Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
Is it just me or has winter been here forever? I miss light jackets, bare legs and it not raining constantly. I haven’t bought any new clothes in months because I’m waiting on spending for spring weather rather than even more jumpers, so here are a few of my favourite spring fashion pieces that I’ve been lusting after lately.
Mint green is such a beautiful colour, and this ASOS Curve Jumpsuit is a peach. The peg style trousers are very on trend and the kimono sleeves are a lovely touch. It’s also available in orange if that’s more your colour palette.
Spring fashion always means floral. These Simply Be Floral Skorts are so fun! Perfect for avoiding chub rub whilst also swishing about and twirling.
I’m always on the search for accessories too, and these Sugar & Vice Flamingo earrings are lush. The pearlescent pink finish is just beautiful.
The Lady V London Lyra dress has become a staple in my wardrobe, and they recently released a whole bunch of new designs and colours to the range. The Feminine Floral Lyra is a particular favourite of mine.
I fell in love with this Navabi Flared Sequin Dress as soon as I saw their editorial with Hayley Hasselhoff modelling it. The pale colour and the sequin tiger stripes are so fun.
And finally, probably my favourite piece I’ve seen in ages, this incredible River Island Faux Suede Fringe Jacket. I can just imagine the delightful movement this would have, drunkenly dancing at a BBQ. Wearing it would just make me happy! Spring fashion doesn’t always have to be pastels and florals, and this is divine.
I can’t wait for warmer weather, what pieces have you fallen in love with lately?
This weekend I found myself sighing at several plus size brands attempts at PR. Bonmarche grabbed my attention when Rad Fat Feminist called them out on Twitter in the following tweet.
Hey @bonmarche, you’re a fashion brand; one that stocks plus sizes and works with plus size bloggers (including myself in the past). What are you doing promoting dieting and weight loss? #fatactivism #fatacceptance #sizeacceptance pic.twitter.com/UHgxYnRFj9
— Rad Fat Feminist (@radfatfeminist) March 29, 2018
Bonmarche sell sizes 10-28, and this weekend they took to Facebook to advertise their newest competition. In order to win a diet book, they wanted to know why their customers wanted to ‘turn back time’, the name of the book. The comments are nearly all about dieting, women wishing they could lose weight, or go back to a time when they were smaller in size. It’s a truly depressing sight.
To see a plus size brand essentially encouraging their customer base to lose weight, it breaks all our hearts at She Might Be. Women spend so much time being told how they should look, how they should change, that they aren’t good enough, shopping at a plus size brand shouldn’t add even more doubt and questioning to anyone’s lives. Shopping for clothes should not come with health advise, or diet culture embedded within.
Bonmarche could arguably be considered a plus size brand for the more mature women, they tend to focus on staples, rather than following fashion trends, with a lot more midi lengths and sleeves featuring in their designs that other brands. For them to be feeding off of the insecurities of people who have quite possibly spent their entire lives feeling not good enough is so inappropriate. For many younger plus size women, social media has been an amazing creation that has helped us learn to love ourselves, but for the older generations who didn’t have other visibly fat babes loving themselves to look to, that journey is barely starting.
Now to be fair to them, Bonmarche did issue an apology… if you can call ‘Sorry if you were offended’ an apology. The competition is still up and running and they appear to have no intention of reconsidering their promotion of diet culture.
It is just not good enough when plus size brands are promoting dieting to their customers. Bonmarche tend to use very thin models, who are predominantly white. In fact, in 2018 I could only find one repost of an influencer on their instagram, a white, straight blogger. Before this, it was July 2017, and again, another thin, white influencer. This pattern clearly shows what Bonmarche think of the majority of their customer base. Their competition is incredibly problematic, but looking at their social media raises so many other questions.
Who do a brand who sell sizes 10-28 only focus on the very lowest end of the spectrum? Why are their models almost entirely white? Their Instagram is one of the least inclusive brand social media accounts I have seen in a long time. At first I thought this post would be just about their mess of a competition, but with very little digging, I realised that the reality is, that Bonmarche have very little interest in actually highlighting their customer base at all. Far from a single damaging post, their whole social media presence is alarming in it’s focus on a singular type of female form, thin, and white. Bonmarche need to step it up and totally revamp their entire social media. They need to consider their impact on the psyche of their customers, and ask themselves if they really want to promote one type of beauty. I know I don’t want to buy from a brand who do.
It’s no secret that we at SMB adore Plus Equals. Their clothing line is available up to a size 42 as standard and features beautiful, bright, attention grabbing pieces that most of us plus size babes could only have dreamed of. When they announced their new rebrand, immediate excitement ensued!
Plus Equals is rebranding and on that new launch (with the latest collection) we’ll be going fully gender neutral for plus size bodies who love femme fashion
— Plus Equals (@plusequalsuk) March 4, 2018
Plus Equals are doing something most brands would not even consider. Not only are they catering for a truly incredible size range, they are being inclusive and diverse, and genuinely putting their everything into it. All whilst being an indy brand!
Plus Equals have consistently shown that they are dedicated to being for everyone. Their editorials feature a range of models that the body positive community dream of. Their recent shoots have included many different models of colour, a range of different plus sizes, no photoshop to model’s skin, and LGBTQ* representation.
In a world of brands using body positivity for capitalism and barely bothering to actually use a diverse cast in their adverts, Plus Equals are a shining light. Making the decision to rebrand for a fully gender neutral range is a bold move that others brands need to take note of. Instead of using the LGBTQ* community as props to gain brownie points, Plus Equals are making sure their clothing is available to everyone.
When indy brands, run by one kick ass woman, can show an authentic mix of bodies in their photos, it begs the question, why can’t big brands with huge budgets? Imagine being a teenager looking at Plus Equals editorials, and being able to see yourself in their images, a plus size non-binary body, wearing clothes made for you. I can vividly remember the first time I saw a body like mine on social media, and as a plus size white woman I have a lot of privilege and representation. Think of all those people finally seeing themselves for the first time, and how uplifting that must be.
Plus Equals deserve constant celebration and support from our community. We cannot wait to see how this turns out!
Last year River Island did an excellent job of expanding their plus size range up to a size 28. Their plus range has quickly become a plus size blogger favourite, offering chic, fashionable pieces that work alongside their existing straight size range. Most recently, there has been a lot of hype for their campaign, #LabelsAreForClothes.
‘This spring we celebrate 30 years of River Island with an exciting people positive campaign. Bringing together a diverse cast as the faces and voices of RI, we explore identity and reject the idea of labelling. We believe that LABELS ARE FOR CLOTHES, NOT PEOPLE, so we’re spinning tired stereotypes on their head and reclaiming labels to make them positive and truly REAL! To spread the positive vibes, we’ve teamed up with anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label with an exclusive range of empowerment tees and sweats that shout our mantra loud and proud! £3 from every sale, plus an extra £1* for every social share using #LABELSAREFORCLOTHES goes directly to DTL.’ (Source River Island 2018).
The range features a mixture of unisex sweatshirts, hoodies and t-shirts in a variety of colours and prints. The first thing I did was jump on over to filter the range by size and immediate disappointment hit. In women’s sizes, size 18 was the largest available selection. In the more unisex size labels, small to XXXL is available. At the time of writing, the largest size has 6 of the 10 items available to purchase, whereas the straight size range has all 10 items in stock. It may be because the XXXL has been more popular, but the cynic in me doubts it. A XXXL could mean anything in terms of sizing, so after some major hunting I found a size chart I could compare it to. Their size guide section is not the most helpful, so I had to compare two different charts to translate them to sizes that made understanding the XXXL easier.
Making the assumption that the XXXL available is the same as the one featured in the plus size top size guide, the #LabelsAreForClothes largest available size is comparable to a size 22/24. A XXXL has a bust measurement of 123-131 cm, the size 22 is 121cm, and the size 24 is 127 cm. A 26 is 132 cm so is sized out. The largest size that can potentially wear this range, is therefore a size 24. River Island’s plus size range covers 2 further sizes!
River Island claim to be featuring a diverse group in their campaign, and yet have left out 2 of the sizes they already sell! Watching their videos that accompanies the campaign, it becomes clear that they are leaving a lot of people out of this campaign.
There are 3 official videos that promote the campaign, two featuring adults models, and one for children. One of the two videos featuring adults features one curvier model, and none of them feature any visibly disabled models. It is absolutely wonderful to see a range of different skin tones, a hijabi wearing model, tattooed bodies, LGBTQ* relationships, and a brand rejecting gender norms. However, those left out of the campaign are those so often left out of campaigns claiming to be diverse. A curvy model who I would hazard to guess is around a size 14-16, does not mean plus size bodies are included. No visibly disabled adults feature in the campaign. Thin, abled bodies are the standard, and this campaign features them in abundance.
The kids video is FAR superior, featuring a range of adorable kids, two of whom are visibly disabled. It is delightful and for children to be able to see themselves in this advert must be awesome for them. I wish I could say the same about the adult campaign!
#LabelsAreForClothes is so close in terms of who it features, and yet so far. It seems almost lazy to have excluded sizes they already make for a campaign they claim is diverse, and to focus on thin abled bodies.
The other major issue I have with this campaign is well…. the whole campaign concept. In an ideal world, labels wouldn’t matter, but for so many they can provide comfort and help them feet others who identify in the same ways they do. For a teen struggling to find their place in the world, finding the label of non-bindary, or transgender, can open them up to a whole world that they suddenly realise that they fit in. For anyone who falls outside of societies norms, labels can be everything.
‘when you say, “what are all these silly words–“homosexual”, “bisexual”, “transgender”, basically what you’re saying is “My personal social and psychological experience and needs have no use for these distinctions.’ (Source Patheos 2014)
I also asked fellow She Might Be writer Shona Cobb for some words on the campaign, as a disabled rights activist.
‘I’ve lost count of how many times in the past year I’ve seen brands try and get diversity right but managing to get it wrong in so many ways, and whilst I see many applauding this campaign, for me it displays as another failed attempt to be inclusive.
At first glance the campaign appeared to be great, with disabled models from Zebedee Management (an agency that represents a wide range of disabled models) popping up on my Instagram feed wearing the items from the range, I figured if that many disabled people were endorsing it then it could only be a good thing! Further research into it had me changing my opinion completely though. This campaign and range is all about ditching labels but for many people labels are helpful, a mark of identity and a signal of the discrimination that many face as a result of their identity. Removing those labels removes all of that.
Labels to many aren’t bad things, I embrace being a bixsexual disabled woman and have no problem being referred to by my identity. It’s central to my being but also a signal of the discrimination I face as a result. Some seem to think that removing labels makes us all equal but not referring to me as disabled does not magically remove the barriers society put in my place because I am disabled.
Whilst I applaud River Island for using diverse models, including some disabled child models, I feel they have completely missed the mark with this campaign, like many brands before them have also.’
Another day, another brand launching a campaign that is problematic and fails to be truly diverse despite what it claims.
I know, I know, it’s howling wind and cold outside and I have the audacity to mention a swimsuit. I’m forever dreaming of my next Summer holiday, and planning a holiday always comes with the inevitable desire to shop! I always suddenly realise that I, in fact, own no Summer clothes and no swimming costumes. Every time! One of my favourite parts of any holiday in a sunny location is swimming. I love splashing about in the pool, paddling in the ocean, and generally spending all my time lounging about in my swimming costume.
When I go hunting for a swimming costume, as adorable as they are, I skip straight past the fatkinis, and to the one pieces. Fatkinis have become synonymous with the body positive movement. I can still remember the first time I saw the term, and the first time I saw a plus size babe on tumblr rocking her bikini. Back then they didn’t even exist for us, she had made it herself! So why on earth would I pick a boring old one piece suit over a glamorous bikini? Well, for starters, we’ve come a long way and there are legions of cute, sexy and fashionable one piece swimsuits now. Gone are the days of boring, plain swimming costumes only available in black and navy. I swear, at one point there was only that one swimsuit available, you know the one, it probably had two bits of plain white piping down the front, we all had it. Not now though, now there is a style for everyone now!
Do you want a suit with mesh panels? Check! Maybe you’re all about revealing cut outs and showing some flesh? Check! Flowers? Check! Polkadots, leopard print, every pattern you can think of? Check! Our plus size and full bust swimsuit options are so varied now. There are bandeaus and halternecks and harness style straps, full cup support, removal bust padding, swimdresses, if you can think of it, you can probably find it now. There are one piece swimsuits to fit the style of everyone, from the most goth, to the most glam, and you can still get that classic navy one piece if that is still more your sort of thing.
The major reason that I love a one piece, is for that extra bit of security when swimming. I love being underwater, doing handstands, and the opportunity to just be in the water as much as possible. I always feel just that bit more secure leaping about in a one piece, no fear that my top might be about to escape! If more activity is your aim, I generally think a one piece is the safer option to know that I’m not about to flash. I maybe, possibly, remember an incident as a teenager in which I might have very almost lost my bottoms going down a slide, whilst my top tried to escape in the opposite direction. No risk of that in a one piece thank goodness!
You can get so many gorgeous one piece plus size and DD+ swimsuits now, check out Simply Beach for some goodies!
For me, it’s the accessories that finish an outfit off. Once I have my jewellery on, my bag picked out, then it feels complete. Christmas outfits are no different, so here are some of my favourite holiday themed pieces!
A hair clip is an easy way to make a simple outfit more festive, and Crown and Glory have some gorgeous pieces. Lots of stars and glitter, but the Mistletoe Hair Flair really leapt out at me. These actually have a dual clip, so can be worn in your hair or as a badge, so you can get twice as much wear out of them!
Snowy accessories are a total must have for this time of year right? These Snowflake Earrings from Black Heart Creatives are wearable all winter long, perfect for snow days!
For those of us that are more into the alternative side of things, Sugar & Vice have these incredible Horror Snowflake Necklaces (also available as baubles!). If you have a horror movie lover in your life, these Freddy, Jason and The Shining inspired accessories would make amazing gifts too. I’m obsessed and need them round my neck and on my tree!
For something cheekier for the cat lover, this hilarious and naughty Christmas Kitty Enamel Pin from Punky Pins is bound to illicit laughs. Punky Pins have a whole range of Christmas pins, some naughtier than others, but I think this is my fave.
And finally, no outfit is complete without a coat to keep you warm, and what could be better than the Plus Equals The Stargirl Coat? Faux fur covered with 40 sequin stars, available in up to a size 42 as standard. AS STANDARD. What a beaut.
Everything featured in this comes from incredible independent brands. Support indy brands this Christmas and help make their Christmas one to remember!
I’ve been vegetarian for over 17 years, and I am always hunting for more cruelty free beauty companies. I’m trying out two new companies in this post, both cruelty free and focusing on natural skin care and beauty products.
All of these products are from Live in the Light, first up is the Annmarie Ayurvedic Facial Scrub. It smells absolutely amazing! It’s made of a mixture of fenugreek, rosemary, shavegrass and clay, and is designed for sensitive skin.
It comes in a 50ml pot and is a very fine powder. Be very careful when you open it! I wasn’t quite expecting such a fine powder and accidentally ended up covered in it, wasting some of the product. I would recommend opening it on a flat surface so you don’t make the same mistake I did.
To use this, you mix a small amount of the powder with a few teaspoons of water. It forms a paste that you can then apply to your skin. I always recommend a patch test before you use a new product like this just in case. I have really sensitive skin and allergies and had no problems with it at all. It definitely helped with my dry skin and exfoliated well.
Next up is the Annmarie Coconut Body Oil. I am a huge fan of coconut oil, and in the water in particular it can be a total skin saver. My favourite use for this is actually on my legs, it helps keep my tattoos bright and fresh looking even in the harshest of weather. It has a handy pump top and like the scrub, comes in beautiful and solid packaging. It feels expensive and sturdy.
The last thing I tried was Pure Anada Petal Perfect Lipstick in Autumn. I don’t often wear a traditional lipstick, but this is vegan, cruelty free, and 100% organic. It glides on really smoothly, it took a couple of layers to build up a solid colour but it was so soft and comfy to wear that I can forgive that.
My photo honestly doesn’t do this colour justice. It’s a lovely brown shade with a gold undertone to it, truly lovely for autumn and aptly named. It lasted well and didn’t fade too much. It did come off with food, but that is pretty standard for a regular lipstick.
In all, I really liked these products and would certainly be interested to try more from both companies.
I hate to say the C word (I really don’t actually), but Christmas is coming, and with that comes Christmas parties! I love an excuse to get dressed up all fancy, and find perfect party dresses. Sparkles, velvet, glamour, I love it all. Whether it’s a work night out, or because your family go all out on Christmas day, here are some of my top picks for party dresses this winter.
The first dress I just had to include is the Kylie dress from Plus Equals. It is absolute sequin perfection! It retails for £85 and is available in up to a 42 in 7 different colours. I feel like if I buy this dress I’ll treat it like Pokemon and have to collect them all!
Mustard is one of this season’s hottest colours, and velvet is a major trend, this combines them gorgeously! The Simply Be By Night Long Sleeve Ruched Velour Dress is a bargain for £25. This is the perfect way to show off your curves and wear the softest fabric around.
ASOS have the slinkiest of high glamour nailed with the Club L Plus All Over Glitter Maxi Dress. If you have a ball, or a really fancy event to attend, you cannot get more showstopping than this rose gold dream.
A Little Black Dress is a classic for good reason, and this black sequin dress from Yours Clothing is lovely. The sequins dress it up, and I can just see the floaty chiffon skirt section twirling on the dance floor.
If something vintage inspired is more your taste, you cannot go wrong with a Lyra dress from Lady V London. I know I speak for not just myself, but several of the other writers here at SMB, but the Lyra is one of the best dresses out there. You will get compliments galore in a Lyra, and they are super comfy to boot. They release them in all different colours and patterns throughout the year in both long and short sleeve styles.
And finally, I have to end on this ASOS Curve bandage dress because well, just look at it. As soon as I saw it in the ‘new in’ section I thought ‘damn’. The fishtail style is something you don’t see very often and this is guaranteed to turn heads!
My family always dress up on Christmas day, so I always treat myself to a new dress that I wear for the first time on Christmas day, maybe one of these will end up being mine!