Unpretty

I recently downloaded not one but two new apps onto my phone. Nothing new there, most of our lives are more or less managed with a cheeky app or two – but these are for photo editing. Which is fine in itself but after spending a good hour the other night doing ‘minor touch-ups’ to a selfie, I had to stop and have a word with myself.

You’re going to have to excuse this self-indulgent post, I’m afraid. I’m about to bang on for a while.

I’m not against photo tweaking in theory. I’m the queen of touching up a spot or two and choosing a damn good filter. I’m forever adjusting the lighting. This is deemed the new norm in our Instagram world and I’m all for it, as long as we’re honest about it. Life isn’t (always) like the images we use to paint a positive life. If I were being honest, my grid would be full of me lying naked and puffy in bed, avoiding the world.

The addition of these apps to my life is different because I’ve been leaning on them far too heavily. I’ve been changing the shape of my face, tightening my jawline – thinning my nose. More than that, the app can give you the perfect winged liner, eyeshadow and lashes for days – technically you’d never have to put on a face again. But it feels false and it goes deeper than just tweaking a few things ever so slightly – I look like a doll version of myself and it’s creepier than Annabelle*.

The reality is: it’s time for me to admit that I’m not pretty.

Before you say something nice to make me feel better, I know I have some *okay* features and can scrub up when I need to. I also know that ugly girls are never really ugly girls. As the man himself once said:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Idealistic I know but there’s truth in that statement. However, it’s time for me to come to terms with how I really look.

My lovely friend took and posted a video of me on Instagram at the weekend and secretly, watching it back on my own later, I was devastated. I look awful, all chins and bad skin. But really, so what? I was pissing about in the park with a friend and he cut the video to the chorus of Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry (my favourite song of all time). My hair looks good and I’m wearing my favourite outfit. Above all else, I’m having a laugh.

So I’m not beautiful like my friend, who looks like Bambi’s girlfriend on her very best day – I’m still loved and lovable and cool. I have never been beautiful and my life was never meant to be lived like a drop dead gorgeous person – if anything, perhaps I’m lucky?

I am sure I don’t have to worry about half the things my fit friends do. I mean, that sounds cavalier because all women have experiences of being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable – and it seldom has anything to do with looks. But I have been around seriously good-looking women who are treated differently to me. It looks tiring.

If I can truly accept that I’m no looker and tell the world, “I’m ugly and proud” then maybe I’ll be happier? I’m tired of kidding myself.

It’s much easier said than done though, isn’t it? I’ve recently talked about making more effort with my appearance which is quite contradictory to what I’m saying here. Or is it?

I mean, taking pride in my appearance as self-care is different altogether to trying to conceal how ugly I am. There’s not enough highlighter or eyeliner in the world to polish this turd – if anything, it makes me look even worse. I can have fun with it though for the sake of how it makes me feel. Accepting my ugliness has nothing to do with letting myself go.

Really accepting one’s self is a delicate balancing act – on one hand, accepting that I’ll never be a knock out is quite liberating. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me as long as I’m happy and feeling myself – and I am under no obligation to be pretty and shiny. I don’t need validation from others in the way I did when I was 21 either, though yes it is nice when someone compliments you.

But on the other, man this world is cold and harsh at the best of times – and it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others or covert what they have. A thigh gap, bigger eyes, perkier boobs.

I can’t do it anymore, I need to step away from the Photoshopping apps. I’m deleting them as soon as I finish this post. If I don’t, who knows where it will end? I’ll be Edvard Munch’s The Scream with four inch eyelashes.

From now on, I accept it: I’m not pretty, and that’s a) a fact and b) totally, honestly okay.

*This is absolutely no shade to anyone who edits their photos. Many of my friends are pros at it, and I respect it.

(All images by Juno Calypso)

A Beginner’s Guide to Confidence

Confidence is key, that’s what so many women’s magazines/style gurus/celebrities tell us and sure, there’s something in the rhetoric. However, is there really a way to become confident if it doesn’t come naturally? I must say I don’t really know what I’m talking about, there’s no secret recipe but I can tell you how I got here, by way of a thousand tears, some self-realisation and a whole lot of tying jumpers around my waist to hide my enormous junk.

People compliment me on my confidence all the time which is nice to hear but means one thing as far as I’m concerned: “You are so confident, despite everything”. I’m not being needlessly cruel to myself but let’s face it, I don’t look like a model, do I? I’m short, round, ginger and over 40 – I might not change a thing about the way I look but I definitely do not fit the ‘ideal’. So where the heck do I get off not giving a fuck?

Take up space, wear what you want and never, ever apologise for being here

The thing is, I do give a fuck and I also don’t. I’ve learnt the hardest lesson of my life now and that’s that I deserve to be here, even in my capacity as a fat middle-aged woman. I’m allowed to love myself with ferocity, I’m allowed to demand respect and I’m definitely allowed to wear fitted jumpsuits and enjoy the fuck out of fashion. How I got here was via a lot of reading, following fat activists and feminists on Twitter and slowly allowing myself to heal from a lifetime of bullshit from every corner. Diet culture, fashion magazines, adverts on the TV – they sell us one beauty ideal and although I know things are changing, they are changing slowly.

A few years ago something in me clicked into place and I no longer felt the need to beat myself up. I started to wear the clothing I wanted to and I started to relish myself. Obviously there are days when the confidence fails or I have a melt-down because I can’t find the thing I want to wear (hello work’s Christmas do last Friday!) but you’re damn right I’m as confident as I can be. I’ve earned the right.

What are your thoughts?

Anxiety 1, Voluptuous 0

I had a panic attack yesterday morning and had to come home from work. I lay down until it passed and then watched The Conjuring with a cup of tea and a banging headache. I’m off again today with the same headache but really it was frightening and I still feel out of sorts.

Even though I have an anxiety disorder, I very rarely have these attacks. I can remember two over the last year and they were scary bastards. This was no different – I felt like I was going to collapse and then I just felt an ominous feeling engulf me, like something really bad was about to happen. I felt like I had to flee and I couldn’t get out of the office quick enough.

Yesterday (and today) are the sunniest days we’ve had all year, everyone’s smiling and showing skin – and I’m home feeling sorry for myself. I know I’m normal but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Can’t I just live?

I feel daily as though there is a war raging inside me, one between the anxious me and the confident me. They’re such polar opposites with such vastly different attitudes and they butt heads constantly. Anxious me wants to break me with the self-doubt it sends coursing through my veins. I will never let her win but sometimes I’m not quick enough and I hear what she’s whispering – “You’re not good enough”, “Nobody likes you”, “You don’t deserve that”… oh, she’s a little cunt alright.

She’ll never get the better of me but sometimes I let her run the show, she is part of me after all. And while this is happening Confident me has a nap, posts Instagram memes and rallies against the patriarchy in her head (the patriarchy is responsible for consumerism and the unrealistic beauty ideals that keep us feeling like we’re never good enough). Confident me tries on jumpsuits and shushes Anxious me when she tells her (me) that I can’t wear that.

I’m tired and I’m feeling sorry for myself. My head hurts and I feel old and crabby. My skin needs moisture, my fringe needs a cut and everyone looks so effortless in the summer sun. I wish I was out there and I’m glad I’m indoors. I want company and I want to be left alone. Like I said, a constant battle, an eternal game of tug-of-war.

Ageing

I posted this on Instagram late Saturday night in a moment of candidness and it got quite a heartwarming response. So I thought, why not share it here? It’s one of the things I think of the most at the moment, the relentless passing of time and how it affects my self-esteem.

I know it’s not something I can stop and I know we all feel this way from time to time, or will feel that way, it’s just a subject close to my heart. So sue me.

IMG_20180217_221136_012You know something? It’s hard getting older. It’s nice getting older but it’s also incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re not the young sprite you used to be. I’m insecure about being over ten years older than a lot of the people in my life but I like the variety and I feel more energetic and lucky to be able to learn from them too, I would never change it.

I mention my age a lot like a proper grandma but I wouldn’t change it. I’m mostly comfortable in my own skin and it’s so important to embrace who you are. I got to this place via a hundred funny stories, some loss, hardship and good old-fashioned love. Not to mention with (a lot) of help from my friends. Life is amazing and beautiful and it’s mainly down to the people you surround yourself with.

I wouldn’t change a thing, for all the tea in China. And I really love tea. ❤

What are your thoughts?

Radical

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I don’t know who’s artwork this is, but I love it

I saw this video yesterday, posted as part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek and like most women would on viewing it, felt very emotional.

Why is it, still, that we’re so quick to trash talk ourselves, yet would never dream of doing the same to our friends or other women? (Hopefully).

Why is it, after all this time, after all the girl power mantras, the compliment-heavy chats in toilets with drunken girls on drunken nights and all the pushing back against the impossible (and ever changing) beauty ideal, we still can’t cut ourselves some fucking slack?

It’s a simple view but I like the idea of trying to speak to myself as I would my beautiful best friends. Of seeing myself every now and again and saying “You’re beautiful girl, look at you!”.

I don’t feel pretty all the time, in fact I’m tired of the negative voice that says I’m worthless, old and lumpy, that I’m a monster who doesn’t even look human compared to anybody else.

The same voice tells me my husband is only with me for a bet (a long bet), and that people feel sick when they look at me.

Every day is a battle to get on top of that point of view and to quash it. To remind myself that it’s just one voice, that there’s a stronger voice in there somewhere, it just doesn’t shout as loud.

I’m willing to keep fighting to be honest. What other choice do I have? I’m not going down with that hateful ship, no way.

How do you practice #radicalselflove? ❤

Painting the Walls

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I’ve never identified more with an illustration found on Twitter before (Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas kindly sourced the artist, who is Suzeart).

This is exactly how I view my tattoos and how wonderfully that’s been put here. Too often I’ve told myself I’ll wait until I’m a certain way (thin, obviously) before I treat myself to nice clothes, a decent haircut – new tattoos. Once I even set myself the goal of a new tattoo at every significant weight loss milestone – how sad is that? If you want ink and can afford it, why wait? Treat yourself NOW dammit.

I didn’t really start to love myself until I started to take some ownership. To witness other fat ladies online doing something as radical as loving the fuck out of their bodies had such an impact that I can’t really put it into adequate words. I knew I had to start taking responsibility too. This involved taking back the word “fat”, using it as a descriptor rather than a derogatory term, accepting what I really look like and not hiding away in shame.

And not putting my body down.

That’s the hardest part for me I think, seeing myself caught on camera by someone else and not freaking out, feeling crushed by how grotesque I am. But nobody said it would be perfect, or easy. Learning and maintaining a strong sense of love for oneself is an ongoing project as far as I see it. I very much doubt you one day arrive at a permanent plateau of total and utter satisfaction for who you are – or maybe some people do.

I started getting more into brightly coloured tattoos about 2 years ago. Before that I had tattoos, but they were mostly rebellious or part of my rites of passage. I was lucky enough to make friends with a tattooist who could facilitate this on the reg and together we changed the landscape of my chubby little arm forever. Although we’ve both moved on and I see Alex now instead, during that time I started to think of myself as less of a useless lump and more of an empowered person, doing what I wanted without permission.

That felt good and although I’m nobody’s door mat, I sometimes find it hard to demand things for myself. Painting the walls and hanging pictures all over my body is a form of expressing exactly who I am, without having to use the words I so often stumble over.

I put myself under the needle again yesterday afternoon and let me tell you that ribs are a whole other ball game when it comes to tattoo pain. Youch. So so worth it though to be able to rock the piece below.

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Yes that’s side boob

This is my new mantra BTW. When I feel the need to run myself down to others or be derogatory or rude about my looks, I shall stop and remember that I love myself. More than that, I completely adore myself, rolls and all.

It’s fitting somehow that I went through Hell to get this tattoo (not really, my tattooist is very good) – a nod to the journey *puke* from utter repulsion to self-acceptance. None of it’s easy, for any of us but if we can at least get on the right track, we’ll start a happy life-long relationship with someone who will love us for the rest of our lives, and love us better than anyone else can.

It’s okay, I’m going now. I just wanted to share the above illustration and a few of my thoughts on moving into your body fully and decorating as you see fit.

I know tattoos and body modification aren’t everybody’s idea of expression but I think this can translate to how you wear your hair and make up your face, how you dress – not everything has to be permanent or set in stone. I just happen to like my paintwork that way.

Always have, always will ❤

Lest we forget my inspiration for the above skin decoration, my original post featuring Artist Yayoi Kusama.

It’s Life Gym, But Not As We Know It

Fuck I want to cut my hair!
Fuck I want to cut my hair!

I’ve decided to overhaul my entire blog and turn it into a healthy lifestyle/fitness blog instead. No more movies, books or random musings; more diet plans, chats about cardio and slagging off carbs.

HAVE I FUCK!

That will not happen on my watch, I can promise you that. However, I did want to blog about the gym today, simply because it’s Something I’ve Been Doing lately. If you’re not into this shit, please don’t read on, I’ll be back for the usual hi-jinx soon!

Before I start, a little background. I’ve never really disguised the fact that, like many women, I have struggled with body image. I’ve hated myself and my looks for at least two thirds of my adult life, and isn’t that a disgrace? Isn’t it a horrible thing to think that anyone would look at themselves and feel shit?

I can’t honestly say that I feel like a fucking goddess every day of my life but I have started to get to grips with accepting who I am. By making sure I’m around positive people, reading and following some amazing bloggers and generally have a good old talk with myself, I think I’m finally getting it.

A few months ago though, I felt very bad and honestly, it wasn’t about how I looked, it was in how I felt. I was tired all the time and by Friday, when the weekend officially kicked in, that was it. Getting dressed and out of the house, even to grab food felt like the biggest task.

I took myself to the doctor and nothing came up. In the end it was a suspected virus. But I felt like it was a flashing neon sign urging me to do something for myself. So I joined the gym.

For the record I used to work out with an old friend back when I still lived at home. She would say things to me like “Oh bless you, you do try Christa!” and “You’re just very big boned” as a means to motivate me and I never felt good about myself. I quit easily then assumed all gyms would be full of preening prickheads like her and avoided them for the next 20 years.

I was wrong and right about that. My gym is full of posers, and a surprising number of teen boys who think it’s a youth club. But nobody gives a jeeping fuck about me in my joggers, sporting a cherry tomato hue in the corner – and that’s the beauty of all this. I can just get on with it and no-one cares.

Phew.

I feel brilliant at the moment. I love the feeling of setting out to do something and actually completing it. I feel stronger. And that’s all I really wanted from this.

I am not counting calories, aiming to be thin or dieting. No sir. That road leads to ruin and is fraught with failure.

Also, I’m thinking about learning to lift weights. Can you even imagine?

*curled bicep emoji*

Magic

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It’s been a very stressful week so far and I’ve only worked one day of it. I refuse to blog about work, however, unless

absolutely necessary so all I will say is: stop the world I want to get off.

*Pukes everywhere*

On that note, and I really shouldn’t be doing this when I could be doing 78 other things that are integral to my job, I thought I’d give myself a break and use a blog prompt today. For some reason this one popped up and appealed to me.

Perhaps I’m just being extra-specially soft lately. Must be hormones. Lovely lovely hormones.

Do You Believe In Magic? (October 19th 2015)
You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

I am a mystical being, swathed in robes. Not sexy Gandalf robes but a more Snow Queen-y vibe, lots of swirling blues, whites and pale greys.

I can do magic because magic totally is a thing that exists and has existed since the dawn of time. It’s not lame supporting act magician shit but real miracle magic; great splashes of good luck when you most need them, or the discovery of a person who has saved your life just by being there.

It’s in a smile that makes you realise that shit ain’t even that bad; in a chance encounter. It’s learning to love again; learning to love yourself.

All that may sound trite but the true magic of the world is all of us in it together. Kindness and understanding is magic. Love is magic. Picking up the phone and hearing my mother’s voice is magic.

Don’t even try to persuade me otherwise.

My new abilities are complex, of course. They’re about suggestion rather than control, and all about promoting a positive vibe. I’m not talking about happy happy joy joy at all times, nobody can realistically keep a façade like that up for life, and as Frou Frou once said: there’s beauty in the breakdown.

Specifically I want my power to be the power of self-love. I want to spread the word that we’re enough. We’re all enough but even better than that, we’re freakin’ amazing.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years and I’ve spent way too long hating myself, feeling dreadful about my body and my looks and projecting that self-hatred outwards by criticising others. What right have I to demolish another person because I don’t feel happy (even if it’s ‘only a joke’, or dressed up as concern)? Other people’s bodies, clothing and sex lives are nothing to do with me, and never have been.

I try not to do this now and it’s going pretty well.

My power would be to help others reach acceptance, even though I know it’s an ongoing process. A wave of my staff (come on, I’m magical in this scenario, like I wasn’t going to have a staff) would put the thought into people’s heads, one by one: “I’ve got this.”

It would make them see themselves the way their loved ones see them – and eventually, once that magical seed was planted, there’d be no stopping them.

There’s an incredible arrogance to my magic, and I know deep down it’s not realistic. Self-love is a personal journey, not something to be passed on automatically, or taught – and who am I to pick up the mantle? But wouldn’t it be great if, just for one day, you had the power to make your loved ones believe they were beautiful/amazing/powerful, and without a doubt?

Oh yeah, and I can also shape shift.

What would your magical powers be?

Show me your broken heart and all your scars, I’ll take you as you are

I will write my own post today, don’t worry.

I just wanted to share this post by Belle of the Bluegrass, as it’s a powerful one. Take the time to have a read if you can, it’s a relevant topic no matter your size or gender.

Plus, stick around for Belle herself, she’s reet good.

Belle of the Bluegrass

Scrolling through Instagram, admiring all the beautiful people and their enviable lives, I came across an account that had posted a screen shot of an article written for Vice. The title grabbed my eye “How to come to terms with your attraction to fat girls“, if you, like I, are a fat girl I urge you to read this article. It is honest and insightful, in fact I urge you to read it no matter your gender or dress size.
This well written, no woe-is-me post had me interested immediately. As a plus size woman I have often felt marginalised and fetishised. When I was a teenager and even into my early twenties, no one wanted to admit to fancying the fat girl. We are perceived as taboo. Something you wouldn’t tell you mates you searched for on the internet let alone be someone you willingly wanted to…

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