Anyone that knows me knows that I am an advocate for my city. Whilst some people shun Stoke, and others couldn’t pin point it on a map if it was singing Angels by Robbie Williams, I blooming love the place.
Mostly, I love the friendly people, the indie businesses, the talented musicians and creatives and our food-of-the-gods: oatcakes.
Another thing that’s really important to us Stokies though, is turning our plates upside down to see where it was made. Dudson? Wedgewood? Royal Dolton? The pottery and ceramics industry is a huge part of our heritage, and I’m here to shout about it wherever I can.
Scruffy Little Herbert is an independent ceramics and gift company, selling all sorts from cards and mugs, to oatcake charms and t-shirts.
Esme Talbot is the mastermind behind the brand. The 31-year-old illustrator grew up in the small village of Madeley, near Keele. Like many young girls she was very aware of the body she lived in, especially as one of the only mixed race children in the village, with and Indian mum an Stokie dad.
After suffering with body image issues through her teens and twenties, she discovered a book that changed her mindset and her life. That book was Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe.
She said the book ‘leaves you with a happy feeling like when you bump into an old friend you haven’t seen in years, and you realise how much you missed them. Except, the person you’ve bumped into is yourself before you got bogged down with self-awareness and criticism.’
That’s how the idea for the Body Positive Willow Mug came about. Body positivity, which is different to body confidence, is about attitudes towards different body shapes and sizes. It’s about acceptance, non-judgement and respect. This mug embodies that in the most beautiful way.
The illustrations in the classic pattern feature women who have inspired Esme, including Frida Kahlo, Harnaam Kaur, Tess Holliday and Grace Victory – people who she feels need to be celebrated for breaking the mould and smashing through the glass ceiling.
Inside the mug are the words ‘You are a limited edition, an absolute masterpiece EXACTLY as you are’. It’s the loveliest reminder when you’ve finished your cup of tea (and the seven custard creams you dunked in it.)
Personally, I am finally at a point where I am happy. I can eat seven custard creams in succession (and do most mornings at my desk), and don’t fear the consequences. I mean, it does help when I drink the tea out of this mug. It’s a reminder that I am happy, I am comfortable, and I am confident. Okay, that last one is probably a fake it till you make it statement. That being said, I don’t cry if my skirt doesn’t fit anymore.
Accepting your body is a challenge for everyone. Some find it easier than others, and I do think I am one of the luckier ones, but it’s by no means an easy task. I still falter and I still have insecurities, but I will always pick myself up, dust myself off and carry on.
The Body Positive Willow mug is just the beginning of something very exciting. Esme is planning to develop a range of tablewear dedicated to the body posi convo, and the fact we should accept ourselves so that we can accept others.