Body UNashamed

Last week, Penny, one of my lovely blogger friends over at Lillies and Love, put the call out on Instagram and Twitter for bloggers to get in contact. She wanted to hear from people who were fed up with body shaming. “I have had just about as much as I can take of body shaming,” she said. Haven’t we all? We’ve all seen it on Facebook, Twitter, in magazines and newspapers and on the television. She’s too fat. She’s too thin. She has terrible hair. He has a beer belly. His hair is receding. She doesn’t have the figure for that top.

I know I’ve done it. I know I’ve looked at people on the street and judged them without a second’s thought. I’ve tried really, really hard to curb my judgemental streak, and now I try to judge people on the things they do and say, and not on the way that they look. The biggest victim in terms of my judgement though, is me. I look in the mirror several times a day, and I’ve recently got into the habit of saying to myself, “Look at the state of you.” How awful is that? I know that it’s pretty self-destructive, but it had genuinely become a habit; to catch sight of my reflection and mutter those words to myself. I decided that it has to stop, and I was busy drafting a blog post in my head the other day about a self-love project. About taking the time to appreciate me, and all the things that go into making me the unique woman that I am. That’s when Penny’s email fortuitously popped into my inbox. #bodyUNashamed is about celebrating those things, in ourselves and other people, that make us unique. So what if you don’t have a washboard stomach? Or that your nose is slightly bent, or your legs aren’t as long as you wish they were. We all need to get out of the habit of comparing ourselves to the people around us, and there’s nobody that needs to make a bigger change than me.

So this is the first step on the #bodyUNashamed road. To be frank, I am not unashamed of my body. I wish I could be, but I’m not. I’m hoping that Penny’s project will have a positive impact on the way I see myself, and the way I treat my body. I need to lose weight. Not because Heat magazine tells me to, or because I want to look like Cheryl Cole. But because I want to be healthier, and feel a lot happier about myself. It might seem counter-intuitive to talk about changing myself in the same breath as talking about being unashamed. But I think, for me, the two go hand in hand.

Penny has paired everyone up with another blogger, and asked us to take a look at their blog, and highlight three great things about them. I got paired with Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks. Hers is not a blog I have ever read before, but when Penny sent me her name, I settled down and had a good old read! Hayley is mum to a gorgeous little boy called Tyne, a blond-haired, blue-eyed little one with a twinkle in his eye! Her blog and Instagram feed are full of photos, so it didn’t take me long to start making a list of great things about Hayley, based entirely on photos and blog posts.

– Hayley has pink hair. OK, so it’s just the ends that are dip dyed, but she still has pink hair! I want pink hair, but with my dark brown/red mop, I’m not sure it would really work! I love that Hayley just thought “You know what, I want pink tips,” and so she went out, bought a box of pink dye, and did it. No muss, no fuss, and now she has super cool hair.

– When I clicked on Hayley’s blog, one of the first posts that came up was one featuring a YouTube video she had made with her other half, Jon. I had a watch, and found myself laughing out loud. The two of them are so funny together! It made me realise that Hayley is as bubbly as she looks from her photos. You can see her personality shining through in the outfit photos she shares of herself. If I walked past Hayley on the street, I think I’d know that she’s fun. She has a naturally smiley, happy face, and I think that’s a lovely way to look.

– I read a post of Hayley’s from a couple of months ago where she wrote about her body issues. She has some health issues that has led to some weight gain, and this has left her feeling really unhappy about the way she looks. I know a few words from a stranger on the internet won’t magic all of those feelings away, but I just want to say that I think Hayley looks amazing. I have had a good look through her outfit posts, and she always looks great. Her outfits are often super comfortable, because she has a little one to run around after, but she always looks good! I’m totally coveting this ensemble – zebra print trousers? Yes please!

Penny’s a canny girl, because writing this about Hayley has made me realise that I have similar feelings to Hayley about myself, and I find it hard to find the positives in the way I look. But if I can go to Hayley’s blog and, after a couple of hours, find a whole load of things about this girl, who I don’t know, that I think are great, then I should be able to stand in front of the mirror and do the same for me. I know me a lot better than I know Hayley, after all!

The next thing I am supposed to do is share three things about my appearance that I like. I’ve tried to do similar things before on the blog, and you may remember that I shared a photo of myself where I pointed out my flaws, and the positives. There were more flaws than positives, but I’ll try to think of three!

– I go on about it, but I do really like the colour of my eyes. They might not be as different as I like to think they are, but someone once complimented me on them, and since then, I’ve always thought they are quite an interesting colour.

– Most of the time I hate my hair, but every now and again I can appreciate that while it might be thick to the point of bushy, when I actually take the time to do something with it, it can look nice. Thick hair can be a pain, but so many people comment on it and say that they would rather have thick hair than thin hair, that I’ve started to realise that it’s probably not all bad.

– When the sun comes out, I don’t tan. If I don’t wear Factor 50, I burn, and then I go back to milky white. I always say that I got the ginger gene that is so prevalent in my family, without actually getting the ginger hair. But I do get freckles in the summer, and I love my freckles. I get freckly arms, and a freckly face, and I think it makes me look so much healthier.

I think the #bodyUNashamed journey is a long one, but it’s well worth the time.

The Winds of Change

Things have changed slightly here at Is That You Darling, though at first glance, it might not seem it! Although things look more or less the same, I’ve gone from a free wordpress blog to being self hosted!

It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but have had neither the funds nor the expertise to make it happen. Luckily, I’ve found the money that I needed, and I found someone who was willing to help me with the expertise! My friend Lewis does all of this kind of stuff for a living with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back, so he very kindly took all the hard stuff off my hands and basically did everything. So now I owe him a big drink and my eternal gratitude!

Sadly, my own domain doesn’t come with a sudden knowledge of all the things I need to know, and so this is going to be a steep, steep learning curve! Learning about plugins, HTML, CSS, and anything else that might come up is going to be interesting, so if you spot anything on the blog that doesn’t look quite right, please don’t hold it against me!

I’m still trying to work out all the kinks; for example, I don’t think all my old wordpress followers will be automatically redirected to the new blog, but I’m working on finding out! I want to have a real play around with the design of the blog, but that’s something that I’m going to need some help with. And most importantly, I really want the new blog to kickstart a new blogging ethos for me: I want to write more regularly and about the things I really care about. Now that I’m investing actual money into my blogging, I want it to be something that I’m really, really proud of!

Now seems like an opportune moment to remind you of all the ways that you can follow me and my blog. I’m try to be as active as I can on all of these platforms, but I have to admit that there is definite room for improvement on Google+ and Facebook!

Is That You Darling BloglovinIs That You Darling TwitterIs That You Darling Facebook
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I’d love for you to join me, if you haven’t already. The number of followers I have isn’t necessarily the most important thing, but it’s nice to connect with people on all these networks where I spend so much of my time!

The next few days will see me working on the design, sorting out a new ‘About Me’ page, and of course, putting together some fabulous blog posts to read! In the meantime, if you can please update any bookmarks you have to, that would be fabulous, and you’ll be sure never to miss a word I say!

On being a book blogger

It has been a while now since I first decided to actually start calling myself a book blogger. I have always written about books here at Is That You Darling, but making a conscious decision to call myself a book blogger was an important step for me, as before that I felt as though I was losing my way as a blogger a little bit.

So since I added the words ‘Book blogger’ to my sidebar, I have been trying to incorporate as much bookish bits as possible. I’m lucky enough to be sent various books by publishers for review, so along with anything I buy myself and borrow from the library, I have been writing as many reviews as possible. Of the 33 books I have read so far this year, I’ve reviewed eighteen of them, and there are three more to come in the next few days. I’ve reviewed everything I’ve read since the start of May, and I’d like to say that there will be posts for every book I read for the rest of the year, but I know better than to make such promises!

Elsewhere, I’ve posted about my long library lists, and I’ve taken part a couple of times in The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday posts.

I feel as though I am still finding my feet as a book blogger, and indeed reviewer. I write book reviews for Essex Life, and my word count is so minimal that I have to be very clever about how I write them. With my blog, I don’t have a word limit, and I find that I have a tendency to waffle on. It can be hard to synopsise the book and offer an critical opinion without using a lot of words, and I definitely think I am still learning the art of the well-worded review.

I’m also trying to decide if I want to continue giving star ratings on Goodreads. I’ve been wondering this for a while; I’m reluctant to stop, because I know people use it as a quick way of deciding whether or not I might recommend a particular book. But I really don’t like the idea of reducing a book down into a perfunctory number out of five. Goodreads also doesn’t allow you the option of giving a half star, so while I often think that a book might not warrant three stars, but isn’t as bad as two stars might suggest, Goodreads won’t let me show you that!

So after much consideration, I’ve decided that the best way to solve this is to only apply ratings to books that I feel are four or five star books. Anything lower than a four won’t get a rating. I’ll see how I feel in a few months, but I think this is probably the system that will work best for me.

So in the future, you can expect to see a lot more book reviews, and more general bookish posts. I’m also hoping to film some more videos. I toyed with the idea of dipping my toe into general lifestyle vlogs, but for now I think I will just stick with the booktuber side of things, and see how I get on. I’m also hoping to visit some beautiful libraries during the rest of the year, and write about them. There will be some aesthetic changes to the blog in the next couple of weeks (fingers crossed), but the content will remain as bookish as ever, and even more so, hopefully!

Knowing stuff


That’s a selfie I took with the statue of George Washington at the National Gallery. I look terrible, but I was more concerned with making sure he was completely in shot. ~

I’m pretty clever. I am not the most intelligent person in the world, but neither am I stupid. I like being clever, I like that people think I am clever. Nobody is ever going to describe me as the pretty one, or the funny one, or the bubbly one, but sometimes I am described as the clever one (depending on the situation, of course). I like this. I have never had any self-confidence when it comes to the way I look, ever since I realised that people judge you on the way you look, I have assumed that people are judging me negatively. But I’ve never, ever thought that I wasn’t good enough when it comes to my brain.

Even writing all that makes me feel a little uncomfortable, because I find it hard to talk about myself in such a positive way. I assume that people will think that I’m boasting. But I don’t think it is boasting, really, because it’s the truth. I don’t think I am more intelligent than the next person, and I certainly don’t think that being clever makes me better than anyone else. But it is something that I value about myself, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

So I think it’s time to call a moratorium on the tendency some people have say things like “I’m a loser” or “I know it’s sad” because they are interested in or particularly knowledgeable about a certain subject. I’ve read blog posts, seen tweets and been around people who have displayed knowledge about something, and then said “Wow, I’m a loser for knowing that.” Firstly, no you’re not. Nobody is ever a loser, or sad, or uncool for knowing anything. How can knowledge be uncool?

Secondly, and the main reason for my disdain of people who choose to express themselves in such a way, is that I don’t actually believe they think they are sad. I think it’s faux modesty, wrapped up in those words to make people think, “Wow, she/he is really, really clever!” Which they are. If you know all of the US Presidents in chronological order, you’re pretty clever. Or at least you’re committed enough to make an effort to learn them all. But don’t pretend you don’t think it’s cool.

(I would add that I think there’s a different between intelligence and knowing facts. I don’t think that being able to reel off a list of world capitals is a measure of intelligence, as such, though I think the ability to do so certainly comes from having a certain level of intellect.)

So please, please resist the urge to pretend that you think that knowing stuff makes you a loser. You know it doesn’t, you know it makes you just a little bit awesome. There’s no need to show off, of course, but if you know something that someone else doesn’t know, modestly own it, and admit that you love knowing stuff. Knowing stuff is the best. I love knowing stuff.

2013 on Is That You Darling

I’m pleased that 2013 is making way for 2014. As someone who much prefers even numbers to odd, fourteen is obviously going to appeal to me more than thirteen. It just sounds nicer, don’t you think?

Anyway, now that we’ve got a little bit of my crazy out of the way, I thought I’d round up how I think things are faring here at Is That You Darling. Even now, after I’ve been blogging in one way or another for around ten years, I still often think I’m finding my feet. The big, wide world of blogging feels as though it is always changing, and I sometimes wonder if I really want to change with it, or if I want to just ignore everyone else and do my own thing.

I think I’ve reached the point where I have decided to straddle the two worlds. I want to be part of the blogging community and take advantage of all the benefits and perks that being a blogger can involve. But I also want to make my blog an extension of me, and that means not taking every opportunity just because it presents itself. I want to use my blog as a means to write; as I’ve mentioned before, this is the sole reason I starting blogging, and I want to remain true to that.

With that in mind, I’ve been avoiding studying my stats in the way that I have in the past. I still keep an eye on them, but I don’t worry about them. I had my best ever month in November, thanks in no small part to Blog Every Day in November, but it doesn’t matter to me that I won’t improve upon it in December.

But today, I thought I’d share with you my top five posts from 2013.

Bionsen Deodorant Review was my most read 2013 post of the year. It doesn’t surprise me that a review got the top spot; this is the kind of thing that people search for online, after all.

31 Before 31 ~ Complete a Cross Stitch was also popular, and that’s because a lot of people search for Lord of the Rings cross stitch patterns! The one I used was by PixelPower Designs, and can be found here, if you’re interested.

Happy Birthday Crafty Creatives was the third most popular 2013 post. I still haven’t got around to making anything out of the kit, because I’m totally rubbish, but I have big crafty plans for 2014!

Essex Bloggers Unite was another much-read post. Since that first meet in February, I’ve seen the Essex Bloggers gang twice more, and I know there are more planned for the coming year. (This has also reminded me that I still haven’t written about our December meet!)

Dial G for GlassesDial G for Glasses was one of my favourite posts to write, so I’m pleased it was one of the most popular this year. I spend a lot of time lusting over glasses I see on people!

Hair Week ~ Area H2O Shampoo and Conditioner Review was the fifth most popular 2013 post this year. Another review makes it into the top five! I had a lot of fun with Hair Week earlier this year, so I’m planning another one soon.

All that remains to be said is thank you to everyone who reads my blog, and especially to those of you who take the time to comment and keep up with my posts. I have found some really lovely people thanks to my blog, and I think that’s one of the most gratifying things about being a blogger!