Going braless

The end of each work day always looked pretty much the same.  I’d come home, feed the kitties, then race to my room to kick of my shoes and peel off my bra.  Removing my bra was the most relief-infused moment of my day.  It occurred to me that every day I put on an item that causes me so much discomfort that I can’t wait to tear it off the moment I walk through the door.  And I wondered, is it possible for me to forgo that feeling of discomfort by not wearing a bra at all?

 

wp_20160318_19_05_46_pro_zpslsyditsw

My relationship with bras is kind of complicated. I have small boobs, and I always have.  I started wearing training bras when I was eleven, not because I actually needed one, but because I thought wearing a bra was “grown up”.  When I was fourteen I purchased my first padded bra and it was a revelation for me.  I’ve felt self conscious of their small size since I started puberty, and padded bras were a way for me to enhance the size and shape of my breasts.

 

It was this relationship with bras and boobs that really gave me the push to try going braless.  When I started to consider the idea of ditching my bra, there were a number of worries that surfaced.  But the vast majority of them had to do with me feeling concerned about how my breasts would look without a bra.  In the past few years I have started feeling more confident about my boobs, but I’ve come to see that what I’m comfortable with is the way my boobs look in a bra.  A padded bra, with a tonne of underwire to push them up and make them look impossibly round and perky.  I wanted to give myself a chance to get used to my boobs without  a mound of padding on them, and get comfortable seeing them as they are.

 

So I went cold turkey, ditching my bra at lunchtime on a work day.  I went back to work sweating with anxiety, positive that everyone would be able to tell that I wasn’t wearing a bra, worried that I’d be called into my boss’s office for a dressing down about my decision to dress down.  And y’know what, I survived.

 

The first thing I noticed is that my boobs don’t behave very differently when they aren’t harnessed in a bra.  As I mentioned earlier, I have tiny tits.  Also, I’m fairly fit with strong pectoral muscles.  My boobs don’t really bounce even when they aren’t restrained, so their movement alone isn’t enough to give away the fact that I’m free-boobing.

 

One thing that did act as a bit of a red flag were my nipples.  I have very reactive nipples that go hard as marbles the second there is a cool breeze.  Add to this my cold-blooded body temperature and you’ve got a recipe for some stares and self consciousness.  I tried a variety of methods to combat my blueberry-smuggling boobs.  I bought a set of those silicone nipple covers, thinking that they would be great for wearing under white tops.  But unfortunately, they are light in colour but still not as light as my skin.  So somehow, they make my nipples look huge and more noticeable.  I bought a few bralettes which were a godsend under tops where I needed a little coverage.  Camisoles and singlet tops were another valuable go-to for my nip slips.

 

A month has passed since that first day of going braless, and I have only worn a bra once in that time. I have no intention of going back to bras in the foreseeable future.  Not only is it a million times cooler and more comfortable without one, but I’m starting to appreciate my breasts as they are.  I’ve noticed that bras make all boobs look the same.  But when breasts get to go au naturel, they have so much more personality.  My little boobs are cute and perky and I’m learning to love them.

 

Do you wear a bra?  Would you consider going braless?  Do you have any questions about ditching the bra you’d like me to answer?

Advertisements

How to deal with a body that’s changed.

So, over the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body.  And I don’t mean like, growing hair in strange places.  I mean that I’ve gained some weight.  Not a huge amount of weight, but enough that I feel uncomfortable in my own skin (and in most of my jeans).  And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been pretty hard for me to deal with this change in my bod.

Now, I’ve written before about gaining weight, and how it’s troubled me. And a lot of the feelings I discussed in that post are still ringing true.  I’m finding it quite hard to manage the feelings that are cropping up with the weight that I’ve gained.  So in an effort to move forward, I sat down and thought carefully about why I’m so bothered by a few extra kilos.

wp_20160318_19_05_46_pro_zpslsyditsw

While my negative feelings about my body are complicated, there are a few key issues that have bubbled to the surface during my ruminations.  The first is the realisation that even though I try hard to be body positive, even though I try not to internalize the messages I’m bombarded with about how thin is better, and how being fat is a terrible thing, I’m still affected by them.  Even though I know countless people with a wide array of body shapes and sizes who are all incredibly gorgeous, even though I constantly tell people to be kind to themselves, I still feel the weight of those messages.  I still feel like I’ve failed in some way because I’ve gained weight.  I still feel less attractive when I notice that my jeans won’t zip or that my belly pokes out more than it used to.  I still feel like I should be ashamed of my weight gain.  It makes me pretty angry that even though I’ve done my best to resist that negativity and shame, it’s still wormed it’s way into my consciousness.

I’ve also felt frustrated with myself because I keep having this idea that my weight is something that I should control.  And that if I’m gaining weight, it’s because I’ve done the wrong thing.  I feel ashamed and lazy.  I feel mad that I have to manage my depression with drugs that have caused me to gain weight.  I feel burdened by my full-time job, which takes up much of my time and energy and makes it much more difficult to eat well and exercise. And I curse my genetics which make it more likely that I’m going to have a rounder figure as I get older.  I feel impotent because there are so many factors working against me, and I imagine that I should be able to manage them and keep my figure because that’s what women are “supposed to do”.

I also feel uncomfortable with the way I look.  Now, I need to point out that I don’t think that fat=ugly.  The reason that I don’t feel comfortable is that I’m not used to the way my body looks now. Even though the shift in my weight hasn’t been dramatic, it’s enough that I feel strange in my own skin.  I look in the mirror and it feels weird to see more rounded hips, and a curved tummy  and actual boobs.  My figure has become more hourglass where it was always fairly up-and-down and very skinny.  My clothes fit me differently and hug me too tightly over my new curves.  Outfits that used to make me feel confident and sassy now make me feel like a sausage in a too-tight casing. I don’t feel like I look like “me”. It’s so difficult to learn to love a new shape when I’d barely become confident in the one I had.

But I’m doing alright.  And there are a few things I’ve been doing that have helped immensely.  I’d like to share those things with you, in case you’re also struggling with a body that’s changed.

Talk about it.

Discussing my feelings and insecurities has been extremely helpful.  I’m lucky enough to have many people in my life who were kind to me, who listened attentively and empathised.  Talking it over with a few of my favourite people helped me to feel so much better.  It made me realise that my feelings aren’t unique, that these struggles are something that most people go through.  It gave me comfort to know that those special people didn’t think any less of me because I’d gained weight, and still valued me just as much.

Decide what action you want to take (if any)

Let me be absolutely clear: you don’t have to do anything about your weight gain if you don’t want to.  I’m the last person who will tell you that you need to go on a diet.  But I do think that if your weight gain is causing you pain and grief, then you need to do something.  For me, I’ve taken stock of my  lifestyle and realised that I could definitely improve my eating habits and exercise routine.  I know that I need to plan a more well-rounded diet and move my body more often.  At the same time, I know that unless I starve myself and stop taking my medication, I’m never going to get back to my old body.  And so as well as taking better care of myself, I’ve decided that I need to work on accepting my body and coming to terms with the changes that have taken place.  So whether you want to change up your habits, or look at your emotional patterns, or a bit of both, I think taking some action to get yourself feeling better is a good idea.

Recognise that bodies change

All bodies, particularly female bodies, go through massive changes over the course of a lifetime.  And whether those changes are caused by a lifestyle shift, hormones, medication, illness, age, growing a human inside you or some other reason, it can be difficult to manage.  As difficult as it is, it’s really important to accept that our bodies alter and shift as time passes.  It’s perfectly OK to mourn the shape and size you once were, but I think it’s also a good idea to begin to celebrate some good things about your new shape.  For example, I’m trying to feel chuffed about the fact that I finally have boobs, after years of struggling with push-up bras.  Find something that you like, celebrate that and build from there.

Get rid of clothes that trigger self hate.

This one has been hard for me, because my clothes are a huge part of my life.  I love getting dressed in the morning, and I place a lot of emotional attachment to the items in my wardrobe.  For me those skinny jeans aren’t just a couple of denim tubes and a zipper, they have the power to make me feel fierce and sexy.  And when those fierce jeans will no longer zip, their power changes….they become a trigger for self loathing.  Lately I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my clothes, and I’ve gotten rid of a few things that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear again.  There are some I’m hanging onto because there’s a chance that they’ll fit someday.  But the ones that made me feel the shittiest had to go.  It’s hard to let go of those items because of the memories attached to them, and because in a way it feels like the end of a part of my life.  But sometimes you have to take a deep breath, let them go and then buy some new gear that makes you feel fierce and fabulous.

Do you struggle with your body when it changes?  What have you done to make that change easier?

Things I love Thursday 5/3/2014

Hello to you, my lovely reader.  I hope that you’ve had a smashing week thus far and that you’re ready to leap forward into another list of things that are awesome.  Let’s go for it!

This week I love:

– The anticipation of going to see The Wizard of Oz on the big screen.   Our local cinema is showing The Wizard of Oz as part of their “retro movie” series and I can’t wait.  The Wizard of Oz is my favourite film but I’ve never seen it on the big screen.  This is going to be a wonderful opportunity and I’m super excited.

– Duck watching.  I spent my lunch break on Monday down the lake checking out the antics of the local duck population.  Once the ducks were satisfied that I wasn’t going to share my food with them they settled down and went to sleep, some less than a foot from where I was sitting.  It was so cool to be able to watch them from such a close vantage point.

 

– This video, because I think it illustrates a really important point that we need to be reminded of occasionally: that the idea of “The Perfect Body” is a social construct which is constantly in flux.  There is no such thing as one perfect body type, all bodies are beautiful and the way we view beauty shifts.  Just because your body type isn’t the current fashion doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous.

 

– Doing the Arrested Development Chicken Dance with  my brother on his birthday.

 

This Bill Murray key holder.  I would be so chuffed to have Bill Murray hand me my keys every morning.

 

– Cooler nights.  Blankets on the bed.  Robes in the morning.

 

– River God by Wilbur Smith. I just started reading this epic tale of love and adventure set in Ancient Egypt.  My gosh, it’s fantastic.  I haven’t been this hooked on a historical fantasy novel since the Game of Thrones series.

 

– Compliments

 

– Grandfather clocks

 

– Peanut butter Tim Tams

 

– Eating a pomegranate roughly with my hands, which become stained a deep red.

 

– Taking a step closer to securing a spot at one of our best local craft markets.

 

What do you love this week?  Drop a comment with your own list of Thursday loveliness.

Cloth pads vs. Menstrual cups.

Although there is some variety in the kinds of reusable menstrual products available, there are two that stand out as the most common: the cloth pad and the menstrual cup.  While some women who choose reusable products use a combination of these two methods, some are devoted to just one or the other.  I’m often asked by people which of these products I’d recommend, and I would suggest that they are both great.  While they both have some downfalls, each has a distinct set of advantages as well.  There are certain situations where I prefer one over the other.  So today I thought it might be fun to give you a low-down on the pros and cons of my two favourite menstrual products.

Cloth pads

DSCF9334

Pros

– You can make your own if you are handy with a sewing machine, which will really cut costs.

– Last for a long time.  Generally pads will last several years.

– Easy to clean and care for.  Just pop them in the washing machine and air dry.

– Simple to use.  You just clip or slide them into your underpants as you would a disposable pad.

– Comfortable and discreet.

– Little or no smell.  With cloth pads you don’t get that gross “period” smell that disposable pads produce.  That smell is caused by the blood reacting with the chemicals in the disposable pads as well as sweat that gets trapped by the plastic backing of the pad.

– Completely painless.

-It’s pretty easy to pick the right pad for you.  Although shapes and thickness vary, it’s hard to go wrong when selecting pads for the first time.

Cons

– It can be tricky to guess how many you will need, and you run the risk of running out if your cycle is heavier or longer than expected or you don’t plan ahead with your laundry.

– Not as discreet as a cup.  If you need to change a pad at school or at work, you still have to carry the pad to the bathroom, and then carry the soiled one in your bag.  This can be awkward or embarrassing for some people.

– Can be uncomfortable when worn during sports.

– Needs to be changed several times a day.

– Leaks do happen from time to time, particularly if wearing overnight.

– Can’t be worn to go swimming.

– Can be slightly uncomfortable in hot weather.

Menstrual Cup

Pros

– Very discreet.  It’s small and easy to slip into your handbag.  Plus, it’s safe to wear when you don’t have your period.  So if you know your period is due, you can pop it in before you leave the house for the day and you’ll be covered in case you start bleeding.

– Is washed and used again, so you’ll never run out.

– Very economical.  One cup can last 5 years or longer.

– Very hygienic.  Cups are made from medical grade silicone and can be sterilized. As they don’t absorb and hold the blood against your skin there is no risk of toxic shock syndrome.  You also don’t get any odour using the cup.

– Once you’ve learned to use the cup properly the risk of leaks is extremely low.

– Can be worn for up to 12 hours (depending on your flow), so you can wear it all day without having to empty it at work or school.

– Very easy to clean.

– Is very comfortable and can be worn for high-impact sports and in water.

Cons

– It can be tricky to learn how to use the cup properly.  It usually doesn’t take long to get the hang of it, but the first few times may be awkward and potentially messy.

– Not as readily available as cloth pads.

– More expensive than cloth pads (although in the long run a cup works out cheaper).

– You have to be very hands-on with your body to use a cup.  You will have to put your fingers right into your vagina.  You will see your menstrual blood in the cup.  You may get blood on your hands.

– Although a cup is safe to use if you haven’t had vaginal intercourse, it might be difficult.  I know that a lot of women, myself included, struggled to use internal menstrual protection until after they had sex for the first time.  But this varies from body to body.

– Can be difficult to choose the right cup the first time.  You need to do a bit of research and be very familiar with your body to pick the right cup for you.

– Removing the cup can be a bit painful until you’ve learned how to do it properly.

– Unlike a pad, you can’t see when your cup needs emptying.

Overall, I prefer the cup to pads, but they both have their advantages.  The cup is great if you very active or travelling and it’s definitely the more discreet of the two. However the cloth pads are simpler to use and a better choice if you are squeamish about blood or touching your vagina.

If you have any questions about reusable menstrual products I would be happy to answer them.

Do you use cloth pads or a menstrual cup?  If you do, which do you prefer and why?

Product review: Bandelettes.

 I’m a card-carrying member of the Chub Rub Club.  I have generous thighs that touch at the top and generate enough friction to start a fire when I walk long distances.  I like to imagine that my thighs like each other so much that they just can’t keep their hands to themselves. But all this thigh-action can cause some pretty painful chafing. So I’ve been on the lookout for something that will prevent the chub rub.

I came across a product called Bandelettes.  Bandelettes are bands that you wear around your thighs to prevent chafing.  The kind folks at Bandelettes sent me two pairs of their revolutionary thigh bands to try out.

My Bandelettes arrived just as the weather in Benalla reached scorching temperatures.  It was perfect timing and I was eager to take them for a spin.

[Imgur](http://i.imgur.com/K4aqGYl.jpg)

The first step to getting the best performance out of your thigh bands is ensuring that you buy the right size.  To do this, you should measure your thighs with a flexible tape at the point where your thighs touch.  Then, refer to the sizing chart to make sure that you select the correct size.  The reason I got two pairs is because I’m on the cusp of size A and B.  The website recommends to size down if you are in between sizes to ensure a snug fit.

I got two different designs and colours.  This design is called Black Onyx. As you can see, the Bandelettes resemble the tops of stay-up stockings.  They are lined with two non-slip silicone strips to help them to stay in place.

This design is called Beige 1004.  My first impression of the Bandelettes was that they are so pretty!  So many shapewear and utilitarian underwear designs are ugly and matronly, but these look downright sexy.  If I happened to be wearing these on a date and things started to heat up, I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed to let my companion catch a glimpse of these.

To wear your Bandelettes, simply pull them up onto your thighs and position them at the point where your thighs touch.  This will be slightly different for every person.  Make sure that the bands aren’t twisted and are lying flat against your skin.

After I’d positioned my Bandelettes, I threw on a maxi dress and headed out for dinner.  I had to walk quite a long way to get to the restaurant, and I didn’t feel so much as a twinge.  The Bandelettes were so comfortable to wear.  They didn’t rub, slip or roll at all.  I was worried that they might make me feel even hotter in the humid summer air, but actually I felt cooler without the friction from my thighs.

The following day I wore my beige Bandelettes to go shopping.  I walked for hours without any chafing.  Once again, the bands didn’t budge at all.  I experienced similar results with both sizes.  The bands were also extremely discreet, and weren’t visible at all under my clothing.  I had been concerned that the lace might create a static effect that would cause my skirt to cling to them, but this wasn’t the case at all.

The bands are very easy to wash and dry.  I hand-wash them with my delicate items and then lay flat to dry.

Bandelettes retail for $14.99 each  and come in a huge range of colours, including black, red, beige, white and chocolate.  There are even unisex bands if you don’t like the feel or look of lace.  The unisex bands would be a perfect addition to your active wardrobe to prevent chafing while jogging or cycling.

I would highly recommend Bandelettes for my fellow members of the Chub Rub Club.  Not only do they look cute, but they work brilliantly too.

These items were provided for my consideration.  The opinions contained in this review are my own honest views.

Daily outfit: My first seamed stockings.

Today’s outfit features my very first pair of seamed stockings.  It seems weird to me that I’m so into vintage and retro styles and yet I’ve never owned a pair of seamed stockings until now.

 

I noticed these babies a few weeks ago when I was shopping in Melbourne.  One of the outlet stores had a massive display of Voodoo hosiery that was very heavily discounted.  I picked up a few pairs of textured tights and then these gorgeous seamed stockings caught my eye.

 

At first I was drawn to the fact that the seams were red.  Although I like black and brown seams, I do wear a lot of red and I thought that it would add a cheeky touch to some of my vintage ensembles.

 

Then I noticed this charming little detail….

 

 

A little “V” for Vanessa!  How could I possibly resist the opportunity to own a pair of monogrammed tights?

 

 

I mixed and matched eras for work the other day, with a 50’s inspired pencil skirt and some loose 40’s victory rolls.

 


I am wearing:

– Cherry red sweater from Cotton On

– Navy and red polka-dot pencil skirt (thrifted)

– Voodoo Vixen seamed stockings

– Black patent heels from Nine West

– Swarovski crystal earrings (gift from my Nana)

– Signet ring

– “Love” cat-eye glasses from Clearly Contacts.

 

I felt pretty darn foxy in this getup.  Foxy enough to give a little twirl for the camera!

 

I’ve been wearing more and more vintage-inspired outfits to work lately.  My boss seems pretty happy for me to dress however I want as long as I look professional, and it’s awesome to be able to express myself through my clothes at work.

I was so smitten with these stockings.  I had to keep checking to make sure that my seams were straight, but it was well worth it.

Style icon: Miss Piggy in Muppets Most Wanted

I took myself on a me-date last week to see Muppets Most Wanted.  I was utterly blown away by Miss Piggy’s wardrobe in the film.  Now, Piggy has always been one stylish lass, but the most recent offering from The Muppets has taken her personal style in a more sophisticated and vintage-inspired direction that looks amazing.

This new direction has a lot to do with the fact that Vivienne Westwood designed many of Miss Piggy’s costumes.  One of my favourite Westwood-designed outfits included a floor-length tweed coat with a matching beret.  In typical Piggy style, it was accessorized with lashings of pearls and a pair of gloves.

Piggy in London
Piggy’s new style direction is also possibly inspired by her job in the previous Muppets film, where we saw her working as the plus-sized editor for French Vogue.  Piggy’s costumes in Muppets Most Wanted are infinitely more polished and posh than anything we’ve seen her wear before.
Glorious, 40’s-inspired up-dos are topped with an array of breathtaking hats.  I couldn’t get enough of the fedora that Piggy wears to take a tour of Berlin.  The beautiful hat is worn with a stunning suit and silk tie.  In typical Piggy fashion, she adds a smattering of diamond jewelry and her ever-present silk gloves to make this ensemble ultra-feminine. I thought  this outfit was extremely reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich.

 

Piggy in Berlin
Another of my favourite costumes from the film was a gorgeous brocade cheongsam topped with a vintage-inspired pancake hat.  I adored this look not only for it’s sophistication, but because it beautifully encapsulated Piggy’s confidence and poise.  I adore the stylish cut of a cheongsam, but they are often worn only by women with petite, slender figures.  It was so wonderful to see Miss Piggy rocking this look with all her curves on show.  Piggy is the ultimate plus-sized style icon, and she works her curves to perfection in this number.
Cheongsam Piggy
Of course, no Muppet movie would be complete without Piggy gracing the stage in a show-stopping gown.  Her on-stage outfits are more diva than showgirl this time around.  There are plenty of deep plunges, slits, sequins and lush colours on offer.  My favourite on-stage dress is the emerald green number that Piggy wears in Dublin.
Piggy in Dublin
I was so impressed by Miss Piggy’s costumes in Muppets Most Wanted.  I loved the way that her style has progressed and changed as her character changes, but the essence of her show-stopping style is still maintained.  There is still plenty of frou-frou and excess present in her outfits, but I love that the costume designers have allowed Piggy’s style to develop in this film.  Moreover, I actually wanted to wear most of her outfits.  If they put out human-sized versions, I reckon I’d be very tempted to snap them up for myself.
Have you seen Muppets Most Wanted?  What did you think of Piggy’s outfits?