9 Absolutely Cringeworthy Lingerie Disasters

Life

Whilst researching horribly embarrassing stories in preparation for Valentine’s Day, I discovered that there are two particular situations that seem to bring about the worst lingerie disasters: The fitting-room and the wedding. And I can totally understand why. In the fitting room, one is in a vulnerable position — half naked, trying on underwear that often doesn’t fit well or look good. We are at the mercy of a total stranger who measures and stares at our boobs, which is a move we certainly would not accept in everyday life. As for the wedding, most of us feel the need to bring out the agonizing shapewear, and any possibly-visible bra straps need to be fancy and pretty. So chances are, we’re uncomfortable from the get-go and wearing underwear we wouldn’t wish upon our worst enemies. And let’s not forget that weddings also involve two of the most effective ingredients for creating embarrassing disaster situations: Alcohol and dancing. Need I say more?

Before you set up a support fund for me and my disastrously embarrassing life, don’t worry. Not all of the below stories are mine! I called on my legion of embarrassing/embarrassed girlfriends, bribed them with tea and biscuits and asked them to share their stories with me for this article. So a BIG THANKS to my girls on this one! Some of the stories, however, are mine — but now you’ll never know which ones (insert evil laugh here)! No seriously though, my dad reads all my articles. I need to have the benefit of the doubt.

1. CHANGING ROOM MIX-UP

In the run up to Valentine’s Day last year, I was in a very busy fitting room trying on some racy lingerie. I went all out: A see-through bra, black lace, red ribbons, matching suspender belt, stockings; it was enough to give the average guy a cardiac arrest. I wanted to get my boyfriend’s opinion (mostly about the price tag) so I asked the lady to go get him. He was waiting outside, along with 10 other partners losing their patience. “He’s the one with the baby,” I said. Seconds later the lady returned, whisking the curtain open to reveal my sexy outfit to a very scared looking random baby-wearing stranger! I’m not sure which of us was more embarrassed!

2. I THINK YOU DROPPED SOMETHING

My boyfriend and I moved in together after a very short whirlwind romance and I had not yet met his family. The day came when my new brother and sister-in-law invited us over for dinner, and I decided to wear my new red stockings that my love had bought me (oh new love, remember that feeling?). Pretty quickly into the dinner I began to realise that the stockings were not the best choice ever. I had never worn stockings before and it seems that my legs aren’t designed to keep them up. Every time I was sure no one was looking, I pulled the elastic back up as high as I could, and if that wasn’t possible I scurried off to the bathroom to rearrange myself there.

Eventually, the evening came to an end and they walked us downstairs to the door. Halfway down the stairs, one of my stockings gave up any attempt to hang on and floated happily to my ankle. My brother-in-law, not realizing what had happened, thought I had dropped something and tried to pick it up for me. Realizing that he actually had my escaped sexy stocking in his hand, he dropped it like it had burned him and took a hasty step backwards, tripping on the bottom step of the stairs. So much for making a good first impression!

3. IT’S A CONFUSING WORLD OUT THERE

Getting ready for an important meeting at work, I decided to wear a new bra I had bought, which had visible straps as decoration. Maybe a bit racy but I figured they could handle it and it made me feel powerful and wonderful. During the lunch break, I was chatting to one of the important professors and he complimented me on my beautiful necklace. Sounds nice, right? But I wasn’t wearing a necklace! Acting shocked, I replied, “Professor, that is my bra!” The poor guy looked as if he wished that the ground would swallow him up, muttered something into his coffee and ran away. So for once, I was not the embarrassed one in the situation!

4. WAVE ‘EM AROUND LIKE YOU JUST DON’T CARE

It was a long time ago, but some traumas just stay with you forever. I was 16, sitting in a particularly dull class at school when my bra clasp decided to undo itself. There was an hour to go until the break, and the hooks were bugging me, so I decided to quietly take it off. To fill you in, I only wear bras for the idea of it. I don’t actually need any support in the bust area; gravity has no impact on these puppies.
So, I start digging under my layers of clothes, sticking my arm in the neck of my sweater to get the straps off my shoulders. Then with a swift and skilled move, my right hand up the sleeve of my left arm to pull the strap down and free it from my arm. A quick look around to check no one has noticed — seems like I’m in the clear, of course I was sitting comfortably at the back of the class. The second arm, whoosh, my hand up my sleeve and I grab the strap: I can almost taste the freedom. I pull on the strap, ready to deposit the offensive bra in my school bag, but it seems to be stuck. The clasp has caught on one of my layers. Suddenly panicked, I pull a lot harder on the strap and this time it came loose. Unfortunately, the energy I exerted to dislodge it was excessive in the extreme and I ended up dramatically waving the bra above my head for everyone to see. My teacher’s jaw dropped and his whole head turned a special shade of crimson, which caused the whole class to turn around just in time to catch me stuffing the bra in my bag. It still makes me laugh if I think back on it, and you know what? I still take my bra off like that. If I’m relaxing in the sofa and it starts to bother me, whish, whoosh, tadaa, and I’m free! But without an audience!

5. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY A PARACHUTE MADAM?

I have a confession to make. Please don’t hate me for it, but I don’t know what bra size I take. We all know that no two brands have the same sizing and that boobs can grow or shrink depending on a whole load of factors, so personally I don’t feel so bad about not knowing my size. However, ladies in fitting rooms and women in general seem to react in shock and dispair when I admit this: How can you know know that? What is wrong with you? 
So this one day I was in the mood to buy myself a pretty, delicate, fancy bra, I wanted to treat myself and get something really nice, you know, with lace and ribbons and a special color. In an effort to not seem so crazy and out of touch with my body, I picked up a few bras that I thought would fit me and headed off to the fitting room. As per usual, not one of them fit perfectly; they were either pinching or gaping, or you know, is there a term for a boob muffin-top? So I plucked up all my courage and asked the boob lady to measure me and bring some similar bras in my size. She hummed and hawed and eventually said “Oh they don’t make any of those bras in your size, come out and I will show what we do have.” Annoyed to have to get dressed again I followed her to the section with my size, when I saw the options my heart sank into my shoes and all desire I had to buy a bra that day vanished into thin air. Apparently, the only bras suitable for my mega boobs were white or black, cotton or support fabric, with straps as wide as my shoulders and busts like parachutes. I thanked the lady and politely pretended to inspect the options until she was out of sight and then I high-tailed it out of there.

6. ATTACK OF THE KILLER UNDERWEAR

Delighted with myself for having found the perfect red dress for an upcoming wedding, I tried it on at home only to realize that the back and underarms of the dress were really low, meaning that you could see my bra from every angle. I called the shop where I bought it to ask what lingerie people usually wore with this style of dress. “The designer meant for you to wear a visible black bra,” she said smugly. “Well, the designer has never been to a traditional family wedding with my in-laws,” I thought, hanging up the phone.

So off I went to a specialist underwear shop and came home with a bodysuit that buttoned at the crotch and was invisible everywhere I needed it to be. It also had the added bonus of keeping my belly under control and making me feel like Gwenyth Paltrow. I know they say pride comes before a fall, and I was seriously proud of my purchases. I guess I should have known it couldn’t last.
The day of the wedding I got dressed, and after one last twirl in the mirror we walked the short distance from the hotel to the church. We were a little bit late (as always) so everyone was standing awaiting the arrival of the bride, we shuffled to our seats and stood until the bride had walked up the aisle. Glad to finally be able to sit down (yes my shoes were already hurting me). I took my place, smiling politely at the people already looking at us because we were late. Then, with a squeal of pain, I jumped back up out of my seat, attracting the attention of anyone who wasn’t already staring. Red-faced, I slowly eased myself back onto the chair and looked around as if to suggest someone else had made the noise. Turns out, my miracle bodysuit was not as long as my torso and upon assuming a seated position, the unforgiving lycra decided to cut right up into my private parts! Normally I really enjoy weddings, but I couldn’t wait for that one to end. It was really difficult to think romantic thoughts with a stabbing pain between my legs. After the ceremony, I rushed to the bathroom and closed the bodysuit over my tights, which made it almost bearable, and after a few glasses of wine I no longer cared about the VPL situation.

7. THE MYSERY OF THE STOLEN UNDERWEAR

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When I was a teenager, I had to go into hospital for an operation. It was my first time ever in hospital (besides being born, obvs) so I wasn’t down with hospital gown etiquette. When the time came to put on the offending hospital gown, totally open down the back, I wasn’t sure if I should leave my underwear on or not. So not wanting to be walking around with my bits hanging out, I decided to leave them on. I figured they would ask me to take then off when the time was right. Right?

Four hours later, I woke up with no recollection of anything following the underwear decision, but one thing I realized very quickly was that my bra and underpants were missing. As I was only 16, I was far too shy and embarrassed to demand their return. Even though the bra was new, denim effect and from a trendy brand that I had saved up for, I didn’t want to admit that I had made the wrong decision by not wanting to take it off.

So my parents drove me home, secretly braless and pantless. My mother, in an effort to impress the medical staff, was dressed “for town” and was doused in Chanel No. 5. To this day, the smell of Chanel No. 5 gives me a sick feeling in my stomach and I feel a wave of shame just as powerful as on the day I was drugged and had my underwear stolen.

8. YOU GOTTA ROLL WITH IT

On a particularly wild night out, I was strutting my stuff on the dance floor, feeling like a diva, head to toe in shapewear, loving the attention I was getting from the cute guys shaking their booties around me. I was channeling Beyoncé big style when I felt a strange tight feeling around my ribs, but not wanting to interrupt my dance routine, I ignored it, quietly cursing my fabulous shapewear. Then I noticed that the facial expressions of the flirty dancers had changed and I knew something was really, really wrong. Turns out, my super-tight underslip had rolled itself up to my waist taking my dress with it. In case you have never experienced the boa constrictor-like agony of rolled-up shapewear, that shit is not easy to unroll! So there I stood, in the middle of the dance floor, exposed from the waist down with no other option than to walk across the whole club in a semi-clothed state to get to the bathroom. Needless to say, I went home pretty soon after that!

9. THE GREAT WEDDING ESCAPE

My boyfriend and I were at a friends wedding and were both dressed up to the nines and looking fab. We had been giving each other the eye all evening and finally managed to escape the wedding conversations to slip away to a more, em, private area of the hotel. We ran down a stairwell, pausing for a passionate smooch on the way, skipped through a deserted function hall, and found ourselves in a quiet hallway somewhere between the staff rooms and the kitchen. I’ll spare you the details but needless to say we were pretty red-faced when a fancy posh waiter appeared from nowhere and asked us to return to the wedding party. Grasping desperately at discarded items of clothing and getting out of there as quickly as possible, we returned a little disheveled to the party. “Give me my bra,” I whispered to my boyfriend, who’s only response was a rather shocked shaking of his head. We rushed back to the function hall but the waiter had locked the door. Too embarrassed to ask him to open it, I resigned myself to a braless evening and did my best attempt at channeling braless Beyoncé. Chin up, shoulders back, here we go!
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First published on BustleJan 2015
Images: Fotolia; Giphy; Instagram/KatylegsAuthor;  Flickr/Lies Thru a Lens

The Mermaid Trend is All Over Fashion, But Why Do We So Love These Creatures of the Sea?

Life, Music
Back in November of 2014, The Little Mermaid celebrated a 25th birthday, so it’s no surprise that most thirtysomethings of today have this film ingrained in their memories by this point. Personally, I had the movie on a VHS cassette and watched it 50 million times (I counted); so now I’d like to have a look at our love of mermaids and try to figure out why they are so close to our hearts. Was it somehow the popularity of this film 25 years ago that lead to the explosion of mermaid love this past year? You don’t have to look far to see that mermaid themed accessories, jewelry and fashion are totally hip at the moment. And if you have an hour or two spare, I thoroughly advise browsing my Pinterest board of the most beautiful mermaid art on the internet.
Mermaids have been the inspiration of thousands of artists over the years (too many to mention, in fact), but one of my constant favorites from the last 10 years has been Dutch artist Lois van Baarle (Loish). Exploring her digital paintings is like floating though a dream world of of soft, wispy, swirling, colorful girls with big personalities. Bees, jellyfish, lollipops, flowers, long scarves, bubbles and stars add to the fascinating environment Loish has created for her strong ladies. The mermaids who swim from Loish’s stylus have various characters and personalities; they range from the cute Disney Ariel to the sexy pinup to the dangerous lover of the sea. Loish describes her Ariel art as comfort art: The subject matter she goes back to time and time again if she’s not feeling her best. She also mentions on her DeviantArt account that she receives daily requests to draw more because everyone loves the imagery so much.
My own personal mermaid obsession began 10 years ago, when I met a boy called Serge, whose greatest wish in life was to be a mermaid. He believed that he was a mermaid born into a man’s body and spent his days running down hills really fast to experience the feeling of flying. I would have imagined that as a mermaid soul, you would wear the brightest shades of turquoise, purple and blue, but Serge the mermaid only ever wore black, grey and orange. I so admired his belief in himself and his inner mermaid that I made a painting of him.

My relationship with mermaids continued in 2010, when I was commissioned to paint a wall mural in Harbor City Antwerp on a building that housed a tavern called Zeemeermin (Mermaid) in the Middle Ages. Designing the mural, it was a very easy and logical decision to paint a mermaid, but I wanted her to have a story of her own, so the painting also depicts her octopus lover and their little baby. The message at the heart of this painting is love and embracing it wherever it shows up.

It is the largest work I have ever done and it was not without a dramatic story of its own. My darling mermaid, in fact, had a traumatic birth. Due to the huge size of the piece, I could not work on it at home. So it was kept in a vintage car garage owned by a well-meaning but somewhat delusional vintage man. I painted my splendid magenta octopus so that the paint dripped down the work to give a feeling of floating or dreaminess — to make the octopus love extend further than the tentacles and fill the whole space. Despite explaining this idea to Mr. Vintage, he didn’t seem to agree, and a couple of weeks later I returned from a vacation to discover that he had painted over the parts he didn’t like. I swiftly arranged the relocation of the painting, restored and completed it, and everyone lived happily ever after. Well, not quite: I did send an email to voice my shock and disappointment at what he did and his reply was as follows:

It was normal for Rubens to have helpers paint the base so I do not see why it would worry YOU!

I never realized that one word in capital letters could hurt my feelings so much. Even now, I get that sinking feeling in my heart when I read those disrespectful and degrading words. I know that my internalization of negativity coming from other people is something I need to learn to fight against if I want to survive in the big bad world. I should try to memorize some tips to feel more confident and put more effort into rising above the trolling that comes my way.
But let’s get back to our fishy friends… There have been many different types of dramatic ladies from the sea, some more fishy than others. The stories surrounding these women are more often than not very tragic and heartbreaking. So maybe it is this that draws us to them, rather than pure aesthetics? In any case, let us briefly delve into the variety of representations of mer-women in history:

1. MERMAIDS

One of the first mermaids in ancient cultures was Atargatis from Turkey (700-1000 B.C.) who accidentally killed a shepherd whom she had fallen in love with. Disgusted by what she had done, she jumped into a lake to turn herself into a fish (all totally normal), but she was too beautiful for the water to completely change her — so she ended up half fish and half human. Sounds logical to me!

Having grown up with Disney’s The Little Mermaid film on repeat, Ariel is my most well known and beloved mermaid. However, the vote is still out on whether the film is a horrific sexist disaster or a girl power feminist film.

2. SIRENS

These ladies are the femme fatales of the sea (Ancient Greece). It is believed they lured sailors to their deaths using sweet music and their seductive voices. To be honest, I always thought they were a type of mermaid, but upon closer inspection, they do not have a fish tail, but a set of wings. And they were sometimes depicted as having other bird-like features such as a beak or scaly feet. They are known as heartbreakers, killers and lovers who make men fall in love with them, and their stories never had a happy ending. Much like the mermaid love song by Belgian all-female group Nele Needs a Holiday, where the naughty mer-lady Nele steals your boyfriend and lures him with her spellbinding music. I’ll try not to give away the ending, but I feel I should warn you: If fish soup is on the menu today you might want to look away now.

3. SELKIES

These little cuties swim around in the sea in the form of a seal, and then shed their skin and become human when on land. They need to take care of their seal skin because if someone hides it, they then have to marry that person and can never return to the sea. If they have a human husband, find their skin, and then return to the sea, they may not see that man again for seven years. Seems like a lot of rules for a seal! They come from Irish, Scottish and Icelandic folklore, and appear in both male and female form. The male Selkies are known to be very seductive, and they generally hit on vulnerable, lonely women such as fisherman’s wives. Sound charming right?

In 2009, Colin Farrell starred in the film Ondine, in which he finds a Selkie woman in his fisherman net (as you do). However, the next Selkie film on my watch-list is the Song of the Sea — a wonderfully pretty animated film featuring the dreamy voice of Lisa Hannigan. Now that I think about it, with her sweet, seductive voice, Hannigan would make an excellent Siren!

4. SWAN MAIDENS

We’ve all heard of the ballet Swan Lake, but there are many more stories featuring ladies who turn into swans. The guidelines for Swan Maidens seem pretty similar to that of the Selkies: They too must marry the man who steals their feather cloak. And if they ever find the cloak, they must leave and never come back.

CONCLUSIONS:

So ends another tragic wild lady/animal story, and what have we learned from all this? Are mermaids a representation of the hardships and struggles of women? Are they the embodiment of behaviors that are perceived inappropriate in women? Are we attracted to them because they are free from the shackles of how people think you should behave? I guess this is not really a concrete conclusion, but rather a huge question mark.

Mermaids have always been mysterious creatures, but one thing we can be sure of is that they are beautiful. Even though they don’t wear any clothes (with the exception of a shell or two), they have made a fashion contribution that cannot go unmentioned: The fabulous mermaid silhouette gown. I love this super glamorous shape, which is funny because my other favorite dress shape, the Empire Waist, flairs out under the bust in the complete opposite to this style. The mermaid shape flares dramatically at or below the knee, which I can imagine makes it just a little bit difficult to walk. But we will do it anyway, in ode to the mermaid ladies swimming in our seas: Ladies who teach us about love and empowerment and beauty and fantasy.

First published on Bustle Jan 2015
Images: Getty, Loish, Giphy; Author

What’s in Store for Body Image in 2015?

Life

In the last couple of years, a few fashion designers and department stores have begun to realize that there is a need for diversity in the models they choose to advertise their products. Carrie Hammer is making fabulous clothes to fit real-life figures, more and more fashion publications and brands are publicly moving away from photoshop and the world is taking to social media to call out unhealthy standards in catwalk models. Israel has even taken the impressive step of banning underweight models from their catwalks and advertisements.

Studies have shown that the images we are exposed to on a daily basis influence our perception of the world. Following this to a conclusion, it seems logical that if we only ever see thin, pore-less, Photoshop-distorted bodies in the media, we begin to perceive this as normal. The natural next step leads to concluding that your body is not like the ones you see in the media — those supposedly normal bodies — and therefore there must be something wrong with it. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way that it works in the world in which we live. People who aspire to these unrealistic and dangerous body norms fall victim to extreme dieting and eating disorders time and time again, and those who see themselves as being too far from the ideals can develop body dysmorphia that further leads to truly unhealthy lifestyle choices out of despair.

There is, however, hope for the future! We know that people who feel good about themselves and are happy with how they look (no matter their size or shape) are more likely to take care of themselves in other departments. That we need to see more variation in the advertising, film, fashion and beauty imagery that we absorb daily with our eyes and our subconscious minds has become obvious. A shift in the body types that are featured in these fields would make such a huge difference in the way that people see themselves and feel about their bodies.

Whilst plus-size fashion saw a lot of positive change in 2014, other areas of size acceptance and body image as a whole remained a mixture of highs and lows. But if we look at some of the things we can already expect from 2015, maybe this year’s “year in review” come December won’t feature as many lows.

1. ROLE MODELS, NOT RUNWAY MODELS

Fashion designer Carrie Hammer is moving things forward in all the right ways. Her crusade to create a body image friendly line is exactly what we need to fight the epidemic of body image issues and self loathing that are damaging our society so badly. Last year, Hammer told Bustle, “Since the beginning of my fashion line, it’s always been about fighting body dysmorphia, and all about having the dress fit you rather than you getting your body to fit in the dress.” Hammer will be showing again at this year’s NYFW, and hopefully she won’t be the only designer daring to show more realistic standards of beauty.

2. THREE CHEERS FOR DEBENHAMS

In the last two years, UK-based department store Debenhams has made three significant steps forward in the fight against body shaming, telling reporters, “We want to help customers feel confident about their figures without bombarding them with unattainable body images.”

Firstly, they vowed never to photoshop their models. They then filled their stores with average human size mannequins. And finally, they included models of all shapes, ages and sizes in their advertising campaigns — and models who were differently abled as well. As for 2015? Something good is bound to be in the works.

3. ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA REVOLUTION

As humans, we are no longer the silent masses that have to accept everything that is thrown at them. Emporio Armani learned this the hard way when fashion fans took to Twitter to voice their concern about the protruding ribs, bony shoulders and sunken cheeks of their catwalk models.
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When it comes to 2015, I predict we’ll be using those 140 characters to see the grander, long-term goals of body positivity come to fruition.

First published on Bustle Jan 2015

Images: Getty; Debenhams; Twitter/@TheSTStyle

Why We Need To See More Real Bellies

Life

All day long, we are presented with photos of humans in the mainstream media, but very rarely are we presented with “average” humans and their “normal” bodies. That there are problems with the way the mass media presents femininity and womanhood is no secret. But that being said, there are several sites and blogs in existence at the moment where you can see and share photos of parts of your body in an effort to raise awareness of how bodies actually look. And when you consider that statistics say that 80 percent of women have stretch marks, but that these little “imperfections” never make their way to our televisions or Netflix streams, it becomes clear that more realistic imagery is needed.

Studies have shown that the images we are exposed to on a daily basis influence our perception of the world. If we never see real bodies, then, how can we ever accept them as normal? So today I’m having a look at a few sites that create a safe and much needed space for real images of real people.

One campaign that I particularly like is All Bodies Are Good Bodies. The blog title alone makes a very powerful statement by pointing out that body acceptance and size inclusivity are not only about loving your curves. They are about loving your body — no matter what it looks like. As expressed on the site:

“ALL bodies are good bodies. I don’t care if you’re overweight or underweight, if you have an eating disorder, if you’re disabled, if you’re transgender, if you’re in the hospital on your death bed. Your body is a good body because it’s yours. Whether it’s healthy or not, whether people appreciate it or not, you deserve to love yourself no matter what. There is never a shortage of people telling us what’s wrong with our bodies! There is no healthy body without a healthy mind and you can’t wait until your body is exactly the way you want it to be to start loving it, it’s all about now. So if you’re looking for me to say this person’s body is wrong because of xyz, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is a body hate free zone!”

xoJANE’s “THE REAL BELLY PROJECT”

Back in 2011, xoJane’s Emily McCombs decided she had had enough of the belly shaming, so she went on the hunt for a bikini and posted a photo of her tummy on the site, writing:

“All this talk of ‘bikini body’ this and ‘swimsuit season’ that has started to get under my (loose) skin lately. Have I not a body? And can it fit not in a bikini? Yea verily, I say! I’m a human girl, not some creature of the bikini-less underworld.”

The reaction she got was overwhelmingly positive, and so she decided to invite her readers to submit their belly photos and make an entire tummy gallery. Emily created a slideshow of 75 flat, flabby, hairy, pregnant, scarred, pierced and tattooed bellies — giving the belly owners a place to talk about their “imperfect” bodies and to announce to the world how proud they were of them. The popularity of this project went through the roof, and Emily received so many more inspirational photos and stories that she published the Real Girl Belly Project Part II. This time, the stories included people who loved their bellies for even more unique reasons. Like the fact that our tummies hold our medicines. Or house organs that we can donate to save a loved one. And the photos themselves also saved a life: A few months later, we read a story from someone suffering with Bulimia who came across the project. It inspired her to seek help in order to fight the illness and get healthy. I am sure that she is not alone, and we need more projects like this to show that our bodies are real bodies.

THE BELLY PROJECT

Not to be confused with xoJane’s movement, The Belly Project blog is the collective genius of Dr. Karen Rayne (a sex educator) and Christy Tashjian (a midwife). Between the two of them, they basically know a ton about female body image, and have seen everything there is to see when it comes to bellies. They highlight an aspect of tummy appreciation that I never really thought about that much: That our bellies are an important part of our sexuality and reproductive lives. I mean, of course I know about the birds and the bees and I have been through a pregnancy so I know how it feels to be in awe of my stomach’s capacity to grow a real, live human being. But in a non-pregnant state, I have to admit that my belly doesn’t get much respect. It’s just a mushy, functionless area that supposedly needs to be hidden. The Belly Project aims to focus our attention on our bellies and give them the kudos they deserve.

THE SHAPE OF A MOTHER

This site focuses on the post-pregnancy body and aims to rescue it from its secret hiding place. The creator of the site writes that she was inspired to start the project upon accidentally seeing a new mom’s belly in a restaurant as she picked up her baby.

“It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society’s greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen. That makes me want to cry.”

The only post-pregnancy bodies we ever see in the media are the ones of people who have live-in personal trainers or have very skilled Photoshop technicians in their network. Hollywood stars proudly show off their post-pregnancy bodies if there is nothing visibly post-pregnant about them: No saggy bits, no stretch marks — just perfectly toned, smooth torsos.

MY PERSONAL FEAR OF THE MIDRIFF

When I first considered writing this article, I felt a bit like a hypocrite. I was writing about how great it is that these projects exist, whilst at the same time thinking, “There is NO WAY I would put my belly photo on there.” Researching the whole belly movement a bit further, however, I began to realize that I was one of the people that these sites aim to help.

For me, the sheer dread about baring my midriff has nothing to do with size. I think these plus-size bikini photos are some of the most beautiful I have seen in a long time. Looking at the images, I wonder if the day will ever come when I would dare to wear a bikini. And then the little voice in my head says, “But she looks fabulous and you don’t.” My current swimwear covers more than the average one-piece, but it is also very beautiful: Retro with cherries, and I’m cool with that. As you can see from the model’s photo of the same swimsuit, I don’t have a problem with showing cleavage. It is only anything between the ribs and knees that I still feel the need to keep under wraps.

CONCLUSION

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In my heart of hearts, I know that the problem is in my head — and not resting on my hips! But the illogical and untrue societal brainwashing that I grew up with — the brainwashing that still tells me that it is not appropriate to be proud of your body or that it is vain to say that you love your body — still comes into play in my day-to-day life. I am not alone in this struggle, and that is why it is so important that blogs like the above exist. They help us to re-program our thoughts on how we view ourselves, and to stop beating ourselves up about things that no one else even notices. Thankfully, there are also some big players in the fashion industry starting to prioritize positive body image and encourage us to love ourselves, too.
The more I read up on these movements, the more articles and sites I find that encourage me to love my body. For example, have you ever wondered what your relationship with your mirror is like? The “We. Women” Photo Project places women in front of the mirror — and the resulting photographs are striking, and make us contemplate how real body dysmorphia truly is.
So I’m going to give the last word to Marie Southard Ospina, who is doing great work in the area of promoting positive body image and body acceptance:

“We are not our bodies, despite the fact that this is what we are taught to believe. Our bodies are a part of us, and we should be able to represent the self through the body. But the physical is not the everything. We have to learn to take our bodies back: to take them away from the self-deprecating and self-loathing that come as a result of listening to notions of beauty established on a TV screen or in a magazine. We have to live for the self, and be unafraid of letting that self shine through.”

First published on Bustle Jan 2015

Images: Top Vintage; xoJane; The Shape of a Mother; The Belly ProjectMarie Southard Ospina; Twitter/@catode_

13 Things That Happen To You And Your Wardrobe When You Know You Won’t Be Seeing Anyone For A Week

Life

What would change in your daily fashion and beauty routine if you didn’t have to leave your house for a week? I mean, what would you do differently if you knew you weren’t going to see anyone for the next seven days? (Or should I say, if you knew no one was going to see you!) Well, I decided to make an experiment out of these questions, and let you know what you can expect. (OK the truth is I’ve thrown my back out and have been ordered to stay home and rest!) Right now, the only reason I have to go outside is to pick my son up from school and go to the supermarket (both of which I can do with my coat on). And to be honest, it has surprised me how much I have enjoyed being temporarily removed from society — it has been such a nice feeling to put on my comfy, warm, soft clothes and prioritize taking care of myself.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE wearing pretty things, but it has truly shocked me how peaceful and social-stress-free I feel right now. I like dressing up nice (my kind of nice) but I know that people sometimes don’t appreciate my particular style — something I also like, because as long as I feel confident about the outfit, I can handle the looks. On most days, though, it takes me a long time to put together something I’m totally happy with, so I’m glad to have this short break from it. If I wasn’t suffering from a constant pain in my back, I would be the happiest person ever! Maybe I can hold onto this feeling and use it to avoid internalizing what other people think of me. I am certainly going to go shopping for some dressy trousers and trendy sweaters to see if I can make my daily life more comfortable!

1. SAVE TIME IN YOUR MORNING ROUTINE

Forget about standing in front of your wardrobe trying to choose the perfect outfit depending on who you are likely to see that day, whether you have to walk far, or what the weather is like. Just make the stressless transition from bed to sofa, and life is a piece of cake. A blanket is an item of clothing, right?

2. FORGETTING YOU OWN A PAIR OF TWEEZERS

Seriously ladies, those eyebrows are having a wild time! Embrace your thick-browed self, at least until you have to go out into the real world again.

3. MAKEUP AIN’T HAPPENING

Unless you’re experimenting with a wild new look that you don’t dare try outside the house yet, I know your makeup bag isn’t getting a second look this week.

4. FEELING COMFORTABLE AND WARM

This has a lot to do with the next three points, but having zero fashion obligations makes you realize how much discomfort you put up with on a daily basis. No annoying tights that want to slide down or roll up, no agonizing toe-seams (wooly socks all the way), no uncomfortable belts, no shapewear, no straps slipping, no high heels. Just soft and warm clothes: It’s like heaven on earth!

5. WEARING PAJAMAS ALL DAY LONG

If being braless and in my pajamas all day is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

6. PUTTING ON SPORTSWEAR, WHILE HAVING NO INTENTION TO SPORT

Finally finding a use for those jogging pants that you bought in the first week of January five years ago in a New Year’s resolution bout of enthusiasm. Perfect sofa-wear if pajamas are not warm and cozy enough.

7. MAKING THE BLANKET A PART OF YOUR DAILY WARDROBE

By the end of the week, you will have the blanket wrapping technique down — and your beloved sofa blankets will be a staple part of your everyday outfits!

8. LISTENING TO YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC… UP LOUD

Put on your favorite tunes that no one else ever wants to listen to, up loud, on repeat, and then throw yourself around the living room (in your jammies of course)! No inspiration? Here is some Florence + The Machine to get you on the right path; it starts off easy but it’ll have you dramatically shaking it out in no time!

9. LOVING YOURSELF

That infernal internal dialog that bugs you all day long saying that you should have worn that other dress is silenced. With no witnesses, there is no reason to care what you look like!

10. BEING TOTALLY ZEN

The removal of everything stressful (work deadlines, interaction with people, sunlight) and addition of comfortable clothes turns you into a regular Zen Master.

11. EATING PASTA PESTO EVERY DAY

OK maybe this one is just me, but only having to cook for myself means boiling pasta and adding pesto. I think I’m literally addicted to that stuff! And because you’re all alone, there is no one to remind you that you shouldn’t be eating carbs.

12. DOING NOTHING AND NOT FEELING BAD ABOUT IT

13. MISSING IT ALL AND GETTING EXTREMELY OVERDRESSED

Somewhere near the end of the week it hits you: I want to feel pretty again! Dolled up in a dress you bought for a wedding, matching earrings and heels, you head off to the supermarket and enjoy turning heads (looks of admiration of course; it’s not like they think you’re a crazy lady).

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First published on BustleJan 2015

Images: Giphy; Flickr/Jamelah

Creepy Flashing Guy Update

Life

I’m sure you have all been waiting with bated breath to find out how my crusade against Creepy Flashing guy is going!

I’ll start with the good news, Edegem council have agreed to help me in a project to get the wall cleaned up and are even open to the idea of replacing the offending graffiti with something beautiful. (YAY)
More good news, they have made contact with local graffiti artist SMOK and he has agreed to design an artwork for the space. (YAY)

The next steps involves getting permission from the owner of the wall (fingers crossed they’re not too attached to their naked friend) and in order to avoid getting fined for illegal graffiti, we also need to get permission from the Police, as last time we had to go through the police check wa to check us.
. The lovely lady from the council is working on these two hurdles and hopes to have some answers by February. So if it stops raining anytime thereafter we could soon have a beautiful new artwork in Edegem.

It seems that Mr. Creepy does have some friends however, they bought him chips and beer yesterday, but forgot to tidy up afterwards.

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