November, 2012

Nov 12

Little Things, Big Message

First of all, can I say that I love pop music? Because I do. I adored it as a child and continue to have a lust for a great tune with proclamations of love in its lyrics. When the seven inch single, the ultimate sound carrier of the three minute pop song was eclipsed by CDs, a little piece of me died.

I still have those 7” singles from my teenage years, no one can ever accuse me of being a music snob.  You didn’t have boy bands in my day (1980s) but I  really don’t mind some that have emerged in recent years. Westlife and Boyzone are an absolute NO, but JLS I think are pretty cool.

I don’t get offended by X Factor winners, because I am not their target audience. Singers and groups who win the show are for younger people. I’m far too long in the tooth and I’m fine with that.

One Direction did well on X Factor I believe -I really don’t watch it, sorry. I can’t pretend I’m a huge fan but I don’t get distressed when one of their songs comes on the radio.

Until now, that is.

On Sunday night I was on Twitter, and read a tweet about the new One Direction single, Little Things. The tweet contained language I couldn’t possibly repeat here, but let’s just say it expressed some dissatisfaction at the song’s lyrical content.

I thought it was a case of the Tweeter being a musical snob, but I thought I’d check out the lyrics anyway before I commented back.

I searched online, and I couldn’t believe what I read.

‘You’ve never loved

Your stomach or your thighs

The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine

…You never want to know how much you weigh

You still have to squeeze into your jeans’ (Syco (c) Ed Sheeran, Fiona Bevan)

I beg your pardon?

We hear much of the time, don’t we, about girls having a bad body image from a younger age these days. How primary school girls are worried about their weight and telling their parents they need to diet. That children these days are growing up too quickly.

So, why on earth is a boy band whose prime market is prepubescent and teenage girls, singing a song about girls feeling fat? Not loving themselves? Having ‘dimples’ in their back?

I have a friend whose seven year old daughter’s bedroom is wallpapered with posters of One Direction, the child sings along to their songs on the radio – and knows the lyrics by heart.  Normal and healthy enough behaviour for a seven year old, you may think. Absolutely. I’d agree with that.

But not if the lyrics she is singing are so appalling.

We live in a society ever obsessed with celebrity. Girls and young women shouldn’t be spoon fed such messages by their pop idols.

Little Things shot straight to number one in the charts on Sunday. Good for the One Direction. I’m very happy for them.

But it’s not good for the body image of thousands of seven year old girls across the UK who take such a negative message about body image on board.



Nov 12

Look to the stars

Mankind can send a rocket to Mars, produce vegan cheese (should you wish to buy some, though don’t – it’s grim stuff!), hoodwink millions into believing 50 Shades of Grey is a fine novel worth reading but somehow struggles to get its head around correct sizing for women.

Every woman knows it’s often a case of lucky dip when you try on dresses. A size ten might fit someone beautifully in one shop, whereas in another a size twelve won’t squeeze over their hips. Fashion designers “blah blah blah” on about different fabrics, cuts and so on (yawn)  but it doesn’t make the situation any less crackers.

Myself in the Curvissa star dress with City Talk 105.9’s Breakfast Show present Mick Coyle

For curvy women though, the sizing issue is more of a problem.  If your chest or hips are curvier than the rest of your body then sizing can be a nightmare. I always struggle with dresses, so when Curvissa offered to send me a dress that wasn’t wrap over, I wavered.

I’ve had such a rigmarole from other labels over sizing. I often order something and it doesn’t fit, unable to accommodate my bust. Or, it will cover that area well but leave the rest of me swimming in fabric. I have to accommodate the dress rather than it, me. So, I usually go for wrap over dresses and tops because they highlight my waist and cleavage – and a sash or belt pulled tight works wonders with an otherwise loose dress.

Often my dress size veers into plus size territory, and I’m not alone. I, and other curvy women, shouldn’t have to wear clothes are simply too big, but often there is no choice.

When the Curvissa dress arrived, I was very pleasantly surprised indeed. It has an scooped neckline – usually a major no-no for me as such necklines act as a ‘hammock’ across my breasts, making them into a shapeless mono-boob. Not this dress though, probably because of the star pattern and loose sleeves. It has a ruffled front too, which breaks the hammock-ish line up.

At the launch of the new Dodgy single

It’s such a cute design, with a flared skirt – and a pretty ruffled hem. I love this dress, it’s so adaptable.

I’ve been to live music gigs in in it, including the launch of band Dodgy’s new single (This Love Is) Bigger Than Both of Us  and I’ve also worn it for my regular spot on the breakfast show on Liverpool’s City Talk 105.9.

A winner!


Nov 12

Curvy women on the catwalk

A lot of my friends thought I was mad/joking/drunk (or all three) when I broke the news I was going to be a model. Don’t get me wrong, it came as a surprise to me too.

Over the summer, I read on Twitter about Liverpool Fashion Live, who were mad keen to have a wide variety of women modelling at their fashion event to raise money for Claire House  in October. Claire House is a Merseyside hospice which helps children and young people with terminal illnesses and life limiting conditions,  a truly great charity.

Liverpool Fashion Live stressed they were looking for people of all shapes and sizes to strut their stuff on the catwalk, including those who’d never modelled before. I wavered for just a few seconds, then fired off an application – and to my absolute delight they accepted me.

Curvy women celebrated at Liverpool Fashion Live - alongside firemen!

The models from Firemen Models pose with me at Liverpool Fashion Live, a celebration of different body types, including full figured women

The organisations behind Liverpool Fashion Live, Room 31  and The Style Factory, were both very passionate that every sector of society should be represented in the fashion show, including curvy women, so I knew I wouldn’t be a Billy No Mates on the day itself. True to their word, I found myself in the company of a surprising range of diverse models from the moment I got there.  Models ranged from aged 14 – 80 years of age, making sure everyone was represented – and gorgeously, at that.

Liverpool Fashion Live was held in the swanky surroundings of Pan Am in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, we were asked to attend from 2pm, not only for fittings but for hair and make-up too.

When I’ve done television appearances – The Wright Stuff and The Vanessa Show, both for Channel Five – yes I enjoyed the broadcasting aspect, but I love and adore getting my hair and make-up done professionally.  The experts can do the business in that department so much better than I ever could. Sure enough, Wigan & Leigh College’s make-up artists did a smashing job of pinning my hair up and putting on catwalk make up, the foundation was darker and thicker than I’d normally wear, to make sure if stands out under such bright lights.

I had my nails done as well, by Gemma Nails & Beauty, a really vampish red. The very colour nails should be!

Myself and Becky Hannon, two curvy ladies modelling at Liverpool Fashion Week

Everyone involved in Liverpool Fashion Live contributed their services for free, all to raise money for Claire House and worked flat out for a good twelve hours.

I must confess, before I took part in LFL I believed models to be snooty and spoilt madams. I’m not too proud to hold my hands up when I’m wrong; every single one of the women I spoke to were lovely and welcoming and supportive to me and the others who’d never modelled before. I had a long chat with Models of Diversity, a modelling agency who have women on their books not traditionally seen in the world of fashion. They use women with disabilities, and of plus size as well, such as the beautiful voluptuous Angelica Fenney, and really promote the notion that everyone can be beautiful.

Plus size model Angelica Fenney struts her stuff

I had three dresses to wear on the night, one a Simply Be wedding dress – if I wasn’t married already I’d have snaffled it into my handbag, it was that nice – and two other beautiful full length formal gowns, each owned by Becky Hannon,  star of this summer’s Big Brother.   Becky is a bit curvier than me so we had to make some amendments, but it’s amazing what you can do with a tight belt and sash!

I was honestly made up to be doing the cat walk, with all the press snapping away, that alone was enough to make me feel amazing, but I didn’t expect in a million years there’d be male models, escorting me. Fantastic! There were firemen as well, from the Firemen Models agency who only engage serving fire fighters. Such lovely boys! (As you may well have noticed by their picture…)

Liverpool Fashion Live really did confirm to Liverpool – and the world – that variety is a wonderful thing on the catwalk, that full figured women are just as valid in the world of fashion as our more slender contemporaries.

I’m hoping they run the event next year as well. One thing’s for sure, I’m putting my name down for it, if they are…




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