Friday, 27 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Faux Feminism - More Rules Does Not Equate Equality

            Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ll have heard of the worldwide phenomenon and film that is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, and also the surrounding controversy. With hordes of protesters outside cinemas and premieres screaming accusations of domestic violence and people calling it a crime against feminism, it was almost impossible not to get caught up in the storm of it all.
             I refused to read the books for a while. All I heard was the rumours of girls falling for this controlling, possessive, and even abusive man, and how it was terrible for progression of women’s rights, and thus being the almighty bra-burner that I am, I scorned the very idea of the franchise, smirking at those who would fall at the feet of ‘Christian Grey’. However, one day in a bar the books and upcoming film came off in conversation, and I scornfully brushed them off, when a girl turned to me and said ‘have you actually read them?’ I, of course, answered this comment with stammers and stutters as I realised that I had been criticising something through only knowing hearsay, and, never being one to follow the crowds’ opinion usually, felt positively disheartened at myself. I immediately bought the first book on my kindle when I got home and got stuck in.
            The first few chapters were rough-going. Let’s be honest, this book is written dreadfully. There are typos, grammar mistakes, the main protagonist is about as wet as a Tuesday morning in February. There are horrendous phrases such as ‘liquid desire’, which sounds a bit like an embarrassing toilet trip. And yet, I continued to read, getting further and further caught up in this story. Despite cringing at the stereotypes of the bookish, awkward female with her pretty best friend, and the boys who all clamour around the main girl like flies, even though she’s never even attempted to make herself attractive (lucky sod), I found myself (which I’m pretty sure was the publisher’s intention), pushing my own characteristics on her. The Ana in my head was feisty, indignant, clumsy, adventurous, and I began to love her more and more, and root for her to get the guy. I finished the first book in days, and then breathed easy. I could now have an opinion on it, without being criticised for just going on hearsay. I could rest easy and go on about my life.
            It was a matter of hours before I had bought the sequels.
            See books like this bring up a fundamental question about reading, which I think is lost with years and years of literature lessons, when you pull books apart to poke around in the nooks and crannies of the words, trying to decipher a meaning that probably was never there. Can we ever just go back to reading for the pure escapism of it? For most book-lovers, myself included, the reason we started reading in the first place was probably Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson, J.K Rowling (for my generation anyway). We began to read because these characters excited us, and we could imagine ourselves in scenarios that would never actually happen. For some reason, when we do this as adults, we are faced with vitriol by those who have forgotten the joy of reading for a story’s sake.
            But anyway, I didn’t even plan to talk about the book in this post, but it all came spilling out. I want to talk about the massive reaction to the film recently out, and how I think the reaction is actually offensive in itself to anyone who calls themselves a woman of sound mind and self-respect. For years and years we have had countless films filling the cinemas which are aimed at men. Gun-toting, spitting brutes, who smoke, drink and bed women like there’s no tomorrow (the characters in the film, not the cinema-goers of course.) No-one seems to bat an eyelid at these films, simply stating that ‘boys will be boys’. We even have games where (I don’t mean to stereotype here and are well aware of the female-gaming community, however I am also realistic about the fact that gaming is still a male dominated industry) men are encouraged to take on a role, a faceless character if you will which they can imprint their personality on – sound familiar? – and then kill others, steal cars, use prostitutes and commit violence against them. However the majority of the world understands that this is harmless fantasy, and that no film is going to convince a good, just, honest man to commit murder. However, we women are somehow not afforded the same respect when it comes to films aimed toward us.
            It seems fitting, but disappointing, that one of the highest grossing films of all time, the first major film of its kind in this era to be geared towards women, is faced with a backlash of ‘oh the poor little girlies, however will they distinguish from life and fiction? We have to protest against this so they don’t insist their partners buy a helicopter and smack them around a bit’. Unfortunately, the main backlash has come at us from our own, the women who profess to stand up for our rights, can’t even give us the benefit of the doubt that we might take a film for what it is, a harmless fantasy.
            I saw the film this week and I took it exactly for what it was, a bit of a laugh, kind of a rubbish script, a nice man to have a gander at, and a little glimpse into a dreamland, that I fully understand isn’t real, but was nice to escape into for a while. Thankfully, the Ana in the films is a little more lively than that of the books, and Dakota Johnson adds a really quick and witty element to the character, especially in the drunk scene where she insists on ‘laundering’ his handkerchief. I didn’t come out of the theatre thinking I instantly needed to be a passive, submissive woman who tended to a man’s beck and call, and I didn’t think I was any closer into being coerced into things I wasn’t comfortable with. I simply thought, ‘I might buy some new underwear, those big white pants she was wearing were hideous’, ‘I bloody love Beyonce’, and maybe, sometimes, ‘Jamie Dornan is a DELIGHT’. I can completely see why women have flocked to this film, there’s so much pressure on us nowadays to be strong, with our femininity and without it, it’s kind of a relief to have a film that just doesn’t put that pressure on.
             My final point, which I knew would be commented if I didn’t address it, is that someone’s going to ask ‘if you want a film for women, why not watch one which depicts, strong, important women that have something to say, those are the true feminist films?’ and to that I say, very true, there are a few films with brilliant, strong women in, who can inspire you and enthral you with their passion and drive, (just watch any Meryl Streep film essentially). But, imagine a boys night, they’re having a beer, a laugh, a pizza, it’s a Friday, they’ve been working all week, they’re tired and they have two choices, they can watch ‘Lincoln’, a powerful depiction of Abraham Lincoln in his fight to abolish the slave trade, or ‘The Expendables’, a fast-paced, easy-going action flick, where the men fight a lot, shoot a lot, drive fast cars and look at gorgeous women a lot. Are you really going to blame those guys for wanting to shout at their screen to ‘DRIVE FASTER, DICKHEAD’?!

Lots of love, and let me know your thoughts.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Victoria's Secret Show - Shameless Sex Appeal or Liberation?

Hello beauties!

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few days, you'll probably have seen the pictures from the Victoria's Secret show plastered all over the internet, whether it's marvelling over their physiques, analysing the fashion, or drooling over Taylor Swift being the queen that she is (all bow down to the Swift). You've also probably seen the crazy amounts of backlash the show has received from some bloggers and journalists about the show's apparent sexist nature and objectification of the models. Personally, I think this is an even more outdated view than the sexism they're trying to squash.

Let's look at the obvious here, Victoria's Secret, in the vast majority, is a brand for women. They're products are for women, and this show, was for women. So why, all of a sudden, are these women suddenly 'only taking their clothes off for the appeal of men?' now that this brand is represented in a performance? (Note the word 'performance' I used here, I believe that fashion shows (VS included) are forms of art, not objectification. I can guarantee that those women wear those wings and pretty lace dressing gowns for the appeal of women, how many men want their girlfriends to strut into the bedroom sporting a giant pair of gold wings?

Another obvious statement is the idea that, VS is a lingerie brand. In order to show their product, it requires women to wear it without much else, they aren't very well going to wear it over their clothes and a chastity belt, are they?

Thirdly, the main argument is that the models are promoting an unhealthy body image on young girls. I don't doubt that part of this is true, however I don't think VS is to blame for this. Look up any official VS 'Angel figure regime' and the like, and it puts emphasis on long-term clean eating, rigorous training, and special concentration on healthy food three months before the event. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff, and nothing that's going to make anyone particularly unhealthy either. It's the tabloids that perpetuate these ridiculous rumours of fasts and dehydration diets, which are mostly all misquotes anyway.

Finally, I think a lot of this boils down to some general girl-on-girl crime here (mean girls, you get me ladies.) Why is it so hard for us to be happy for these models who have worked so hard for the entire year, for this one event? Imagine if you had an event you were incredibly excited for, a big highlight in your career, one that you'd worked like crazy for, and suddenly your fellow girl started tearing you down for your body shape? As a feminist, I think we should tip our hat to these girls, not because of being 'sexually liberated' and whatnot, but simply for working hard and being bloody good at what they do.

That's all for today my lovelies,

Abi xxx

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pastel Winter Fashion - Take Your Black and Take It Back!

Hello darlings, I hope this winter is treating you well,

Now's the time of the year when all the blogs start to go a bit christmas party crazy, and I'm no different, and I wanted to take the time to write a wee post about one of the BIG winter trends I'm loving this year.

As soon as the windows start to get a bit frosty, everyone immediately reaches for their black coats and black tights and navy, and burgundy. Now don't get me wrong, I can get down with some vampy fashion, but I am loving this winter the explosion of pastel we have seen on the fashion scene.

Baby pink is currently HUGE at the moment, and it works for even the most cautious of dresser, because it pairs so well with grey, you can get away with wearing your dark winter colours, and go for a spot of pink in a scarf or even nails.

I am absolutely in love with these pastel gloves, especially the pink and the mint, a perfect small statement to add to any outfit. Just don't pair the green with green or the pink with pink!

Baby blue also works with the pastel trend, although I find with this colour you have to go big or go home. Rock a fluffy baby blue coat like the picture above, and keep the colour a little off-looking to edge it up a bit. If you go too small or too pretty with this, it ends up looking childish.

Pair muted pastels with an all-white/cream ensemble to keep the colour the centrepiece of the outfit.

This trend is all about soft, feminine, muted colours with a cheeky edge. So think like the girl above and pair a midi skirt with a slouchy jumper and hat to juxtapose it.

I currently love these colours so much that I can see winter pastels spilling out into my home decor, especially christmassy stuff, so I'll just put in below a few pictures which have really inspired the start of my christmas bedroom decorations.

I hope you all are having a lovely week, comment down below on what you current favourite winter trend is!

Abi xx

P.s. I have a sneaking suspiscion that my love for all this stems from my love of 'Frozen', but don't tell anyone!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Ten Trivial Things To Get Excited About In Winter

It's getting chilly again! The mornings are getting crisp, evenings are a bit darker, and you may soon find yourself glumly reaching for your winter coat (unless it's a fabulous coat, in which case you've probably got it hanging on your wardrobe door, just waiting...) There are a lot of big things to get excited about in winter, like Christmas and New Year's, and by the time we're halfway through October there will be so many blog posts about them that you'll be sick of them already, so this is a little list of the most trivial, but wonderful Autumn/Winter things to get excited about.

1. Berry lipstick

Those dark, vampy lipsticks that have been neglected for summer brights these past few months are now looking super sexy and delightful again

2. Expensive coffee

In summer, coffee is just TOO DAMN HOT. It's not even worth pretending that the iced rubbish you can get from Starbucks is better, you know in your heart you'd rather be sipping on a toasty warm chai latte whcih makes you feel all snuggly. Plus, in winter, expensive coffee is allowed, you aren't spending your money know...suncream...

3. Cuddles

Cuddles in summer are quick, fleeting and sweaty. Cuddles in winter are warm, snuggly, and often accompanied by some sort of comfort food.

4. Sequins

Because winter fashion is a lot darker, and it basically becomes nighttime most of the time, suddenly sequins in daywear are acceptable, and encouraged at night. I'm not sure why dressing like a fabulous shiny scaley mermaid is fun, but it JUST IS.

5. Frost

Everything looks so pretty when its all dusted with icing sugar. There's nothing quite like waking up on a frosty morning, especially if you have nothing to do that day.

7. Diets, be gone!

Winter clothes = so much more flattering than summer clothes, meaning it is time to break out the cheese and wine nights again.

7. Pyjamas. And socks.

When did these stop being amazing? Oh right, when it was too hot to breathe at night. Now it's all frosty again, it's an excuse to buy the fluffiest socks you can find. Wear them all day, to get your monies worth, obviously.

8. Wine, so much wine.

In summer, there's a lot of pressure to have 'fun in the sun', which usually means sitting on an English stony beach, with rocks up your bum, whilst every so often dipping your toe in the water, to shriek at how freezing it is. In winter, there is just wine, all the wine. (Bonus points for mulled, tasty tasty!)

9. Luxurious beauty bits

In summer, sitting in your room with a nice candle burning, or spending hours lotioning and potioning yourself seems a little bit like a waste of the sunshine. But a winter rain shower is no better excuse than to light that gorgeous spiced apple candle you've been waiting all year to light again, and indulge in some pamper time. Friends recommended, with maybe more wine...


Okay, maybe not a trivial thing, kind of a big deal. But let's face it, there's no better holiday really, what other event allows you to dress up like a slutty version of a thing of your choice (slutty not neccessary, but it is brilliant seeing things like slutty peppa pigs) and go out in said get-up, and do shots, while children hassle the neighbours for sweets? Sensible policies for a safer Britain, I say.

Have a GLORIOUS winter!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Anxiety - Nine Little Ways To Stop The Worries

Hello lovelies,

I know I haven't written in forever, the work/life balance has been a tad out of whack recently. Either that, or summer fun got the better of me. However, some time away from my blog has given me some perspective of what people really like to read on my blog, with my posts about self-image, fear, and feminism getting A LOT more traffic than anything else. So with this view, I'm going to write about an issue which is very close to my heart, and that is dealing with the illness of Anxiety.

Not many people know anything about anxiety. They think it's almost a made-up illness for people who are just a bit jittery. Little do they know that anxiety can take control of your life entirely, meaning that you're constantly fighting the urge not to panic about the tiniest of things, and when you aren't, you worry about the next time you have a bad panic attack. My panic attacks mean I have missed out on social occasions, doing my best at work, and generally doing everyday things. I won't profess to have the worst case I have ever seen, far from it, I at least manage to live a normal life, and have friends and go out, but I still can go some way to understand what other's go through when they deal with this illness as well. Also, I am by no means a mental health professional, so anything I say in this blog is purely of my own experience, so if it does not apply to you, do not worry or think you must be different, anxiety affects people in so many different ways it is almost impossible to define. However, I'd just like to share a few ways in which I have started to combat anxiety.

1. Get a bike

It seems strange, but riding on your bike offers an element of calm I wouldn't think it would. You are alone, away from pressure and anyone else's view, and a bike offers the protection of having time with your own thoughts to calm down. To those who suffer anxiety from being out alone, especiall at night, a bike means you are faster than anyone walking, and you can stay on the roads meaning no worries of strangers on the street. In the daytime, find a pretty cycle path near you and just take half an hour out to turn the wheels a bit, the concentration of keeping going doesn't allow your mind to wander to worry.

2. Invigorating smells, rather than calming

This seems grossly counter-intuitive, as most people would think for anxiety, the perfect scents to calm down with would be things like camomile, a calming, relaxing scent. I however, have found that once I am in such a worry, a relaxing scent does little to alter my mood, I am too het-up and worried, and my body/mind rejects this recognised idea of calm as something that it deems impossible. I prefer, to smell things like oranges and limes, and maybe even taste something with chilli in it. I know it seems strange, but the striking, pure scent/taste offers up a distraction, something so sweet or sour that it starts to clear my head. Try buying a nice room spray with a citrus note (or get given one by your lovely flatmate, thank you Sophie), or buy some chilli chocolate, and see if it works for you. As I said before, I'm not a mental health professional, and everyone is different.

3. Cut out greasy food

I know it seems like this should be unrelated, after all, a mental problem should have nothing to do with what your body feels like surely? However, I found that really going for healthy food improved my anxiety by a mile, enough that I'm trying to be vegan at the moment because it improves it so much. The connection between mind and body is much more apparent than I think a lot of people realise, and while chips may make you feel better after a teary day, a colourful vegetable casserole will give your body the nourishment it needs so your energy can concentrate on healing your mind.

4. Remember, no attack is forever

When I was recently about to go to a festival, I was freaking out constantly beforehand, what if I had an attack? What if I couldn't find anyone? What if I hated it and wanted to leave but couldn't? I was having panic attacks almost every night. A good friend gave me some stellar advice, to remember that there has never been a panic attack that I have not been able to get over. Panic attacks are not forever, and no matter how bad they are, they will always eventually come to an end, and you are the one who brings it to an end. You are that strong, that you have ended every attack you have had.

5. Download an app which helps with attacks

This is just a little one, but sometimes when you're on the go, you just need a few minutes of calm to help you deal with the day, I really like the app 'Anxiety Free', which is a free app on iPhone, where you can just plug your headphones in and chill for a bit. Alternatively, make a playlist which makes you feel happy and chilled. I'm a bit of an oddball, and prefer fairly upbeat music when I'm feeling worrisome, as it tends to make me excited for the impending activity rather than anxious.

6. Don't rush yourself

Remember, unless you have an absolutely urgent deadline to get to etc., there is no need to rush yourself to feel okay again after an attack, that lunch date can wait, tell them you'll get them a cup of tea to make up for it. Don't force yourself to leave just because your friends are heading out of the door if you aren't ready, simply say that you need a while to calm down, and you will meet them later. Your friends would much rather you are happy and content when you are doing something together, than freaking out because you should have taken more time to deal with the aftermath of a panic attack, or the worries of a possible one.

7. Be selfish

Remember this is YOUR mental health, it is important, and don't let anyone dismiss it. If you need to cancel something to help yourself, then do it. Don't constantly put others before dealing with your anxiety, as you will find it will creep up on you. If anyone is complaining about your problem, try and explain to them what is happening to you. If they still don't understand, they are not worth being friends with.

8. Make an effort to be positive

It sounds obvious, and it also sounds impossible, but I mean the smallest of things. Rather than saying 'Oh it's so horrible and cold' in the morning, think of that nice wooly scarf you haven't been able to wear in a while, and how snuggly it makes you feel. When you are positive, those around you don't see you as a ticking time bomb of anxiety, waiting to panic, and thus, treat you like the normal person you know you are.

9. Get help

If you need it, ask for it. Don't ever sit in silence, there are people out there.

There we are my lovelies, just a couple of little thoughts just in case you are struggling, remember, anxiety cannot define you or anything about you, so be happy, be calm, and love yourself :)


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Curvy is the New Skinny - Just Another Way to Make Us Feel Crap?

Hey Beauties,

Another little serious post, just to mix it up for you. You'd have to be living under a rock to not see this curvy revolution hitting the media at the moment, skinny is now out, and the it-girls are sporting boobs and bums at last, cue Scarlett Johannson and Kate Upton. However, I can't help but notice that this just seems to be another body trend that we mere mortals can only dream of. Sure, we'd all like to think that skipping the gym and eating that extra square of chocolate will give us bigger boobs and a bum, but unfortunately the tummy that comes with it is still unacceptable.

Brands such as Dove are coming out with campaigns like their 'Real Beauty' campaign, which shows 'real' women advertising their brands. However the picture still shows hourglass women, who are still clearly photoshopped!

At least when models ran the advertisements we could tell ourselves that they were models, and they were paid to workout and look good. But these are 'real women', what hope do we have if we don't live up to those images?

Okay, I know what you're going to say, surely it's better to have an ideal that is at least a healthy body type, and not a waif-like unhealthy figure, and yes that is very true. But the fact of the matter is, it is the fact that the ideal is still impossible for some people.

There's a little girl out there somewhere, with a naturally skinny frame, with no sign of a washboard tummy or a perfect waist, who is going to wonder why she still isn't a 'real' woman?

At the end of the day, it's just another goal for us to sweat and slave over, but this time, we're competing against the women around us, rather than the models.

Summer Make-up - Keep it Light Babies!

Dear the loveliest of readers,

Summer weather approaches, and I have to admit, I made a massive make-up faux pas the other day. I was at work sans make-up, and before a meeting rushed to the loos to put my face on, not thinking about the weather. After an entire day of wearing my standard make-up in the sweltering heat, I had a shock when I came home looking like the joker, eyeliner floating halfway down my face, bronzer stuck to one half of my cheek resulting in unsightly lines! Summer weather requires a whole make-up and skincare turn around, so I'm going to write a little post about the things I've found helpful in this weather.

1. Moisturise! Moisturise! Moisturise!

As I have combination skin, it seems to behave differently to everybody elses in the seasons. Most people have dry skin in the winter, but can get away with a simple bb cream in the summer. I however, find that the summer weather really dries my skin out, maybe it's just all the rushing around! So I find that getting an intensive moisturiser and alternating with your normal one keeps my skin in trim! My current favourite is the No.7 Beautiful Skin range, but do let me know in the comments any good ones, as I haven't tried many yet!

2. Highlighter is your best friend.

Nothing looks less summery than a boring boring matte face. Sorry you play-it-safers! Contouring is the new buzzword in beauty at the moment, and it couldn't be easier to highlight your good bits this summer. I've talked about the MAC Mineralise Skinfinish before, but I'll talk about it again! Powder highlighters are infinitely easier to blend for a contouring newbie, and they can take your summer skin to a whole new level. Brush it across cheekbones for glowy glowy fun! I prefer to use a liquid highlighter for the littler parts like my cupids bow and my chin, and you can't go wrong with MoonBeam by Benefit - which is more golden and summery than wintery HighBeam.

3. Stay away from heavy eyes

Summer nights are obviously excused, I won't have my smoky eye evenings taken away! But for a daytime look, a creamy eyeshadow and a good mascara can't do you wrong. Shady winter days are forgiving on dark eyes, but in the light of a summer's day you might give some people a fright. I'm absolutely loving No.7 mascaras at the moment, they have the perfect staying power, invest in a waterproof one if you're a busy bee, you might not think you sweat much, but your smudgy eyes do.

Happy summer beauties!

Abi x