Growing a Thicker (Warmer) Skin

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This is probably the most relatable post I’ll ever write, as throughout the years when I’ve talked about my experiences most people seem to have shared my journey.

Growing up, when your body goes through puberty and begins to change, it becomes a confusing time not only physically but emotionally. As a female, my body began to develop to carry and bear children, but I was only coming into my teenage years and embarking on high school, so I definitely didn’t feel mature or ready enough yet to cope with these changes.

Everyone around me seemed to be having an easier time than I was. I felt like the DUFF (the designated ugly fat friend), as they seemed to be growing taller and more womanly, where as I felt like I was growing wider and more clumsy. My feet were large, my hips were wide, my shoulders were broad, my hair was thick and wild and my features were average (and spotty) at best, or so I thought at the time.

My confidence plummeted, and I know I wasn’t the only one, as I’m sure behind my friend’s eyes they felt self conscious too. But our continual search for our identities and wanting to feel comfortable in ourselves seemed like a never ending journey, and for me, a lot of the issues that were born out of that time graduated with me as I left school.

Like most young people, I experimented, not only with clothes, but with hair dye and make up too. I slid happily into the familiar “emo phase”, subscribing to that way of life, not only because my interest in certain music artists ran with similar fashion ideals, but because for a while it felt like “me”, whoever that was. For a few years, I was happy. I liked to dye my hair different colours, dream about piercings and tattoos, wear jeans and band t-shirts to showcase my love of music and I loved that I was a master of the winged eyeliner phenomenon.

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But just like everything else in life, I grew up and outgrew that image, and moved on, but I didn’t have anything to move on to. It was about this time that I took my gap year, so a lot of my clothes were practical and simple, as I spent a lot of that year travelling. When I turned twenty and went to uni, it struck me that I’d been twenty years on this earth and I’d not “found myself” and felt pressured that when I went into a clothes shop, I should know whether an item was “me” or not. But I didn’t, I didn’t have a clue.

I spent a lot of that time adopting other people’s discarded clothes, from my Mum, from friends and family, and it felt like wearing someone else’s identity was far easier than the difficult search for my own. It wasn’t until I left university, had a breakdown and continued rebuilding my life that I could start to find out exactly who I was, and exactly who I wanted to be.

A good friend of mine is a colour analyst and offered to “do my colours” for me. This meant that I sat in a chair wearing an outfit similar to an all white nun’s habit and had colour swatches held up to my face to see how each one would react to my skin tone. It was fascinating how some colours made me look like I had a fresh spray tan, and others made me look completely jaundiced. After an hour or so, I had a complete collection of swatches that made me look amazing.

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You may be thinking that I just replaced one safety behaviour for another, or one clothing ideal for another, but just knowing that there were colours out there designed to flatter me, and by extension, make me feel confident in myself, made me feel so much better about going shopping, something I’d actively avoided for many years.

So here was the break down of my colour analysis. I had a warm skin tone, which meant that warmer colours as opposed to cold colours looked good on my skin. It also meant that gold jewellery was more flattering than silver. The analysis wasn’t exclusive just to clothes but to make up as well. I still love my winged black kohl eyeliner, but I also really enjoyed experimenting with a more natural look which gave me a warmer glow.

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This gave me the confidence to go out and start buying clothes because I liked them and knew the colours would look good on me, not because it’s because everyone else was wearing, or because I felt like that’s what I should be wearing. I still had my band t-shirts and my eyeliner, and I still brought them out every now and again to play, but I began to feel so much happier in myself now that I knew not all clothes were destined to make me look horrible. The Fitting Room Fiascos subsided and I began to feel so much more confident.

I didn’t continue comparing how I looked to other people because I knew that they had different skin tones and different body shapes to me. There was no point trying to squeeze into an outfit that belonged to a cool skin toned person, because it wasn’t going to give me the desired effect when I looked in the mirror. I dressed to accentuate the flattering parts of my frame like my waist and my curvaceous figure. I looked to role models with a similar shapes, like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, and ditched styles that were “in” or “fashionable” if they didn’t suit me. It suddenly became all so illogical. Maybe I’d reached the point of self discovery after all?

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But here is what I’ve learnt during my “journey to self discovery“. The journey never ends. My style has changed and evolved over the years because I have changed and evolved too. I’m sure by the time I’m thirty my wardrobe will look vastly different. Be comfortable, once you are comfortable in what you’re wearing, your confidence will grow. Once you feel confident, then it’s half the battle won. You can be comfortable and look good at the same time. Once I ditched the jeans and bought different kinds of trousers that weren’t denim, I felt so much happier. Whatever you’re wearing, rock it, and if you don’t feel like you can, then there are a few tips and tricks, like picking the right colours, that can help you along the way. Ultimately, you’re you, a beautiful, wonderful, unique, you, a person that should be celebrated as an individual however you look.

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Top 10 Films of 2015

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Going to the cinema is one of my favourite pastimes. So loved, in fact, that I have recently purchased a Cineworld card. I saw lots of films in 2015, some I had planned to see and some were spontaneous surprises, but which films made it to my short list? As usual, I will only list films that I’ve seen and can vouch for.

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Far From the Madding Crowd

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I was excited for this film for two reasons. One, Carey Mulligan. Need I say more? Two, I thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation of the adaption of this book… I am, of course, talking about Tamara Drewe, which was based off of a graphic novel, based off of the original book Far From the Madding Crowd written by Thomas Hardy. I wouldn’t say this film was my brand new favourite period drama, but it was certainly entertaining to watch.

9

Paddington

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Ever since Paddington THE MOVIE was announced, I had been on the edge of my seat waiting for a release date. I got even more excited when Colin Firth was announced as the voice of Paddington, and deflated when I heard he had parted from the project. Having seen the movie, and being blessed with hindsight, I can see that his voice would have been a bit too mature for an endearingly naive bear like Paddington. This film was always going to be a win for me, and even now I still wish I had my very own Paddington. (Although as long as he stays out of my bathroom, we’re alright.)

8

Pitch Perfect 2

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I don’t think this has ever been said before, but, I enjoyed Pitch Perfect 2 more than the first Pitch Perfect movie. There. I said it. The first movie for me was good but the second installment, of what will now apparently be a trilogy, was much more entertaining. I’m not sure whether it was the growth of the characters, the depth of the dynamic between the girls, or the rags to riches… to rags again, and back to riches, story of the Barden Bellas, but something about this movie did more than just click.

7

Cinderella

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After the success of Maleficent, Disney’s announcement of more live-action-remakes made me feel a bit on edge. Disney had it so right with original animated classics, that a lot of them felt untouchable, but when Cinderella became first on the list, I felt warmed to the idea. Cinderella is the quintessential Princess story, but on review the original story seemed to lack depth, something which the new live-action-remake totally makes up for. We see more of a back story to Cinderella’s past and are blessed with a new moral-of-the-story mantra, “have courage and be kind.” 

6

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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One of my most anticipated films of the year falls outside the top five? Yes, unfortunately it does. I wasn’t totally disappointed by the last film in the Hunger Games quartet, but I did have some problems with it. Another thing that I never thought I would say: it was too closely adapted from the book. Yes, I know that sounds ludicrous, and that’s what book-to-movie-adaptation fans yearn for, but the Mockingjay book was a complete let down for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and the three films that were conceived as a result. I actually thought, dare I say it, the films were better, so my expectations for Mockingjay Part 2 were high, and unfortunately weren’t met. Having said that, I did really enjoy watching the film and it was really sad to have the series come to the end. I’m still in denial that there’s not going to be another Hunger Games film. Don’t touch me. I’m grieving.

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Insurgent

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Another one of my most anticipated films of 2015 was the second installment to the Divergent series. This set of books really got me well and truly into the dystopian funk and Divergent the movie was an absolute cracker. Insurgent, in my eyes, was a very strong but complicated book and I didn’t envy the screenwriters when the time came to adapt it. Trying to repack a book into a film is like getting a leopard to change it’s spots, and when the negative reviews for Insurgent came flooding in, I wasn’t totally surprised. However, I do feel as though all of the changes made in the translation were for the good of the story. They weren’t changing things just because they could, the writers tried to make a complicated book into a streamlined visual narrative. I admire their effort, but this film wasn’t up to the standard of it’s predecessor.

4

Inside Out

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I didn’t know about this film until my great friend GracieActually told me how amazing it was, and we took my Mum along to revel in the joy (literally) of this film. What stood out most for me was Joy and Sadness’ relationship, and how closely it mirrored my own relationship with my Mum. As many of you know I’m currently battling depression, so to see a character like Sadness be sad, and yet completely lovable and charming, was so amazing for me and my self esteem.

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Paper Towns

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Picture the scene. I have just recovered from the emotional roller-coaster that was The Fault in Our Stars, and almost immediately afterwards it is announced that Paper Towns, another of John Green’s books, it due to be adapted to the big screen. Well, it took me a long time to stop screaming with excitement. Once again, this was one of my most anticipated films of the year and I was lucky enough to attend the Paper Towns Movie event in London ahead of it’s release and see twenty minutes of the finished movie before anyone else. I knew from those twenty minutes that I was going to love the movie, and when I finally got to see it in it’s fullest form, I was not disappointed. Many people said the film was “anticlimactic” which to me was kind of the point. Q had made Margo up in his head to be this wild and precious being, when really she was, in fact, a girl. The fact that the producers chose to end the film in that way, rather than have Q and Margo drive off to New York City as the sun sets, and keep the original themes of the book shows a massive step forward for future adaptations.

2

The D.U.F.F

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Is it surprising that this is another YA book-to-movie adaptation? Probably not, but I actually didn’t like the novel The D.U.F.F written by Kody Keplinger. I gave it one whole extra star on Goodreads.com because I was SO HAPPY that someone had coined the term. I have spent my whole life feeling like I was The D.U.F.F and to potentially have some strong YA female bad-ass characters to commiserate with made excited. The book was a let down, but luckily the film was everything the book was not. Mae Whitman was the perfect choice for Bianca and Robbie Amell’s charisma oozed from the screen. He was the Wes I’d been waiting for, and his and Whitman’s double act type chemistry made this an amazing film.

This leaves the top spot, the number one film I watched this year, which was…

1

Into the Woods

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Disney. Musical. Fairy Tale Retelling. James Corden. Meryl Streep. Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. The list titled “Why I Love This Film” is endless. When I heard that Sondheim’s classic Into The Woods was going to be made into a film, not just a film, but a film with an all-star cast, I was ecstatic. I had seen a version of the stage show that did not paint the story in a very flattering light, so I had high hopes for the film, and I was no disappointed. This film was so well crafted, with talented all-around performers and was nothing short of perfect in my eyes. It was everything I wanted it to be and more!

And that concludes my top ten list. Did you get a chance to see any of these this year? And did any of them make it to your top ten? Let me know in the comments down below what you think.