Sophie Griffiths

sophierymer

Lifestyle and home education blogger at Wildling Wishes, main contributor and editor for She Might Be, draws pictures for money at Rymermade on Etsy.

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Don’t Flatter Me – Or These Babes!

flatter

One thing that fat people are being told over and over again is that they need to be ‘flattered’. They need to stand in a certain way to elongate this, and stretch that. They need to wear something that makes their waists look smaller and their stomachs look flat. Christ, even the lighting we use and the haircuts we have can be described as ‘flattering’ or ‘unflattering’. Using the word ‘flatter’ means telling somebody that you find them easier to handle all of a sudden, and this serves as a constant reminder to fat people that their bodies don’t meet certain standards and that they should be striving for something different. Something which will flatter them.

I had a look around on instagram for some women who were actively breaking those rules. Women who didn’t place their hands on their hips to subconsciously hide parts of their stomachs. Women who didn’t wear dresses which were smallest right under the boobs. It was tricky: trust me when I tell you that I am guilty of trying to flatter myself too. I preach about not standing in a ‘flattering’ way but I do it. I preach about not wearing clothes because they flatter you, but I wear them. It’s so easy to just be socially acceptable – and, let’s face it, more palatable – and not rock the boat. So here’s to the women who are breaking the rules. Trolls are more likely to pick up on the strong women who are confident and proud of themselves, and I wanted to take a moment to stand up and applaud the middle fingers that these women are sticking up. Do not flatter me – I am perfect as I am, and I am going to continue to be me. Taking note from these ladies and refusing to ‘flatter’ themselves is step number one for loving yourself.

 

Rockabilly 🎸

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Fun Fact – Your body looks different depending on how you pose. Wanna know the saddest part about these pictures? I was scared to share them. I asked myself if I was really going to post my untoned tummy, dimpled thighs and stretch marks in a world that is fixed on telling me I’m not allowed to. I doubted it for a while but soon my fear was overshadowed by joy and conviction. Heck yes, I was going to post them! Problem areas are nothing more than another societal construction to reduce us to flawed objects that need to be fixed. So here’s my lumpy, bumpy, cellulite, back roll loving unedited imperfection in all it’s glory. Here’s to reality and hoping that we start to see more of it. ♥️✨ Tagged you’ll find a bunch of awesome ladies that have helped and taught me so much by simply being unapologetically themselves! Go check them out! 💕

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Not today Monday, not today.

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Letting it all hang out. This is my body, my menstrual body, but my body nevertheless. I think you can tell from the look on my face there are no fucks given. You know what’s exhausting? Giving a shit what other people think. Caring about all the ‘rules’ about what fat people can wear. Wondering if troll bastards are going to have a dig because they say I’m going to die before I’m 40. (I’m 42 so get fucked). All of this shit fat people carry around with us is heavier than our bodies. Let’s remember some things to lift us, not drag us down. We are entitled to live lives free of hatred, stigma, abuse and ridicule. If people choose to do those things it’s on them, not us. Remember you’re worthy and loveable whatever you look like. Anyone who tries to strip away your humanity and treat you as less than them because they don’t like the way you look is a complete scumbag.

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To the thin woman who loudly proclaimed to her mom yesterday in Torrid that “OH, Here is a size 14. Finally a normal size” FUCK YOU. (Note: they were shopping for the mother) @Torridfashion this is exactly the dialogue you have opened up in a place where we used to feel safe shopping. Not only has your business model extended sizes down to a size that can practically shop anywhere, but your store RUNS OUT OF STOCK on #fatty sizes. I heard “oh, we are out but can order that online and ship to store for you” on 7 items yesterday. Also, NO size 30’s or 5/6 in store. I am not that size, but after failing to find many size 22/24 and 3/4, I got curious. . So. Your business was built on fatties. It was built on the fact we didn’t have anywhere to shop for trendy clothes in a brick and mortar location. Now, there are racks upon racks of size 10-14 00/0 clothes and the sizes you have made millions of money on aren’t even available in store. Thank you for the 4 in store options for my bra size though. 🙄 And yes I’m wearing a comfy spanx. My choice. Fuck your opinion. #fatbabe #fatbabepower #fatgirlroyalty #fatty #fattymagoo #plussize #plus #bodypositive #tattoo #tattoos #tat #tattooedgirlsofig #tattooedbabe #fatacceptance #plussizefashion #fatshion #fashion #torridfashion #torridinsider #nobodyshame

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Yellow hair !! I’m so happy🌛 I have been eyeing of this colour for months but kept putting it off then last week I thought ‘stuff it’ I’m going Yellow ‘it’s such a fun colour’ I used Fudge Paintbox in Gold Cost I’ll do a review in a few washes . What are use cats up to today? I have today off so me and the boys are chilling out enjoying the start of the school holidays watch some flicks eat some pizza and chill out .. . 👌🏻 . . . . . [ thank you my adorable hubby for always taking my pics his so patient with my #outfat photos @djb80s 😘 ] . . #plussizerockchic #effyourbeautystandards #plussizefashion #plussizeblogger #plusfashion #plussizeclothing #plussizestyle #plussize #bodypositive #alternativecurves #psblogger #psootd #psfashion #fatbabe #fatshion #celebratemysize #goldenconfidence #beautyatanysize #vbo #fuckflattering #bodyacceptance #blogger #bloggerbabe #bloggervibes #bloggerstyle #losehatenotweight ..

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I wish I could model full time 😭

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My Journey With Tabloid Magazines

tabloid magazines

On a typical lunch break, I tend to spend almost all of my time staring at my phone. Some chit chat with my husband, I play him in a couple of rounds of Boggle (and, obviously,I win) and I scroll through my social media. Sometimes I even proof read a post or two for She Might Be, and on occasion I have even had the inkling to write an article. But whatever I am doing, I will not look up at what is on the table beside me.

There, in the middle of the table in the break room, is the same thing that is in every break room I have ever used: a well-thumbed pile of tabloid magazines. The front cover will offer diet tips with one hand, while scolding ‘too skinny’ celebrities with the other. A damning headline about how weight gain was a husband’s explanation for cheating, while telling women to ‘love their curves’ and showing samples of bikini-clad cellulite in an effort to portray itself as ‘inclusive’. I loathe tabloid magazines, and I am quite happy to never read another one – but there was a time that my entire week was centred around those glossy pages, and the insight that they were giving me on how I should perceive my own body.

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When I was 14 years old I worked a weekend job at a local tea room, and I would wander down there after school every Friday afternoon to collect a small pouch of weekly pay. I was making around £50 a week which is priceless when you’re 14, and £15 of that money was used immediately at a local corner shop to buy myself a stack of ‘mean girl’ best friends who were there to tell me what I was doing wrong with my life, and how my body was supposed to look. More Magazine was my favourite – there was a page dedicated to embarrassing sex stories and a position of the month (which every 14-year-old obviously needs to know) and the back page was always left for comical interviews with celebrities – but I also indulged in Heat, Look and even those cheap trashy TV magazines if they included celebrities I admired. I absorbed every meal plan the glossy pages threw in my direction. I learned to moisturise using circular motions in a clockwise direction to minimise cellulite and sagging because those were the worst possible things that could happen to a woman. I drowned in stories which were well beyond my years and advice that instructed me to change every element of myself, flipping back and forth between the poles of acceptability on a month to month and week to week basis. It was not healthy.

As I grew older and became more confident in my own style, I opted for the ‘I am too cool to care’ approach. My insecurities were hidden behind two inches of black eyeliner, and I was no longer suffering in that glossy hell. I hadn’t outgrown self-hatred, but I was cynical of commercialism and felt sickened by the conflicting standards of beauty that I was repeatedly failing to meet. I probably didn’t look inside another one for around ten years or so, because I felt nothing but failure and shame when I saw them on magazine stands. Tabloid magazines represented my failure to slot comfortably in to society: my inability to adhere. The constant pressure that the magazines had placed on my chest was a permanent reminder that, yet again, I was not normal, and every time I saw a glossy smile beaming out at me with a passive aggressive message plastered across it, I felt sick and I couldn’t breathe.

I didn’t look at another tabloid magazine until I was in my mid-20s, thumbing through pages during a long lunch break when I had nothing else to do. I lasted less than a minute. All I could see was tips on how to hate women. And when I am around the women who read these magazines, I can see the messages ingrained: they are constantly trying to alter and adjust. Constantly putting themselves down, and apologising for their behaviour. Tabloid magazines are, in my opinion, the last great hurdle. Without a tabloid telling a woman how to hate herself, she will have no other experience but love.

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The Lottery Win Ultimate Shopping Spree – AD

We all play that game, don’t we? If we won the Lottery we would do this, and then this. My husband and I have already mentally divided up percentages we would give to certain family members, and what kind of house and vehicle we would immediately be buying the moment we won. We’d pay off any debts that we have, chuck a couple of grand to our favourite charities – but let’s be honest, the real fun comes when you get down to the completely frivolous and utterly reckless shopping! And there is nothing I would rather indulge in than fashion.

A lottery win means money is no object, so I would definitely start my spending across the pond. Probably literally, by flying over to somewhere in the US with a suitcase full of dosh and a map to the nearest plus size store.

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The Disney range at Torrid has been my ultimate eye candy for a while now. The cutesy colours, the touch of edge, the adorable bow on that shirt – I can’t get enough of it. I swear I would go around the shop and grab one (or ten) of every single item just so I could say I owned it. My personal favourites are the items that have Ariel on them, but growing up a redhead I was always going to be drawn to her!

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lottery

The next stop on my Lottery trip of wonder is to my old favourite, Witch Worldwide. You guys, I have never actually owned an item of clothing from there. The customs charges are just too too much, and I can’t bring myself not to fill an entire basket with those deliciously sombre accoutrements. I won’t go on about Witch Worldwide because I have already dedicated an entire article to lusting after their wares, but I will just reiterate that those cropped jerseys are everything and I most definitely need to win the Lottery pronto and get myself in on the witchy action.

lottery

Once I got back to the UK, I would probably put my feet up and immerse myself in the finest fashions that the internet has to offer. I swear, Navabi are like the creme de la creme of plus size fashion for me. I feel like I am never going to be able to afford everything I want from them without that Lottery win, but I would definitely consider it worth my while to slowly but surely build up a collection of Navabi glamour. They are killing it in the colour game this Summer, giving us a whole range of pinks which make the heart soar. The Arched Eyebrow collaboration offered this adorable pink gingham to the mix – as well as a whole lot of colour in the rest of the range! – and these bright little numbers are the perfect way to add sunshine to a rainy July afternoon.

lottery

Beth Ditto’s line was one of those luxuries that I could never afford at the time – but hey, if I’m winning the Lottery, I’m doing it in style. I want high end, ridiculously expensive, luxury bitch styling, and Beth Ditto gives me that in spades. The eyelash patterns are among my favourites, and denim jackets will always have a special place in my heart.

lottery

And finally, there is Plus Equals. They are the ones to watch in the British fashion game right now, and my Lottery win would have me bedazzled with their finest fringing and glitter. The pom-poms, the suede, the garish designs: all of it is so in right now, so daring, and such a huge middle finger from the plus size community to anybody who tells us to shy away in the corner.

And I’m sorry, but I’m not winning the Lottery without a little pamper session. I’d round up GG, Daisy and all of the girls here at She Might Be and get us all over to the fanciest hotel I could find where we would eat anything and everything we wanted, while we had our feet massaged and our nails painted. Who fancies joining us?!

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Body Positivity and Pre-Teens

Trigger warning: this post will include mention of diets and eating disorders. This is in keeping with the general tone of the piece and does not promote diet or weight loss, but please proceed with caution.

pre-teens

Children are our future – preach it, Whitney! – and in order to create stable, self-loving humans who are going to carry our world forwards in positive ways, we need to begin to lead by example today. Studies have shown that children as young as five years old are suffering with concerns over their body image, while many seven year olds have already tried to change their eating patterns in order to alter their own bodies. This is unacceptable. As the people who taught them how to walk, talk and tie their shoes, I say its time we stand up and teach them something infinitely important: how to love themselves as much as we love them.

pre-teens

Firstly, unless you are a trained nutrition you are not qualified to decide to put your child on a diet. While you can be quite familiar with the modus operandi of dieting as a fully-grown adult, you do not know which vitamins your child needs and at which particular times. For example, children who are going through a growth-spurt may need vital nutrients that you have just cut from their repertoire. I know a woman who cut meat and carbs from her own diet, and decided to do the same to her 11-year-old daughter because she was ‘getting a bit of a belly’ – I cannot express how damaging this is, not only physically but mentally. Eating Disorder Hope describes the danger of putting children on diets by highlighting the impactful action of mentally separating foods into ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’, introducing anxiety, guilt and pressure to a young mind that is just beginning to learn about its own body. Children begin to associate the selection of ‘good’ foods with their parents’ approval, thus developing an emotive relationship with their food intake and a dangerous pattern of controlling food selection. This can also lead to the adult anxiety that has caused many to have a hateful relationship with their bodies, reinforced by a media that reaffirms the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, attaching those ideas to our bodies themselves.

Additionally, preliminary research at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior has shown that dieting from an early age is actually incredibly counter-productive: women who were made to diet as young girls are more likely to experience a number of side effects including obesity and, worryingly, a 79% chance of engaging in alcohol abuse. As a Bo-po Warrior, I understand that fat does not equal unhealthy, and that it certainly does not equal ‘bad body’ – but if your insistence on putting your child on a diet rests on the assumption that you are doing so for their health, please conduct some research on the actual long-term impact of your actions.

pre-teens

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We engage in so many behaviours on a daily basis that we don’t even realise our sinking in to our children’s minds, let alone potentially causing them long-term issues. Aviva Braun is a private psychotherapist in New York City who specialises in eating disorders, and in a piece written for Parents.com back in 2013 she described the repeated instances of seeing young women with diet or self-esteem issues which stemmed from growing up in homes where certain foods were off-limits and had negative associations. Further to this, the majority of Aviva’s patients were pre-teens who had grown up in homes where the parents – particularly mothers – had a negative body image. Her first piece of advice is to be a body positive role model – and though I don’t agree with her insistence that we should tell our young children that their clothes are ‘flattering’ their bodies, I do agree that we need to stop talking about dieting and referring to bodies using negative words. A study conducted by The Telegraph in 2009 shows that 66% of teenage girls have heard their mothers complain about their weight. Remember that when you are with your child and you look at photos of yourself and say “oh god, look at my arms!” or suck your stomach in when you look in the mirror, you are teaching him or her that your love and respect is dependent on size. Show your child that you love and respect your own body regardless of its size and shape, and allow them to learn that you will love him or her regardless of their shape and size too.

pre-teens

It is our responsibility as parents to ensure our children are happy and healthy, and when you begin to see behaviours that suggest poor health  – for example, getting out of breath sooner than his or her friends – it is easy to panic. First of all, ask yourself why you are worried. You have learned that increased mass is equal to poor health, but is that necessarily true? Are we simply forcing our own aesthetic ideals onto our pre-teens? Instead of placing your child on a knee-jerk diet, instead try and source positive activities that you can enjoy together. Bodies change and fluctuate for all of our lives, and there is no reason that your child’s body needs to be a source of stress or anxiety for him or her. Instead, think of some activities that you can do together such as trips to the swimming pool, taking a couple of tennis rackets down to a local park or just having them being outdoors and getting their knees muddy. It is even more important to remember, though, that weight is not equal to health and it is most definitely not equal to worth – it is of the utmost importance that your child knows that his or her weight is not attached to how much value should be placed on them. As long as your child is living a happy and fulfilling life, there is no reason for you to have any concerns.

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24 Festival Fashion Favourites

I previously wrote a survival guide for fat girls who want to enjoy festivals in as comfortable an environment as they can. Let’s be honest, can festivals ever really be comfortable for anybody?! But if you have any concerns that are holding you back from buying a ticket – other than, y’know, the astronomical costs, which I can’t help you with! – then please hop on over and read that post.

Today I’m lusting over the very best of 2017’s plus size festival fashion. Trends this year include jackets which shimmer and shine for England’s rainiest festivals, but with the very welcomed (to me, at least!) addition of denims and leathers with a healthy dose of fringing. This year sees the return of the logo t-shirt, which I haven’t worn since I was 16 and dressed exclusively in tacky logos. Basically I am in love with festival style this year, and am going to spend my summer adding as much of it as possible to my wardrobe. The colour schemes are looking very late 70s/early 80s with a return to bright mustard yellows, white leather and a whole load of gingham. Let’s take a peek at the best of this year’s plus size festival fashion!

festivalTOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT: Alice & You Shorts, £30.00; ASOS Floral Shorts, £25.00; Drawstring Linen Shorts, £22.00; Pink Clove Logo Tee, £15.00; Shredded Denim Jacket, £50.00; Cropped Metallic Jacket, £45.00 

ASOS are killing it in the shorts game this year. I am absolutely loving the pom-pom trend, and it is well-known in the plus community that ASOS are the pom-pom kings. Unfortunately, their reign ends when it comes to the sizing. ASOS sizing can pretty hit-and-miss as it is, in my opinion, and the majority of the items above might technically go up to a size 28, but they are generally SOLD OUT above a size 24. This means one of two things: the brand threw out a few token 28s to be labelled inclusive, and those have been snagged already, or there is a greater demand for the top end of plus size ranges. Either way, ASOS remain pretty to look at but out of my reach. And that’s without even talking about their prices.

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festivalTOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT: Frayed Hem Skinny Jeans, £15.00 down from £29.99; Snake Print Lace Trim T-Shirt, £17.99; Gingham Cropped Trousers, £24.99; Rose Gold Anorak, £49.99; Yellow Bardot Top, £19.99

New Look’s Plus Size range is definitely my personal dark horse. I feel like the styles are much younger and on trend, the sizes are much more diverse and the prices are just generally better. Again, there is the issue that some of the larger sizes are selling out more quickly, and it is difficult as a consumer to know if this is an issue with supply or demand. New Look are getting hits all over the place at the moment for their lace additions to t-shirts. Admittedly some of them are absolutely hideous, but the lace sleeves on the above tees are a great way to make a punky t-shirt more femme. And forgive me for saying it, but I’m kind of loving the v-shaped fringing on that white t-shirt.

festivalTOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT: Patch Boyfriend Jeans, £40.00; Acid Wash Denim Jumpsuit, £40.00; Love is Love Shacket, £49.00; Tassel Trim Fluted Sleeve Jacket, £45.00; Daisy Street Oversized T-Shirt, £20.00; Girl Power T-Shirt, £20.00

I’m going to be totally honest here: Simply Be was underwhelming. It took a while to even source these items, because most of the clothing was straying into old-lady or evening-wear territory. I’ve always stayed loyal to SB because they’re like the hipsters of size inclusivity – they were stocking size 32s before it was cool – but it’s really hard to say good things when the prices are rising and the clothes aren’t looking particularly great. The ‘Love is Love’ jacket (I’m sorry, I’m not saying ‘shacket’), however, is one of my favourites from across all of the websites I looked at. And though I’m not super keen on those jeans with the patches myself, I see them appearing on a lot of blogs over Summer 2017.

festivalTOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT: Denim Harem Trousers, £26.99; Aztec Print Shorts, £16.99; Palm Print Harem Trousers, £19.99; Rock Chick Mesh Top, £19.00; Gingham Cami Top, £19.99; Indigo Denim Long Shorts, £19.99

A lot of plus size people don’t like Yours Clothing (because butterflies) but if you can get past the smock tops there are actually some staple pieces on there. I get all of my plain black leggings from there because they’re cheap, comfortable and durable, and I know they will always carry my size and beyond. The denim long shorts look super comfy and perfect for chafing, while the harem trousers come in some funky colours and are built for being comfy and lightweight: perfect for a festival.

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Taking Up Space at Festivals: A Survival Guide

festivals

Being the introverted wife and mother that I am, I kind of feel a bit like my time for festivals has come and gone. I don’t like drunk people, crowds suck the life out of me and I am really not good with loud noises. Yet as a teenager I longed to don my wellies with my friends and tag along on their ‘festival shopping’ trips, and somehow could never bring myself to do it. Why? Because I wasn’t even at the beginning of my body positivity journey at that time: I was just a chubby teenager with confidence issues and thin friends. Being fat should never stop you from doing anything you want to do, and now that the sun is rising on festival season I felt like it was my duty to stand up and say “Hey. I missed out, and you shouldn’t have to”. Here are the eight tips I would give my teenage self in order to survive a festival as a fat girl.

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First thing’s first: you need the right place to sleep. Tent sizes are described in terms of how many men they can hold, so your average two-man tent is not going to cut it for your above average body and a gal pal. Don’t be afraid to suggest sizing up in the name of comfort. Your body naturally takes up extra space, and it is totally okay to make it clear that additional room is essential for you.

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I honestly think that the biggest problem fat people face in situations like this is the physical discomfort of being fat in the heat – in particular, this includes chub rub. I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember ‘prevention, not cure‘ when it comes to chafing: if your body has started to chafe, it is already too late. There are various lotions and potions which help deal with thighs rubbing together, and some people swear by things like talcum powder to soak up any extra moisture. Personally, I choose to wear leggings that are cut into shorts – or even better, a pair of Chaffree shorts – and I make sure my bra isn’t sitting too tight or doesn’t have underwire poking and prodding at my underarms. Other than that, all you can stay is stay clean and dry as much as physically possible and wear clothes in soft materials which fit you comfortably.

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festivals

Being fat can automatically raise your temperature a degree or so – and I’ll avoid the obvious joke about how hot you are – so it’s even more important to stay cool and well hydrated than it would be for a straight sized person. I personally find that it really irritates me when my hair sits on my shoulders, and I end up feeling hot and bothered and generally uncomfortable. An uncomfortable person is not a person who is having a good time at a festival. Spend a couple of weeks perfecting braided hairstyles like the gorgeous halo braid, or simply stick a headband on and tuck all of your hair around it to get it off your neck. Or go one step further, like I did, and just shave an undercut into your hair purely because you hate the feeling of hair on your shoulders. I appreciate that not everybody is as extreme as I am.

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I’m sure everybody has heard of the SheWee, but honestly I never thought it would be an option for me. At the risk of too much information, when you have additional flesh it can be difficult to navigate something like that, especially without having it spill over your legs. But the thought of a those grotesque portaloos you find at festivals forced me to get googling, and sure enough I found a solution: did you know that SheWee does extension pipes? Hurray for easier access! Now, to work out what to do when you need twosies…

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Please do not feel that, because you have more skin, you are less eligible to display it. Your body can be as dressed or undressed as you feel comfortable with. Covering up large arms and legs makes you more at risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion: let your limbs be free! Though of course, make sure you do cover up in direct sunlight and apply the highest factor sun cream you can find, as a bigger body means more space to soak up the sun, increasing your risk of sunstroke.

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Speaking of sun cream, it’s worth remembering that it can be difficult for even a straight sized person to apply sun cream to every inch of their bodies. There are fantastic little devices for reaching over your shoulder to get your factor 50 to the very middle of your back, and it’s worth remembering for your other hard-to-reach areas. Please remember that you might not be able to reach somewhere, but the sun certainly can.

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When all of my friends would shop for wellies, I would avoid the conversation at all costs. Standard wellies just did not fit my extra extra extra large calves, and it was easier to tell people I just wasn’t interested in joining them than it was to admit that I was different, and things didn’t fit me properly. I was embarrassed. Please invest in a decent pair of wellies with extendable calf sizes before you go; something that won’t pinch your calves as you walk, doesn’t form that weird suction/air pocket around your ankles and looks adorable to boot. To welly boot. Get it?

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Finally, something every single festival attendee should do, regardless of their size: create two care packages. In number one, include pain medication, rehydration packs, sun cream, baby wipes, kirby grips and a lip gloss because you need something to make you feel human while you’re there. And most importantly, the care package for that first night you’re home after your trip, when you’re ready for nothing more than fluffy slippers, a hot chocolate and Bridget Jones on DVD. Brownie points if its Bridget Jones’ Baby, so you get to relive the glory of one of the best festivals of your life.

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Five Things I Want My Home Ed Kids To Learn

We always knew we would home educate our son. Before he was even a flutter in my stomach, I knew I didn’t want to send him in to mainstream education. After years of battling, and on the brink of needing legal support, my daughter’s biological mother has finally relented and agreed that home education could also be an option for our 11-year-old, too. And so here we are: a family of four embarking on a fully-home-ed journey together, all of us learning which steps to take as we are taking them. One of the many benefits of home education is that there is no national curriculum, and we can tailor what they learn to suit their personal interests, and our priorities as a family. So here are the five things I will be making sure my home educated children are going to learn.

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Of course! I write for a body positive magazine, so of course body positivity is going to be instilled in my children from a very early age. This is particular important for my daughter, who is 11 years old and lives half of her life in a home where her eating is monitored quite heavily. We have been placing particular emphasis to both children on the ideas that ‘thin’ does not equal ‘kind’ and that it is okay to look exactly how you want to look. Other lessons crop up at least weekly, and luckily I am in a position where I am able to answer many quandaries thanks to this fantastic magazine.

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The children are at different stages in their lives. My son is four, and independence to him is teaching him to tidy away his things and brush his teeth with guidance, not assistance. For my daughter, lessons include us waiting in the car while she goes in to the shop with a short list and a budget, and allowing her to arrange meet-ups with the friends she had when she was in mainstream education.

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When I began jotting down ideas for home education, teaching both children about appropriate communication was so important to me that I have essentially made it a ‘school subject’. My daughter engages in pen pal correspondence with a couple of other home educated girls her age, teaching her letter-writing and of course having her learn about home ed from girls her own age. We have also put emphasis on her learning to be open and honest with her feelings, and learning to communicate her emotions in an appropriate way that makes both parties feel comfortable. Of course, my son being four years old means most of his communication education at the moment revolves around learning to do as he is told!!!

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family

Our first lesson in individuality was a trip to the Crazy Colours website and a couple of bottles of hair dye! Semi-permanent colour is not damaging to hair; instead, it provides a conditioning treatment as well as the change of colour. It is important to me for my children to learn that they are in control of their own bodies, and as long as their decisions are safe and legal they have the right to express themselves however they see fit.

family

We want to look at family trees, heritage, lineage and, arguably the most important element, the idea that it takes more than blood to make you a family. My husband and I each have extensive families full of ‘steps’ and ‘halves’ dotted all over the place, and now our children are having the same experiences, too. We want to learn about how to operate within a family, how to be a good family member and that everybody’s family looks different. This infographic by Slater and Gordon is an awesome representation of how diverse the notion of ‘family’ has become in the UK, and as a historian I am also interested in exploring historical trends for families and looking at the decline of the nuclear family. But that is probably just me being a geek.

family

What life lessons do you feel are vital for your children, and how do you instill them? 

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This post is in collaboration with Slater and Gordon.
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The Health Narrative: Health and Body Positivity

the health narrativephoto credit: Daisy Hollands

It comes up time and time again: the age old argument between body positivity and health. Those oh-so-concerned people who are only trying to look out for my health. The apologists, who say that it’s okay to be fat, as long as I am healthy. Of course, the next issue becomes the ‘message I am sending’. Won’t somebody please think of the children?!

First thing’s first: the health narrative is ableist, patronising and insulting. You do not care about the state of my health, you care about the state of my face. And my bum. And my boobs. And my arms. And my stomach. And my legs. You care about what visuals you are taking in, as if my appearance were only there to satisfy your gaze.

In reality, you’re not telling me that you’re worried about me being unhealthy, you’re telling me that you’ve found a valid reason to make me feel guilty about my body. My size causes you no pain, no damage, you just find it unpleasant to look at – and yet you comment. You tell me to change, because you feel that you can.

The health narrative is ableist because you are assuming that everybody is on a level playing field. You assume that because you are able to ‘eat less, move more’, that others will be too. You assume that because you do not struggle, there is no reason that others should. You assume that because you coped with your own struggles, others will be able to cope with the same. Remember that not all bodies were created equally: some of them have fewer capabilities than yours has. Some of them are built in different shapes than yours. Some of them have fewer limbs, or less power, or they hurt, or they can’t feel anything. And though not all bodies should be treated equally, because every single body has its own set of specific needs, every single body on this earth deserves to be given equal respect and love. Do not impose your limitations upon my body and assume that I need to work within your parameters.

The health narrative is patronising because you seem to think that what you are telling me is brand new information. That I haven’t had a lifetime of hearing statistics about the correlation between obesity and poor health. That I haven’t examined myself repeatedly and felt that very same loathing that is burning inside of you. It is very rare for a fat person to have been born with body positivity instilled within them. The journey is arduous, sometimes repetitive, and filled with many tears. It takes a lot of time to ‘train’ yourself not to feel like you have an obligation to restrict yourself after Christmas, and not to wear special underwear when you can see the outline of your own stomach through your clothing. But finally fat people are able and allowed to feel positive, and even proud, of themselves. You bring nothing to the table when you comment on a stranger’s instagram photo and try and undo years of magnificent progress. They have told themselves everything you could possibly say, and they have learned how to cope and counter. Do not waste your breath.

the health narrativephoto credit: Sophie Griffiths

Finally, the health narrative is insulting because you are being rude and unnecessary. Fat is unique: it would never be considered socially acceptable for you to approach (or shout at) a stranger with the sole purpose of telling them that you hate the way any other part of them looks, and that they should change it. When did I become your property to alter? Why do you believe that your lower weight makes your opinion more valid than mine? Why is it so hard for you to believe that some people like to look this way? Ultimately, you are entitled to look however you want. You do not need an ‘excuse’ for your weight, any more than you need an excuse for your elbows. You do not need to be an example for anybody else, and if anybody tells you that your weight, and your health, is impacting any other person they are using a guilt tactic to lie to you.

If you are a fat person reading this, please disregard any and all comments from other people about your health. Your health is your responsibility and nobody else’s, and you are entirely within your rights to do whatever you like. It has nothing to do with anybody else.

If you are a thin person who believes that fat people are damaging their health and they need to lose weight, you need to take some time to really ask yourself what the true motive is for your opinions. And then ask yourself who the hell asked you for your opinion anyway, and move on with your day.

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