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When XL is not big enough

Are you a size 12? You are EXTRAAAAAA LAAARRRRRGGGGEEEEEEEE…

16? Give up all hope.  20? Get in the fucking sea.

I am clothes shopping for the party season at the minute and having to shop online as I don’t feel well enough to go out.  I hate internet clothes shopping as I know even in a shop, I can take 10 items into a changing room and not find anything that suits and so buying online when I can only look at a skinny model, lit beautifully in a studio and shot by a great photographer is far from ideal.

I am convinced nothing will fit me and so decided I had better check my sizing with this online store.  It turns out that their size XL is a 12.  A fucking 12!

blogger sam cleasby plus size

I’m XXL yo…

45% of UK women are a size 16 or over so why is it that so many shops are refusing to cater for the market?

I really don’t understand why some stores are just ignoring the needs of so many, even if you forget all about shitting on women’s self esteem, surely it is just good business sense to ensure you have products that almost half your market can use?

It does make me feel like crap when I realise that I am classed as abnormally large in the eyes of some.  I am a size 16 and cannot shop in some places as they just don’t have ranges in my size.  If you are larger than a 16, you are basically ignored!

Talking to the world of twitter, I can see it is not just me who is struggling with this.  Many companies are classing XL as either a 12 or a 14.  Lots of athletic wear simply do not go up to larger sizes meaning those who are gym bunnies or runners are really struggling to find appropriate training clothes.

I’m a big fan of Simply Be who do a range between sizes 12-32.  Their clothes aren’t your ‘typical’ plus size wear, in the past anything aimed at women a 16 and over have been old fashioned, frumpy or basically ugly tents.  Simply Be have an amazing range that is no different to any other great fashion store apart from that they actually fit!

It is simply shit business sense to alienate your market, so why do women’s fashion stores do it? Women are all different shapes and sizes so why leave out a big chunk of those women by not giving them the clothes they want to wear?

sam cleasby so bad ass parliament ibd blogger

You see it in store, there are always tons of size 6’s and 8’s left on the hangers whilst the bigger sizes fly out.  Does this not tell you something? They seem to stock far more of the smaller sizes when the statistics show that many women are larger, and get larger with age.  Where is the money? It is with older women in their 30’s and 40’s, who are more likely to be a size 12 or over.

This isn’t about fat vs thin.  We should cater for ALL women, whether they are a size 6 or a size 26 (and beyond!!!), this is about making a vast proportion of women feel shit about themselves because they can’t shop in the average store.

Let’s hope that shops start to realise this and begin to stock clothes for all.  And stop with the ridiculous sizing charts.  A size 12 should never be classed as Extra Large, ever.

And for the record, one size does not fit all.

 

Sam x

Not thin enough for mainstream, too thin for plus size? 

I am a size 16, despite years of dieting and exercise, I always end up at a 16. For 15 years I have been somewhere between a 14 and an 18. I am open about this and often tell people my size, you kind of feel the need to when you are shaking your ta-ta’s in photo shoots.

There’s this odd phenomenon though where though I know I’m bigger than many, if I ever use the hashtag #plussize, I tend to get a couple of different responses.  One is that I “don’t look like a size 16” and the other tends to be from other plus size women who seem to think I’m not big enough to class myself as plus size.

Someone once told me that I’m the “clothes designer’s idea of a 16” and I don’t think it was a compliment!  That I am too mainstream and don’t represent ‘real’ plus size women.  As I’m tall I “carry it well”, I apparently “hide it” and “don’t help out genuinely plus size women” as I look slimmer than I am.  WTF?

I had similar comments when I showed my stoma, ostomy bag and scars with responses from some stating that “it’s ok” for me as my “stomach is flat”.   Comments from some thinking that I’m showing an unachievable image as others have hernias (I’ve had 2!), terrible scarring (hands up here for keloids!) and fat, wobbly bits. (Yup! Got those too!). I’m also covered in stretchmarks from having 28lbs worth of baby over three kids and four and a half years!!!

woman with scars on stomach ibd blogger sam cleasby

I know I come across as super confident but I tell you now, it takes a lot of courage to put up images of myself!  I’m 34, I’ve had 3 children and 3 surgeries, I’ve been chronically ill for 12 years and my body has taken such a pasting.  I have days where I feel shit about myself like we all do, there are times when I just want to hide away from the world.

I choose to tell my story through images, mainly because I run a photography company and so it is a normal part of my life, but also because often photos are so much more powerful than words.  When I was going through my surgeries, I desperately wanted to see other people with stomas, ostomy bags and scars.  This blog has always been about raising awareness and helping others and I desperately wanted to promote a positive body image despite everything I had been through.  Through these decisions I have been accused of sexualising disability and had comments about my weight and size.  From those taking the piss and letting me know I am “hardly a model” (NO SHIT SHERLOCK!) through to those who just want me to cover up!

I know that when you put yourself out into the public arena, that you open yourself up to judgement and I fully accept that.  Worry not, I am not weeping into my pillow at night, I remind myself of the Beyonce rule… 

“Would Beyoncé be reading this? No, she would just delete it or somebody would delete it for her. What I really need to do is… say, Fuck you. I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m Beyoncé. I’m going to Ibiza with Jay-Z now, fuck off. ”

beyonce rule

 

It often feels that the negative comments I get come from other women rather than men.  And I sometimes feel trapped in this weight and size limbo where I am obviously bigger than a lot of women and struggle to buy clothes when I go shopping, but I’m on the smaller end of the plus size ranges and sometimes feel judged for not being big enough!!

All the writing I do about self esteem and body confidence is about love and acceptance for what you have.  Through the past two years I learnt to celebrate that I’m just still here standing!  That my body, though it has disease, scars and illness, carries me through life and is a miracle.  I wish we could all gain a bit more self love, that we could see ourselves in a way that is joyous and filled with love.

We are ever fighting against a tide of social pressure to look a certain way.  We are told we must be thin, young and sexy (though not too sexy or we are asking for it!).  It’s crazy and we need to stop the judgement of other women. We can complain about the media all we want but it can start with us.  We all need to be more accepting of other people, to treat them in a way we would want to be treated.

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

And we need to be strong in ourselves and have the confidence to just be ourselves, whatever our size and shape.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this.  As with everything I write, it’s my personal opinions based on my experiences. And our personal opinions are alway skewed so let me know!  Is this something other people feel? Are you plus size and have judged others or are you petite and have an opinion on those larger than yourself?

Sam x

Suicide Girls…

Devoted to changing your idea of what makes a lady beautiful… As long as you are thin and white?

So there’s this website called Suicide Girls, they’ve been going a few years but I rediscovered them on Instagram recently. Their tagline of being “devoted to changing your idea of what makes a lady beautiful” caught my eye and upon looking through I saw a variety pin up girls sporting tattoos and piercings.

I love tattoos. A lot. If I had more money, I’d be covered!! And so a site and social media portraying so called alternative women with ink and metal made me happy.

That slogan of changing ideas of beauty also appealed to me and so I hit follow, looking forward to some awesome women coming up in my Instagram feed.

And they do. But after a week, a bloody annoying pattern emerges. Yes, there are lots of beautiful, interesting and inked up women. But the HUUUUUUGE majority are both thin and white.

Ok, it’s great to promote tattooed women as beautiful, but thin white women don’t usually have that many issues being portrayed in the media. And as tats become commonplace in society, it’s really not that alternative.

So where are the bigger women? Where are the women of colour?

In the first 100 posts on the Instagram feed there are 6 women of colour.

And one woman who looks bigger than a size 10. And that post is filled with fat shaming comments.

What’s going on Suicide Girls? I love the idea of promoting an alternative view to traditional beauty, but surely you could bring yourself to show some larger ladies to your audience?

As the average size of women is around a UK 16, why don’t you show more average sized women?

Or does the idea of “what makes a lady beautiful” only apply to the thin white ones…

Though progress is being made with more and more plus size women as models and most recently the wonderful Tess Holliday I just wish we could see more of this.

What do you think?

Sam x

Ostomy photoshoot – 50s pin up

There is a lot of negativity when it comes to ostomies, I have heard many a time things like “Id rather die than wear a colostomy/ileostomy bag” “I don’t want to look like a freak” “Im not normal if I have a bag” etc etc

It is absolutely gutting to hear comments like this being made in public, the fact is that these bags save lives, we aren’t choosing to have them as a fashion accessory, they are there because the people who have them have been so sick and battled so hard that they now have to live with an ostomy.

As you may know I have done a couple of photoshoots before in order to demystify the whole process, to show how small a part of me my bag is.

I decided to do one last shoot before my pouch surgery next week and the theme was 50s pin up.  I wanted to show that people living with an ostomy can be sexy, fun and cheeky… That this little bag doesn’t define who I am, it is just a small add on to my body that allows me to function in a way I have been unable to for 10 years.

Im a bit nervous at putting these up so please be kind, I do this because I want to make a difference, I want to show people what an ileostomy bag is like, and that it doesn’t stop my femininity, sexuality or sense of humour because when I had my surgery I was so terrified that I would lose those things.

Enjoy x

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

 

Please like, comment and share these images with anyone you think they could make a difference with.
Thanks so much for looking

Remember that you can make a difference, to donate to Crohns and Colitis UK you can text CCUK14 and your donation amount to 70070
e.g. If you wanted to donate £5 you would text: CCUK14 £5 and send it to 70070.

Or online through Just Giving

 

Thank you so much to my husband Timm for The Picture Foundry for photographing me for this shoot.

 

Sam xxx