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Aaaaaaaaargh. There’d been rumblings for a while about reigning supreme fat babe Beth Ditto designing her own independent collection, but I didn’t let myself believe it. I just couldn’t deal with the disappointment if it never happened, you know?

BUT IT’S REAL. It’s happening! In February! There’s a website and everything! The collection was announced today with pictures of Beth looking incredible in her limited edition t-shirt with Jean Paul Gaultier (more on that later) and I’m so excited I think I might be sick. Also, please can we get the lowdown on that make up look as soon as?

I know that Beth has mentioned in interviews about the limitations of her Evans collections and how she wasn’t 100% happy with the process. Evans are a giant retailer, so it’s understandable that some amendments had to be made. What blows my mind is that Beth’s two Evans collections pushed SO MANY boundaries for plus size fashion, even with those limitations. Can you imagine what will be on offer now that she’s got full creative freedom?

The fact that she’s reached out to fat activists to be part of the team is also awesome. Specifically Jessica (Tangled Up In Lace, and the inventor of the fatkini), who remains an inspiration for when I’m getting dressed each day. I can’t think of many people who are more deserving of a gig like this. As it says in i-D magazine, the collection is “by us, for us” and by getting the fat community involved, it really feels like it.

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As for the t-shirt itself, some have talked about it being problematic and/or boring, which, I mean, okay, but I don’t see why some are writing off the entire collection based off one t-shirt. This is a PR move and a savvy one at that. With a Proper Designer(TM) on board, the collection will be taken more seriously by the fashion press. Maybe I’m just bamboozled to see a genuine collaboration with an A+ fashion designer, I don’t know.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: the t-shirt (and, I’m assuming, the collection itself) fits up to size 32. In an age when every new “plus size boutique” launches with their backs turned on our size 26 and over sisters, this is a bold move. I’m for it.

What do you reckon? Have any of you gone and bought one? If so, TELL ME EVERYTHING.


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!


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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DANCING FLEP EMOJI!

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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?


One of the most heartening things I’ e seen since I began blogging is the rise of my fellow fat women studying  fashion design. In the US there is the phenomenal Ashley Nell Tipton whose collection has just launched (and who I will be blowing my next wage on); our beloved Rosie; the lovely Francesca; and Charlotte. I’ve been twitter friends with Charlotte for a few years now and I’ve always loved her personal style, so was immensely excited to see her final collection. She posted it on her blog this week, and… Wow. It’s incredible. Cheeky, flirty and fresh.

Now here’s where I have to take a different tone. Having followed Charlotte all through her course, I’ve seen how she’s struggled to make this collection a reality. From my point of view, it seems like she had no support whatsoever from her university, for the sole reason that she stuck to her guns and wanted to make a plus size collection. Apparently they were enthusiastic about the idea (when they still felt there was time for her to change her mind and do a straight size collection instead, no doubt) but once she decided her collection would be plus size, was essentially told “you’re on your own”. Charlotte has had to make all her own pattern blocks and source models for the runway show herself –  and has been told she can’t show at the uni’s London showcase.

Given what Charlotte was up against, that she created a collection of plus size clothes that I and loads of other fashionable fat girls have been crying out for for years is absolutely amazing. In fact, I know of someone else who was forced to make her own pattern blocks and source models after her uni refused to support her: Anna Scholz.

Charlotte doesn’t know what grade she’ll get for her collection. A grade from people who are too feeble to think outside of the very narrow box of the fashion industry? I don’t even think it matters.

 Good news! Charlotte has her six models, and can show on Wednesday! Can’t wait to see the results!

If anyone is able to travel down to Southampton this Wednesday 22nd May, over 5’4″, size 18-24 and can walk in a straight line without falling over, please let Charlotte know and you can actually wear these gorgeous clothes! 

 


Take 5: Project D London

Image: me, outside(!) wearing a white dress with bright accessories. I have my hand on my head and I’m squinting because of the sun.

Dress: Project D London, Carnegie*
Feminist Killjoy Necklace: Wicked Queer
Lightning Bolt Ring: David Bowie Is… via V&A
Batman ring: Claire’s
Rocket Brooch: Life’s Big Canvas*

Take 5: Project D London

Image: Me, as before, only this time I’m at a funny angle with my eyes closed. Wistful, obv.

Hello my dears!

You know I’ve always seen blogging style challenges and envied everyone’s productivity. I never joined up because I can be so slack with updating that I assumed I’d let everyone down. However, I was invited to do a one off with bloggers I really love: Em, Georgina, Wendy and Amy to see how we could style one of the new Project D London dresses. How could I say no?

I’d actually taken a peek at the collection last year, as at the first Simply Be meeting they showed us pieces asking for our opinions. They kept the bit about it being by Dannii Minogue quiet, though! I bloody love the Minogue sisters, so I feel a bit starstruck wearing it.

Take 5: Project D London

Image: me, to the other side. I’m almost doing a Brucey bonus pose.

I actually really love a lot of pieces from the collection, including this – the Liberty and Madison ones, especially. People have talked about the price points being high, but when I got the Carnegie you could tell the quality was on a different scale. It’s made SO well.

That said, I’m sad to say these shots have me a little disappointed. Not the dress, not the photographs (they look all shiny because they’re from my new camera!), but that my stylings don’t pop as much as I’d hoped. I wanted to wear bright, even neon accessories but they’ve kinda disappeared. Ah well, you live and learn. I’m sure the other women will come up with amazing versions!


Simply Be Shoot

Image: me mid-pose, in my bright prink and yellow ice cream print dress.

This post has been many months in the making, I keep putting it off and putting it off – there’s so much I want to say that it feels insurmountable. But it’s getting ridiculous now, so I’m going to attempt to muddle through what is, pretty much, the pinnacle of my time as a plus size/fatshion/whatever blogger.

In November of last year, I got an email from Simply Be. This isn’t unusual as I’ve been to a few of their events, and am in contact with the team there (they’re all lovely) – but this time, they wanted to know if I was interested in taking part in a blogger collection, and designing an outfit.

SCREAM!

From there, I went up to Manchester for a meeting with the team, which included their buyer Natalie, and Mark the designer. Everyone was so lovely, as you can imagine! They emphasised that they wanted us to be as bold as we could – they didn’t want us to water anything down or worry about whether things would sell, etc. Then each of us (myself, Laura and Georgina) talked about what ideas we had. I brought up a sketchbook I’ve had for years, which I sometimes doodle designs on that I swear I’ll make when I learn to sew. I also created a mood board on pinterest here:

Simply Be Shoot

Image: a screengrab of the colourful and kitsch inspiration I had for my dress.

I wanted something kitsch and colourful. I have a real problem when it comes to prints, as you can probably tell. If anyone hears of a Prints Anonymous group, by all means, let me know! I wanted something that the badass babes of tumblr and in my own real life would be proud to wear and put their own stamp on. At the same time, I wanted it to be accessible and wearable in every day if needs be – a knit fabric (also so it could stretch and those above a size 32 could wear it), light and an easy shape. I considered an a-line shape and initially was against the skater shape – but I suit that shape so much, and so eventually I decided to go for it even if it’s a bit ubiquitous at the moment!

After the meeting, I kept in touch with Mark who sent me over possible print options. We’d talked about heart print, lightning bolt print and lip print, but nothing seemed quite right. And then he sent me this:

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A mock up of the dress shape and possible patterns, including the final ice cream print in pink and yellow.

As soon as I saw it, I knew. As much as I liked the green and pink, the pink and yellow just popped so much more. It was just… perfect! I mean, look at the fabric swatch from later! ARGH!

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Image: a close up of the fabric swatch.

After that was finalised, we were kept in the loop of how things were progressing manufacturing-wise, and later myself, Laura and Em (George sadly had to drop out – we missed her, but it was so she could do the awesome Evans campaign so yay!) for a follow up to try the test garments and iron out any changes that needed to be made before final production.

The next time we all met up, it was shoot day. With the final dresses. Aaaah!

Simply Be Shoot

Image: left to right Laura’s dress; my dress; Em’s dress on the rail.

Each of us was made up then shot individually over the course of the day. I have to be completely honest here: the team were absolutely lovely and wonderful, but I found shooting really difficult. I know that might sound odd since I have a website full of photos taken of myself, but the difference is that when I take outfit photos I’m in my bedroom by myself. My camera’s on a self-timer and that’s it. So to go from that to having a team of people photographing me in the middle of Hoxton was quite a departure! Em also touched on abuse she received, and I also got nasty comments from men in vans, schoolboys and various office workers. I’m not strong like Em, so I didn’t answer back. To the one girl who whispered “you look beautiful” as you walked past though, whether you meant it or not, thank you!

Simply Be Shoot

Image: getting “touched up” in the street by the lovely MUA.

Simply Be Shoot

Image: the crew. Look at all that equipment!

The shoot and how I look in it isn’t really the point, though – what I’m most excited about is seeing other awesome fatties wearing it and how you’re all going to style it! There’s also going to be a launch party that bloggers and possibly customers can attend, so more info on that when it comes. I can’t WAIT!

I really still can’t get my head around the fact that this has happened. It’s SO mind-blowing! Hannah, Natalie, Mark and the Simply Be team have been so, so amazing. I literally can’t thank them enough. And I’m so happy I got to do this with women I consider my friends as well as fellow bloggers: Laura, Em and George. I love Laura and Em’s dresses as well, and I’ve seen their photos and they look stunning! I’ll be buying both of them, for sure.

The dresses will be available in June. It’ll be in sizes 14-32 (UK). I really hope you like what I’ve come up with. <3