Beauty

Back To My Roots

You know it’s funny sometimes things happen to you for reasons you don’t expect and when you don’t see them coming. In my case I’m talking about my latest achievement on my journey to confidence. What I’m about to discuss for some people would seem like a small thing but if you stick with me for a few minutes I’ll do my best to explain. A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and go natural. What do I mean by go natural? I’m speaking specifically about my hair. Most women know what it is to wear their natural hair and even what it is to treat and style it. I really had never had the chance to do so until just over a month ago. Let me take you back a bit…

Me as a tot with my dreads

When I was a child my hair was in dreadlocks until I was about 14-15 years old. Both my mother and father have dreadlocks and my mum later told me it was never her intention to lock my hair but as a child I simply would not let her style it without bringing my house into a state of chaos as I screamed in protest while she worked to style my hair. Of course my hair was a lot softer as a child but I have always had extremely thick and tight hair. Growing up I never really thought much about my hair I would wash it weekly and then sit down to let my mother twist my stray hairs into my locks. It was when I got into secondary school I realised that I wanted to change my hair and try new styles but that would mean doing the dreaded chop and cutting it all off. As an over weight teenager who already had a lot of attention from bullies and other people in the class the last thing I wanted to was draw more attention to myself by having a bald head, so I spoke to my mum about the situation and it was decided that I would let my hair grow out somewhat and then cut it and work with braids until I could get it to a decent length.

In My late teens with braided extensions

I started speaking to some of my cousins to see what things they did to maintain and style their hair and I soon realised that I would have some different challenges to them when it came to maintaining my own hair. My hair is thicker than that of most people’s and some would describe the texture as nappy. To mixed raced and black people it’s been deemed over the years a really negative thing to have nappy hair. What the term means is that you have really dry, coarse and tight afro like hair. For people of other ethnicities this doesn’t seem to even be something they think about and in truth most of my friends who are of other backgrounds have been pushing for me to wear my natural hair out for years! The problem with doing this was, well me…

Me with my hair relaxed, wearing some weave tracks in my hair

The truth is that for decades the world has been shown one very small standard of beauty which leans towards the looks and features that Caucasian, European women have. Thinner bodies with slightly smaller curves and beautiful long, shiny and straight hair. Already women of colour were set a precedent that we simply could not live by and as a result we have seen women bleaching their skin for years, dressing and wearing clothes that may not have been their preferred style and of course the changing and experimentation with our hair. For years women like myself played around with relaxing our hair which basically means to paint a chemical paste into our hair that burns it straight. I did this for years and to be honest I always have and will always hate the process. It’s extremely painful and could often times leave you with scabs or scars on your scalp. The hair can become brittle and damaged and as a result can take forever and a day to grow! The thing is I come from a mixed race family and have a host of friends from all over the world so I personally don’t feel I have carried all of the baggage that some other coloured women carry when it comes to having confidence in their looks. In my case the problem was initially my weight and then of course my hair.

Wearing a relaxer with a clip in extension 

I finally reached a point where I would find ways to achieve the hair looks I liked without having to put my hair and scalp through so much physical trauma. I started to experiment with weaves, clips ins and eventually wigs. The truth is though while I like how I looked with these styles they are extremely expensive to do. It’s no wonder the hair industry is such a wealthy business and from what I have seen over the years it’s women of colour who have been the largest consumers of synthetic and human hair supplies and extensions. Recently we have seen a rise with women of all races buying into these products which I can only assume is a result of celebrity pressure that we all face, through social media and reality TV shows. The past 10-20 years has seen women doing anything and everything to enhance the beauty we already carry with wearing new styles of makeup such as nail extensions, false eye lashes, fillers and injectables and of course additional hair pieces. I recently hit a financial snag and was simply unable to find the few hundred pounds required to do something about my hair! I thought about relaxing my hair again which I hadn’t done for nearly 2 years and thought back to the horrible experiences of my past. The average woman can use about half  tub of relaxer to work on the 2-3 inches of regrowth she would need to burn her hair straight. In my case I would need up to 2 tubs for the same amount of hair growth due to how thick and coarse my hair is! I could only imagine how much of the stuff I would need to do what’s known as a virgin relaxer and the thought of sitting for an hour with my scalp on fire was not an option!

Wearing a wig

A mix between natural and enhanced. I wear my hair in corn row braids and a clip in extension

My friend Venice had taken the time out to pretty much give me the push I needed to just work with what god gave me and wear my own hair out. It had been years since I had worn just my natural hair out, the last time was when I had had dreadlocks! Now in my late twenties the prospect was rather daunting for me and I suddenly felt my self confidence being questioned. Venice washed and conditioned my hair (with some products I’ll later be reviewing on the blog), showed me some techniques to condition my hair to help with growth and style. She had been doing the same thing to her daughter’s who’s hair is like mine. I have to say after taking out my large twists and seeing my huge bouncy curls I was taken aback for about 5 minutes and then I suddenly thought wow it’s me, all me! Even my hair has a large personality of it’s own and I should embrace this! I took some pictures with Hanna, put them on Facebook and the amount of compliments I received from my friends and loved ones shocked me! I was given a new source of confidence and I am slowly falling in love with my own hair for the first time in my life!

Like I said before I know this seems like a small fate to some but I had no idea why so many women were throwing away the wigs and weaves and going bare with their own hair. This was a movement I hadn’t taken the time to look into or be a part of. I simply ended up taking note when I saw other friends doing the same and it was only because of my financial situation and some kind words from some friends that I thought oh what the hell let’s give it a go! I say it all the time about fashion and wearing what makes you feel confident, we need to play around with our look more to see what works for us. I now say the same about your hair and I encourage all women out there with quote on quote “nappy” or course hair to give this a go! I’m so happy I did!

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

My Aquatic Mermaid Shoot With Chiara Aprea!

I spend a lot of time on the blog talking about my love of fashion and showing you all the outfits that I have put together. When I first started this blog my aim was to show plus size women a variety of clothing styles available to them and hopefully give them some ideas and tips when styling their looks. Early on in my journey to confidence I played around with my look and it was through this experimentation that I discovered that we all have the ability to wear whatever we like and we can use fashion as a way to show our personality and have fun. As it stands I haven’t shared that many beauty looks on the blog because in truth, I haven’t had much of a chance to play around in that area.

There is one woman who knows my face better than most and is able to transform my image in a variety of ways. Chiara Aprea is real visionary and such a talent! So far most of my photo shoots have been with her. As a plus size model, photographer and makeup artist her skills are second to none. I love working with her because each experience is different to the last. When Chiara and I prepare to do a shoot we usually brainstorm over different themes and MUA styles. I had told Chiara quite some time ago that I really wanted to do a beauty shoot featuring fantasy mermaid makeup. Fast forward a few months and we had set a date to transform me into an aquatic mermaid with hints of the ice queen!



Having worked with Chiara twice before I knew I was going to be in for a fun and very creative day. Our first shoot together was a vintage boudoir theme with a series of different costume and hair changes. My makeup for this shoot remained the same but the different accessories, angles and looks made for a really varied set of photos. To see some of them check out my previous post about it here.

Second time around was a new experience for both myself and Chiara. She had wanted to start offering beauty shoots which focused on hair and makeup set to a specific theme. This time around she had approached me to do this with her. The idea was to transform me from the Mayah you are all familiar with to a technicolor geisha and dangerous dominatrix! I loved the idea as I thought this would be a challenge and a great way to play with makeup! Chiara thought that with my hair type and complexion I would be a great candidate to showcase some of her capabilities that people weren’t very familiar with. To see some of these images and hear about our day check out my previous post here.

So here we are, I’m back in the makeup chair and this time we both knew that the process of application would be quite lengthy. Firstly she started by painting my forehead in a blue and silver gradient. My eyes and hairline were perfectly lined and the plan was to have a similar finish on my lips. We then added sequins and glitter and finished off by adding tons of diamontes in a variety of sizes and shades of blue. We then straightened my hair, added extensions and sprayed the tips in white and silver hair paint. The colours we used didn’t show up hugely on my hair but they gave me a slight tint which actually worked really well in the pictures.

My aim was to tap into a really quiet sombre side of my personality and do my best not to smile. As quite a smiley person this was a challenge for me. The aim was for me to showcase all of my emotion through my eyes. We switched up the lighting throughout the shoot which gave my skin and makeup a really interesting hue throughout. When bright lights hit my eyes they tend to go from their usual dark brown to a bright chestnut colour, this happens to me in the sunshine too. I really love that in these pictures my eyes constantly look different and I have a variety of expressions from dark and moody to sweet and sultry. I absolutely love how these pictures came out and love the high fashion feel that they have. Once again I am in awe of Chiara’s work and her direction helped me pose for some beautiful images.

If you would like to see more of Chiara’s work check out her photography page on Facebook. You can also get information on how to book your own shoot. To check it out click here.

As I mentioned before Chiara is not only an amazing photographer and makeup artist she is also a successful plus size model and a gorgeous one at that! Check out her model page here.

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

The Sensational Scarlett & Jo And The SS15 Shoot

The past few weeks have been a major whirlwind for me, the most exciting thing was of course working with the amazing Scarlett & Jo for their Spring and Summer campaign, and getting to know 7 of my other blogging sisters better.

The cupcake party was a lot of fun and it was nice to discover how the others girls came to start their blogs and what journey’s they have been on in the process. I have said it before and I will say it again, the highlight for me was of course working with Scarlett & Jo. When I first came into the offices and met with Aoife, Louisa and Gifi the incredible journey started for me. Everyone was so welcoming and so lovely and what really struck me and put a smile on my face was of course meeting the amazing designer Gifi. For years I had spent years working as a professional singer and musician and Gifi really reminds me of many of the people I had met during my years on the stage and in theatre. He is such a character; full of life, zeal and creativity. I really gravitate towards fun and creative people and he is exactly that. I was surprised and extremely flattered to learn that he had seen my reviews of the Powerfit dress on the Evans website and then my blog posts about their clothes. It was such a pleasure to speak with him in person and to see how much passion he has for creating amazing clothes for women everywhere. Scarlett & Jo as a brand is very precious to him and he and the team are committed to bringing women beautiful garments which look great on women of all shapes and sizes. The detail and engineering that goes into the clothing is second to none and it shows whenever you wear them. I was just saying to a friend of mine earlier today that nearly 2 years after buying my first dress and wearing it EVERYWHERE it still looks and fits exactly the same as it did the first day I wore it!

Here are my final images from the shoot:

I was so honoured to have been asked to join the girls in the current campaign. So much thought has gone into every single item in the collection and there really is something to suit everyone. I have to say it was so nice to be working with a group of people who all share the same passion about fashion for the plus woman and every picture taken on the day came out so beautiful. Hats off to the incredibly talented Nicky Rockets for all of his work, he was such a pleasure to shoot with. The collection is rolling out onto the Evans website as I write this post with items being added daily. Selected stores which stock the Scarlett & Jo range will also be getting these items so keep your eyes and ears open for updates.

Here are some of my favourite out-take pictures taken on the shoot:

Photography from Nicky Rockets

Check out the blogs of the other girls and see what gorgeous garments they wore during the shoot: Betty, Gloria, Becky, Georgina, Elena, Hollie and Nancy

For more on Scarlett & Jo check out their Tumblr and Evans

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

Cupcakes And Dresses, A Plus Blogger Fashion Party!

My journey to confidence has brought with it many changes. I used to live in black and boring clothes, would never wear garish prints or colours and would always play it safe with my fashion choices. For years some of my closest friends had tried their very best to encourage me to wear dresses and skirts. You wouldn’t think I was ever that way if you met me today but it’s true! One brand in particular forced me to change my outlook and be bold and that brand is of course Scarlett & Jo.

I hadn’t worn a dress since I was a child and for years I hadn’t even considered it, but as soon as I saw their panelled dresses hit Evans stores I knew I had to get my hands on one! The dress that has since been named their Powerfit dress is a style that seriously blew my mind. I had seen some bloggers and fashionistas wearing this dress and despite the fact that all of these women came in a different sizes and shapes it suited everyone! My first was the blue dress and I was hooked. I now own 5 colours (Check out how I styled the cream contrast version) and I will most definitely be picking up more when they hit the shops! To see my review of the dress click here.

Check out these gorgeous dresses due to come out in the SS15 Collection!

I later discovered their peplum style dress which I absolutely love and this became my go-to outfit last Valentines day. Check out my previous post and I’m sure the dress will speak for itself!

I was instantly hooked on the Scarlett & Jo brand, I saw them as a brand that brought classic old Hollywood and vintage styles into the modern market and with a fresh and interesting twist. Last week I recieved an email from the brand asking me if I would like to join them for a bloggers cupcake party and photoshoot, you can not believe how excited and honoured I was to be asked! The following day I was on my way to a fitting at their offices, I was both nervous and excited at what was happening. It was all happening so fast that I didn’t really have a lot of time to take it all in. 7 other bloggers had been selected to participate and each of them had had a dress designed specifically with them in mind. As I had joined the group quite late into the process I was expecting to wear one of the new lines that had been designed or a dress that was made with another girl in mind. I had seen the most gorgeous tropical print fabric and I fell in love with it, I was then shocked to find that the design team had been asked to throw something together for me to wear at the shoot. The following day when I arrived at the gorgeous mansion Home House; there was a pair of trousers, a skirt and a powerfit dress all made in my size and in the fabric! As you can imagine I went straight for the dress and it ended up being the first outfit I would take pictures in.

As the day progressed I had seen more beautiful colours, fabrics and garments made than I was expecting. I found myself wanting to buy every single frock lol I guess I just have to wait until the collection comes out to get my hands on them! I will say this though, the amazing details in the cuts and shapes of the dresses will flatter anyone who tries them. You guys will be in for a serious treat!

The highlight of my day was spending so much time with the other blogger babes. Most of the girls I had met at previous functions and events but I hadn’t been awarded the opportunity to really converse in the past. It was great sharing our admiration of the clothing and of the day. These women are not only gorgeous but they all have a deep affection for making plus women look and feel in amazing in whatever they choose to wear! I felt more uplifted and more inspired as the hours passed, and I have to say it was an amazing experience for every possible reason! I am still buzzing from it today and I cannot wait to see what the finished images look like!

Check out the blogs of the other girls:
Betty, Gloria, Becky, Georgina, Elena, Hollie and Nancy

For more on Scarlett & Jo check out their Tumblr and Evans pages.

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!