So if you've been around here a while you may have seen me go and photograph The Real Catwalk last year, it was the first one in London and the second one of it's kind! And this year, I decided to walk in it.

And I know, I'm still not talking about sustainability, I'll get there soon I promise!
I am standing at the end of the catwalk, surrounded by people, on my tiptoes, with my top off and arms in the air

The Real Catwalk is a guerrilla catwalk first started in New York by America's Next Top Model cycle 24 contestant Khrystyana (who is incredible I just have to add). It aims to show diversity, inclusivity, and so many real bodies! Something that the fashion industry consistently fails to do. Later that year she brought it to Trafalgar Square, and I was there, taking photos of all the wonderful people who were taking part and loving every minute of it.

But this year was different, this was the year I joined my Uni's Burlesque society and decided that idgaf what my body looks like I am going to love myself and have fun! So I decided to take part, and honestly it couldn't have come at a better time.
LHS - Three people pose with their bras out. RHS - people standing and in wheelchairs smile in their underwear
Khrystyana has her arm around me and we are both smiling with people around us
I have a weird relationship with food at the moment, I have chronic stomach issues which mean I can't really tell whether I'm hungry or full at any point, it just hurts. And in the last few months living life to the full I've also been stuffing myself and haven't entirely been looking after my poor stomach, with this I've also been putting on weight, and have been struggling quite a bit with that. I may have (kind of stupidly) checked my BMI on the NHS website and though I'm technically only a little overweight having the NHS website telling me "you should lose weight" hit me hard.

My stomach is constantly bloated because it's not feeling it's best and my clothes don't fit me anymore because I've put on weight and all of that has kind of left been feeling pretty shit, like there was something wrong with how my body looks, and so this was a good time for me to get half naked in Trafalgar Square.
Two images from behind, I am walking down the catwalk taking off my bra
I decided, because I wanted to be extra, that I would strip down to tassels. I hadn't done any burlesque all summer and I needed to do something fun and exciting, so I did. I told a few people before I went on the catwalk that this was my plan and they were all pretty excited for it, and so was I.

Honestly I was not at all nervous about going on that catwalk, I wasn't feeling 100% about my body but I knew that no one was going to judge me for it. I had the encouragement of all of those around me also strutting their stuff and the atmosphere was just one of love, acceptance, and appreciation. Magical. I also was really looking forward to just getting my tassels out and having some fun.

People's reaction was the best thing and I walked down the runway beaming from ear to ear. As I took my bra off I could hear people like "ooh, what is happening here?' and then when it came off and the tassels came off there was the biggest cheer, afterwards people just wanted to take photos and videos of me when I got off the catwalk, the response was amazing. Nothing about my body really, just how they wish they'd worn tassels and how I was inspiring. I mean I hope I've started a trend and next year it's a tassel fest because that would be amazing!
LHS - I am looking bemused at my bra, with my tassels showing. RHS - Tassel twirling with a wide grin
Photos by Kalam Jackson
On the right of the catwalk two girls dance in their underwear, on the left I am walking in my pants and tassels
My tassel twirl was so vigorous though I didn't realise until I watched the live video afterwards it looks like I'm about to take my own eye out! And I am chuckling writing this and imagining that, and just looking at the photos, look at those titties go! It's amazing there's a picture for every angle of my tassel twirl, angles I've never seen of my body before. Oh, and if you're wondering where my tassels are from it's Pretty Moxie.

Not taking photos that day meant I didn't get to watch all of the wonderful human beings that walked the catwalk strut their stuff but I felt the atmosphere so much more. People who were unsure or insecure just got swept up with love and were like "hell yeah I'm going to do this". Even one girl who was on her holiday and just happened across us decided to strip and walk down the catwalk, if that isn't incredible I don't know what is!
Four people in their underwear / tassles on the catwalk
Me tassel twirling from side. People in the background are smiling taking photos
Photo by Amber Schormans

At the end we all stormed back on and danced around and though it's all a bit of a blur (I was unaware of the fact I was actually pretty ill that day) I had a lot of fun and met some of the most wonderful people and I hope that the catwalk has been a boost in confidence for everyone involved, watching or not. Who's coming next year to get their tassels out?

Looking back at the photos I am still insecure about myself, I can pick out all of my "flaws" and I am still insecure about my weight gain and my stomach, I'm not going to lie. But I am working on it, on looking after myself better, and I know that no matter how I feel about my body it will not stop me going out, strutting my stuff, and having a damn good time! And the joy on everyone's faces in all of these pictures brings me so much joy. The reaction to us getting out kit off in Trafalgar sqare and having fun really was just joy, you can see it in all of the photos! So if you're also insecure about yourself, that's cool, just please please please please don't let it get in the way of you living your life. You were put on this earth to be so much more than just "aesthetically pleasing" so know even if you feel ugly there's so much more to you and to life. When you think of your best friend or someone you love do you only think about what they look like? Or is it the way they smile, how they talk about what they love, how intelligent they are, their ridiculous dance moves? People are worth so much more than just what they look like so remember that on days you feel insecure and know that all bodies are beautiful (I mean hey you just have to go through #therealcatwalk to realise that).

You have plenty of time to learn to love, accept, and appreciate your body for what it does for you and how it keeps to alive, but life is short so go and live it! These are messages I am writing as a reminder to myself as well as you wonderful people.
I am at the end of the catwalk tassel twirling, with a very big grin on my face
Photos by Rega Photos
A large group of mainly women hug and laugh in their underwear
Photo by Sena

I'm so happy I did this, people are always trying to hide their poor tummies away and look as flat as possible. But seeing tummies jiggling and people smiling away alongside that is just so powerful! So I'm glad to have portrayed that too, and to have seen so much diversity irl, it really makes you realise how much mainstream media and fashion is missing out on. Yeah, they're missing out, missing out on showing just how truly wonderful the human body is. I can't wait for next year and I hope you've enjoyed a full look at my walk down the real catwalk!

Also if you were at the catwalk and I didn't interact much or say hi, I was feeling quite out of it and ill that day! Apologies, and I hope you had the best time.