I feel that it is probably very cliche to be posting this around new years but it is a subject I have been thinking about for about six months or so. Through doing so much research into the plus-size fashion industry I have discovered a mind set that I to was very guilty of for a long time. I have always been a bigger girl, in my early teens I went from children’s-wear into a women’s size 10 to 12 by the time I was only about 12 years old. I was tall and a bigger build from all the other girls, It lead me through years of torment and bullying. I however am not using this post as a pity party, yes I was bullied and that was tough but again as cliche as it sounds it has taught me so much about inner strength. We all go through life defining struggles and every persons experiences growing up regardless of whether they where good or bad define who they have become as a person.
The mindset I previously referred to was the mindset which made me view being fat as a temporary state. When I was around sixteen I was about a size 16-18 and filled my head with dreams and ambitions of a fictional life that I would have as soon as a lost weight. I wouldn’t buy new clothes instead spending my money on shoes and accessories all the time planning on what I would wear when I was “skinny.” I got my first job when I was 16 and I think that having my own source of income further affected my issues. I secretly bought clothes in a size 10 and stood for hours in-front of the mirror pretending what I would be like when I was thin, had long hair and life was just better. This is a fact that I am not proud to admit and haven’t ever spoken it out loud but it is so important to document my struggle for myself so that I don’t go back to those ways. I spent so long hating myself that I didn’t give myself time to live and to enjoy, I was constantly focused on this unrealistic approach and mentality that I didn’t allow myself to be happy in the moment.
My final two years in school where a living hell I hated everything and wasn’t achieving the grades I wanted and thought that I needed. I grew more and more unhappy and in the end I left school with no confidence and no energy. I was still in the mindset that I was heading towards some big change, my light bulb moment, the time where I would reclaim my confidence. I had a place on a photography degree course but with two weeks to go I gave it up and rushed to find another course to occupy my time. I applied for the course I am in now but didn’t get a place, I ended up with a place on an art foundation course with Belfast Met and thought that it would just be a space filler. I have mentioned before by truly September 2011 to July 2012 was my most life-changing year. I owe so much of who I am now to the people in my class and tutors from this time. I had a bad accident in October of this year and needed alot of help which I got in bucket-loads from the incredible people I had to pleasure to share my class with, I didn’t even realise it at the time I wish I had so I could have truly thanked them but the support I got in this year restored most of my faith in teachers and people.
By the end of the year I was feeling so much better as a person, I had lost weight and regained by confidence. I dont mean to say that losing weight was what made me accept myself, infact since this time I have put back on one of the three stone I lost but it is more that surrounding myself with the right people was the key. I became just a happier person in all respects and was able to move into my new course with a new found sense of self. It was at this point that I began to realise that this body that I am in flaws and all is my body. It is my place, my home, my sanctuary my everything and I have to accept it for what it is in this moment. I had to stop wishing my life away with what ifs and buts. I had to accept this body in its current state as being how I was going to look and to focus my attentions on other aspects of my life. I feel that not only was getting away from school and all that drama, going through a life flashing before my eyes moment, rediscovering my passions with art but getting rid of negative forces in my life all helped me discover my true feelings of self.
Fast forward to now and as previously mentioned through my dissertation research I discovered that I wasn’t alone with having this mentality, that many in the fashion industry also view being fat, plus-size, curvy, chunky whatever term you choose, as being a temporary phase. It is usually presented in the media as the before image. We see in the media images of women with glasses, a sad face and who are larger than they would like to be being paraded in front of mirrors and the public and told of all these miracle cures to the new you! Instead of being told that if you are unhappy that you of course have many options available to you dependent on what you want to do However if you are happy being curvier than the “normal” images we are presented that that is perfectly acceptable as well. Your opinion is the only one that should ever matter as long as you aren’t causing harm to yourself or others you can do whatever you damn well want! It is only after realising this and being so saturated with different opinions on the matter that I have finally realised my worth. I am strong, I have been through alot, I am generally a good person ( on the most part) No my diet isn’t as healthy as it should but I am Great just as I am, and what is more it is OK to be happy in this current state. I shouldn’t always be looking for a better state or waiting for something which isn’t realistic I have to live each moment to the fullest and embrace all opportunities I am given.
2014 has been a great year, I have had so many amazing opportunities with placements for my studies. Particularly working with a local stylist on a number of projects throughout the year has been one of my highlights of the year, it is given me so much confidence in my own abilities and has proven to me that I am on the right path. I have been in a number of competitions which has been incredible. I still have a part-time job that I love , yes it is retail and isn’t always a bundle of roses but I have a work family and some of the best friends I have thanks to that place. My family are my rock and are with me 100% of the way and support every decision that I make.I wont be making any resolutions because for me they would just become a list that I would use to limit myself from experiencing everything life has to throw at me. I have no idea what 2015 has in-store for me, I finish University in June and don’t have a clue what is in-store after that but I am so excited to find out!
I hope you guys have an incredible new years and try not to focus on creating short term outrageous resolutions, ensure that whatever you do that you put yourself first, after all if you dont who will. I hope that if you are celebrating new years eve you have a great time. I am working all day tomorrow so will no doubt be in bed before 10pm and miss the whole thing but I shall speak to you all in 2015. I am so super excited to see what 2015 has in-store for my little blog, Bring it on!!!
Until next time… T-J xo