Forums and social networking: the good, the bad and the (I’m pretty sure they are) ugly

This may or may not come as a bit of a shock to those who know me, but I have very little confidence and possibly even less self esteem. I can often be heard to say “I hate people” but in fact I only really ‘hate’ people (in general; you are all lovely individually…okay, most of you are) because people are my biggest phobia.

I live in constant fear of new social situations; am I being polite enough, would it be best to make a joke, should I not say anything at all? When I’m out and about if someone I don’t know starts talking to me about the weather or road works or anything in general I tend to panic and have a full on physical reaction – racing pulse, shallow breathing, shaking and nausea.

Despite all of this, lately I’ve been attempting to branch out in order to reach a wider audience and also to seek advice, and talk to like minded people. So far, most of the experience has been positive. I’ve chatted to some very lovely people on Twitter through the SO project, and (hopefully) made some new friends. Unfortunately, I’ve also hit the downside pretty quickly too. Allow me to fill you in with a LONG (possibly dull) story…

I’ve always been interested in photography; I can’t go anywhere or to any kind of event without a camera, whether that be my phone or my point and shoot. It makes a good tool for blogging (as you other bloggers will know) and I also think I’m pretty good at it – composing shots and the like. I am however, a complete amateur and have recently decided I want to upgrade my camera to either a bridge or a DSLR in an attempt to learn the art of photography properly.

I went about it in what I felt was a sensible way; asked a few friends (by a few, I mean one) and once I knew what I was after and my budget, I looked at some forums. Several others seemed to be asking for similar advice to myself and I noticed a lot of responses were a bit harsh, such as there not being enough detail about budget or what the camera would be for. So, I took it upon myself to write out a fairly lengthy post, stipulating what I needed, what my budget was, my skill level (zero) etc. I thought I’d hit all the important ‘marks’; oh how I was wrong…

I mainly got cocky replies, very few being helpful. These included pointing out that bridge cameras are not DSLRs (I had noticed thank you, especially after specifying I’d prefer a bridge to a DSLR) as well as several cameras that I should buy instead that are out of my stipulated price range.  Thanks for nothing! I spent more time defending my position than receiving advice on what to buy.

I chose forums and specifically the boards aimed at beginners so that I might get patient advice from others who would appreciate I am a complete amateur and, considering the others on the forum should (in theory) also be amateurs (yes some a lot more advanced non-professionals, but still) I thought there would be some patience there. I expected some queries maybe asking for a few more specifics; am I prepared to buy second hand etc and a few suggestions of what features I should/should not be concerned with.

I went to bed on Saturday night incredibly upset, with what little confidence I still possessed battered and bruised. My husband, who is possibly one of the kindest and most patient people I know (especially with regard to my many ‘quirks’) told me not to take it to heart and try again in morning. Sure enough, when I awoke on Sunday morning, there in my inbox was a message reply posted on one of the forums. Some kind soul had taken my post for exactly what it was and offered me some constructive advice.

It was on the back of this that I then posted again in the forums and finally saw some pleasantries appear out of the woodwork. I then (in a shockingly brave move by me) decided, on the spur of the moment to join that evening’s LBloggers’ chat on Twitter. It’s (not really) ironic in that this week’s topic was positive vs negative posts, considering I’d already started writing this. There was a good range of opinion put forward and everyone was really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed the chat and spoke to some lovely people.

Roll on this morning then…I decided to put forward the idea of buying a second hand entry level DSLR, which is within my budget. On the first of the forums in question, everyone seemed to think it would be better than any bridge camera I would choose to buy. On the second however, someone suggested I should skip entry level and go for something more advanced, which I can’t afford. They have renamed my budget as ‘my self-imposed limit’. That self imposed limit, folks, is called my bank balance! Then finally, on the third, I got this:

Well, it’s not a bridge camera nor will you find it within your set budget.

Perhaps it would be better not wasting people’s time

Well **** you then!

I am incredibly frustrated, I used to enjoy posting on message boards with like minded people ‘back in the day’, but someone always comes along and ruins the fun, which is why I stopped. This was like a cold, bitter reminder.

It is a shame, as I’ve been a bit more adventurous by joining The SO project and participating in the Twitter chats on a Tuesday night, (and the LBloggers chat as well now on Sunday). This luckily for me has been a mainly positive experience (granted, I could probably be a bit more active in the chat rather than cowering overwhelmed as the links and posts roll in; but I find myself with a million tabs open, trying to read through and comment on as many as possible) and everyone has been lovely and pleasant to chat to, sharing ideas and suggesting new products to try. It was off the back of this new found confidence that I decided to try seeking help in forums. I mistakenly thought the creatures that inhabit them would be just as kind and friendly.

Has anyone else experienced this? Have you had some disastrous encounters on a forum or Twitter or other social network? Do you know anything about cameras? Please comment below!

In the mean time, I’m still very much looking forward to the SO project chat tomorrow night despite me not posting this week and to the next LBloggers’ chat next Sunday!

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Starting off: The Introduction #theSOproject

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (if you don’t, feel free to check me out @fgsjblog) may have noticed that I recently posted this:

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The Starting off Project is the brainchild of Steph from Steph’s Inside Voice (http://stephsinsidevoice.blogspot.co.uk/) and the aim is for a group of bloggers (now quite a large group with well over 100 of us involved) to each post at exactly the same time over the next 10 weeks an introduction to a particular beauty product, including experiences, recommended products, how we each use it etc, to try and create a plethora of blogging knowledge for those just ‘starting off’ with their beauty regime.

I am, admittedly a bit of a dunce when it comes to using a lot of products due to a mixture of very sensitive skin, allergies, my awful eyesight (it is not good being long sighted when trying to apply certain products with your glasses off) and in all honesty, pure laziness. But that’s kind of why I really wanted to take this amazing opportunity and get involved,  I know it’s because of this that I will have a different perspective to many if not most of the other bloggers involved in the project.

The first post will be about skin care, and all posts go live Tuesdays at 6pm. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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Back to school shopping…

It’s that time of year again, and as the holidays draw to an end new clothing and supplies must be purchased. So once again, I am after jeans and trousers that will look good, be the right size and preferably the right length.

Dorothy Perkins is having an online denim sale with up to 30% off, which sounded good to me.  I was all prepared to put in an order until I discovered that our local store for collection is temporarily closed during a term of refurbishment. This would mean paying full whack for delivery, and that would mean the discount would essentially not be worth anything.

I popped along to Asda, who unfortunately also let me down. Their selection, whilst quite extensive, is still much to be desired. Their trousers are also lacking in my size, as it would appear that every other woman with my figure have gotten there before me. I must however give Asda some big, and I mean BIG props for adding short and extra short lengths to their bigger sizes of both jeans and trousers. Unless they were in fact sold out in larger sizes, size 20 appeared to be the biggest I could find in extra short length. This is a massive leap forward though for us shorties and also extra shorties who are extra large or extra small.

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M&S have some nice looking jeans in their sale, but unfortunately are also sold out in my size – at least in short length. I am however tempted to buy them in a size smaller in the hope of slimming into them in the near future.

Until then though chaps, I’m still looking for back to work attire as those perfect jeans are still proving elusive…

How to dress for the beach…

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I posted this picture on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fatgirlskinnyjeans) a while back, but thought I’d share it here for those of you who haven’t seen it.

I think this is the perfect advice for this heatwave! People complain constantly about people keeping it covered up;  just because its sunny doesn’t mean you have to have everything on show and whilst I agree that just because there’s a bit of sunshine (think bright day in February) doesn’t mean you have to whip your top off, the fact that we are having an EPIC heatwave means it might be a bloody good idea!

There is no point sitting there feeling self conscious, roasting to death because you’re worried about what someone might say or think of your arms and legs or your lumps and bumps. If you are on the beach and you want to prance about in your bathing costume, then do it! Don’t let everyone else have all the fun. I can say this with full confidence because I did in fact do just this yesterday.

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Bird and I had an impromptu trip to a local beach (we are lucky in that we have quite a few to choose from) and both decided to sport our swimwear for a bit of paddling; Bird in her snazzy swimming costume and me in my tankini. Let me tell you I am rather glad we did as it was absolutely scorchio, albeit with a lovely sea breeze! There was no greater feeling than letting it all hang out like a beached whale; bliss! Most people were wearing their bathing suits so it wasn’t just us, which was nice and reassuring. I for once felt completely fine with the situation, it was just lovely to keep cool and not have to worry.

I have absolutely zero body confidence, or at least I did. I like to keep everything covered (unless I’m baking hot apparently) but for once to just throw caution to the wind and go for it was awesome. I have been like this before when on holiday abroad, but doing it here on a local beach is another matter; we could have very easily bumped into someone we know and that could get awkward and embarrassing. However I didn’t feel embarrassed, I didn’t feel ashamed (though some people probably think I should have) or stupid or in fact anything negative other than boiling hot.

At the end of the day, you should dress in whatever makes you happy and feel good. Yes there are plenty of different ways to dress for your shape and inevitably if these do look good on you, show off your waist line and make the rest of you look smaller, you will feel happier and more confident. But there’s no point wearing that burgundy dress for example if black or even pink are more your thing.

So if you want to get your pins out whilst building a sand castle or two (with a moat and a flag of course, how else would you build one?!) go for it! You will feel happier in yourself if you simply just wear whatever the f*** you want! A heatwave is the perfect excuse to forget what you should and shouldn’t be wearing. Enjoy the sun while it lasts, whether that be completely covered up (which is good if like me you burn easily) or let it all hang out (which feels marvelous) just don’t forget the sun cream!! Regardless of what you wear (or don’t wear) red and peeling is not a good look.

Oh Cambridge Satchel Company, how I loathe thee…

I am the kind of person who thinks getting back with an ex is like putting on your dirty under crackers after a shower, which is why it will come as a shock to you all (probably not)  that I caved and briefly got back together with the Cambridge Satchel Company and purchased a bag…

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This lovely 14” purple classic satchel comes courtesy of my fabulous husband, and is my new best friend. Now the customer service was brill, the girls in store knew their product and were happy to let you fondle the bags and try them on in front of the mirror. However…

I was highly disappointed when they said for 8 letters or more embossing, they would need to get ‘a quote’ and not the new and higher £28 cap. I was told it would be £35, but the overall price she quoted was way higher. I realised afterwards that was actually too high and a lot more than the extra £7. So £35 from the original max of £20 from a few weeks ago –yeah right! I still fail to see how it is suddenly worth that much extra.  I told them I would just leave the bag, as regardless of the letter count it is still only £28 online and attempted to walk out, but the manager kindly waved the extra and said, “it’s only £7” to which I pointed out “I don’t earn much money, to me £7 is a lot” I however was cut off before I managed to point out £7 on top of their recent increases was sheer greed! They said it was because it takes a lot of their time, but as the shop was incredibly quiet, they were hardly rushed off their feet with purchases of satchels and orders of embossing.

And then, just to add insult to injury, they are having their ‘end of season’ sale as of today! Why mid week?! That’s a tad bizarre and horrible to behold, knowing EXACTLY how much my bag ended up costing.

I love my bag, despite the fact it’s very heavy, and hard to fit things into as the leather needs time to soften and stretch. It smells amazing and feels like it will last a long, long time but I doubt I’ll be buying another unless it is in the clearance. So many people have ‘bigged up’ the company, raved about their amazing customer service and how the price is amazing in comparison to their quality, but I just feel highly disappointed. I really do love my bag and will be using it for my work bag (its bigger than the little one I wanted for just nipping out with, so a bit too heavy for running to the shops etc) job interviews and for travel, I just feel very disappointed and somewhat heartbroken with a company who I have championed for what feels like a long time.

So thus proving that is ALWAYS a bad idea to get back together with an ex, even if they do make very lovely bags…*sigh*

Men, looking for jeans that actually fit? Head to Next!

Jean shopping with the husband…I did promise to buy him some (that actually fit) for his birthday but still, the thought of actually going through the pain of jean shopping for someone else still filled me with dread. So off we popped. He, like myself, has recently lost a good amount of weight and wanted some nice fitting jeans in a smaller size.

My husband claims to have quite short legs despite being tall, and often has the trouble that short is too short and regular is sometimes too long. I personally decided he was being daft, as his jeans always hang too low and made him try on long. What do you know, perfect fit! However, before this amazing discovery, we had to actually find somewhere with his size in a long…apparently only regular and short were available (perhaps the reason he came to his odd conclusion).

We tried New Look, Burtons, Top Man and anywhere else you can think of and were about to give up when it dawned on me, “we haven’t been to Next!” So with a big sigh and an, “alright then…” we went to work.

Within minutes we found some in his size with long leg, success! He tried on several pairs including a pair of slim fit  (which have the skinny jean effect on him) it was a good giggle but it did show us exactly how thin he is these days and my was it impressive (his weight loss, minds out of the gutter please)! He opted for 2 lovely pairs, one straight leg and the other loose fit, both in a very nice dark denim.

I posted a while back that Bird and I went in search of some jeans for her partner who needs an awkward leg size as (unlike my husband) he actually does have short legs despite not being short and found the only pair in the country it would seem of the correct size in Next.

So there you have it folks, if your men folk need jeans that actually fit , look nice and are a reasonable price, get straight to Next, don’t spend needless hours in search of that perfect pair (as we all know how much they hate it).