I mean, bloggers are the new celebrities, right?

Recently, everyone’s been talking about Essena O’Neill, who turned around and called out her hugely successful social empire (and truly, it was an empire – her following rivaled populations of modest cities) as a sham. Whatever your thoughts on her epiphany – I’ve seen everything from celebration to outright derision – it’s opened up a lot of dialogue among bloggers and those in the industry which can never be a bad thing.

This story hit a little too close to home. I’ve spent much of this year taking time out from Pocket Rocket, a project that had previously been the best thing that ever happened to me. And a lot of it was for similar reasons.

Back in 2009, blogging and plus size fashion were burgeoning sub-cultures, both of them in their own ways on the cusp of something amazing. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew I wanted to be involved. So I set up this blog, and for four amazing years, it was the biggest positive force in my life. I can’t tell you, as someone who spent her teen years reading glossy magazines and wishing desperately to be among them, how freeing and powerful it felt to have my own voice, to show off my own style, completely outside of mainstream media. I was entirely in control of my own narrative, as was everyone that I was fortunate enough to meet and become friends with. I even met up with plus size fashion brands, speaking to them about their products and acting as a spokesperson for plus size women who actually wanted fashion (at the time I was the only plus size blogger within reaching distance of London, where most companies were based). I was wined and dined, and yeah, I did really enjoy it!

It was around 18 months into Pocket Rocket that I began noticing changes, as what had been a grassroots community evolved into something monetised, competitive and, well, capitalist. In hindsight, I realise I was witnessing the transfer of that incredible editorial control from the bloggers themselves to the fashion and advertising industries. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to just write about fatness and show off what you wore. It was a means to an end: a modelling contract, or a job in the fashion business. It was no longer about defying a fatphobic culture but about fusing together body positivity and consumerism. It became a numbers game. Why would a brand want to work with someone who can’t sell their products to more than a handful of people?

The most important thing O’Neill said in her video was “To put your work out there, to share a part of yourself… And a number on the screen dictates that success, or that value? It’s ridiculous. [When I was 12] I thought because I had no followers, I meant nothing.

I have never, ever, thrived in a competitive culture. And I’ve been coming to terms recently with the fact that I am not efficient with my time. Nor am I particularly productive. So I was forced to stand back and watch those who could survive – whether through sheer-willpower, phenomenal talent, efficiency or having the luck of looking like a model to begin with (I would like to point out that lots of bloggers are blessed with all of these qualities in spades!) – sprint past me in terms of success. I hit the so-called jackpot – getting a job in advertising – only to see ridiculous demands put on bloggers for little more than a free product, day in, day out.

Experiencing both sides like that, as well as the downturn in my own blog’s audience, how could I not feel sad? How could I not feel ashamed and embarrassed, considering that the free lunches I’d enjoyed believing I could help make a small difference in plus size fashion (Ha! How ridiculous that sounds now!) actually accelerated the capitalist takeover of blogging and social media? My blog had gone from something that boosted my confidence every day, to yet another avenue of reminders that I was insignificant. That I meant nothing.

So, I quit. And I lived happily ever after… For about a week.

The fact is, without my blog to turn to, without Twitter to document those silly things I think to myself but don’t feel are important enough to text my friends about, without Instagram to take a photo of the trees outside my mum’s house or The Shard looking particularly awesome, I feel lost. This year without blogging has felt like the bottom of my world has fallen out. And I’ve realised that, no, I’ll never get on TV or a columnist job, or a modelling contract, or a book deal. But that’s okay, really.

This is my blog. It owes nothing to no one, and in this day and age that is so, so powerful. It makes me proud.

lane bryant's #imnoangel campaign. Their actual customers don't look like this.

You may meet people who wistfully assure you the plus size blogging community hasn’t always been like this. “It used to be so nice, until the drama queens showed up!” Pay them no heed. They’re liars.  All blogging scenes, and especially the plus size fashion niche, have always found themselves embroiled in a constant fliration with drama.

Even so, the past couple of weeks have been more tumultuous than usual, with two hashtag campaigns – #DropThePlus and Layne Bryant’s #ImNoAngel inciting a lot of heated debate.

I don’t need to explain what these campaigns were about, why they are ultimately wrong, and how the ways they reacted to criticism is a huge slap in the face to plus size women everywhere: Bethany and Amanda sum it all up brilliantly.

I guess what I want to add to the discussion, my small offering, is to reiterate that you do have the right to question, you do have the right to criticise, you do have the right to call to account.

This is so important to keep saying. Sometimes it feels simpler to turn the other cheek when someone or something in the plus size industry fucks up. The plus size world is so small that chances are you directly interact with the party responsible – in some cases, they might even be a friend. How do you confront a friend without upsetting them? Or it could be a brand you’ve had positive dealings with. What if you get struck off their PR list? Not only more superficial reasions such as those: what if you’re at a truly systematic disadvantage, e.g. a woman of colour who speaks up, only to get dismissed as an ‘angry black woman’?

Right now there are more options, clothing lines, events and initiatives for plus size women than ever, but it still accounts for small change compared to the luxury of choice afforded to our thinner pals. That makes it all the more important that as many of us as possible who are able (those of us who are free of stereotype and bold enough to speak out) to keep a critical eye on things do, and to highlight anything that we feel could be improved. Even more importantly, we support each other when people in the community are feeling disenfranchised and listen instead of dismissing them as mere haters or ungrateful.

We’ve pushed hard for change in the plus size fashion industry and slowly, it is happening – but it’ll never become the utopia we want if the only feedback heard is an enthusiastic thanks. And if we do speak out and are dismissed, the way we were by the folk behind #DropThePlus and #ImNoAngel? Then we can start to think, collectively, about ways to shop elsewhere.

You aren’t limited to feeling grateful. You are absolutely allowed to demand better and ask for more. We’ve got your back!

Via @thecityofjules. Dear whoever is pictured in this photo: you are my hero.

Via @thecityofjules. Dear whoever is pictured in this photo: you are my hero.

Over the years, I’ve developed quite the collection of ironically/unironically proud junk food themed clothing items. Hell, the one time in my life I got involved on a dress that went on public sale, I covered it in 99 flakes.

Generally, the foods depicted on my clothing don’t demonstrate what I’ve been eating – contrary to popular belief. I will admit, though, that they tend to depict what I would like to be eating. Y’know?

Like, for instance, pizza. Ah, pizza. Fun fact: I am a ridiculously fussy eater, and because of this I didn’t even try pizza until I was 14 years old. I just always assumed I wouldn’t like it, so refused all offers. I’d go to a pizza place with my parents and eat chicken wings. CHICKEN WINGS. Oh how wrong you were, little Lauren! Bread and cheese and whatever you like thrown on top, all hot and crispy! It’s almost too distressing to think about all the pizza I’ve missed out on over the years.

While I am doing my best to make up for lost time – mostly at Dominos, to be honest, because of their superior BBQ sauce and meatballs – there’s still a way to go. So when my favourite pizza people asked me if I wanted to combine my fashion sense and my debt to the pizza industry for a project, I jumped at the chance.

Full disclosure: this project is also about onesies. Because we’re cool.

Katy perry in a pizza print onesie

Look how ecstatic Katy Perry is in hers!

In a nutshell, Dominos are hosting an all-singing, all-dancing competition to design the most awesome food-based onesie in existence. And I’m one of the judges. Mwahahaha! Reckon you can do better than the above?

Be as silly or as refined as you like. It could be a million neon pizzas dotted around like a pattern. It could be a giant walking/rolling pizza with all manner of toppings attached with velcro. It could be a love letter to the Dominos pizza delivery guy who you’re scared to slip your number to because you’d feel a bit sleazy.

All I’d ask is that you’re not rude or offensive, and you might well be in with hosting your own pizza party, complete with onesies!

More details, terms and conditions are over here: www.dominos.co.uk/blog/design-onesie-competition

You’ve got until 19th December to get your design to us, and please do share your Dominos onesie competition design on social media if you enter! We’ll feature the best ones over at the Domino’s blog as well before choosing an overall winner.

To celebrate and inspire, here are some of my fave food-based clothes and accessories:

A collage of my fave foodie accessories and t-shirts

1. Fries B4 Guys necklace, Black Heart Creatives
2. Pizza never lies t-shirt, ASOS
3. Strawberry sundae clutch, New Look
4. Good Burger necklace, Black Heart Creatives

Good luck!

missguided plus red velvet wrap dress

Woah woah woah, what’s happened here then? Here I was, plodding along, and suddenly everyone starts tweeting about a new collection!

It turns out that Missguided have launched a ‘plus’ range, having previously only run to a 16. I’d always seen their items on straight sized pals and bloggers, and mentally ticked it off as one to pass on unless for accessories. Until now, at least!

Grumbles first: it’s not perfect – certainly not the size range, which stops at a 24. I find this quite a worrying trend among new brands, if I’m honest with you. Yeah yeah, I’m being a spoilsport, but you know what? There are so few options available for plus size fashion that when a new one does pop up, I want to celebrate it, and I want to celebrate it with my wonderful plus size pals who are larger than a 24! Is that really so bad?

I’m holding out hope that this is merely a dip of the toes into plus size waters, and should the collection be a success we’ll see an increase in sizes offered. Crossing my chubby fingers and toes this is the case!

So, on to the good stuff! I had a peep and picked out my favourite pieces from Missguided’s plus line – what do you think?

missguided plus top 5 items

1. Velvet wrap dress, £39.99 (also seen on the model above in oxblood, gah!) // 2. Lace peplum party dress, £34.99 (yes, peplums have been done to death, but if you can’t go bold: GO BIGGER!) // 3. Paint splash print crop top, £14.99 // 4. Checked crop top, £14.99 // 5. Mirror floral midi skirt, £19.99

Have you had a look yet? What do you reckon? I’m counting down ’till payday, I must admit!


A social life? Is there an app for that?
Digital me in digital London

Well, in recent months I’ve found myself succumbing to the craze of the Kim Kardashian game app. It’s allowed me to explore the less earnest sides of myself, to put it lightly. I absolutely DID NOT DO THE HACK* meaning all my hard earned cash goes straight into funding my pixelated #luxurybitch lifestyle. I am everything I despise in real life: all I do is party, spend money and do photoshoots. I taxi/fly everywhere (UPDATE: since beginning this draft I have bought a private fucking jet!) with little regard for the environment. I own ghost apartments in cities around the world that I only inhabit every now again, and occasionally throw a party at (although Daniel, I always invite my urban planner friend, Ava. Gotta keep you guys on side). I have pets in some of them although I have no idea who looks after them when I’m not there. Pretty sure my version of Boo the dog in Miami is dead by now. Shit, even the fur collars I wear are probably real. I didn’t ask. I just dropped those K-coins like they were pennies in a jar!

But hey, at least I’m not Willow Pape.

I’ve even got a husband! Picked up either in a club in Vegas or a restaurant in Paris, I dunno where. Sometimes I put hipster glasses on him and hate myself for it because really, I probably do want a hot hipster douchebag with chiseled cheekbones and NHS specs who says shit like this IRL:

me and my digital husband

*digitally swoons*

But, back to the most important (IMPORTANT!) aspect of the game: those clothes. They’re pretty sweet. Handily, there’s no diversity in body type in the game: you’re automatically given one of those pesky athletic-yet-booby ones, which means unlike in real life, everything fits! That last sentence was presented entirely without comment, by the way.

Guess what though: I only went and found some actual clothes that evoke the clothes from the game – and in plus sizes! Are you ready?

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood dress vs similar dress from Boohoo

Bodycon dress on the right by Boohoo.

Kim Kardashian taupe and lace dress vs pink and lace dress by Boohoo

This is a little bit inverted, lace-wise. Although in my humble opinion the real life version by Boohoo is actually nicer!

Kim K game grecian dress on the left, and a similar real life version on the right

The colour of this Little Mistress gown is more of a royal blue than the game’s green, but it’s still pretty lovely.

Kim K game red and black strapless dress on the left, real life outfit on the right

I am SO in love with this Boohoo bustier even though I don’t really have the ta-tas to fill it paired with a red PVC pencil skirt? Not for the faint hearted!

Black lace bodycon Kim K game dress on the left, with a real version on the right

To be fair, there are hundreds of versions of this dress online – especially when you discounted the floral lace. But I like this one from ASOS – and the model is making the same pose! (I taught her everything she knows.)

Kim K version of Willow Pape's white and coral dress on the left, with a real version on the right

So you really want to dress like Willow Pape, huh? Honestly. Look how mad I am at having to wear her shitty dress! But if needs must, Boohoo’s got it. The skirt is a darker colour than Willow’s coral but, given Pape’s a bit of a lush, the actual dress is likely covered in merlot stains anyway.

So there you go: you too can be a vacuous and well dressed celebrity! Anyway, must dash, have so many parties to attend and dates at expensive restaurants with husband.

Shame they’re all pixelated.


*I totally did

Well peeps, it’s been a hectic summer, having changed jobs and finding my feet back in the world of children’s media once again. I’m now a huge Peppa Pig fan! Such a cutie. Just as well I like her, because I have to manage her Facebook page!

As a result I’ve not felt up to posting on the blog, but last week I attended my friends’ wedding by the sea. And for a bunch of pals who always look pretty good anyway, I think our wedding & guest attire was exceptional!

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Professional party guests.

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DSC_1747The undoubted star of #RoLex wedding: the bride’s phenomenal cleavage. I MEAN.

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Heartfelt congrats to Alex and Robin who were so adorable!

The wedding was in Brighton, and despite being 30 (dear lord), it was only the second time I’d been there. Which is a shame because it is so very pretty when it wants to be!

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The adorable backstreet where I stayed (and in whose room accidentally trashed, LIKE A ROCK STAR [not really]).

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Right, that’s yer lot. For now…

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Ask anyone who shops plus size, and they’ll tell you that the vast majority of their clothes are ordered online because most retailers refuse to stock larger sizes. Certainly many have given with one hand and taken away with the other: launching capsule, more on trend plus collections, but moving all post-size-16 clothes to e-commerce. There are exceptions of course, such as Simply Be going from mail order/online to physical shops, Taking Shape opening around the country, and House of Fraser launching their plus size collection in stores very soon, but for the most part shopping away from their computers is damn difficult.

And if you let them speak for a few more minutes, they’ll also tell you what an absolute pain ordering online is. You pay up front. You can’t tell how anything will fit when you order it. And then they’ll tell you how annoying having to return items are, whether it’s trying to find the one Post Office left within five miles or waiting indoors all day for a delivery pick up that sometimes doesn’t even come. Gah! The emergence of Collect+ has been something of a godsend, but even so the bonding experience of being able to go shopping on the high street with your friends and get a second opinion is kind of denied when most clothes have to be tried on in your bedroom, on your own.

Recently at work I was told that Westfield had opened a CollectPlus lounge in their London centre (at Shepherd’s Bush) where you could have orders from Collect+ friendly shops (the mighty ASOS, New Look, Next among others) sent – it had it’s own changing rooms and helpful concierges who would take care of any returns for you. AWESOME. I really wanted to give it a try, and so myself and a few other plus size blogger pals went down to see what it was like.

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As it turns out, it’s a lovely little section and more than a bit luxurious. I particularly liked the offer of water or beer from the concierge team! We all hung out in groups and got to do what I imagine a lot of women take for granted: clothes shopping with your friends, which was really nice.

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I took home this gorgeous playsuit by Alice & You, and I was persuaded to keep the bowler hat although I’m scared to wear it out of the house! It is super cute, though. Right?

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Of course having a lounge like this doesn’t solve the issue of paying up front, but I found it really simple and quick to use. I don’t live or work near Stratford but if there was a lounge near my work, for example, I’d definitely send orders there and pop in on my way home as it’s so convenient!

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The bonus of having the lounge at Westfield though, is that you can really go all out, treat yourself and make a day of it. I was there with both groups and got a stunning hand massage from Jo Malone, champagne cocktails from Searcy’s, an absolutely EPIC Lebanese spread from Shawa (the spicy lamb wraps are so good) and a heavenly meal at The Meat Co. which is definitely in my top 5 restaurants ever now. A tip: get the BBQ beef ribs, but whatever you do, order a half rack. Hollie found this out a little bit too late. My giant steak looked miniscule in comparison!

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I genuinely think having the CollectPlus lounge is a brilliant idea and so helpful, especially for those who work nearby. I wonder if they’ll install one in Stratford City?

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Lingerie: Gorgeous range at Debenhams*

Those of you who have read my blog for a while might know how the biggest obstacle to finding peace with my body has been my breasts. It’s one thing to be fat, but unfortunately I didn’t get the typical fat girl pay-off in the form of big, full breasts. For years, I felt revulsion at the fact that I was a 44AA in a world of 42Gs, strapping up my boobs in whatever 3-cup-boosters I could find and despairing over the fact that I had more cleavage at my back than I did at my front (but that subject is a whole other post). I felt like a failure, and completely undesirable. How could I not? Desirable was a D+ cup and I felt like my own body just didn’t deliver.

When I first got measured by the team at Freya I was jubilant at discovering that a 36D was a closer fit, with their bras giving me as much of a boost and levelling out my silhouette as much as my Sainsbury’s bras held together with multiple bra extenders and willpower. It opened up a whole new world and imbued me with so much more confidence. I was a 36D. I could hold my head up high! I was an average woman!

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. Just as no two size 20s are the same, so too did my bra size fluctuate as I shopped around the high street for a new lingerie wardrobe. After huffing and puffing in Marks and Spencers when bra after bra didn’t fit, I actually cried (I was probably due on, to be fair). Maybe they got it wrong, I thought to myself. Maybe, after everything, I really was just a 44AA. The idea was too depressing to consider.

And then, a few months ago, I read a comment by an owner of a vintage shop who said that she made a point of asking women who entered her store what size they wore, not what size they are. And it blew my mind a little bit. How many times have we said “I am a…” with regards to our clothes or bra size? On the face of it it’s an innocuous piece of phrasing, just part of the english language that doesn’t need to be thought about. But there’s a deeper meaning: we are, literally, defining ourselves by what size we wear. Isn’t that silly?

And then, I thought about how women use their dress and bra sizes as a source of pride or – more often – deep shame. How back in the day men judged women on their “vital statistics”, meaning they would literally get hot and bothered by… three sets of numbers. Sexy. More recently we had the hip to waist ratio, of which Kate Moss is apparently the only living embodiment of perfection. The more I thought about it, the more illogical it became. Why is this a thing?

Armed with this new insight and a kinder attitude towards my body I got measured again, this time by the team at Debenhams as part of their lingerie promotion. A few of us got to see the lovely Freya team give a talk on bras for larger cup sizes before having a nose at all the pretty bras. This time, changes in my body meant that for Debenhams’ own lingerie, I felt and looked best in a 38C. This time, it really IS like a whole new world – I came away with four sets of underwear that are ridiculously comfortable and I that I like how I look in with my clothes on – and with my clothes off.

I don’t feel any shame or apologetic in any way the way that I used to. A bra is something I wear and in some places it’s one size, and in another place it’s another size. There is no magic number that defines me. Maybe we should stop saying “I am” and start saying “I wear“.

Change starts with the small things: I am Lauren. I wear sizes anywhere from 16 to 26, depending on the shop. In Freya I might wear a 36D; in Debenhams, a 38C. And that’s fine. I am not my bra size.

And neither are you.

Dalmatian print skirt for Look x Simply Be
Skirt: LOOK magazine for Simply Be*
Shoes: Simply Be
Vest, Cardigan: Primark

Well, hello! I trust you’ve all been very well? It’s been a pretty crazy time at work recently, but for a good reason: I’ve been helping out with making two cute videos featuring some fabulous fashion and beauty vloggers for Westfield’s #editme site. Check them out: Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.

As well as work it’s been fashion PR season, with lots of companies events for press and bloggers to have a look at upcoming collections. One of the most exciting ones for me has been the LOOK magazine for Simply Be collaboration, and they had a posh dinner in central London (not far from my office, hooray!) where we got to look at what was on its way. Yay!

A few years back Carla and I went to the Look show (she’d won tickets and took me because she’s the best) and the most celebrated model there was Crystal Renn (before she shed her weight), with Laura Catterall and Hayley Morley walking too. As a result, I’ve always thought of Look as one of the more plus size friendly magazines so it seemed like perfect sense for them to have teamed up with a plus size retailer.

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As for the collection itself I think it’s great, although I will admit the majority of it isn’t my personal style. And that’s okay! Simply Be’s main range are absolutely killing it at the moment, with pencil skirts, multiple shades of pink and whatnot. The Look range is sporty, smart and tailored and while those aren’t words you’d use to describe my style, looking through the collection I could see fellow bloggers looking completely at home in all of it. I can’t wait to see Bets in her Look jumpsuit, for example!

As for me, I had to try the dalmatian print midi skirt. Only problem was, at 5’1″, wearing it at my natural waist would have the skirt hanging around my ankles! So I sized down (to a 20) to wear it high waisted. Very high waisted. And it still hits below the knee!

The skirt is really well made, fully tailored, and the fabric is thick and hangs really well. It’s an a-line shape as opposed to a circle skirt, but you can still put a petticoat underneath if you so wished. I went for a “swanning around the riviera” look – even though I only got as far as my own garden. Haha.

What do you think of the collection?

Well, that whole “hey I’m back blogging” thing lasted, didn’t it? Since my last post things have gotten quite hectic in all areas of my life, plus a lack of internet meant Pocket Rocket had to take a back seat.

However as of yesterday I am fully wi-fi-ed up, and I can finally get back to bloggin’ business! First up: my take on New Look Inspire’s floral trend, with pics taken by one of my best pals and now housemate, Charlotte!

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Image: Me, wearing a leather jacket, black and white floral shift dress, red shoes and a chartreuse handbag, standing in front of trees. It’s all very green.

: Ax Paris via New Look Inspire*
Headband: ASOS
Necklace: a birthday gift from many moons ago
Shoes: Primark (again, many moons ago now)
Jacket: Forever Unique
Bag: Pieces via ASOS (2013)

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Image: me, as before, this time sans jacket! You can see my heart headband a little better here!

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Image: Me, with the outfit as in picture one. This time I have my hand on my hip and am pulling a silly face. BECAUSE I’M HILARIOUS.

New Look have been looking to bloggers for ways to style their spring looks, and I was given florals. I actually went for something less like my usual style – I was tempted to go full on romantic but I thought, why not try to do something a smidge different? Florals don’t necessarily mean “pretty”, and can even be kinda badass depending on your take on it.

Browing the dress section for the millionth time, I loved this 60s vs 90s shift dress. In person it’s really sweet and fits well (I got the size 22), however the length might not be as kind on those of you who are taller, which is a real shame. The armholes are also very big, but I find that with almost every plus size top/dress ever, so have gotten used to it over the years. If you’re between sizes I’d advise sizing up as it’s a thin cotton material and so doesn’t stretch.

I was hoping the sun would be out so I could wear some snazzy sunglasses, but alas the weather just didn’t wanna play ball. Harrumph!

There are some other dresses that I totally love, especially this one which I’m still hunting in my size – one day!

Thank you my lovelies, let me know what you think! xx