2017… A Style Review

2017 was undoubtedly a year of many many firsts for me. It was a year spent discovering who I actually am, what I really care about, and what I want to do with my life. 

A big part of that was discovering my personal style. After years of wearing what “flattered” me as opposed to what felt like me, I finally managed to break free of those shackles and experiment with style in a way I had never done before. This is one of my favourite things about being body positive, finally having the freedom to wear what I want to wear and ditching all of the style rules I had been taught in years gone by (dressing for your shape, wearing distracting prints to hide lumps and bumps etc) for my own ones that actually reflect who I am. It’s been fun! 

I was thinking about this last night and decided to pop into my Google Photos folder to relive some of my favourites #ootd’s from the past twelve months. My first crop top, my first pencil skirt, my first bodycon dress… It’s all there. So here’s a little selection of some of my favourites! 

I think one thing that I’ve learned this year has been that style really does have no size. There’s absolutely no reason why a size 24 girl can’t wear the same clothes as a size 10 girl, especially now that brands like Asos, Boohoo, Forever21, River Island, H&M, New Look and others are producing such great plus size ranges at last. Yes it’s true that rewiring your mind to overcome years of body shame is a difficult thing to do. And the same is true of rewiring how you think about your personal style. But making small changes regularly such as choosing to wear your first pair of high waisted boyfriend jeans, and a month later choosing to tuck your t shirt into them for the first time, can lead to huge change over the course of a year. 

Ten Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

I’ve been experiencing a little writers block lately. I don’t want to write shite anymore. It doesn’t feel good to publish blog posts that I don’t take any pride in. I don’t want to feel obliged to post something on certain days just to keep up with other bloggers. So I’ve decided not to continue churning out blog post after blog post for the sake of consistency.  I’m opting for quality over quantity from now on. 

With that in mind, yesterday I went on my IG Stories and asked my followers to suggest ideas for blog posts. I asked you guys what topics you’d like me to write about, what challenges your facing, what issues your struggling with. And as always, you didn’t disappoint.  My favourite suggestion was to write a post with advice that I’d give my younger self. So I’ve decided to write that one first. 

Having come full circle from self loathing to self love, my reflections on my past are inevitably tinged with sadness and regret. It’s not neccessarily a case of wishing I could go back and change things. But I can’t help but ache a little when I think of all the pain I put myself through, hating myself as passionately as I did. But hey, we live and we learn right?

So let’s get stuck in. Here are the ten things I’d tell my younger self! 

1. There is more than one kind of beautiful

I have news for you; you are actually really, quite beautiful. I know you’ll find this hard to believe. But the truth is that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. You don’t have to have crystal clear skin, or sparkling white teeth. You don’t have to be stretch mark and cellulite free. You don’t need to be petite and graceful. You are beautiful just as you are. And I’ve got even more news for you; your body isn’t gonna stay the same for ever. In fact, it’s about to change in a BIG way. But you’ll still be beautiful. Because contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, there is more than one kind of beautiful and in time, you’ll learn that for yourself. 
2. Your body is not the enemy

You may find this hard to believe, but your body is the best friend you’ll ever have. Everything it does, it does for you. It will never leave you. It will never hurt you. It won’t cheat on you, or slag you off behind your back, or tell you lies. Your relationship with your body will be the longest realtionship of your life. You can never ever get away from it and vice versa. So invest in it, make it a good relationship, or you’ve got a whole lotta misery ahead of you.

3. You are valuable 

Ok so you may not be the most traditionally pretty girl in your group. You may not be the cleverest girl in your class. You may not be the most popular kid in your family. Yes, you can be difficult and you regularly challenge and test the patience of those around you. True, you can be high maintennce and tempermental. But you ARE valuable, just as you are. Never ever let yourself feel less than, or not enough. Remind yourself everday that you are valuable, because you are and always will be. 

4. Your sexuality is not wrong

Those butterflies you get in your nether regions when you see that boy you fancy, or when you watch Sex And The City while your Mum’s out of the house, there’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your body in bed at night. There’s nothing wrong with being curious and using the internet to find the anwers to your questions. There’s nothing wrong with day dreaming about doing the no pants dance with Him while you should be listening to your teacher. And guess what? Your friends are ALL doing the exact same thing! It’s all totally normal, so stop feeling so bloody guilty about it all! 

5. Do it for you, never for him

Don’t be bullied into doing something you’re not ready for. It won’t make him love you. It won’t make him hold your hand in public. All it will achieve is making you feel like shit. So don’t do it! If you want to have sex for the sheer shits and giggles of it, GO FOR IT! Get yourself on the pill and buy the biggest box of Johnnies you can find, and have at it girl! Sex is the bee’s knees,  but only when it’s about you! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Make sure he looks after you and your needs. Demand your orgasms! Trust me – they’re worth it. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s something you have to do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing it. You’re not stupid so don’t fall for that shit. If you’re gonna do it, do it for you. NEVER for him. Ps: if he’s trying to bully you into it, DUMP HIM. He’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve your beautiful body.

6. If they don’t get you, they’re not your friends

A true friend is someone you can totally relax around and just be yourself with. They’re someone whose weirdness matches your weirdness. Their uncoolness matches your uncoolness. You can be goofy as hell around each other. You can admit to still watching kids tv just because you like it. You can admit to being afraid to have sex, or to having had loads of crap sex. You don’t have to hide anything about yourself from them. Because they get you. And if they don’t… I’m sorry babygirl but they’re not your friends. Move on, find real ones. Because there is NOTHING better than real friendship. 

7. Wear whatever you want

Fuck fashion rules! Fuck dressing for your shape. Fuck not wearing pink and red together, or only wearing the eye shadow colour that matches your eyes. WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT! Experiment with fashion. Wear weird shit that nobody else wears. Get it wrong sometimes and laugh it off when you do. Hold your head high! Be different. Be interesting.. Stand out from the flock of sheep in their O’Neills bottoms/rara skirts. And don’t listen to your parents. They haven’t a clue about fashion! 

8. The life plan is not your friend

Please. Stop. Planning. You are so clueless about what’s in store. Stop investing in these intricate plans to have this done by that age and be married by that time etc. Live life by the seat of your pants. Choose a college course that you think will be fun. Work hard at your part time job and save half your wages every week. Plan for the year ahead, but never beyond that. And just enjoying being young. There are some very hard times ahead, so just have fun now while you still can!

9. Don’t be a bitch 

STOP TALKING SHIT ABOUT OTHER GIRLS! That is bitchy as hell, and you’ll never know how much the things you say are hurting the people you say them about. They don’t deserve it, no matter what they’ve done. Don’t be so judgey. Who the hell do you think you are? GIrls need to support girls. Be on your own team. You’ll learn soon enough how hard it is to be a woman in this world, so don’t go out of your way to make it ever harder. You’re not a bitch. I know that. So just stop acting like one! 

10. Self hate isn’t worth it

Reality time. You cannot change yourself. Yes, you will change over time, but not deliberately. Life will change you, you’ll learn lessons and grow. The people in your life will change you, they’ll make you a better, stronger person. But you CANNOT change yourself. So please stop torturing yourself trying to. Get used to who you are. Learn to live with the parts of yourself you’re not too keen on. Remind yourself everyday that you’re basically a really good person at heart, and you’ll soon make peace with yourself. Because if you only take one thing away from all this, let it be this; self hate is not worth it. 

Sarah xo 

The Bikini Body Bullshit 

It’s that time of year again, when our social media becomes saturated by Bikini Body workouts, meal plans and ‘thinspiration’. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s not something that I enjoy. Far from it. But given how pervasive the Bikini Body pressure is in society, I have to face facts and accept the reality of the world I live in. Right? 

Wrong. I refuse to accept that there is any such thing as a Bikini Body, except perhaps in the case of a human body which happens to be clothed in a bikini. 

What I refuse to accept is this; the notion that swimwear is a privilege exclusively bestowed on bodies that have reached a specific standard of beauty. 

Here’s why: 

1. Swimwear is not a privilege. 

The idea that we need to earn the right to wear specific types of clothes creates and perpetuates the idea that some bodies are more worthy than others. What about the fatties, like me? What about the disabled? What about those with extensive scarring, or skin conditions? Those bodies don’t reach society’s beauty standards. But does that mean they are less valuable? No! 

2. My clothing choices are my own. 

When we judge someone harshly for wearing something we think they shouldn’t, what we’re really saying is that those people don’t have, or shouldn’t have, autonomy over their own bodies and their own clothing. We’re saying that they don’t have, or shouldn’t have, the right to express themselves the way they do, and that they should prioritise the comfort levels of others over the free expression of their own personal identity. 

3. Society’s beauty standards are damaging. 

Every year models get thinner. Every year thigh gaps get wider. Every year complexions become clearer, brows more defined, collar bones more prominent, hair thicker and glossier, skin more bronzed, bums perkier, lips plumper. Every year the standard rises further and further out of reach of the vast majority of people. What constituted as beauty in the 50’s is now seen as unhealthy, undesirable and unworthy. What will the standard be in ten years time? Will we require that people have an eating disorder just to try on a swimsuit in the changing rooms? And how many more men and women have to hate themselves into mental illness for us to take control of this rapidly spiralling social problem? 

So… On that happy note, what can be done? Here’s what: 

Put a bikini on your body. 

Congratulations! You now have a Bikini Body! 


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Body Positivity 101

A lot of people have been asking me what I did to become body positive. They’ve been asking for  specific, concrete steps that I’ve taken to boost my self love. So I’ve decided to put together a list of six tips for the bopo beginner here. I hope it helps! 

Tip 1. Instagram

The first thing I did to learn more about body positivity was to find body positive accounts on Instagram. There are a few good accounts on Facebook, but Instagram is where it’s at for all things bopo. I searched in my discover page using hashtags like; bodypositive, bodypositivity, bopo, bopowarrior, effyourbeautystandards, celebratemysize, and donthatetheshake. 

By using these hashtags I quickly discovered dozens of accounts run by incredibly inspirational women worldwide. As a fat person, I was more drawn to accounts that were run by fat women, but there are just as many accounts run by thin women. The range of body positive accounts on Instagram is so diverse that no matter who you are, you’re bound to find some that you can really relate to. 

By following the accounts of bopo fat women, I began the admittedly uncomfortable but absolutely crucial task of desensitizing myselg to images of fat bodies. I gradually stopped seeing them as grotesque and started seeing them as completely normal. This was the first step in changing the way I saw my own body. 

I’m sure it’s possible, but I think it would be infinitely more difficult to begin a body positive journey without having an Instagram account. I can’t emphasise enough how central the platform has been to my own experience. Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, it would be hugely worthwhile for you to set one up. You don’t need to start posting or be active in that way, but following some bopo accounts will really kick start your body positive journey! 

Tip 2. Get Reading

Once you’ve found a few accounts to follow on Instagram it’s time to start digging a little deeper. Looking at pictures is a fantastic way to desensitize yourself to non-airbrushed bodies, but it’s important to start reading the captions under those pictures too. 

Many of the big bopo accounts are run by wonderfully gifted writers, and their captions can provide insight and help you gain understanding of body positivity. They can also challenge what you thought you knew about the world, which is extremely useful in breaking down old patterns and creating space for new ones to grow. A lot of these women will also have websites and blogs, just like this one, where they may write in even more detail about issues relating to body positivity. 

Find their websites, read their blogs, comment with thoughts or questions, engage in the discussion. Even if you’re not sure what you think about something you’ve read, leave a comment saying just that! The body positive community is a very welcoming place, and the vast majority of women will be happy to chat with you and help you in any way that they can. 

Tip 3. Write your thoughts 

Now before you start panicking and thinking that you have to be a wordsmith to be body positive, relax! Under no circumstances do you need to set up a blog to be body positive. Buuuut, I do advise you to pop down to your local shop and pick up a notebook type thing. 

Because like it or not, journalling is a proven tactic for dealing with emotional issues. And baby, body positivity brings up a lot of emotional issues. You’re gonna be forced to remember all the snide comments your Mum made that made you feel fat, all the ex boyfriends who made you feel undesirable, all the times bitches said things to hurt you, all the clothes that didn’t fit. This is unfortunate, uncomfortable and unavoidable. I’m sorry.

But there is good news! Writing really does help. There’s something about forming words in your mind and getting them onto paper that helps us make sense of our thoughts and emotions. So when you’re reliving some previously buried memory from the past, get your notebook out. When you’re feeling uncomfortable with something you’ve seen or read, get your notebook out. When you’re mind is swirling with unarticulated questions and concerns, get your notebook out. Nobody ever has to see it but you. But I promise, its an invaluable tool. 

Tip 4. Question Everything 

After just a couple of weeks of following bopo accounts, reading and writing, you’ll probably find yourself beginning to question things that you took for granted previously. For example, I remember one day seeing an article online about how to dress for your body shape. In the past I wouldn’t have blinked an eye, but this time I realised I was uncomfortable with the idea that women are obliged to ‘flatter’ their body shape. What did flatter mean? Improve? Manipulate? Hide? This is the first time I started questioning the world around me. 

Don’t be alarmed when this happens. It can be a little exhausting, emotionally, to realise that you are going to have reform the vast majority of your previously held opinions. What a daunting task! But taking it day by day, you’ll figure out how you feel about things soon enough, and in no time you’ll marvel at how blind you had been in the past. 

Don’t be afraid to question what you see and read on Instagram too. Remember that body positivity means very different things to different people. So there are a variety of strands/schools of thought that may not be apparent at first, but that you’ll begin to recognise as you strengthen your bopo muscles. Pick and choose what accounts speak to you most, which ones promote the version of body positivity that you connect with, and unfollow the rest. 

Tip 5. Experiment 

To me, nothing shows body positive progress as much as clothing does. Clothes may seem frivolous and unimportant, and I don’t mean to imply that you’ve got to be a fashionista to be body positive. But there are few things that express how we feel about ourselves and our bodies as much as our clothes do. 

I can still remember the first time I bought ripped boyfriend jeans. I had always lusted after them, wishing that I had the body to pull them off. The first time I bought a pair I was terrified that people would point and laugh at me in the street, but I just kept reminding myself that my body was beautiful just the way it was, and that if the girls who I followed on Instagram could post pictires of their half naked bodies on the internet I could surely muster the courage to wear a pair of jeans. By the end of that day I was strutting around like Beyonce, checking my reflection at every opportunity, feeling like the sexiest bitch that ever lived. 

As your feelings towards your body begin to change, try experimenting with your clothes a little bit. Wear something you would never have worn before. After all, you will by now have started to realise that your body isn’t the most shameful thing on the planet after all, and your sole focus can shift from hiding it to enjoying it. 

In less than six months I’ve gone from hating my body, feeling a deep sense of shame and guilt around my body, and feeling completely unworthy of love and respect, to truly loving my body just as it is, and finally seeing my beauty and value for the first time. It’s been without a doubt the single most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my life. Now I’m committed to helping others experience that same transition. With that in mind, I really hope these tips help you on your body positive journey! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments, or get in touch with me privately via the contact page in the menu.