Let’s get to the point here - what exactly is happiness? What does it mean to you and can we ever fully achieve it?
Researching for an article recently, I came across an interesting fact about the tiny Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan, and its forward thinking monarch. Not only does Bhutan happen to be the only carbon negative country in the world (in other words, it produces more oxygen than it consumes) but it’s also known to be the happiest. Based on the premise that the most fundamental human need is in fact happiness, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, implemented a Gross National Happiness Concept (GHF), instead of the more traditional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and worked everything else around it.
So how do we go about measuring this elusive state of being?
Looking back on life, I find that it’s not so much what makes people happy that acts as their own personal barometer but rather, what doesn’t. Let me explain. At any given moment in time I always hear people talking (myself included!) about what’s wrong or missing in their lives and we go in pursuit of ways to fix/obtain it, believing that once we do, happiness must follow. Most of us are perpetually swept up in this illusion/delusion that we convince ourselves that until we either get/fix/lose (delete as appropriate) any number of things on our ‘Happiness Wish List’, we simply won’t be.
Growing up I was always tall and skinny. Bear with me here... The kids in my school used to call me ‘twiggy’ and it seemed that all the boys I fancied were shorter than me, so I’d stoop around them. But aside from this ‘shorter boy situation’, I never really regarded the way I looked with any negative perspective. At the age of 17 my cousin took me to a fashion event after her friend bailed on her, and it wasn’t long before I found myself being led into another room with a Polaroid camera shoved in front of my face. As it transpires the woman taking my arm (not doing the shoving) was none other than Sarah Doukas from Storm Models – the woman also responsible for discovering Kate Moss, and she was leading a competition to find the ‘Face of the 90’s’. Before I could even protest or ask any questions a terrible mugshot was taken and I was told that if I got anywhere in the competition they’d call me the next day. I thought nothing more about it, until they called me the next day.
I’m going to fast-forward to the relevant bits. I came 2nd in the competition and several agencies wanted to sign me up. Modelling was something I had NEVER considered. I was an academic with aspirations to go to Cambridge but all of a sudden I was being offered the chance to enter into this other elite industry which was everything but inclusive at that time. Suddenly my perspective changed. No longer was I the tall, skinny girl, but my attributes were actually something to be desired. I won’t mention agency names but it wasn’t long after signing with them that everything changed. I was sent to my first test shoot and sitting on the sofa inside this trendy London pad were two stunning and very leggy girls. I caught a glimpse of a barbed wire tattoo around one of the girl’s ankles who turned out to be Stephanie Seymour, and every inch as beautiful in the flesh. Within days I was sent to my first casting – it was for a month long contract in Tokyo and worth £40,000!!! £40,000???? That was an insane amount of money to me and probably most people. My booker called me afterwards. They were interested but (and there was a big but)… I had to lose weight, with just one month to do it.
Turns out I was too fat for Japan (yes that word was used back then.) Did I hear that correctly? Fat? Me? The tall skinny girl. A healthy size 8 at the time (US size 4 – i.e. a small) was wayyyy too big for the modelling industry; oh and I was too short too!! You can imagine my disbelief. All of my life up until this moment I’d been told the complete opposite. But it was too late. I’d been seduced, even though they'd failed to mention that to me when they signed me. Suddenly I was being offered a chance to enter a world most girls could only dream of. And that was it… that was the moment when everything inside my head changed. I stopped measuring the way I saw myself with my own two eyes and saw myself through the lens of a very fussy camera… and remained unhappy with the way I looked for the next 20 years. It didn’t matter how thin I became, I was never thin enough. It didn’t matter that compared to most of society I was thin, I was now comparing myself to 5% of the population. In my head that was all that mattered. It was an exclusive group and I wanted to be a part of it. So I did what any ambitious girl would do. I started diet after diet. I moved into the gym. Heck I even became a personal trainer and a running coach. I lived and breathed all the ways I could to look a certain way. I told myself “once I lose X amount I’ll be happy.” But once I did, I just pushed the goalpost further. And I wonder, how many models thinner than me were also wishing their weight away in pursuit of this elusive state of being? Sadly some even died in the process.
As the years started to pass, another factor came into play – age. I never forget, I was 29 years old and headed to a casting. My agent said – tell them you’re 27. So I did. The guy at the casting looked at me with a wink and said ‘everyone seems to be 27 today”. I never had a 30th birthday. I was 27 for quite some time. My daughter joked that one day I’d become younger than her. So now the focus was no longer just my weight and height, but my rapidly aging face too! Oh Lord. I’d screw up my face to inspect it for wrinkles and ask myself – how can we get rid of these? As a woman in my 40’s now, I look back on my 30 something face with envy. What was I even thinking? I didn’t know how good I looked, but yet it wasn’t enough. If you ask me now what would make me happy and if I tell you, to look younger – remind me that I used to be and look younger, and it wasn't the answer. Also know that many women (or men for that matter) who you might 'assume' to be happy because they look a certain way aren't either - ask most models.
Anyway this is all just musings from one still wondering. I don’t have the answers. I’m not a guru. I’m just another human going through the human experience, asking to be happy on the way. Some yogis and Zen masters might say true happiness lies within but going by those that I’ve met personally I can’t say they’re any more ‘sunshiny’ than the rest of us, so I have my suspicions. Until then I’ll continue to pray, believe in magic and miracles and wave my obviously 'genuine' magic wand from Disney until it all appears. But if all of that should fail, I might consider moving to Bhutan.
Miss Matahari xx
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As a brand we always look to shed light onto inspirational women. Women who regardless of the challenges and obstacles life has cast their way, have always found ways to overcome them, circumvent them or just plain bulldoze through them, in pursuit of their goals and dreams.
For International Women’s Day I want to shed light onto a talented, and determined young woman from Uganda. Idah Nandyose (Nandy for short), is a 24 year old fashion designer and tailor. She contacted the brand as she wanted to share her story, in the hope that someone, somewhere, might read it and help.
Size Guide information - best viewed in landscape mode/on a larger screen.
The models in The Warrior Collection range from 5'5" - 5'9" in height and size 4-6 US (8-10 UK). They are all wearing our size S.
The main model in The New Frontier Collection is 5' 10" and a US size 2-4 (6-8 UK). Her bust is 34", waist 26" and hips 36.5". She is also wearing our size S. The petite model wearing some of the styles and accessories is 5' 3" and a US size 2. Her bust is 33", waist 25" and hips 39". She is wearing our size XS. If you fall into the petite category, you might find XS fits you better length-wise.
Note on pants - The workout tights/capris in The Warrior collection fit a little larger than pants/leggings in The New Frontier collection, as they've been specifically designed to flatter all body types, with a slightly more generous cut on the thighs and around the waist. If you have very slim thighs, we recommend you go down a size in any of the Warrior collection bottoms. In general all of our pants are designed to accommodate curvy or muscular thighs. When in doubt, drop a size.
We've also created all styles across all collections to fit a little longer on the sleeves and legs to provide more allowance for different shapes and sizes; not to mention we love the longer sleeved/legged look.
If you have any queries on sizing, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be more than happy to discuss your specific requirements.