Plus North – ups, downs, and massive bruises

8 Sep

I’m not a ‘blogger’ as such – I’m more an artist, a writer, a crafter, a knobber, a weirdo …. anyway, I went to Plus North again, and I want to write about it. This won’t be a ‘blog post’ as such. It may be long, it may ramble, there may be swears and nudity. I’m going to talk about my mental health, being fat, my beliefs about fat pride, body image and I’m going to be honest about some stuff – I don’t know what blogs usually look like, I never get round to reading blogs, I chat on twitter which is how I know the lovely fats, and I do feel bad about not keeping up with posts.

It’s all going under a cut, so you can move on if you want to. But here’s my inexplicable face and hair as always.

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So let’s start in July last year. I went to the first Plus North because I’m fat, my friend Rebs was doing nails, another friend Kirsty was modelling and I’d been chatting with some fat bloggers on twitter. As I’m fat, a lot of my jewellery fits me and is too big for other people, so I thought going along with jewellery and changing the size for people would be a nice way of chatting as well as selling stuff. I had a whale of a time, meeting really amazing people, as well as some who were ok, some who weren’t my thing, and some I never spoke to – like everywhere else, really. I wish I’d gone out in the evening, but in hindsight, my weird issues with food meant a  meal with a lot of strangers would have been awful.

Throughout the year I kept in touch with the good ones, met more bloggers as my friends reviewed and retweeted, and there are a lot of plus size bloggers I am now in regular contact with. When Plus North 2013 was announced, I knew I definitely wanted to be involved again, and luckily the team allowed me to be a sponsor with a table in the marketplace.

Five weeks ago I had a GP appointment, and my blood pressure was sky high. He told me to stop drinking, and wanted to half my psychiatric medication because venlafaxine causes blood pressure to rise as well. the last few weeks have been more like how I was five years ago – up and down, giddy and then very low, terrible headaches but with my social anxieties actually getting better. Not drinking was difficult, but being more interested in going out and about was a definite plus.

I decided to stay at the next door Travelodge because it was a lot cheaper, and I knew I wouldn’t be in the room much, and I decided on the train so that Ian could use the van. I’m not a massive fan of trains, but I used to use them all the time, and I knew it would help me with not overpacking if I had to take it all in suitcases.Everything was booked and paid for.

As the time grew closer, I was starting to panic – having to be without Ian at such a big event where he would normally be supporting me, being away from him for two nights, travelling by train, meeting so many people all at once – it all sounded like a nightmare! I almost decided not to go. In the end, I decided that instead of worrying too much, I would allow myself to smoke just for the weekend, and drink on the Friday and Saturday nights.

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I packed all my stuff into these three bags – I couldn’t believe it either. It meant I didn’t have loads of options for clothes, and that I needed to get taxis in Manchester due to the weight of them, but I was travelling, sort of, light.

The train journey was awful – I seemed to have chosen a very small, slow train, but at least I had a seat, even if it wasn’t in the quiet carriage (which didn’t exist, even though I’d booked a seat in it). I understand people need to use public transport, and I know I’m lucky to not have to use it all the time – but seriously, I’m never going on a train again.

I got to the hotel, and saw someone familiar – who turned out to be Becca. They made us wait to check in unless we wanted to pay £10 extra. I almost paid, I was so tired. The reason I hate public transport is the public part of it – I’d got a bit fed up with people, and just wanted to relax.

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Eventually I got to the servicable room, then went and got a pizza to eat in the room. There were 29 people meeting to eat in red Hot Buffet later that evening, but I’d decided not to go for a variety of reason. Firstly, I don’t like eating in front of people I don’t know. Secondly, I don’t like buffets – Ian doesn’t either, I don’t know why really, I just don’t. Thirdly, the table was booked for 9, and I wanted to be in bed by 10 as I had an early start and a long day.

Eventually, I had a bath, and was ready for partying! I chose my lobster dress, because I love it, and I feel comfy in it. I arranged to meet Dani in the hotel for a gin and tonic, and then meet Alyssa and wander over to the Slug and Lettuce to meet some other people. The first thing that happened is that Dani told me she drew the lobster on the dress I was wearing, which was kind of awesome and embarassing all at once. Luckily Alyssa turned up shortly afterwards, and was every bit as lovely as she seemed on twitter. We have a mutual friend who moved from Kent to Leeds, and we both make jewellery, so I thought we’d get on, and I’m pleased to say we did.

I don’t know how many people ended up in the Slug and Lettuce, but it seemed like there were about 1500 of us, what with the volume of voices and hair. A few people had felt the bouncers were offhand or laughing with us – I was saying the other day, I never notice anyone saying anything nasty about me in public, and I honestly didn’t think that anyone noticed us in a negative way. I’m not saying they definitely didn’t, but if they did, I didn’t hear it. If they did stare, I think it was just because we were really dressed up compared to other people out for the night, not because of our weight. I love that some people become more confident in a group of similarly fat women – personally, I find confidence within myself, and just surround myself with people I love and feel good about myself with, but I know I’m lucky that I’ve grown into myself. I have to remind myself I’m older, and a lot of this confidence has come with age. We chatted outside about the way people are actually heckled in the street, and I was again reminded of how lucky I am that I don’t get literally shouted at for being fat.

Anyway, moving on… I also met two AMAZING people I hadn’t met yet called Lyndsey and Mary. As well as saying very random things, and being totally adorable, they’re both so positive and filled me with joy every time they opened their mouths. My mum always taught me to base my feelings on people on how I feel the minute I meet them, and I very much enjoyed meeting those two – after Saturday, I realised I was right to trust those instincts.

Once 9pm arrived, everyone else turned up and they all went to the buffet place. It was kind of sad seeing a massive group of loveliness for a very short amount of time, but I consoled myself with getting to know Alyssa even better, and then going to the Tesco Express for some scran. After a chat with Ian, a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad and a pastrami sandwich, it was bedtime.

The next morning, I had to get up at 8am – this isn’t that early for people who have jobs, kids, or a normal life, but it was a bit ridiculous for me. I’d found it hard to sleep without the cats, rather than Ian, and ended up drifting off properly about 2am. I’d chosen this dress because it’s my ‘go to’ dress when I need boosting. I think it’s Simply Be, I picked it up on eBay – it drapes perfectly, and is so comfortable as it’s a silky jersey material.

I went straight to the venue, and caught up with Becky, Toni and Kathryn. I met them all last year, and have kept in touch, so it was really good to see them again. The Renaissance hotel was beautiful, especially as everything was named after Renaissance artists, which was my specialism when I studied Art History. Plus some of the moldings were shaped like Pacman, as you can see here where K is pointing to them.plus17

I could tell from the size of the room that there would be loads of people, and I didn’t envy Becky and Toni at all for all the organising. My tiny table and the woes surrounding it suddenly seemed so ridiculous, I used the confidence boost to set up. People kept popping in, saying hello, bringing me coffee, and taking me out for cigarettes.

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Alyssa turned up again, and it was lovely to see that beaming face. I have no idea why I don’t have any photos of her. She sat opposite me with her beautiful resin jewellery, and we pulled faces and kept each other going all day.

The Mighty Boof were there again – it’s a fantastic old style photobooth which seems to use a digital camera and printer *somehow* to print out two strips of photos. The photos turn up online afterwards, and it was free to use! Above you can see from left to right – Steph and Becky, who I always wonder with her why she doesn’t smile more, so she did; Lolly and Kaye; and myself and Kirsty. The lobster was a prop on the table, I promise. Lolly recently had a little baby boy; he was very premature and she had a pretty horrific time with the caesarian section, so I didn’t know if I’d get to see her. It’s always a pleasure, from her Scottish lilt to her specs and chair porn.

Toni, Mel and Charlie; The Mighty Boof; a beautiful dress, and Kirsty’s back

Mel and Charlie are another couple who I absolutely adore. They are both kind, friendly and make me laugh as well as hugging me and making me feel good.

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This is Lyndsey and Mary – Lyndsey had decided to take her skirt off and just run around in a crop top and leggings as she felt comfortable with our crowd. Looking at the photo above, it makes me sad that this isn’t just a regular occurrence in the world. What is wrong with a crop top and leggings anyway? I wouldn’t look twice at her for any other reason than she looks so confident and amazing. I sincerely hope she can find the confidence to wear this outfit again.

I stole these two photos from Instagram – they show the sort of day we had really well. Top – Charlie, Mel and Lisa, as well as LittleCthulu who I know from Live journal! All those years ago. I didn’t find out her real name, but I’m sure I will. Bottom is Lisa, Toni, Charlie, Cthulu and with the bun Gemma.

I managed to cram in a sandwich and a bottle of water, but as 5pm came, I decided to go back to the room and get ready for the evening do. We’d been told there was a hot buffet, so I decided not to eat anything, and wait for hot food. I was looking on Instagram at photos and catching up on twitter, and before I knew it, I’d drunk a lot of vodka and it was 6,30. I scrambled into clothes and make-up and wandered over to the hotel again.

My dress is a new one from Lady V Vintage, which is the most comfortable, amazing dress I’ve worn in a long time. I wanted my tattoos on show, and I love the paisley.

The evening event wasn’t as well organised as the day. I think someone else organised it, I’m not entirely sure what went wrong – there weren’t enough seats or tables, and not everyone got a goody bag. I gave mine away because there was nothing I would use to be honest, but you know, my make-up is still the MAC pigments I bought in about 2002, so I’m not big on beauty products. Lack of food but some vodka meant I was giddy as a foolish fish. Rosie O’Sullivan had a great voice, and the catwalk show was excellent – I really loved the hairstyles. I didn’t get to meet Betty Pamper, who was modelling, but I did see her daughter, who had an outfit I would be proud to wear – leopard print, sequins and a jumper saying ZAP!

After the show, they brought the food out, and it was a shambles. Only half the people there got food, as the hotel had clearly not catered properly. I was near the buffet table, and I can tell you that people did not pile food on their plates – and I would be honest if they had. Everyone then started to get so hungry they had to go off and get food, and a lot didn’t come back which was a shame. However, there was still a big enough crowd, the hotel opened up the bar, and the karaoke machine came out!

Me and Mary; Mary, Lyndsey, Elena and me.

Rachel and Lisa, dancing to Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves. These two are those sort of people who I just have to look at and I start laughing. They can be bitchy, and sarcastic, and silly, and childish, but they’re also passionate, loving and two of the most supportive and encouraging people to their friends I’ve ever met.

It got messy – Lisa and Me; Mary

I sincerely hope these photos show a few things – how much effort everyone put into their outfits, how much fun we all had, and how drunk we all got. I’m sure it was something to do with lack of food as much as the amount of booze. There were more beautiful, amazing, friendly women I spoke to who I don’t have photos of. Dawn for example – she’s unbelievably 50 this year, and nearly didn’t come because her friend cancelled. She ended up having a fantastic time, felt accepted and supported, and I made her cry by being nice to her – I think there were about 3 or 4 people I had in tears by the end of the night. There was Emma, who seemed shy at the start of the weekend, but after strutting the catwalk was walking around with a massive smile on her face. There was an incredibly beautiful girl from Birmingham, and I can’t believe I still can’t remember her name after being told 28 times.

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By midnight, I couldn’t take any more. I was unbelievably drunk, ravenous, and my legs ached from grinding against people’s legs in a suggestive fashion. I stumbled back to the hotel, and had to console myself with a bag of Doritos, a Snickers and a bottle of apple juice. I was so warm, I sat there naked eating my spoils from the vending machine, and felt so warm and fuzzy, I started taking photos. I woke up lying naked on the bed, with my phone drooping in my hand, and the light on.

This morning, I got on my train, and had to stand up for the whole hour long journey. I felt like shit from my hangover, didn’t have room to shift my weight properly, but I still felt happy. The afterglow of full acceptance lasts a long time.

I think my point of this whole post isn’t that I felt good about myself because I had been surrounded by women who were fat. I felt really good about myself because I was surrounded by women who felt good about theirselves – if they needed to be surrounded by fat women to feel that good about themselves, then whilst I think it’s a shame that the world works in this way, I can understand and accept that.

I’d like the world to change so that all these women know that they are amazing all the time without needing the cushioning of similarly sized women – but you know what, that cushioning is squidgy, loving and warm, so why the hell not?

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8 Responses to “Plus North – ups, downs, and massive bruises”

  1. Rachel 08/09/2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Love you Chloe ! I had such a great time and I’m so glad you were there xx

  2. Brett 09/09/2013 at 12:45 am #

    Great blog post! To say its not supposed to be a blog post glad u had fun. Rach says u all had fun

    • peskychloe 09/09/2013 at 10:17 am #

      Rach is a very lucky lady – we’ve all been hearing how wonderful you are!

  3. LollyLikesFATshion 09/09/2013 at 6:51 am #

    You called me special the other night but really you are the special one! I am so happy i got to chat to you so much! Love you and Franklin is looking forward to meeting Auntie Chloe very soon! Biiiiiiig hugs!!!! Xxx

    • peskychloe 09/09/2013 at 10:17 am #

      We got a LOT of chatting time! it was wondrous

  4. Kaye 09/09/2013 at 8:43 am #

    I love you! You said such lovely things to me on Saturday night and I’ll always remember them. You are a very special lady and I’m proud to call you a friend xx

    • peskychloe 09/09/2013 at 10:17 am #

      thank you! i never say anything i don’t mean 🙂

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