adventures, fashion, fun stuff, life, wedding

Wedding Wednesday: National Wedding Show with the Mothership

On Saturday my Mother Dearest and I went to the National Wedding Show at the Kensington Olympia. I won tickets through an Instagram competition hosted by the lovely Kat from Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride.

Goody bag

There were many freebies on offer, including a goody bag for every ticket holder. Now I love a freebie but some of these were a little problematic – more on that later. 
According to the brochure there were more than 250 vendors present, offering everything from wedding dresses to confetti, cakes made of cheese to flowers. 

It was a bit overwhelming, weddings are big, big business, and the centre was heaving with brides to be, their mothers, bridesmaids and the occasional bewildered groom to be.

Will this turn into a really tiny pumpkin?

There was a Groom Room full of suits and very fancy cars, which C would have loved except he refused to come with me (but did take a Best Man to look at suits). 

I took my Mum – and she was having a ball. I now know I get my love of a freebie from, she’s been married for 37 years, but oh she was lapping up everything we were offered. 

Some of the freebies I gathered

I tried on a flower crown (definitely having one of those), looked at dresses, flowers, table settings, entered every competition going  (please can I have a free holiday), tried cakes, looked at fascinators for Mum, discussed my engagement, our wedding plans and the colour scheme about a million times, are more cake, and looked at about a thousand dresses. 

Fistfuls of leaflets, brochures and business cards

I totally failed to take any photos, there was just too much. 

Wedding magazines galore

Now I want to talk about something that has already annoyed me beyond belief and my Mum decided to bring up several times too. 

The wedding industry is fixated on a very particular type of bride – slim, conventionally pretty, and white. There was very little diversity on show. 

Where were the dresses for fuller figured brides? Where was the ethnic mix of London being represented? What about the lesbian and genderqueer brides? 

Every picture of a bride could have been of the exact same girl. The only suits were tailored for men. There was no suggestion of same sex weddings. I saw no pictures of black or Asian brides, no temples, synagogues, churches or mosques. 

Now, I’m sure a lot of the vendors present would happily work with a wide range of wedding couples, after all, business is business. But I can’t imagine how alienating this vision of skinny, perfect whiteness must be. 

My Mum pointed out that the wedding dresses were stuck in the past – women on the whole are bigger than before – the average dress size is a 16, but so many of the dresses were designed to fit slim, small-breasted, narrow hipped women. Where is my wide hipped, rugby player shouldered self going to get a dress? (I have ideas, but there was nothing for me there – I didn’t see anything on display above a 12). 

The other issues we had revolved around this idea of being perfect- teeth whitening services, professional makeovers, all conforming to a standard not everyone can achieve. 

 My mum was also horrified by all the weight loss products on offer. In the goody bag offered to everyone were weight loss shakes, tea, biscuit bars and offers for discounts on these and other products. 

At a time when even 8 year olds are suffering body image issues, when eating disorders are on the rise, when the standards of beauty are ridiculous, the pressure on the engaged women (and men) is insane. 

A wedding is pretty stressful anyway, dealing with vendors, venues, family politics, negotiating everything you want, wrestling with a budget – you name it, it needs to be done. Yes, there are loads of tools, apps, websites etc to help you, but it’s still a lot to take on. 

And then on top of that the pressure to lose weight, to be made perfect, because obviously your fiancĆ© doesn’t want to marry you as you are – but some ridiculous impossible image of some other you. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best – to have your hair and make up done, to wear an outfit you feel (and look) fab in, but there is something wrong with feeling pressured to change everything about you to fit into a box. 

When my parents got married (37 years and still both alive), there wasn’t nearly as much of this extreme pressure on young women before their weddings. And it really casts a pall over the excitement of it all. 

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. šŸ™‚

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