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Thoughts on Nike Mannequins

After seeing @nunude_official shared a post stating that Nike’s flagship store in London has introduced a plus sized mannequin on their shop floor, I was absolutely delighted. Then I saw that the Telegraph had published an article about Nike’s shop titled

“Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie”

I was fuming. There isn’t just one body type. By having a curvy mannequin, Nike are broadening their representation of our female demographic. It should not be restricted to a 6ft size 8 mannequin.

I had a discussion with a fellow blogger Sinead from @paddingtontheservicedog who has a similar condition to me called Parkes-Weber Syndrome. She had some interesting points to make about Nike’s mannequins:

“I’m considered on the cusp of plus size, but have to buy plus size trousers ALWAYS because of my leg…Do I think it’s healthy to be obese? No, but there are so many factors as to why someone could be. To have gym clothes that are available in a wide variety of sizing may make people more comfortable to work out”

What is even more shocking is that the Telegraph are supposed to be backing Changing Faces who support people with visible differences through counselling, skin camouflage clinics and also campaign for diverse, positive representation in the Media for equality for people who look “different”.

Yet they publish an article which slates Nike’s flagship store for being diverse?

During Face Equality Day (22.05.19) at the Telegraph offices, which I attended, Baroness Williams said that

“Value is placed on appearance and that there is a distorted view of what beauty and perfection looks like”

Yet today, on the 10th June,  less than a month after the launch of Changing Faces report “My Visible Difference”, Tanya Gold has described Nike’s plus size mannequin as

 “Immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat… She cannot run. She is more than likely pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

I understand that obesity can cause many health complications, but there are lots of reasons why someone may be overweight other than unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. They may have a disability, condition or could be on medication which causes weight gain. So to say that this Nike Mannequin represents a fat, gargantuan woman is not just rude, but body shaming.

Therefore, by the Telegraph sharing these hateful words, it’s entirely contradicting the Christmas Charity appeal “Words Matter” they did with Changing Faces to challenge everyday prejudice!!!

Nike’s mannequins encourage a positive body image. They are encouraging women of ALL shapes and sizes to be fit. As Nunude pointed out,

“The issue with the fitness world is that it looks so perfect that the people who really want to get to the gym feel too insecure to do so”

I would feel far more comfortable and happier shopping for fitness clothes where a board range of bodies are being represented.

It’s time we embrace all forms of the body!

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Thoughts on Love Island 🌴

June is just around the corner, which means one thing: Love Island.

I have had various discussions during the build up with my friends. To watch or not to…
Last year, the answer was simple: Yes. But now, I’m not so sure. What changed my mind? After all it’s a great antidote to a dull day in the office. TV where you can escape reality and watch without a worry. Or so we thought.

There had been some anticipation of plus size models and a more ’diverse’ group of entering the villa this year, so when I saw ITV had released the line up, I excitedly went to investigate. Scrolling through bright candy coloured images, I saw 12 gorgeous human beings… from scientist to surfer. But not one person with a visible difference.

18% of people self-identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition* (me being one of them- I have Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome). Which means, that there should be at least one person on Love Island representing this demographic.

Why do people who look ‘different’ need to be represented? 

1 in 3 people feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference*

I believe that a contributing factor to this is how people are portrayed in the media.

Adverts show a very narrow perspective of beauty and we are under constant pressure to look like what their idea of ‘perfect’ is. This in turn can influence our happiness: we experience low confidence and self esteem , as our bodies do not match what we see in the media; suggesting that we are simply not good enough.

People with visible differences are putting up barriers because they assume that they wouldn’t make the cut. I would never apply to go on Love Island purely because I don’t think they would want someone like me, who has a swollen foot and is a size 12/14. We aren’t putting ourselves in situations to gain opportunities because of our insecurities about looking different.

What can we do to change this?

I am very proud to be a Campaigner for the charity Changing Faces and we want more brands to sign our Pledge To Be Seen and commit to better representing people with a visible difference.

Love Island attracts millions of viewers, with the average amount being 3.6 million.

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My friend Heather and I bumped into Love Island winner Kem Catinay in Ibiza!

Over half a million people with a visible difference will be tuning in on Monday to watch a new group of singletons entering the villa. Amongst the viewers will be many teenagers.

For me, I was most self-conscious when I was in my teens. I never felt good enough and I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in magazines, films and reality TV.

At times, I was very sad and wished I would wake up one day and for my KTS leg to have miraculously shrunk to the same size and colour of my left.

If only I had a public figure to look up to who had a visible difference! This person could be a Love Island contestant. I know I would’ve felt a bit more comfortable with my body, knowing there are other people with visible differences who are successful.

Instead, it’s taken me years of anti depressants, therapy and counselling to help me on my journey of accepting my visible difference.

On the plus side, I feel a lot better about my body and how it looks and I am comfortable enough to show my leg in public: I’m not hiding it anymore!

*Statistics are taken from the Changing Faces report: My Visible Difference.

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You are good enough

This is the first time I’ve really spoken about the thoughts I had about my body whilst being a teenager with Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS).
In a nutshell, I was born with one leg bigger than the other. I will go into more detail about it in a future blog post, or you can find out more by looking at my Instagram.

Growing up, I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in films and magazines. Slim people who had symmetrical bodies were in my eyes “perfect”, as that was what t.v adverts and magazine articles always portrayed. Did I ever see girls wearing compression stockings or having different looking legs? Not. At. All.

All the shows and magazines I loved had little or no diversity: Teen Vogue, The Hills, The Devil Wears Prada, The OC, the list goes on! I thought; visually, that I wasn’t enough, as the media was sending me subliminal messages: my body didn’t make the cut. I did not have the “bikini body” I kept seeing advertised and articles written about. I went through a phase of doing sit ups everyday before school started because I believed that having abs would make me feel better about my body, and that it would draw attention away from my leg. 

The closest thing I could relate to was Bethany Hamilton’s book -Soul Surfer- she’d lost her arm in a shark attack. She was determined to surf again despite missing an arm and absolutely embraced it. She was such a major source of inspiration, and still is. I absolutely loved the film adaptation too (worth a watch). 

I used to love watching America’s Next Top Model. Which is kind of ironic really, because it was all about what you looked like and having this perfect “look”. I can’t for the life of me remember what episode it was but Tyra strongly advised a beautiful woman on there to have the gap between her two front teeth closed. And it made me really upset and angry. The lady was happy with her teeth, and felt that it was a characteristic which made her unique; yet there she was being pushed to have her teeth adjusted. And for what? Someone else’s idea of what is attractive, and on what they thought would sell. For a teenager to see that was in no way, shape or form okay. It was insinuating that my differences weren’t good enough and that I should change to fit someone else’s ideologies.

Fast forward to today…. Everything has changed, yet everything is still the same. We have been given an amazing platform to broadcast our thoughts and our ideas globally, all at the touch of a screen.

 Teenagers are now exposed to social media. I see influencers are pushing to sell weight loss products to their followers (many of which are teenagers who are particularly vulnerable) claiming that by drinking a  “skinny coffee” you will lose 5 pounds in week. They will then proceed to back this up with a before and after photo (posing and lighting works miracles people!). There they stand with their chiseled jawbones, abs of steel, pert breasts and perky bottoms. This would have taken hard work in the gym, a carefully planned diet and maybe even some cosmetic surgery; not a week drinking “skinny coffee”.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that I want to see more people confident with their own bodies; regardless of size, shape, colour or gender. And EMBRACING it. As girls – like my teenage self- will be seeing your photos (yes YOU with the 3.7 million followers) and be influenced by them. You want them to love the skin they’re in and empower their peers that it’s okay to be different.

To the people with a large following on social media; think carefully before you agree to that paid partnership with a fast track weight loss product. You are influencing millions of young minds, when most of them are already self conscious (like I was) of their bodies. Instead, encourage them to realise that they have so many assets which make them beautiful inside and out. They are good enough (and so are you!) just the way they are.

sydney to coogee coastal walk
Me on a beautiful coastal walk, stopping to have a drink. No posing, not make up and no filter. Just me.
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Shoes Glorious Shoes Part II

Adidas Trainers

Adidas Gym Shoes

A bit battered now, but they serve their purpose. These trainers are now my gym shoes.. before that they were actually my going out trainers and I’d where them for comfort. I always find trainers are a bit like t-shirts- when they’re new you wear them on special occasions, you know, the sort of thing you get your expensive perfume out for. Then the dynamic changes and you end up wearing this said t-shirt to bed. 

Last week I went on a run with my doggy. It had rained the night before and I really tried my best to avoid the mud, but I felt so bad keeping to the “boring” areas for my doggy’s sake. I then proceeded to run the farmer’s fields; gosh I nearly slipped over, and I could hardly run.. But it was fun. The trainers… well they were a squelchy mess! They had to go in the washing machine (Delicates wash on 30 with a tad of detergent if you’re asking!)

I get most of my trainers from JD Sports as they have a good selection and always seem to have special offers. Also they do quite a few men’s/unisex/whatever trainers from 6-9 (a lot of “men’s” sizes start at 7).

Susie’s Boots

Susie's Sheepskin Boots

So these are my first handmade shoes: made in Wales! My friend Molly lives in Pembrokeshire and told me about this wonderful company who are local to her… They create these amazing boots in all different colours. Also, because they make them from scratch I only had to buy one pair! Winning!

They are so comfortable, think leggings, cosy cardigan and snuggled by the fire vibes. Although I could’ve gone for funky colour, I had my practical hat on, which often I find takes over, as buying shoes is a bit more tricky for me than it is for others so it’s all about making an investment.

Simply Be Boots

SimplyBe Booties

These are SO comfortable and stylish! When I buy from Simply Be, I get wide fit size 6 for my left foot and an extra wide size 9 for my right. Sometimes the wide fit is a bit too wide for my little foot, so I wear an extra sock on that side. I have had lots of comments about these shoes; the pattern is gorgeous and reminds me of William Morris: very opulent colours of teal, pink and gold. I am careful where I wear these booties- they will NOT become work shoes! They’re my fancy boots.

What the Adidas trainers and Simply Be boots actually look like 🙂 I can’t find any of me in my sheepskin boots, but if I do I will add!

Thanks for reading, have a glorious weekend!

G x

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I am not boring, just tired AF

Currently I am lying in bed, it’s half 9, and I can hear my family downstairs laughing and joking…. why am I not with them? Because I’m tired.

Is it just me or for a period of time, you’re tired 99% of the day😩. I want do things but I can barely concentrate because I’m knackered… the gym is about the only thing I can do at the moment- that and dog walks. To be fair it’s probably the 10k training which had added to my tiredness! It’s so annoying because I definitely feel that it puts a strain on friendships, and one of the reasons my last relationship fell apart! Sometimes I feel like wearing a t-shirt saying

“I am not boring, just tired AF”

All my life, I’ve always been the sleepy one. The one who has naps and lie ins, who can fall asleep anywhere.

It’s such a catch 22 because I want to be chasing after my dreams and living life to the fullest… but the reality of it is, I have to be careful; I unfortunately can’t be as spontaneous as I want to- I have to plan things and have rest days.

1 weekend I am busy, the other I chill out.

It’s so annoying because I don’t like to miss out on anything but if I were to do everything I’ve been invited to and wanted to do, I would end up worn out and poorly.

It’s soooo frustrating. And I am just as upset as you are that I can’t go shopping with you today or go for that catch up we’ve been meaning to have.

In my natural habitat, the sofa, cuddling one of my gorgeous doggies. Wearing the most used item in my wardrobe – the snuggliest top ever!
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Shoes Glorious Shoes

So I’m doing a mini series of blog posts talking about the shoes I have in my wardrobe… along with little anecdotes/reviews about them. Shoes have a substantial place in my heart as it has been notoriously difficult for me to find the perfect fit, so whenever I find shoes which do accommodate my right foot, it’s a victory! If you don’t know, I have a size 6 left foot and a size 9 right (my KTS leg). Every pair of shoes in my wardrobe equates to 2 pairs bought from the shop…

Yellow Sandals
I am going though a yellow phase at the minute, it’s because I am subconsciously thinking it will make me feel more positive as of course it’s a sunshine colour!!!
I went straight for these whilst scouring Primark’s women’s shoes section- which was a mission as their wise fit shoes are scattered with regular sizes so you literally have to check the labels on all of them to find out!! How inconvenient! Primark, take note- from a girl who has visual merchandising on her cv! 😉
Anyhow I’ve enjoyed wearing these- bar the odd blister here and there- to work as they spice up plain outfits or compliment patterned dresses beautifully.

yellow sandalssme and my sandals

A Cinderella Story

The other day I managed to get to work with only one of these shoes 😂 – this is an example of one of my many silly moments.

I don’t like to drive in heels so I shoved my Converse on, drove there… parked up, did my make-up, and then it was time to change shoes.. I put my left one on and reached into the bag for my right shoe… “That’s strange” I thought. It feels smaller 🤔… I’d only brought the wrong blinking shoe with me: I had packed the other half of the size 6 pair, but of course, I wear odd shoes, so it was completely the wrong size for my right foot 🙈 I spent the morning looking quite odd in my lovely, smart, work dress and scruffy converse 😂 Thankfully my dad -aka Prince Charming-saved the day and dropped off (miraculously he started work later that day) my other shoe 👠

Now you’re thinking why do I keep the other shoes… well I guess I feel it’s such a waste to be chucking a “pair” of shoes away; especially with how tricky it can be for me to buy ones that I both like and that fit me! So yes, I confess: I have a collection of unworn odd shoes… you never know, there must be somebody who has the opposite sized feet to me? Anyone out there on the World Wide Web?

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Reality checks in

I am slowly coming to terms-after 24 years- that I can’t do what everyone else does. It’s taken me this long and I still think I’m slightly in denial.

My head is a constant argument between an ideologist and a realist.

The ideologist wants  to go to work a full time job, go to the gym in the evenings then see friends and family at the weekend.

“Oh if only it was that easy!” the realist laughs…

“But it SHOULD be easy!” ideology snaps back, “That’s what your friends do, so you can do it too”

“They didn’t have an infection in their leg and have to go to hospital 3 times this week for iv medication.” Realism says sternly with raised eyebrows.

*Ideology checking out*

It’s not always lightness

I don’t like talking about being sad. Because the more attention you give something, the more substantial it becomes. I also like to think that I’m a positive person.

I’m not saying you should just brush everything under the carpet. This is why I’ve turned to my blog. I don’t like talking about being sad to my friends. It’s not a good conversation to have is it?! For me, talking about it on a blog post is far more effective because I’m not “off loading” to anyone, I’m just getting my thoughts and feelings outs of my head. It doesn’t matter how many people see it.

I’m not here for the stats! I’m here for my sanity. Blogging has really helped me accept things. Accept my KTS, my bouts of depression.

I don’t like to say I’ve got depression, because I don’t feel like I do have it all the time.

I may be on anti depressants but that doesn’t mean I am depressed.

I’ve thought about coming off them, but to be perfectly honest I’m terrified about what mental state I’ll be in afterwards. I suppose that’s why I’m a bit uppity about taking painkillers. Because I don’t want to rely on them. I don’t want them to become a regularity like my anti depressants are.

Also, conventional medicine= side effects= even more medicine.

I do feel depressed on my period. I feel very sad. And I say stupid things without thinking it through. It’s horrible. My periods were a lot worse mentally when I wasn’t taking anti depressants. I would spend days feeling shit; often not leaving the house.

If there wasn’t sadness we wouldn’t know happy. It’s normal to feel sad. I’ve learnt to feel the emotion and ride it out. Acknowledge that it’s there.

This too shall pass.

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