Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
Plus size blogger, fashion photographer, cat lady and wife.
On Friday 13th July, I saw something on Twitter that truly made my heart melt. A single tweet was all it took.
— Woodgate Primary (@woodgateprimary) July 13, 2018
I mean, can you even imagine how adorable this was? ‘Plus+’, A book full of plus size babes, edited by Bethany Rutter, serving as fashion inspiration for a primary school lesson. I can’t explain to you how full this made my heart. I was maybe a little bit biased, because I am in this book wearing the shortest pinapple print dress ever, and happen to think it’s totally awesome, but I love that this happened. An amazing teacher decided to show these young minds a different form of media, full of different bodies that you might usually see in fashion magazines. And let me tell you, these kids came up with some beautiful concepts for outfits!
— Woodgate Primary (@woodgateprimary) July 13, 2018
— Woodgate Primary (@woodgateprimary) July 13, 2018
This video is the thing that really got to me. I love the explanations behind the outfits the children gave. There’s no judgement about bodies, no concept of flattering, instead they talk about showing off your legs, being soft and comfortable, the fabric shining in the sun, being able to dance, and so many more wonderful reasons they came up with their designs. Without the bias of the media telling them our bodies were wrong, they didn’t see us as wrong, they simply saw clothes they loved and took inspiration from them. What a magical situation!
And then… well…. I have to admit, what happened next gave me serious allergies as I sat at my desk at work.
Ok @woodgateprimary: we’ve had a chat and we want to reward your hard work. If as a class you can choose your three favourite designs that you’ve made between you, we’ll turn them into real outfits 👚👖👗🧥
— navabi (@navabiFashion) July 13, 2018
Navabi swooped in, being their usual incredible selves, to actually make some of the children’s designs! I had a major wobble (as did the rest of plus size twitter) as we imagined the excitement of the children being told. Navabi are always hand hand to make sure your heart is full, and this is absolutely the best. It’s just the sweetest best thing ever!
— Woodgate Primary (@woodgateprimary) July 13, 2018
I was delighted to see a school showing their students a diverse book full of different bodies, teaching them that there is no ‘normal’, and all bodies and good bodies, and then to see Navabi’s reaction, such goodness in a world that can seem so bleak these days. I was also thrilled to see other teacher’s responding to Woodgate Primary’s tweets also planning to share Plus+ with their students too. For me this is exactly what teaching is all about. Can you imagine how cool it must be for a chubby kid to see a grown up who looks like them in a fashion book? That’s life changing! The children all seemed to have the best day, and I know it made a lot of our days too.
I can’t wait to see the designs come to life!
With the weather hotting up, this week I thought I had a simple mission. A mission to find some cute summer vests I can wear that also cover my bra (I’m super lucky and can totally get away with vest tops at work so long as I’m not flashing my undies!). Well, I sure was wrong! I’ve really struggled to find anything that fits the bill. I can find racer backs, and thin straps, and cropped tops, but the hunt for more simple vest tops has proved a tricky one. I don’t mind having visible bra straps, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered with worrying if my bra matches my outfit (really haha!) so I want them covered up! In an effort to help you out on a similar mission, here is what I did find eventually.
One of my go-to summer looks is generally one loose and floaty item of clothing, with one tighter fitting piece. It feels a bit cooler than something form fitting and allows a bit of a breeze on the warmest of days. I love a pencil skirt with a flouncy vest top and this cute top comes in green floral and pink floral, as well as non-patterned options of dusty pink and black.
For an option that also donates 25% of it’s proceeds to GLAAD this Pride Month, I love this ASOS Curve vest top. It’s the sort of fit that is a bit more androgynous, like a t shirt with it’s sleeves cut off rather than a traditional vest top. It gives to a great cause that is so important in this political climate, and is super cute to boot.
For a simple top you can just throw on, that also only costs £12, you can’t go wrong with this vest from Simply Be. This would look so cute paired with a denim skirt.
This piece feels almost quintessentially British summer to me. I feel like I should be laid out on a picnic blanket wearing massive cat eye sunglasses and a straw sun hat in it. If you are someone with shorter hair, or who wears your hair tied up in the summer, the shoulder detail will really add more interest to your outfit and make something simple look so chic.
You are probably reading the title of this post thinking… ‘PokemonGo? Do people still really play that?’, and the answer is absolutely yes. We really do! PokemonGo came out almost two years ago now, and when it first launched, it was massive. You couldn’t go outside without seeing someone playing, and to start with, all the community did was share a smiling nod when they realised they had spotted a fellow Pokemon trainer. Two years on, the community is stronger than ever thanks to the raid system, use of Discord and facebook groups, and the amazing monthly Community Days.
Every month, PokemonGo has a special community day event worldwide. For three hours on a set date, you can catch a particular Pokemon. Evolving it into it’s final form will give it a special limited edition move, but more importantly, a rare shiny variant of that Pokemon will be available! Every month, I head over to a local park and meet up with around 30 other trainers to hunt those shinies out. It has a fantastic community atmosphere, everyone is so excited for the rare catches and we always have a really good time. The park we use is accessible, so the players in our local community who use wheelchairs know they can also partake fully, so if you help plan these events locally for your community, please do keep that in mind!
The last six months has seen many major updates in the game. A weather system that affects spawns, the release of the Hoenn region Pokemon, and most importantly, the quest system. Even rural players who struggle to organise groups for raids, or who potentially don’t live near gyms, can now get the opportunity to catch legendary Pokemon on their own thanks to the field research tasks.
Thanks to PokemonGo, I’ve reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in over ten years, who I would now consider to be one of my besties. I’ve made friends with acquaintances who I always thought were cool but was too nervous to chat to more. I’ve made totally new friends, and it has really encouraged me to keep working on my social anxiety! It’s given me a hobby I can do solo, but also as a group, that encourages me to get out the house and always has something new going on.
So next time you see a cluster of people stood together in a local park, or a large group laughing and cheering and shouting shiny, yes, we really are still playing PokemonGo!
Another week has gone by, and it seems that yet again, pop princess Demi Lovato is in the news being heralded a body positive inspiration to the world. I have to give major props to her marketing team – they do a fantastic job of keeping Demi in the news as an icon for young women to look up to! And if she helps anyone feel better about their bodies, or helps them feel comfortable in their own skin, then that is amazing and I am so so pleased for anyone she helps. But…. I just can’t help but feel that Demi Lovato is not the shining light of the body positive community, and that she is not the hero we need.
Demi Lovato was once one of Disney’s biggest stars. These days she’s more famous for her work as a singer and performer, as well as for being incredibly open about her mental health and struggles with eating disorders and addiction. I am hugely in favour of celebrities being open about their mental health problems. The more conversations we have about mental health, the more we can all lift the stigma surrounding them and hopefully help many more people.
So, if Demi is being so awesome and open, what’s my problem with her? Well, it’s not strictly with Demi Lovato, and more with what she represents as a wider issue. She’s a perfect example of what is wrong with the body positive community and who is heralded as it’s leaders. She is problematic, she is thin with curves in what society considers all the ‘right’ places, and arguably white passing.
It seems an almost a monthly basis, Demi is in the press sharing her ‘cellulite’, her ‘fat’, her stretch marks, she’s held up as an imperfect woman we can all admire, loving herself in spite of her ‘flaws’, we should all admire her! My problem with this is that the reality is, that Demi hardly has a body that doesn’t fit societies ideals. Her ‘fat’ is essentially non-existent, her cellulite and stretch marks are minimal, her curves are in all the places they are ‘supposed’ to be. She is classically good looking, with perfect teeth, access to personal trainers, dietitians and chefs, hair stylists, and make up artists. Her loving her body is not a revolutionary act to those of us who don’t look like her. For Demi, who has a history of eating disorders, it is a revolutionary act – and that’s amazing – but for the rest of us who need body positivity to help us on our journeys, her body is not our revolution.
When Demi posts pictures of her flat stomach, pinching an inch of skin, it’s the acceptable brand of body positivity the media is allowing us to see. When she shares selfies with smoothed out skin that hide every pore, every mark that makes her unique, it dilutes her message of self love. When she shares photos I have to squint at to even see the stretch marks or cellulite in, I really question the effect they can be having on people. When every photo has perfect hair, ‘no makeup’ makeup, eye lash extensions, smooth skin, where is the ground breaking self love?
My issue is not with Demi learning to love herself; that she has been through so much and now proclaims to love her body is all I could ever dream of for anyone who has body issues. But I wish the media would stop holding her up as a shining light, as the hero we need to learn self love from. For other young women who have bodies outside of societies norms, her body doesn’t represent them. For the plus size boy, the women of colour, the transgender woman who is just starting to transition, the disabled teenager, the child with scars, her body cannot lead their revolution.
We need more diversity and representation in the media, not another slim, smooth body spear heading a sinking ship of positivity.
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.