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. :)
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: