beauty, body positive, fashion

My two cents: hijabi fashion

I was on Facebook and magazine Volup2 had posted an article about hijabi fashionistas. Of course some idiots in the comments had leapt straight into hate territory (referencing Sharia law, repression of women, being islamophobic etc)

That’s not been my experience, I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are Muslim and incredibly stylish, some of whom cover up more than others.

These women have made choices about their level of coverage, their interpretation of modest dress. Some have gone from merely wearing long sleeves and floor length skirts or trousers to the hijab and more. All by their own choice.

These ladies have scarf collections to die for, beautiful colours, patterns and designer. Just gorgeous. They coordinate their outfits so beautifully too. I wish I had that level of colour combination skill.

Even the ones who choose to wear a burqa over their clothes are often well dressed underneath. It seems like quite a practical garment too. And it’s a personal preference.

All three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have instructions to dress modestly, but like most religious texts these rules are open to interpretation. If you go to Rome and want to go into a church, your shoulders and knees must be covered, it’s the same in most of Europe and Russia.

Women used to wear hats to church and some still have dress codes. My aunt’s church is quite strict, whereas my mum’s is a lot more relaxed in terms of what you wear on Sunday.

There are similar circumstances in most synagogues, heads must be covered, modest, smart dress is preferred. Some Jewish communities adhere to these rules all the time, others are more relaxed.

I’m sure other religions have dictates about dress, either specifically for worship or for everyday.

So why shouldn’t women who wear a hijab or who cover themselves dress well? Where does it say they can’t enjoy clothes and make up? Yes some countries have strict, enforceable dress codes, but they tend to be in the minority.

These hijabi fashionistas are inspiring younger women who might be worried that wearing the hijab is frumpy or means they have to give up their love of clothes in order to be closer to their faith. They also look amazing. All women should support each other regardless of faith, culture or ethnicity.

If you see someone looking amazing or wearing cute shoes or a fabulous top – tell her. Say ‘I love your shoes’ or ‘you look amazing’, smile, make someone’s day. The world is a cruel, cold place without us pulling each other down or making assumptions without knowing someone first.

ramblingmads

beauty, body positive, life, mental health

A reminder to be kind to yourself

This is the kind of reminder I always need.

When you look at your body in the mirror or the bath,
It should make you smile, it should make you laugh,
Those stretch marks that you hate,
Remind you of the date your baby was born,
You grew an entire new person, that’s great,
That scar from falling off your bike,
Reminds you of being a little tike,
My broken toe never healed straight,
But I remember the fun I had the day it broke,
That weird lump or mark you’ve had all your life, that makes you self-conscious,
Marks you as an individual, as one of a kind,
So be kind to your body, be kind to your soul,
Honour your curves, or straight lines,
Stop worrying so much about what others think,
They’re all having the same anxious thoughts,
We spend all our time looking for flaws,
But you’re perfect just as you are.

Do something nice for yourself today. Remember that you are unique and wonderful, just like everyone else.

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ramblingmads

beauty, body positive, reviews

TV – Plus Sized Wars – my thoughts

Last night Channel 4 aired the one-off documentary Plus Sized Wars about the growth in plus size fashion and the role of bloggers in promoting body positivity.

As someone who has been both much larger than I am now and much smaller, I know how frustrating it can be to buy clothes that suit your figure and are nice.

The documentary follows the teams behind Evans, the UK’s biggest plus size brand and newcomers Yours and Taking Shape (an Aussie company recently launched in the UK).

For me Evans = frump. Which is an image they are trying to shake off with their Shape fitting service and hiring younger women to model their clothes. I have tried to shop in Evans, but the emphasis on baggy, shapeless clothes frustrates me. I tend to buy things from their sister shop Dorothy Perkins instead (they go up to a UK 22).

I wear somewhere between 16/18/20 depending on the item, cut and fit on the high street.  No two shops offer the exact same fit in the size.

The average UK woman wears a 16. So for most shops to not cater for larger sizes means they’re missing out and the plus size stores are racking in a fortune.

The bloggers and models they featured range from Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust who is a curvy 16, to Tess Holliday (professional model not blogger) size 24, Callie Thorne of From the Edges of the Curve to several other girls I follow on Instagram (just go raid my feed for more) and for some truly gorgeous pictures follow these women.

I tend to shop online, I know I can always send things back, can try them on at home without the awkwardness of the changing room where the curtain is slightly too small.

Online is where plus size brands have found their market. From ASOS Curve to Boohoo Plus, Simply Be to Lady Voluptuous (I own two of the dresses in this range) and beyond. Without physical shops, overheads are low, so prices can be too. Many of these ranges are determined to avoid frumpy, poorly fitting, sacks for the larger body, and aim to deliver stylish, well fitted, trendy clothes. Which is what is wanted.

The show aired on the same day that former popstar Jamelia said on another TV show that shops shouldn’t sell larger sizes and fat women should be uncomfortable shopping. Presumably she has never had a friend, sister, daughter or mother with her who was above a size 12.

Leaving aside the fact that she’s not a doctor, many weight gains are caused by medical conditions and fat doesn’t equal unhealthy in every case, she has been lambasted for her comments. As a mother of two teenagers I hope her daughters don’t worry about their weight, or take onboard her comments. Enough teenage girls (and boys) harm themselves or even commit suicide because they don’t fit into a narrow body stereotype.

What we say hurts. One of the bloggers interviewed for the show last night spoke of how she had been badly bullied about her size and how it had taken her a long time to regain self-confidence.

I would love to see more examples of varying body types on TV and in print. Just to reassure those teenagers that they’re ok, they’re normal. That as long as you’re healthy it doesn’t matter what the number in your clothes is.

Overall I thought it was a balanced look at the plus size fashion world (although the woman from Milk modelling agency was pretty repellent) that tried to show a range of bodies like you might see every day, rather than the TV idea of fat – a size 12 to 14 rather than a 10.

Did you want Plus Sized Wars? What did you think? And what about Jamelia’s comments? Let me know below. 🙂

ramblingmads

beauty, body positive, healthy, lifestyle

Cover girls – what’s wrong with a fuller figure?

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Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are starring in the upcoming Pitch Perfect 2, and popping up on magazine covers all over the place to promote it.

I rarely bother buying glossy ‘fashion’ magazines full of pictures of hungry looking models in ridiculous, over-priced clothes.  If I do it’s usually just Glamour, which I grew up with – picked up a copy from my cousin’s bedroom floor aged 12, read it pretty much ever since.

Very occasionally if a cover star or strap line intrigues me I will buy another. I think some of them are wildly over-priced for a thick bundle of shiny adverts.

This month I got Glamour and Elle, both of which claim feminist credentials.
Glamour’s cover depicts Kendrick, a slim brunette, full figure in a dress, Elle has her co-star Wilson but a close up of her face framed by blonde curls.

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A quick flick through Instagram or Facebook shows that this is common. Slim actresses and models are most often photographed in full, while curvier women are cropped to just their face.

Inside Elle Wilson is shown in lovely dresses, but never a close up of her body, either just her face or from a distance and we know these magazines love their photoshop.

Apparently the subscriber’s edition featured a full figure shot but the one on display in supermarkets and newsagents isn’t the same and that’s where they have the most impact and influence.

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As a child I was all legs, they’re still pretty long but a cruel combination of genetics, medical issues and mental health in my teens caused me to put on a lot of weight.

I’m lighter now than I was but still have a way to go to be fully happy in my skin, although I will always be curvy, my bone structure dictates that (broad shoulders, wide hips).

But if I were growing up in today’s culture, with the focus on image and appearance, I would struggle to find anyone who looks like me on the covers of the magazines, arranged as they are at eye level and often above or next to ones aimed at  younger girls and teens.

Rebel’s pretty, and her weight has clearly not been an issue in her career as she’s going from strength to strength. So why not put her whole body on the cover and celebrate some body diversity (and yes I’d like a range of ages and ethnicities on covers too).

I’ve been trying to gain some confidence in my body, hence the healthy eating and exercising. I’ve also been following some body positive bloggers and Instagram accounts (check out @fullerfigurefullerbust @curvesandcurlsuk #effyourbeautystandards @tessholliday @toodalookatie @ladyvoluptuous @biggalyoga) for some of women I’ve been taking inspiration from.

I’m also addressing the medical issues that affect my weight, i’ve been diagnosed with an under-active thyroid and started treatment but what I’ve mostly been learning is that confidence doesn’t rely on the number on the label of your clothes (much of which varies widely anyway) but on your embracing your body, personality and comes at any size.

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So let’s celebrate ourselves, whatever size or shape you are. You are good enough, beautiful enough, cool enough, strong enough #effyourbeautystandards society and let us feel good about who we are.

ramblingmads