Sunday, 30 April 2017

My Photoshoot with Shannon Swift Photography

Back in February I did a photoshoot with the wonderful Shannon Swift Photography. I'd been speaking to her online for a little while and when the chance came to have my photo taken by her I was all over it. I absolutely adore her work, her lighting in particular is just something else, but more importantly, Shannon is a truly incredible human being. She's political and vocal and always fighting for what is right, and I admire her so much.

I was pretty nervous in the run up to the shoot. I've been taking photos of people for 10 years, but bar for my blog, no one has ever really taken photos of me. Seeing myself how someone else sees me, rather than being 100% in control of my image was terrifying, but I couldn't think of anyone I trusted more to do something amazing with my awkwardness than Shannon. And I was so so right. From the moment I met her I was 100% comfortable, changing outfits in front of her no problem, and doing my best to take direction to get the shot. As it turns out, I suck at not smiling in photos, so if I do this again (which I hope to) I will be practising my expressions before I go! I have Botox, so my face isn't exactly the most movable or expressive, and this is the first time I've really noticed that. (If you want to know more about why I have Botox, read this blog)

We shot several different outfits, all of which I'm utterly in love with. These photos in my mega Plus Equals jacket are definitely my favourite though. The whole look just worked perfectly with Shannon's style and I mean look at me. Even I'm obsessed.

I'm not going to share all the photos from the shoot in this post because I've blogged each outfit individually, but I will share a couple more favourites, because how could I not?

I'm not a show your lingerie off sort of a gal because I do get a bit nervous about my smaller bust (I've written about this in more detail here), but instant comfort with Shannon meant  I just kept undoing those buttons!

And the last look we shot in public, in a busy park no less. Something that should have had my anxiety in over drive, because I was posing and clearly having my photo taken in front of dozens of strangers. And you know what, I didn't care at all and did my best to do my own awkward blogger version of modelling. I could not have done that with just anyone!

A post shared by Photographer, Artist & Model (@lady.swift) on

Can we talk about how sweet this is?! I was blown away to find out that Shannon even really knew my work as a photographer. And she's such a fox, look at her!

Shannon often offers studio days and I highly recommend booking her. She's so unbelievably talented and her work is stellar, she'll give you something truly different for your blog. She loves working with plus size babes and women of colour and I encourage you to go see her out and book her.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Disclaimer : This post contains some Photoshop, my skin is not that perfect!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Curly Girl Update

I'm now a month into the Curly Girl Method and I thought I'd share a little update with you! You can read my first blog post about it here if you want more info on the method itself and what I do. The short version, I've ditched conditioner and now only using 'curly girl' approved conditioners to wash and style my hair.

So here is the before....

One wash on the left, and two washes in on the right.

And here I am one month in! I'm genuinely amazed at the curls that have appeared. Disclaimer, I have cut about 6 inches off my hair because it was in dire need of it, but just look at it! Particularly at the front there are so many more ringlets. It's so cool! Particularly in my fringe area it's so ringlety now. 

I can now easily go 4-5 days between washes if I want to and my hair doesn't really get greasy. It used to be greasy by day 2 and I was a total dry shampoo fiend so this makes me very happy. I've gotten so many compliments about my hair and I'm so pleased with the way it's changed.

I think I'll probably do another update in 6 months or so to see how it's getting on! I'm very tempted to get my ombre re-done as with the chop it's mostly grown out and I do really like it.

Much love,
Kitty xxx

Photoshop and Bloggers : Thanks for Nothing OOTD

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Photoshop and Bloggers

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I took all my blog photos on my mobile phone. It was the quick and easy way to get photos on the go and be able to upload them to my blog almost immediately. These days I've been using my Canon camera, as a semi-pro photographer I decided that I could step up the quality of my photos by combining my two loves together. I set up the photos, and just get someone else to click the camera for me as I don't have a remote trigger. I then run the photos through Photoshop or any other editing programme for a quick bit of colour correction, occasionally to edit out anything that's creeped into the back of the photo that shouldn't have, or to make sure the exposure of the photo is just right. Then they are ready for my blog! One thing I never do, is retouch my skin or edit myself. 

I leave in all the bumps, the stretch marks, the folds of my skin, the hyper-pigmentation, the scars, the eczema. One of the reasons I started blogging is because I think representation is important, and if one person can see my body and see themselves and feel less alone, or even start to realise that their body deserves love too, then I've done everything I could ever have wanted. It's hugely important to me to be real and to share my body as it is. With a higher quality camera, all those little blemishes become much more visible, your iPhone selfie might show your skin in a much more flattering light than a professional camera does, so when bloggers are taking photos with these high quality pieces of technology, in comes the Photoshop pressure.

When you blog, there is so much pressure for everything to be perfect, from your immaculately ironed clothes, to your highly stylised images, everything has to be perfect. If it's not, will a brand want to work with you? Will your readers still love you? There's so much pressure, and I totally get bowing to it, Photoshop is the standard in the media, seeing a published imaged that hasn't spent time being edited and touched up is almost unheard of. It can be hard as a blogger to fight that pressure, particularly when you have a larger audience, because with a larger audience, comes trolls.

I'm not perfect, and that's OK. And seeing other bloggers who look like me share themselves has really helped me realise that all those things that I consider imperfections are actually just fine the way they are. As someone who is body positive, I think not retouching my photos is important. It would feel false to me personally if I retouched my skin and made myself look perfect, when I'm not. To me, taking away the scar on my face would be like shrinking my waist, I'm here to show reality, and my reality is what society deems to be flaws. 

The only time I've ever shared photos of myself that have been potentially retouched is recently, and that is with the photos from my shoot with Shannon Swift. Shannon's work is high fashion and conceptual, it is glossy and perfect, and everyone's highlight is blinding. I'm not wearing any more makeup than usual in the photo above, just my usual eyes and lips, and I asked Shannon to make sure if she did retouch my skin that she left my scar in. I wasn't sure how much I would be retouched, and zooming in, it's clear that Shannon totally got that I'm not into super smooth skin. All my little freckles are still visible, the creases in my eye lids, even the super faint scar on my forehead and the weird white patches on my two front teeth. This made me so happy. I actually don't think she's really touched my skin! When you see professional photographers work it is often so heavily retouched, but that isn't what Shannon has done and it made me so happy! I'm me, just a really awesome well lit version of me.

I'd love to see more transparency from bloggers about the level of retouching in their blog photos. I adore that George of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust shares her shape wear and how she creates the foundations for her vintage looks, I love that Amanda Apparel shares her before and after makeup photos with her psoriasis. I'd love to see bloggers stating that they've been retouched in their photos so people know that they are seeing the perfect version of them, not the reality. Much like I'm glad to see advertisers being forced to declare that a model is wearing false eyelashes in their mascara advert, I want to see bloggers admitting that they've smoothed out their skin. That way their readers know that's not what their foundation really looks like, or that in this high fashion set of photos they've had their skin evened out to make the photos as immaculate as possible. I think this is particularly an issue in beauty blogging, because edited images can make a product seem far better than it is and be very misleading. I've seen bloggers edit out the creases in their lips and make their eyelashes longer, and if you are sharing makeup reviews, that isn't right or fair for your reader.

Transparency is key for me. I don't mind if you feel the need to retouch your photos, I'd just love to know that you are! In this Photoshopped world I'd love to see more real skin and reality. As a kid I was convinced my skin was terrible because I had no idea that sebaceous filaments were perfectly normal, and that I wasn't totally covered in black heads. Actually, my skin is pretty good and I'm very lucky in that respect! I might have eczema but the dryness of my skin means spots are a once a month deal for me and have never been an issue. I've got a bit of a furry face to be honest, I'm covered in fine downy blonde hair, and that's OK too. 

I know sharing your real skin can be a terrifying prospect, especially in this time of Facetune and Photoshop, but think how liberating it would be for a teenager to see their favourite blogger has acne scarring just like them! There's an argument to be had about whether bloggers should be aspirational or not, and for me personally, that's not what I'm about. I'm much more the awkward nerd type than the sort of person someone wishes to be like, so for me, sharing the real me is everything.

It's OK if you feel you need to retouch your photos, but I hope as blogging progresses we can see more transparency in the industry about what has been done to photos. As we declare gifted items and sponsored posts, I'd love to see us all move to declaring Photoshopped images too. Photoshop can make a beauty product seem truly unbelievable, when the reality is that no foundation is ever going to erase your pores and give you the look of a beauty blogger's ring lit portrait.

What do you think?

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Thanks For Nothing OOTD*

When it comes to wardrobe staples, a denim jacket is something I always come back to. A good denim jacket lasts for years and is so versatile, I wear mine with everything from a casual every day look to the most glam of dresses with heels. 

This River Island denim jacket* is one of the sassiest and most fun things I've ever worn. I love the slogan on the back, and I love the oversized fit. I hadn't worn any River Island before this photoshoot so sized up just in case, but it's actually very true to sizing so I didn't need to size up at all.

The purple top I'm wearing here is also from RI, but has since sold out. I really like mixing casual slouchy items with something more glittery. This is a totally sheer top, so I popped a vest top and a harness bra underneath it for a daily look. 

The detailing on this jacket isn't a print, instead it is painted on, so while it costs £55 this sort of detail is justifiably more expensive. Pale denim is my absolute favourite wash and I could see myself wearing this for years.

Sadly these pieces were only lent to me for the purposes of this photoshoot with the awesome Shannon Swift, but I really, really need to save up for this jacket!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

*denotes an item sent to me for the purposes of this photoshoot, in no way does this impact upon my opinions which are entirely my own.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

My Third Bloggerversary!

A couple of weeks ago my little blog turned 3, and I totally forgot about it! I usually organise some sort of bloggerversary giveaway but it slipped my mind so I'll see what I can do! I never thought I'd do so much with my blog and keep it going for so long, so here are some of my favourite things I'd done recently.

Writing for She Might Be

When Georgina Grogan started her online magazine She Might Be I applied to write for them and was thrilled to be accepted as a main contributor. I'm actually the second most active writer on the site and I am SO proud of what I've written for them, particularly 'Let's Reclaim the Word Fat' and 'The Problem with Iskra Lawrence'. Being part of a body positive environment that encourages self love for everyone is so amazing and has really pushed me to keep going with my blogging and be a better human being. Seeing people enjoy what I write is such a mind blowing thing for me!

My photoshoot with the utterly awesome Shannon Swift. I haven't written about my experience being on the other side of the camera yet, but I will soon, but I am so so glad I did this and got to meet Shannon. Plus, the photos are beyond beautiful and made me feel so wonderful.

Meet bloggers I've admired for years and make some fantastic friends! I don't have many female friends IRL, but because of blogging I've been surrounded by strong and inspiring women like Steph of Nerd About Town, Nancy of Sugar Darling, Georgina of She Might Be Loved, Bethany of Arched Eyebrow, Tara of Cattitude and Co, it could be a never ending list of inspo. There are so many people on my 'must meet' wishlist, like Marie Southard-Ospina, Alysse Dalessandro and Ushshi. One day!

Since my last bloggerversary I married my amazing husband Stu, and I shared the planning and details of our wedding along the way. Check out the wedding tab at the top of my blog for DIY tutorials, advice and so much more. I'm so lucky!

I haven't been on many adventures, I don't get invited to many brands events and I live miles from London so my blogger experience isn't the 'typical' London blogger experience by any stretch, but I enjoy what I do and plan to keep on doing it for a little while longer yet!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Punky Pins Haul

Every now and then I seem to go on little lucky streaks and win competitions I enter online, and recently I've won two! One of those was run by Punky Pins, hosted on their instagram. While I didn't win the top prize, I did win a 50% off voucher that I was thrilled with. I'd been planning on placing an order, so it was clearly meant to be! They then hosted a 'seconds' sale, selling off slightly faulty designs cheap, and I couldn't resist grabbing a ton of their designs. So here's what I bought with my voucher!

These three were all the pins I got in the seconds sale, so all have slight faults. With the first pin you can see the lettering is missing some of the black colour, with the cats pin it is less obvious, and the cat has a mark on his pink belly, and in the guitar it is even less obvious, with a slight bit of colour missing at the bottom of the V of the guitar. None of the faults are really obvious, and when sold at half price you can't complain. With my 50% off voucher I really couldn't say no!

Mermaid Pin (no longer available)

And now, a trio of mermaids, how could I resist?! They are all so different from each other. My favourite is probably the chubby mermaid, I love that she is fat, as well as a woman of colour, it's fab seeing a brand with diversity in their range like this. Next fave is the spooky mermaid because she's cute and slightly terrifying at the same time. Lastly I had to get the classic mermaid because she's so sassy and I like her shell.

You know I had to get the cactus pins, I'm obsessed! I had a cactus pin on my denim jacket but it's pin is badly placed so it turns around and I couldn't stand it any more. Given that my life is ruled by cats I had to get the bad ass 'worship me' pin, and that ghost in a flower crown is just the best sort of spooky cute! I love that Punky Pins have so many pins with a feminist message, the lipstick and knife set is adorable and feisty and why wouldn't I want the word feminist emblazoned upon my jacket?

I could have bought SO many more but just had to stop myself somewhere. I want all their pins and can't wait to see what they come out with next.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Floral and Mesh Stripes OOTD*

When it comes to dressing up for more formal occasions, keeping that feeling of 'me' is so important. It can be hard when you have a more alternative style to feel like you've dressed up enough for an occasion whilst still also feeling like yourself. Thanks to City Chic's range at Evans however, I've found some really beautiful pieces that fit the bill wonderfully.

Lace Jacket - City Chic at Evans*

I've featured this jacket in another blog post (here) but I totally adore it and always reach for it. It adds an extra layer of warmth but nothing too bulky, and it's a more dressed up way of wearing a biker jacket. I always reach for a biker jacket so this fills me little punk heart with glee. It is SO versatile and I adore it.

This dress has something about it. The print is gorgeous, the floral with mesh stripe inserts is a great combination and the colour tones are incredible. This is a classic fit and flare dress, but they do have this dress in other silhouettes too if something a bit more unusual is more your style. It is so soft and incredibly made, City Chic is a brand I really enjoy and their quality is consistently fantastic. If you like dresses that are a bit different, have a hint of goth or have their own little quirks, check them out. I'm forever eyeing up their range on Evans and wishing I could buy it all!

Just a note on City Chic's sizing, Evans has their XXL listed as a size UK 24, and this is the largest size. However, this size chart has been taken direct from City Chic and doesn't seem to have been converted from US to UK sizes, so their XXL is more of a 26/28, so check your measurements rather than relying on the size conversion they have listed on their website.

These photos are from my photoshoot with the wonderful Shannon Swift. I don't usually share photos of me sat down, subconsciously or not I tend to pose in ways that are more flattering than these photos are. Shannon got me to pose sat down and I love that she pushed me to do something different. And her lighting is EVERYTHING.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

*denotes items gifted for review purposes. In no way does this impact upon my opinions which are entirely my own.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

A Mini George at Asda Homeware Haul

I can never resist picking up new goodies for our home, and now we've had our amazing new kitchen fitted I've been on the hunt. We bought a new kettle and toaster at the time from George at Asda in a lovely chrome, as well as a new dinner service, but the thing I was having a hard time with was cutlery. Our old cutlery was a little unusual in that the forks only had three prongs, and that drove Stu absolutely wild. He hated them! So the new ones had to be regular forks. I am also really specific about cutlery in that I only like to use totally smooth metal. I hate handles with patterns in the metal, and I really hate plastic handles. It's a thing I've always had, so I was expecting to come away with very plain silver cutlery and nothing fancy. And then, someone shared a photo on Facebook and the moment I finished work I dashed to Asda.....

For these.

These are the iridescent mermaid cutlery of my dreams! I'd never seen anything like these before. I can't find the listing on the George website right now, but they've been coming in and out of stock very quickly, so keep an eye out! The best thing about these, is that they are dishwasher safe! I really thought they wouldn't be, despite their packaging stating that they were. I was so impressed! They are such a gorgeous mix colours and I'm obsessed. Are they not the coolest cutlery you've ever seen?!

I always really like Asda's bedding so had a quick peek and had to grab this photographic cacti duvet set, it was reduced to £10 for a king size! It's pretty obvious from my social media that I'm a lover of cacti and succulents, so this had to come home with me. I find their bedding washes really well and is nice and soft so I forever find myself buying it.

You can get some really quirky pieces from Asda homeware section, I never thought I'd see something like either of these!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

How to Spot Real Fur vs Fake Fur

In the midst of yet another controversy about another high street brand being found to be selling cat fur as fake fur, I shared some tips on twitter about how to spot the difference. I haven't worn any animal products in a very long time, and unfortunately real fur is often not labelled as such, so over the years I've picked up some handy ways to tell the difference. This is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but it is tips that can help you be more ethical in your purchases, so I wanted to expand upon them here.

1) Check the thickness of the fur.

Real fur is very thin, but because faux fur is synthetic it is thicker. Think of the cats and dogs you've met over the years, their fur is very thin, and that's what real fur looks like.

You can see how thin and wispy this fur is, it been dyed and from a distance may look fake, but it's real.

2) Check the backing.

Real fur is usually still on the animal's skin even after it's been made into a product, so it will be backed with leather. If the fur is stitched on, or is attached to a stretchy material, it's going to be faux. Faux fur is usually stitched on in sections, whereas when you part faux fur all you will see is leather, because it's not been attached to the leather, it grew out of it. This is really obvious in pom poms for example, because they will have a leather section in the centre, but in a fur collar for example, it's easier to disguise as another layer of material may be sewn over the top of the leather backing to hide it.

3) Feel the fur.

Is the fur incredibly soft and does it feel absolutely divine? Then it's probably real. If it feels like you are petting a cat, I hate to break it to you, but you probably are. Faux fur is more coarser because it is made of plastics. It if feels too good to be true, it usually is. This can be subjective, and you can get some pretty soft faux fur, but real fur is like petting a cat.

Wonderful faux fur from Plus Equals.

4) Burn the fur!

OK, so you can only get away with this one if you already own the product, but if you are concerned that something you own is real fur, the easy way to check is to pull a few strands out of the item and burn them. Faux fur will melt into a ball because it is made of plastic, and it will smell like burning plastic, whereas real fur will just burn. 

5) Does the fur taper at the end of the strand?

This is one I forgot to tweet about! If the end of the strand of fur tapers to a fine point, it's probably real. Faux fur tends to be one length throughout the strand, whereas real fur will taper off, just like a cat's whisker or fur does. 

Real fur can be dyed any colour, so don't think that because the fur of your dreams is a veritable rainbow of colour that it must really be fake. My Mum had spotted a scarf she initially thought was faux, but had her doubts about whether or not it was real. She showed me it and it was real fur in an actual rainbow ombre, she was horrified and so glad she checked before buying me it. 

I hope this helps you make a more informed decision, if you aren't sure, just don't buy it. It's not worth accidentally supporting such a horrific industry. Remember, this list isn't a rule book, but a guide, so use it to help you, but I'm not an expert, just sharing tips I've picked up over the years.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Leopard Print and Faux Leather OOTD*

One of the things I often struggle with is feeling sexy. I'm not a plus size gal with the traditional hourglass figure, I'm not busty, I don't really have a big butt, all those things associated with being sexy. Society tells us that fat women aren't sexy, and then it tells us that only certain fat women can be sexy, and I don't fall into any of those categories. I'm tall and awkward, I'm clumsy to ridiculous extremes, I stutter over my words some times and I get anxious about everything. But if I want to be, I can still feel sexy. Feeling sexy isn't necessarily something that everyone wants to feel, but sometimes, I want it, and this outfit had me feeling like a siren.

Top - New Look (sold out)
Harness Bra - New Look (sold out)
Pleather Skirt* - River Island

Firstly, this skirt. It is sex on legs. That zip is fully functioning and goes all the way up, so if you were so inclined you could remove this skirt in all sorts of fun ways. It's made of a quite thick and high quality faux leather and all the hardware on it is silver, which is my personal preference. A pencil skirt always gives your walk more of a wiggle, and add in that faux leather and I felt powerful! It fits true to size and sat just at the knee on my 5ft 11 body.

Shirts are sexy. Worn by every gender they just work. I love them. Wearing this unbuttoned isn't something I would have done too long ago. I don't have the kind of bust that meets in the middle and gives cleavage, but just because I don't have big boobs doesn't mean I can't show off a harness bra and feel lush. I don't have the sort of chest that the media might tell us is sexy, but I'll damn well show off my bra and feel like a sassy diva whilst doing it! A good harness bra always boosts my ego, New Look regularly get really lovely bralettes in and this is a prime example. It isn't totally wire free however, I find their mesh styles tend to have the side panel of wiring, so I save them more for special outfits or occasions than every day wear.

Many thanks to the incredible Shannon Swift for these photos of me. I always smile in photos out of habit. I feel prettier when I smile, and because I don't think I generally do sexy well these sort of photos were hard for me. Shannon really pushed me to do something different and I'm so glad she did!

Much love,
Kitty xxx

Dreaming of Denim Jackets : Why I've Ditched Bras for Bralettes

*denotes an item lent to me for the purposes of this photoshoot. In no way does this impact upon my opinions which are entirely my own.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Dreaming of Denim Jackets

Last week I shared my lust for pleather jackets, and this week I can't resist sharing the other kind of jacket that I'm dreaming of, denim jackets. I'm not a double denim kind of gal, but I wear a lot of skirts and dresses that I just love with a denim jacket, so here are some faves!

I really love washed black denim. It's such a rock and roll classic and feels so cool, I've never owned a black denim jacket but I might just have to treat myself to this one. The girlfriend fit is oversized and 90's grunge at it's best.

By now it's pretty obvious that I love what Plus Equals do. They offer truly unique and unusual plus size pieces, and this jacket is a prime example of that. They have a few of these acid wash jackets on sale right now, here's hoping they bring them back because I know I want one!

Navabi Zhenzi Denim Jacket £46.99 (on sale)

For something really different, this red denim jacket is nostalgia at it's finest! I'm sure I had a similar jacket as a kid in the 90's. Can you imagine how cool this would be over a LBD? So so cool.

At first glance this looks like a classic denim jacket, but on closer inspection the pockets have adorable frills and there is a frill section along the back too. It's a really feminine take on the denim jacket and it is too cute.

And I had to save this for last. Picking up on those ever present floral trends that come around every spring, this is a hippy feminine dream. The detailing looks hand painted and so expensive, I'd love to see this in person.

Do you love a denim jacket? I'd love to hear what your faves are.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Why I've Ditched Bras for Bralettes : The Plus Equals Jacket of Dreams