Accepting That Clothes Won't Change My Body

It took me a while to come up with the title of this blog post - it's one of those I found difficult to sum up in just one snappy sentence (which most likely means this will be one of those posts that you get to the end of and just go 'huh?') but bear with me because I do have a point even if I may struggle to get it across succinctly. 

So - 'Accepting That Clothes Won't Change My Body' - what does that mean? For a long time the way I've dressed hasn't been for the body I actually have, it's been for the body I wish I had. We're fed by the media from a young age that we should accentuate our best features and hide the ones we don't like so much, but we're also told what our best features should be so we often try and accentuate what we don't have. If you haven't guessed, I'm talking about boobs. Big boobs are portrayed as desirable, but don't worry if you don't have them because that's what a super padded push up bra is for so you can always pretend you have them right? That's generally what I've always done because I wanted them to be bigger. But you know what? They're not big and that's OK. It doesn't automatically make me undesirable. (Side note - if you do wear a super padded push up bra because it gives you confidence then go you, I'm merely saying that we shouldn't feel like we have to.)

Moving on to hiding the features we don't like so much, which brings me onto my legs. I am blessed with legs that are disproportionately short so therefore a little stumpy. Not quite the long, toned, and tanned ones of my dreams. So I've always tried to make them look thinner by cramping them into skinny jeans or hiding them under skirts.

The thing is, dressing my body a certain way doesn't make it look any different underneath and I've finally accepted that.We all have off days when it comes to body image, but I think in general I've come to accept mine. So it's time to stop dressing it as if it's something different. I'm waving goodbye to my push up bras and I'm wearing amazing wide legged trousers that actually, god forbid, make my legs look bigger than they are and that I wouldn't have dreamed of wearing before. I'm going to digress a little bit here just because I feel the need to tell you that I really really really love these trousers. They're like 'oh hey I look like a skirt, but I'm not I'm trousers and I'm polka dot and I'm super duper comfortable.' Excitable rant about my trousers over and let's get back to the point. 

We should never be made to feel like our bodies aren't good enough just because they're not the desired 'norm' - what even is normal anyway? And we shouldn't feel pressured into making them look different to everyone on the outside because we think we should look a certain way. Because your body shouldn't look any certain way, it should look like you and you are beautiful.

Amy x

Photos: Ashton Gibbs and Violet Glenton

The Stupid Things I Do For Instagram

The idea for this post came to me while I was taking the below photo of my coffee and cake, which I thought would look best with both my hands in frame, so I put my phone on self-timer and held it with my teeth. As well as that, I randomly sprinkled some pumpkin seeds and flour on my just cleaned kitchen worktop to 'add something' to the picture. During the last three seconds of the countdown (I set it to ten so I'd have some time to get the framing right) it occured to me how absolutely ridiculous it was that I was doing this for an Instagram picture. And it got me thinking about how there are possibly hundreds of similarly absurd situations that I've put myself in just for the 'gram so I thought it'd be kinda funny to share some of my most recent ones on here. I'd love to hear if you have any funny 'for the 'gram' stories too. 

 If you follow me on Instagram you may be familiar with the outfit shots against this blank wall in my house - I use it to show off daily snippets of what I'm wearing or elements of an outfit I want to show. The wall is in our utility room, it provides a blank canvas and there's a big window opposite it so the light is great. However, to achieve this shot I'm stood right next to the cats' litter tray, which isn't the nicest outfit picture location is it? I've been interrupted by a cat wanting to do his business and I've popped in to do a quick shot before work only to discover that there's a more pressing quick job to do before work...

I love a good candid shot. I also love coffee so naturally candid shots of me drinking coffee make up a lot of my Instagram feed. The thing with this one is, I'm not drinking coffee because I finished it about half an hour before this picture was taken. I also moved from my table to a chair by the window which was cuter and had better light. So rather than a candid photo of me drinking coffee naturally captured by my coffee companion Ashton, this is actually a very set up shot of me pretending to enjoy a coffee I don't have. 

Believe it or not the below is actually taken on a tripod and not by someone holding the camera above me and is possibly one of the most ridiculous shots I've tried to achieve. My tripod is on the bed with my legs between it which yes, is very precarious especially when the duvet needs rearranging to cover your face. I used the timer on my phone connected to my camera and quickly shoved my phone out of view and threw my head under the covers. To top things off, because I needed light in the room I had the curtains open, which means that if anyone who lives opposite was looking they would see the whole sorry affair...

I'd bought a new coat from Primark and really wanted to show it off, but I knew it would have to be a self-timer job. I vetoed my utility room because I thought it would look odd having a shot of a coat in there so knew I'd have to brave the actual outside world to get a shot (my yard is not pretty). I absolutely hate taking my tripod out to get outfit shots, I feel so self-conscious doing it and it's rare the shots ever turn out that well as I don't spend the time needed on them because I want to get them done as quickly as possible. On this day I was also going to feed my friend's cat so I decided to take my camera with me in case her garden was fairly private and would make a decent background. So I stood in my friend's garden with her cat looking on in confusion as I took a self-timer shot (and she still doesn't know about it). 

There are many more where these came from, but I didn't think anyone would appreciate a mammoth post. Do you have any similar anecdotes?

Amy x

My Love/Hate Relationship With The To-Do List

I love a good list. I realise that statement makes me sound like the most rock and roll person ever, but there really is something satisfying about writing things down and crossing them out again, which is kind of odd when you put it like that isn't it? There's no denying that lists are extremely useful. I make them when I need to pack for a holiday, or even just one night away, which helps me never forget anything (apart from my toothbrush because it wouldn't be a holiday if you didn't forget your toothbrush and have to buy a ridiculously overpriced one from the airport would it?). I make a to-do list for each blog post so I know that I've taken the photos I need and that I've proof-read and scheduled it. And then there's the everyday to-do list, the one that includes odd jobs, cleaning and that I even put blogging stuff on even though I have a separate list for that too. LOL. Toldya I love lists.

Despite being a self-confessed to-do list fiend (and if that isn't a title to be proud of what is eh?) I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with them over the years. On the one hand, making a to-do list in the morning and managing to cross it all off by the end of the day makes me feel pretty darn good.  On the other, if I make a list and don't cross everything off, I feel like a failure even if I've got a lot done because there's always that non-crossed off job jeering at me (I'm making it sound very dramatic I know). I tend to go through phases of making a list every single day and then not making any at all. At the moment I'm going through a no list phase and I have to admit, I don't really like it.

Not making lists makes me feel like I should be less stressed, but in reality all it does is make me less productive and stressed about not getting anything done, while at the same time letting jobs pile up and not doing anything about it. The fact that I don't get to cross a job off a to-do list makes me less likely to do that job in the first place. It's sad, but it's true. So, how can I keep up my to-do lists while not driving myself mad when I don't manage to cross everything off it? Natalie had the genius idea of only putting two things on her to-do list per day and I tried that for a while. It was good for my stress levels, but I didn't get enough done, so I've decided to implement that rule when I'm at work and then when I have a day off I can up it to include everything that still needs doing.

Whether it'll be permanent or not who knows, but for now I am firmly back in the list making camp.

Are you a to-do list lover or hater?

Amy x

Let's Stop Invalidating Our Feelings

I've never been one to open up and talk about my feelings, I feel awkward and even if I'm visibly upset I find it difficult to get any words out to explain what's actually wrong.. As I'm getting older, the more I'm beginning to question things about myself. In the past I suppose I've just accepted that's the way I am, I find it difficult to open up and that's that, but recently I've started to question why it's hard for me and whether there's anything I can do to make it easier. 

This subject came up in conversation with some friends a few weeks ago and as we discussed it I discovered that one of them has the same problem and she told me why she feels that way. I realised that's exactly why I've always felt that way too. And I know it's definitely not just me and my friend, it's lots of other people too. We find it difficult to open up and talk about things because we don't think our feelings are valid. 

I know it's not just me and my friend because I hear it virtually every day, people who are obviously not OK saying 'Oh it's nothing really' or 'I'm just being silly'. Even when we get as far as admitting that we're having a bad day or that we're a little upset, we tend to invalidate it immediately by brushing it off as 'nothing' or 'silly'.

So why do we do this? The reasoning for invalidating our feelings will be different for everyone, but in a nutshell it's because we don't think anything we might be feeling or going through is worthy of sympathy because we know people who have gone through much, much worse. What gives us the right to complain about something when there are people with much bigger problems than ours? We've never felt like our problems are big enough or like our feelings are bad enough so we've shut them off and learnt not to talk about them. And that's something that really doesn't do us an awful lot of good. It's a fact that talking things out is good for us so being incapable of that isn't the best for our health.

It's funny how differently we view other people compared to how we view ourselves. Not opening up to people isn't really a conscious decision for me, the shutting off happens automatically, but if I were to consider it I'd probably be worried that people would tell me I'm being silly, that I'm upset over nothing, that I have a great life so I shouldn't complain. Yet when the friend I was talking to voiced those exact same concerns I thought it was awful that she felt that way because I felt like she really needed to talk, she was definitely not being silly and her feelings were 100% valid. Which surely means mine are too?

Just to clarify, I'm not currently upset about anything so this isn't some sort of cry out for help (I know that's probably what you were thinking Mum and had probably already started composing a text message to me in your head). This is a promise to myself that I'm not going to invalidate my feelings anymore, I'm going to make the effort to talk about things that have upset me, even tiny little things that are silly. And it's also a reminder to anyone else (because I think that's probably a lot of you) that your feelings are always valid, always matter and nobody is ever going to make you feel silly for talking about them.

Dress - Tessie's (old) | Boots - Topshop

Amy x

Buying A Project House

I've spoken a lot about our house renovation, what we're doing to it and our decor, but I've never spoken about why we're doing it. A project house is a lot of work to undertake, but I think it's 100% worth it so I thought I'd share the reasons that motivated us and why I think it's such a good idea. I don't know if I've mentioned it before (probably have, I do tend to babble on don't I), but we weren't originally looking for a project house. We found the more we looked the more we came round to the idea because of the following reasons (plus when you see a house you can afford on your dream street you've gotta buy it whatever state it's in haven't you?).

M O R E  F O R  Y O U R  M O N E Y  |  We were in a financial position where we could afford either a nice small house that we wouldn't need to do anything to, but would quickly outgrow or an almost uninhabitable house that would need completely renovating, but that once done would last us forever if we wanted. With these two options being the same price, we obviously wanted as much bang for our buck as possible and went for the bigger option. I know some people will argue that you then have to inject money into the house to bring it up to standard, but it's still so much cheaper than buying a nicely done house. To put that into perspective, there's a house on our street the same size and layout as ours currently up for sale for £80k more than we paid for ours. Isn't that just absolute madness?! So even taking into account the money we've spent/are spending on doing it up, it's a huge saving.

C O M P L E T E  C R E A T I V E  C O N T R O L  |  Buying a project house is essentially like buying a blank canvas (apart from that canvas is actually covered in fifty years worth of wallpaper and smells a bit funny), but because everything needs changing you can change it in any way you want. If we'd bought a house with a bathroom that was fine but not to my style, I couldn't have justified spending the money on changing it and would probably have just done little things to it like painting or replacing a few bits. In reality, we bought a house with a bathroom that had plaster crumbling off the wall, an empty water tank in the ceiling, old pipes sticking out, carpet tiles that were coming away and an avocado bath suite that had probably been in use for about sixty years (and once you've thought about how many different naked people have been in there over those years it's kind of off-putting). Because you basically get to start all over again, you get to decorate however you want without having to compromise with what's already there.

I  T ' S  R E W A R D I N G  |  I can't pretend that doing up a house is easy or that it's all painting rooms pretty colours and choosing lamps. It's filthy, smelly and makes you ache all over and a lot of the jobs that need doing are mind-numbingly boring. (Have I sold it to you yet?) But there are fun parts too like planning, shopping and seeing the results after a hard day's work (even if you are seeing them through a film because you didn't wear goggles for sanding the floor - always wear goggles for sanding kids). It is genuinely a very rewarding thing when you sit back and look at a room that's finished, knowing that you did absolutely everything.

Would you ever buy a project house?

Amy x

Making Time For Me

This post is sponsored by Henry London.

I've spoken before about how we're a generation who seem to be constantly juggling a million plates. Everyone has a side hustle on the go and multi-tasking is the new black. There are some girls who are absolutely bossing it as a result, but it's a culture that can create a lot of stress and can ultimately verge on burnout. Because of this, I didn't make any resolutions this year, but one thing I did promise myself was that I'd be kinder to myself, slow down a little and make a bit more time for me.

The problem is, I've promised myself this before. It's all well and good saying that I'll make more time for myself, but time is something it's easy to lose track of and suddenly the day will have ended in a blur of ticking things off my never-ending to-do list and it's way past the time I should be in bed. And before I know it, weeks have flown by just like that. The thing is, I like getting things done. I like being productive and I enjoy that sense of accomplishment at the end of a busy day. It appears to be something that runs in my family, both my mum and my grandma can't sit still for longer than five minutes because they just have to be doing something. I think it's a pretty common trait in our generation - there are only so many twenty-something girl bosses you can scroll past on Instagram while you're lazing in bed before you feel like a failure unless you get up and get things done.

I know how important self-care is (however much I actually kind of despise the term) so how can someone like me make sure I am making time for myself when I find it much easier not to? It's quite simple really. I put it on my to-do list. If I treat it like something that has to get done (which let's face it, for my sanity it is) then I'll do it. Revolutionary I know. Self-care is different for everyone. For me, it's as simple as a long soak in a hot bath, meeting a friend for a coffee or an hour spent reading a good book. None of those things even take a particularly long time so should be fairly easy things to get ticked off my to-do list. I find it much easier to stick to things if written in a blog post as if you guys can somehow hold me to account so here goes. From here on, my weekly to do list involves those three things.

I'm going to schedule a coffee date with a friend, have a nice hot bath and spend an hour getting stuck into a good book.

And to help me keep track of that elusive time, I have a beaut new watch* from Henry London. It's been a while since I've worn a watch and it somehow makes me feel like a more put together, more organised version of myself. Isn't it funny how one item of clothing or accessory can transform the way we feel about ourselves? I was lucky enough to be able to choose this watch and I really am in love with it (as much as you can be in love with a watch anyway). I love the rose gold and there's something about having a mesh band rather than a leather strap that makes me feel like a real adult (because yes, at 27 years of age I'm yet to come to terms with the fact that I am indeed, a real adult). If mesh isn't your thing though they do have some gorgeous blogger-esque grey and pink straps (full range here).

Do you struggle to make time for you?

Amy x

Photos: Ashton Gibbs

* This blog post contains a gifted item.