Thursday, 17 January 2019

Let's Talk About: Being Midsize

When I first decided to go travelling one of the things nagging at the back of my head was the expectation that I would have to be in swimwear for the majority of my time around people I didn't know. The idea of it was one of real worry for me, so much so that I must have bought and returned at least ten different swimsuits from ASOS before I found one that I didn't completely hate my appearance in.

I have never been skinny, more curvy around the edges and sitting firmly in what is now being called by some as 'mid size'. I love this movement, I love the idea of any movement that makes people feel included and accepted just the way they are and this in particular has really stirred something in me. 

Stripe Tie Front Swimsuit: Target (bought in-store)

I have worked for the fast fashion brands who don't quite understand that just because they make a dress in a size 16 it doesn't mean that it will come anywhere near to looking flattering on my figure, even on the rare occasion the sizing isn't absolutely ridiculous. But they are trying, and so are the highstreet, with Topshop's inclusion of a size 18 somewhat behind the times it still makes me happy that when something would just look a little better with a little more room, I have the option to size up. Even Primark and H&M are finally listening to our cries on social media of stupidly small sizing and slowly reassessing their entire ranges. It's not perfect, but it is movement.

One of the things that has both improved and blighted my self confidence as a lady with love handles is social media, in particular Instagram and YouTube. There are hordes of those beautiful, skinny girls in bikini's so small they might just cover one of my nipples, and there are gorgeous girls staring on national advertising campaigns for plus size brands. What there seems to be a complete lack of however, is average girls with average figures showing up anywhere as ambassadors for clothing brands.

There are some amazing ladies out there doing great things for girls like me, Lucy Wood does brilliant try on hauls in a size 14 (I even bought her 'average' merch that's not merch t-shirt), and Helen Anderson who shared a brilliant video on the same subject a few months ago. There is also now an Instagram page called Midsize Collective who exclusively share outfits from girls like myself who fit in this size 10-18 bracket which makes my heart happy every time it pops up on my feed. These girls really helped me to realise that having a slightly thicker frame was nothing to be ashamed of, and that I should embrace my curves. 

Since being in Australia I have posted a picture of myself on the beach in a swimsuit which is something I never thought I would do. I have become more secure in myself, and my curves, slowly retraining my brain to not be repulsed every time I sit down in denim shorts and my tummy sits more rolled that I would like underneath me. It isn't an easy journey, I aim to be healthy over any particular  clothes size, however falling into the trap of comparison especially on social media is all too easily done. My solution has been to unfollow or mute anyone who has elicited negative feelings within myself when I see their photos. It isn't anything others have done or a passive aggressive act, more an act of self love until such time that the little voices in my head don't automatically go "you'd look like that if you hadn't of had pizza for dinner again this evening" and just learn to accept my mid size self. 
While my own train of thought it part of the problem, it will also be part of the solution with gentle, continual and positive reaffirmation that actually my body is pretty damm great the way it is, and I should be so very thankful for it. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Let's Talk About: Heartbreak

Heartbreak can take on many different forms. From lost loves, to the end of friendships, missed opportunities, the passing of a family member, all these things can make you feel soul consuming sadness inside and out.

Over the past year or so I have had more than my fair share of heartbreak. I have lost jobs I once thought were my dream through no fault of my own, I’ve been with two Grandparents during their final days, had my first long term relationship end suddenly and without warning, and found out my oldest friend has a terminal illness. My heart has broken a hundred times over, in a myriad of ways.

Some might say that heartbreak due to events in your life is the worst human emotion to endure but I disagree. Feeling your heart break for someone else and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to fix it is a million times worse. How do you comfort a parent who has just lost their own mother or father? What can you say to a friend who is feeling as shattered and helpless as you are? How do you console your sibling who also feels like their childhood hero has vanished and misses them every day? I don’t have an answer to those questions, but I do know that in time things begin to heal. Like anything that is broken it is never quite the same again, but the cracks slowly begin to be filled in with new memories and a new version of life is born.

My own personal journey with heartbreak has taken many twists and turns. There has been spontaneous crying and crying all day long from a complete sadness within. An inability to answer the question “Are you ok?” with anything that even vaguely resembled a truthful answer for fear of lifting the lid on the emotions I was struggle to contain. Forgetting everything, repeating myself in conversation and feeling physically sick for weeks on end. As the months went on, I curled further and further inside of myself, slowly but surely suppressing any emotion to escape pain.

I was fighting against the continual and vast changes in my life, praying for it all to slow to calmness, battening down the hatches until the storm passed. The further into myself I curled the worse it seemed to get. There was no specific day or event when I began to unravel, I don’t really remember it happening.

As time passed, new memories were made; celebrating my birthday in Barcelona, going to gigs and festivals, the hen party and wedding of a dear friend, a summer of sunshine and laughter, and the slow realisation that I was allowed to be happy amongst sadness.

As that realisation blossomed so did hope.

Hope is quite possibly the most magical feeling, a instinctual knowing that things can and will get better.

When life draws you back, it is best to think of your sadness like an arrow, pulling you back to propel you forward. As far as you can sink into heartbreak and sorrow, know that you can reach love and happiness of the same magnitude when the tide turns and life sends you hurtling forward again.

Now I’m setting sail, instead of wishing it would all stop I’ve pressed the speed up button, quitting my job, moving my worldly belongings across the country and booking flights to the other side of the world. A friend said to me it sounded like I was running away, in reality I was setting myself free and giving myself permission to feel happiness and joy again. I know that I am the only person who can. 

If life insists on throwing endless curve balls my way then I might as well direct that energy into a path that I have chosen. One thing I have learnt is that with life you are only ever along for the ride, so I decided I might as well make the journey worth it, for both good and bad.

There are still times when I find myself in a downward spiral, set off by the simplest of things. I have also found myself to be the person to start epic singalongs on coach rides, to snort laugh at the most inappropriate of things, and to feel contentment and like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

The thing about heartbreak and pain is that you have to know it, to know when you are truly happy again. I haven’t found my bliss yet, but the journey there sure is something special. After all, it is my experience that the kindest and strongest souls amongst us are the ones who have known true pain.
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