The blogging series is back! This time I’ve tweaked it a little and I’ll be focusing on one blogger per post, sharing their highs, lows and unique perspective on the industry. I recently caught up with Callie Thorpe. She’s hilarious, down-to-earth and her honesty always draws me into her posts. She started blogging in 2012 and lives in West London.
I started ‘From The Corners Of The Curve’ to encourage self-confidence. It’s something that all women struggle with regardless of size. Everything we’re exposed to tells us we need to change and we’ve been taught from such a young age that we aren’t good enough, we can’t get old and we can’t be fat. My blog name comes from the idea that there is no corner to a curve and that you can make whatever you want out of your life as long as you put good energy into it.
I didn’t always have this outlook, though. I’d originally started my blog as a diet diary called ‘Slimming In The City’, documenting my weight-loss online so I’d have accountability. I was so miserable at the time, my posts were self-deprecating and it made things ten times worse writing it all down. The women who followed hated themselves too. I’d set myself up to fail and I didn’t feel like I could tell them that I’d put on weight within four weeks. It was ridiculous. I was also addicted to laxative tea drinks and my controlling nature affected my then boyfriend, (now husband) Dan too.
The turning point came when I was searching for plus size swimwear for a holiday. A post by Gabifresh popped up. She was the same size as me, wearing a high-waisted bikini in Vegas and looked absolutely amazing. I must have scrolled for hours just looking at her outfits. It made me reflect and think ‘Why am I so hard on myself? If there are women out there who are my size and happy, then why can’t I be accepting of who I am?’
I deleted my old blog and started afresh, writing about my day to day life, with a bit of fashion and beauty. I posted a picture of myself in a bikini and it went viral within the plus size blogging community. I felt so empowered. By sharing myself on the Internet, it had inspired other girls, which is exactly how I felt when I discovered Gabifresh. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be the person who helped carry this chain on. I wanted other women to feel like they were deserving of a happy life and that they could get involved in fashion. The community was welcoming, inclusive and the Internet allowed everyone to play their own part.
Things progressed quite quickly after that. I started to get invited to a few events with Evans and starred in a Clements Ribeiro campaign alongside other bloggers. Body positivity was starting to become a topic of conversation in the UK and I even did interviews with The Times and Liz Jones. Behind the scenes, I was still working full-time. I’m a PA at a University, which is perfect as it brings in enough to pay my rent and I don’t have to think about it when I get home. I like my job but it’s not where I see myself in terms of career.
It’s been a balancing act ever since things started taking off. I’ll usually do my 9-5, then catch up on blog admin in the evenings and shoot up to 5 outfits at the weekend. All my annual leave goes on trips or really important jobs and I still find myself having to turn stuff down. At the moment I don’t post much on my blog and if I dedicated more time, I could take it a lot further. Ideally I’d do more YouTube videos so that people can see the clothes on me, plus topical subjects and commentary on relationships. A lot of people want to know how I found a boyfriend, which I find really bizarre. It’s so important to just be visible and live a normal life, because you don’t often see it.
It’s taken me a really long time to make the decision to go part-time at work. Deep down I’m scared that this could all drop off. Even though plus-sized women are at the top of the conversation now, I worry that brands could drop me so easily and I might not have any work. Sometimes I still have to wait three months to get paid. I’ve been cautious, but I’m ready to take the leap as I know the opportunity will pass me by. I signed with Milk Management last April because the admin side was taking up so much time and I had zero work-life balance. They’re a really specialised agency and know how to calculate modelling fees plus the fact you’re an influencer. There’s industry standards.
It’s been life-changing as I find talking about money quite uncomfortable and used to take less than what I deserved because I didn’t want to discuss it with PRs. You think it’s going to damage the relationship. We also don’t discuss it enough as bloggers. I can see why, but if we were a bit more open, we could start having a bit more fairness. A few years ago I found out that I was paid nothing for a campaign and that someone doing the same thing got paid properly. Milk have also helped develop me and put me forward for things that are a bit different. It’s sometimes quite frustrating as people think that I can only do plus size fashion and I won’t be asked to do beauty or lifestyle. There’s this hidden prejudice as brands don’t think I fit the image of what they want. I see that there’s a need to have the definition but it’s the same as ‘Tall’ and ‘Petite’. It’s not the only thing that defines me.
I’ve worked with a lot of brands on launching their new curve ranges. ASOS had a really small selection at first but they’ve really developed it, as well as other brands like River Island, Missguided, and Boohoo. I’m not sure if it’s entirely down to the blogging community. I just want to present choices and give my readers options. I’ve worked with Marina Rinaldi and although I can’t afford designer, I know I have a few older readers that can. I also consult and suggest how to do things properly and so that brands don’t use embarassing terms like ‘real women’, which just isolates people.
There seems to be a trend where no one says anything negative but when I review a plus size line, I discuss the faults as well. I’ll tell my readers whether to size up or down and let the brand know that the sizing is off. They can’t improve unless you say something. I feel like I’ve got such a genuine relationship with my readers. I offer honest, truthful advice and I only promote what I believe in. You wouldn’t believe the amount of companies that have offered a lot of money and tried to send me skinny teas.
One thing I struggle with is having to fight every battle. I’m a really conscious person and I’ve always been outspoken. I lost so many followers when I spoke about Brexit but I chose to because it’s so important to me. I also speak a lot about #BlackLivesMatter. It’s hard and I can see why people choose not to say anything at all. I have 128,000 followers on Instagram and know I’m bound to piss somebody off. It’s been a learning curve and I know I can’t fix everything, I’m only one person. I just do the best I can and speak up about the things that are important to me.
Blogging has been a really broad learning experience and I’ve developed into a strong independent woman. I don’t have to just accept things, I’ve contributed to changes in the industry and it’s so special to have been involved. I’ve shot a campaign for Evans in New York and I was the first UK plus size columnist for Marie Claire. Sometimes I compare myself but I just have to remember that I’m carving my own corner of the Internet.
Every brand is trying to jump on the body positivity bandwagon. It’s become a lot more mainstream now, some brands co-opt it then cut out the people who started it. They need to work harder to represent plus size women above a size 24. There’s definitely a conversation and it’s heading in the right direction, it just needs to be slightly more diverse. I know how it works behind the scenes and there’s still a long way to go. I’ve recently started an Instagram page called The Confidence Corner where I feature women of all sizes, races and backgrounds. I want to create an inclusive page. There’s so many different sizes of women that aren’t shown, women who don’t have hourglass shapes and those shaped differently to the norm.
Eventually, I’d love go into schools and talk to young girls about what it’s like to grow up plus size. It’s hard to go back when damaging attitudes are created at such a young age. Sometimes I meet older women who’ve spent their whole lives hating themselves and I wonder if just one person had talked to them and said ‘You’re great as you are’, then we’d be in a much better place. I want to give back and my continued message is that this blog isn’t just for me, it’s for other people. It’s a blog for women, by a woman and I just want to continue the chain.
See what Callie’s up to via her blog and Instagram and make sure you catch up with the rest of the series. It would make my day if you could like this over on Bloglovin!