10 July 2014

I Took The Stars From My Eyes, And Then I Made A Map

Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of my favorite authors. The Secret Garden and A Little Princess were major causes for re-reading through my childhood and adolescence, and I still enjoy delving back into them today.
I'm actually in the process of writing an article about The Secret Garden and I started to think a lot about Hodgson Burnett's play with the idea of the "princess." It's something most little girls think about, and I myself always used to say I wanted to be one (and I still claim to be one at times at 23-years-old). But I love the way that F.H.B. brings into question the difference between being a princess because you are brought up in wealth and splendor (and are therefore regal and permitted to be entitled) versus being a princess in the heart and soul. It's something Mary in The Secret Garden has to overcome and learn about. It's something Sara in A Little Princess struggles with as well (although she is a princess at heart as well as on paper). And it's something a lot of people face to some extent or another in the real world. All metaphor aside.
The thing is, though, the idea of being a princess still holds a bit of magic for me. Not as in, "I hope to be rich and wear glittering gowns and marry a prince." It's more about the fairytale. It's more about wishes coming true and getting to have adventures (both good and bad) and ending up with an illustrated account of your travels and escapades and romances.
Life isn't a fairytale, but sometimes it's important to pretend that it is. And sometimes, it sort of can be. Maybe there are no knights on horseback or seven dwarves to befriend or Angelina Jolie's dressed as Maleficient around the corner. But there are magical moments that need to be seized and remembered.
The other day, Patrick and I were moving our bed around, and in the process of re-jiggering the base, we ended up with a steep, sloped mattress. He was quick to get excited about it and put our blue duvet at the bottom so it looked like water, and we could pretend to be on a slide. But I got caught up in the mess it was making, and how little space there was for me to walk around (because I am actually really clumsy and fall easily and don't like things being in the way of my feet). We ended up arguing about it, because I (inadvertently) was being a boring adult, and not appreciating that we'd somehow wound up with a magical water slide in our bedroom. In retrospect, I wish I had just gotten on it and slid down and played make believe. But it was a useful moment, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized those unexpected, silly times, are the bits of magic we have in the real world. And they don't come by every day.
In an effort to remedy the mistake of that morning, I put on my tutu and danced in the woods and rolled around in the grass and was just a silly little kid again. And it was lovely. This particular tutu is by Sixth Sense Couture (an Etsy shop based in London). You can get it in an array of different colors, and custom design it to your measurements and preferences. When I was purchasing this "Swan Tulle" I decided to go for the obnoxious baby pink, because it was the most princess-y, and I knew it would come in use on gloomy days when I'm in need of making my own fairy tale. I've wanted one for ages, and seeing some of my favorite bloggers and fashion inspirations, Callie and Gabi, looking like perfect dolls whilst rocking the look made me all the more inclined to go for it.
Finding enchantment is definitely made easier by living in Yorkshire (which is actually where the majority of The Secret Garden takes place). The moors, the tall trees, the perfect mix of sun and clouds, all create their own special wonderment. I'm not usually the happiest of people. But living here has been magical medicine for the soul.

Get the Look:
Swan Tulle, $86, Sixth Sense Couture
Stamp Print Crop Top, Sold Out, TopShop
Cameo, Vintage/Victorian Era, My Sister's


09 July 2014

Life Is So Hard, Tommy

These are the things I associate my childhood with: Simpsons Road Rage for Game Cube. Tamagotchi's (even though mine always died). Neopets (though they definitely always died). Super-Soakers, Beany Babies, Polly Pockets, Spice Girls Barbies, AND Rugrats. The blessed kid's show was around from 1991 until 2004, meaning the first thirteen years of my life. And when it ended, I was deeply distressed. I was entering the gritty, horrible stages of adolescence, and I didn't know what I would do without Chuckie's effortless wit to come home to every day.
When I saw this crop top at Forever21 (there is a European branch!), I knew it had to be in my life. So many old memories revolve around Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil, and even Angelica. I always talk about the importance of holding on to your child self -- to the optimism and naiveté and innocence with which you used to view the world -- and I think little things can sometimes help facilitate that. Like buying a crop top with the full cast of your favorite kid's show plastered all over it.
I paired the top (which I purchased in a standard L because crop tops are naturally quite stretchy) with my favorite pair of shorts from ASOS Curve. You're probably tired of hearing me say how much I adore sunflowers, but they really are the only flower I feel a kindredness with.

I love the fit of the shorts and the '90s look to them. I think the style blends in well with the '90s nostalgia of Rugrats, but I also think the two items paired together break a "plus-size girls can't wear" duo, and that makes me very pleased. That plus-size women are so often told not to wear shorts or crop tops always gets me a little irritated, but I think it's important to break these stigmas and wear what you want, whether you think it makes you look fat or not.

This outfit isn't slimming. I know you can see my tummy rolls. But that's ok. A lot of times people send me emails asking how I got myself to think of my fat in a positive light. I never have that much of an answer, because it's not as easy as snapping your fingers. And it's not like anyone -- even the most confident of people -- are ever truly free of body hangups and insecurities. Because we are all only human, and we all have bad days. You just start changing your mindset. You stop thinking of "fat" as a bad word. It's not a bad word. Most of us have it. It's part of our bodies. It's part of our shapes. It can be feminine and it can be beautiful; just like any other trait. When you stop thinking of "fat" as a dirty word, then you can start loving your body. But I think that part has to come first.

And for nostalgia's sake:

Get the Look:
Rugrats Crop Top, £10, Forever21
ASOS Curve High Waist Short in Sunflower Print, Sold Out, ASOS

07 July 2014

Que Sera, Sera

For some time now, I have been wanting to try Lady Vintage London. Their 1950's-inspired dresses are right up my alley in terms of personal style -- I can imagine a young Mary Jane Russell posing in Vogue circa 1951 in one of these gorgeous flared skirts.
The company was actually started by a husband/wife team (Sergio and Victoria) after deciding they wanted to create beautiful, vintage dresses at affordable prices -- and I can't help but find that really admirable; not to mention adorable.
I've seen some of their dresses on my friends Isha and Georgina in the past -- and they come highly recommended -- so it was just a matter of waiting until I found the perfect one for myself. Low and behold the Jade Green Polka Dot "Isabella" Dress. Besides the fact that green is my favorite color, and that I have no will power when it comes to polka dots, the neckline and full skirt are just absolutely darling. I did find that I should've sized down (the UK 20/US 16 actually being a bit large on me) but I kept the looser fit because it provides more airiness for the summer months ahead.
I'm beginning to get excited about the possibilities of the season. Once this week is over (during which I have to write a full draft of my 18,000-word dissertation), I'm going to make it a priority to do the things I want to be doing. The things I actually love doing. Writing. Traveling. Spending time with Patrick. Watching a lot of Star Trek. Taking long walks on the moors. Going to Paris, and later Ghana. Drinking large pints of cider. And probably eating a lot of cheese. I definitely believe that finding ensembles that really resonate with your personality facilitates doing the things you want to be doing. So I have no doubt this vintage gem will play a part in the months ahead.

Get the Look:
Jade Green Polka Dot "Isabella" Dress, £38, Lady V.
Bertie Locket Mix Material Monk Shoes, On Sale For £45, House of Fraser


Perfection Is A Disease Of A Nation

There have been a few things this year that have made me think... things can change. There are people who know things have to change. We talk a lot about all the progress that's been made. All the acceptance gained: acceptance toward different races, sexualities, looks. And maybe a lot has changed. Gay marriage is slowly happening. Ryland Whittington's parents amazed us all by realizing their five-year-old daughter was transgender, and allowing Ryland to begin transitioning at a young age. Beyonce released "Pretty Hurts" accompanied by her site "What Is Pretty?" There is no denying there has been improvement since the Civil Rights movement of the '60s. But hatred is inherent to human beings. Hatred toward the self. And hatred toward others.
I was drawn to social thought leader and internationally-published author Robin Rice the moment I heard about her campaign: #StopTheBeautyMadness. This isn't a campaign about denying that aesthetics hold importance. We all have our individuality, and our own ways of personifying that individuality via the way we dress and make ourselves up every day. I mean, I myself run a blog vastly dependent on fashion and my own physical appearance! This is a campaign that combats issues far grander, and far more difficult. It brings to the forefront the stigmatization surrounding race, non-hetero sexuality, weight, age and mental illness. It reminds us that just because things have changed some does not mean they are ideal.
At the heart of the campaign are advertisements that shed light on the grim realities of 21st century living. From our obsession with perfection to our fear of aging to our pre-conceived judgments unto those whose styles differ from our own. These aren't "feel-good" ads, but they are important. They reveal the change that still needs to happen. And don't hold back on saying that a lot of it is needed.

A lot of these images resonated with me. Being made to feel sub-human for being the fat kid in the family -- the fat kid in school. Doing all in my power to drop the weight, even if it meant sacrificing my own health. Being made to feel the "other" for my mixed-race background amidst my predominantly Caucasian high school and university. Because despite the obvious fact that my skin is white, people knew I was Latina. And that has been enough, for some, to keep me at a distance. I don't doubt these ads will resonate with women -- with people -- everywhere, and so I hope men and women join in the effort. The hashtag #StopTheBeautyMadness is live as of today. The Facebook page open for those wanting to share selfies and self-love.

I don't know how long it'll take for things to change for the better. I don't know that they ever will. But I do know that this campaign shines a bit of hope in what often feels like a grim existence.


02 July 2014

Sat Alone By The River; Gazed At Clouds Until Night

The longer I live in England, the more I realize that this country really does have far more variety in terms of plus-size retail, and possibly body positivity as a whole, than I've been used to in the past. It's not perfect, but nowhere is. What I do know is that I'm never made to feel awkward or hideous when I go out, and that is something I can't say for home (both homes -- Colombia and the states).
One brand I hadn't had much experience with prior to crossing the sea was Evans, and all the designers they carry. Though I'd heard of the brand, of course, I'd always assumed it was the equivalent of a Lane Bryant, and kind of geared at a more momsy crowd. But in the last year, Evans has really brought their A-game to the table (and Lane Bryant as well, for that matter). Since unveiling their "Cut" collection at British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend -- a selection of items dominated by bright colors, crazy patterns and body-hugging silhouettes -- I've been more and more drawn to them. But it was the recent "Summer Romance" collection by Scarlett & Jo that caught my fancy, and when I saw some of my favorite bloggers modeling their looks, I knew I had to give S&J a try.
I went for this Bardot dress not only because I am a fan of Brigitte's (and the neckline she popularized) but also because the whole style was such vintage-inspired perfection. The full skirt; the almost '70s-ish flowers. It all made me smile, and at the end of the day, I think that's what fashion should do.
Because the dress is so beautiful, I wanted to have a bit of a "Secret Garden" photo shoot for it. Patrick and I took a long stroll through the woods here in Yorkshire, and found a gorgeous tree that I couldn't resist shooting at. That I managed to get onto it whilst wearing heels still feels like quite the accomplishment.

Get the Look
Scarlett&Jo Black Multi 2 in 1 Floral Prom Dress, £60, Evans
Pearls Just Wanna Have Fun Necklace, £17, ModCloth

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