chronically ill but make it Fashun

Hey loves!

So chronic pain and my injury have been kicking my ass this year and as a result I did not feature quite a few looks styled over the months, instead posting them on the Gram. But it is not fair for my readers here and I will make more of an effort to post them here first as I always have in the past! Not all of these looks were shot ‘professionally’ from the DSLR but I reckon you will like them all the same. Enjoy!

This will be in chronological order by the way. Also, most of them are sales items or outfits I purchased last year but never got around to wearing because of the injury. Life happens, expenses for my and the pets’ health cropped up a fair bit. So I will not add a link to where you can get the items unless they are still available because they will most likely be gone from the shopping sites.

 

Tomboy

The Midnight Wasabi lipstick from Fenty Beauty’s Mattemoiselle series has become one of my personal favourites!  

Both t shirt and denim shorts are from Forever 21 Plus. 

 

Night out with the Girls

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Forever 21 Plus in size 1X 

shirt dress with collar

Getting dressed up has become a little infrequent of late so getting some makeup on and cleaning up for dinner with my girlfriends was so very welcome 🙂

 

Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day

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sheer off shoulder blouse – Forever 21 Plus

Asos Curve jeggings in Uk 20 

Your girl does not find it terribly exciting to partake in Valentine’s Day but my girlfriends who own plus size retail store The Curve Cult had a neat event for their customers for the occasion and it was so much fun with some bubbly haha!

 

Women’s Day shoot and video 

off shoulder blouse and floral skirt – The Curve Cult 

I was so honoured to be a part of my friends’ from The Curve Cult’s passion project for International Woman’s Day featuring personal stories from a diverse range of Singaporeans.

Summer Lovin’

 bodysuit – Forever 21 Plus in size 1X

white jeans – Asos Curve in Uk 20

 

Geek Chic 

both top and shorts are from Forever 21 Plus 

cute comfy shoes from Hush Puppies

 

Polka Dotty

Asos Curve top and jeggings 

Oh I love this shirt so so much because it is so Yayoi Kusama inspired! Polka dots have been very popular this year in plus outfits and I have enjoyed wearing a few outfits in the print.

Cateye Help You?

 Sometimes we centre an entire outfit around an accessory or a makeup look right? I know its definitely not just me who does this! I have enjoyed getting myself cute pairs of glasses this year to add to my collection.

 

Baecation Please

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Hubster and I had a much needed staycation at the Fort Canning Hotel, for some relaxation time. Lovely place!

 

Hey Kitty Girl!

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The Asos Curve X Hello Kitty collection gave me LIFE!!

 

Heart of Glass

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A little bit of Blondie never hurt anybody 😉

 

Date Night Velour

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I love this suede-like dress from Rue 107. Purchased it in 2016 but never got around to wearing it!

 

Summer Blousey

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this Asos Curve blouse is so comfortable and because it has lining I can choose to go braless if I want hehe 

 

Flared Up

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The trend of flared, frilled pants definitely had me piqued too. Did l enjoy it? I’m not too sure. Also HAAAYYY Resting Bitch Face!

 

Pizza: a love story

this is an older dress from Rebdolls but I enjoyed taking these shots so much I had to share!

 

Uptown Girl

a look for a rare night out and about in town, wearing an Asos Curve tank top and pencil skirt

Pride 

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I adore vibrant Forever 21 shirt and gave the flared Asos Curve pants another spin!

 

I got it from my Papa

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Went purpley plaid with this Forever 21 dress for Father’s Day. The title is pretty accurate when you see the identical resemblance we share! Don’t believe me, check this out

 

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UNCANNY right?

 

Retro Chicky

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You know I don’t do flattering clothing – if I like it, I wear it. And this retro blouse was calling my name! Also, if I take pictures at home, rest assured our Jack Russell Schatzi will be in the frame. If she isn’t it is because she is being carried by the photog to get out of the shot! 

 

Weekender

 

 

Comfy in Crop

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Romping

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This cute romper from Forever 21 Plus was another purchase for summer of 2017 that I did not get to wear because of the injury so I styled it up here with this gorgeous blue lipstick – who else but Fenty Beauty! It’s a mix of 2 of the Mattemoiselle lippies. 

 

I was Beyond stoked to have this artwork of me from a talented artist made inspired by this look!

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I really enjoyed this impromptu shoot

 

Weekday Casual

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More Polka?

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Another impromptu shoot I did in this dotty Jumpsuit from Asos Curve! Love the earrings, they’re from Pretty Little Thing 

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Classic Combo

 

Tangerine Dream

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I really love this satin Asos Curve jumpsuit and should have done a proper blog shoot! If you’d like to more of this let me know and I will happily get a more professional shoot done 🙂

I quite adored the makeup for this look, even if I say so myself.

 

Day at the Beach

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Camisoles have been trending this year as well and it has been fun reworking it into my wardrobe since I only used to wear them back when I was straight sized. 

 

Aaaand that is a wrap for now loves! Which look/looks were your fav? What have you been styling up or added to your wardrobe this year?

 

xxxo Aarti 

 

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How Chronic pain and Illness has Affected My Body Positivity

Hello loves!

Here is a write-up I have been meaning to post on the blog since mid-2017, but what with the injury there was a lot on my plate. But like I always say, better late than never.

Although most of 2017 was pretty difficult, there were some important life lessons that I picked up on and my personal body positive journey saw some amazing changes. That I need to be reminded of as I struggle right now with chronic pain and injury recovery.

While being active on the blog and social media was really fun and fulfilling for most parts of the years 2014-2016, there were some unfortunate side effects on my psyche and body positivity. As affirming as it was to be lauded for my advocacy, I realised that I was falling into habits from the past due to some unpleasant interactions online.

When I was bombarded by thousands of emails, messages, comments that harshly critiqued my work and appearance (mostly that), I began to hide. Hide from showing unabashed imagery and writing – let me just say that your specific brand of body positivity need not be loud, need not be about showing your body – but loud is always how my activism is done, and not for performative activism.

I found myself avoiding mirrors, hiding indoors and not wanting to meet people at all. I would break down at every negative comment and I would find myself thinking hateful comments towards my body while I posed for blog shoots. I stayed in bed almost all of the time. It angered me that I was so  weak and vulnerable that I would fall into these old habits but lets be honest: Its only been 6 years since I really worked on body positivity and I was bound to experience some lows.

It wasn’t as if I had completely spiralled to who I was before Curves Become Her but I found myself not believing a lot of what I preached. So I took a blog hiatus from the end of 2016 and the rest, is history. I needed to take care of my health, as I have been living with chronic health conditions from a very young age. What may be a regular day for you will probably take me a few days to recover from. When I did push myself in the past to live like everyone else, I would fall extremely ill after. With my previous injuries, with the PCOS and endometriosis becoming pretty unbearable from my late 20’s and a resurgence of asthma attacks thanks to adult chickenpox, I had also become a lot more introverted and house bound because of the inability to do the things I used to love without fearing a recurrence of illness or injury, or god forbid testing my allergies.

When I fell to the floor after injuring the knee from dancing last year, I knew this was a serious fall. As I waited for the ambulance to arrive, I sobbed so hard worried about what the doctors were going to tell me. Flashbacks to my injuries in 2004 and 2006 scared me even more. I was also in major denial, hoping this was not as bad as I was imagining it to be.

My knee specialist Dr Lee is an odd cookie but he is empathic and honest. He was very honest about what was required for recovery – naturally, I weeped while he told me I had to undergo surgery followed by a year of physiotherapy. In fact right after that appointment he sent me for physiotherapy immediately. He was unhappy I seemed so comfortable in the wheelchair. So my therapist got me using crutches, tears running down my face and all that very day. I was a bawling baby during this injury aiyayai.

This was the first time in a Long time since I had found myself in a gym setting. I have a history of orthorexia and to wean off the obsession that came with exercise, I had stopped exercising for quite a number of years. The damn rehab facility gym had a mirror on one whole wall where I had no choice but to look at myself while I rode the stationary bike, while I pumped some iron, did balance exercises and stretches. I was so shy during the first few sessions, I turned up at physio wearing t shirt dresses. This was Pre-surgery Aarti.

Post-surgery however, I found it ridiculous to even think about pithy things like being bashful in the physio gym. I was IN CONSTANT PAIN and I stared at my knees more than I ever had because I had to ice, stretch and watch my knee while it worked the bicycle, while I walked with crutches. There was no time for self loathing. I HAD to focus my everything on healing, staying as positive as I could despite the pain and discomfort.

It dawned on me a month post-op while I was sweating it out with the damn balance balls (they gave me hell, my balance has always been way off) as I looked up at my red, sweaty, pain-filled but triumphant face in the mirror: I hadn’t obsessed about my body, my eating habits, my reflection in the gym mirror for a month and I was actually in a gym without any obsessive thoughts running through my head.

Two months into living with my new knee at the folks place I decided it was time to return home and it was really scary because some parts of my apartment like my bathroom weren’t as accessible but I knew I had to brave it out. Plus, I missed my bed and my fur babies so much! That first night back home was so peaceful.

A few weeks into my return home however, I was saddled with the flu and my breathing was too ragged – I had to make another trip to the hospital and be on the nebuliser multiple times because I had sustained a pretty gnarly asthma attack. That took about 2 months to get over! I was so angry because I was in a good place mentally and emotionally. I tentatively started physiotherapy again 2 months later and braved my sessions alone, without assistance from my sister or husband. Admittedly, there were a few sessions where I cried very hard because of the pain and I was angry at my co-existing conditions affecting my recovery process.

I was still thriving though, in terms of improvement in mobility and I even signed myself up at a gym nearby so that I could work on my mobility more than my once weekly physiotherapy sessions. And it was going great! I was so surprised at how easygoing I was at the gym and with the only expectations being, improving my mobility and unwinding from the worries that plague me daily. It was Me time and I felt so blessed to be able to walk unaided, with more confidence.

My immunity was still struggling however and once again I found myself in the hospital struggling with an asthma attack. My sciatica was also beginning to wreck havoc every time I went for physiotherapy or the gym. It was difficult to stay positive and hopeful, but I really really tried. I gave it my all for a good 6 months or even longer.

By the end of the year however, my morale was very low and I experienced a depressive episode. It just felt like nothing was going okay and the medical, physical struggles were getting out of hand. I had a particularly harrowing sciatica flare one day and sought help from a clinic nearby. The appointment was going well until he decided to suggest bariatric surgery aka gastric sleeve surgery. I shut down and stopped talking. Tears began to stream down my face as I headed home, feeling more hopeless and helpless than I had ever been.

I ended up being bedridden most of November, December and although the holiday season was wonderful.. I felt my strong body positive experience that year begin to wane. Since the new year has begun, I have decided to seek a specialist for treatment for my back and then find another physiotherapist who will help me with my sciatica and knee rehab – while my therapist was amazing at what she did, I did constantly tell her how much pain I was in with my back and she only focused on the knee. Which I know was her priority, but my back trouble is an important priority too.

I am not going to let myself fall into the same old patterns of self loathing. While I certainly do not subscribe to diet culture, movement and physical activity for me is no longer part of that culture. It is an essential part of my healing, my ongoing rehabilitation and it sure helps me blow off steam. There is no need to cower out of embarrassment as I walk into the gym just because my body does not look like any of the rest. Just because I limp. Just because I am afraid of re-injury – thats the whole point of sitting on that stationary bike riding to nowhere!

To be perfectly honest, I know that with the amount of chronic conditions I live with..my morale is bound to swing up and down. I need to watch for triggers and cues that might turn a low morale moment into a depressive episode.

If you find yourself struggling with your body image and self worth as you navigate a life with chronic health conditions, injuries, disability … Its okay to have times when you don’t love yourself or your body. Where you’re in a state of malaise because of pain or illness. What we can work on is not hating ourselves for who and what we are : as arduous as it can be to exist day-to-day. As upsetting and angering as it can be on some days. That we are still here, fighting and surviving everyday. And that counts for something.

It’s funny how the injury actually revived me in ways I never thought I could feel about myself. Through the pain and the discomfort, I felt more alive than I ever had. I had to pay attention and be kind to myself, and that despite the other obstacles and setbacks that came my way, there were some major breakthroughs:

I started wearing shorts again without flinching or wincing or feeling shy. Jeans or Pants were not an option until much later into recovery.

I was too busy recovering to bother about who was staring at me in the gym. And everyone is so busy doing their thing! My fears were unfounded. Sure I got the odd look or two but I was expecting that. A marginalised body will always be regarded with derision or skepticism.

This was the first Christmas season I allowed myself to enjoy the feasts instead of feel shy to eat among loved ones.

I may be struggling emotionally right now but that is because I don’t want to live in fear anymore and I am trying to fight back. And be as patient as I possibly can with waiting to see my back and knee specialists and therapists in February (damn these waiting lists and damn the strain on finances).

 

This is me today:

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I choose Love over Hate. I choose doing things that make me happy, to help me recover  and keep me going instead of be embarrassed by my reflection in the mirror or be angry with myself.

 

 

 

I refuse to give in to years of hating everything about myself. I deserve better. I am worthy of happiness, love, better health. I choose not to hide in the shadows. I have better things to do than to be fazed by empty words because some people are daunted by someone who no longer fears living her life, existing in her body, with all its abilities and limitations.

 

 

 

A full face of makeup or not, this is me and I don’t hate what I see. This is a reminder because as I feel discouraged by the lows of last year, and the pain that I experience as I type this out, it doesn’t mean that I will not recover and that my chronic pain and injuries will not be worked on.

 

 

 

This is a reminder to stay soft, silly and strong. 

To keep Hope alive. 

To have faith in myself and the process.

 

 

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Love, Aarti 

 

But You Look Just Fine?

Hello loves,

I have been meaning to type this post out much earlier this year, but I suppose it needed more clarity, that I have gained as the months have passed by. I also do not doubt that I was still emotionally fraught over circumstances to be able to write this with finesse.

Some of you are aware of the surgery I underwent in February this year for knee (acl) reconstruction. Recovery and rehabilitation for that has taken up all of my time and energy this year, in order to attain mobility.

About a week ago, I found myself struggling to stand up from my couch due to sharp pains running down the spine, particularly at the lower back. It felt as if someone was pulling away the centre of gravity away from me, rendering me immobile. Even lying down was not bereft of pain.

It was uncannily like the time I was seized by the worst series of back spasms at the end of 2016, resulting in getting sped to the hospital in an ambulance. The pain was beyond anything I had ever experienced. This coming from someone who has lived with chronic pain since her early 20s. It took a full day at the hospital of being poked, prodded, x rayed to verify that this was brought on by Sciatica – pain at the leg that stems from the lower back, glutes and down the sciatic nerve found at the back of the leg. I found myself unable to do anything, except lay down to ease the tension and pain. Seeking physiotherapy made a remarkable difference. The sessions involved deep tissue massages, infrared treatment and electronic pulses. The relief from better pain management however was short-lived. 

Just when it seemed like I was feeling better, I injured the knee. A month after ACL reconstruction surgery, I was dealt with a gnarly asthma attack. It has been one health scare after another since late 2016. And they are all of a life-altering nature, which further complicate my quality of life. 

I am no stranger to leg injuries, having sustained 2 serious ones back in 2004 and 2006. Nor am I a stranger to chronic pain, chronic health conditions. But as I type this out right now, I cannot help but feel slightly defeated and exasperated.

The fluctuation of moods when coping with pain on a daily basis is not to be trifled with. Sometimes you feel as if you are in control of the illnesses and pain. Other times you fall into deep despair, or you rage against the cards you have been dealt with. And then there are the times when you feel numb, because it has just gotten way past your tolerance capacity. 

Since the injury in 2004, it has been difficult to enunciate just how much pain and ailments can impact your life – your job, your moods, your relationships, your future. Because I seemed to bounce back after each injury, it was forgotten that I was still unable to function completely or be as mobile as before. Because I would push myself to meet friends, they assumed I must be doing much better than I said I was doing. They could not detect the discomfort or pain I was experiencing, and so I was Okay. That has been one of the hardest things to convey  – unless it is an injury that actually requires me to use walking aids or be in the hospital, it must surely be manageable enough since I have been able to meet up, interact on social media without seeming bogged by pain. 

Over the months of recovery from the knee mishap, I have gained myself fellow chronic pain and invisible illness friends on social media who actually empathise, and know the struggle firsthand. Nothing really cautions you about the drastic way your life will change when you are beset with pain, limited mobility and a compromised immune system. Unless you’re already living with these conditions, it is a challenge to put yourself in my shoes and truly comprehend the emotional, psychological strain it places on you. 

As someone in her early 20s who took pride in being a woman on the move and a go-getter, it was humbling when I realised I would never be able to sustain a full time job because of the toll it would take on my injured feet. After the re-activation of my asthma due to adult chicken pox, it dawned on me that I was going to have to scale back from part time work due to the unpredictability of my condition.

My active lifestyle seemed to move further and further away from me. It took me a long time to finally concede to the fact that running would no longer be possible. Dancing the night away was to be a thing of the past. Walking for hours on end exploring the sights while on holiday was not possible. Forget about those things, even the littlest of daily to-do’s were a challenge to accomplish. With these changes to the lifestyle came changes to my personality. I began to shy away from attending gatherings or parties. I stopped taking buses and trains to avoid crowds. When struggling with a health flare, I practically hibernate in my bedroom and refuse to see or speak to anyone until the symptoms abate. My once sparkling eyes and jubilant smile were no longer there when I stared at the person in the mirror. It seemed as if the toll this was taking on my body was making me age exponentially. I turned to food and sleep for comfort. By the time my miscarriages happened in 2009, I had become an empty shell of the person I once knew. 

Getting started on anti-depressants made a big difference. I felt more in control over my emotions and thought processing, which in turn helped me cope with health flare of the day, whatever it was. It really began to feel like I was once again gaining mastery over my life – I attained my Masters in Counselling after which I embarked upon Curves Become Her.

Unfortunately I find myself grappling with the invisible illnesses and injuries this year. While surviving the back spasms was no walk in the park, overcoming mental obstacles while seeking mobility for the knee was a mountain of a task. You would think that the years of managing pain and illness would prepare me for this. It does not work that way. I found myself swinging between clinging to hope for dear life to get me through my days and crying myself to sleep feeling desolate and isolated. I tried my best at keeping myself motivated for recovery, and sought online resources like The Mighty to turn to when I needed respite. 

Months later after knee reconstruction surgery, I found myself a nice little routine and pace: Feed the pets, head to the gym to strengthen the knee, come home to a hot shower and read a book or articles. Take a nap and maybe head out in the evening for a cuppa, plan for blog posts in the near future before heading to bed. It felt like I was getting parts of me back I previously thought had been lost. But you really do not realise how tough and yet so fragile your constitution becomes after what seems like a decade of never ending health issues. 

Those sharp stabbing pains down the spine suddenly had me spiralling down to the dark recesses of the mind where nothing good lingers. The loudest voice in there screaming into my head: I AM TIRED.

I intend to make this a regular series since it has taken such a big chunk out of my daily existence. Sharing, venting, finding answers – whatever you may want to call it. Just like plus size fashion and body positivity intersect on this blog, so will other elements that I shall introduce over time.

If you are living with chronic pain/illness, auto-immune illnesses and disability, do check out The Mighty for a place where you can actually feel less alone in your struggles. This is a suggestion from someone who knows the struggle, and this is not a sponsored post. As I find other resources while manoeuvring my way through pain flares  and other ailments, I will be sure to share them with you.

I am ending this post with unanswered questions and open wounds, because that IS the reality of my life right now. I do not have the energy to hide behind false bravado when feeling burdened by the struggle.

Until next time,

Aarti xxxo