How Lockdown has Impacted my Body Image

I’ve given up, friends – after seven months of this shit, I’m making a COVID times post. So yeah, let’s talk about this clusterfuck of a year as it pertains to body image.

TW: Body struggles, weight (no numbers), fitness, mental health, COVID-19 lockdown, calorie counting (no numbers)

Did any of us think, back in February and early March, that this pandemic was going to impact pretty much every aspect of our lives? Yet here we are. October, and still no end to any of this in sight.

A lot of things in my life have changed this year, most of them directly or tangentially COVID-influenced. And in a world where a lot of things are complicated right now, one of the things that is consistently complicated is my relationship with my body image.

Based on what I’ve read, I’m far from the only person struggling with this. I speak only for myself, but if any of this resonates with you, I want you to know you’re not alone.

The COVID weight gain

My relationship with my weight is a very uneven and complicated thing. I say this with the awareness that I possess rather a lot of thin privilege compared to many folks in larger bodies. Still, I’ve also noticed a drastic change in the way the world responds to me in this body, than the way it responded to me in the (far smaller) body I had in my early 20s.

Prior to COVID hitting, I’d lost a pretty significant amount of weight and was feeling great about it. I’ve put back on…. well, not all of it, but a significant amount. And I know this is Bad Feminist and Not Body Positive of me, but I’m not really okay with it.

The reasons are obvious. No longer walking miles every day across a sprawling University campus. No pole (more on that in a minute). Comfort eating and comfort drinking and honestly, probably just the sheer body-altering impacts of living under chronic stress and low-key terror for seven months.

Breaking up with monitoring

Prior to COVID, I spent c. 4 years dipping in and out of obsessive monitoring phases where I’d track my exercise, my food, my calories, forever chasing the damned green line that said my intake/output balance was “right” that day.

I’ve completely stopped that since lockdown began. I haven’t charged my fitness tracker in months (honestly I’m not even sure where it is at this point). I no longer weigh my food

Strangely, I’ve started to find my way back to a place of equilibrium. I came into lockdown monitoring and tracking and counting, which wasn’t good for me. That gave way to comfort-consuming whatever gave me a momentary break from the SHEER FUCKING HORROR of it all. Thing is, this wasn’t good for me either.

Cake tastes better when I eat it because I actually want it, rather than because I’ve barely slept in three days and a jolt of sugar might help me keep going. I like a G&T as much as the next person, but drinking alone night after night after night in front of a screen doesn’t make you miss your friends and your family and your fucking life any more. It just makes the loneliness worse when the inevitable crash sets in.

Through all this, I seem to have – almost accidentally – hit something approaching balance. I definitely eat more of the things I want than I did when I was counting and tracking everything. And I think that’s a good thing. But I also eat what I actually want and what my body is craving, rather than using sugar and alcohol as a coping strategy.

Goddess knows I am still far from fixing my broken relationship with food. I don’t want to imply for a second that I’ve hit some magical end point. To be honest, I suspect this will be a lifelong journey. All of us, especially women and AFAB people, live in a world that polices our bodies and our food constantly. Finding balance amidst all that? Well, it’s not just a battle you win once.

I’m trying to learn to be more gentle with myself over it all. To accept that I’ll have days when I deal with food guilt and start to slide back into my old obsessive ways. To accept that I’ll also have days where my depression tells me to just lie on the couch and eat my body weight in candy. Both are okay. Both are things I can learn to recognise and work with.

Finding ways to keep fit that feel good

When I found pole dancing in early 2019, I knew I’d finally found a means of exercise that was not only bearable, but brought me joy every time I did it. Of course, I haven’t been able to go dancing since early March (the studio only reopened a couple weeks ago, and my partner and I both feel it’s not sufficiently COVID-safe right now.)

In a world where I can’t do that, I kind of lost motivation to keep fit. It took me a while to even want to do anything else. I tried a few online workouts and didn’t really get on with any of them. The wrong level, absurdly punishing even when labelled as “for beginners”, or just accompanied by too much casual body-shaming commentary.

I was perhaps the last trying-to-keep-fit-on-the-internet person in the entire world to discover Yoga with Adriene. I’ve been working my way through her 30 day challenge for beginners. I’m certainly not going to become a “yoga fixes all things” devotee anytime soon, but I definitely feel physically stronger and mentally more grounded after doing sessions most days for the last few weeks.

What I like about Adriene is the way that she totally decouples the practice of yoga from being about changing your body. Her catchphrase/rallying cry is “find what feels good”. Even her “Yoga for Weight Loss,” which I will admit is how I first found her channel, isn’t really about weight loss.

I also stumbled across a Youtube video that convinced me of the joys of hula-hooping. I bought a hoop and have been doing 15 minutes a day in front of the TV. It’s silly and it’s playful and it’s easy to work up a sweat and feel awesome while my mind is focused on something else (in this case, reruns of Crazy Ex Girlfriend.)

All this to say that finding ways to keep fit in lockdown has been challenging, frustrating, but ultimately pretty rewarding.

Though I’ll still be much happier when I can hang upside down from a pole in just my underwear surrounded by badass women again.

Not having to get dressed up is a mixed blessing

Clothing and appearance and dressing up has always been a bit of a minefield for me. As your friendly resident #Sparklefemme, I love all things fancy and glittery and just that little bit extra. However, the combination of not having a body shape that mainstream fashion really understands, coupled with eclectic tastes and being basically broke until I was 26, means that shopping for clothes is… complex, at best.

Honestly, not having to think so much about what I’m going to wear every day has been freeing. I have pretty much worked in some combination of pyjamas, yoga pants, and oversized t-shirts every day since March, and I’m not sorry. Being able to prioritise comfort over dressing “acceptably” has been a blessing during an incredibly stressful time.

On the other hand, not having any real opportunity to get dressed up and sparkle has made me realise how much I miss it. Sure, I could don glitter at home, but it’s not worth the effort if it’s for no occasion. I’ve thought about wearing the catsuit on a Zoom call, but it just doesn’t feel joyful in the same way when it’s just me, my home office, and a grainy camera. I could put on a tight skirt, but where’s the fun if I can’t flirt with a stranger?

I like valuing my body and physicality as far more than a decoration… but sometimes I want to be fucking decorative, damnit! I’ve been kinda dealing with this by playing with nudes and taking more lingerie selfies.

One of the little but powerful self-care rituals I’ve cultivated in lockdown has been to start dying my hair again. For the last several years in jobs in which any non-natural colour was considered “unprofessional,” I’d often look in the mirror and long for my luscious purple locks of old. When I finally did it again, watching the gorgeous, vibrant colour emerge in all its glory as I blow-dried my hair, I felt like me again.

We have to find small joys and small ways to love ourselves in these times. It just happens that one of my small joys lives in a bottle of violet hair dye. I might not love my shape or my fitness level right now, but at least I can love this one little thing.

What I’m trying to say is… it’s complicated

It’s complicated and it’s many-faceted and it’s a work in progress. I have mostly come to terms, at this point, with the idea that it’s probably always going to be kind of complicated, and it’s always going to be a work in progress.

I can’t wake up one morning like “wahey, I love my body now!” If only it were that simple. Instead, it’s more likely to be a lifetime of steps forward and slips back, of progress and challenges, of days where it feels easy and days where it feels hard.

If lockdown taught me one thing about body image, it’s that body image isn’t static and it isn’t a one way journey.

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Quote Quest: Feeling the Fear and Posting It Anyway

“Right on the edge of fear was where trust could grow.”
― Cherise Sinclair

Content warning: this post contains frank discussion of body-shaming, body image issues, sexual violence, and imposter syndrome. Take care of yourselves, loves.

People ask me how I can do what I do.

“How do you write about your sex life on the internet? Share your innermost feelings so openly and honestly? Post naked and scantily clad pictures? Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you scared what people will THINK!?”

Of course I’m scared. I’m fucking terrified.

Every time I post a picture of my body, I worry someone is going to shame my round belly or chubby waistline or pubic hair. Of course, I worry that when I take my clothes off at kink events, as well. (Remember those?)

And you know what? Occasionally they do. Just a few weeks ago, a guy on a fetish site fat-shamed me when I said I wasn’t interested in playing with him. Every discussion of body hair eventually attracts at least one person talking about how “disgusting” it is. Every time someone says something cruel about my body specifically or the bodies of people that look like me, I want to retreat. I want to go away and make myself small and hide and apologise.

But I don’t, because it is not their fucking right to tell me that I am wrong.

I posted a nude to Twitter last night. I don’t do this particularly often but enjoy it once in a while. My followers on Twitter are absurdly kind and every comment I received was genuinely lovely and made me smile and blush. Does that mean that every time my phone pings with a notification for 48 hours or so after a new pic goes up, I don’t flinch with fear at what horrible thing someone might have said? Of course not.

It goes a step further, too. I’m afraid of getting sexually assaulted again, of course – find me a woman, female-read or AFAB person who isn’t. But more specifically than that, I’m afraid that if I do, my pictures and my blog will be used against me. That I’ll be the slut who was asking for it because there’s tens of thousands of words about my sex life and more than a few pictures of my naked body floating around on the internet.

It’s not just about the pictures either, though a lot of my insecurities are centred around my body image so that’s where a lot of the fear congregates.

Almost every time I post a piece of fiction, I’m worried someone is going to tell me I’m a shit writer and should just pack it in. Every time I submit to a client, there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying “who the fuck are you that you think this is worth someone paying for?” If I post a negative review of a product, I worry I’ll be met with slander and threats from the company.

When I speak out about transphobia or rape culture or mental health, I fear the trolls and the bigots and the doxxers coming for me. When I speak up about the abuse I’ve suffered, I fear my abuser finding it and recognising himself and raining hellfire down on me in retribution.

So no, I don’t do this because I’m fearless. Truth is, I’m often afraid. I do this because I love it, and I don’t want fear to rule me. I do this because, despite everything, I still believe we all have the power to make the world a little bit brighter if we choose to.

I’m not brave. I just feel the fear and publish it anyway.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post about feeling the fear and posting anyway

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Wearable Review] Lovehoney “Free Spirit” Bra Set

I’ve had this set for quite a while, but have been struggling to know what to say about it. Lingerie is, in some ways, much harder to review than other products such as sex toys or kink gear. What we individually find aesthetically pleasing in clothing, and what fits each of our wonderful and unique bodies, is so infinitely variable that it’s often hard to know how to review lingerie in a way that is likely to be helpful to anyone. With that said, let’s take a look at this offering from Lovehoney’s Free Spirit lingerie line.

Content warning: this review touches briefly on sizeism and clothing being made with thin folks in mind. Please feel free to skip if that’s going to be difficult for you!

Initial Impressions

“I hate pink,” I text my partner. But this isn’t fair – I don’t hate pink per se. It’s a perfectly attractive colour, taken in isolation. What I hate are the associations of pink. The way that anything that’s assumed to be “for women” (let’s not unpack all the problems with that right now) is plastered in it as if all 3.5 billion of us just go mad over this one specific colour. The fact that it’s used – along with blue – to aggressively gender infants before they are old enough to have any sense of who they really are. The fucking pink tax. But I digress.

The Free Spirit lingerie lines look pinkish-purple, almost lilac, on the website images. In real life, though, these pieces are most definitely PINK. Paired with the dark blue straps and detailing, the effect is quite striking, though I can’t say it’s really my aesthetic. For a certain type of femme look, though, it’s cute.

Model wearing the pink and blue Free Spirit lingerie bra by Lovehoney

My other first impression was “lol my tits are never gonna fit in that.” We’ll talk more about fit shortly.

My Free Spirit bra set came simply packaged in a transparent plastic wrap.

Getting into it…

Anyone who has seen me try on lingerie will know that it is not, typically, a sexy sight. It usually involves me getting tangled in straps, swearing, possibly falling over, and trying not to ruin some fancy lace with my unkempt fingernails. So I seriously appreciate that rarest of holy grails: lingerie that is easy to put on and take off.

The Free Spirit bra was a breeze – you adjust the band to fit, slip it over your head and into place, and tie it up. Be aware that the bra is a halter-neck style, so if you struggle to tie things behind you you’ll need to ask someone to help you fasten it up.

Back view of the model wearing the Free Spirit lingerie bra by Lovehoney

The knickers, though, are another story. As you can see from the images, they are straps and straps and straps galore! It took me a number of attempts to get into them properly, and then I kept finding one strap or another twisted and having to readjust. I’d never wear these to an event where I thought I might be having sex, because it would take me half an hour to get back into them afterwards!

Fit

This set is pitched as “one size fits most” but we all know that isn’t really a thing. I strongly suspect that the “one size” thing is a way to keep costs down, as this line is markedly cheaper than many other Lovehoney lingerie ranges. And it is extremely clear from the design of this set that, though it may be adjustable and ostensibly fit anyone up to a size 16, it was ultimately designed with smaller bodies in mind.

I currently wear a UK size 14 and I didn’t find these pieces to be a good fit. My boobs are… probably a E or F cup at this point? (I don’t really know, I haven’t had a bra fitting in like a decade.) And the Free Spirit bra really did not contain them at all. The adjustable band and tie-up halterneck worked well, but the one-size cups will be woefully inadequate for anyone above a C cup.

The knickers were more of the same. The waistband is adjustable, but the thin decorative straps, though stretchy, are not. They stretched uncomfortably over my stomach and pulled the whole piece out of shape. They dug in and kept twisting out of shape, and the thong was pulled so far up my butt that I felt like the damn thing was trying to cut me in half!

This set is supposedly for UK sizes 8 – 16, and there is a plus-size version for sizes 18 – 24. Interestingly, the plus-size version has different knickers which come without all the strappy bits, which I think proves my point that these knickers were designed with thin folks in mind.

If you are a size 8-10, this set may work well for you. If you wear a larger size or have larger breasts, I recommend looking elsewhere.

Comfort

The lace is not as soft as the lace Lovehoney use on some of their other lingerie pieces, though I suppose that is to be expected at this comparatively low price-point. It’s not horribly scratchy or anything, but don’t expect it to feel super luxurious either. The satin of the bands is soft and feels nice against the skin, though.

The poor fit was the real comfort killer, though, and I don’t see myself wearing this set again now that I’ve written this review.

How did I feel wearing it?

As you’ve probably gathered, this set didn’t work for me. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad design or there’s anything wrong with it as such, but it wasn’t a good fit for my body. It emphasised all the bits of my body I’m uncomfortable with, and made me feel inadequate because it was clearly not designed with people of my body-type in mind.

I want to wear lingerie that makes me look in the mirror and go “yes!” This was not that.

Final thoughts

Overall, I think this is the least strong of Lovehoney’s recent lingerie offerings. Moonlight and Wild Blooms blew me away, and some of their one-size body stockings and mini-dresses have worked well for me… but this range would really have benefited from being made in a wider array of sizing options.

I applaud Lovehoney for creating a lower-priced offering, but I’m underwhelmed by the execution.

The Free Spirit Bra Set retails for £19.99.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me these pieces in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are, as always, my own. Affiliate links appear in this post. Image is courtesy of Lovehoney and reproduced with permission.

[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

What Sexual Happiness Means to Me

This week is Sexual Happiness Week! I think that’s a sentiment we can all get behind, no? (If not, why are you reading this blog?) My pals at Lovehoney asked me in an email “what does sexual happiness mean to you?” and, of course, it got me thinking.

My initial reaction was to give my working definition of sex positivity: “supporting the right of all consenting adults to have sex, or not, in whatever ways work best for them, free from stigma or shame”.

And while I stand by that, I think sexual happiness is something a little different. So I started making a list of some of the things that make up “sexual happiness” for me. It’s different for everyone, so your mileage may vary. Why not tell me in the comments what YOUR definition of sexual happiness is?

1. Feeling in harmony with my body

My body and I have… an uneasy relationship. We haven’t always been friends and honestly, we sometimes still aren’t. Feeling good about my body is something I am mostly struggling to access right now, but in order to experience sexual happiness I do at least need to feel comfortable – neutral, if you will – about it.

I can’t have good sex if all I can think about is how much I hate my stomach and how my thighs are too big. But I can get to a happy place sexually if I can turn off all that noise and, if I cannot love how my body looks, at least appreciate it for the things it can do and the sensations it can feel.

2. Having partners I can really trust

You cannot have really good sex without trust. This is something I firmly believe. For me, trust is more complex than just “you’ll do what you say you’re going to do”. Trust means that I know you’ll show up for me if I need you, outside of a purely sexual space. It means I can be vulnerable with you and know that you will hold space for that and not use it to harm me. It means I can rely on you to show up and keep your commitments to me, not because I force you to but because you want to.

My bar for ongoing sexual partners is now much higher. We might or might not fall in Capital L Love with one another, but if I don’t trust you, we have nothing – not even a casual something.

3. A frequency that works

I’m a very highly sexual person much of the time (duh, you all think as you read my sex blog). This means that, much of the time, I’d like to be having quite a lot of sex. Much as I joke about liking my sex like I like my coffee (“hot and several times a day,”) my actual ideal frequency for sex tends to fall around the 4 – 5 times a week mark, a little more when I’m not busy. (LOL, as if there’s ever a time I’m not busy.)

But the key to sexual happiness for me is a frequency of sex that works with where my life is at that time, and works for the relationship I have with that partner. Right now I probably have sex with The Artist about once a month, but that’s… most of the times we see each other. Whereas with Mr CK, it probably averages out to once or twice a week – but we live together and see each other every day unless one of us is away, so we have days when we’re together but don’t have sex much more often. The key to happiness is a frequency that works for everyone.

4. Exploration and new experiences

At my heart, I am a curious creature with a lust for new experiences and plenty of adventure. Sexually, this can mean a lot of things. New partners, yes – sexual variety is one of the reasons I practice consensual non-monogamy. But also trying a new kink act, a new toy (my job as a sex writer blesses me with the ability to do this frequently!), a new position, or a new sex party or club all fall under the umbrella of “variety”.

Basically I want to try shit out. Being with a person for a long period of time and keeping a sexual spark alive comes quite easily to me, as long as there are plenty of adventures to be shared.

5. Plenty of attention given to my pleasure

I nearly wrote “orgasms!” for this one, but, well… I have an orgasm denial fetish. So I’ve amended it to needing a partner to give plenty of attention to my pleasure, in whatever way that looks. It might mean making sure I come, of course. But it might also include teasing me in the way I like, or spanking me in just the right way, or honestly just regularly checking in to make sure I’m having fun and getting what I want out of the scene. Nothing will turn me off faster than a partner who treats me like a sex toy. (Unless that’s a specific roleplay we’ve negotiated… in which case I’m getting something out of it too, so the point still stands).

Today’s post is brought to you by Lovehoney’s Sexual Happiness Week. Check out the great deals on offer. If you buy through any of my affiliate links, I make a small commission.

WWAD? (What Would Amy Do?)

I’ll be honest with you, dear readers. I’m having a really hard time with a lot of things right now. This is for a variety of reasons, not least that my body image is at its lowest level ever (even lower than when I wrote this,) my day job is…. challenging, and I’m currently working through intense childhood trauma as well as the abuse from my ex with my therapist. Basically, I don’t like the person I am at the moment. I’m a sluggish, grumpy, emotionally unavailable shell of myself.

And one of the things I’m finding particularly hard right now is polyamory. Jealousy is biting me hard. Compersion has fucked off somewhere and ghosted me. And I’m forgetting everything I supposedly know about how to handle this shit.

I don’t want to be like this.

In my “real” life (air quotes because this world feels more real to me than my day-to-day life), I have a different persona. Another person I have to be. Let’s call her… Sarah. Sarah is significantly less cool than Amy. She works in an office instead of writing about her vagina on the internet, she wears comfy sweaters and jeans instead of corsets and lingerie, and she plays the role of a straight, monogamous “good girl” in a play called “Small Conservative Town And Judgemental Job”. She’s the person I was for most of the twenty six years of life before I started this blog, found “Amy,” and learned how to be the person I always wanted to be.

Sarah is also many of the traumatised, fucked up, broken pieces of me.

Something that frustrates me is how often I forget how to do the things that I advise other people on all the time. I know how to handle a jealousy flare-up. I know how to own my own shit. And I know how to talk to my partner about a problem without it escalating into a fight. People come to me for advice on this stuff. I run classes on it. And write a fucking column on it! I. Know. This. Shit.

Or at least Amy does.

But Sarah finds it so very hard to tap into this knowledge when I am neck deep in brutal insecurities, non-existent self-esteem and the sense that all I want is for these feelings to STOP.

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a situation and so deep in panic that I don’t know what to do, I try to ask myself a question: What Would Amy Do? That is, I try to step outside of the immediacy and the pain of the situation, and think: if a reader came to me with this question, what would I tell her to do? What would my advice be? Usually, when I look at it like that, the way forward is much clearer (if still equally difficult to enact in practice.)

So what would Amy do? She’d probably start by apologising to her partner for being an insufferable shit and get her ass back to therapy.

Hey, maybe buy me a coffee to help me keep paying for books and vibrators therapy.

[Wearable Review] Lovehoney Elixir Luxury Lingerie Set

[Update 30/01/20: the Elixir lingerie ranges have now been discontinued. I have removed dead links but this post is left up for reference.]

Has anyone else noticed that Lovehoney are on fire with their awesome lingerie offerings lately? I’m not surprised after meeting their wonderful and skilled designer at the recent blogger day – she makes it her mission to find the most beautiful fabrics and use them to create gorgeous pieces for all bodies.

The suspender belt from the Elixir lingerie setI originally asked for this set in black, but they didn’t have any black sets left for review. Bright red and gold feels a bit much for me, being the shy retiring creature that I am [1]. Still, it’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone, isn’t it? So red it was.

[1] Except when the catsuit of joy comes out.

There’s a lot of pieces to this one…

The Elixir set is four separate pieces:

  • A long-line bra, with padded cups and velvety straps and framing detail.
  • Crotchless knickers.
  • A suspender belt with four velvety suspender straps.
  • Wrist cuffs joined with a delicate gold chain.

Note that stockings are not included, so you’ll need to buy those separately. I recommend these red thigh-highs. Perhaps pair with killer heels to complete the look?

Glamour and luxury

I was put off red lingerie years ago because so much of what’s out there is just so… tacky? This is not that.

The fabric is a bright, luscious red and shot through with flecks of gold. The gold just makes the whole set feel so luxurious and high-end – it really feels like it should be much more expensive than it is. Each piece is also adorned with a cute little charm in the shape of the Lovehoney heart logo.

I also love the slightly kinky aesthetic that comes from the cuffs. They are purely for decoration – the chain is extremely thin and the lace is delicate. Don’t try to pull against them or use them for restraint as you’ll damage them.

How does it fit?

Fit is always a bit difficult when it comes to lingerie, because we all have such different proportions. Lovehoney provide handy sizing charts on all their lingerie so you can work out which size is best for you. And if you’re, say, a medium on top but a large on bottom, just get in touch and they’ll help you out if they can.

The Elixir set is available in S/M/L and also in Plus Size, so will fit anyone from size 6 to 24.

I’m currently wearing a UK 14/16 (and occasionally 18, it’s a bit brand-dependent) so after some deliberation I got the Large. The fit is not perfect but pretty good. The bra covers my 38DD boobs pretty well, and the knickers are a great fit. The suspender belt was a bit small on me and didn’t sit properly on my body as a result, but I’m an hourglass shape with big hips so this makes sense.

A question of comfort

I mean, it’s sexy lingerie. It’s not particularly supposed to be comfortable! That said, this set is designed with maximum possible comfort as well as aesthetic in mind. The lace is super soft – not scratchy at all. So though I wouldn’t wear it all day, it’s surprisingly comfortable when compared to other, similar items on the market. I could happily spend an evening out at the club – or in with my partner – wearing it!

Making you feel great

I struggle with body-image. I’ve written about this before, if you’d like to read (CWs for weight, body shame and diets in linked posts). In short, I really struggle to feel good about my body or to feel sexy – and a lot of the time, I hide behind jeans and jumpers and baggy loose clothes. I avoided lingerie for a long time out of the vague feeling that it’s not really for me or my overweight body.

Sex blogging has forced me to dip a toe in to trying lingerie – can’t easily write about it if I don’t try it, now can I? And Lovehoney’s pieces consistently make me feel gorgeous when I put them on. The designs work for a wide range of bodies, not just the proportions of a mainstream lingerie model, and they make a wide range of women and femme folks feel look and feel beautiful.

A great sexy gift?

Christmas is coming up! (As if you’d forgotten). Could this set be a lovely gift for the special femme in your life? Or just a special treat for yourself? The colour scheme is delightfully festive.

The entire Elixir range is currently on sale at 20% off, so you can pick up this gorgeous set for just £35.99. And, if you order before the end of 21 December, there’s still time for delivery before Christmas!

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the red Elixir luxury lingerie set to review. All views my own. All pictures by me. If you make a purchase, please use my affiliate links and send some commission my way at no extra cost to you. 

Plus-Size Lingerie and Body Love [A Review, of Sorts]

This post contains frank descriptions of body image issues and weight loss (no numbers) and discusses external and internalised fatphobia. Please look after yourselves and skip this one if this is likely to be difficult for you. This one is quite vulnerable for me – please be kind. Thank you.

[Update: the red set in this piece has since been discontinued. I’ve left links in to the rest of the range for reference.]

A pretty curvy woman in the Rendezvous plus-size lingerie set from LovehoneyI am currently fatter than I have ever been in my life. And I am not, truth be told, okay with this.

To be honest, I feel bad even writing that. I don’t know if I am allowed to complain that I experience fatphobia at this size – where I never have before. Plenty of people who are bigger than me experience far worse. But there we are. These things exist on a spectrum. And many people, from men who might want to fuck me to service staff, treat me noticeably worse now than they did 50lb ago.

A pretty curvy woman in the Belle Amour plus-size lingerie bra set from LovehoneyEven though I’m frequently attracted to gorgeous babes of all sizes, fat and thin and everywhere in between, I really struggle with seeing my body like this. I have to be in a lot of photos at my day job, and I’ve often ended up going to the loos to have a sneaky cry after seeing a photo of myself. It’s probably fair to say I currently hate my body most of the time.

I’m on a long journey right now of getting back to the weight where I felt good about my body, while also trying to love it as it is on the way. Part of the problem is that a lot of my clothes, and especially a lot of the clothes I used to feel good in, don’t fit me at the moment. This includes all the gorgeous lingerie I’ve accrued in two years of sex blogging. (Small mercies, I can still get into the catsuit of joy, but just barely.)

So when my pals at Lovehoney announced they were launching two new lines of plus-size lingerie, I agreed to try it out. Still at a place of being reluctant to call myself “plus-size,” I nervously selected a couple of pieces and waited for them to arrive. They then sat on the sofa for several days, staring at me. Making me feel guilty for not trying them and scared to try them in equal measure. What if they looked awful? If they didn’t fit? If I ended up just hating my body even more?

Eventually I did try them, when I was alone in the house and there was no-one but me and the mirror to judge me. (Not that my sweethearts would ever negatively judge me, but internalised fatphobia is strong, y’all).

Meet Belle Amour & Rendezvous

Belle Amour and Rendezvous are Lovehoney’s two new lines of plus-size lingerie. Unlike their other offerings, these ranges are exclusive to Plus and cover sizes 18-28 (that’s UK sizes).

“Belle Amour” is a red-themed range (two of the sets also have black accents) which is bright, bold and sexy as hell. The two “Rendezvous” pieces are inspired by fetishwear and characterised by black fabrics, gold studded collar and belt, and fishnet lace. Woof.

The pieces I chose & my experience

I decided to go for one basque and one bra set, to get the best overall sense of the range. I chose the Rendezvous Studded Fishnet Basque and the Belle Amour Longline Bra Set.

When I first got lingerie from Lovehoney, I was really pleasantly surprised at the quality. Unlike what you get from a lot of sex shops and online retailers, this stuff is fantastically made and uses real high-quality materials. These pieces were no exception. The satin looks anything but cheap, and the lace is unbelievably soft.

I tried on the Rendezvous set first. I’m a big fan of fishnet and I love the floral pattern interspersed with the netting – it gives the set a gorgeous kinky/femme edge. The studded belt is my favourite part, though. I love how it accentuates the curve of my waist.

Sexy lingerie, including plus-size lingerie, is not designed for comfort, so I won’t pretend it was the most comfy thing in the world. But the material is soft and non-scratchy enough that I could wear it for a few hours at an event without too much trouble.

I think this one is coming out at the next kink event we go to…

Next up was the Belle Amour set. I was initially less sure about this one. For starters, it shows off my stomach which isn’t a part of my body I am particularly fond of.

But the longer I wore it, the more I loved the shape it gives to my breasts and the way the garter belt hugs the curve of my hips. I also think the long line bra style, which hits just at the top of my waist, is a super flattering cut for me. The whole aesthetic is delightfully femme.

This is definitely the more comfortable of the two – again, I cannot overestimate how soft this lace is!

Now I just need to get me some wonderful stockings to complete the look…!

Some reactions:

I think it’s safe to say the reactions from my partners and sexy friends were overwhelmingly positive.

“Woof!” – anonymous friend

“*heart eyes emoji*” – other anonymous friend

“So ridiculously hot.” – the Artist

*Drags me into the bedroom for immediate sex* – Mr CK

A note on sizing

As ever, femme clothing sizing continues to be a mystery. Lovehoney’s plus-size lingerie comes in three sizes: 18/20, 22/24, and 26/28. However, each basque and bra has three rows of hooks-and-eyes and some stretch, making them adjustable to a reasonable degree.

Regardless of what size I’ve been at, I have always had disproportionately large boobs compared to the rest of my body. I don’t normally do bras so I haven’t had a measurement done in years. But at a guess I’m probably an E or F cup right now. This means I often have to go a size up in tops and anything with a built-in bra.

I requested these pieces in size 18/20. I’m wearing a 16 in most things at the moment, occasionally an 18 on top thanks to the aforementioned tits. However, on the tightest hook setting these pieces fitted like a dream. Even the cups were a perfect size and actually covered my nipples properly! All the straps are adjustable, from the bra straps to the pieces that attach the collar to the basque. The collar, though not adjustable, is stretchy enough that I can pull it over my head so it will fit the vast majority of neck sizes.

The knickers on both pieces were very, very slightly big on me but really nowhere near enough as to be problematic.

Care and Cleaning

Unfortunately, these pieces – as with most sexy lingerie – are hand-wash only. We actually do put them through the washing machine, in a net bag on the most gentle cycle and they’ve been absolutely fine, but your mileage may vary.

The Verdict

I love both of these sets, and these whole ranges! Interestingly, both my partners agreed that the red set was their favourite, but the black feels like more “me” when I wear them. Perhaps I’m just not very used to bright colours! Black feels much more comfortable, much more… safe?

More than anything, I want to emphasise how goddamn sexy I feel in these pieces. I cried when I’d finished trying them. The whole experience reminded me how it feels to love what I see in the mirror. That’s been… a while.

So what now?

Whatever size you are, if you’re struggling with how you see your body, I recommend getting something to wear that you feel absolutely gorgeous in. This might be lingerie or it might not – what makes us feel good is very personal.

This experience has not cured my body-image issues by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. Body image is more complex than the availability of plus-size lingerie. We live in a society that hates fat bodies, that encourages women to hate themselves, and that profits off insecurities and imperfections the media has convinced us we have.

But putting on this this gorgeous plus-size lingerie, taking photos and letting my lovers tell me how sexy I am, has reminded me that my body can still be hot and desirable and perfect, exactly as it is right now. And that has to be worth something.

Thanks to Lovehoney for providing me with these pieces to try. As ever, all opinions are my own. If you purchase through my affiliate links, you send a small commission my way at no extra cost to you. Professional product photos are property of Lovehoney and used with permission. Other images are mine – do not steal them.