Sunday 31 January 2016

How to Turn a Negative Comment Positive with Simply Be

I remember as a young teen, scouring the pages of Shout! and Bliss, and as I got older, moving onto Glamour for my glossy magazine fix. Every once in a while, there would be the token 'curvy fashion' article, usually using brands who didn't actually stock above a 16 - but this was the late 90s, early 00s, and things were different then. 

I learnt the 'rules' off by heart, and tried my best to follow them. 

It's taken another 15 years to 'unlearn' these rules, and one of the last ones was the 'those blessed with a bust should always wear a v-neck'. 

I've now started to rebel against this rule with vengeance:

In my high neck skater tunic in tomato, along with my faithful duster jacket.

A floral dress with a little bit of a frill for extra cute!

And my favourite, my shirt with added bow tie - because bow-ties are cool!

The team at Simply Be have looked at a number of these rules, and how you can break them!

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Sunday 24 January 2016

Outspoken, or bullish?

This is a post which has weighed heavy on my mind since the events which inspired it.

I've been blogging over 4 years now, and I've had the pleasure of meeting a great many of my blogging babes. And I've the even greater pleasure of calling some of these babes my friends. 

Just because we're bloggers; just because we're plus size, doesn't mean we always see eye to eye. But we, for the most part, respect each other and our shared experiences of fatphobia and exclusion. 

Which is why, the week after New Year, when we were beset with fat shaming from all angles, from Pink Clove, BooHoo, MissGuided, as well as the diet culture ramping up gears and being on nearly every advertising break, I was in fighting mode, fighting all the bodyshaming I spotted, as best defense is the best offence, as they say.

A little bit of paranoia started to creep in, as every tweet I seemed to make was calling out some brand or other and their bull shit, and so whenever a subtweet mentioned calming down, or not taking life so seriously, my self doubt crept up. 

Which led to a particularly interesting conversation with a PSblogger (who I won't be naming, because, well, this isn't about her), calling her out on some choice comments and the power of social media and influence. 

When I then fixated on a few tweets about bullying. And I'm not going to lie, I cried. 

My angle is always to fight for the underdog. Which mainly is us, the Plus Size community, or the wider body positive movement, or the larger fats who are sized out of ranges with the likes of River Island.

I use my loud voice to speak up for them, or to hold their voice up to a different audience. 

I don't see it as bullying the brand, or the blogger, but calling them out on it, and hopefully changing their mind. 

But, does this make me a bully? 

I have agonised over this word so much in the last few weeks, and discussed it at length with a few special people. 

I have been a victim of bullying, both at school, and more recently in the workplace. The very idea that it was something I was inflicting on someone else shocked me to my core. The following days were marred with self doubt, and I started to question my actions, my motives, and whether I had in fact been a bully all my life. 

A group of babes, knowing I was struggling, organised the most amazing thing: #superkaupa

Image c/o Murder of Goths

And it filled my heart with the love it needed to push that self doubt off it's perch, and steal the dinner money from paranoia, and to take control of things again. So my heart will once again fight for the underdog, call out shady actions, and run the side of those I love - while my brain follows behind, beaten down by Super Kaupa and her girl gang. 

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Monochrome Convert

Last week I was off to London for the week for work - so not only was it a capsule week of dressing out of my suitcase, but it called for smart. Business smart.

My take on business dress means there is usually a 'Kathryn' twist - a bright cardigan, or some statement necklaces. This week called for none of that.

Monday saw me getting up at 3:45am to get my 6am train (and pack), so my face is tired, and my outfit is missing a key piece. A piece that pretty much made my outfits the statement I so wanted, without losing the 'smart'. 

Simply Be Victoriana Lace top, and Simply Be Houndstooth skirt (no longer available)

What is this magical trandormative piece of clothing, I hear you ask? It was this duster jacket.

Worn with my cardigan underneath, it was the perfect layering combination to tackle London stuffy transport (how hot is the tube though, really??)

The point is, it became my outerwear - I was strutting along the streets of London, head held high, with this statement outerwear, and when I got to the offices, it was shook off, and hung up in the corner, as I became the business dress, smart, Kathryn. 

Day 2: Simply Be Checked Skater Dress and Duster Jacket

Day 3: Simply Be Shirt and Tie, with Houndstooth Skirt

Day 4: Simply Be Checked Midi Dress

Day 5: Victoriana Lace Top in White, with Houndstooth Skirt

My last day in London was met with tired face, and a 'rushed outta my room without taking a selfie but now I'm waiting for my colleague' Instagram photo, but at least you can see the detail on my top, right?

It certainly seems that this one jacket has set my workwear colour palette to monochrome - and I've got to say, I think I like it!

Much love my lovelies, 

K x

Friday 1 January 2016

Vintage and the Plus Size Aesthetic

A few months ago, the super talented Laura sent some questions over to me to reflect on our photoshoot together. You can read it all here, but something I touched upon, has, in recent days, come to a head in the plus size community.

"I think that pinup is always thrusted upon the plus size arena as the hourglass figure is lauded as the ideal. Which is why I was keen to express the other side of pinup – the rockabilly masculine side with my ‘fat rizzo’ outfit!"

It seems to me, that when you start on your body loving journey, on of the first steps is into the world of 'flattering'. The society perception of flattering is very much so the hour glass figure, and so the vintage style is one that is 'flattering' - it skims the tummy and the thighs, it nips in at the waist, it highlights the bust. It is, to use a contentious phrase - demure. Especially the 1940s aesthetic of the tea dress.

Demure is such a loaded term, isn't it? Sexy but not too sexy, quiet and well put together. Oh, and femininity is a MUST. Because heaven for bid, women have to look feminine right!

And that is why it's so pleasing to someone, emerging from the wardrobe of black tents, jeans and hoodies, and starting to experiment. Most likely to be met with comments about how flattering that outfit is, or how slimming, ad ultimately, how great they look. And this kind of attention is addictive. And sometimes, people stay here, quite happy with their flattering, and they're content.

Just because they stay at this stage on their journey, doesn't mean that the journey is over. They are beset, just like you or I, with constant pressure and images that demand more. Or less. 

That's the thing, with this body love journey we're all on right now - there is no destination. Even for those who have the ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED BADGE, and wear it with pride, have to fight to stay at that peak level of body confidence. So those who are at the start of their journey, it's worth it, believe me, it is SO worth it, but it's a life long journey.

The journey looks different for all of us. Some of the most amazing women I know, have chosen to rock the vintage look, because it represents them, it is THEM to a T. I've talked often about how the rockabilliy aesthetic was something I dreamed of as a late teen, going to soul club nights, which then led to wanting the perfect 60s shift dress. But that is part of me, my personality. 

When I moved on from flattering, and vintage, and experimented with shapes, colour, print, trying to find the style that represented ME to the world. I didn't find any given style that appealed, it was about playing with styles, being 50s pin up one day, school teacher the next, and then a bit of an oversized shirt and jeans the next.

Our journeys are different, but it doesn't mean it's any less valid, or that we're any less of an advocate for body confidence because we dress in typically flattering way, or because we happen to want to have a jeans and a hoodie day! Just because someone wants to dress in a pinup style all day, every day, doesn't mean they've thrown feminism out of the window either. As I said in the interview:

"Pinup is the empowerment that feeling sexy gives you. Whether that sexy comes from the bold red lip, the cinched waist, or a visible d├ęcolletage, it is owning that sexiness, rather than being the unwilling participant in that exchange."

Fashion is almost never about the opposite sex, but about taking the power back, and making it all about us, in all our amazing forms.

Much love my lovelies, 

K x