Anxiety, Eczema, It me, mental health, personal, tattoos

New Year, New You, New Danger

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I’m a bit of a sucker for a new start. I love the idea of each year being a tabula rasa filled to the brim with potential. I buzz off the excitement of new projects, the crisp lines of a new notebook, the opportunity contained within the pages of an empty diary. But, I’m also acutely aware that writing about new year’s resolutions is one of the worst lifestyle blogging cliches. And, before you say anything, I also know that reading about other people’s new year’s resolutions – many of which they’ll have broken by the second week of the year – is pretty boring. So, I’m (going to do my best) not to write about them here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about reinvention recently. I read this piece by Deborah Orr in the Guardian and was shocked by how much I related to her experiences of living with difficult mental health. Like too many people I know, last year wasn’t the easiest one for me. I was stuck in a job I hated (and was eventually made redundant from), experiencing some pretty nasty health issues, saw too many bad things happen to the people I love and – the cherry on top of this cake of shit – the return of the crippling anxiety and depression that has plagued me since my teenage years. At one particularly low point, I deactivated all of my social media accounts and almost deleted this blog because I was just so tired of seeing everyone else leading brighter, better, happier lives than mine. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt and I hated logging on to discover everyone living it up while I was stagnating.

Of course, this is not a particularly rational way of thinking. Particularly for someone who works in social media and so should be totally aware of the glitter and artifice people sprinkle over their lives when discussing them online. Being alone with my thoughts only made them worse. I found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed and had to start working from home more to accommodate this. I was having panic attacks in my sleep and drinking too much. When I was at my office, I would repeatedly find myself bursting into tears and having to go and hide in the toilets. I had to finally face up to the fact that I needed help.

I went back onto antidepressants and discovered one that worked for me (I had been wary of them since a terrible experience with Citalopram in my late 20s.) I started seeing a therapist who helped me to unpick some of my ways of thinking and examine them in a new light. Being made redundant helped me to realise that one of the reasons I was so depressed was because I was in a job which wasn’t right for me and it provided me with the impetus (and money) I needed to finally go it alone.

I’m saying all of this not out of a desire to make people feel sorry for me, but more because I’m proud of managing to come out on the other side. I did some amazing work in 2016 – both professionally and personally. I’m entering 2017 happier, stronger and with much better hair. I’ve also acquired some awesome tattoos, but that’s by-the-by.

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My noble steed

Like many people, I have big plans for 2017. I want to write more, both for myself and for others. I want to make my freelance career a success. I want to be more careful with my money, not just because I am acutely aware of the precariousness of freelance life but also because I want to find methods of self care which don’t just involve purchasing things that I don’t really need.

My friend James came to visit me over the Christmas break and was kind enough to fix up the old Raleigh Shopper bike which had been gathering dust in my hallway for a number of years. Last week, I found myself going on a 13 mile bike ride alongside the River Mersey, enjoying the feel of the wind through my hair and feeling so incredibly lucky to live in such a scenic part of England. I don’t know what will happen to me this year. But I know that if I continue to take pleasure in the little things, I’ll be OK.

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ASOS Curve, Bbloggers, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, Charlotte Tilbury, Jewellery, Junarose, Make Up, Marks and Spencer, office wear, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, Tatty Devine, what i wear to work

Grey Sunday

I’ve been in a bit of a bleak mood recently. Blame it on the achingly cold weather, the lack of natural sunlight or the fact that every time I look at the news, I want to curl up in the foetal position and wail, but I haven’t really felt like my best self. But, I’m a busy woman and I have important shit to do, so vacuum sealing myself inside a pillow fort for the foreseeable future isn’t really convenient. So, I did what I always do when I feel like the world is a flaming skip fire. I slapped on some eyeshadow, threw on a snuggly roll neck jumper and treated myself to a rather fancy brunch.

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ROLL NECK: Junarose 

TROUSERS: ASOS Curve (old)

BELT: ASOS Curve

SHOES: Marks and Spencer

NECKLACE: Tatty Devine

EARRINGS: Accessorize

Despite the vast amount of #dealz filled emails hitting my inbox, I managed to be quite restrained on Black Friday. Somehow, I managed to limit myself to only purchasing a sweatshirt, a belt and the Junarose roll neck you see here in the ASOS 20% off everything sale. Not that I needed much of an excuse to buy this roll neck mind you, it’s been sitting in my ‘saved’ items for longer than I care to admit.

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Like all Junarose items I’ve purchased, this roll neck is simple yet stylish. I love the soft, neutral grey colour (the exact shade of a freezing December sky) and it’s shaped really nicely. While I will never quite avoid the dreaded ‘shelf tit’ effect that larger boobed women such as myself are prone to, the cut and fit of it feel – forgive me here – flattering. While I love my body, I also feel remarkably self conscious about having very large breasts so any item of clothing which makes them look relatively proportional to the rest of my body is very welcome.

I’m wearing a ‘large’ here, mainly because I found it impossible to find an accurate size chart on Junarose or ASOS’s websites. I do wish retailers would realise that people appreciate being given accurate size guides, rather than just having to pick a size at random and praying for the best.

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My birthday gifts from my (utterly wonderful) husband were a delightfully snarky Laura Callaghan necklace from Tatty Devine and a gorgeous Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palette in Legendary Muse. One of the most rewarding things I’ve done with my look this year is to experiment more with eye make-up, and I feel it’s really paid off with the look I’ve created here using Legendary Muse. The golds and green tinged yellow shades blend together to make the green-blue colour of my eyes really stand out. I’d recommend putting it on your Christmas list if you’d like Santa to stick some truly outstanding eyeshadow underneath your tree.

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Animal print, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, dresses, L'Oreal, Leopard print, lipstick, Marks and Spencer, Monki, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, psbloggers, Topshop

34

I turned 34 last Tuesday. 34 doesn’t feel like a real age. It sounds far too grown up, the kind of age that ‘real’ adults are, rather than overgrown teenagers like myself. In my head, I’m still a scruffy 21 year old who mooches around in ill fitting clothes while attempting to make a living by writing overwrought features about post-rock bands rather than a middle aged woman who wears slightly better fitting clothes while trying to make a living by (terrifyingly) starting up her own business. It’s a lot.

Of course, being a proper grown up, I ameliorated these fears in a rational and adult manner. By which, I mean I went for a very fancy lunch, hung out with some cats, went to a gig in a cathedral and had a McDonalds on the way home. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.

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COAT: Marks & Spencer

DRESS: Alexa Chung for Marks & Spencer

SHOES: Marks & Spencer

NECKLACE: Topshop (old)

EARRINGS: Monki (old)

HANDBAG: Kate Spade (old)

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I was a bit devastated recently to hear the news that the clothing arm of Marks & Spencer is experiencing some difficulties. As you may have gathered, I absolutely adore Marks & Spencer. Their underwear is comfy, their jeans fit my weird hips and butt area like they were moulded around them and I know their stuff won’t fall apart after a few wears (unlike some brands I’ve encountered recently – River Island, I’m looking at you here.)

Their recent Alexa Chung collection, where she revisited designs from their archives, has been a bit of an eye opener to my chubby self. Seeing as they stopped at size 18, I fully expected not to fit into any of her items. Hence why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could easily fit into this size 16 shirt dress (which, according to a Twitter friend of mine, makes me look like a ’80s space dominatrix’) with room to spare. While I’m well aware that I’m being pandered to via some serious vanity sizing, I’ve never been pandered to so effectively. The only parts in which it falls down is that it creases remarkably easily and its silky fabric makes it a bugger to wear when you’re drunk as you’ll end up sliding off pub stools and onto the floor while mid conversation. You can probably all guess how I discovered this.

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I realise that this outfit doesn’t resemble the ones above, but I feel it would be a dereliction of beauty blogger duty not to mention L’Oreal’s Colour Riche lipstick in Blake Red. It’s the most perfect, carmine red I’ve ever found and knocks socks off pretty much everything else I’ve ever tried (and yes, that does include MAC’s Russian Red, a lipstick so matte it feels like you’re trying to drag a crayon across your lips.) It’s beautifully creamy, costs a mere £6.99 and stayed on throughout a challenging 2 hour tattoo session last Saturday. Frankly, it’s one of those bargain high street beauty buys that thrifty types like myself live for. Apparently, L’Oreal are discontinuing it, so I’d recommend buying it in bulk now, if only to provide a pop of colour in these increasingly grey times.

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and other stories, Autumn, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, fashion, jumpers, lipstick, Make Up, Marks and Spencer, MDMFlow, personal style, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, Primark, psbloggers

Autumn Leaves

After a year which could charitably be deemed to be ‘a bit difficult’, I am freaking overjoyed that Autumn is finally here. It’s always been my favourite season, mostly because it feels like a new beginning, that bigger and better things – crisp cold days! Big coats! Opaque tights! Excuses to make soup! My birthday!  – are just around the corner. It also means that I can legitimately purchase all the jumpers I’ve been swooning over for the past few weeks.

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JUMPER: Marks & Spencer

JEANS: Marks & Spencer

SHOES: Primark

NECKLACE: Oliver Bonas (old)

EARRINGS: And Other Stories (old)

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The theme for Autumn 2016 on the high street appears to be ‘Barb from Stranger Things chic’ which is an aesthetic that I can totally get on board with. The ultra femme side of me loves frills and flounces in all the right places, even more so if they come in delicious shades of mustard, like this Marks and Spencer jumper. Everything about this is perfect, from the lovely ribbed details to the fact that it’s just the right length to wear with jeans. Too short jumpers are a big bugbear of mine, as there’s nothing worse than leaving the house feeling your look, only to spend your afternoon constantly tugging your top down.

I paired this with my trusty skinny jeans (MARKS AND SPENCER, NEVER STOP MAKING THESE) and a pair of gold block heels from Primark, which – surprisingly – happen to be the comfiest pair of heels that I have worn in a long time. So much so in fact, that I recently managed to spend a whole weekend in them while lugging a wheelie suitcase around North London.

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My new favourite lipstick at the moment is Supreme from MDMFlow, a rich warm reddish pink which is perfect for the season. I’ve been raving about MDMFlow’s make up for a while now, as it’s everything I love in a beauty brand. It offers affordable products in bright bold colours, all created by a bad ass woman of colour. I am in total awe of Florence Adepoju, the woman behind the brand and I totally recommend reading this brilliant Buzzfeed piece about her. If you’re thinking about tinkering with your look this Autumn, their products are a great place to start.

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ASOS, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, Charlotte Tilbury, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, summer, Tatty Devine, what i wore, wiwt

Barcelona Beach Baby

Much like my beloved Liverpool, Barcelona is a city with its own beach. Frankly, it would have been rude for us not to pay it a quick visit. And while I promise that this will be my last ‘hey look everyone, I went to Barcelona!’ post, I feel like I’ve saved the best outfit for last.

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JUMPSUIT: ASOS Curve

BELT: ASOS Curve (old, but this is similar!)

SANDALS: ASOS

NECKLACE: Tatty Devine (old, but this one is very similar!)

EARRINGS: Oliver Bonas

I’m mildly annoyed that I wasn’t able to take a killer outfit pic while I was wearing this jumpsuit because I love it so much. It looks like something I’d find being sold in Whistles, a store whose items I frequently lament over. (Seriously Whistles, extend your sizes and I will become one of your most devoted customers.) It’s loose and flowing, and the colours are gorgeous. The only – minor – quibble I have with it is that I wish it had a tie belt to define the waist, but this is more down to the way I’m shaped rather than any fatal design flaw.

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It’s my blog and I’ll pull a stupid face if I want to.

I so wish that more plus sized designers would create modern, vibrant pieces like this instead of thinking that we’re content with twee frills and bows, boxy shapeless tents and ‘cold shoulders’. (We may be fat, but don’t we deserve to have warm shoulders too? Do you know much it rains in the UK?)

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I know that this has become a bit of a Charlotte Tilbury fan blog, but I’m in awe of how good her dreamy glow highlighter made me look. One quick swish of this stuff turned me into a golden glowing goddess, despite three days of late nights, giant gins and salty snacks.

The packaging is also divine, featuring a gorgeous picture of Carmen dell’Orefice shot by Norman Parkinson for Vogue, in the Bahamas. Norman Parkinson is one of my favourite fashion photographers, so I’ll be cherishing this compact long after the highlighter powder has run out. Sadly, this was limited edition, so isn’t being stocked by Charlotte Tilbury anymore. However, I’d seriously recommend taking a nosy around Ebay and seeing if you can snap one up. It’s that good.

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Beauty, books, Charlotte Tilbury, Face Masks, Five Friday Faves, Marks and Spencer, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, psbloggers, skirts

Five Friday Faves: 09.09.2016

Hey pals, how’s your week been? If I could sum mine up in two words, it would be ‘annoying’ and ‘sweaty’. The weather in Manchester recently has been a total soupy mess recently and I’m longing for crisp Autumn days, mugs of hot chocolate and the chance to wear a roll neck jumper in public again without becoming a giant melting mess. However, I have been cheered by the thought of eating a giant burrito for lunch and putting together this list of five Friday faves. This week’s picks include maps, books, skirts, purses and a small ode to the joy of face masks. Ready? Let’s get down to business then.

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ART DECO LONDON MAP – £8.00

I love interesting maps and this one from Blue Crow Media showcasing London’s art deco architecture is an absolute beauty. Frame it and put it on a wall, or use it as an excuse to grab some friends and embark on an adventure. If you’re looking for something a bit more austere, Blue Crow also do a map which showcases London’s brutalist architectural gems.

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MARKS AND SPENCER PER UNA PULL ON METALLIC PENCIL SKIRT – £45.00

Marks and Spencer get a lot of stick from the fashion press. I always feel that this is a bit unfair because I – and many other remarkably fashionable people I know – adore their clothes. They were one of the first high street retailers to go up to a size 24 and their stuff tends to be well made, doesn’t fall apart after a few washes and fits well. Recently, I’ve gone all gooey eyed over this gorgeous pink pleated midi skirt (pink is the new power colour after all) and can’t wait to spend my September swishing around in it.

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THE COOL HUNTER ALPHABET SOUP PRINTED CLUTCH – £67.00

Seeing as my idea of an ‘exciting night’ involves me drinking red wine and eating pizza in my pants, I’m not entirely sure how I ended up on a mailing list called ‘The Cool Hunter.’ But I’m glad I did as it introduced me to this gorgeous alphabet print clutch. It’s fun, it’s bright and according to their website, it’s roomy enough to accommodate the 25 lipsticks, three books and giant pair of headphones that I appear to be incapable of leaving the house without.

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READ JILL DAWSON’S ‘THE CRIME WRITER’

I’m a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith‘s books (such a wonderful mixture of queerness, glamour and evil deeds. If you haven’t read ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ go and do it now.) ‘The Crime Writer’ is a fictionalised account of her life based around the period of time she spent living in Suffolk. It merges Highsmith’s life and her fiction into a gloriously claustrophobic tale of love, murder and intrigue. Think ‘Carol’, but an alternative version of ‘Carol’ where they get to murder the husband and run off into the sunset together (or do they?) Grab a copy and a glass of scotch (Highsmith’s preferred tipple)  and spend your weekend in the company of one of the 20th century’s best female crime writers.

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TREAT YOURSELF TO A FACE MASK 

I have a Sunday ritual where I lock myself in my bathroom, light a scented candle, listen to the football on the radio and treat myself to a long hot bubble bath and a facial. They’re a great means of shutting yourself off from the world for a bit and indulging in a bit of pampering. I usually start off with a clay mask and then move on to shoving a sheet mask on and forgetting about it for half an hour while I snooze. When I was in Barcelona, I bought a vast amount of TonyMoly’s sheet masks. They come in a variety of different ‘flavours’ and always leave my skin feeling peachy keen and teentastic. I’d strongly recommend buying them in bulk online from places like Amazon or Ebay as it tends to work out cheaper than buying them individually.

If you’re super duper skint but still want to indulge, you can often request free face mask samples via the magic of the internet. I’ve got heaps of Charlotte Tilbury’s goddess skin mud mask sachets that I love slapping on when I’m away from home and fancy feeling a bit luxurious. The Body Shop will also give you free samples of their masks to try at home if you ask them nicely (I’m really digging their new Expert Face Masks range which happen to both smell lovely and work wonders on super sensitive skin like mine.)

What are your Friday faves? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting me at @christinamcmc with the hashtag #mcmcfridayfaves. And please follow me on Bloglovin’!

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and other stories, ASOS, Beauty, Beauty bloggers, dresses, fashion, fat positivity, lipstick, Monki, New Look, ootd, Outfit post, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, plus sized summer dresses, psbloggers, Sephora, summer dresses, wiwt

A Shift of Opinion

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Barcelona for my wedding anniversary last week. Barcelona has quickly become one of my favourite European cities, mainly because it contains a beach, glorious architecture, incredible art, stunning food and Gin & Tonics as large as a small child’s head. I’ve not had the easiest year for a number of reasons, but on Saturday night I sat in a Absinthe bar which looked like something Hemmingway would have passed out in, laughing at stupid jokes with Mr. McMc and felt a perfect happiness, the likes of which I haven’t felt in a long time. I’m already planning my return trip.

Unsurprisingly, I also wore some really good outfits. Like this simple shift dress from New Look.

Barcelona - shift dress with sunglasses

SUNGLASSES: ASOS (The ones I’m wearing here are out of stock, but these are very similar)

NECKLACE: Monki

EARRINGS: And Other Stories

DRESS: New Look

HANDBAG: Liquorish (old)

SHOES: ASOS

2016 has been the year where I break arbitrary fat girl fashion rules (e.g. ‘don’t get your arms out!’ and ‘always cinch your waist!’) and while this shift dress may look simple, it packs a real punch in the looks department. It’s so simple that you can dress it up or down any way you like. I decided to keep it simple(ish), pairing it with some metallic accessories and a killer red lipstick. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get any pictures of its lovely cut out back design, which gives it a bit more pizazz than your average plain back shift dress.

Barcelona - shift dress without sunglasses

ASOS shoes don’t have the best reputation in my house, owing to the fact that I do so much walking (and have such heavy feet) that I tend to wear through them in record time. I’m actually shocked that these flat sandals held up as well as they did seeing that we were walking around eight miles a day – albeit with the occasional beer and tapas break.

Barcelona - Sephora Red

I also discovered that Spain has branches of Sephora, which I was drawn to like a moth is drawn to a flame (coloured lipstick). I only meant to buy some hand wash, but came out with a hand wash, three TonyMoly face masks, a Marc Jacobs eyeliner and this incredible ‘always red’ Cream Lip Stain which does not come off. In the interests of beauty blogger ‘research’, I tested its resilience with kissing, boozing and eating and it barely flaked. Once again, I am cursing the fact that we no longer have Sephora’s in the UK. Although saying that, it’s probably a good thing, as if we did there’s a strong likelihood I’d end up bankrupt.

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