Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

August 26, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Stop Suppressing Sustainability

Happy Sunday folks! Today's Sustainable Sunday post is a little different to the usual. Usually, y'all will know by now, that I celebrate the world of sustainability because it's more considerate of the environment, fair trade, creating less waste etc. but I think in the current climate of sustainability and zero waste becoming "popular movements", we sometimes overlook how much of a privilege living a sustainable lifestyle can be and/or the amount of criticism those trying to become more sustainable can face. Becoming sustainable - in any capacity - can be difficult for a number of reasons and it's extremely hard to be perfect in every realm of it. I feel like it's an area of life similar to when someone is turning vegan and they are criticised for still eating cheese or questioned as to why they do one thing and not the other - sustainable lifestyle seems to be coming under the same fire recently and it needs to stop.

It is a privilege and that cannot be denied. As I just mentioned, sustainable living of any sort is a privilege. Achieving any level of sustainability can be limited for a variety of reasons and it will also be different from person to person. Becoming sustainable will mean different things to all sustainable advocates and the fact that you have the choice to live this lifestyle, no matter what form it may take, should keep you grateful and humbled that you are in a position to make those positive changes in your life freely without major restrictions denying you of any of those desired changes.

Your upbringing and surroundings can dictate your sustainability. If you had asked this small, ex-mining village girl about sustainability when she was a teen growing up in such a place, she would not have been bothered or understood why someone would even care. That reaction wouldn't have been because I didn't care about the planet or just sheer naivity, but it would have also have been influenced a great deal by my upbringing. Growing up for the majority of my youth in a very working-class single parent household on the bread-line, sustainability wasn't a concern because surviving and thriving was more important. This all links back to privilege as my mam wasn't in a position to be picky about her purchases depending on their materials/packaging etc. so it's taken a lot of educating myself further about the environment and our impact on the planet for me to begin a more eco-friendly journey as it wasn't nurtured from the start.

Even now as an adult, I can't be completely zero waste as I don't have bulk food stores near me and have to rely on a supermarket for a lot of fresh produce so even minimising my plastic pollution can be a struggle. Luckily, I've found a few ways to continue to minimise this latter problem, but it's just worth noting that where you live and the life you come from can project opinions and limitations onto you about sustainability so don't beat yourself up if these things are factors in your journey.

It can be goddamn expensive. Gang, it's no secret that plastic-free fresh produce or bulk products can oddly be more expensive in stores, natural and organic products in beauty etc. can be more expensive, and of course, ethical/eco-friendly clothing can *definitely* be more expensive than what you find on the high street. The main reasons behind this is simply because you're purchasing purer products - natural ingredients are being used and therefore are more costly and along the production line of things such as clothing, there are less processes and employees are paid fairly for their work and thus, the retail price needs to be reflective of this. Therefore it's so important to not beat yourself up if ethical or eco-friendly clothing etc. is just not attainable for you. Not everyone is in the position to even save up for a particular item and might just need the £10 alternative from Primark due to necessity, but as long as you're learning and trying along the way, you're doing a great job no matter what.

You will be criticised at some point and you need to ignore it. Ah, god bless the internet for making us all feel inadequate. But really, in a journey of a more sustainable, eco-friendly life, you are bound to come across some negative nellies who want to point out flaws in your approach and what you've achieved thus far. Whilst I think it's extremely important to listen to constructive criticism and any advice thrown your way, it's also good to grow a thick skin and be proud of any and all changes you're making in your life. Just as I said earlier, becoming sustainable isn't a "one size fits all" thing and your version can and will be different to someone else's and that's okay. Building each other and supporting positive changes is so much more constructive than question why someone is *not* doing X Y and Z. Celebrate what they *are* doing instead.

Take small steps - it can be overwhelming. In all of this, it's vital that you remember that you're making some pretty big changes. Choosing to live more sustainably is a great thing but it's a total lifestyle overhaul and you've got to give yourself credit for that and time to truly adjust. Something I'm pleased I've done so far is taking small steps to changes as trying to change it all at once would just make it all completely alien to you and potentially put you off the transition. Change just your wardrobe one item at a time. Change to just eco-friendly or zero waste cleaning products first. Start buying less plastic or just make small changes around your home. Take it all in your stride and you'll be proud of how far you've come.

Sustainability is always changing so don't beat yourself or others up about it. The last thing I wanted to say is something I touched on earlier and that is the fact that everyone should build each other up and celebrate their changes and accomplishments, not tear each other down over what they're doing "wrong" or what they're not doing. Something I've noticed since around October 2017 (when I first starting making real eco-friendly changes myself) is that so many things are added into the sustainable mix each month. Whether it's new statistics of what is truly polluting our planet, there's new ideas and options coming into play each day so if you are struggling to change it all - take a step back and assess what you're doing and what is right and good for you to change.

Although I will always advocate sustainable living, there's no pressure or "perfect" way to do it and it's good to remember that. Enjoy your journey, enjoy the positive moves you're making, and be *proud* of the goodness you're putting out into the world. Every small change and conscious effort will make a difference so doing what feels right and attainable for you is paramount for sustainability to thrive.

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August 18, 2018

Updated CF Morning Skincare Routine

Since my last morning skincare routine update, I've tried a few different products that I've liked, some I've hated, and couple I've added to my daily routine. I'm always on the lookout for some good products that will help improve my skin's condition and thus there are some areas of my morning routine that I'm happy to switch up now and again. So here's my new routine containing some well-loved things but also some newbie products that have changed my skin for the better:

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Complete Cleanser | 150ml | £5.99 - No surprises here that my daily cleanser hasn't changed. In my last updated routine, I raved about this cleanser and nothing has really changed! Although it is a foam cleanser, I don't find it drying out my skin at all or making my skin any more sensitive than it naturally is so it's my perfect everyday cleanser.

Botanics Radiant Youth Microdermabrasion Polish | 120ml | £9.99* - Twice or three times a week (depending on my skin condition that particular week), I like to exfoliate my skin a little to stop it from looking dull, tired, and textured. The exfoliant I tend to reach for is this great microdermabrasion polish from Botanics. I find it quite gentle on my sensitive skin but it does a fab job at buffing away any dead skin and makes me feel awake and refreshed. The polish has a very fine sand-like texture rather than large exfoliant grit so I find it less harsh on my skin and it also isn't packed with scent which I like. Botanics are such a great budget brand from Boots and have some great natural ingredients included in each product and this has become a firm favourite in the bunch.

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic | 200ml | £15.50 - This toner has always been a goodie and no matter what toner I use, I always seem to go back to this one at some point. I've talked about this stuff many times on NB, but just to keep it short and sweet: it brightens, it helps provide a deeper clean so my skin is squeaky clean before I apply my base products, and it doesn't irritate my eyes which is always a bonus. The smell of this toner is also just a nice bonus to sniff in the mornings and I always feel like this is quite a luxurious-feeling product to use everyday despite the reasonable price tag.

Eye Cream
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG | 30ml | £5.80 - Another product I've definitely celebrated many times on this blog is this solution which always knocks every other eye cream out of the park in my opinion. No eye cream compares to this solution because it hydrates my undereyes without upsetting them and I honestly believe it manages to minimise my dark undereye circles too. Whenever I give another eye cream a go, I notice such a difference in how dark and deep my eye bags become in the absence of this product. It's such a great price and a little goes a long way so it's one of my most cost-effective and actually effective products in my skincare collection!

Superdrug Vitamin C Booster | 30ml | £4.99 - When it comes to serums, I never used to see the fuss but oh, how times have changed because of these next two products. This vitamin C serum is something I picked up when The Body Shop seemed to be scaling down their Vitamin C range and I was intrigued to see how Superdrug's same range compared. I use a couple of drops every morning after I've toned and applied eye cream and oh my days it makes a world of difference. It helps keep my skin looking awake and healthy but also noticeably helps my makeup last longer throughout the day by controlling my oils - a nice bonus that the product isn't necessarily designed to do. If you need something to give your skin an instant pick-me-up each day, even when you look dog tired, this is the one.

Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum | 25ml | £8.99* - My favourite serum (despite my overflowing love for the product above), comes in the form of this All Bright Radiance Concentrate serum from Botanics. I can't put my finger on it, but there's just something about this serum that my skin *loves*. This serum is gentle on my skin with little to no scent and makes my skin look so happy. I notice a huge difference in the radiance of my skin if I skip using this product and it also creates such a great base for my makeup for the day. As I mentioned when I first starting using this product regularly, this serum gives you some serious glow from within and I'm all here for it.

Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream SPF15 | 50ml | £6.99* - When it comes to moisturiser, I'm usually quite picky as my oily acne-prone skin can make finding an effective moisturiser that doesn't make me look like a total grease-ball quite difficult. So in steps this day cream from the Botanics All Bright range. I bloody love this stuff. This moisturiser is quite light and almost watery in texture meaning a little can go a long way, but I find it does a great job at hydrating my skin effectively without making me just a shiny mess. As it's part of the All Bright range, it is designed to make the skin look radiant and it really does that. My skin feels nourished and cared for throughout the day but also remains looking glowing and healthy on the outside too. It's a great base for my primers and makeup and I've found it to be my go-to on the really hot days as it feels water-light on the skin.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Day Cream for Normal/Combination Skin | 75ml | £5.99 - Another daily moisturiser I've enjoyed using for some time now is this radiance cream from the Superdrug Naturally Radiant line. I feel like this cream and the one mentioned above are very similar in many ways - including the price point, the SPF15 content, and it's performance. The difference with this cream is that this is the one I reach for if my skin is feeling remotely dry or dehydrated. If I'm having a bad break out and have been drying out any open acne, this is also a great one as it's quite thick and leaves my skin instantly feeling softer and moisturised. I switch it up between this one and the Botanics Radiance cream depending on my skin needs, but I love both just the same.

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August 15, 2018

Book Club No.16

Welcome back to another Book Club gang! I've been really into reading lately - more so than normal - so I'm finding that I've been ploughing my way through books quite quickly which is great news for a) my brain and b) for reviews for NB. So here's some good reads I've picked up recently and finished with mixed feelings:

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks
Another classic "I picked this up on a whim" book of mine, Bored Scared sucked me in via the blurb and the thinness of the book itself. Although I really love reading, I'm a very slow reader so books that are on the thinner side sometimes appeal to me as it leaves less opportunity for me to get bored of the story. It also makes it a great option to take with me on my commute to work. So once I'd picked it up and felt the thinness, reading the blurb confirmed my purchase. Born Scared is about a young man/teen who is scared of everything. Elliot lives with his mum and is scared to leave the safety of his room, only usually going to see his "aunt" with his mum and that's it. He's home schooled, takes a lot of medication to try and deal with his fears, and was one of two in the womb and feels that a lot of issues stem from that.

On Christmas Eve, Elliot's mum nips out for 10 minutes to get his medication for him as his pills have almost ran out. She should be only 10 minutes because she's just popping to Elliot's "aunt's" house to pick up the pills which is a mere 400 metres away except, she doesn't come back. She doesn't answer her phone. There's a snowstorm outside and the landline telephone won't work either. Elliot realises he has no choice but to leave the safety net of his home and with the support of his imaginary friend (his deceased twin sister), he braves the great outdoors. I quite enjoyed reading Born Scared because Brooks has a great easy-reading writing style. He did a great job at presenting Elliot's acute fear of almost everything in a way that was easy to understand without him over explaining how Elliot felt or how he processed his fears. The book focused on the right areas and gave Elliot's character a lot of depth whilst leaving the other characters with the bare basic information the reader needed and I feel like that really worked.

In true Amyleigh style, I won't say too much about the plot itself as it will ruin the story, but there wasn't really any twists or surprises but that didn't dampen the story or drama at all. I do feel that the story wasn't totally believable towards the end as I feel that the way Elliot was portrayed would have meant he wouldn't have acted the way he did towards the end, but I can forgive Brooks for that as it was still a quick, enjoyable read. Brooks gives a believable and educational insight into mental health and even if it's not relatable for the reader, you can at least understand and learn more about Elliot's mental health and that's an aspect of this book that I think makes it well worth a read. You can grab a copy of Born Scared for around £7.74 here.

Ink by Alice Broadway
Ahh, this one's going to be a long one gang so strap yourselves in! Ink is a book I've wanted to read for ages purely down to the beautiful cover catching my eye many times in different bookstores, but I finally caved and picked up a copy after getting it for a bargain in a local shop. As soon as I shared that I was reading this one on my Instagram and Goodreads, people wanted to know my thoughts ASAP and after seeing the very varied reviews on Goodreads of this guy, I can see why. Ink is about a young girl 16 year old called Leora who lives in Sainstone with her mum and dad. She's finishing school, doing her exams to determine her future career, has a best friend called Verity, and is just your typical teenage girl who is portrayed as quite quiet and bookish. She dreams of becoming an inker as in Leora's society, tattoos play a big part of people's lives. Everyone is covered in tattoos from pretty much the day of birth and they symbolise all the different parts of your life (e.g. everyone has family trees on their backs, you have age lines/dots on one of your arms etc.). Once you leave school and your career is chosen, you can begin to get your own chosen marks too but these will also determine how people read you.

As tattoos are so important in this society, when someone dies the skin is flayed from the individual to create a skin book. This book is then taken to trial and it is decided whether or not the individual lived a good life or not, determined a great deal by their marks/tattoos. If they lived a good life, the book can go home with the family for them to keep, if not, it will be burned and the individual will be forgotten. Society share folklore and fairytale stories about the White Witch and her sister, Moriah, to scare the community away from blanks. As you can guess, blanks are people who choose to not get their life story tattooed on their skin so they can't be read and have been shunned from the town/community. They're seen as disgusting and the White Witch is the horror pinnacle of them all. Leora is like everyone else in Sainstone and shares the negative view of the blanks but after her dad's death and as she starts her job as an inker, her life begins to crumble and drastically change in ways she never would have expected.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I really enjoyed it because its YA dystopian fiction and I'm all for that genre. I also thought the idea of your actions in your life being documented on your skin so you can't escape from your mistakes etc. really intriguing but of course, there's a bit of a massive "but" coming your way. Although I was a fan of the general premise of the book, I sometimes struggled with Broadway trying to be a 16 year old main character. The way Leora is portrayed at times reads like an adult pretending to get into the mind of a 16 year old. I know that is somewhat unavoidable but it meant that I kept getting distracted by how un-16-like Leora was and it took away some of the magic and believability of the story (lets just pretend that's a word, okay?). Another thing that was a bit of a let down for me was the fact that inking is a job role as initially, I thought the story implied that marks/tattoos appeared on your skin at will - so for example if you stole something, a mark would appear to show that - but unfortunately it's just a case of people going to see either a government inker or their own choice of one depending on what mark they are receiving.

I did enjoy the majority of the characters and I do think Broadway did a great job of making each character unique without over describing their personalities/looks and that is always something I bang on about as super important to me in a read. The one last gripe I have with the book is I feel that for 3/4 of the story, not a lot happened and then suddenly the gritty bits were stuffed into the back pages as if Broadway had ran out of a limited page count. I know from other reviews people found the story a thrill ride from start to finish, but I found it a bit predictable up until the last couple of chapters. That's not to say I found the story boring as I still happily read through it each day, but it wasn't as thrilling as I was expecting. That being said, I will definitely pick up the next book in the series as I'm intrigued to see what happens after the cliffhanger this one was left on (more so because the cliffhanger was so obvious in a "har har you have to buy the next book suckers!" kind of way). Ink is available right now on Amazon for just £2!

The Beauty by Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley
Last up for this Book Club is The Beauty - the first volume in the series from Image Comics. I've mentioned before how much I enjoy reading Image Comics and The Beauty has been on my radar for a long ol' time. The general plot for this series is "The Beauty" is an STD that people are actually wanting to contract. If your hair is thinning, you're getting out of shape, your wrinkles are starting to show - The Beauty will fix it all and make you exactly what it says on the tin: beautiful. It's no surprise that the outbreak of this STD has gained a lot of fans and that people are going out of their way to catch it, but when individuals with the disease start to spontaneously combust and burn from the inside out, it becomes clear to the police and mayor that there's more to this STD than meets the eye.

The story mostly follows two detectives who are trying to understand what is going on and most importantly, how to stop more people from dying as so many people have the disease, there's going to a worldwide epidemic and mass death if they don't figure out how to stop it or cure it. I've really enjoyed this first volume as it gets straight into the action after the first couple of pages and the characters are standard "comic book" characters thus far and that's familiar and enjoyable for me. I also like the fact that the further you delve into The Beauty, the more politics and fragmented societal groups are mentioned and brought into the story and that's always an element I enjoy in fiction too. The art style in this graphic novel is fab too and I'm already looking forward to picking up Volume 2. If you're new to graphic novels or you get put off reading things that are way out there and "too fantasy/sci-fi" etc. definitely consider giving this one a go. Pick up a £8.50 copy here

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August 11, 2018

Books to Read for True Crime Fans

Just in case you weren't already aware, I have a bit of a soft spot for true crime and serial killers. "Soft spot" is probably a phrase in bad taste, but I am fascinated with true crime and serial killer history and life stories so it should be no surprise that I've read my fair share of serial killer-related texts in my time and will continue to.

One thing I enjoyed about introducing this interest of mine into my blog earlier this year, was the conversations it started with all you guys - it turns out I am amongst friends when it comes to enjoying these darker topics! With that being said, I spoke to a few people who found the whole topic of serial killers in particular very interesting but just didn't know where to start with learning more about famous killers etc. because let's face it: it's a big ol' subject with a lot of information overload. So I thought I'd compile a wee list of some of the best non-fiction (and kind of fiction, but we'll get into that!) to read if you've recently discovered an underlying interest in serial killers and/or true crime or you're a seasoned expert on the topic and would just like to know which reads are the best to have in your collection.

Talking with Psychopaths and Savages by Christopher Berry-Dee
Having reviewed this book before for NB, I won't discuss the ins-and-outs of it too much here, but I feel like Christopher Berry-Dee is a great author to have in your serial killer/true crime book collection for a number of reasons. One thing I enjoy is Berry-Dee's easy-reading style of writing. You can pick and drop off the book whenever you feel like it and not lose your place or the flow of the content at all. He also talks about the individuals included in his work in such a personal way because he has met them, confronted them, and got to know each one on a personal level due to his criminologist career.

If you want to get an idea of what it's like speaking to serial killers first hand, Berry-Dee is your man. I particularly like this book of his the most as it explores a variety of criminals and Berry-Dee explains why some can be seen as "one time" people and why others will repeatedly reoffend again and again. It's a great introductory book to learn about killer motives, logic, IQs and psychological backgrounds as well as getting know some of the lesser known/talked about serial killers. This book seems to get a bad rep because of Berry-Dee's constant name-dropping of himself and the terrible editing, but if you can get past that, it gives you a wide variety of true crime topics so it's fab for newbies to this genre/topic. It's an absolute steal at £3 to buy, here

Mind Hunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
Although there's a lot of non-fiction books out there that talk at great length about one particular killer and their backstory, there's also quite a few books that bunch a lot of famous killers together. This book however really gets down to the nitty gritty and is a fantastic look at what it's like to deal with serial killers and true crime on the front line so to speak. This book is a NY Times bestseller and it's easy to see why as John Douglas, one of the most famous criminal profilers in the world, talks in detail about how does his job. Douglas shares first-hand accounts of how he tackles case files for the FBI as a special agent and it's *so* eye opening to the "behind the scenes" of true crime activity. You might recognise the name of this book as it's the inspiration behind the very popular Netflix series so if you've watched that and loved it, go back to the OG and give this a read. Mindhunter is £7.19 to buy here

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
Next up I have to mention this book that fits into my aforementioned "kind of fiction" category. Recently the Jeffrey Dahmer movie came out and seemed to be popular with critics and those interested in serial killers alike and this is a great accompaniment for the film but the joy about this book is it's a graphic novel. I've talked at great length about my love for comics and graphic novels before so naturally, I thought this book was amazing when I got my hands on it. I always feel that graphic novels do a great job of really creating an image in your mind of the plot/scenarios etc. because of the illustrations used and the limited writing and this one is no different.

My Friend Dahmer is written by a classmate of Dahmer's and its really insightful into what sort of an individual Dahmer was growing up as a vulnerable teen, susceptible to things going on around him that could have influenced aspects of his adulthood. Pick up My Friend Dahmer for £11.99 here

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
Okay so I know y'all are here for the serial killer sort of content but this book will blow your socks off even with it's single killer/murder story. John Safran is a controversial Australian journalist (think our beloved Louis Theroux but, well, Australian) who interviewed one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists back in 2009. After finding out he had been murdered, Safran flew back to Mississippi to talk with the killer.

The reason this book is *so good* is because the story goes extremely deep with many twists and turns, so many quirky characters and drama that it's almost unreal that it's a true story. Safran's writing style is extremely enjoyable to read and he somehow gets a lot of humour into this piece of work which makes it even more of a thrill ride to flick through. For £9.99, you can get a copy here

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
Another book I've reviewed on NB before, but one I couldn't possibly miss out of this post. Helter Skelter is the number one bestselling true crime book in publishing history and ya girl ain't surprised as it's a fantastic in-depth read. The book details the "true events" of the Manson Family - possibly one of the most well known names in true crime history. Manson himself read this book and critiqued it, and Bugliosi has come under fire from some critics for sharing his opinion amongst the cold hard facts throughout the pages, but you just have to pick it up if you haven't already.

Manson died earlier this year and his death seemed to reignite conversation around his involvement in the murders, the cult he led, and just everything surrounding the Manson cases. If you want to know the ins and outs of one of the most famous cases in true crime history but also be entertained by an extremely good writer, this is the one for you. To add this must-need book to your collection, grab it for £7.99 here

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Another book a little like My Friend Dahmer, The Stranger Beside Me is about a well known serial killer from the voice of someone who knew them in real life. The Stranger Beside me is about the notorious Ted Bundy but from the point-of-view of one of his former co-workers, Ann Rule, who writes about the sort of person Bundy was - surprisingly, not the cold-blooded killer you would be able to just identify off the bat. Rule writes so much detail and gets down on a really personal level that makes it impossible to put this true crime book down. If Bundy is someone who fascinates you and/or you're keen to see the biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this is a good appetiser for the movie's release and a great insight into the sort of man Bundy was behind the murders. Grab a copy of £8.95 here

Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt
The last book I'm going to mention is possibly the greatest choice for you fans out there of the hit Netflix series, Making a Murderer. Devil's Knot follows the story of three men: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, who were more commonly known as the West Memphis Three and blamed for the murder of three eight-year-old boys. In 2011, they were released from prison after it was concluded that the 18 years they had spent behind bars, Echols on death row, was a great miscarriage of justice and in fact these teenagers at the time were wrongfully imprisoned and were innocent.

This case was so controversial from start to finish as there were huge pot holes in the investigation, the teens at the time just seemed to be randomly targeted and accused of being members of a satanic cult, as well as much much more. Leveritt manages to condense down all the dark aspects of this case and squeeze them into this page-turner that you honestly need to get your hands on. Reading this makes you literally say out loud "how TF did this happen?!" and is bound to outrage you but in the best way. Devil's Knot is available from £5.99 here

There's *so* many great reads in the true crime category that to be honest, you can pick up a vast majority of non-fiction books and get an exciting insight into various crimes, particularly serial killer stories, but of course there can be just as many misses compared to hits. These are some personal favourites that I would recommend for very different reasons but if you're new to true crime reading or you need some new reads that might have slipped under your radar, hopefully I've added to your "to-read" pile!

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August 02, 2018

A Letter to My Body

"My body lets me down, betrays the real me to everyone watching - the me who is not the right kind of anything. It doesn't matter though. I'll cover this skin with new shades of black and grey; I'll become someone new. Through blood and pain and ink I can be remade. I have more to tell than this."
- Ink, Alice Broadway

Those words in one of my most recent reads resonated with me instantly. One part of me read it in a mocking tone - "who's this super-serious killjoy?" - but the other part of me, the part that the words struck a thousand cords with, that part of me related on so many levels. You see, body, me and you haven't really got along ever have we?

Loving your skin, your body, the fibres that make you *you* is something I always preach about and promote, but both you (body) and I know, I just don't practice what I preach: I don't really show you that love you deserve. So let me start by saying sorry for not always seeing your perfectly acceptable size 6/8 cusp body in a positive light in the mirror. Often seeing a grotesquely disproportioned individual staring back at me with a multitude of flaws has led me to neglect you, to not care for you and fail to nurture you, and to simply lock you away from view at times. I have and still continue to compare you to every other body I see - bodies that pass me on the street, bodies that grace my TV screen and social media feeds - I'm working on this, I promise, and I've come a long way but we've got just as much of a long way to go together.

These track marks across my thighs are normal. "Everyone has them" echoes from every body-positive person yet I feel so disappointed with them. They're signs of my growth. They're signs of my adulthood and my visible timeline of becoming a fully-grown woman. But I just can't love you. I can't parade you around with confidence and unshakeable self-assurance like some others can. I can't love your mismatched nostrils. I can't love your crooked teeth. I can't love your polka-straight thin hair. Flaws. That's what I'd describe many aspects of you as but there's a golden saying about "what you see as your flaws, others see as your best parts that make you unique" and maybe I need to start using that as a mantra for us to follow. I'm trying my best to tell myself that if all I see is flaws, that means that's all I'm actively looking for. If all I'm ever doing is actively looking for your flaws, I can never hope to praise you in ny sort of way because the flaws will blind me to any potential beauty - no matter how small or insignificant in my judgemental eyes.

Smothering and suffocating you under layers and layers of fabric in the hopes that you'll run out of breath and morph into something new like some real-time reincarnation has been an attempt to "fix" you in the past. Just as wearing very little in the hopes that someone else will compliment you because I can't has also been a failed attempt at some point in our journey. Right now though, I'm learning. Tolerance is a beautiful word and it encompasses a lot of what we share together. So for now, I tolerate your lumps and bumps. I tolerate your stubborn "pooch" on our tummy that won't disappear no matter how hard I wish and try to work it away. I tolerate your bright and dark veins that have the ability to make my porcelain skin look sore, bruised and award me with the "are you okay? You look really tired" comments from others. I tolerate your pain. I tolerate you not always working properly the way you were designed to. I tolerate your acne (but only just).

"I look at the stretch marks across my hips and the paleness of my skin. I get tired of the people who tell me how refined it is to be pale, how lucky I am. I'm not the right kind of pale - there's no alabaster beauty about me. I'm more of a dull grey. I'm not the right kind of anything. My breasts are too small for me to be curvy; and I'm sure my bum is too big for me to be slim. My face is too quirky to be pretty and too plain to be striking. My hair is too straight to be curly and too wavy to be straight, and no matter how many times I say I'll grow it long I always get bored and chop it short again. I know for a fact that no one has ever chosen to dye their hair the colour mine is: no one asks for mousey brown.

I do quite like my blue eyes, but whatever it takes to be beautiful I certainly don't have it. I see the purple lines clawing their way down my breast and feel ashamed. I notice a new stretch mark and try to rub it away. Surely it's not fair to have stretch marks on practically non-existent boobs? Where is the justice in that?" - Ink, Alice Broadway

We're not always going to be the best of friends and we're not always going to see eye to eye, but there are some promises I want to make and assure I keep from now on. The older I get, the more I realise there's no point in fighting you. There's no gain in hiding you away like a dirty secret and there's no sense in always seeing you as a hindrance. Tolerating you has been the first step but I promise to celebrate you in the future. It won't be all of the time and it won't be filled with love and overflowing praise and positivity, but if I make a slightly sarcastic comment with a sprinkling of "I guess me and my body don't look totally horrendous today", please know that that's me saying thank you to you, body. Thank you for being mine. Thank you for getting me from A to B. Thanks for putting up with the bullying, the put-downs, and the rare compliments I bat away from others about you. I promise I'm going to start accepting them with a big "thank you" and letting you blossom from them.

We've still got a whole lot of time to grow together so I promise to feed you full of nutrition, encouragement, tolerance, and one day, one day we'll get to "love".

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