in the ocean as a mermaid was not actually an achievable goal.

Fortunately for this land-dwelling, wannabe mermaid, the internet exists and there is still a world of fantastic mermaid-errific gadgets and gizmos out there.

Mermaid

 JAY GLITTER WIDE LEG

Mermaid

TFNC Plus Long Sleeve Sequin Mini Dress In Multi Sequin With Shoulder Pads

Mermaid

TFNC Plus T-Shirt Mini Skater Dress In Two Tone Sequin

Mermaid

CHI CHI CURVE DYLANN DRESS

Mermaid

CHI CHI CURVE LAUREL DRESS

Mermaid

If you want to be super unsubtle about how much you want to be where the people aren’t, you can finally rock your clamshell bra dreams with this… DISNEY THE LITTLE MERMAID ARIEL SWIM TOP PLUS SIZE

Thus, even though I will never be the Mistress of the Sea (okay… maybe I want to be Ursula more than Ariel nowadays), I can at least adorn myself in fantastically oceanic fashion and continue to dye my hair every shade of magical and mermaid-y glory! Here’s me living my best mermaid life in a skirt from Forever 21:

Mermaid

… now, I wonder if it’s too late to pitch a mermaid themed wedding to my fiancé??

Mermaid

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Mental Illness Isn’t a Character in an Indie Movie

Content warning: this article contains aspects which may trigger some readers, including self harm and mental illness. 

 

Mental illness is not a thing to be romanticised.

It’s not a fun and quirky aspect of a character in an indie rom-com.

Mental illness is lying on the floor of my loungeroom and wanting to fall through the floor.

To dissolve.

To disappear.

Mental illness isn’t always brought on by one specific event or occurrence. It can be a dormant dragon that suddenly wakes up for no reason and tries to rip you apart.

It’s hearing variations of,

“what are you depressed about?”

“you’ve got no reason to be depressed”

“It could be so much worse.”

It is being afraid to be truthful because I don’t want to seem ungrateful or batshit because I feel like the world is spinning out of control with me right in the middle.

Mental illness is wanting to feel a blade against my skin so fucking badly that I dig my nails into my hand, just so I won’t give in to what I actually want to do.

Mental illness is not being able to work because I have such bad anxiety and break down in tears. Not being classed as “ill enough” to receive health benefits because I’m not “actively suicidal” but not well enough to hold down a job due to said anxiety and depression and epic meltdowns. The vicious cycle continues.

Mental illness is hearing “so what do you do?” and having to answer awkwardly, “oh, I’m not working at the moment…” while wanting to answer “Surviving”.

Mental illness is hearing “you should be grateful and happy – you’re getting married” which then makes the negative voice in the back of my head wonder how long I will be able to keep this marriage going, since I failed so dismally last time.

Mental illness is feeling constantly judged (sometimes because I am paranoid, sometimes because these things have literally been said to me) by strangers and people I know:

 I can’t believe she’s getting married AGAIN – she’s 32, that’s crazy. Maybe if she took better care of her physical health she wouldn’t be depressed – it’s just coz she’s fat. She doesn’t work, she’s so lazy. She’s always sad, she’s always “depressed”, she’s not really sick, it’s all in her head, she’s overreacting, she just wants attention etc etc

It doesn’t just go away. Not for everyone.

It is not something that has a quick fix. It has things that can help you survive and live side by side with it, but it hasn’t got a magical Hogwarts spell – Mentalus Illness Reparo…

Mental illness is different for every single person and things that help one person may be useless to another.

Mental illness is admitting when I’m having a god-awful day.

It does not mean I’m weak.

 Mental Illness Isn't A Character in an Indie Movie

It’s just a wretched, little aspect of my “me”.

Mental illness may be kicking my fucking arse today. Mental illness may make me feel like I’m drowning in the fucking ocean.

Tomorrow I may be able to float in that ocean instead of flailing but if I can’t – that’s okay too.

 

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Check out these Body Positive Spaces

A lot of people use the hashtags “body positivity” but their version of being positive reads more like “I was fat, but now look at skinny I am”, which is kind of the opposite of what body positivity means. Sometimes it can be really hard finding body positive (or even body neutral) websites and social media online. I’d always say to steer clear of social media accounts and things that involve before and after photos – unless it’s “before I bought this super cool jacket” and “after I bought it and it was amazing”. Or things that involve a before and after picture involving good vs. bad bodies – that’s not body positive at all and you don’t need that in your life.

So here’s a little list, just to make it a bit easier than searching through a thousand bopo hashtags (although, sometimes that can be really fun too).

Please remember, this is my own little list.

It’s not an absolute, encyclopedic inventory of every single body positive site on the internet. I’m only one little fat girl – that’s way too much pressure!

 

The Militant Baker

Body Positive

First up on the list, we have Jes Baker over at The Militant Baker.

Jes is an empowering, unique, down-to-earth, intelligent woman. She rocks my world a lot. Other than being a pretty big superstar in the world of blogging, The Militant Baker has been featured on a ton of media platforms and Jes has spoken at a number of universities and events on the topic of Body Love.

Jes has done a lot of visual campaigns and clothing companies to promote positive body image and plus size clothing. She has also authored an amazing book called Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook For Unapologetic Living. If you haven’t had a chance to read her book yet, I triple-dog-dare and highly recommend that you jump right on it and read up a storm. It’s full of amazing insights and truth bombs, hilarity, and swearing.

Jes talks openly and frankly about mental health, speaking out against fat shaming, and spreading the body positive love! I also recommend constantly taking photos of certain paragraphs and sending them to your boyfriend to read. Also lend the book to your mum – or to my mum, I’m sure she’ll read it again!

 

@whatfatgirlsactuallywear

Body Positive

Again, the title of this Instagram account kinda sums it up. What Fat Girls Actually Wear is one of my favourite late-night-trawl-through-the-internet adventures. Seeing girls with similar body shapes or styles as me, as well as seeing some freaking amaaazing fashion and body positive folk, it’s an awesome, instantly smile-making, occurrence.

Let’s face it, a fair amount of clothes for plus size women can be well… pretty shit. Ill-fitting clothes that have been pushed shamefully into dark corners of the Plus Size sections of your local department store, or that have that have been stitched together from potato sacks in muted colours or things that fat girls are allowed to wear.

You know the drill – nothing form-fitting, but nothing too baggy, never ever horizontal stripes, nothing that shows the fact that you have cellulite or chunky thighs, or wibbly wobbly arms, etc etc.

(Fuuuck that. Come arrest me in my seven layered tutu and my bikini top, buddy. I’ll tear your eyes right out with my little sausage fingers.)

But I digress… What Fat Girls Actually Wear lets girls express their style and themselves in a really positive and encouraging way, reiterating once again that you can be fat and love your body and wear whatever the heck you want, and rock the crap out of it!

 

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@alternativecurves 

Founded by @margotmeanie, Alternative Curves celebrates the more alternative (funnily enough) side of plus size fashion. Think Wednesday Addams, Lydia Deetz, Stevie Nicks, Spice Girls, mermaids and unicorns, every 80s punk rock queen ever… That kinda deal.

 

@effyourbeautystandards

Body Positive

Eff Your Beauty Standards does exactly that with its handpicked photos from Instagram, of some pretty amazing people with many different bodies and stories rounded up by a group of body positive folk from around the world.

 

 

@selfiesforselflove

Selfies for Self Love is, well, pretty self-explanatory. It’s an Instagram account dedicated to increasing diverse representation in media through the act of taking selfies.

Selfies can sometimes be seen as self-absorbed or being vain, but I don’t think that’s the case – why the hell can’t we take photos of our bodies when we feel amazing? Why in the world not? Who the fuck dictated that to be a rule? Other than, you know, society (insert crotchety old man shaking fist here).

Taking selfies can be an amazingly magic tool! I know that I personally take a bunch of them – if my outfit looks particularly amazing, or on days when I look in the mirror and think, yes, that is a damn fine face, then my crappy phone camera comes out and a lot of selfies get snapped.

 

 

Body Positive Australia

I had to sneak this one is as it’s been a huge part of my life, especially over the last five weeks.

Run by the two supremely intelligent and genuine women, Body Positivity Australia doesn’t offer empty promises, or “if you read this website, or follow these courses, you’ll instantly feel better, because hey, that’s not always possible. It does however go a long way to, well, hitting you over the head with the fact that, hell yes, your body is amazing, and that it shouldn’t have to have restrictions or rules put upon it to make it “perfect” or pleasing to anyone else.

First up we have Fiona Sutherland, who is a leading specialist in Mindful Eating and the NonDiet Approach and supports the idea of HAES (Health at Every Size).

The yin to Fiona’s yang is awesomely talented Sarah Harry, who is a bit of a wizard when it comes to Body Image and Body Peace. She has over 15 years of experience with people when it comes to helping them find a healthy and happy relationship with their bodies. Sarah’s not only a jack (jill?) of all trades (clinician, lecturer, researcher, yoga teacher and writer) when it comes to body image, she also has personal experience with the struggle for body positivity and is one of Australia’s leading specialists in Body Image and Disordered Eating.

Body Positive Australia is currently running an online Body Peace course (which I’ve been lucky enough to take part in) combines yoga, videos, online support, workbooks. The videos involve Sarah basically having a conversation with you, complete with one of the best laughs I have ever heard, and things that have thus far, been helping me soooo much with my own body struggles. I don’t know if this course is offered up to people outside of Australia (I may sound like I’m spruiking like a 1950s vacuum cleaner salesman, but I just really dig their whole energy and messages.

Sarah and Fiona don’t offer any weight loss tricks or tips to give you a golden ticket to body positivity. They firmly believe that fat is not the problem. Dieting is the problem.

Their objective is to help give you ease and comfort in your body, again, hopefully helping you realise that regardless of size, shape, colour, ability, health, you are “allowed” to feel positive about your body.

 

She Might Be

Body Positive

I would be remiss if I failed to mention She Might Be Magazine (that’s where you are right now, in case you were somehow unaware). This online magazine community is the brainchild of Georgina who you can also put on your amazingly Body Positive list and keep track of her blog at http://www.shemightbeloved.com/.

She Might Be is also the UK’s first completely body positive online magazine featuring bloggers from not only the UK, but the US, and Australia as well.

This online magazine features a pretty awesome and incredible talented group of writers coming together. She Might Be endeavours to bring body positivity and confidence into the foreground of your brain where it should be. Instead of letting it sit in a dark corner in the cobwebbed recesses of your mind because your brain has been trained that if you like your body and it’s not “perfect”, then you are clearly a wretched human-being (NOT TRUE, NOT TRUE!)

From the latest in plus size fashion, trends, and trashy gossip, to mental health, sex, and living with disabilities, She Might Be is definitely a big X to mark down on your Body Positivity treasure map.

 

So there you have it, a (very) little dip into the online world of Body Positivity. Go explore!

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Women in Uniform: Feeling Invincible

uniform

Almost everyone I know has at least one accessory or item of clothing that makes them feel pretty invincible. A uniform that helps them take on the world.

The Little Black Dress that makes you feel perfect or that killer pair of heels that make your legs look like they go for miles. Those tracksuit pants that feel like angels themselves weaved them from the clouds or that t-shirt you’ve had since you were 15 which is so thin and worn that it feels as though it will fall to pieces at any moment but it magically never does. Or the jacket that you rug up in while you drink coffee in a takeaway cup and pretend you’re in a cop show set in New York (or is that just me…?)

It might be something else – that magical, Holy Grail shade of eye-shadow or eyeliner that makes your eyes sparkle or the hairstyle that looks as if you’ve just left the hairdresser or stepped out of a shampoo commercial.

Jewellery, jeans, dresses, shoes, underpants – I think we all have a few items that make us feel incredible – like we could take on the world. Like a personal uniform that says ‘I am Queen’. So – what’s the one thing that makes me feel amazing? My I-Can-Do-Anything-Because-I-Am-Magnificent item? Are you all ready?

It’s a Wonder Woman tiara. Well, it’s more like a headband.  A homemade headband put together from scraps of leather and a very un-elasticated piece of elastic. Anyway, homemade or store-bought tiara, it’s not exactly something that I wear every day, however, anytime I put on my Wonder Woman crown – I feel amazing.

I feel beautiful and well, funnily enough, like a superhero who has just put on her uniform.

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In the wake of the new DC Wonder Woman movie taking the world by storm (well, taking me by storm and making me cry with happiness because I’ve waited for nearly twenty years for my favourite superhero to have her very own movie) it feels like the time to reveal myself as a great big Wonder Woman fangirl, in case the giant Wonder Woman tattoo on the back of my calf hadn’t given it away already to those who know me.

Pre the Gal Gadot incarnation of Diana Prince, I was invited to a party that was “uniform themed”.  In all honesty, I had forgotten about the theme aspect of the party until about a week before and I frantically started thinking about how I could put together some kind of uniform from the items already in my cupboard/costume bag and then I remembered the Wonder Woman costume I had made several years ago for a friends superhero party and I figured hey, that’s pretty much a uniform.

The costume was fashioned from the following items:

  • A second-hand red bed sheet
  • Yellow felt with a ‘W’ in permanent marker drawn on it
  • The underwire and straps from some old bras
  • Two very tiny blue netball skirts attached together and hand painted with white stars
  • Big chunky lace-up boots painted with red acrylic paint with a very wonky white stripe along the top and down the middle
  • A zipper, some very questionable sewing, hot glue and a bunch of safety pins

A yellow nylon rope was my Lasso of Truth and silver cardboard become my bullet deflecting bracelets. The pièce de résistance of my Princess of Themyscira outfit was the gold painted headband with a red star glittering proudly in the centre. It’s a very fancy accessory, being made, as stated earlier, from leather remnants and a piece of elastic I found in my cupboard. It was classic, first edition, comic book Wonder Woman.

I was very nervous about going to this party. Nevertheless, I did some breathing exercises, had a few scotches, blow-dried my thick wavy hair and hair-sprayed it with the biggest can of hairspray in the land. I carefully did my makeup with fresh-faced and polished foundation and glowing ‘I’ve just come from saving the world’ blush on my cheeks, along with vibrant blue eye-shadow to compensate for the fact that unlike my favourite Amazon, I sadly do not have delightfully blue-black hair. Thick black eyeliner with false eyelashes (I wish I could wear them every day but my patience is not that good) and bright Russian Red lipstick finished the look,  and I’m not going to lie – that Lasso of Truth has really taken a hold – the face in the mirror was awesome.

My makeup looked great and my bouffant hair was… well… quite bouffant-y.  But something was missing.

I retrieved the headband (which hangs, like Sugar Ray’s ‘Every Morning’, on the corner of my four post bed) and carefully lowered it over my voluminous hair and tentatively looked at the Mirror Me. That was it. The missing piece.  With the gold band on my head, I was ready to take on the world – or if not the world, at least any muggers I ran into on my way to the party.

The red paint on my boots was flaking and my hand stitched top was held tighter with a safety pin and my cape was long gone. But with my Amazon Princess tiara and my favourite matte red lipstick, I really did feel like a goddess.

Wonder Woman was created by DC Comics in 1942 and since then she has, undeniably, been through many changes of styles and voices.  Through all of those years I have always found her to be wonder-ful (I had to, I’m sorry) while she kicked butt and stood up for what she believed in. There are a lot of varied opinions regarding DC Comics and poor ol’ Diana Prince but in the end this is my little rant and 32 year old Katy loves Wonder Woman just as much as 14 year old Katy did.

Whether she was dressed in her modest flippy skirt, classic super hero underpants, a hip and happening sixties outfit, a patriotic dominatrix, or her fancy new slightly muted armour, she has always been a warrior. Brave and firm in her beliefs and well… Wonder Woman.

When I wear my favourite red lipstick I feel pretty awesome. When I wear my favourite red lipstick with my Wonder Woman tiara I feel like a warrior princess. I feel powerful and like I don’t need to apologise for who I am or what I stand for or the choices that I have made. It’s my world and I am my own Princess of Themyscira. I feel like Wonder Woman and I love that feeling.

Maybe I do need to incorporate the tiara into everyday wear.

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