This is going to be a long introduction so please do bear with me! Back last year, I wrote a post about the lack of diversity I saw in fashion blogging. It was a time when I had considered branching more into fashion here on my blog (the reasons I didn’t venture far are coming up) and so I was looking out for some bloggers similar to me who were crushing it for inspiration. Instead, what I found at the time were gorgeous, young slim white girls (not me then) or beautiful plus-sized babes who were crushing it with their two-fingers-up-attitude (again, not really me). And while both were inspiring in different ways, I wanted to see more people like me – those who were sort of in the middle when it came to sizes (10-14 perhaps) and who were already waving goodbye to their youth. I struggled to find them.
I had such a positive response to that post and while I know in my head the saying “become the change you want to see” was screaming at me, I couldn’t shake my insecurities. Even when I finally found inspiration on Instagram like #midsizestyle (heralding positivity for those in-between sizes), I felt like perhaps my time had passed. The initial excitement I felt at breaking into fashion blogging waned and I fell into the old conversations I always have with myself and the negativity I often have to fight against: “You’re too old for this.” “You’re too fat.” “You aren’t pretty enough.” “You’re too short.” “Seriously? What do you know about fashion?” and on and on.
As much as I longed to get myself out there in front of the camera and finally face my fears, I just couldn’t get past my own negative judgements about my face or my body. I know for a fact I’m not alone in this. We tell ourselves these horrible things all the time – things we would never say to our dearest friends and yet we repeat the negative mantras in our own minds all the time, far too often.
Added to this, well, I’ve put on a few pounds over the last two years. I coordinated the sale of our house and our move to a new area almost entirely by myself as well as planning a huge renovation project and the stress of everything took its toll in comfort eating, takeaways, a need to curl up on the sofa rather than get outside. The good eating habits that I’d worked so hard on fell to the wayside and even after moving and settling in, I’ve yet to find my mojo again. I mean, my weight has always yo-yo’d all my life and I’ve been on every diet imaginable for the last 30 years. As a result, my relationship with my body is a minefield.
When it comes down to it, I have to ask myself why am I placing so much value on my physical appearance? Why do I only ‘deserve’ new clothes if I’ve lost a few pounds and why am I so hard on myself when I’ve gained a few? I’m the same person with the same accomplishments, the same random sense of humour, the same weird accent, and I’m the same stubborn, fiercely loyal, independent person I’ve always been. My own self-worth should not be tied up in what it says on the scales. I know this – I really do. But sometimes I need a push, a reminder. Perhaps we all need to be told this repeatedly, especially when everything in society is screaming the opposite. Especially when we don’t feel at our very best.
This is where Kaleidoscope steps in. They read my blog post and loved it and so they reached out to me to ask if I’d like to come up to their studios and shoot their wonderful AW Petite Range. Wait… what? They want ME to model their clothing? I’m 45 years old, I’m a size 12-14 now, I’m only 5’3″ tall. I’m not a model.
Let me assure you – every single insecurity of mine came crashing into my head, screaming at me to just stay in my little comfort zone and say no. No, I can’t do this. No, I don’t want to be reminded of my insecurities – of my perceived flaws, of every way I fall short (no pun intended) of what I’m ‘supposed’ to look like as a woman.
But then what kind of hypocrite would I be? I’ve just banged on about wanting to see change – about wanting to see diversity in fashion – about “being the change you want to see” and here I had the chance to do exactly that. Whether Kaleidoscope understood the million and one negative emotions going around in my head, I’m not sure, but they were the most understanding, sympathetic brand I could have worked with. They were incredibly encouraging and positive, promising me a brilliant day where I’d get to share the range, get my hair and makeup done by a professional and essentially just have a great day out. I couldn’t say no – they made it impossible for me to refuse their offer (in a good way)!
And so, the images you see in this post are the result of that day. I headed up to their studios in Elland, just a few miles northwest of Huddersfield in the morning and met the team. They immediately put me at ease and made the entire day really fun. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer team of people surrounding me on a day when I really just wanted to crawl under a duvet and stuff my face with cookies.
The range is great and there are so many pieces that would easily take you from autumn to winter with ease – from classic pieces like boot cut jeans to full-on glamour in sparkly rushed dresses. I’ve linked to all the pieces I wore under the images but my favourite by far was the gold foil mesh dress which was exactly the kind of thing I would wear myself – incredibly flattering in a midi length and the perfect cut for a curvy girl like myself.
And while, naturally, not every single thing that I tried on was perfect for my body shape, there are plenty of options for the ‘height challenged’ among us! Jeans and maxi skirts are a particular minefield (turning up the bottoms or dragging on the floor or having to get them altered is pretty common for me) but the lengths on everything were great. I have also found shopping in petite sections in the past that everything is kind of miniaturised and the sizes are cut so much smaller for a smaller frame (which I do not have – I’m just short!). I didn’t find that at all with this range – nearly everything felt true to my normal size.
With the Kaleidoscope team’s encouragement, I felt my fears and negativity falling away and genuinely enjoyed the experience of being in front of the camera for once. So my body isn’t perfect, so I’d like to lose a few pounds, so I’m not as young as I used to be – so what? I had a great time, tried on some truly lovely clothes and was reminded that none of that really mattered.
So, I suppose my point is that sometimes to truly give yourself the chance to appreciate what you do have to offer is to tell those fears and insecurities to get lost and just do whatever you want to do anyway. Even if you’re scared. Even if you feel silly. Even if you feel like you don’t deserve it. Do it anyway. I’m grateful that I was given that chance by Kaleidoscope and I’m proud of myself for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Your body, your weight, your age, your height, the colour of your skin, whatever your insecurity doesn’t have to define you.
I’m 45 years old, I’m curvy and short and a woman of colour. But I’m more than any labels and I’m more than just numbers on a scale. And I’m done allowing any of those things to hold me back.
Kaleidoscope has been generous enough to provide a 20% discount applicable to their Petite range (even sale items!) – just use the code QRPP on any item in the range from now until 9 November 2018.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post but have received a gift voucher from Kaleidoscope to spend as I please on their website which is packed with gorgeous fashionable pieces at every size. All images are copyright Kaleidoscope and used with kind permission and all words and opinions are, as always, entirely my own. I only work with brands I love and hope you’ll like too! Thanks for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy.