It’s Your Life – and You Can Decorate It As You Like

When I first put this outfit together, I was going to write a post about how lush this yellow jumper is:

unnamed-2

Look at the ruffles on the collar! And the sleeves! ❤

 

I was going to write about how much I love these Monki earrings:

unnamed-1

They’re so fluffy!

And, most importantly, I was going to write about how I finally found a pair of culottes that don’t make me want to throw up. (I mean, I seriously didn’t think it was possible.)

But instead, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the woman who saw me in this outfit last week and made no effort to hide the look of disgust on her face as she looked me up and down, eyes lingering on my tummy.

Throughout my entire life, I have never experienced what it is like to not be the fat girl. In elementary school, a boy named Daniel convinced half my class to call me “Truck” behind my back. I only found out when the girl I called my best friend accidentally let it slip.

When I was thirteen, a girl in my class planned a sleepover, and her mother invited me to join them. When I got there, the girl was clearly surprised to see me, and I can still remember standing awkwardly in the living room trying not to make eye contact with the other guests while she argued in the next room to her mom, “…but she’s fat.”

Five years ago, I was walking home from work when a car load of grown men drove past and yelled at me to stop eating Big Macs.

Two years ago, at a local park as I was finishing the final run of the couch to 5K program I had been steadily working for two months to complete, a middle-aged man on a bicycle rolled up in front of me, forcing me to come to a halt. “You’d be able to run so much faster,” he said, “if you didn’t go home and eat chips and pies and cakes after every run. Stop eating so much and maybe the running will pay off.”

Incidents like these used to shrivel me. I spent my life trying to shrink my body and my presence. If I avoided drawing attention to myself, if I made myself a wallflower, if I lived on the margins, if I pleased everyone and caused no fuss and everyone liked me – maybe no one would notice that my body looks different from theirs. But eventually (a very long eventually…a twenty-five year eventually) I realised that this is the body I have. It can get smaller (and it has), it can get bigger (and it has), but no matter its size at any given moment, it’s mine and I have a right to love it as much as I want. And if the way I choose to love it is by dressing it in an outfit that looks half Victorian school boy / half circus clown, then I have every right to do that whether it flatters my cute, little tummy or not.

Several years ago, if someone had made the same disgusted face as the woman who side-eyed me last week, I would have gone home, taken off that outfit and never worn it again. But now, I have made it a point to wear this same outfit three or four times since. It probably needs washing by now, but I don’t even care because it makes me feel like such a badass when I wear it. (Don’t worry. I promise I’ll wash it – self-love is a constant struggle, but it’s so much easier when you don’t stink.)

(Unless you want to stink. I won’t judge. Seriously – just do what makes you happy.)

 

unnamed

Jumper: ASOS (It’s part of the regular range, but it goes up to a size 20!)

Earrings: Monki

Culottes: Forever21 Plus (I bought them instore in the UK, but despite scouring the Internet cannot seem to find a link! Soz!)

Shoes: Doc Martens (again, forever, and always)

Your Phone’s Off the Hook, but You’re Not

I’m so into novelty prints. They probably make up the largest percentage of my wardrobe – puppies, avocados, goldfish, abstract faces, pandas, bananas, naked ladies – the louder, the cuter, or the weirder, the better. The print on this Cath Kidston dress, for example, is what my clothing dreams are made of.

phone-dress-3

Look at those phones! Look at their cords! They say hello! They say ring ring! They say cheerio! …CHEERIO! Be still my freaking heart. When I spotted this dress, I was sure it wasn’t going to fit. Cath Kidston’s sizing only goes up to a UK 16 (US 12), and I’d recently had a very disappointing experience involving one of their size 16 dresses with a garden gnome print that made my back look like a bag of baked potatoes.

But I am so glad I took the time to try on this telephone dress because it fits like an absolute dream: the viscose fabric is incredibly soft and falls so nicely all over, the pleating at the waist and on the shoulders is perfectly placed, the sleeves are roomy, and it has pockets. Seriously – I can’t say enough good things about this dress. phone-dress-2

Except – and I swear this is finally getting back around to my original point – when I first saw it in the shop, I had visions of pairing it with huge red earrings, bright red boots, and super red lipstick. Nope, nope, and nope. While it might have worked for someone much, much cooler than I am, it just didn’t work for me. I had to sit back and let the print on the dress do its own thing, which means I didn’t have to do much work at all. Black tights, my trusty black Doc Martens, some simple black hoops that I thought sort of mimicked the pattern of the phone cords on the dress, and I was done. That’s the power of novelty prints, you guys!

phone-dress

Dress: Cath Kidston

Tights: ASOS Curve

Shoes: Doc Martens

Earrings: TopShop

Best Foot Forward: Breaking in Dr. Martens

When I first moved to the UK from Kentucky, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the sheer hipness of British fashion, and Dr. Martens are the absolute epitome of British coolness for me. (Seriously – have you ever seen someone look uncool wearing DMs? It’s happened maybe like three times ever.) Buying my very first pair – 3 Eye 1461 in Smooth Black – made me feel like such a badass that I couldn’t believe my luck when last year I found these gorgeous Navy DMs on sale at Office for £35. (£35!!!)

unnamed-4

I was so thrilled to get such a good deal that I kind of forgot how painful it can be to break in a new pair – I laced them up and pranced into to work feeling like a chic cosmopolitan goddess and then hobbled home from work feeling like I could easily be cool with going barefoot for the rest of my life. They’ve been gathering dust at the bottom of my shoe shelf ever since…until last week.

I read about a Stanford University study that found that surgical paper tape applied to blister-prone areas of the feet is the most effective method for preventing blisters in marathon runners. Now, while I have a very complicated relationship with running, I am definitely familiar with shoe-related injuries. With autumn in full swing, I remembered my poor, neglected DMs and decided to give them another try. Unsurprisingly, I had no surgical tape at hand, but I had something way more fun.unnamed-2

I bought this MT tape for £2.75 from Utility here in Liverpool – this particular pattern is called Sankuku Blue, but you can choose from loads of other colors and patterns here. Initially I had tried to use some regular washi tape from Paperchase, but it tore too easily and my feet blistered really quickly. But the MT tape has an element of elasticity to it which means that the shoes only rub against the tape instead of ripping through it. If you want to give it try, just apply a few strips of the tape where you have issues with blistering. My problem areas are across the back of my heels, around my cute little pinky toes, and across the knuckles of my big toes. (I know feet gross some people out, so here’s a photo of only my heel as an example of how I’ve applied the tape. So sexy, right?)

unnamed-5

Also, I know lots of people recommend big, thick socks for breaking in DMs and I’m glad it works for them, but I found with my first pair that thick socks make my blisters worse – too much fabric and too much friction. I just wear a pair of 100-120 denier tights over the tape. No one can see it, and it’s a like a fun little patterned secret that only I know is there. (And now you do, too, I guess.)

This method has worked so well for me that I was able to go on a night out in my new Docs during only my third time wearing them. I managed to walk all over the Liverpool city centre going from club to club and even to dance until 3 a.m. with no pain at all (except for my poor, little head the next morning).

Anyone else have some advice on breaking in Dr. Martens? I’d love to hear about it because I’m dying to buy a few more pairs!

More is More

fullsizerender

I think as a woman, I always sort of internalized the notion that less is more. I spent a large part of my life thinking that I needed to shrink different parts of myself – my body, my opinions, my ambitions, my personality, my voice – to be a better version of myself. It’s taken me 32 years, but I’m finally starting to see that more can more, and that it’s okay to take up as much or as little space as you want on whatever terms you want.

I’ve tried my hand at a few blogs in the past, but I’m the world’s worst when it comes to updating, and they’ve all just sort of fallen by the wayside (read: I’ve forgotten the password by the time I remember two years later that they exist). But I’ve decided that even if what I have to say is sporadic and important to no one but me – it’s still important. And I’m really excited about the idea of having this tiny little space in the corner of the Internet as a way of learning how to take up lots of space in my own life.