So in light of an upcoming speech I’m giving about body positivity this weekend, I wanted to share the flip side of body positivity which is a struggle. Social media can sometimes become the rose tinted glasses version of our reality and I wanted to be open and honest. I always try and be open and honest with you all because it all ties into who I am. It’s a struggle I know a lot of people face daily and sometimes, things are a lot harder than others.
Since my op in August, I’ve really been struggling with my body positivity more than I have in quite a while. Its been a weird place to be in. Most of the time I like myself in my outfits (though lately I’ve taken more off than I used to) and being able to wear my foundations has definitely helped lift my confidence clothed, but seeing myself bare and as I am is gut wrenching difficult. I’ve been avoiding my bare reflection in the mirror like the plague and find that I’m feeling less comfortable in my own skin that I had felt for a long time.
This is ultimately for a number of reasons.
The first was my diagnosis. I have a name for what I went through now and while I’m trying to be optimistic that this will help manage it for quite a long time, there’s always that undertone of what if. What if the treatment doesn’t work? What if this doesn’t settle? What if? I put these thoughts aside a lot but they’re always there, like a nagging that’s barely audible but loud enough to make me unsettled.
The second is my Mirena. I’m still in the ‘adjustment’ phase of having it in and my hormones can still swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. Any woman whose gone on the pill or had an IUD will know this cycle. It takes time for the body to adjust and in the meantime you can go from feeling sky high to an emotional mess over something you know is irrational. This is different to natural hormone mood swings I find and its really impacted my body positivity as when my moods have been swinging to feeling bad, my brain has defaulted to an old learnt behaviour of berating my body.
The third is physical changes I’ve seen since my op. Despite my weight not actually changing all that much, my body has definitely had a shift since and I put it down to the Mirena as well. My waist has ballooned a bit. My stomach is sitting different and with 2 dark purple scars currently forming keloids there, its not a pretty sight. I also picked up a number of new stretch marks during my op and the accumulative affect of these has meant that I avoid looking at my tummy at all costs. I already had a strained relationship with my tummy, but this seems to have tipped it somewhat.
The emotions I went through in the month post op were very self negative. I felt horrid. I felt revolting as my body recovered and while some of this has shifted. Some hasn’t. I’ve felt urgency to make drastic changes. I’ve felt not good enough for the things I love and enjoy. Its been a challenging 6 or so weeks.
Being aware of these kinds of thoughts is the first step towards changing my mindset. I’m actively trying to be more patient with myself. I’m working to be kinder with myself and to do what I can manage. Reminding myself that my body isn’t a static thing and that it will change and grow constantly. That I’m addressing struggles that impact what I can manage to do like my time management and working to remember I’m beautiful as I am. I know it’ll take time for the thought to stick but I’m persisting. My body and I have been through a hell of a journey the past 3 years and patience is sometimes the hardest thing to we do in life.
I just wanted to share this recent struggle to remind other ladies they aren’t alone. I have bad body days too. I have body struggles just like everyone else. And that’s ok. Because everyone does at some point. Its important to be aware of where your head is at, give yourself care and kindness when you need it and to stay positive.
Hi, my name is Missi and I have social anxiety. For some people this is rather hard thing to believe. Especially considering what my social media accounts look like now days. But as I’ve navigated the pinup world over the last few years it become apparently to me just how common social anxiety is among pinups and wanted to share some of my own experiences on how pinup can help and hinder living with social anxiety because it definitely has pros and cons.
This blog post is a bit hard for me to write. Namely because anxiety is something we generally feel so alone in. But as I’ve become better at managing my anxiety, I’ve become better at speaking about it and not feeling ashamed about it and I hope by sharing I can help others see they aren’t alone
1.My pinup style can sometimes function as armour
I find that people who have never experienced social anxiety, don’t quite understand how someone can dress up quite as much as pinups do and still stuffer the daily struggle of social anxiety. I think this is because of the attention dressing outside the prescribed norm can attract. But what they don’t understand is how dressing up can also be a coping mechanism. When I first got into pinup I was in a relationship that was quickly disintegrating. I got into pinup around the time things started falling apart and for me, even though I wasn’t feeling strong or courageous it gave me the pick me up to pretend to be these things, which lead to me questioning things that weren’t making sense. I wouldn’t have ended up being even more of a doormat if I hadn’t found my pinup self that year. In a lot of ways, getting dressed up and looking ‘put together’ can help me feel ‘put together’ and often the higher my stress the more over the top my outfits can appear. I find now days, as my coping abilities have evolved, I don’t got as full on as I used to. But when major things happen, such as my nan passing away or getting back news, frocking up is a way of helping me feel bullet proof even when I’m not which has helped me through some super hard times in my life in the past 5 years.
2. People assume bright pinup style dictates your personality
As my following has grown, this is one I face a lot now days. As an introvert with social anxiety, I like social media as it allows me to control the experience of engagement. It means if I’m having a hard day I can share what I want and then tune out to what I can’t deal with at the time. I do the same thing when I blog shoot. I can be hard to pose when you have heaps of people staring at you, but tuning it out can definitely help.
But I can’t deny the fact that meeting new people is still something that scares me and I always feel like an awkward turtle. One of my biggest things I’m learning is how to actually talk to people. When my anxiety is high I find its really easy to subconsciously end up spewing out endless irrelevant information about myself as try and come to grips with the fact I’m standing trying to engage with someone new. Then I go through the turmoil afterwards of analysis the whole encounter and wondering if that person things I’m a vain, self absorbed idiot because all I did was talk about myself. While this can still happen now days I actively try and focus on asking questions and not letting my anxiety dribble take hold of me. I’ve also started encountering in the last 12 months the odd scenario of meeting followers and not knowing how to engage in a conversation as normally I’ll introduce myself and they’ll know who I am already. I find as I post a lot of my body positivity and put myself out there, there’s an assumption that I’m outgoing when really pinups from all walks of life are pinups. Whether they are in great health or dealing with demons of a mental or physical kind, dressing up in pinup doesn’t make you an instant outgoing person.
I find anxiety can also bring people to the assumption that you’re a bitch or view yourself as better than others. This ties into not just what I just expressed in my previous paragraph, but also the flip side of when I’m too anxious to engage with people I tend to just play with my phone, zone out and avoid eye contact to keep myself centred. This combined with how I dress can make you seem unapproachable and bitchy to people who don’t know you sometimes, when in reality you’re petrified of them and don’t know how to start a conversation. These sorts of assumptions can really still upset me sometimes, especially as someone who can get quite guarded and take time to open up to people and as a girl who pre-pinup was often referred to as a ‘plain jane’ I find my appearence being a factor in deterring people from talking to me quite frustrating and alien.
3. A pretty frock can turn my whole day around
There’s a lot to be said for the smile I can get when an outfit comes together. There are days where my anxiety is really high and the only thing that got me out of bed is the pretty frock hanging on the back of my door, just calling out to me to be worn. Just as my style can act as an ‘armour’, it can also bring joy. I get such joy out of putting together outfits and different looks. It makes me happy beyond belief and a great outfit or new goodies arriving in the mail can be a massive help to my motivation on a hard day. Also now days as my style has become more polished I get more positive compliments from strangers than negative ones and as I’ve been dressing this way for so long now my ability to deal with these comments has also improved (I used to get so flabbergasted and lost for words when this happened). A pretty frock and a lovely compliment really can change your headspace for the day.
4. Vintage style not vintage values
I find people who don’t know me heavily stereotype me based on how I dress. A prime example of this is in my workplace. A male co-worker recently bought in a batch of old Better Homes & Gardens Magazines he no longer needed. On talking to him he’d bought them over the years for the gardening section as he was redoing his whole back yard. The assumption in the office was that I bought them in, simply based on the fact I dress retro. In reality I’d make the worst 50s housewife. I can’t cook. I’m not a good housekeeper and I don’t like the idea of marriage or kids. I find sometimes certain conversations, driven by the idea that I must have vintage values due to the way I dress can be really hard to deal with due to my social anxiety, especially on bad days. As a retro girl this is still something I face but again as time has gone on and I’ve had more chance to answer these sorts of assumptions, I’ve gotten better at answering them without my anxiety kicking in. Though I still feel awkward having to field these kinds of questions.
I also find too that sometimes, men will assume you are a push over or want their attention because of how you dress. In reality, the only person I consider when I get dressed in the morning when it comes to who likes my outfit is myself. But as 50s women now days are kind of stereotyped as subservient home makers, some men seem to believe this means your values align too. For me personally, that’s far from the case and the male attention I get, especially on social media used to be enough to send me into a full blown anxiety meltdown. Now days, I’ve learnt through trial and error the best approach for me managing this behaviour, which has greatly reduced my anxiety around it.
5. Social media comparison stress
Perth Pinup Miss Laila Shalimar did an awesome article for Adore Pinup Magazine in the past few years about the negative impacts of the pinup online community on mental health and while I do absolutely adore the community we have, I am also not immune to this sort of self degradation. With our online community being filled with pretty pictures of pretty girls in pretty outfits, it can be easy to not feel like you are good enough or don’t fit. For example, on a bad mental health day when my anxiety is high, I’ll reduce my online time right down to basically just posting my content and checking out. I’ve had to actively learn to try and put down my negative feelings about my weight/size in regards to the online pinup community and I have to admit in the past 5 years since becoming heavily involved in the pinup world I’ve thought more about certain aspects of plastic surgery than I ever gave much thought to before. As a gal with anxiety issues, the online space can definitely be a massive trigger. But it also has some great positives. You can connect with some truly amazing people. I’ve learnt a lot of tips and skills from being a part of the online space and had the pleasure of chatting to some incredible women. Its so important to remember we are all so different, we are all at varying stages of embracing our pinup selves and that’s ok. Its OK to not the a ‘perfect pinup’ all the time. As hard as it can be, its important to not compare yourself to others. And remember, a lot of pinups just post pretty pictures (which is fine!) but that also means you don’t know much about them or their own struggles. The grass always seems greener and with the case of anxiety can appear SUPER green but your own grass can be just as green if you remember to water it.
On the flip side, its important to acknowledge how we use our own social media as kind of a ‘highlight reel’. There have definitely days were I’ve put on a smile when I’ve felt like I have a storm raging inside of me. I’ve had days where I didn’t want to dress up but did. We all do it to a degree and its important to remember others do to. Its one reason I’m trying to share more of this type of content and be more open about the struggles, especially as my following has grown.
So those are some of my experiences with anxiety and pinup. I remember how daunting some of these experiences where when I first got into the pinup scene as a retro girl with social anxiety. I hope by sharing some gals know that they aren’t alone and that it can help them learn to navigate the retro world the best way for them. It can be difficult sometimes having anxiety and being a pinup as it draws you out of the masses and makes you stand out. But I find if it comes from a place of enjoyment and makes you happy, then it can help you quite a bit. Also, I find repetition of certain situations or scenarios can really help me cope better with things, as its like I’ve gotten practice and now have a process to go through it instead of feeling like I’m flailing in water and struggling to stop myself drowning.
I also just wanted to remind ladies that its OK to not be OK, especially when living with something like anxiety. We all go through struggles and issues in life. Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself if you need to.
So as those who follow my Instagram will know, this past weekend I put on my big girl pants and flew to another state to attend my first ever Problogger event. I can already hear many of you, through your computer screen going ‘Problogger what?’. That was honestly my response too when I was first told about it. But in regards to my blogging and seeing how far I’ve come with my social anxiety and anxiety in general, its been one the best experiences having a blog has enabled me to have. So what is Problogger and how is it I ended up attending? Well, it all started with an amazing man.
I kind of felt I’d hit a wall recently with my blogging. I’d been wanting to grow my blogging space into something more than it has been. I wanted to get off the treadmill of just reviewing things and start including content that means so much to me. As pinup bloggers, I find our blogs can sometimes become superficial and be about nothing more than how things fit and where to buy stuff. Not saying this is a problem or that anyone else should change how they run their blog. But for me, its been bugging me for some time now and I just wanted more….to be able to give more, share more and make my blog space something more than what it currently is. The only issue is: I didn’t know how. As stupid as that sounds, it was a real problem and it was one I was struggling to overcome. Here enters my amazing partner. He had heard about the conference and felt that it was important that I should go. He thought I could get a lot out of it in regards to learning new media types, building content and blog design. Even though we were due to move he went above and beyond and made sure I got there and I am eternally grateful for his hard work and his belief in me! I’ve never had someone believe in me like he does before. So last Friday, at the brisk hour of 4am I was awake to get myself ready to head to the airport for a 6am flight. I can tell you now, 4am isn’t a pleasant hour to be awake for anything, especially with having my pole dancing class the night before I wasn’t able to head to bed til around midnight as I needed to finish packing. With a lot of gentle encouragement (my hair hadn’t set and I was rather panicked) and support I was soon bundled into the car, massive suitcase in tow to head on my first big adventure on my own as a young woman.
Pre-Flight Ticket Photo
Waiting for my mammoth suitcase
On the train to the resort
I am so incredibly grateful that flights were without any issues. I found myself sandwiched between two business men and I was soon napping happily between them. I woke just as the plane touched down and soon found myself navigating the comparatively small Brisbane airport to collect my massive suitcase and head to the train down to the gold coast. The train trip was 42 minutes longer than the trip planner online had estimated (ouch!) and I must admit, by the time I got off the train to get a cab to the resort I was feeling a bit worse for wear, very worn down and incredibly anxious about what I was facing. As someone with anxiety, the prospect of going to a conference was beyond terrifying. The fact I was getting there late just heightened the panic I was feeling. The cab trip was a matter of minutes and I soon found myself outside one of the fanciest hotels I’d ever been. I was staying at the RAVC Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast and it is pretty much the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. I went to check in before I headed down, so I didn’t have to take my bag and to my initial confusion and later delight my room had been upgraded to a suite. Feeling a bit overwhelmed I headed up to my room, to find it the most beautiful room ever.
Pano View of my suite
Bathroom of my suite
Outfit day 1 (Accessories Daisy Jean, Miss Lady A Broad and Debstar Designs. Top & Skirt are Pinup Girl Clothing)
So with my bag dropped off upstairs and a quick outfit photo I swallowed my fear and headed down to register and head in. The first thing I saw was there were a LOT of people. SO SO many. Feeling overwhelmed by this sea of people I sat down at a table by myself, took out my booklet and took notes. Of course, I’d walked in when they were doing a meet new people exercise (oh the irony!!) and I found myself being asked to introduce myself to the people at my table but alas, I was sitting at a table by myself. The lovely ladies who run Aussie Blogger Podcast (Tan and Amanda) waved me down and got me to sit with them at their table to introduce myself. These lovely ladies use their blogspace to showcase Australian bloggers, as we are sometimes forgotten in the big world of blogging. Amanda, who very happily explained she was an introvert that learned to be an extrovert was lovely enough to take me around at morning tea (the food was incredible) and meet people. This simple act of kindness really helped me push myself forward and step out over the coming days to connect with new people. It did become incredibly obvious very quickly that retro bloggers were pretty few and far between at this event. In my first few hours I didn’t come across a single one. The most prominent bloggers were mummy bloggers and food bloggers as well as modern fashion bloggers, which I found rather interesting. There were also a number of people who didn’t have blogs at all, but were interested in starting one. I attended two workshops that morning around content creation before attending the lunch. By this time (midday) I was feeling pretty buggered and since my ticket included getting all workshops in video form after, I bowed out to go and have a bath and a nap, as I had a ticket to the networking meeting that evening. The hotel bed was INCREDIBLE and I had a good hour nap after a bath in that incredible spa. I got up and went down for the afternoon recap which featured an inspiring story about the founder of Thank You Water, an amazing company that uses the profit from its products to fund projects to improve the lives of people living in third world countries without access to water, food and other medical needs. It was an incredibly inspiring speech and I must say I was a little teary. I finished the afternoon recap and headed upstairs to get ready for my first ever networking night.
Networking Night Outfit (Accessories ~ Daisy Jean & Debstar Designs. Dress is Pinup Girl Clothing. Shoes are Royal Vintage Shoes)
The networking night was an incredible experience. I’d met two other retro style bloggers (I’ll introduce them a bit later) and I was able to have a good chat with them. I moved around a lot and tried to chat with a few different people, though being a pinup blogger meant we often had little to actually discuss that we both could relate to. I met some really amazing people, I was one of the last to leave the event (shock horror!) and I was feeling a bit of a happy buzz by the time I crawled into bed around midnight on Friday, my hair fresh in curlers for another big day the next day. I felt proud of myself and how far I’d come. 12 months ago I couldn’t have faced a room full of people like that and been able to mingle and talk to them. That is such an achievement for me and I went to bed feeling incredible.
Outfit for Day 2 (Scarf is Daisy Jean, Earrings are Retro Resins, Necklace is Debstar Designs. Outfit is Pinup Girl Clothing and shoes are Royal Vintage Shoes)
I donated to one of the sponsors while I was there. Orange Sky Laundry are a volunteer initiative that allows homeless people to have access to clean clothes
I feel like I had more success on day 2 of this conference. i’d found my groove. I wasn’t as scared to talk to people. I had morning tea and lunch with the lovely Nicole and her friend Mime. It was lovely to chat and get to know these ladies over the course of my time in Brisbane (we also did breakfast together on the Sunday and I hope to one day be able to catch up with them again when I get to head down to Melbourne in the new year!). I also got to spend more time chatting to the other two retro bloggers who attended the event, who I’ve tagged above. I had an especially great time chatting to Lisa, who is a keen retro sewer who made her outfits for the conference and looked amazing.
I got a lot out of the workshops that day and took SO many notes. This conference was amazing on so many levels. It not only connected me to some incredible people, but it showed me that I can create the content I want for my blog space, I can expand it outside of just clothing reviews and there are ways to grow my blog space into something amazing. The whole experience left me feeling empowered, inspired and motivated to knuckle down and get things happening that I wanted to and I am SO incredibly grateful to my fella for making it all happen. I cannot wait to start making plans to work on new content for my social media and share more of the things I love with you all! This will definitely not be my last pro-blogger and I’m hoping to do more in the Olympus workshops next year!
Final Networking night (flowers ~ Daisy Jean, Dress is vivacious Vixen and bag is Lola Von Rose)
Finally got to meet Miss Honey Holloway!
I wrapped up my Problogger experience with an appearance at the final drinks on Saturday before slipping into something casual to finally meet the gorgeously hearted Miss Honey Holloway, who I’ve been following online for EVER. We had dinner and a chat which I found incredibly inspiring and reaffirmed a lot for me personally about where I want to go and what I want to do. We enjoyed the most amazing food before chilling for a chat. I was feeling incredibly by the time I rolled into my fluffy hotel bed, ready for another big day!
Sunday was an equally busy day! I had the absolute pleasure of shooting the lovely Cassie for something very special on Sunday morning, though we can’t share it yet! Her and her hubby were gracious enough to give me a lift back to Brisbane so i didn’t have to do another mammoth train ride and she came with me to get my first real ink (I kind of don’t count my back tattoo as its a small script word). I’ve been following Nikki online for AGES and when I saw she was finally tattooing I knew I needed to make time to see her on the Sunday. And so Oscar the Dumbo Octopus was born! Inspired by this totally cute clip I saw online, Nikki captured exactly what I wanted and I’m absolutely smitten with him. He’s so adorable and while it will be at least 6 months before I go under the ink needle again, I’m loving having this guy on my thigh! I handled the whole thing better than I expected (I was worried about it being super painful on my thigh but it was manageable) and Nikki was so awesome to get inked by! As I’m intending to come back up to the Gold Coast next year for the next event, I’ll definitely be stopping in to get more ink done by the lovely Nikki then!
After spending my afternoon with the lovely Cassie and her hubby, they very kindly gave me a lift to the airport I was soon all packed up, my bag checked and on the plane home. The whole experience was absolutely incredible and while I loved it, I found that its taken me a fair bit to settle back into my routine this week, as it did leave me feeling incredibly drained.
I am so excited to implement the things I’ve learnt and start shaping my space to what I want to do, instead of simply doing what everyone else does. I cannot wait to start planning for the amazing things I want to share and bring to this space!
Watch this space lovely people and keep your eyes peeled for more amazing stuff coming soon!