Repel those stigmas…

In two weeks time I’ll be in the air flying to Perth for my Wedding! I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. For over 2 months now I’ve had a countdown on our whiteboard in the kitchen. Each morning I patter out to the kitchen, wipe the previous count off the board and happily count down one more day. Can you tell I’m excited?

BUT, over the past few weeks I’ve found myself checking myself on more than one occasion. You know that niggly feeling you get when something doesn’t feel quite right? Today I suddenly realised I’d fallen for it, the state of mind I pride myself on had fallen prey to stigma.

“Oh what diet are you following for your wedding?”

“How much are you hoping to lose before the day?”

“How much weight have you lost so far for your big day?”

Those are but a few questions I’ve fielded with perfect strangers during the past few months whilst shopping for my wedding or buying a coffee.

Really?

When I answer with “none” or “I’m not planning to”, their faces change from musing to complete shock.

What is wrong here?

For years I’ve worked so hard to project positive body image. I’ve lived, worked and breathed it. I, like every other woman on the planet, have the normal twinges of doubt about how I look, or those parts of my body that I might prefer to be different, but on the whole I am proud to say I am a VERY confident woman. So what happened?

I’m really annoyed with myself. I let others stigmas and yard sticks measure me and impact on my own sense of self.

My superman Pete loves me just the way I am. In fact, he doesn’t just love me, he LOVES ME, all of me. My kids love me just the way I am, my friends and family love me, and suddenly I realised I was doubting my love for myself.

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Last year I invested in the Inspirational Self Love Quotes, a beautiful e-book by my gorgeous friend & colleague Julie Parker at Beautiful You. Now this lady knows her stuff when it comes to Positive Body Image. I have some of her quotes framed in my office, and today, I decided it was a good time to re-visit this book again. Relief, and pure irony – cause you know what? – this is what I preach and I KNOW THIS STUFF, I live it, it is me.

STOP. STOP. STOP.

So today I had a shower, moisturised my skin, and then for five full minutes I stood naked in front of the mirror and I just took all of myself in. All of me.

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….and you know what? I’m ok. I’m beautiful just as I am.

Silly thing is, I ALREADY KNEW THAT!!! Oh the things we do to ourselves!

Message to self: I repel such comments, I repel other’s lack of confidence in themselves masked as a question couched to me – and I REINSTATE my own body confidence. I own my own self. I will NEVER give my self esteem and spirit away – I am BEAUTIFUL and UNIQUE.

I love and appreciate

that my body is entirely unique.

There is no other like me and

I will never compare my body to anybody else’s.

I am beautiful, and…

I love my shape!

Love YOUR Shape!

Janine x

Curvy clothing on a budget = A+

A few months ago I was contacted by a lovely bubbly lady called Erin. As a new-mum to her gorgeous son Clancy, she was researching the plus-size market with a fresh idea – a second-hand clothing market exclusive to size 16+ women right here in Melbourne!

Over a cup of coffee (or two!), we had a wonderful chat about the challenges of dressing our curvy figures on a budget. As a mum myself I understand the switch in thought process when you don’t come first anymore and your clothing budget goes out the window!  But, like Erin and I, women still want to look great and feel great, just not fork out the same amount of dosh that we may have done before we were changing nappies. Buying recycled or second-hand garments is a great way to save some money and to buy some unique pieces for your wardrobe. Whilst op-shopping is fun and popular, it can be quite challenging with limited numbers of garments available, and usually requiring that you visit more than one store to put an outfit together. A+ market’s cater exclusively to curvy figures which equals – all the options in one place! Bliss!

Erin says ““Years of shopping disappointments left me discouraged. I found myself wishing for a place where I could find bargains and one-off pieces in my size – but there just wasn’t anywhere – so, I’ve decided to do something about it.”

A Plus Markets is Erin’s business baby. Her market will showcase local designers, makers and sellers who celebrate “plus size” women. Ladies from the community will also offer their pre-loved clothing & accessories. Erin says “there are an astounding number of locals designing and making clothing and accessories in the Darebin area and so it made it logical to launch my first market in Preston”.

A+ Markets Flyer

Erin also has dates planned at other locations for later in the year:

Saturday 31st August 2013
9.30 am – 2 pm
Darebin North West Uniting Church
399A Murray Road, Preston

Sunday 29th September 2013
10 am – 3 pm
Box Hill Community Arts Centre
470 Station St, Box Hill

Saturday 30th November 2013
10 am – 3 pm
Darebin North West Uniting Church
399A Murray Road, Preston

Sunday 8th December 2013
10 am – 3 pm
Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre
5 Sargood St, Altona

Stalls start from just $40 per stall, giving you a 2x2m area, flyers to distribute to advertise the market, support & advice on setting up your stall and a well publicised and patronised market to sell your wares – targeted at 16+ customers!

What a perfect reason to clean out your wardrobe and get some $’s to spend on your new-season needs. Need some help with a wardrobe revamp, I’m ready to help!

There will be lots of giveaways and specials on the day too, including a chance to win your own copy of My Curvy Girl’s Guide to Shopping valued at $19.99!

I’m personally looking forward to visiting a few of the upcoming markets, I look forward to seeing you there!

Love your shape!

Janine x

 

Breast Foot Forward…

As you know, my beautiful mum battled breast cancer last year. I’m so pleased to say that she is a survivor and we’re enjoying watching her recover and go from strength to strength.

Mum

The journey of watching someone you love so dearly battle such a horrible disease is to put it mildly – traumatising. The disease itself is horrible, but the treatment is almost worse than the disease. It’s crazy that you have to almost kill someone to get them better again, and those are the lucky ones.

Cancer has touched my life in so many ways, I myself was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer at the age of 29. I had many operations to remove the disease, and was one of the lucky ones who found it in it’s early stages and did not require chemotherapy or radiation.  My paternal grandmother (who is now 91) also had breast cancer many years ago and I remember as a teenager,  after her mastectomy when she came home with her prosthesis -the hilarity that she preferred to carry her prosthetic breast in a bag rather than wear it! “It’s just too heavy & annoying” she’d say.  Those were the days when prosthesis were cumbersome and heavy, these days technology has made it possible to wear incredible prosthesis that are comfortable, light and more realistic.

Presently I have three gorgeous women around me who are battling cancer. One of my dearest friends in Holland has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The shock of this news is still ringing in my ears. Roelien and I met when I was an exchange student in The Netherlands in 1987-1988. She was my best friend during my school exchange year and we had lots of fun times together. I’ve visited Holland many times over the past 26 years since, and each time we spend time together, sometimes going away for a few days and visiting other cities in Europe. She is so much a part of my other “Home” and the news that I likely won’t see her again is simply devastating. She is very brave and is fighting hard, and I’m so grateful that technology now allows us to “see” each other via Skype.  Two other friends are battling breast cancer, both have had their surgeries and are about to embark on their chemotherapy treatment journey.

All of these women are beautiful, gorgeous, positive, independent women who live full lives, they are all under 50 – how can this be?

Of course, I am grateful that we have amazing medical treatment and multi-discipline teams to help them through their battle. But I find myself sitting feeling so helpless and wanting to do something to help.

What can I do to help?

    • I can raise awareness by getting the message to as many women as possible
    • I can raise funds to support research into cancer
    • I can be there to support my friends to the best of my ability

A few weeks ago I opened my local newspaper and saw a photo and editorial about one of my customers, Lisa. Lisa’s mum Corinne had a battle with cancer. I was very happy to hear that Corinne has been given the all clear! Lisa and her mum Corinne, together with some friends Kath, Sharon, Tasha & Mark, have created a team working together to raise funds for the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute.

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Their challenge is to compete in The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers which is a 2-day, 60 kilometre walk through the neighbourhoods of Melbourne – what a challenge!

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Lisa says “My commitment is based on love for my fellow sisters, mothers, grandmas,
daughters, nieces, and friends everywhere. It’s based on the realisation that we each need to do our part in this fight. I can walk. I can raise  funds to benefit Peter Mac and their efforts to end women’s cancers. I can and choose to be a part of this movement to take down women’s cancers! I ask you to take a stance with me and join this life-saving adventure for all women. Be a part of my very personal journey – by giving, by walking with me, or simply by sharing my story with your circle of influence. Don’t stand back and think about what you could have done – take that first step today! Take a chance with me – we have the opportunity to change thousands of lives, beginning with our own. This isn’t just my journey – it’s yours, too”.

Lisa, I support you, your mum Corinne and the rest of the team wholeheartedly! Please dig deep and donate to this worthy cause. You can donate by clicking this link.

My knee injury won’t allow me to walk so far in two days. Lisa lives locally to me so I have pledged to support her by walking with her during her training, and helping her spread the word.

I’ve also pledged to donate $1 from every copy of my Curvy Girl’s Guide to Shopping to the Cancer Council of Australia.

Donation

Ladies, remember prevention is the best weapon we have.

BOOK NOW for your Breastscreen – it’s free! And don’t forget to regularly check your breasts. If you’re not sure here’s a great illustration of how to do it yourself.

breastscreen

REGISTER NOW for Cervical Screening Register. Your doctor can also sign you up to the register. It’s a fantastic service that ensures you receive a reminder and keeps a record of your results. Remember, this regular test could save your life.

Look after you, and those around you.

Love your shape!

Janine x

Janine Size…

A few months ago, whilst researching fashion and styles for my wardrobe, I stumbled across an amazing designer based here in Melbourne. I was compiling my Curvy Girl’s Guide to Melbourne, and I got in touch with her about her designs to include details in the guide.

Annalisa Trembath is a Melbourne based designer. Her label Kaftans by Annalisa are handmade, using the highest quality fabrics and most amazing prints from around the world.  The design is elegant and simple, but simply stunning.  Each kaftan is produced in only limited amounts, so the chances of running into someone in the same gorgeous design is small! Her range includes sizes 8-26 and also maternity kaftans.

I have to admit that the word kaftan brings an image of Demis Roussos to mind, a great voice, but not a snappy dresser! LOL – NOT ANY MORE – I love kaftans now I’ve discovered the perfect design.

I was thrilled when I received my own kaftan, it arrived beautifully wrapped with instructions on how to look after it. The fabric I had chosen is simply stunning, a statement in itself. The tag however was thrilling – Janine Size! Now that’s a size I can relate to!

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I tried my kaftan on and was immediately in love! With my Hen’s night coming up it was the perfect outfit.

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Just look at how the design flatters my figure! I felt so amazing, a goddess! I styled my kaftan with footless tights from City Chic and my wedges from Joanne Mercer.

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Every part of my body felt hugged, the clever design showed my curves and shape and flattered my arms and tummy – I felt a million dollars and got compliment after compliment. When you wear something that adds value to your shape and stays true to YOUR own fashion style, it shows. Kaftan3

 Although I know that my new kaftan is a statement piece in it’s own right, I felt I needed something amazing to compliment it. I went searching for THE perfect piece to set off THE perfect kaftan, and this is what I came up with – the Venus Necklace by Coussinet. The timing couldn’t have been better, Coussinet had just sent me their new season look book and this piece just jumped out at me! I love my pieces from Coussinet, they are big and bold and feel just oh so right.

My Hen’s weekend started off wonderfully, my gorgeous friend Erika flew down from Queensland especially for the weekend. She arrived at lunch time and after a catch up in the sun on our balcony with Pete and my boys, Erika and I headed off for an afternoon of pampering at my local shops. Our first stop was the Body Shop where I was treated to a makeup session. I’m a lover of minimal makeup, and so I struggle to find a good foundation that gives me good coverage (especially for photos) but doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a mask. The Body Shop offers great options and the trial session resulted in me purchasing a great foundation for my wedding, with the added bonus of not needing to do my makeup for my special night! I have to say I felt a little silly walking around the shops dressed casually in jeans (and with my thongs on – in readiness for a pedicure!) – and bold eye makeup, but it was fun. Erika and I stopped for sushi and coffee, then it was off for a mani and pedi. Oh the bliss of being pampered and preened. We giggled like school girls and enjoyed the opportunity to just kick back.

I’m not a fan of the traditional hen’s nights with crazy stunts, and walking through crowds dressed in strange attire… my idea of a hen’s night is some of my nearest and dearest friends sharing a meal and enjoying a laugh together. My wish came true.

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My gorgeous friend Erika and I ready to leave for the evening. We headed off to a restaurant I had never been to before, but came highly recommended from a friend, and boy was it a great recommendation. Kamel Restaurant in Albert Park is da bomb! The food is Middle Eastern and North African inspired and is the perfect food to share in a group. We had a private room with a fire place, a huge table surrounded by seats, it was like being in our own home but with fabulous service and I didn’t have to cook!

I was joined by my gorgeous mum, my daughter Nikki and 8 of my closest friends. Women are so important in your life, and as I sat and enjoyed the company and the food, I marvelled about the story of each of the women in the room. All so beautiful, talented and warm. I love every one of them and am grateful for each of our stories.

We laughed, joked and ate and had a wonderful time. I enjoyed sitting next to everyone and taking “Selfie’s” together, but with just my iPhone as a tool and in the dimly lit room with the glow of the fireplace the photos came up quite grainy. I used the photo to send a thank you to each of my friends individually. Here are two I LOVE so much, my mum and I sat together and we were trying to wrangle the camera to get the right angle, and were pressing the buttons and took about 6 images, here are two that tell the story:

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Can you see how we have the same smile, and the same crinkle next to our noses? Ha!

It was a wonderful night and I felt so beautiful in my gorgeous kaftan and necklace, surrounded by my dear friends. When I got home, Pete was up waiting for me and I shared some of the stories. The next day Pete made us pancakes (a Sunday ritual for our family) and Erika and I sat with my boys for brekky and shared our stories (the boys had a movie night together!). Then Pete took the boys out for the day and Erika and I spent the day together. I was thrilled that she was able to be there for my final fitting for my wedding dress. The girls from Hope&Harvest arrived with my dress in a suit bag, so very exciting. We spent a couple of hours umming and aahing, pinning and cutting and we now have the final design complete. The girls will complete my dress and I can pick it up late August – I am so excited and am so grateful to have such talented designers working with me. Of course I have photos of the fitting, but they will have to wait until after the big day (only 33 more sleeps to go!)

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Afterwards, Erika and I headed out for yum cha. I just LOVE dumplings! A couple of pots of Jasmine tea and a LOT of dumplings later, we sat and chatted and enjoyed the day. The beautiful Amanda at Plus HQ gifted me this gorgeous necklace as a wedding gift, I just LOVE the accessories she has in-store, they really are my style. Thanks Amanda x

When we got home, Pete and the boys had just arrived home too and there was a gorgeous bunch of flowers waiting on the bench for me, from my Superman Pete – what a guy! That just topped off a wonderful weekend.

Life is good. THANK YOU to everyone who made this weekend so special.

Love your shape!

Janine x

An invaluable resource for plus-size women of Australia

Over the past five years I’ve invested my energy and passion into providing styling advice, education & empowerment tools, a safe social media environment for discussion and I’ve been a loud voice for plus-size women.

I receive hundreds of emails and social media messages per month requesting assistance with sourcing garments or styling advice from women curvy women Australia wide. You are constantly wondering where to shop for clothes and how to put it all together. I’ve spent wonderful hours working with you one-on-one and in groups, but I thought it was timely to put together a resource that you could have at your fingertips, a one-stop guide to shopping!

Welcome to the Curvy Girls Shopping Guide to Melbourne, Australia. This guide is exclusively designed to provide you with resources for curvy girls in our gorgeous city.  This Guide contains information that has been compiled from my own research and personal experiences. It will be updated on an annual basis to ensure its relevance as stores and labels appear, evolve and change. Everything you need in one place!

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“Hey Janine got my copy and even though I’m in Brisbane like you said GREAT resources that are Australia wide!  Being American it has been difficult navigating beyond the ‘usual suspects’ for a more boutique shopping experience.  LOVE IT!  (Encourage any AU based people to get it!) I’ve read cover to cover & browsed every shop already! (Online that is)” ~  Kenyeal

The guide features detailed listings with all relevant contact details and clickable links directly to retailers and service providers. Fully printable or viewable in PDF.

Topics include:

  • Curvy styling options
  • An overview of plus-size fashion in Australia
  • Sizing Guide
  • Australian plus-size designers
  • Factory Outlets
  • Department Stores
  • Second hand markets and online resources
  • Bridal
  • Corporate Wear
  • Activewear, Lingerie & Sleepwear
  • Maternity
  • Specialty Boutiques specialising in Size 14+
  • Big Brands
  • and so much more…

Donation

Remember, if you need styling assistance or have a special event coming up, I offer lots of options for shopping & styling.

Love your shape!

Janine x