Brown is the new black!

This year I’m turning 46 – wow where did the time go! Janine FringeI was born with a head of beautiful dark, almost black hair (and I’ll tell you a secret, my mum used to have to use Vaseline to stick it down as I had so much hair it used to stick up all the time!! hahaha). In my 20s I sported a fringe, and then in my early 30’s just after my son was born, I decided it was time for a change and I grew out my fringe and haven’t looked back. However, as I neared 20 I suddenly realised that I had developed grey hair – not just a few odd grey strands here and there, but grey roots – lots of them!

By the time I was 25 I was 100% grey! Needless to say I have spent a lot of money and effort dyeing my hair. In fact, I’m a bit of an expert at it. The cost of hairdressing appointments and the fact that my hair grows fast – really fast – necessitating retouching up my roots at least every 3 weeks, adds up fast. My bathroom cupboard is filled with the stained towels and bottles of magic that keep my hair looking slick.

I can’t tell you the amount of hours I’ve spent stressing about my grey roots, and the imaginative ways I’ve managed to hide them over the years. One thing won’t change however, and that is unless I’m prepared to be 100% grey, I will need to continue to colour my hair. I’ve decided I’m just not ready for that yet.

One of the negatives of hair colouring, especially when only retouching the roots, is that no matter how very careful and expert you become, there is always an overlap of colour and over time this builds up and darkens the hair.

I’ve always tried to stay as close to my natural colour as possible (and for the record my eyebrows are still natural! albeit with a few wisps of grey I have to pluck out now and again!) – but recently I’ve been toying with the idea of what to do.  I spoke to my hairdresser and she advised a couple of options:

  1. Cut it all off and grow it out grey
  2. Start colouring the roots a shade or two lighter and begin foiling sections of my hair over time until it lightens up; or
  3. Continue as is

None of these ideas felt right to me and I asked her about stripping my hair and recolouring?  She was not keen, and advised against it.  I’ve pondered and pondered and felt stuck. It was time for a change, but how?

Recently we moved house. I decided that this was a good time to get another opinion and check out a new hairdresser, so I bit the bullet and called my local salon.  I explained over the phone the situation and made an appointment for the next day.

This is what my hair looked like just before I walked into the salon 🙁

Hair 2

Upon entering the salon I was greeted warmly and ushered to a seat where I was served a lovely cup of coffee.  Minutes later Kayla, my colourist came to greet me and sat down to discuss what I was wanting to achieve. Within minutes she had taken stock of the situation and called her colleague Emily, also a colour expert to join in and together they worked through my thoughts and hopes with me. What struck me immediately was their instant willingness to go for it!  They were super excited at the challenge and after a quote was given and I’d been advised that I’d be there for at least 4 hours, the process started!

With two gorgeous ladies with the most capable skills attending to the challenge, I settled in patiently and surrendered to the process.

Hair 4 Hair 7

This was immediately after the colour had been stripped from my hair! Oh boy what a shock, I felt like an orangutan! The looks I got from those who hadn’t seen the beginning or the end of the process was priceless.

BUT it was all worth it, the final result was all I could have hoped for. Immediately my features were softened and I felt so much better.

Hair 10Hair 17

A huge thanks to the team at Rokk Ebony, you guys rock! I’m so thrilled with my new colour and feeling confident and ready for anything. Sometimes self-confidence needs some help!

Love your shape!

Janine x

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.

EBook_Teaser_1_Final

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.

Janine Sans

….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

Size acceptance and having a good time…

A very dear friend of mine, let’s call her “M” for the purposes of this post, is in her late 30’s and single. She’s gorgeous, funny and very successful in her life. “M” is always busy, but is always doing something for someone else. She’s actually one of my favourite people 🙂 We enjoy regular catch-ups, usually over dinner and coffee and chats on the phone.

A few years ago I started to gently suggest that she might start thinking about doing more for herself, and perhaps think about dating.  After a bad experience earlier in her 20’s she’d shied away from the dating scene. Recently, I was telling her about a new night that I’d heard about called “Pounce” and she completely took me by surprise and said “let’s go!”.

I can’t say for sure if it was just timing, or if it was the lure of a night that is aimed at plus-size women, but whatever it was, we had a blast and I’m happy to say we’ll be doing it again.

Being engaged, a mum and running a business, I haven’t had to think about going out or how to meet people for a long time. I outgrew nightclubs, bars and parties a long time ago! I can completely understand how entering a disco or sleezy bar can be overwhelming and very confronting, it’s not my scene at all.

When I heard about Pounce I was curious. Not only is it hosted in a “Bar”, but it was also touted to be BBW friendly.   Now this sparked my interest as often over the years I’ve felt uncomfortable in a “meat market” type feel of a venue.

“M” and I agreed to check it out and the 19th March 2013 was the next event.

On the day I’ll admit I was kind of nervous, we arrived at the venue to find that there was a McDonalds immediately opposite. We thought ourselves very clever to park the car directly across from the entrance of the bar aptly named “Whole Lotta Love” in Lygon Street, East Brunswick – so we could scope out the place first! We sat giggling like teenagers, checked our make-up, sprayed our perfume and waited. Slowly but surely we started to feel comfortable, we watched people arrive, couples, singles, groups of girls, groups of guys. What to expect? Tonight’s advertised “theme” is “Chubbyoke!” – mmm should we be offended or excited? Did we dare enter? How would it feel?

After 15 minutes of scoping things out, we took a deep breath and walked across the street and entered the bar.

Immediate impression – relaxed, welcoming environment

Second reaction – OH, I’m one of the smaller women in the bar!?

Third reaction – this feels good

And so the evening progressed, we ordered a drink and within minutes we were chatting and mingling with an array of people – female, male, couples, big, small, tall, short, happy, funny, friendly, straight, gay and everything in between. It was an incredible mix of people and SO MUCH FUN.

The chubbyoke was hilarious, we listened to many brave souls who took the mike and belted out a tune (some even belted out two or more!), there were prizes and lots of clapping, cheering and encouragement.

The feel of the entire evening was relaxed, no pressure, no sleeze, just ease.  Now that’s a great start to re-entering the dating scene!

I highly recommend this night to all of you and I know “M” and I plan to visit again sometime soon.

What made this evening so special? I can’t answer that, was it that it was advertised as a BBW night and I was in a room full of women of all different shapes and sizes? Was it that I didn’t stand out because I was larger? I don’t know. I just know that I would do it again.

I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Ramsay who is the founder of this Pounce BBW Night, and I asked Julie if she’d mind sharing with us a little about her inspiration, here’s what she had to say…

Who is Julie Ramsay?

Wow, I see you are getting the hard questions out right off the bat! LOL. I am simply me. I’m a plus-size powerhouse. I am a SSBBW pin-up web model (the first one in Australia actually).  A philosopher in some ways and an airhead in others. I’m clumsy and always loosing things, but I’m also a complete and utter high-class fashion diva. I love cats, sappy romance novels and plays, old movies and car singing. I hoard lingerie and headbands. I’m frivolous and decadent but also a bargain hound. I live with my boyfriend and have a fondness for vintage Scotch, tattoos and music.

Due to degenerative illness and a severe car accident, I am disabled and suffer from immense pain on a daily basis, but you wouldn’t know it to see me. I stand tall and proud and I’m very loud!

Not that any of that can define someone entirely, but it’s part of me. I stand for what’s right but I sit when I’m tired. I ask for help when I need it but I feel invincible. Simply, I am a contradiction. But aren’t we all? 🙂

What inspired you to found Pounce?

It’s sad that there’s so much prejudice against plus-size people in society. It’s everywhere, and it’s running rampant. Being very large myself, I experience this unfounded hatred quite frequently. But I’m an old hat at ignoring it.

That is until I went to a nightclub (that I use to be considered a regular at when I was smaller) and was treated so poorly that it put me off wanting to venture out in to the club scene ever again. Not only were the intoxicated patrons being horrible to me, but the bar staff ignored me. I made a complaint to one barman that I was being harassed and was told by the barman that I should “waddle off and leave if I don’t like people stating the obvious”.

That made me so mad, I honestly felt like a second-class citizen.

So I started approaching bars attempting to find one that would allow me to host a size-positive club night and I’m sad to say I couldn’t find any that were interested. I just wanted there to be an environment where big women, well big people in general, could party it up. Somewhere they could wear what they wanted and feel sexy and safe and, most of all, free from judgement.

A year or so later my friend Rob announced he was opening his own bar, Whole Lotta Love. He had always been a big fan of the BBW events in the USA when he visited, and was keen to host his own version here. So we thought we would combine forces and we created ‘POUNCE’.

What is the concept of Pounce?

Pounce is quite simply about size acceptance and having a good time. You don’t need to be a plus-size lady or gent to come along, but you do have to be accepting of plus-size people. It’s a safe haven for anyone to come along and have a great night out free from judgement. We have quite a lot of people bring their smaller-sized friends and family along to party with them. It’s great to see a whole spectrum of happy people varying in size, ability, age, colour, gender and sexual orientation dance the night away.

Rob and I run Pounce as a profit-free event. The only cost to our patrons are their own drinks, although we always seem to hand out quite a few free ones. Sure, it has cost us a fair few pretty pennies, but we do it for love. We do it because Australia needs this.  We need to make size acceptance a hot topic.

The last Pounce event was a PJ party, sounds fun! What else is on the agenda?

The pyjama party was awesome, everyone got dressed up and had a great time! We always have a photographer on hand to capture all of our crazy fun events. Make sure you check out the Facebook page to not only find out about upcoming events, but to see how wild our previous events were.

Pounce has some brilliant events coming up. In June we’ve got an 80s party that’s shaping up to be truly epic, the playlist is amazing and so many people are planning to dress up in their glamest 80s attire. Later in the year we’ll be having another round of our hugely successful karaoke – or ‘chubbyaoke’ as we call it. We have a Halloween party on the books, which is always hugely entertaining. And a Traffic Light party – lots of singles ready to mingle at these events.

And I’m planning a second-hand plus-size fashion stall to be held at the bar, with a gold coin donation entry to raise funds for Pounce.  But the best thing to do is keep an eye on the Facebook page to keep abreast of all things Pounce.

Thanks so much Julie, look forward to seeing you again soon – and maybe a few of my curvy readers too?

Love your shape!

Janine x

I wasn’t putting ME first…

Pummelled by the media telling me how I should look, feel, react, love, play, run, jump and work, and thinking about learned behaviours, I’ve recently been forced to reflect on how this is working for me…

The Herald Sun reported this week:

Beyonce hit the stage this week, just on four months after having her baby, 27kg down and looking amazing. “Y’all have no idea how hard I worked,” she exclaimed to her fans during her concert in New Jersey last Saturday night.

“I had to lose 60 pounds (27kg). They had me on that treadmill. I ate lettuce.”

My first reaction, wow she looks amazing!

My second reaction – “they” had me on a treadmill? Imagine having a “they” watching over you and ensuring you’re the appropriate weight – what pressure. No thanks!

Then I started to think about what pressure I put on myself.

When someone needs me, snap, I’m there. If someone’s coming to visit, it’s like the Queen of England is about to arrive and all must be in it’s place and looking great…

Which started me thinking, what does the Queen of England (or said visitor) have that I don’t? Don’t I deserve a mess to be tidied or a broken object to be mended? Well, of course I do.

What time am I dedicating to what I need? Why are my thoughts about others first and myself second? (Of course as a mum, fiancé and business owner, sometimes it’s just simply not possible to think about me first, but you get my meaning, there has to be some balance to this).

I apply a positive approach to my outward appearance; I’ve always put my best foot forward, made the most of who I am every day. I always dress for ME, I wear nice clothes and I make an effort. That’s just me. But when it comes to making time for me, I’m not so good.

I also work very hard, I’m a mum, step-mum, fiancé, daughter, friend, sister, and business owner. Like most of us, my time is not my own and I am constantly on the go. I’ve been known to sacrifice sleep for example to get the job done, and to keep up with my To-Do List, especially when it comes to my business. Down-time is not in my dictionary. This way of doing things has come back to haunt me!

Last Year I quit smoking, after 22 years of smoking – you might remember my blog.  Shortly thereafter I lost my dad suddenly. The shock of these two events turned out to be too much for my body to take. And BAMM, my health took a nose dive.

It’s been a long 11 months. Over this time, I’ve had expert help, it turns out after months of tests and trial & error approaches that I have a metabolic condition that causes my body to not retain vital nutrients, causing all sorts of horrible side effects. In addition, I have extremely low vitamin D, and I am anaemic.  To top it off, the lack of nutrients (even though I eat a good diet and exercised regularly), caused me to literally crash with no energy, at its peak unable to walk far at all.

To add to the challenge, no standard medications can assist my condition; it’s simply a condition that is supported with supplements, and lots of them and a change of attitude/approach to my life.

AND in case this wasn’t enough to deal with, during this time of illness my body put on 18kgs.  Test results last week proved, in writing, that high cortisol and other complications with the condition have 100% contributed to this weight gain.  It’s taken all my strength to not panic about the weight gain, to understand that my body is sick, and as it is healing it is evening out again to it’s natural size and weight.

I’ve experienced some interesting reactions from healthcare providers (Namely GPs) during this process which has appalled me. I am working on some blog posts to address these experiences and issues and I know from talking to you that this occurs on a regular basis.  This sort of attitude from “trained healthcare providers” certainly doesn’t aid an improvement in health/attitude when you’re being judged for something you are not in control of!

I’m happy to report there’s been a huge turnaround in the past two – three months, with the help of the gorgeous Andrea Hepner from Hepner Health (Period Pain Guru), and my gorgeous Superman Pete, My mum and my kids, I’ve had expert love and support to get through this hellish year.

I’ve had to surrender to my body, and work with a team of people to understand what it needs and ensure the best care I can.

One of the main lessons I’ve learnt is that if I don’t put myself first, I can’t be there to look after my family.

I am on a path of creating time for myself. Of balancing work and life – no mean challenge!

The challenge is working that ME time into my every day,  to being smarter with my time, to saying NO more and ignoring the pressures of the media, ignorant medical professionals and others about how I should and shouldn’t look, and focussing on being the best ME I can be, for ME and then for everyone else.

Last weekend my very good friend Erika came down from Brisbane, we had time on the couch watching re-runs of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (always entertaining), then we shopped at TS14+ outlet store and grabbed some amazing bargains (retail therapy is good therapy right!), and filled our bellies with the most amazing cheese fondue I’ve ever had, but most of all we talked and talked and had a wonderful time.  Friends time is always good for the soul! I need to do this more often.

Janine & Erika – “Time with good friends is good for the soul”

I’ve started a checklist for myself, of things to ensure that I have in my life everyday:

  • Space of my own at home
  • A GP who I can relate to and who puts my health first, not my weight
  • Healthy, nutritional food and good exercise to nurture my body
  • Good friends and positive people around me
  • Family time
  • Time with my fiancé
  • Time doing nothing!

This might seem pretty simple, but it’s a good start.  And the most amazing part, once I had my light bulb moment, and stopped pushing hard to meet all the rules and deadlines I’d placed on myself, it’s all fallen into place.

Now I must practice this new found approach EVERY day. What can you do to make positive changes by putting YOU first in your day?

Love your shape!

Janine x