Friday, 24 April 2015

Jamelia - Your Argument is Flawed. Here's my Big Fat Story...

I really hope you can spend 5 minutes reading this blog post, no matter who you are, where you're from or what size you are. It's a very upfront and honest perspective that not everyone will understand, but I'm hoping I can change that...

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you'll be fully aware of failed pop star Jamelia's controversial comments regarding plus size clothing, and the huge backlash she has received in the aftermath.

I actually cannot be bothered to quote her but in essence her opinion (which she has explained she is paid to give) is that "extreme" sizes below 6 and over 20 should not be available on the high street and should only be sold in specialist shops. She explained that these sizes are unhealthy and that women who fit in them should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go shopping.

I have read many blog posts since then from many members of the amazing plus-size blogging community and have agreed with them all, But in my opinion (which I don't get paid to give) there's a big point that's being missed here and one that not everyone can relate to, but I'd like to share it...


I was a teenager of the 90s, when the world was a very different place to what it is now. I didn't get my first mobile phone (a rather splendid Nokia 3310 with Purple Ronnie fascia) until I was 18 and apart from spending 20mins waiting for the internet to dial up before being thrown off again (cos my Mum wanted to ring my Auntie) there wasn't an online world or a social media community to be part of.

Like most teenage girls have always done, I spent many Saturdays in town shopping with my friends. But I was a lot bigger than all of them so my options for clothing were very very limited. There was literally one shop in Blackburn that I was able to buy clothes from, and that was Evans. Back then, Evans catered for Mums, most of their clothes were flowery, frumpy and a far cry from fashionable. So who could blame me for being embarrassed to take my friends in there as a 14/15/16 year old girl? I felt exactly how Jamelia wanted me to feel. I was uncomfortable, ashamed and embarrassed. There was one "specialist shop" that I could shop in and that was it. So what did I do? Well just like my friends, I had money to spend, I started working at 13 doing bits of part time work here and there and saving as much money as I could. At home things were hard. My father had passed away when I was 4 and my Mum had lost a successful business through no fault of her own. She was going through difficult times and there was very little money around. Little money meant little food but I hadn't gotten to the size I was without being a big food lover! So with a pocket full of cash and nowhere to spend it that didn't fill me with dread, I spent several years buying nothing but shoes, handbags, make up and one other thing - FOOD.

I was too young to understand what low self esteem and depression were, but that's exactly what was going on. And like any good fat girl I was absolutely brilliant at self-medicating. As I trawled through pages and pages of glossy magazines filled with amazing looks I could never achieve, suddenly the only thing that made me feel better was a litre of ice cream or a family sized cream cake. Funnily enough that resulted in me gaining even more weight! So being "fat-shamed" didn't make me get healthier as the wonderful Jamelia seems to think it would, it made me fatter.

I then discovered alcohol and was out drinking with friends at least 3 nights a week. In fairness, I danced a lot of it off but I still continued to gain weight and when you're already way over Jamelia's acceptable size 20, a few more dress sizes really makes no difference at all.

When I was 19 I met my soul mate and partner Simon and we fell madly in love, within a couple of years we were living together with a baby on the way and I had everything I'd ever wanted. That still didn't stop me hating myself every single day, covering those feelings up to the outside world with my humour, boisterous personality and gift of the gab. I had my amazing, beautiful, perfect baby boy in 2004 and had then reached my heaviest weight, fashion was far from my mind and I spent the next few years buying whatever I could find on eBay that would fit and "look OK"

I suffered from horrendous post natal depression and behind closed doors it was a very very difficult and dark period of my life. Getting bigger, feeling worthless and at some points wondering why anyone wanted anything to do with me as I was just so inadequate and quite frankly, useless.

At this point, I was also holding down a very stressful sales job and surrounded by a very negative workforce, that only served to bring me down even more. I ended up having a breakdown and becoming very very ill for 6 months. This was a massive turning point in my life as I had mental space to really think and reevaluate my life. It was then that I decided to take a risk and open my vintage boutique to compliment my online shop
Boy, did this begin to change my life...

Suddenly I was being true to me, doing what I love the most and also giving options to so many women of different shapes and sizes. I stock anything from a vintage size 4 to a gorgeous size 28 and sometimes beyond. I have had women cry in the shop of pure happiness as finally they have been made to feel welcome and feel beautiful, not ostracised. I've also been able to reach out on social media, finding incredible women who write about their feelings and their fashion, things that I can really relate to. I now have so many more shops and labels that I can buy amazing fashion from and it feels great. I've found my inner peace, inner confidence and there is absolutely no stopping me now. I'm even at a point where I now hold confidence and empowerment classes. These have absolutely NOTHING to do with size, they are about women feeling good about themselves and enjoying their life at last, subsequently achieving great things. I've also been HUGELY inspired by the incredible Tess Holliday (aka Tess Munster) over the last year, and she has been a real catalyst for my hugely improved mental health and wellbeing.

And guess what Jamelia? I've actually started to loose weight too, meaning my mental AND physical health is improving. All because I'm learning to love myself and subsequently I don't want to punish myself. And no, this really isn't any of your business but it is FACT, not opinion. The fact is, shaming made me fatter and self worth makes me healthier.

So, Jamelia (and anyone who agrees with her) your opinion is completely flawed and quite frankly, bullshit.



  1. Well said and well done Emma ....xx

  2. Well missus that is quite touching to be honest and Im a man, can you bottle your enthusiasm and sell it?
    You go girly!!!! From that mad scouser.

  3. When I was a teenager, I was bigger than all my friends. Looking back, I wasn't fat like I imagined, but I have massive shoulders, and had a pair of 40 D norks hanging off my chest. The clothes I tried on with my friends in Topshop and Miss Selfridge never, ever fitted. Whenever I gave my measurements for costumes at dance shows, whichever mum was making it would always knock a few inches off, maybe to save fabric, or perhaps because a dancer shouldn't have tits that size. The result was, I was crammed into clothes too tight to try to conform, and I looked a state. Did it make me want to lose weight? Yes. Did I need to? Not really. Did I go about it in a healthy way? No. I had a lot of issues around food anyway, with textures and tastes, and having been shamed at primary school for not liking the dinners, so they used to make me sit for over an hour, crying, considering my cold congealing hotpot rather than accepting that I couldn't deal with the texture. I stopped eating in front of people, I punished myself by withholding food, and still do.

    I look back at photos of myself from high school and sixth form, and I wasn't huge. I was a size 12/14 to my friends' size 8s. I remember cramming myself into a size 8 denim skirt from Miss Selfridge because I thought I was the number in the back of my clothes, and that my 'friends' would take the piss. I continued to self-medicate with food also. In sixth form I wore a suit with whatever random shirt I felt like, and my dad's enormous parka over the top. I was taken to one side by a teacher who took it upon herself to tell me that I looked like the 'school bag lady'. I was trying both to rebel and to hide at the same time. I knew I would never fit in, but I also still wanted to be admired. And I carried on getting bigger, until I was a wearing a size 22, wearing mainly mens shirts and mens jeans.

    Then I found that there were shops that sold clothes that fitted me, and I still wasn't happy with my size, but at least I felt comfortable enough in my own skin to start paying attention to my clothes and hair, and feeling a bit less self-loathing. I bought clothes in Asda, because they were cheap and generously sized, and being this size was only temporary, surely, and because deep down I didn't believe that I deserved expensive clothes, because of how I looked.

    Did any of this shame cause me to lose weight in a safe, sustainable way? No. I lost a bit for a while, and was wearing size 14/16, and looked and felt amazing. I was doing this by starving myself, but I felt good because people told me I looked good. My self worth is intrinsically linked to my size, and people's perception of me. Of course, it wasn't sustainable, I had a nervous breakdown in 2009 and the weight all piled back on, plus interest.

  4. Part 2 of 2:

    Fast forward to 2011, and was it shame that caused my biggest weight loss to date, Jamelia? No, it was ending up in a hospital bed with an impacted gallbladder, and not being able to eat anything except jelly and spaghetti whilst I waited for its removal. Had years of self-punishment, self-loathing, binging and stuffing my face in private done my poor body any good? Doubt it. I continued to lose weight afterwards, and in April 2013 I walked down the aisle as a size 8, and still unhappy with my podgy belly and cellulitey thighs. Whilst I was that size I bought a beautiful polka dot Collectif dress from you, Emma. I remember standing in front of you and my friends in it whilst you all exclaimed how amazing I looked. And my reaction: "I need a flatter tummy before I can wear this." It's still in the wardrobe, with the tags on.
    I've put 2 stone back on since I got married. I'm still in Jamelia's 'acceptable size' bracket. And I hate how I look, how I feel, how my clothes fit. So, Jamelia, it runs deeper than certain sizes being available in shops, and shaming those who don't fit in. Because if you shame us enough, we will never be happy with how we look, and will never fit in, even when our sizes are acceptable. The problem is not the availability of plus size clothes in mainstream stores, the problem is that the entire fashion and beauty industry, hell, most things marketed at women in general, revolves around the premise that women are not and should not be happy with themselves, their skin, their hair, their figures, the whiteness of their laundry, the cleanness of their skirting boards. And whilst we still have people peddling this shite myth that shame is the catalyst for change, rather than for misery and self-loathing, sadly, the premise will continue to be true.

  5. You've hit the nail on the head there!! You're an inspiration to all women, not matter what shape or size. Particulaarly loving that end photo haha!!

  6. Go Girl ..! what a great blog ... just wish I lived a bit nearer so I could join your merry gang..

  7. beautiful and open post #wearethethey xx

  8. You're a blessing girl <3 I loved reading your post... Point made :)

  9. So true! Body shaming never has, nor will it ever work! Great blog by the way n love the last pic lol

  10. Fan-bloody-tastic!! I actually didn't know you did plus sizes in your shop. I will certainly be bobbing in now I know. Great speach Em, I particularly liked the part where you said "failed pop star" hahaha

  11. What can I say but wow totally amazing. I've always been big and did the trawling through Evans to find clothes to fit me (not trendy or what I wanted as a teenager but hey ho). Well done xx

  12. I applaud you, I posted on the Loose Women website, which is something I don't normally do, but I can't believe Jamelia has not been sacked if she made these kinds of comments about any other type of person she would have. Apparently it's ok to be fatist because it's for our own good! I'm glad there are people like you who don't conform and still become successful. Good luck in the future.

  13. I actually couldn't of put it better myself, Amen sister! Xxx

  14. You're still beautiful. :-)

    I admire for this, you're an inspiration for everyone.

  15. I am so thankful that my daughter who is 13 and fabulous, is able to be herself and dress exactly how she wants with no restrictions because of her size. Due to amazing people like Emma my daughter will never have to feel like she cannot be herself xxx and you just know she loves myvintage hehe xxx

  16. Not everyone is big because they over eat, there are medical conditions like hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) from which I suffer and this makes the weight pile on, also, some medications can make you gain weight. I've been on citalipram (antidepressant) for the last 15 years and that is well known for weight gain, so I'm fighting a losing battle. Finding clothes that I look good and feel good in, makes all the difference.


I read all your comments and love to receive them. Thanks so much for getting involved with the blog! Emma x