ThatIsBeyond… Self-conscious

A self-conscious man is not what I wish to be, but a self-conscious man I undoubtably am!

In the past week a cataclysm of telling events occurred, and this was surely fate at work… but it wasn’t until today that I got some sort of clarity on what this all meant. So I had to put pen to paper and try my best to articulate what it is like for a dad in his thirties to cope with a preoccupied sense of self-consciousness!

I am constantly concerned with what people think of me. Dealing with how I dress, what haircut I get, what my first impression is, whether or not people like me, getting changed in the locker room, what class of person I am… the list is endless. It’s sometimes hard to navigate my own feelings and actually be myself. I have always subconsciously surrounded myself with amazing people, who have that Je Ne Sai Quoi about them. They ooze cool and confidence and I think that I was desperate for some of that in my own life.

I am lucky to share my life with a truly inspiring family and a group of friends that bring joy to my life, but there is no escaping that sometimes I feel like I don’t belong amongst them. I feel like a fraud – not good enough to have them in my life.

What some people misinterpret is that self-consciousness is just about how you look, but in reality you can be self-conscious about your very being.

I caught myself out, the other day. We were preparing for a trip to the hospital with my two and a half year old, and I noticed some porridge had landed on his sleeve. Instantly a fence sprang up and I started to get agitated about “what people would think”. The stress and worry associated with the hospital visit had manifested itself in how we would be perceived as parents. In my head I felt that people would judge us for having a son in the hospital and that we probably deserved it because he had porridge on his sleeve. I knew what my brain was doing, my stress was now contained in one word “Judgement”. It didn’t matter how ludicrous this was, I needed to make it right. So I changed my son’s top.

What I didn’t need was more stress. I needed to focus on my boy and make sure that he was safe. I’m not afraid to say that I was ashamed of myself. But with shame comes more of the mental self-harm.

Next I came face to face with someone who told me, to my face, that I wasn’t good enough. They had taken me by surprise and I met them

when I wasn’t expecting to, in a place that I wasn’t anticipating that I would, either. Life can be a cruel mistress and because of the work situation that I was in I had to be polite, when I wanted to tell them that they had busted me down when I had only just managed to get my head above water. When duty called I said hello, and that they would probably remember me. They knowingly said that they were sorry but they didn’t remember who I was…

After a re-introduction I made polite conversation holding my stomach in and my head high, but when they asked me what I did, that familiar feeling came over me and I was immediately ashamed of myself for something that I am ordinarily so proud of myself for. To this person, I was the shit on the bottom

of their shoe (and I knew it) but I still cared what they thought of me. And the self-guilt began again.

“Looking Silly” is something that I have never been comfortable with. I have always tried to “fit in”. But there are times that I can’t hide how I feel and it doesn’t become apparent very often… but I LOVE to DANCE!

Often inebriated (but not always) I can let go on the dance floor and truly have a marvellous time. I can let go, and the discerning stares of work colleagues and acquaintances don’t matter any more. I can flick my flip-flops off and pirouette, split leap through the sky and roll around on the disco- lit floor.

I had forgotten what this abandonment of consciousness felt like. It has been years, maybe a decade since I had let loose like this. To have a few hours without a thought of what someone thought of me – or how I looked – or what any of this meant, was liberating. The only way I could describe that night was “the most fun”.

I know that this is a small thing. But for me this was the the feeling that reminded me of my best self – the one that not only looked like me, but was me. The “My lips but better” lipstick, the guy that wasn’t consumed by thoughts of himself but instead was in the moment. This brought Joy into my life when these other moments had brought me… UNjoy.

This was just a week in my life. But it was also a much-needed lesson that even if I can’t control what people think of me, as long as I know who I am and that I am not hurting others, I can dance where I like to the beat of my own drum, and who cares what people think?!

Of course this isn’t every day. I wish it was. But more than anything I don’t want my son to be afflicted with the self-loathing that I can sometimes feel. I want him to throw off his shoes and socks and dance like there’s nobody watching ( and even if someone is, to keep doing what he’s doing.)

If parenthood has taught me nothing else, if this little creature can love me for my crooked teeth, big belly and black bagged eyes, then nothing else really matters.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond…The @boxmenswear internet trolls

This post is a kneejerk reaction. No doubt it will generate its own comment feed of hate, but I have OFFICIALLY had enough.

Internet trolling is now so prevalent that I think it’s a cultural issue that needs to be nipped in the bud. Often the younger generations get the blame, but not being comfortable in your own skin affects all generations and judgements are made by one and all. In short, people with their own issues will always try to pull others down whether they are 16 or 60.

I should preface what I am about to write by saying that choosing to put anything online, means you are opening the door to those ugly trolls (and if you are going to put yourself out there, then know that this is almost certainly going to happen). But come on, self-expression shouldn’t be hindered by others – it’s simple, unless you have something nice to say,

DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.

This morning I was checking one of my Instagram feeds and I saw a post from a brand that I have reviewed in the past, called BOX MENSWEAR. (For the record, really good quality underwear that is long lasting and very supportive).

What struck me about the picture was that the model who had submitted the picture was a “normal” good-looking chap (I hate using the word normal. He is simply a guy without a rippling six pack who had purchased some excellent new undergarments and felt amazing in them) and has been trolled for not having the Greek Adonis physique. But worse than this – it is by multiple people who feel that his image should not have graced their feeds.

Click here for link to image

What A World We Live In.

Luckily we have brands like BOX Menswear who stand up to this bullying, but could more be done?

Almost certainly it could be. I for one would like to see some variety of body shape in their campaigns. I would also like to see their online competitions to find models, to feature a wider spectrum of people and a better representation of the diverse society that we in fact live in.

Box Menswear at least did something about these unpleasant comments.

Unfortunately it won’t be enough to stop future incidents – maybe the only way to stop these waste of space comments is for everyone to not engage with them.

In support of positive body image of any shape size or colour, I have added my own @boxmenswear pic to the fray and if I get trolled, then so be it.

I’m starting the hashtag:

#thatisbeyondmyownbody

Let’s show these trolls what a real people look like! (And please note that you can support this and still have the body of a god… we are all different after all).

I always love your comments, likes and shares. But with a post like this, the more we spread the word, the more change we can affect… so please press that share button to cascade this message far and wide.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… What’s new on the Men-ü?

Well it’s a new year, and that means a whole host of new products to get trying! And top of the this January is this Citrus and mint shower gel from the Men’s skincare experts at Men-U.

This Ultra-concentrated liquid is really quite clever, it’s a viscous formulation that actually feels sticky to the touch and therefore seems to cling much more effectively to the skin – which in turn means less wastage through your fingers and down the plug hole 🕳 !

There are several moisturising elements within the formulation, which make sure that the skin isn’t left feeling dried out and has really helped with conditioning which can be tough in the winter months with out sometimes abrasive weather conditions.

With less packaging, MEN-U are putting the environment in mind. Alongside the experience of using this product, anyone familiar with this brand will know that they are known for miniature tubes with huge results – their tiny clay mask for example is a triumph. This is not “mini “ in the sense that their previous products are but this is also not a full size like other brands. A perfect bottle to compliment your gym bag grooming regimen.

For me the best asset of this product is the fragrance. It’s Long-lasting and smells like a proper Mojito! I was actually concerned that this might end up smelling a little feminine, but the mint brings a depth of fragrance that lingers throughout the day, whilst the citrus fades into softer note – which I think makes this the perfect masculine scent.

In summary, this is a brand that is doing all of the right things – tailoring to the modern man and also tackling wastage, which is something that we should all be aware of. It smells good, it’s effective, and it’s improving the shower experience. At £8.95 it’s not the cheapest product on the market, but remember that the 100ml bottle will last for 4-6 weeks (because of its ultra-concentrated formula) and their 500ml version (£26.85) is 6 months worth of your daily showers!

Click Here for the Men-U website

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… Keep CALM and carry on to Murdock London

The manly thing is to NOT talk about your feelings, Right?

WRONG.

It’s tough to circumnavigate life, feeling alone and not being able to express how you feel. It’s also incredible that you can spend your life surrounded by people who love and care for you, but you can’t reveal your feelings to them because you don’t want to “burden” them with your “problems”.

For a lot of men, how they are perceived is fundamental to how they live their lives – and over the years showing the world how you feel has definitely been viewed as a sign of weakness.

We lose good men every day.

In 2017 alone we lost 4382 good men to suicide in the U.K. alone.

And I, for one, wonder whether any of those lives could have been saved with a safe space to talk. A place that fits into your everyday life, a place that isn’t daunting to cross the threshold of, and a place with other men who are open, without an ounce of masculinity missing.

Murdock London @murdocklondon are leading the way in providing this service with their barbers receiving Mental Health first aid training. This is one step closer for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) @calmzone and their battle to destroy male suicide.

On this blog I have poured my heart out – about the birth of my son and my own body perception, but I have never shared this:

My depression was thankfully short-lived. Onset by an accident that I was hundreds of miles from, I just couldn’t shake a feeling of helplessness. Not being able to do anything was the hardest part. My brother had almost died when I was younger and I froze and couldn’t do anything to help him – and this time he almost lost his life and I couldn’t get to him – I was too far away. The guilt of not being able to support my family and wishing it had been me instead was a constant struggle.

My face was growing paler by the day as I couldn’t leave my bed, harming myself so that I would feel something, anything other than the sensation of sinking into a chasm.

When I eventually made it out of bed I would watch the working day slip by, in third person.

I had many friends, colleagues and family who I could turn to, but I didn’t. What would they think? Why would they care?

Eventually, I asked for help. Someone I didn’t know that well. But someone.

And I got the help I needed. Because a lot of the time it’s a lot easier to talk to a complete stranger, than it is the people who are closest to you

I suffer from low moods, but I would say that I haven’t been depressed, since. I am a much more open person than I was back then.

So when I learned about this new initiative from Murdock of London, I had to get involved. I can’t stand to lose another person in my life because they don’t feel able to be open.

The CALM initiative, now means that when you next sit in a Murdock barber’s chair, there is someone Coiffing your hair, who you know that you can talk to. Someone who won’t judge you. And someone who won’t pass any judgement. We need to stick together – and this is a great start.

I learned some life lessons at the barber shop. Good Banter, safe sex and dealing with facial hair to name but a few! But in a world where time is at a premium, this has sort of been lost in translation. So let’s all take some pride in our selves and put ourselves out there… why not chat it out, whilst your barber gets you looking good!

It’s time to get sharing (your feelings and this post) and please share these hashtags too. #calmzone #murdocklondon #morethanabarber Perhaps your ‘share’ could help save a man from himself – let’s show the world that sharing is looking after yourself – and everyone knows that a decent haircut or a shave will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself too!

Murdock says:

“Looking after men is fundamental and part of our DNA”

And perhaps we all need to think a bit more like this ourselves.

I firmly support this initiative. So why not restyle your hair and your mental health???

Keep Calm and carry on to Murdock’s of London

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… The Haircut – A Rite of Passage

Just this weekend I took my two and a half year old son to get his haircut. This is only the second time he has had it cut, and after the first time we approached our second visit with a little trepidation.

The first cut was a spur of the moment, spontaneous dive into a barbers with no queue and we had little clue what to expect!

We knew that the loud hairdryers and the buzzing clippers were “not going to be his favourite”… getting him to sit still for longer than a few seconds was going to be “a challenge” and the new environment a bit of a “sensory overload”, but goddamn it… he needed that cut!

This time, we knew that we had experience on our side! He knew it wasn’t going to hurt, and this time I was on home ground – because I was taking my son to MY barbers. I knew what had attracted me to this local little hole in the wall would also be the reason my boy would love it too.

A) there are Lego aircrafts hanging from the ceiling.

B) there is a stormtrooper in the window.

C) the staff are tremendously friendly and down to earth

D) this is the MANCAVE!

What was intended to be just his haircut, became an experience for us both to share. Distinctly, this was a father/son moment and one that we both enjoyed. My wife was there to talk to him and keep him calm, and sat next to him I could interact and marvel at him from the mirror. He felt like a big boy because he got his own chair (just like Daddy) and the booster seat meant that he was tall enough to see in the mirror and that he could see me at eye level.

I felt my shoulders drop and I relaxed into that chair even just for a few minutes. Toby made sure that everyone in the vicinity knew that he “don’t like the hairdryer” which raised a few gentlemanly chuckles (mine included). He loved the experience and got a sweetie for being so good.

There were also balloon animals, swords and flowers… for the kids both big and small!

Yes, this was just about a haircut, but for us it was also about so much more. These are family moments we are building here, and that is what life is all about after all! (and what’s better than the embarrassment that we will cause when he’s older and we tell his partner that he “don’t like the hairdryer!!!”

That my friend is another Rite of Passage as well!

MANCAVE offers a virtual queue system during busy times, so that you can wait in comfort (in the pub with a cool beer) and they’ll text you when it’s your turn!

Support your local small businesses, and if you at in Maidstone, make sure you check MANCAVE out.

2-4 Pudding Lane

Maidstone

ME14 1LN

Mancave website

Twitter: @mancavebarberuk

Facebook:

MANCAVE Maidstone

ThatIsBeyond…My body confidence musings.

New Post! Only this time i’ve experimented with with the media of film!

This is a little look at “body confidence” for a man in his thirties and how my wavering body confidence has shaped my adult life. It’s not all doom and gloom! Just an honest and open exploration of life under the veil of lacking body confidence.

As always please follow, share and comment with your body confidence experiences.

TIB

 

Thatisbeyond… the shortlist of swim shorts (to be seen in).

As we approach the end of the season, it’s finally time to look back on the swim shorts that have punctuated this glorious summer!

I’m not afraid to admit that my swimwear game has been very strong in 2018. I have experimented with pattern colour and of course style – and along the way I have discovered some amazing pairs which will become part of a more permanent collection!

So what brands have really done it for me this summer? Well… I think you might be surprised about some of them, because they are not necessarily brands that are synonymous with swimwear! So here a little SHORTlist of SwimSHORTS (geddit?!)

HOM

HOM are one of my absolute favourite underwear brands, the cut and the quality of the material, knocks their ranges out of the park season after season. I was therefore so excited to see that they had released some pairs of trunks ready for the heatwave.

There was no way that I could not try this bright blue pair with neon florals. A “big guy” balances a very fine line with florals, but I found that the ratio of pattern to base colour was perfection, and ensured that this stylish beachwear didn’t look clown’ey on my ample figure!

How can you not feel summery in these? They are really quick to dry and the mid length cut, means that there is a bit of room to run around in or play beach volleyball in (if that’s your sort of thing!) They are priced at £45.

And I should say that these are really excellent quality and so stylish ,that they will last season after season.

H & M

What I really love about this pair. is the cut. They are very 2018 (no doubt the sort of shorts you’ve seen in reality tv shows like Towie or Love Island) the short, sporty line is pretty flattering for most body types and the pipework around the edges, keeps the style luxe and well finished. They are also the cheapest of the round- up at just £12, but I suspect, that you wouldn’t suspect the tiny price tag! The material is not my favourite texture (it’s sort of parachute-ey) but the camouflage pattern more than makes up for it, leaving these stylish swimmers looking great on the beach or ont’ telly!

Jockey

This sporty pair are tip top quality and on trend for this season (as well as being classic cut to see you through the summers of years to come). I love the bright orange colour and the black sporty stripes on the side. Invisible zips on the pockets make these super practical for a trip to the beach and they ease perfectly from the sand to the bar!

These are super comfortable to wear and look great on. A mid-length is going to suit most guys and the cut is flattering to a fuller leg (like mine).

I LOVE these swim shorts, so there is now way that you will prize them away from me!! Jockey have used all of the underwear technology to create a really strong product that looks good and feels great.

Oddballs

Not technically a swim short… more a swim brief (or speedo if you will!) but I had to mention these as they are a fun,bright and jazzy design (called Digital Rain – Magenta).

This cut of brief is not a natural choice for a bigger guy, but sometimes you want to catch some proper rays in the garden (where no one is looking) and these do the job excellently. Yes, these are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea… but I like ‘em #judgemeifyouwant

On top of that, oddballs invests money into its charitable cause The Oddball foundation, which aims to raise awareness about testicular cancer around the world. Their underwear, “obble hats” & swimwear all helps this mission so every purchase makes a difference.

So as you can see this summer has been filled with amazing swimwear that offers style longevity.

What have you been wearing this summer?

What brands should also have made this list?

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… A Taste for Change.

As I get older, it becomes abudently clear that my tastes are constantly changing and developing. Just a few years ago, I could not tolerate drinking white wine… whatsoever. But recently I found myself buying a lovely little Riesling, and found myself thinking “when did that happen?”

As time goes on your preferences may be informed by fashions or current trends but your choices are based on what you as an individual like, rather than what the rest of the pack do! I guess you get to know who you are, and your tastes will reflect that, in essence.

As a self-proclaimed bigger guy, I have spent a lot of my life wanting to be able to access fashion, but have been sized out, season after season. There are definitely many more options for the “bigger guy” on the local high street, but it can be a minefield trying to develop your personal style with the limited high street ranges that venture up the sizing scale.

Since dropping down in size, there have definitely been more options available to me, and I am finding that I can express my personal style, confidently. The problem is, that for many others guys with a bigger build, the options are extremely limited. Less choice means that the natural process of development just cannot happen because the options are not available.

I have always been a beer guy, In fact I love beer. But as I have got older I have wanted a bit more variety. Who knew when I first started drinking that I would ever choose a Gin and Tonic? Or opt for a Merlot over a Guinness? Through this exploration, I have developed my palette, and now I get enjoyment from many, MANY alcoholic beverages!! (with the exception of Sambucca – ThatIsBeyond… RANK!).

But what if the same could be said for fashion for the broad, tall and portly? Would we feel better about ourselves if we weren’t boxed into a wardrobe of basic-wear? If we could buy jeans on the high street that weren’t skinny, super skinny, extra super skinny, so skinny I can’t fit my arm in the leg hole skinny… would we have a more diverse sense of self.

Where women’s fashion has led, men’s fashion must follow. We need more variety in our sizes, and we must not be confined into the realms of sportswear. I want to see the high street offering fuller sizes in well cut gear, and offering more options to the large proportion of men who do not fit the skinny jean mould.

We want to sip our bourbon, have an ale, and hell, sometimes we want a glass of rosé instead. But as my picture shows… not all things change, I may be the only person in the world who eats pick and mix with my wine??? But that’s my choice and one that has developed years of discovery… but I ALWAYS go back to the Pick and Mix!

The thing with pick and mix is, that you can only pick and/or mix if the options are available to choose from. This is an analogy that I hope the high street can learn from.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… Let’s Talk Below The Belt.

The internet has been all abuzz with with men’s brand Below The Belt.

With all the hype, I just needed to try the products out for myself. I popped to my local Boots ands tried to get my hands on some, but to no avail. A second store ended in the same result (and by this time in 30 degree heat my balls really NEEDED to get some!). Luckily at my third attempt (only a short drive away) I found the ‘Fresh and Dry Balls’ & the ‘Instant Clean Balls’. So I scooped them up into my basket and headed straight for the check out!

Let’s face it, if this spell of hot weather has taught us blokes nothing else, it has taught us how sticky and chaffing our balls can get. #word.

If I’m honest, it’s not something about myself that I particularly wanted to know more about… but I must say that the relief that this product gave was palpable!

I bought both products in the ‘Fresh scent’ as that was what was available, but I really wanted the ‘Active Scent’. On the Below The Belt Website there are four fantastic fragrances to choose from and the active one tickled my fancy! That said the F&DB product smells good (in fresh) and couldn’t be any simpler to apply:

How: squeeze a penny sized amount into your palm. Rub gently around your crotch. The moisturising gel is rapidly absorbed, drying to a silky fine layer.

Now, one word of warning ⚠️

For my first application, I did my thing, following the instructions, and straight away pulled up my @boxmenswear black briefs and went about my day. A few hours later I need to use the bathroom and upon unzipping my flies, I could see something rather unsavoury looking on my underwear.

Fear not it was simply a few white marks on the underwear (which came out in the wash) but given the right circumstances, this could have been a little awkward!!!

To that end my recommendation is to shower, then coat balls, then let it dry before putting your favourite boxers on.

The instant clean balls, is essentially a ‘ball and crotch freshener’ and it’s super comfortable to wear. A application is cooling and freshening below the belt and keeps you fresh and clean all day long. Perfect for the festival circuit and for a little spruce before a date, this is a product that I think most blokes would have a use for. (Before a date we want everything fresh down there so that nothing is getting in our way)!

Each product was less than six pounds, which I think is a fantastic price point, and there is no danger of the stinging willy that you can sometimes get by squirting deodorant down your pants!

Below the belt grooming is all about focussing on a simple issue, which all of us blokes suffer with (no doubt) and coming up with a simple and effective solution, that also doesn’t need to break the bank.

The purchase of both products also donated 20p each to Prostate cancer U.K. which is also a fantastic cause. So why not try it out for yourself by visiting www.btbgrooming.co.uk

I have also picked up the sports lubricant and will be testing it’s anti-chafing abilities when I start upping my marathon training.

Let me know what you think in the comments. I am also, always happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Keeping it cool, below the belt.

ThatIsBeyond

ThatIsBeyond… Sondos Alqattan – The Age of Entitlement.

Sondos_aq was an Instagram handle that thankfully, I had never heard of until a couple of days ago.

Her comments regarding removing the passports of Filipino workers to ensure they “stay put”, were alarmingly nonchalant and uttered with the naivity of youth. She also doesn’t believe in breaks and feels that her needs as an “employer” (or slave owner) should rank more highly than her workers (or slaves).

She is yet another example of a minority of a generation, that feel because they think something that the world must listen… and now that the world IS listening, and rightly berating her for her absurd viewpoints and vehement entitlement, shock horror, she is trying to weasel her way out of it but without being, even a little bit repentant of her actions.

Phrases like “you don’t know me”, “you haven’t experienced what I have” and toe-curlingly, “thank you for saying I am beautiful on the outside”, have not won her any favours. In fact, the best thing that could happen, is that the world of selfish entitlement that she has built around herself implodes cataclysmically. Associated brands not taking action is affirming these archaic and belligerent standpoints – and they should also be held accountable.

It is a symptom of the times, unfortunately. I hope that she learns from this (which is unlikely) but more than that I hope that this generation of entitled people who do nothing but gaze at themselves in a camera lens, learn a simple lesson that they must be accountable for their views.

My support is with the Filipino community (and all other communities across the world whose mistreatment continues to happen every day). But I do urge everyone to remember that one vile person should not reflect on a nation.

Stand with us all, and bombard any brand that she is an ambassador for.

Max Factor have led the way, now we must ensure that the rest will follow.

Perhaps she will learn her lesson when SHE has to go out to work?!

Humility and remorse when you have done wrong, are beautiful qualities in an adult. I hope her eyes are opened by this experience and that all people across the world get the human treatment that they are entitled to.