Thursday, May 26
Thursday, May 19
'My body is soft. My curves are generous. My clothes are snug, and my breasts are noticeable. My chin is round. My belly is plump. My arms are expansive. Yes, I have a fine road map of stretch marks, and no baby to blame them on. My body reflects my experience and the fine
meals I have shared with family and friends.'
(I am a Fat Girl zine, issue three: 13)
The above was a quote I used when I was writing my MA dissertation. I’d highly recommend the series of zines it came from, which can be found at this etsy shop.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about histories lately. This has come from further self-reflection, spending time thinking about my own body, and the parts of it I show and the parts of it I don’t. I’ve also become interested in fat bodies and marked bodies as corporeal histories, and how this is represented as threatening by society, because as people (particularly as women I guess) we’re supposed to be unmarked - we’re supposed to aspire to look clean and new, as if we’ve never fluctuated in size, taken part in physical activity, fallen over or, realistically, left the house!
I’m a marked person - scarred (both accidentally and intentionally), with stretch marks, cellulite and varicose veins. I’m lumpy and bumpy, and I can’t claim to have a body of smooth feminine lines.
To elaborate a little further with a case study: I have varicose veins around the back of my calfs, just below my knees. I wanted to photograph them for this post, but sadly my laptop is still fucked - in any case, they’re sizeable, bumpy and blue, and they’re noticeable whenever I wear a skirt. They’re something that I’ve known to run in my family, and something I despised when I was younger. I remember first noticing them about the time I was 14 - about the time I began inspecting my body in more detail. They were something I knew well from my relatives, so I knew they were there to stay.
I was really ashamed of these marks. To me, I associated them with coming from a family who worked on their feet - which I know to make them protrude more and colour more. I grew up ashamed of my working class roots, largely because I came of age in a middle class suburb, around friends who never seemed to struggle or have to work or walk anywhere. Now, I’m proud of the estate I grew up on, but back then, my roots were something I tried to hide. I felt that the marks betrayed me, somehow, which I know sounds absurd, but they made me feel more different than I already was, and they connected me, physically, to a history I didn’t want to claim. I dressed for these veins - everything I owned had to cover them. No one ever mentioned them (in fact, only two people have ever brought them up with me, both recently), but because I noticed them, I couldn’t let anyone else see them. They made me feel vulnerable, and different, and I guess to an already insecure teenager with militant defense mechanisms, it made sense to cover them.
Two things changed to make me stop doing this - firstly, I realised that I didn’t care about these marks on other people. Actually, in all truth I realised that I liked them - that I found them attractive in other people, and that as such I was applying double standards to the way I looked at my own body. The qualities that I perceived as weaknesses, imperfections and faults were unique differences on others. This is something I later learnt to apply when I thought about my fat - why was I letting it control how I viewed myself, when it made so little difference when I looked at others? Secondly, I guess I decided that I wasn’t going to let me enjoyment of anything (clothes, spaces etc) be hampered by a set of veins that I couldn’t even see! The back of my leg was not going to control my wardrobe preferences.
Your body is a history - it’s a visual representation of where you came from, where you’ve been, how you’ve felt and who you have become. It’s one of a kind, and those differences are what make it unique. Don’t be ashamed of your experiences. Think of your stretch marks as tiger stripes, your varicose veins and scarring as a landscape. Next time you look at yourself in a mirror, or next time you talk about them, change your vocabulary. Speak about them as part of you, rather than as a dissociative, abject substance. Just as your past has shaped who you are, so has it shaped your body. Don’t be ashamed of this.
Also, for more skin related thoughts, check out the tumblr Our Skin, which is really super awesome. /end rant
Monday, May 16
Tuesday, May 10
Cardigan, £6, Dorothy Perkins via ThriftstoreUK
Camisole, £4, Primark
Skirt, handmade from a charity shop curtain
Socks, remade tights from Dorothy Perkins
Shoes, Deichmann, £15
11:00 - Meet in Pelham Square, which is a couple of minutes walk from Brighton rail station. It's a nice leaft square with benches, so we can all have a catch up while we wait for the others.
11:30 - We’ll all walk to Beyond Retro as a group to commence the shopping. Beyond Retro is the biggest vintage shop in Brighton - it’s not the cheapest, but it will be a nice large space for us to start rummaging.
12:15-ish: More shopping! Vintage shops in Brighton are pinpointed on the map to the on the following page. Depending on how many of us there are by this point, we can either walk around as a group or alternatively split off into smaller groups.
2:00: Reassemble in Pelham Square to compare finds, catch up with any late arrivals and have another chatter.
2:30-ish: Luncheon! Either bring sandwiches and some nibbles, and we’ll all go for a picnic on the beach, or otherwise there are some recommended eateries further down with the map details. Brighton is a fantastic place to eat, so
3:30: Beach time! We’ll meet in Jubilee Square this time, then wander down to the beach as a whole, where we can party rad fat style to our heart’s content!
As people have trains and whatnot to catch, I’ve left the evening relatively free/unplanned, but for those who are staying late or overnight, maybe we could partake in a drink or two? I know of at least one 241 cocktail deal!
If anyone is in Brighton overnight, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Brighton Antiques Fair and Car Boot sale which takes place in Brighton Marina car park on Sundays from 7am-1pm. It is easily reached by buses from the train station (any that are going to the Marina), or alternatively you can get the Volks Electric Railway from Brighton pier (this runs every 15 minutes from 10:15) to Brighton Marina. I’ll certainly be going along, so if anyone fancies accompanying let me know!
If anyone would let any further recommendations for things to do locally, let me know! My contact details are included on the PDF (phone, email, twitter), and I'm happy to answer any questions about the day or provide any information which is lacking. Anyone can join at any point of the day - just call or text me if you're arriving later into the day, and I can arrange for you to convene with the group.
So, yes, spread the word, and I'll be seeing you all soon! Huzzah!
Monday, May 9
Blazer, Dorothy Perkins via Fatshion Exchange on Livejournal, £10
Stripey tee - Primark, £1
Necklace - Primark, £2
Jeans - Beth Ditto for Evans, £8
Dunlops - car boot sale, £2
Friday, May 6
Dress, old vintage stock
Blouse, £14.99 M&S via ebay
Belt, old vintage stock
Shoes, Deichmann, £15
Thursday, May 5
Wednesday, May 4
This skirt began life as a £1 skirt I found in a local charity shop. Here's the original skirt:
It had a fitted waist (far too small for me!), but a very very full skirt, and enough length for me to be able to construct another skirt after chopped the waistband off the original. This particularly skirt had a button up front and pockets, both of which I sewed up before starting. If you're just starting off remaking an item, I wouldn't recommend starting with a skirt with pockets or a pocket up front - instead just look for a long-ish skirt with a waist that can easily be removed, and a very full skirt (I find old granny skirts with gathered or pleated waists to be good for this, and they're always on a £1 rail!).
I make my skirts using this tutorial, originally penned by DIY Couture (who publish an amazing series of books, without sized patterns - check them out!). Before I go on, please do have a look through this guide for a more detailed guide to planning the size of your pleats and waistband pieces. For reference, I tend to use either six or eight pleats on either side of my skirts.
Begin by cutting the waistband off the original skirt:
You then need to cut a portion off to use for your waistband at a later point. You can be approximate about this, but remember that you will need to fold the fabric for the waistband over twice (as per the DIY Couture book) and allow a seam allowance of about 3cm.
Here was my waistband piece, and what would become the main body of my skirt.
You will now need to cut the fabric for the main body in half - do this by unpicking the seams from the sides of the original skirt, or by cutting them out neatly, so you end up with two rectangles of (approximately!) the same size.
Do the same with the waistband pieces, and then cut them down to two thin rectangles which both equal (in length) half your waist measurement plus about 3cm for seams. Width-wise, they will need to be double the measurement of your intended waistband width, again with a small seam allowance. Again, please refer to the DIY couture book for a slightly more articulate explanation of how to measure how wide and long your waistband. Sorry I don't have a picture of the waist band, but you'll need to set them aside for the moment anyway.
- With the right sides of both pieces facing towards each other (and the wrong sides facing outwards), tack together one of the sides of the skirt. You can run a line of straight stitch up this side, from top to bottom including the waistband to fix this into place.
- Pin the second side together in a similar fashion, but with a slight difference. If you want to fit a zip here, you will need to place your zip along by the waistband. Mark the point at which the zip ends, and pin the fabric together below this point (so you still have an unfinished seam for the space of the zip), and then as before, run another line of straight stitch up to this point.
- FITTING ZIPS. I'm quite rubbish at this (it's not hard, just fiddly, and it takes patience that I generally lack, haha), so I'm not even going to try and explain it. It is covered in the DIY Couture PDF, and there are also numerous youtube tutorials which can help.
- At this point, having fitted the zip, you will have you skirt *almost* finished. At this stage, try on the skirt, making sure that it fits okay and that you don't need to take the waistband in any further. Once you've confirmed this, you'll just need to hem the skirt - simply done by turning the raw edging of the skirt from right to wrong side, then pinning into place and running a simple line of straight stitch into place.
- Wear your skirt!