28 October 2014

Speakeasy

Whenever people ask me what my favorite things about New York are, I never have an answer as easy as the Brooklyn Bridge or the Natural Museum of History (although both are pretty stupendous). The things I miss are the way you can smell everything from hot dogs to Chanel No. 5 on every street corner; how absurdly ridiculous cab drivers actually drive; the effortless availability of any international cuisine you could dream of, and only within a five-minute radius; independent book shops like Housing Works that make you feel like you're in literary heaven. And the fashion. Oh, the fashion.
Regular readers on here know that Fashion to Figure is one of my favorite plus-size brands. I know a lot of people associate it with a very urban look and feel, but recently FTF have been coming out with items that speak deeply to the Old-Hollywood-Glam-Lover in me (and just wait until their holiday collection is released; then you'll really see what I mean).
Earlier this year, I was able to connect with some of the folks at the FTF headquarters and we've maintained an awesome relationship ever since. So when I got back to the city, we knew we wanted to collaborate on something -- and that collaboration manifested itself in some lovely photo shoots in the West Village, shot by none other than my beautiful and inspiring friend Rachel Crittenden (who you may remember from some FTF shooting back in February!).
This was a lovely chance to work closely with a brand I love for its fearless use of the bodycon/silhouette-showing/curves-galore approach to plus-size fashion, and with a photographer who I feel really gets it... really gets me and my love of the body-pos/fat-pos worlds. I feel like a sad truth about editorials or photo sets of plus-size women is that often brands or photographers will do their best to conceal double chins and visible belly outlines and anything too wobbly (or sometimes even the subjects will make those specific requests to the brands or photographers). But neither FTF, Rachel or I had that priority. And so taking these photos, and just being able to feel like myself, was so, so fun.

Please make sure to check out the Fashion to Figure Blog for a closer look into the shoot :D

Get the Look:
Shimmer Lace Dress/Fashion to Figure
River Island Faux Fur Collar/ASOS

22 October 2014

A Classic

If you asked me to describe myself in a couple of words, "sultry," and/or "mysterious," probably wouldn't really come to mind. I wear my heart on my sleeve most of the time and am far too clumsy, uncoordinated, introverted, nerdy and awkward to ever be sultry. I don't say this negatively. They're traits I've kind of grown to find endearing -- even if they don't facilitate social grace and eloquence. But I guess part of why I so love things like Halloween and fashion as a whole is that they allow you to embrace aspects of your personality that you don't normally think about... or aspects of your personality that are actually totally non-existent.
When I saw this dress at SimplyBe, I was instantly interested in it. I love velvet... I love the texture and romance and classic beauty it possesses. For most of my life, people said things to me like, "You're just a classic beauty -- people would've found you gorgeous 100 years ago." These comments were usually faux-compliments. What most (not all) of these people really meant was, "There's no way your fat body and round face would be considered attractive now by the mainstream, but maybe a century ago that would've been different." The thing is, I kind of get what they mean. I have soft features and a soft body and maybe when those traits were considered signs of wealth and grandeur, I would've had a bunch of suitors lining up and handing in a bride price to my "loving" papa. But I'm actually quite glad I don't live in that time. Maybe fat acceptance was more common, but being a person's property has never sat quite right with me.
Back to this dress, though: I guess I love it because it does remind me of the whole "classic beauty" thing. I used to think of that as a bad thing, because it was so coated by sizeism and bullying undertones and I didn't like being associated with a time when women were so often sold and exchanged. But these days I embrace the "classic beauty" thing, just as I embrace my inherent awkwardness and nerdiness. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can relate to the soft-featured women of the 50's, like Marilyn, for instance.
I also love that this dress kind of juxtaposes a more overt sexiness (bodycons, velvet, red) with a more subdued and "classic" femininity (soft velvet). Though I wouldn't have wanted to be a woman in the Victorian Era, I certainly appreciate delicacy and gracefulness and traditionally womanly things. Often, I find myself experimenting with one or the other. My style tends to float more along the side of traditional femininity, but I do love a good bodycon or fancy lingerie set. It's kind of fun to play with both spectrums and think about the fact that they don't always have to be separate
Get the Look:
Velour Bodycon Dress with Floral Side Burnout/SimplyBe

Photos by Lucy Cartwright.

20 October 2014

Silver Cupcake

One of the best parts of taking pictures with someone you get along with is feeling like exploration and experimentation are completely possible. I find myself wanting to explore and experiment with a lot of things, but often letting my anxieties or my "sense of responsibility" get in the way. Or, simply, my laziness paired with perpetual fatigue after a work day (which leads to wanting to do nothing more than watch Netflix and take bubble baths). It's definitely something I want to change. My mother just plucked a white hair from my head. So I guess there really is no time like the present.
I've been in New York the past few weeks (thus my lack of posting). Since moving out of the city, every time I visit is filled with snippets of maybes and what if's. Like, "Maybe things would be like this is I lived here." Or, "What if I had stayed and was now working here and doing that and living there." I don't mean that I am desperately wanting to move back, or that I am remotely unhappy in the U.K. England has become home. Paddy is home. And I love where we live. It's more like my imagination just gets the best of me, and I start picturing an alternate reality filled with Brooklyn brownstones, daily fro-yo at Pinkberry or Whiskey Sours at the KGB bar amidst indie poets and secret girl crushes. 
When I shot these pictures with Lucy Cartwright a few weeks before coming over, she kept saying the outfit called to mind Vivienne Westwood (after we discovered that Lucy's light shade doubled as a matching cape, that is). Westwood is the quintessential experimental figure in fashion. Her basket hats from the S/S Gold Label embody what I mean perfectly. But I chose to post the pictures now because I think they also make me think of change. I don't know why that is exactly. Maybe it's the futuristic quality of silver and metallics, paired with the comfort of something like cupcakes (because duh). New York doesn't quite feel like home anymore, but it does feel like possibilities. It always has. It just makes you think of all the things you want to do. All the places you want to travel to. All the hobbies you want to allow to let flourish, both independently and with your partner. It feels like the start of something. Or, more accurately, like the start of a lot of somethings.

Get the Look:
ASOS Curve Pleated Midi Skirt in Metallic/ASOS
Cupcake Bodysuit (sold out in this pattern)/Similar H&M
Swedish Hasbeens Gustava Sandals in Old Pink Nubuck/Surfdome
Metallic Light Shade/Your friendly neighborhood photographer

08 October 2014

Sat Alone By The River, Gazed At Clouds Until Night

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Everything about it makes me feel like a kid again. On Halloween, you can literally be anything you want to be. You can embrace any aspect of your personality and even exaggerate it in the most theatrical of ways. I adore the costumes, the candy, the commotion. And I usually spend the entire month of October in anticipation, planning my costume, scouting for parties and imagining that wonderfully fun day when all responsibilities fade and you can just be you (or whatever fantastical version of yourself you so choose).
As for mermaids, I don't know when my obsession began, but for the past few years I have been mesmerized by their ethereal and graceful qualities (perhaps partly because I'm so not graceful myself). I've gravitated toward people like Freyia Lillian and her Flimsymoon collection, and rejoiced when I found out she, too, adores mermaids. So when Hips and Curves -- a brand I hold near and dear to my heart -- offered to dress me for Halloween, I could not pass up the opportunity. This mermaid ensemble was too perfect, somehow blending the innocence and traditional femininity of mermaids with the more overtly sexy side of being a woman.
I think a big part of what draws me to mermaids is how effortlessly beautiful they are. Whenever you see them in stories or films, they convey this sense of wonderment and mystery. And I guess that's what I loved about this costume. In real life, I struggle to do anything effortlessly, other than swim or be in the water (another contributing factor to my love of these beautiful creatures, no doubt). Even taking these photos was far from effortless (in my head, that is) because of all the climbing it took to get to this part of the river in Cragg Vale. And once there, I was acutely aware of how cold the water would be!). But in general, wearing the costume made me feel like I could just flow away into the sea. And once Patrick and I got into the flow of the photography (and once the water stopped feeling as cold as it really was), I began to feel mystical and powerful and beautiful. And feeling those things is definitely a big part of why I so adore this holiday. Plus, being a fat mermaid is kind of the dream.







In summation, I strongly urge you all to check out Hips & Curves' Plus Size Costumes and Fantasy section :D

All photos by Paddy McClave.

Get the Look:
La Sirena Luxe Steel-Boned Coset/Hips and Curves
Mermaid Metallic Trumpet Tulle Skirt/Hips and Curves
Candyfloss Wig/Geisha Wigs

06 October 2014

We Sailed Away On A Winter's Day, With Fate As Malleable As Clay

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will know how much I love Fashion to Figure. I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the lovely people who work for/with the brand, and everyone is as in love with the voluptuous figure as I am. FTF is all about pride: pride in your body. Pride in your self. Pride in your curves and wobbles. It's why most of their clothing is fitted and hugs the silhouette. I love that they're not afraid to break the rules. They're not afraid of a creating a garment that shows off a woman's visible belly outline, or nestles closely to her hips.
A few months ago, I received this beautiful lace dress. If I were to use any word to describe it, it'd be flirty. This is exactly the sort of thing I'd wear on a cute date night (provided it was in one of the warmer seasons), or on a day-date with my girlfriends. It's light and airy and ideal for warmer days when you just want something easy and cute. The dress has unfortunately been sold out for a while, but you can find something similar here (in longer sleeves and a gorgeous fall red) and here (another white, flirty, easy dress).
I know a lot of plus-size women might be worried about trying on a dress like this. It really is tight to the body, and that means that my chunkiest bits (belly, bum and thighs) are on display. But honestly, there's something really flattering in things that have been traditionally deemed unflattering: like the color white (or bright colors in general), bodycon dresses and/or anything that doesn't conceal your tummy. I like this dress, in particular, because it breaks all those notions of what is and isn't flattering, but it's not super in-your-face about it. It's still subtle and subdued and perfect for the introvert in me.

Photos by Lucy Cartwright.

Get the Look:
Swedish Hasbeens Gustava Sandals in Old Pink Nubuck/Surfdome

03 October 2014

A Qualm: "You're Not Fat; You're Beautiful"

I couldn't tell you how many times I heard that phrase whilst I was growing up, and still today: "You're not fat; you're beautiful." And my guess is that most plus-size women have been told the same thing (accompanied by, "You have such a pretty face," or "At least you have boobs"). It's often said by friends and relatives in an attempt to be reassuring and pseudo-comforting. I don't doubt that sometimes the people saying the words truly don't think the person they're saying the words to is fat. But I also don't doubt that this phrase -- this phrase we hear so much -- stems from the assumption that fat is this big, scary, horrible thing. Not an essential component of survival. Not a characteristic that can make women look feminine and voluptuous and stunning. Nor make a man's shape interesting and soft. But a trait associated with negative and derogatory stereotypes: laziness, ignorance, a burden to insurance companies and the medical community, inherently ill, etc., etc.
It's one of those ironies. People who say the phrase usually don't mean any harm. They don't think what they're doing is lying or body shaming. They think they're easing your insecurities, unaware that the end result is further stigmatization of fat by linking fatness to unattractiveness. The thing is, if you're a fat man or woman, you are probably acutely aware of your body. Why wouldn't you be, when so much of mainstream society dictates that your figure is the wrong figure? So in the end, hearing someone say, "You're not fat; you're beautiful," can have a pretty counterproductive result.
I struggle with this phrase. I know that I am a plus-size woman. I know that I classify as "obese" by medical standards. I know how big my derriere is and I certainly know how much my body jiggles and wobbles (traits I have come to love thanks to body confidence movements, inspiring plus-size bloggers and my incredible partner -- as well as, simply, growing up and allowing myself to be myself). But I also know that I am tall. I'm tall, and I love vintage fashion. And the combination of these things often makes me look far smaller than I am. In turn, I'm aware that when some people say, "You're not fat; you're beautiful," they really believe it. But the thing is, I don't want them to say it. Not just because it's a lie, but because they're perpetuating a stigma. It's more than possible to be fat and beautiful. I see it everyday, in women (and men) I love and admire. It's also perfectly possible to be fat and healthy; fat and fit; fat and hard working, ambitious, motivated, wonderful, intriguing.
It strikes me as genuinely absurd and oftentimes infuriating how much people are oblivious to this form of body snark. It's become so engrained, and such a part of daily life, that no one stops to think about it anymore. Not too long ago, I saw a friend's Facebook status that was yet another quintessential example of this problem. Being a quirky, alternative dresser, she found that certain tourists visiting Hebden Bridge couldn't stop staring at her. One in particular visibly pointed and laughed. My friend's status was along the lines of, "At least I have personality and unique style, unlike you... you stupid, fat bitch." Seriously, I hear this all the time. If someone is an ass hole, and also fat, they will always, ALWAYS, be referred to as, "The FAT ass hole." Yet again, we link being fat with this other thing (this bad thing), forgetting to realize that it isn't the person's weight that makes them cruel. It's the person! As in, intrinsically. When someone is thin, and an ass hole, we would never think to refer to them as, "The skinny ass hole," or at least, not nearly as often (though I do lamentably hear women being referred to as "skinny bitches" once in a while). The point is, our first world society (or perhaps most society in general nowadays) perceives fat to be something unhealthy, ugly and distasteful, so we go out of our way to comment and mock it in our daily lives.
A misconception certain people have is that because there are more fat people today than perhaps there have been in times passed, that means that fatness is normalized. It is absolutely not normalized. Just because we see something regularly, and because it has become common, does not mean that it is accepted. This could be said of non-hetero sexuality, of men who dress in drag, and yes, of being fat. If it were so accepted, so "normal," we wouldn't have to say things like, "You're not fat; you're beautiful." We'd choose instead to say, "Your fat is beautiful," or "You are fat and beautiful." But very rarely do we hear these things outside body-positive and fat-positive communities.

Some of you may have seen my recent Bustle experiment: "I Am a Plus-Size Woman Who Wore a Low-Rise Bikini to the Beach and This is What Happened." Toward the end, I write, "The only way to normalize the 'abnormal' is to embrace it." Just because fat people are in the majority in certain parts of the world doesn't mean they're perceived as "normal" or beautiful. And it's ok to be different to those perceptions of normality. Truly, our differences make us special and interesting. But I think if anything different is ever going to receive a certain level of acceptance, we have to consciously try to end the body snark -- even when it's unintentional. In some ways, the fact that it is often unintentional is going to make it far more difficult to combat (because our unawareness is such a serious thing). But personally, I think any little bit of help counts. Eradicating the lies, even the innocent enough ones, will count. Saying, "Yes you're fat, and you're also beautiful, and your fat is part of that beauty," -- that will count.

So why did I include outfit photos? Well, the photographer who shot these (Lucy Cartwright) played around with set-design, lighting and my positioning in a way that I feel created quite a beautiful outcome. Though my own self-esteem and confidence have grown exponentially since the start of this blog, it's still a rare occasion that I say to myself, "Hey Miggle; you're beautiful!" I might think of myself as cute or funny-looking in an endearing way or pretty. But I don't often think "beautiful" in my head. Here, though, I think to myself, "Yep, you're a pretty chunky lady, and that's definitely a big part of your beauty."

Get the Look:
Daisy Plunge Neck Bodysuit in Nude/Boohoo
Polly Scuba Turn Up Tregging in Navy/Boohoo
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