Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Plus 40 Fabulous

So, FINALLY I get a chance to do my introductory blog for 'Plus 40 Fabulous'!  It's been a stressful old week with my dad being admitted to hospital.  I then stepped in to be my mums 24/7 carer.  I'm pleased to say he's out of hospital now and doing better than I have seen him in months.  :) So to the challenge :)

Well to introduce myself, my name is Lisa, that's a very recent photo of me, taken just so I had a photo with my new Backyard Babies tattoo (my favourite band).  The skull top is also a nod towards what direction my fashion normally takes.

I will be 40 in the first week of December, so I've just squeezed under the radar for the Plus 40 group, but I really wanted to do it and thankfully, the lovely ladies Leah and Mookie allowed me to.  I live back home in the lovely island of Ireland after having spent 10 years living in England in various places (Derby, Nottingham and Yorkshire).  I am a size 20, but depending on the item, can take up to a size 24.  As for how I see my style?  I've definately always been an alternative lass.  I can list amongst favourite styles of mine throughout the years: 70's, gothic, biker, boho, gypsy, casual.  There are lots, but they all pretty much have a nod towards being alternative.

From looking through photos I have, I don't have very many at all that are full length and I don't have a fashion blog (hell, I don't blog any more at all) to draw from.  I think that points towards my lack of confidence with how I look.  It is something I have been working with over the past couple of years and it is much, much better than it once was.  I think that little increase in confidence has a lot to do with my little bit of exposure to the plus sized movement, through being a friend of Leahs.  It's just a pity, the feeling in the mainstream, isn't more like it is in the body positive movement, but I suppose, teeny, tiny steps are better than standing still.

The photo below is one of myself and Leah at her 40th birthday celebrations.  I searched like crazy to find the dress I'm wearing as I had seen it in Leahs blog and didn't buy it at the time (and I regretted it like crazy).  After much looking, I managed to source one on Ebay :).  Little did I know that Leah would be wearing the same dress :)  This photo actually taught me that I should photograph what I wear more often as red DMs very clearly don't go with this dress!

Up close photo of the print in the same dress and a memento of my small amount of time with a fringe.  It looked ok when I had been to the hairdresser, but it was awful the rest of the time, so I very quickly grew it out.  This reminds me that I need to start wearing hair accessories again.

The next photos are ones which were taken at weddings.  This one was taken shortly after I had my son.  I was 3 stones lighter at full term than I was before I got pregnant, due to severe hyperemesis throughout my pregnancy.  I was about 2-3 stones lighter here than I am now.  I just seemed to revert back to my usual weight after giving birth.  This is how people told me how well I looked and the ever irritating "You've lost SO much weight!" (like I should be delighted to hear it).  Hey Ho, if 7 months of starvation and lots of hospitalisations makes me look so much better, then there is something seriously wrong with the world.  I do wear a lot of dark and black, but I love bright, vivid colours like the ones below.  I adored this dress and although it doesn't fit me now, it still hangs in my wardrobe.

This is a more recent wedding and typically I don't have a long photo of the dress. This photo is included to show the vivid, darker colours I love.  The dress was an electric blue, skater-style lace dress and I got the feather fascinator online to match.  It also shows my animal print fake fur coat that I had wanted for so long.  I couldn't afford one, but then in the January sales a couple of years ago New Look were selling them for £25!!  Result!!  Christmas money to the rescue!! Money is a very important factor for me as I am more skint than a skint thing.  I suffer from Fibromyalgia and CFS like Leah, so I am unable to work, so cashflow is a problem in our household.  I sold the dress and fascinator below after the wedding to recoup the money.  That is something I do quite a lot.  Fashion for me tends to be about what is affordable, rather than what I love.  For something like a wedding, I will buy a nice (but reasonably priced) dress, but more often than not, I do sell it on.  Hell, I even sold on my wedding dress as I knew I wouldn't ever wear it again and I couldn't justify it sitting up in the attic

The 2 photos below were taken on a rare day out in York when we went to visit my inlaws.  We try to have a day away together, just the 2 of us, once a year and this was it.  This is to show my love for clothes that are comfortable.  The dress below is a simple, elasticated  waist gypsy style dress.  It is nice and roomy and comfy and very flattering.  I just teamed it with a red belt and cardigan to introduce my favourite colour in there. :)

The outfit below the one I wore for the daytime on our trip.  The emphasis here is on comfort.  I do love a band T-shirt and I own quite a few.  In this case a lovely bejewelled Kiss shirt.  I'm wearing the same red cardi as in the other photo and a denim mini skirt over black leggings.  It means I don't have to worry about adjusting anything.  I'm free to concentrate on having fun :)

A bit of a light-hearted one here.  This is a photo taken on my Hag night (Hen/Stag), yip, me and the hubby had a joint do.  We share all the same friends, so it seemed silly not to team up.  We had a burlesque and gangster theme as it summed up our style perfectly.  I loved this outfit!  I love to dress up in fancy dress and have fun.  

This is a style of dress I wear a lot in the summertime.  Simple and floaty.  I suppose I do like to skim over the tummy and bum area as I feel very insecure about these areas.  I'm still working on accepting myself as I am.  It's a work in progress.  I loved the bold colours in this dress and it makes me feel feminine.  Here is my little man with me.  This one was taken a year ago.


So, finally, the last photo I end with is one of me wearing a T-shirt I first saw on Leah.  It signifies me at the start of my journey of acceptance with my body and the number that denotes my size.  By Betty Pamper, it's an 'Invasion of the dangerous curves' shirt and I love it.  

So, there you have it.  That's me, summed up as much as I can in a few photos.  As to how I feel about being almost 40 and a plus size woman?  I'm getting there.  My age doesn't bother me at all.  I just wish the number sewn into my clothes didn't bother me quite so much.  How deeply the shame about my size is ingrained into me, is going to take some time to eradicate.  What bothers me most is the perception in the media generally about plus sized women and women of a certain age.  I fit both of those criteria and if it weren't for my lovely husband, I would feel completely unfanciable and unattractive.  You've heard the common analogy used by some men: - "Fat birds make a better shag, because they're grateful someone is sleeping with them at all, so they make more effort."  This is the crap we're dealing with.  Is it any wonder we feel as disillusioned as we do.

It is everywhere.  High street stores only stock up to size 18.  If you are over a size 18, you have to go to a 'fat shop' where everything seems double the price.  As an example, today I went to buy a winter coat.  My lovely dad gave me £60 as an early birthday present to get a coat, which he knows I need.  I will give you a list of shops I tried.  NONE of these had my size: Primark, Dunnes,  TK Maxx, Debenhams, Oasis, River Island, Wallace, Marks & Spencer, New Look, Next.  I traipsed around ALL of these shops and the largest size I could find (even in the Inspire section of New Look) was a size 18, and even at that, it felt like a size 14.  It was tight on my arms and wouldn't even reach properly across my back.  Is it any wonder we have so little confidence having to deal with this kind of thing??  I was left feeling really low and as if I were mammoth!  I was with my husband and I felt ashamed that nothing at all in our town would fit me.  I thought it reflected really badly on me.  I tried Evans, which I had been avoiding as they didn't really have anything I liked, but when I did try there, all the sizes were 26+, so were too big.  They were also £80+, which pardon me, I'm not spending on a coat!  Now I'm forced to order something online and 'hope' it fits.  

So, we know where we are with size due to the shops and their lack of anything to fit us.  Also the medias obsession with casting anyone over a size 12 in a comedy or desperate role.  Jennifer Lawrence is cited as being 'curvy' and it is widely known that she was told by several casting agents that she was too fat.  She refused to lose weight to her credit and has done amazingly well for herself, but hell, she's only a size 10-12!!!!  What it does prove though, is that we WANT to see people that Hollywood deem as 'imperfect', normal people who represent us.  In the music industry, I've noticed for years that appearance is completely unimportant if you are male.  There is no reflection on how successful you will be.  Women however.... why are all women in the music industry like something that has walked out of the pages of a magazine?  I felt hope with stars like Lily Allen and Adele, until they both made comebacks with a new 'streamlined' version of themselves.  If feisty women like these can be reached, what hope is there for the rest of us?  This is a way in which I hope to grow from participating in the 'Plus 40 Fabulous' blog -   A little help further along my journey in this acceptance of myself.

When it comes to age.  This is something that actually has never really bothered me at all.  What does though, is AGAIN the media viewpoint that as a women, if you are over 30 years old, you're too old.  You don't get cast as the romantic lead.  As a young woman in her early 20's, your husband may be an actor in his 50's and this is expected to be believable.  No doubt there are amazing actresses out there not making it, due to something as ridiculous as age or weight!  Wonderful actresses that once played the leading role are downgraded to supporting roles if any at all, while their male counterparts are still scoring the lead role.  This has led to a perception amongst men that they are only attracted to women between the ages of 18 and 30.  Suddenly as a 40 year old, I've become invisible.  My sex appeal has vanished.  If  I were single, I would probably not even come up in the searches on dating sites as men my age (and significantly older) aren't looking for a woman as old as me. I have watched many dating shows that time and time again show men who are 40 - 70 all selecting the age brackets 18-30 as the age ranges they are prepared to meet.   I find that completely ridiculous!!  What makes a man a viable human being regardless of his age, yet a woman seems to have a shelf life of about 10 years before she throws the towel in?  So although my age doesn't bother me personally.  The attitude to women of my age definitely does.

I hope this hasn't been too waffley and I've made some kind of sense?!  I look forward to reading everyone elses blogs.  Apologies for the lateness of mine.  See you all on the next one. :)

A list of lovely ladies participating in the blog are:

Monday, 3 November 2014

Social Awkwardness

So here I am again, writing gibberish, brain contents, musings, ponderings... who knows?  It something I used to do a lot and now rarely do.  I miss it truth be told.  My lack of writing is mostly due to time constraints with the wee man and being so exhausted when it comes to my 'down time' in the evening, that I feel like doing little more than slouching in front of the TV or catching up with what's going on in the world online.

Right now, it's after midnight and Darren is in Yorkshire, waiting to attend his grandmothers funeral tomorrow.  Isaac is in bed and the house is minus its warmth, although my temperature is pleasant, I'm ill at ease.  I hate us being apart.  I don't feel 'whole'.  I know that's a very un-PC thing to say.  Feminists will be screeching at me, but hey, it's how I feel.

When I'm left alone with the thoughts, I tend to do just that - think.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it is what it is I suppose.

What's plaguing my mind at the moment is the need to be social.  Since my Fibro and ME have gotten to a stage where my social life is pretty much dictated to me, I have found the whole concept of socialising and going out more and more difficult.  I've found myself retreat more and more into myself over this last few years and only feel I can be myself from behind a screen.  I know some folks feel that it's a problem to have an every day presence on social media.  It's a sure indicator that you have a 'sad' life with nothing to fill it.  No social engagements, you're unable to maintain 'real' relationships.  That's an easy thing to assume when you have good health and are not stuck at home every day.  Easy when the few people you connect with are out living healthy social lives or are in other countries.  Easy when you have the money to go out every time you want.  Easy when you don't have a young child and no babysitter.  This is my life, but it isn't something I'm unhappy with.  I love my husband and son and our life.  I have begun to worry however about my lacking ability to be comfortable around others.

The number of 'physical' friends I have that I connect with and who know me can be counted on one hand.  I kid you not.  I have almost reached 40 years of age and I am only truly comfortable with a handful of people. Most of these friends live in another country and I miss those easy, lazy days and nights in each others company terribly.  No need for a reason to get together.  Just happy to spend time together.  These days, when in company I feel myself retreat, as everyone seems to already have existing friendships, so I always feel on the peripheral.  Someone that's just there, the presence of which is not required, nor remembered.  This is not a 'pity me' post by the way.  I know it may read that way.  I'm just emptying the contents of my brain.  Why on earth do I find it so hard to make friends?  Why am I so socially awkward?  Why does maintaining friendships have to be about how often you get to go out?  I rarely get to go out.  You can draw your own conclusions from that.

When I have thought about my friends, they all, bar my oldest friend of almost 25 years, are people I have got to know online first.  People I haven't had to get to know as 'awkward me'.  People who haven't made judgements about me being aloof, stand-offish or odd  just because I'm shy and find it difficult to connect with people.  Asides from the good 'physical' friends I have, I also have some great 'online' friends.  People I talk with most days.  People I have gotten to know over years and I feel I know well.  Why are those connections and friendships deemed as somehow less than a series of drunken nights in a bar?  I'm not belittling social friendships in any way, but I see comments most days where people belittle those of us who spend a lot of time online.  Have I nothing better to do?  Nothing better than to catch up with a good friend and ask how they are?  Nothing better to to write a long email to one of my closest friends who I am lucky if I see once a year?  In what world is there anything sad or pathetic about that?

So, I've concluded I AM socially awkward.  That's unlikely to change, so whether I never make a new friend again or whether I meet oodles of like-minded souls along the way, que sera sera.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Love Every Body - Assignment 8 - Skin

A bit late with my 'Love Every Body' assignment this month as my old broken head forgot, lol.  My son has also been ill for the past couple of days, hence only getting published in the early hours of Monday :)

So the subject matter this month is 'skin'.  I am a curvy lass at a size 18, so I have a lot of hangups about my body, but for the last few years, skin has never been one of them.  Thanks to my lovely husband who LOVES pale skin, I have lost my embarrassment of glowing in the dark, I'm so pale, lol.  I don't tan.  When caught in the sun (which these days is accidental rather than intentional) I burn and go back to white again, so there is really no point in making myself suffer.

I have quite freckled arms and have some on my legs, but asides from that, my skin has always been quite unmarked and smooth.  Until last October that is.  I went into hospital in October 2013 to undergo Gall Bladder surgery.  They couldn't do the normal keyhole procedure, which would have left 3 small scars.  Instead they did open surgery which left me with a scar running diagonally across my entire abdomen.  To add insult to injury, I also have the keyhole scars as they tried to do surgery that way but couldn't.  Apparently my insides are wired a little differently to normal.

I also had my son Isaac by emergency C-Section, but the scar for that is virtually invisable.  It is hidden in the crease of skin beneath my belly.  However, the gall bladder scar is hideous, ugly and it feels horrid as it is all raised.  I have been putting Bio Oil on it religiously to no avail.  Here are a couple of photos to show you what I mean.

About 10 days after op ^^^^

When half my staples came out ^^^^^

All staples out ^^^^^

So that'll give you a good idea of what we're talking about.  I'll actually have to take a photo of it now, as I feel the scar is worse than the last photo.  That one was taken the same day the staples came out.   Its raised and the actual line is much thicker than in this photo.   

I am lucky that my hubby is one of those guys who loves me no matter what, but the scar makes me so paranoid.  When I'm in a situation where I end up topless (I think you know what I'm talking about here), All I can think is rather than looking at where most men would, all that's visible is my bloody big scar.

I'm bummed that, what was my hubbys favourite thing about me, is now permanently scarred in a hideous manner.  I suppose I should be grateful I'm alive and had the operation, but being left with this forever is something that upsets me.

My skin has always been extremely soft and smooth.  The scar hasn't changed that (apart from over that area of my body).  Another unwelcome side effect of the operation is that a vast area os my abdomen is completely numb.  Sometimes after such a big cut, the feeling doesn't come back.  With me it hasn't, which is upsetting in itself again.

Since this only happened 8 months ago, I haven't got to the point where I'm accepting of it just yet.  I still hate undressing in front of my hubby and am extremely self conscious when we're intimate.  I'm just hoping that with time, I will learn to just forget it's there.

I think this is the most negative body blog I've done so far, so apologies for that.  It is just an area that definately needs work.  Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Love Every Body - Assignment 7 - Legs & Feet

So, this week finds us right down at the bottom of the old body with the legs and feet.  The main thing that makes me aware of my legs and feet is unfortunately the old Fibromyalgia.  I have constant pain in my legs, especially my hips, knees and ankles.  My feet aren't quite so bad, but definately ache like a sod.  I also get a lot of swelling around my joints, which isn't exactly very appealing.

Aesthetically they aren't the kind of legs that would appeal to most.  I have chubby, pale legs with a spattering of dark freckles.  I used to have killer legs in my late teens and early 20's, nice a shapely.  I was very active and sporty back then, but now the Fibro doesn't allow me such pursuits.  Here's what I'm talking about:

Yup, I have pale legs, but you know what?  That doesn't bother me at all.  I'm not a lover of fake tan.  It looks ridiculous on me and my hubby hates it.  He loves pale skin and dark hair so I'm onto a winner there, lol.  I'm thankful he feels the way he does, as I sure as hell don't have the time to be fake tanning this expanse of skin and I never did like to smell like biscuits.

The old legs don't look too bad dressed up:

This was taken before going out to a rare gig to see a rock band called 'The Treatment'.  It's custom to go see them dressed as Dr's and Nurses.  I decided to go down the Gothic Nurse route, lol.  I LOVE these shoes, but I have never worn them out of the house since I bought them years ago due to the high heels.  I kind of underestimated how uncomfy they would be after a short amount of time.  Nowadays, there's no way I could wear them, but I put them on for a photo, just because :)

So onto the feet.  I like my feet.  I don't wear heels, so I haven't go bunions or weird misshapen feet.  They are quite broad and a standard size 6 (7 in boots). They, like the legs, are very pale.  I get my hubby to paint my nails for me now and again :)  I love nothing more than a foot rub (and coming to think of it a leg rub is pretty great too). If only the hubby would give me more than 1 per year, lol.

Here's the tootsies:

So to sum up, I'm a lady with a certain kinda palour, but it's something I don't mind, even more so because my hubby loves my skin tone.  I do have a certain amount of problems with pain due to my Fibromyalgia, but all in, I am pretty happy with the service my legs and feet have given me for the past 38 years.  

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Love Every Body - Assignment 6. Bum

So we reach the month of the big boooo-teh!  How I feel about it is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest.   My backside is responsible for taking my size 18 up to a 20.  I find it so hard to find clothes that are small enough in the waist and big enough in the rear.  Sexy pants are so hard to get unless you're willing to spend a tenner on 1 pair of pants (not this lass!).

I suppose I should show you the rear in question.  WARNING:  Rather large arse below.

It is rather hard to take a photo of your own arse.  The first one was taken holding my arm behind my back at all kinds of angles, before I got the timer button in action.  These are to show how hard it is to get nice knickers in a large size.  The first photo shows the same size pants as the second one.  I'm sure most women can imagine, when you sit down and stand up in the first pair enough times, you're spending half your time pulling a vast portion of your knickers out of your bum.  The second pair are much less sexy, but comfy and practical.  Oh how nice it would be to not have to be comfy and practical without spending a fortune.

My skin, as you can see, is very pale and I have lots of cellulite.  My backside is far from the prettiest of sights in my opinion.  What is fantastic though, is that my hubby LOVES my bum.  He is a fan of the big ass, so spends a large portion of his time giving mine a squeeze or a cheeky slap.  I think when your other half truely loves some aspect of your body that you're perhaps a bit self conscious about, it removes a lot of the hatred for that body part.

My bum has always been big for my frame.  I'm a size 18 all over, but my bum is a 20.  When I was a size 10-12, I struggled to get my bum into a size 12 pair of jeans and the same goes for every size I climbed up through the years.  

So how do I feel about it?  To be honest, although it's a part of me that a lot of other people stare at (women in utter fright of ever getting there and in judgement of me for being there and men... who knows, I like to think they're looking out of appreciation), I feel a lot less self conscious about it these days than I used to.  Maybe LEB is starting to sink in!  If others love it, especially those who matter, who am I to hate it?

So, big, white and wobbly as it is, I love my bum!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Love Every Body - Assignment 5 - Stomach/Waist

A bit late this month due to being in Yorkshire visiting family when it was due.  I never realised how difficult it was to take a photo of your abdomen until you have a 3 year old running around watching your every move all day and a hubby that has a distinct knack of walking into the room when you're trying to do anything remotely private.  Anyways, this week is the stomach and waist.  I took it as the whole abdomen.  This is probably my least favourite part of my body.  Ok, let's get started with the old snapshots.

This is what I'm comparing myself to now and failing miserably.  This is my 19 year old self in the middle.
 I'm at a rock club in a typical outfit.  I often wore not much more than a bra and hot pants.

So on to today, almost 20 years on and with a lot of weight gain for various reasons - being a mum, various medications, lack of physical activity due to Fibro and CFS and just general unhealthy eating.  I am now about 6 stones heavier than I was when the above photo was taken.

So on to today.  I took the photos below this morning.

The first one is as near to 'stomach' as I've got.  You can see I've taken an 'all-over' abdomen shot to illustrate all the issues I have.

This one below gives a better shot of the appearance of my scar from my op to remove my Gall Bladder last year.  Keyhole surgery had to be abandoned (you can see 1 of my keyhole scars below the main scar) as my inner workings are a bit different to normal and things were getting a bit difficult for the surgeon.  It's really red and raised, long and wide, certainly not the little scars I was expecting.  Even by open surgery scars standards, it's much bigger than normal.

This last photo illustrates what happens when I try to take photos of my middle, lol.  I kept it as it reminds me of one of the reasons I have a flabby middle these days and he most certainly is worth it :)

The long and short of it is, I have put on a lot of weight for the reasons I've already mentioned.  I have had a child, which leaves the body in a completely different state than before pregnancy, no matter how fat you are. I had Isaac by emergency C-Section after a 2 day labour.  As there was fears for both our safety, an emergency op was called for.  The scar, which runs along my bikini line is almost invisible.  I wish the same could be said for the surgery scar following my op for the removal of my gall bladder last year.  The op was only at the end of October, so realistically it's only been almost 6 months since the op.  I'm hoping the scar fades much, much more.  I've been using Bio Oil like nobodys business on it!

I am completely Incapable of being confident about this area unfortunately, as to me it is not as I would like it to be.  I feel hideous when I take off my clothes.  Although I am fat and I struggle enough with that, nowadays all I see is a massive red scar right across my abdomen.

Of course I can appreciate the fact I no longer have excruitiating gall pain (which is soooooooo painful) and I have a wonderful son, I so wish I could even have my smooth, flawless (even if a bit podgy) middle back.

As of tomorrow (Monday 14th April) I am embarking on a healthy eating plan and hope to change my bad habits and try to adopt a new way of life for our family.  Maybe that will bring back my waist and make me feel a bit more feminine.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Not Your Before Photo.

My friend Leah highlighted something which happened to a good friend of hers lately and asked for support from other plus sized people out there.  To sum it up some ratbags stole a photo from Leahs friend Racheles blog and used it without permission or her knowledge on a site promoting weight loss products.  They used her photo as the 'before' photo.  For full details of what happened click onto Leahs blog here.

To show support, lots of us plus sized ladies (and men if they want to join in) are taking photos of their fat selves to show support for Rachele and the fact we can be confident and attractive regardless of our size.  Here's a couple from me.  Fuck you guys!!!

My wee man wanted to join in! 

Here's a final 'Fuck You' guys!