Hello my lovelies and welcome to the launch of my brand new blog and the relaunch of my series Born To Be. If you know me from another little blogging site called Blogger then welcome to my brand new platform. If you guys have been following me for a while you will know in the last couple of years my blogging content has been quite sporadic (mostly 2019). Go and check out my final post on katielouisejohnson.blogspot.co.uk if you want to know why I’m switching platforms and everything, as well as a whole range of incredible posts from the past six years of my life, then go and have a look over there in the mean time whilst I work on getting this blog up and running.
Over one whole year ago I announced I’d be creating a new series that would tackle the concept of body positivity and body acceptance because at the time (as well as now) people of all shapes and sizes have been embracing the fashion industry. Breaking down the invisible barriers of what society decides we’re “supposed” to wear depending on our size. Then and now, people are wearing whatever the hell they want which is how it should be! My aim was and still is to create a series on my blog, this platform, to inspire people to feel good in their own skin as I’m still learning to feel good in mine. Also to remind people that as long as you feel good, that is all that matters.
The driving force for this project; I set myself the task of going into high street fashion retailers, try on a range of different outfits, and share my honest opinion: how it looks, fits, feels, how I’d style it etc. I realised early on that the whole premise of body positivity and acceptance is such a huge concept to tackle and just my opinion and I wasn’t going to work. No one is exactly the same size or has exactly the same body type. I decided to include the opinions of my dearest friends and fellow blogging friends to get the overall conses and outlook from real people, just like you and me. If you’re not the “idolised” body type (whatever that actually is) in our society it seems you’re not worthy or valued when it comes to the fashion industry. This is something I wanted to and still want to challenge throughout the relaunch of this series.
I chose Born To Be as the title of this series because it is open ended. It relates to the premise without being solely focused on the fashion industry because this isn’t just about the fashion industry. It’s the driving force for this series however it is not the subject that will shape the whole series. The phrase Born To Be will get you to think about what you are born to be. In my opinion you are born to be whatever you want to be. It will transform through your life as you change and you grow which is something I hope we all do through this series. Through the information shared, concepts presented, opinions expressed, and how all of that can relate to our own life and our own development.
As this is the relaunch of this series and the launch of my new platform, I figured a good place to start would be back at the beginning. The very first post this series ever had before I create any more of this series. To remind you guys where we’re at as well as remind myself and also to help me get back into focus with this subject area. I hope you enjoy re-immersing yourself in it or if you’re about to read for the first time, I hope it sparks a passion inside you to feel included and valued.
Before we delve into this series I just want to make clear this is not to offend anyone or upset anyone. The reason this series is being made is to inspire you guys and to teach you about accepting yourself and why self love is important. I’m not a teacher or a professional on those two areas or any of the other subject areas I am going to be discussing for that matter. This series will discuss issues of mental health, body positivity, self love, acceptance, fashion and style, fashion and bodies, body positive movements, social media, self-esteem, confidence, and probably many more that I can’t think of right now. But I just need you all to know I am not an expert on any of these things. Everything I will share and be discussing has come from the research I have done, the opinions of the collaborators I have asked, and my own personal experiences.
I know a lot of people don’t like shopping and I understand the reason why because it can be a very traumatic experience. You go into a store looking for something specific, you find something gorgeous and it’s better than you imagined in your head, you’re literally pulling the rail out of the wall to find your size, and god forbid they don’t have it. You walk away sad and disappointed and think I’m never shopping in store again and end up buying things you didn’t even come in for. Such as more makeup, socks, or a handbag because in the words of Sarah Millican, ‘You’re never too fat for a handbag.’
Or your other scenario. You go in the store just for a browse and you find something you like that is actually in your size and you’re thinking it must be fate because this never happens. You decide to be sensible and try it on because the effort of coming back to return it is a real struggle. You get into the changing room to try it on, you’ve got the item on and you’re already shocked or even if you don’t get it on properly, you look in the mirror and you’re thinking ‘Oh my god, what the hell is this? Why is it riding up like that, why is it so tight there and why is it so loose round there? Is this actually my size? Should I try a bigger size or a smaller size? It doesn’t really suit me but I really like it, it’s not flattering at all, but the pattern is cute, but if I got it I know I’d never wear it, why does it look so good on the model and not on me?’, you hand back your item and leave the changing room even more sad than when you originally couldn’t find an item in your size.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been in that kind of situation regardless of what size, shape, or body type you are. Some how despite all of that I do still like to go shopping. The experience of shopping in store is very different to shopping online because in store you can look at an item and more than likely know if it will fit you or not. Whereas online something might look great in the image and then you get it and it’s not what you expected looks wise and then to top it all off it doesn’t fit right either. And regardless of what situation you’re in, you’re thinking ‘Am I too fat to wear that? Am I too thin to wear that? I’m not curvy enough to wear that, I’m not slim enough to wear that, I’m not tall enough to wear that, am I not good enough to wear that?’
And to be honest the whole experience leaves you feeling really downhearted and dejected. I’m not saying every shopping experience you have is that upsetting but I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced that feeling at some point. So we’re all not alone. I personally have experienced that quite often. There are a lot of items I wish I could wear but I physically can’t because they don’t fit right or they’re not made in my size (which we will discuss throughout this series) or they’re made for the unrealistic bodies of women regardless of your clothing size.
Over the years and this year especially clothing brands have been bashed for not taking into consideration the sizes of real people, you know the people who are actually going to wear the clothes. I said this in my announcement post and I’ll say it again. If you’ve got a Victoria Secret model body for example or you’ve got the “idolised body” that is now in our society, i.e. slim-curvy with big boobs, a tiny waist, big hips, and slim legs. If you’re one of those body types I’m not stating that your body is not real. Your body type exists and we know it exists; your body is important and valued because people are important and valued. But for the majority of individuals, both women and men, if you’re not the idolised body type in our society it seems that you are not worthy or valued, especially when it comes to the fashion industry. Which is why I felt the shopping experience segment of this series would be an interesting way to truly test this theory out.
Once again, I am aware I am only one individual and the opinions I will share with you will not be the way everyone feels about certain clothing items. Or if you’re the same size as me and a similar shape to me, if you feel good in a certain style of outfit that I don’t, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel good in that item because fashion is all about personal preferences. I’m also sorry that I can’t do very much for any of you who are males that read my blog hence because I’m not a man. But I hope to any of the men reading you can still take something positive from this.
As this is the first post I thought we would start with a high street brand that we all know and love and we all shop in, whether that’s on the regular or every so often, and that is
I have shopped in Primark for so many things over the years and it is still one of my favourite brands to this day. I started these undercover shopper (okay, that’s officially what we’re gonna call this now) and try on sessions whilst I was still in Chester and I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many times I went into my local Primark at the time. The staff were probably thinking ‘God this girl is back again but is she gonna buy anything? Oh look no’ as I’m walking out the store. But if you’re an avid Primark shopper then you will know that every time you go in there’s always something new in the store. I don’t know how but there is and I think Primark is bigger now than it ever was when I was a teen. The fashion game has upgraded massively over the past couple of years so of course they were first on my list to try out and test.
I tried on a lot of different styles of clothes in every retailer, some that fit my style and some that were items I’d never even think of trying on let alone wearing out in public. But in order to get a grasp on the clothing outlet as a whole I knew I needed to try out a whole range of clothes otherwise there’d be no point doing this element within this series.
In Primark I usually fit comfortably in a size 20, I can’t really get away with size 18 in this store very often.
I own a lot of jumpers from Primark so to be honest I had a strong feeling this was going to fit and honestly one of the comfiest things I’ve ever put on my body. If you know me well then you’ll know that things like this are my casual everyday style to a T. I love the colour, it was comfy and soft, really well made, it was also comfortable because the hem around my hips/ stomach was a loose fit, it was soft inside which means it’ll keep you warm. I feel really good in this because it’s comfy, anything that is comfy is always an instant win. I think this jumper fits really well for my size and although it’s slouchy and oversized it still gives my figure some shape and makes me look nice without being too clingy and unflattering. Also the tie up front actually looks good on this as sometimes it can make tops and jumpers be too tight. This would be perfect to wear on those days when you just wanna feel comfortable in your own skin and throw something on and know you’re gonna look good. I would probably just wear this with a pair of jeans/jeggings like these ones here or a pair of leggings. Really simple, really easy, really comfortable, but still super cute. I’m actually really gutted I didn’t buy this at the time because I’d be down to wear something like this right now.
Now on the other end of the spectrum we have this. I feel like this had potential to be really great but this honestly just let me down. This is another one of those that looks great on the hanger and then you try it on and you’re stood there like ‘What the hell is that?’
So this blouse had a long string on the outside that was attached round the back and then a smaller bit of string on the inner part of the top. Presumably you tie those together to get that wrap around effect. This has been quite a big thing from the summer, especially wrap around dresses and I think it’s appealing to the eye but honestly not the most practical. In the two pictures down the left side it might look like I’ve figured it out but honestly it just looked like a mess. I’m sorry but if any outfit is too hard to figure out how to get on, I am not going to bother with it because I don’t want to waste half my life trying to figure out how to get it on. I actually got so frustrated with this I decided to just let the strings drop which you can see in the image on the right and I honestly thought it looked better and 10x more flattering than the original design. But I have no idea where you’d even put the strings if you wore it like that. Also because it’s a wrap top it was all open at the front because it’s meant to wrap across your body, a part from a bit of stitching at the cleavage. I loved the sleeves and the neckline and I did like the pattern (it was actually green in real life) and if I were to wear it out it’d probably be with black jeans as a smart-casual outfit on a night out. However this did not fit. It didn’t sit nicely around my hips or stomach when it was wrapped around and tied together. It’s hard to tell on a wrap around item whether it’s true to size or not but I think the top half definitely was and the bottom half wasn’t. Overall though I did not feel my best in this piece therefore it’s a massive thumbs down.
Here we have another one that is a bit of a fail. Again I feel like this had potential but it just isn’t right. I like the pattern and I like how it goes in at the waist as it makes my waist look quite slim. But I’m not going to lie that’s about it. I know wrap tops and dresses have been really in this summer but honestly I’m over it. I’ve tried on so many items in this style and it’s just not for me. It doesn’t look good on my body personally, I don’t feel comfortable in it, I don’t like how there’s always that extra awkward bit of material that hangs down weirdly just like you can see here. To be honest there wasn’t anything wrong with the fit of this, it did actually fit my figure quite well but this style is just not for me and because of that I don’t feel good in it nor do I feel comfortable in it. But if I were to wear something like this out I’d probably wear it with jeans/ jeggings or potentially even some type of trousers. I think you could dress it up or dress it down to be honest.
Okay now we all know trousers have been the hot topic this summer. Any type of wide leg trouser/ flare, you name it we’re having them and we’re obsessed with them. That trend is also carrying on into autumn and I’ve got a few funky wide leg trousers I’ve got my eye on.
But I am in love with these trousers. Primark have a whole bunch of these in different colours but something I have learnt over the course of these weeks doing all these undercover shopper esk things is plain block coloured trousers (unless they’re black) do not look good on me. I personally don’t want to wear anything that accentuates how big my tummy is. It is not flat at all my stomach is round and it doesn’t have rolls when you sit down it is just one massive roll. But I’ve found that anything that is a block colour and not patterned just does not look good on my stomach. So I saw this style of trousers around a lot and I really struggle with Primark’s trousers because the majority of them don’t fit right around the crotch area properly. You always get that awkward flap of material that doesn’t know where it is supposed to go. But I tried these on and I fell in love with them. This is another item that I wish I could’ve bought at the time. That top left corner photo, I am living for how slim and flat these make my stomach look. You can’t tell in these trousers because they’re complimenting my figure so well but I assure you my stomach is not flat at all. I am honestly shook at how good these look on my body. I think the contrasting patterns and the tie up front really do me favours here because it gives the eyes something else to focus on other than a specific body part (my stomach).
I love the pattern, these are honestly so comfy around my stomach and my waist, really airy light material, so freeing on my legs, super flattering on the legs as well – the extra tie bit of material really slims your legs down, these are more figure complimenting than figure hugging. I am obsessed with how much I love these and how good these make me feel. I feel confident, I feel happy, I feel powerful, I feel sexy. It’s crazy how much an item of clothing can do that to you. Styling these I honestly think you could wear these with anything because they’re black and grey/white and you could wear these on a night out, casual day out, if you’re just relaxing. I love love love these!
I also ended up finding these in this really pretty pinky red tone with gorgeous pink flowers on. I remember when everyone said red and pink doesn’t go together well I’m telling you now you’re lying. Look how gorgeous these are together! And even though these are not contrasting like the first pair I still love these just as much. Again they’re super comfy, the pattern is really flattering for me, I feel like this pair kind of make my legs and hips look wider but not bigger but it could just be the way I’m standing. You can also see the detail better of how these tie at the front and how that extra bit of material sits and is attached onto the trousers. I’m so gutted I didn’t buy these ones either at the time. I love these – super comfy, super flattering, super fab quality, again light and airy material, comfy on hips and stomach, the cut is all exactly the same. Which actually proves that the cut of these are true to size because sometimes you buy one thing and it fits perfectly and then you get another pair the same or in a different colour and they don’t fit and you’re like ‘Sorry what?’ but these didn’t do that. Double thumbs up.
And now were back on the downward spiral. This again had potential but just doesn’t fit right. I think it’s pretty evident that it doesn’t fit on my boobs properly because the button is popping at the seams. It was also really tight around the whole bust, even around the sides of boobs so it wasn’t very breathable. That’s the only real problem in terms of fit. But I hated how much this dress highlighted my stomach, to some of you it might not even look that bad and when I look at these photos back I admit it doesn’t. But how you feel about yourself in an outfit, no matter how much someone tells you how great you look, if you look at yourself and don’t feel good then that opinion from whoever will honestly not stick in your head. It’s really sad but it’s true. But at the end of the day if you don’t feel good, happy, or comfortable then you shouldn’t try and force yourself to be. But I was disappointed because the length of this dress is great for me because I’m tall and the material of this dress was so soft and felt really nice against the skin. But overall this was still a miss for me it didn’t fit completely right, I wasn’t comfortable, it highlighted the areas I didn’t want highlighted. But if I were to style it and wear it would probably just be a casual summer dress with some white sandals or slip on shoes. Maybe a denim jacket if it was a little chilly.
Finally we’re seeing the light because I love this skirt. I saw this on the hanger and the mannequin when I went into the store and really liked the look of it. Thought it was different to any other aline skirts I’ve seen mainly because it isn’t denim. I love the denim ones but I cant wear any of them because denim is not giving fabric, it doesn’t stretch, so if something is denim be that jeans, skirts, shorts etc. If it doesn’t fit my body (which is 9 times out of 10) then I just have to accept that it doesn’t fit. So because of that I steer clear of anything that is pure denim because I already know it is not gonna fit me.
I’ve got big hips, big legs, a big stomach and usually with skirts like this in this material I have a big problem with them always coming up too short at the back and because these are so figure hugging you cant wear anything underneath aside from your underwear because it’s already sucked onto your curves. The way you see me wearing it now is how I comfortably like to wear trousers, shorts, leggings, skirts etc. For those of you who don’t know you have a natural waist and a lower waist. Your natural waist is just above your belly button and your lower waist sits under your stomach. A lot of things in fashion now are always high waisted and thank god because I don’t know how I’d’ve cope in the 2000s with everything being so low cut. I prefer to wear those items on my natural waist because it sits there comfortably but with being tall it does mean that shorts and skirts can sometimes come up very short at the back. So it’s not an issue for me but just something I have to watch.
I was surprised at how much I liked this. It definitely is very fitted and I think you can tell that and you can see it highlight my stomach slightly but honestly I don’t even care because I really love the style of it. I’d would probably wear it with a top like this that you can tuck in or a crop top or some kind. I only wear crop tops with high waisted items. Also I feel like you’d have to with this because of the top where it ruffles and the tie up bit at the front. Honestly though I think if it didn’t have the tie up bit it might’ve been more of an issue, just like I said with the tie up on the trousers, it takes away that boldness of having a whole body part highlighted by a colour. I would say this was true to size as it did fit very well, the material was thick and good quality, I did feel comfy overall but if I bought it I know I’d have to watch how much it rides up through the day, I’d say I felt content. Like I’d be happy to go out in this if I was really feeling like I want to get my legs out and wear a skirt. As I say I’d style it just like this in the picture, maybe with some sandals or some slip on shoes. I think you could wear this casually or even on a summer night out. Overall, I’d give this one a thumbs up.
Speaking of denim here we have probably one of the worst items in the whole selection of shops that I tried on. Now firstly let me just say I do not believe that this can be a size 20. I’m sorry but this is absolutely ridiculous. Now obviously this is denim and I literally just said that denim things don’t stretch which you can evidently see in these photos. So I did not have high hopes for these.
But you know what trying an item on in your size and it not completely being for you or not fitting exactly how you’d like is one thing. But trying an item on in what you believe to be your size and it barely even going over your thighs is actually awful. These I couldn’t even bring the material together to do the zip up let alone the button.
I don’t even care how unflattering these pictures are. Yes you can see my stomach and my stretch marks and you can see how the line on the legs is literally cutting off my circulation.
The fact that brands think this is okay is just so wrong. I don’t even think these would fit someone who is a size 14 or 16 because these were so ridiculously tight. Now with Primark I am on the cusp of things not fitting me as size 20 is the largest size they do which again is even more infuriating because it says to people who are above a size 20 that you are not allowed to wear our clothes because your size isn’t included in our store. And honestly that pisses me off so much the fact that most brands these days only stock to size 16 and that is without a plus size range which is even worse. Even if they do stock up past that it is still only to size 20. I understand the argument could be they only stock clothes when they look at the amount of the most popular clothing sizes sold across the whole store. But if you do not stock clothing past a certain size you are limiting all those other size ranges and all those other sales and most importantly limiting people to feel good about themselves because you decided to put a stamp on what size you’re “allowed” to be in order to be stylish and fashionable.
These shorts are a big fat no. No amount of cute embroidery could make me change my mind. They don’t fit, they make my weight look like it’s bursting at the seams, just a mess all over the shop.
Next on Primark’s agenda we have another one that again is a bit of a fail. Last year everyone was on the crop top hype and now this year everyone is on the bralette hype. The upper half of our bodies is being covered by less and less material every year. Next year we’ll all be going out in just nipple covers, you just wait. One thing I have learnt over the course of this whole series is bralettes in popular high street stores are not made for girls with bigger boobs. If you wear bralettes and have bigger boobs, where are you getting them from?! I have tried on so many and they all do not fit at all. The look of this bralette is deceiving because you might be looking at it and thinking ‘But Katie it looks great?’ I wont lie, my cleavage looks awesome in this. But this bralette is a tie front – no buttons, no poppers, no hooks. This all relies on your knotting skills and I’m sorry but that is too risky. In the two pictures with the green trousers if you look closely at my boobs you can see where the knot is and underneath you can see where my bra sits. So there’s no way you can wear a bra with this top but get this. I even tried this on without a bra and it still didn’t fit properly. It was still took tight around my boobs, what the hell? Honestly I am too self-conscious to go out without a bra on. I don’t like the feel of it, I don’t like how my boobs look under tops without a bra on (unless its pyjamas), and it’s just not for me. So even if this did fit without a bra I’d still have to give it a no because I’m just not comfortable not wearing a bra out.
Even though it is a no, I did really like the look of these outfits together. I think the top with the skirt is more flattering on me personally as I’m unsure on these trousers. I don’t know if I like them on me or not. These two styles of outfits are really popular at the moment and to be honest I actually do not hate them on me. But I know I wouldn’t be 100% confident wearing them. Perhaps if the top fitted me properly and the trousers were a bit more flattering then I would potentially say this is okay. The overall style is fab but I wasn’t 100% comfortable, it didn’t fit properly, and I just know I’d never have the confidence to wear it out. So this bralette is a thumbs down.
I’m in two minds about these. Ribbed trousers have been a massive trend over the course of the summer because they’re so easy to wear and they’re quite lightweight. I think Primark were one of the first stores on the high street to bring these out and then when they became really popular I saw a lot of other brands bring them out as well. I feel like ribbed material is really iffy on my body. On the item of clothing it gives a bit of texture like you can see on these trousers but I’m unsure whether or not if that is flattering or not. I do have a ribbed playsuit which I really do like but it is a tiny bit more fitted than I am used to but I loved the overall style so I let the ribbed style go for that one. But I just can’t click with ribbed material in trousers and I think it is because of the inner thighs. As a bigger girl my thighs rub together, it ain’t no secret. But due to that sometimes when there is extra material around the crotch area it sits weird on my legs. If you look at the crotch area it almost looks like they’re highlighting the shape of my vagina. Don’t get me wrong vaginas are great but it’s not really the vibe I’m after in a pair of trousers. We’ve already established I find block colours hard to work with but I feel like really light colours, white, baby pink, lilac, baby blue, pastel yellow – any colours like that don’t look good on my legs. I don’t have the slimmest legs and I just feel like lighter colours make them look massive which really doesn’t do the best for my confidence. The saddest thing about this item is this is the first item that I feel like I’m not able to wear whatsoever and not because it doesn’t fit. These do fit and they’re quite comfy but they just physically do not look right on my body. But I would say they are true to size and they’re very comfy, but for myself I don’t feel good in these because there’s just something off about this style for me. It just doesn’t feel right on my figure or my body therefore I’m not confident in these. The obvious way to style these is with a matching crop top in the same material and colour (co-ords have been a super popular style this year) or a t-shirt tucked in like I did with this one here. Or maybe just some kind of standard crop top or crop jumper. So I’m gonna have to give this a thumbs down. I would probably just wear these casually but you could definitely pair this with a pair of heels to dress it up.
Okay, we’ve had a lot of thumbs down in this undercover shopper experience but I tried this on and my faith was restored. I am in love with this. I love playsuits, but I have to have soft cotton fabric ones with an elastic waist because otherwise they’re either gonna be too tight, not fit, and make me look like a whale trapped in a net. But I tried this on and I cannot get over how beautiful this is. When I tried this one on I was actually with my friend Tash and we both tried it on and loved it. She actually bought this she loved it that much. This is more crepe material so it’s a tad more textured but still extremely comfy and super flattering. You can see where that band is which brings in my waist and then goes out slightly underneath so my hips look nice and round. I love big blow out sleeves, especially belle sleeves. I just think they look so flattering on everyone and they’re much more freeing to wear. This pattern is gorgeous, I love this neckline, it shows a bit of cleavage but not too much. You know what, Primark you’re getting a clap for this one, well done. This has the perfect balance of classy but cute. This one was 100% true to size because it fit Tash perfectly as well and she is a couple of sizes smaller than me I think. I am 100% comfortable in this, I could go out in this at any point and I’d be happy and comfortable. I feel so good in this, this looks bomb on my figure to me. I think you could honestly wear this on any occasion. Out in the day time, a night out, an evening meal, even a wedding or a christening. Honestly I feel like this piece is so versatile. I would probably wear it casually and potentially as a night out outfit with some white sandals or slip on shoes. By far one of my favourite things out of the entire store that I tried on. Well done Primark.
Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘Katie you were just complaining about ribbed material and now you’re showing us something else with ribbed material… you okay girl?’, I know it’s crazy but let me tell you guys let me tell you. Primark are bring their A game with this one. Okay so ribbed material on the legs for me, a big fat no. But over my boobs, hell to the yes. Anything to make the girls look good because I love my boobs. The difference with this ribbed material is because it is in a knit dress, the material is thicker and I think with ribbed clothing that looks a lot more flattering for me personally. But what I love about this dress is it’s ribbed at the top and then the skirt part is just plain material. I love the long sleeves because it makes it extra snug and cosy, the length on this is fantastic because I don’t wanna be flashing my arse to the world. I love the colour. Oh my god I just love it. This is obviously apart of their more autumn to winter range and I desperately want to go in and buy it. They have a bunch of different colours in these and you guessed it, I want them all. Also, can we take a minute to talk about this little mustard jacket. I was quite feeling it paired with this I wont lie. I really like this jacket because it’ so soft and it’s got silky/ satin material inside so it’ll keep you pretty warm. However I hate what this jacket looks like done up but open just like this looks fab. You could defo wear this jacket with pretty much anything I think. As for this dress I would most likely wear it with tights or leggings and boots of some kind with a jacket depending on how cold it was.
Another thing to note, this dress was actually a part of Primark’s new and improved size range which I haven’t tried a whole lot from. They mainly brought out these dresses and a massive amount of jumpers in this range and I really want to try it out. I sadly didn’t try on anything else in that range for this section of the series but I might go in a some point and fully test it out to see if it really is new and improved. But overall love, love, love this. I feel so comfortable, so happy, massive thumbs up from me.
Continuing the green theme here we have another one that is a bit of a fail. I feel like it doesn’t look as bad in the pictures but in real life it was horrible. The main reason I actually wanted to try this on was because I saw Zoella wearing it when she did her release of her Botanics range and we all know how big palm leaves and banana leaves have been this year. On Zoe it looked so good and when she said it was from Primark I was thinking as if and then I tried it on and I was like ‘Sorry what is this?’
Again this had potential but the fit is all wrong. The top part of the material is overly loose and you cant adjust the straps so it kept falling down. The middle part where the top overlaps the trousers is meant to be flattering but I feel like on me it’s just not. The trousers around my hips and stomach was too tight and it was a bit restricting on my legs. So I’m gonna go a head and say that this wasn’t true to size, I don’t know what size 20 body they’re making this for honestly. Despite that I didn’t feel bad in this but I didn’t feel good in this. It was just a bit of weird piece but then again jumpsuits are always a struggle for my body type and you’ll see that throughout this series. But if I were to style it as it’s an all in one the work is pretty much done for you. I’d probably just pair it with a jacket of some kind and some sandals. You’d could probably wear this casually in the day or on an evening out or night out etc. But overall, thumbs down.
Primark sell a lot of trousers at the minute and as you can see I’ve been trying them all on. At the start of summer everyone went a bit obsessed with rainbow things and especially because of pride, people now love the pattern even more for what it is associated with. I love this pattern. I think it is so different and so cool, they also had this pattern in a jumpsuit and a dress which I would’ve loved to have found in my size and tried on. I loved the pattern and the material, it was very silky, but I’ll be honest that was about it. With these I had an idea of how I wanted to look and it just didn’t match up. Which is kinda sad but I can’t lie to myself or to you guys. I’d dislike these more without the tie front bow because you can see the shape of my stomach so clearly in these. And to make it worse it’s got that material sitting really weirdly around my crotch area. I think these are really cool and really extra but they’re just not going to work for me. So sadly these trousers are a thumbs down. But I’d probably wear these casually with slip on shoes. Not sure what specific top but definitely not this one. It’s worth noting this top is not a size 20, this was a 16 I think because I tried these trousers on when I was with Tash but I didn’t have a top to try as I was in a dress so Tash threw me this one to just throw on with them. I like the colour of it but I just really don’t like the style. It is the weirdest crop top ever because it’s got an elastic band around the bottom which just feels weird for how cropped it is. Honestly just a no.
Our final item in testing Primark’s clothes is another bloody wrap top, my favourite thing ever (can you hear the sarcasm in the words?)
I think you can see pretty evidently that this was an even bigger fail than the last one. I love the pattern on this, I don’t have many orange coloured clothes so I thought it’d be nice to try and mesh that into my current wardrobe but it is not happening with this item. Okay so on the hanger this look very nice. The sleeves are nice and large and this bit of material you see hanging down at the front was tied together to make a loose bow at the back I think. But to get it on you have to undo that piece of material. One part of that material is on the outside and the other is on the inside and some how your meant to tie those two bits around you and make a bow at the back. Judging by this photo you can tell this didn’t work out. I’m sorry but why have clothing brands got to make their items so complicated?
As if that wasn’t a massive fail alone this also didn’t fit properly. It even had a little loop at the bottom to put a button through but honestly I don’t think it would’ve made a difference. There was not enough material to fit this round my boobs. They are literally right out to say hello in this top, you would not be able to miss them. I love the pattern but hate the fit, hence because it didn’t even fit, as I said I’m so over this wrap top, wrap dress, wrap bloody everything trend. It’s not practical, the items never fit, it needs to go. Brands just stop. But if I were to wear this it would probably be with jeggings or shorts and with sandals or slip on shoes. Most likely casual but could potentially wear on a night out.
That is it for the Primark shopping experience. Wow I never thought we’d make it. I did actually try on a few more things than this but I picked the top ones I had the most opinions about because we would’ve been here for centuries otherwise. So overall opinions on Primark. For me personally I feel like it’s really hit and miss and you have to take it with a pinch of salt. Weighing up the clothes there were 7 pieces that were thumbs up and 9 pieces that were thumbs down, which includes the ones I wasn’t 100% on. If you’re not 100% on an outfit you shouldn’t try and force yourself to be. Primark is just one of those stores that makes an insane amount of clothes in all different styles, patterns, fits etc. Which is great as it gives you variety but I feel like particular styles are made for particular body types even though the majority of their clothes go up to size 20. So for example, the majority of their trousers – those green ones, the rainbow ones, the lilac ones etc. They fit but they don’t look good and the way they’re cut doesn’t look good on my body personally in my eyes. Whereas their jumpers are mostly oversized and have a bit more space so they actually fit and are a comfy fit. But because these trousers have the tie fronts and they’re wide leg styled and they have particular textures I feel like I can’t wear long loose fit tops with these because it just looks weird to me. I don’t know it just doesn’t look right. Which means I’d have to wear them with crop tops or tops you can tuck in. That’s fine but sometimes I’m not in the mood to have an item of clothing that accentuates my round stomach because it’s always been a bit of an insecurity of mine. So when I wear crop tops and jeggings or some kind of trousers and skirts or a playsuit that show off my stomach some what just know I’m having a really body confident day that day.
So overall is Primark true to size for my size I’m actually gonna go ahead and say no, it’s not. But am I going to carry on shopping here? Yes because Primark is one of those stores where you just have accept that not everything is going to fit you but you don’t know until you try it on. Which I think is pretty evident from the entire experience. The quality and the price in Primark these days is pretty much on par with New Look if I’m being honest. Not everything is as cheap as it used to be but it’s still not like over priced for what you’re paying for. I’d say the quality of Primark is average to good, again depends on what you’re buying. I’d say Primark is in the middle when you take everything into consideration but I will definitely still shop there in the future.
During my research I discovered that your body image can change in just two minutes. Yes you read that right, two minutes is all it takes.
Have you ever looked at yourself in a full-length mirror and wished you looked more like the beautiful people who grace the covers of glossy magazine? If so, you are by no means alone. (Brooks, K, 2016). Body dissatisfaction is more dominant in our society than ever and has now become more known as normative discontent. Which suggests that the majority of men and women, women in particular, accept that dissatisfaction with ones circumstances is “normal.” The majority of people affected by this actually think they are heavier than they are and is a phenomenon know as body size misperception. Which means your mind creates a misunderstanding or interpretation of the reality of what your body is. Too much exposure to this way of picturing yourself could potentially lead to body dysmorphia which is the abnormality in a shape or size related to a specific body type, again dominated by your mind.
In a recent study participants were asked to view images of people that had been digitally manipulated to appear lighter or heavier than they really were. The participants were asked to decide whether these images looked fatter or thinner than “normal.” After just 120 seconds of exposure to these images, the original-sized bodies looked abnormally large compared to the digitally enhanced thinner images, which to the participants were rated as “normal.” The opposite was also true. Exposure to digitally enhanced heavier bodies made the original body sizes appear as skinny. This is where the statement of “chasing the thin idea” comes into play.
It’s no secret that many individuals are affected by the thin, supposedly ideal images propagated by the media. The connection between social pressures to be thin dictated by images used in this study for example causes feelings of body dissatisfaction. This then increases the risk factor for developing eating disorders such as anorexia. This was first theorised by psychologist Hilde Bruch in the 1970s. Ten years later a study showed the measurements of Miss America contestants and Playboy centrefold models between 1959 and 1979 – these were decreasing due to the media’s movement of “thin is beautiful” rapidly spreading. Kate Moss, one of the worlds most well known English models once stated, ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ which is one of the most damaging things I’ve personally ever heard. Not only is that damaging for individuals in general, but for anyone who is aspiring to be a model and looks up to Kate Moss, it clarifies from her line of work that to be a successful and worthy model you should be skinny and that to me is disgusting. If any of you reading this are aspiring to be a model, no matter what your size, do not let the closed mindedness of individuals diminish your dreams and your passions. Diversity in models is valued in today’s society so much more because were pushing for self-love and acceptance. And one of the best things to see in 2018 is brands not just sharing the unrealistic bodies of women and men in their advertising.
Despite developing research which confirms the link of social pressures from manipulated images in the media creates risk factors for certain disorders. There’s still very little understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying the perception of our own bodies in relation to what we see on the TV, in magazines, and most recently on social media.
Since the time of Aristotle it has been known that prolonged viewing of certain stimuli can cause after-effects that alter the perception of subsequently viewed objects. The after-effect often produces an appearance that the neutral stimuli are in a sense of opposite to the original stimulus which the observer was overexposed to.
In this clip you will experience movement in a particular direction, downwards the motion of a waterfall, this can cause the stationary rocks besides the waterfall to appear to move in the opposite direction that is upwards.
A similar motion of movement is experienced in this clip. The conflicting movement of the spinners forces your brain to refocus on the different movements at different points as you stare at the centre. Afterwards when you’re shown an image of a storm cloud your brain identifies that the image is moving because of the visual illusion you just experienced from the motion of the spinners.
After-effects are accompanied by a reduction in responsiveness of neurons in the visual areas of the brain. Modern theories propose that the change in brain activity serves to tune our perceptual systems to the environmental conditions. Our perceptual systems are apart of the way we use our brains from when were children. In children, learning occurs from when they respond to a certain set of stimuli or information. In other words a child will always possess a particular perceptual thinking pattern which results in productive learning. This leads to learning through different formats and this develops throughout our lives. This benefits our perceptual memory by giving us the ability to interpret incoming information by reconsigning individuals, categorising them, and by noting the relationships between individuals and those categories. All of this gives our brains a frame of reference for what is normal or expected as determined by our visual diet through our lives.
Early studies of these affects focused on simple stimuli like movement and colour but recent investigations have shown subjects such as body size and shape can cause similar after-effects. These after-effects could actually transfer others’ bodies to the perception of ones own. This is from viewing the abnormally thin versions of other people’s bodies which caused participants to see themselves as heavier than they were and vice versa. It is likely that these after-effects are the physiological basis of body-size misperception. However, whilst that observation fits nicely with the narrative connecting media exposure; in the real world it also suggests mechanisms mediating the perception of one’s own and other’s body size and shape are overlapping.
One thing we do know is body image is a complex construct, but a better understanding of these mechanisms will open up a new avenue for a fuller understanding of body-size misperception. A piece of advice for us should be that whilst a healthy lifestyle brings many benefits, a strict diet will not correct the misperception of one’s own body size. Instead the person you see in the mirror may be more effectively beautified by changing your visual diet. Visual stimuli is food for your mind and in this case seeing the unrealistic bodies of men and women should be viewed in moderation, this is key. And of course variety in relation to shape and size is the spice of life.
Over the weeks of research I asked 18 women to answers 10 questions I had pulled out from that research in relation body confidence, confidence when it comes to wearing clothes, their opinions on their own bodies, their opinions on social media, how they feel about the current self love and body positivity movements, their opinion on the way society views individuals when it comes to fashion and bodies, and how they’ve learned to accept their own bodies.
In this instalment we’re going to discuss and analyse the questions:
Firstly, what’s your body confidence out of 10? The answers I received create an average of 6/10 for generalised body confidence in the young women I asked.
One thing that is interesting to me is all these women in my eyes seem so confident and have incredible figures. But it’s crazy how different someone’s own perspective compares to someone else’s.
From doing my own research and reading through all my collaborator’s answers I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes people confuse body confidence with the confidence to wear absolutely anything and get parts of your body out which I really don’t believe is the case. In my opinion I would say it’s about feeling confident in your own skin – physically and mentally. There are definitely things you can do to improve your body confidence over time such as spending time with yourself and your body by doing yoga, being naked in your own space, have a pamper session to treat your skin. Just really look after yourself from head to toe – you’ll feel better about yourself. Even if that feeling is only for a short period of time it will eventually rub off on the way you look at yourself. For myself, I’ve been doing a lot of pamper nights recently to treat my skin which has made me feel so much more confident about myself and has started to help me enjoy parts of my body more than I have in the past.
One thing this research does prove is it doesn’t matter whether you’re a size 8 or a size 20 (as all of the women I interviewed range from sizes 8-20) body confidence has nothing to do with weight. Melanie Murphy and Jessica Brennan are two YouTubers and are also sisters who are very real on their channels. They talk about sexuality, anxiety, depression, periods, sex, relationships, confidence, and many other different topics. They have a series they do together called Teenage Vs. Twenty Something where they discuss similar topics as said above but from two different perspectives because they’re quite a few years apart in age. In that series they did a whole video dedicated to body image and body confidence and one thing in particular they debate is how your body confidence does not latch on to your weight.
Someone could be so thin and you could be thinking they must be so confident and that they’re so lucky and so healthy. People seem to think if you are over weight you must be so un-confident and you hate your body etc. Also, a lot of people want to change their shape in certain areas of their body and not their overall body weight but you can’t do that because that’s not how each individual body is made. Plus when you exercise or try and lose weight you lose that weight all over your body. You can’t focus it on one area no matter how much exercise you do.
[Source: Body Image and Body Confidence – Melanie Murphy and Jessie B]
Secondly, does your body weight, type, shape etc make you less or more confident when it comes to wearing certain clothes? The overall consensus is less confident.
In my opinion fashion is very subjective depending on the person. But there is an issue around this idea of ‘Am I too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too curvy, too petite to wear that?’
Fashion items such as bralettes, crop tops, jumpsuits, playsuits, mini skirts, certain dresses etc spring to mind, just to name a few. Obviously not every single style in these categories of clothes is going to suit everyone and you wont feel good in every single one of them and that’s okay. You can’t force yourself to like a piece of clothing on yourself no matter how much you liked it on the model, hanger, or mannequin. This outlook of am I too this and that to wear certain clothes is definitely down to the brands themselves. The majority of high street brands still do not stock a wide variety of sizes, I cannot believe in 2018 there are still some stores that only stock up to size 14 or 16 and that is without a plus size range. Whilst that’s infuriating enough what’s more infuriating is some brands don’t show models who are above a size 8 wearing their clothes. But the most infuriating thing of all has got to be when brands use size 10 or size 12 models and claim they’re “plus size.” I’ve seen so many brands do this throughout this year and it makes me sick. It is not only damaging for all women in society, it’s damaging for the woman who is doing the modelling, being branded as plus size when she is clearly not. With behaviour like this being accepted in our society it is not a surprise that the majority of women feel so down about themselves, especially when it comes to their clothing size.
I mentioned fashion is subjective; I have items in my wardrobe that I love as a whole but I do have days where I look at my clothes and I think, ‘God no, I’m not wearing that today.’ Even if it’s usually an item I adore wearing. Some days I’ll be loving life wearing a crop top and skirt and then the next day I’ll hate it and want to wear nothing but leggings and an over sized t-shirt or jumper. Therefore confidence when it comes to wearing certain clothes definitely depends on how you feel on that specific day.
On average I am 50/50 as the way I feel is always subject to change when it comes to wearing clothes. I even have days where I hate the look of a pair of jeggings and a t-shirt and that’s when you know it’s gonna be a bad day. With that said your overall personal style does not completely change. So for example 90% of the time I’d say my personal style is comfy, feminine, and pretty. You all know I’m really into floral patterns and lace detailing. That other 10% I would say is still similar but it’s a little bit edgier, bolder, and consists of more dark toned colours. That 10% is when I fully embrace the sassy queen I am when it comes to feeling good in what I wear and I love it when I’m in that frame of mind.
It’s important that you shift your focus away from attaching the way you physically look onto your weight because once you distance those two concepts you’ll feel a lot better about yourself. It’s so sad to go through your whole life hating your body because your body is your home. Your body is where you can be at your most wholesome and it’s important to make peace with that because it’s what carries you throughout your whole life. Everything you experience, every triumph, every downward spiral, every good day, every bad day, every smile, every tear, every life changing moment your body experiences that with you. It does incredible things to keep us alive every single day so we can live the greatest life we all possibly can and I feel like we forget about that because of the way our brains tell us that we should value the opinions of other people over our own when it comes to our own bodies. I imagine we all fall victims to this, I know I have and I sometimes still do, but that concept of your body is made to do incredible things for you to the live the life you want to gives me great comfort. I’ve never been super skinny or slim but being the weight and shape I am has never affected my ability to do anything. The only thing that has ever affected me in that way is my mind because of people’s opinions about how you should be, and how you should look, and how you should act, and who you should be. When you’re exposed to all that for a long time eventually your mind believes what it’s being told. You go through this point of where you say to yourself ‘Well everyone is saying that about me so it must be true.’
We all need to stop being so judgemental of one another but more than ever we need to stop being so judgemental of ourselves. This whole idea of “an ideal” or the “thin ideal” isn’t actually real. The ideal for one person will not be the same ideal for another person because everyone is different which means we’re in a constant cycle of wanting what we can’t have. We all need to learn to appreciate each other’s beauty without devaluing our own self-worth and I know that’s hard. That is really hard to do when we’re constantly surrounded by images and opinions of people telling you who you should be, how you should be, what you should be, and what you can do. We always say that people should be allowed to do what they want and wear what they want but then we go and judge people when they do. I’m not going to sit here and say that I haven’t done that because I have. In the past I have judged people for their choices or the way they handled a situation or for an item of clothing they’ve worn, and I’m sure all you reading this have done that as well at some point in your life. But that is not a reflection on them. That’s a reflection on myself and yourself for the way we both view ourselves in relation to all those factors. This doesn’t make you a bad person because were all only human, we’re not built to be perfect. You just have to be aware that everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with that.
The way we think and feel, our beliefs, our wishes, how we deal with situations, how we get along with other people, how we disagree with certain people, our views about ourselves etc. All of this counts to our mental well being and all of that can affect what we wear and how we feel when we wear it and how we feel about our physical appearance and how we feel in our bodies. Which is why we have to stop chasing an “ideal” whatever that ideal is.
Have I ever “chased the thin ideal”? I think I have but when I really think about it I don’t think I was chasing the “thin ideal.” When I was younger, probably 14 – 17/18, I think I was chasing for anyone who wasn’t me. I’d always say ‘I wish I was skinner’ because all I’d ever see in magazines were tiny models and female celebrities were always thin. All of the good looking guys in school and college would date girls who were slimmer than me and I think all of that did some damage to my mental health and how I view myself. Obviously at the time I was pretty oblivious to all that because self love and body positivity wasn’t really a thing in my teenage years. And sometimes that way of thinking and those thoughts still creep back into my head which clarifies that whatever affects you mentally, doesn’t ever 100% leave you. But as your grown and you change the point is to acknowledge that those feelings are there but to not let that dominant your own perception of yourself.
In the next chapter of BORN TO BE we’re going to be discussing, debating, and analysing Reality Vs. The Instagram Age with lots more research to discuss, we’re going to be delving into another beloved brand on the high street and this brand is by far one of my favourite places to shop – leave your guesses in the comments below. More outlooks and opinions from my collaborators, and of course lot’s more inspiring quotes against pretty backgrounds.
Get ready as from this post on-wards this series is about to get a lot more intense.
Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.