A Year On

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from writing, trying to figure out, in a nutshell, what I want to do with my life. This involved quitting my job of 4 years and 8 months and going to South Africa for a few months to ‘find myself’ and my god did I. A little bit of advice if you’re in a rut, don’t know what to do, overwhelmed, overworked… Go away (if you have the means to, of course). You wouldn’t believe the power of going back to basics and living in the bush, having visited South Africa many times in my life and having been born there it was truly heaven for me. For most of my time I was completely cut off, a personal choice for me in some way, no constantly updated Twitter feed, no BBC News alerts, no Facebook or Instagram notifications. It felt like a detox from the all consuming social media online culture we live in and it was great. Adjusting to real life and the sadness of leaving took me a very very long time, I didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be to come back.

Since coming back at the end of the Summer with yet another tattoo, another sky dive, a few bush tattoos (long story) and a lot of bruises under my belt, not to mention a new group of international friends, I’ve got a new job and have settled back into the London life. Being cut off also enabled breathing space from the constant bad news throughout 2016 and the start of 2017 and now we are a year on from some of the worst news of them all. Waking up that morning and bracing myself, plucking up the courage to turn on the radio and listen to the news I stood and sobbed in the shower, in disbelief and horror that he had been elected (he who shall not be named). We did have some glory since then, those precious 11 minutes when his Twitter feed was shut down by 2017’s hero the mysterious now ex-Twitter employee. The other glory of course has been the out pour of activism from every corner of the globe and as the great Gloria Steinman recently said in an interview when referring to the news of his election ‘the galvanising of activism is like nothing I have ever seen in my life. A thousand times more even than the Vietnam war, and how important that was – or of any other thing I’ve ever seen.’ (The Guardian)

In light of the recent out pouring of sexual assault accusations across Hollywood and beyond (now as far reaching as down just down the river in Westminster). As well as the tragic scenes in Charlottesville, Virginia it shows we really have not come very far. Having gone from the first black president (and one of the best that has ever lived) and the potential first female president we seem to have rewound the clock and are now see the KKK marching on the streets, never in my lifetime did I think I could see a live video of this and ridiculous abortion laws in Ireland.

What the Fuck…

Seems to be the motto of recent times, but alas as I’ve said the activism and comradery has been supreme and is the shining light of these shitty dark days, the days your kids will turn to you and say what the hell was the world thinking? Now is the time to continue to speak up, commend those that do and support those that want to. In honour of the year anniversary of the election results and equal pay day which happened yesterday 10th November, I’ve dedicated my nail art for the week to girls, all the girls, however you identify yourself, here’s my very small salute to you.

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Why I Marched

As I rang in the New Year just weeks ago I’m not sure I have ever been happier to say Goodbye to the year. 2016 was tumultuous, looking back it was rough for myself personally, for various reasons, and for the world.  The new President of the United States was of course probably the biggest talking point of the year and unfortunately we are still talking about him. When I saw there was a Women’s March taking place on Saturday 21st January, to coincide with the inauguration, I really could not miss out. It was my first so I was a little nervous as to what it would be like but mostly I was beyond excited. One of my best friends agreed to come with me (I compensated her with an extra hot Starbucks and large cookie to say thank you for braving the freezing temperatures) and the day exceeded my expectations. The atmosphere was like the best day of a festival, bright sunshine and blue skies (albeit baltic), smiling faces and a sense of comradery. There was music, singing dancing and by far the star of the day were the amazing signs. They were for the most part (aside from a couple of ‘Fuck Trump’ ones) based around kindness, humour, fantastic puns and with a sense of lightheartedness, but with a very serious underlying message.

When people ask why did you go? The answer is very simple, to show solidarity. Not only am I a feminist, which is reason enough to go considering the disgusting, derogatory way he speaks about woman and the dangerous views he has on issues such as abortion, but I am environmentally conscious and a believer that as human beings we are all equal. To say you don’t believe in climate change is like someone saying they believe the earth is flat, last year was the hottest year on record and the damage we are doing is unimaginable. To say you are going to ban an entire group of people because they are Muslim from a nation that is supposed to be the land of the free is scary, I’m proud to have friends from all Religions and backgrounds and even more proud to be involved in their life and their culture, including being a part of two Muslim weddings as a honourary  bridesmaid. To say that a complete nation of people are rapists and you are going to build a wall to separate yourselves from them is ridiculous. To quote one of the great signs from the day and to put it in the most British way possible ‘I’m really quite cross about this’.

The marches amounted to an estimated 5,000,000 people globally, with sister marches taking place on every single continent (yes Antarctica represented). That number is astounding, there were also no arrests made at any of the marches. However, I will openly admit however that there was a vast majority of people in attendance, white women, which could explain the police approach to the day and has caused some controversy and criticism since the marches. I think what is important to take from the event is that it was about coming together and standing up for what we believe to be right, men, women, children, trans, gay, Muslim, Christian and so on and so on. There will always be criticisms about any event and there will always be improvements to be made. Having done my first march I have the confidence now to seek out any more and help wherever I can, I hope that is what people can take from it so it is not just the veteran activists who have been stomping streets for years making a difference but the young people who now know the affect something they take part in can have.

I will leave you with this, Trump means fart in Great Britain #PresidentFart, nuff said.

Makin’ Me Blush

Pink, a colour I think I have a love affair with. We’re on we’re off, I love it sometimes, loathe it other times. Right now I’m in love, but with a very specific type of pink, that is Blush Pink to be precised. I fell out of love with pink for a long time, it may have had something to do with the most coral of coral walls dominating my childhood bedroom, which I’m happy to say is now a mix of white and grey. I must say though I can’t bare the connotations of pink being a feminine colour, ‘boys like blue, girls like pink’, spare me, unfortunately we still are not past this view as you’ll notice if you enter any children’s section of a clothing store.

I am most certainly not the usual girly girl, as a child I wasn’t seen dead without a cap and jumper tied around my waste. I sit here now writing this in my Dad’s old belt, old jeans and old shirt, so my tomboy ways still live strong but yet I can’t steer myself away from the colour at the moment. It started with a French Connection backpack I bought when it was on sale and it’s grown from there. I’ve added it to my favourite colours to wear as it is a perfect introduction of colour without being too intimidating considering my usual colours consist of black, grey, khaki and white.

Chloé is a brand I love and happen to work with, I find myself channelling the ultra boho chic and 70’s inspired designs in my day to day life. Their mix of colours and shades is simply stunning and never far from Gaby Aghion’s (the brand’s founder) Egyptian roots. Chloé is a brand for women and only women however it can appeal to androgynous style (see the leather motorcycle suit from Fall Winter 2016) or to the feminine extrovert (see the widely talked about rainbow dress from the Spring Summer 2016 collection). The colour tones throughout the Ready-to-Wear, Leather Goods and Accessories are always a perfect mix and will make even the most die hard black clothing addict want to reach out for some blush. Give it a try this Winter!

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Backpack: French Connection. Phone Case: eBay. Glasses:Chloé. Perfume: Calvin Klein Sheer Beauty. Choker: ASOS

 

An Evening of Fashion and Pure Inspo

It’s Friday! And the sun is shining, normally friday would involve some form of treat often in the form of a coconut milk latte or if i’m feeling really cheeky a soy pumpkin spice latte, naughty, this morning however it’s aloe vera gel, but hey not complaining.  This week I have gone from feeling heartbroken, standing in the shower crying whilst listening to the morning news, which sounded more like a narrated doomsday book, to feeling inspired and grateful.

I attended Hubdot Piazza of Fashion in association with The Pool (one of my absolute daily reads) it was a social event with flowing wine and neat canapes where guests are able to interact with one another and enjoy short and sweet stories by the evening’s speakers. Followed by an open mic session where anyone can take hold of the mic and tell their story in a 60 second slot, scary I know right, however everyone that spoke deserved their round of applause and cheers. The operative word at a Hubdot event is ‘story’, as Simona Barbieri  described during the introduction, you don’t ask people what they do, instead ask ‘what’s your story’ combined with the 5 dot system  you can meet new people and find out about them without the stigma of job titles. Depending on which colour you choose you can be matched with like minded individuals or other guests, who can help you in some way.

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It was held at Anthropologie, Regent Street store and as I approached the doors my heart was in my throat, I was sweating, hands were shaking, pure nerves. As it was my first event I had no idea what to expect, just walked in stripped as much RBF (Resting Bitch Face) away to produce a wide smile and hoped I could be somewhat charming through the sweat. I met a lady who immediately made me feel at ease and we headed upstairs for a well deserved vino. After a short while of meeting new faces the stories began and honestly I wasn’t prepared for how great they were. I had to take a step back and look around the room and just take in the power of the women surrounding me, if that doesn’t make a girl feel inspired I don’t know what will.

Highlights, if I had to choose, Sam Baker, Co-Founder, CEO and Editor of The Pool (one hell of a job title), explaining how she got to be where she is and how The Pool came to be, in a brief nutshell she was “tired of tw*ts”, she wanted to create something that truly spoke to women and my god has she done that. Orsola de Castro Founder and Director of Fashion Revolution  and her beautiful story of the shoes on her feet, handmade in Venice, over 80 years old and had made their way through three generations in her family. Lastly, Denise Tylerson on her recovery from cancer and the power of a wig to help someone build their strength and how you should “never let anyone tell you fashion is trivial”. Of course this doesn’t take away from any women that took the stage that evening, all were simply wonderful.

I walked out the door and headed home with one hell of a spring in my step and the feeling is still going strong, definitely my Girlboss moment for the week.  We are in difficult times, protests still fill the streets of New York as we all come to terms with the shocking results of this week but it is events, organisations and people like those I met, saw, listened to on Wednesday that help you realise what’s still good.

 

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Hubdot Piazza Of Fashion – 9th November – Sam Baker

Trump Wins

I was trying to think of a witty title to accompany this post but unfortunately I seem to have completely lost my sense of humour today. I am in shock still.

I keep forgetting about the God awful news ringing around the world this morning and then it hits me like a dump truck. 8 years ago the word ringing so true was Hope, the feeling of experiencing America’s first African-American president was like no other. Today the word ringing so true is Fear; fear for any minority in America, fear for any Muslim in America, fear for any immigrant in America, fear for any woman in America.

We saw the wave of abuse around our country when we (I say we as in the UK, not referring to myself) voted to leave the EU, choosing the mystery box over stability. I can’t imagine what is going to happen now across America, movements like Black Lives Matter are going to have an even harder task reducing racial discrimination and violence. Hillary Clinton was one of the leaders in pushing for gender equality, closing the gender pay gap and giving women and girls every opportunity they deserve to choose the life they want to lead. I reckon you should strap on your corsets girls and get to pie making as that is the America Trump represents.

Now more than ever work has to be done to fix the horrific effect this election has had on the country, I can’t believe future generations are going to walk into history class one day and learn about the 45th President of the United States, a reality TV personality who was born with more money that most can even comprehend and whose language throughout his election campaign (and life should I say) was hideous. I’m sure they’ll be shaking their heads just as much as we are now, wondering what the fu*k happened?

I’m going to stay hopeful, let’s just think of Obama and continue to Hope that all his talk is just that, let’s hope he is all talk no action.

One last thing, Madam President Michelle Obama 2020?

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Cheer Up Luv

Put your hands up if you’ve ever been told any of the following, ‘Cheer up love’, ‘Smile’, ‘Turn that frown upside down’…. I wonder how it makes you feel? Well for me it’s infuriating to say the least. I suffer from a commonly know issue called Resting Bitch Face (RBF), it affects 1 in 8 women and is an epidemic spreading the globe*. Girls that don’t naturally have a smile on their face all the time, is an absolute travesty huh? How dare you not look smiley happy and like Belle from Beauty and the Beast all the time?

My main issue isn’t not that random strangers, colleagues, associates (I don’t say friends as no friends of mine would ever tell me to smile in a patronising way) are concerned for your well being and are trying to cheer you up, my issue is that I implore you to give me an example of when this has been said to a man. Can’t think of one, didn’t think so. Hillary Clinton Democratic US Presidential candidate for the upcoming election suffers a barrage of  criticism, ‘she wears too many pant suits’, ‘how can we trust her’, ‘how could she stay with her husband after what he did’. Of course her smiling is one of these talking points, even going as far as Joe Scarborough (US TV Host) telling her to ‘Smile. You just had a big night.’  Luckily more and more feminist issues are being addressed in the very main stream media and Chelsea Handler dealt with this particular issue like a complete #girlboss by simply saying please stop asking women and girls to smile,  in defense Clinton.

I had months of comments from a certain colleague as I walked through the office eventually resulting in a simple (even more) stern look and her finally getting the point that at 9.27am on a Monday morning the absolute last thing I want to hear is ‘Smile darling’. Sod off really, you have no idea whether I am thinking about what to have for breakfast or the well being of a family member.

To all those out there who insist on vocalising this to women and girls the next time you see one walking down the street not smiling, maybe just do something as simple as smile at them, no words, just a kind gesture and I’m pretty sure you’ll receive one in return. I smile when I’m with my friends, I smile when I’m decorating the Christmas tree, I smile when I’m having a braai** in the garden surrounded by my family and pets. So to Joe Blogs on the tube who thinks I need to smile more as ‘I’m prettier when I smile’, I’m alright with you not thinking I’m pretty at all then trying to please you sweetheart.

Smile for yourself girl and no one else.

: ) – Smiley Face

*FYI completely made up

**FYI South African term for BBQ

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Exhibit A) Resting Bitch Face and an extremely rare selfie

 

 

Name that Girl

I’ve had a bit of a break from writing for a little while but now I’m back, feeling not so fresh after a week in Ibiza, but very glad the weekend is upon us. The week of my return is also the week of the launch of a classic summer TV show, Channel 5’s Big Brother. Now I will hold my hand up and say this is trash TV at its worst and yet I am addicted year after year. The show, like most reality shows, bases its content on the stereotypical characters involved and this year was no different, however something struck me more so than ever. In describing or labelling the female housemates all but one had a stereotypical (and often derogatory) label attached to them. The list contains – Unemployed, Valley Girl, Party Girl, Club Hostess, Lap Dancer, Former Dominatrix and Honey Trapper, the only shall we say flattering title belonged to the twins Emma and Victoria, labelled as Organic Clothing Designers. Just to compare the male housemates were labelled as Model, Journalist, Entrepreneur and Barber, to name a few.   

Just a tad uneven don’t you think? Now more than ever I think women are having to defend their name, title, place in society, we moved so far during a period in the 1920’s, then again during the 60’s and 70’s and 40 years on it seems we haven’t moved forward at all. Whether it’s fighting the gender pay gap or battling against the unprecedented amount of sexual attacks on US college campuses, we have a long way to go. I am still astonished at the Stanford University case, how is it that the vile attacker in this instance is somehow labelled a victim because of the dent the case has had on his flourishing swimming career. I watched a fantastic documentary recently which truly cut me to my core and I sincerely recommend it, The Hunting Ground examines this epidemic of attacks on college campuses and how the victims are treated by not only their peers but the college and the alumni, which safe to say is far from exemplary. The documentary details what survivors went through in fighting what happened to them including being attacked just for coming forward as they dare tarnish the career of a college football star, labelled as liars, attention seekers, sluts. Lady Gaga’s haunting performance of the title track ‘Til it Happens to You’, will go down in Oscar’s history and included fellow survivors joining her on stage as a sign of strength and solidarity.

Name calling can be detrimental for anyone and I can tell you one thing, I love a party but if I was ever labelled a Party Girl, I think I’d be a little sick in my mouth. Whatever label you choose to have as a female, whether it’s Mother, Manager or Musician, make sure it is chosen by you and darling just fucking own it. 

Veggie – Day One 

Today is the first day of Lent for all those who don’t know, it marks the start of 40 days of ‘fasting’ in modern terms this means giving up something for this period of time, most often it is chocolate, sweets etc. However, I have been contemplating making the change to a fully fledged vegetarian for a little while now and as I have always taken part in Lent I thought what better than to give up meat, if I do well this will be the start of a life of vegetarianism (potentially one day veganism, working up to that). Day one and going strong, chilli bean burgers and salad for dinner, not forgetting the all important Tabasco addition. In life I wouldn’t call myself a meat eater as I only eat meat maybe twice a week and when I do it is pretty much chicken or minced beef, when cooking though I use meat substitutes (Quorn) or a filling vegetable such as lentils. Reason being I simply don’t enjoy the taste and can’t get the cruel treatment of most farm animals out of my head a lot of the time. Funny thing is, I don’t believe humans shouldn’t necessarily eat meat, controversial I know. What I believe we as humans have to understand is that we are one greedy species, we treat animals and our land like disposable objects, this over consumption of meat and fad foods is causing an issue we can’t ignore. 

WWF has reported on the environmental impact the demand for Soy products is having on the land and wildlife, as it is now an ‘it’ drink amongst ladies what brunch, the suppliers simply can’t keep up. Have you also ever heard the phrase ‘No meaty, no eaty’ simply meaning, if there is no meat in my food I won’t eat it, ridiculous. If everyone vowed to have say 2 days without meat, think about the strain taken off the need for animal products, if supermarkets scrapped their unrealistic demands for products which are perfect enough for the shelves, we wouldn’t see farmers throwing away tonnes of perfectly good produce and if people took more care about where their food was coming from and sourcing where possible from local butchers or produce stalls, we would see more money go back into local businesses. 

If you ask me it’s an all around win, I recently posted about the wastefulness of fast fashion which is a relatively new situation we face, wasting food and causing the inhumane deaths of animals and unforgivable waste of food is not to so new and yet we aren’t changing, so why don’t you try it take on the 2 day meat free challenge #2daychallenge. 

The True Cost – A Review

Well it’s been a while! When life happens I guess other things get pushed aside as much as you don’t want them to, I do wonder about packing it all in selling everything and travelling and writing,  but that’s probably another story.

I managed to find time to watch a film that I was highly anticipating the release of, a documentary called The True Cost. Directed by Andrew Morgan, it is a film about the impact the new culture of fast fashion is having on our planet and the people behind the clothes. It’s a brilliant insight into the industry itself as well as first hand interviews with workers, including those involved in the tragic Rana Plaza disaster, factory owners and some of the people and companies who are trying to stop fast fashion, like Eco-Age.

I’ll be honest I buy into fast fashion, ashamed to say it. What I think when buying a new item of clothing which helps me feel that bit more confident, that bit better about myself is that it’s worth it, however would I be willing to pay a bit more for this, yes. In some instances a pay rise for some factory workers would mean the equivalent of a few cents added onto the price of a T-Shirt. But it’s not just about the money it’s also about the unbelievable impact on our planet. It takes the UK 10 minutes to throw away 7 tonnes of clothing; clothing which can’t be recycled, it will sit in a landfill polluting the land, not to mention the damage caused to the earth to just make the clothes in the first place. 

The film is well shot, narrated and beautifully edited and it will make you consider that £9 Cami. I’ll never stop buying clothes, however my tactics will change now, I will continue to turn to vintage clothing, reusing old clothes whether it be from my parents cupboards or the local charity shop or Beyond Retro. I also want to make a conscious effort to turn to responsible clothing instead of what’s convenient. As a nation we are wasteful, food gets thrown away without a second thought and now we are doing the same for the clothes. It’s up to the consumer to say to companies, we will buy carrots that aren’t the prettiest (side note, I also recommend a show called Hugh’s War on Waste, it illustrates just how much edible food is unused especially by chain supermarkets) and we will spend a few pounds more on clothing if it means an actual livable wage for someone and a safe working environment. This won’t happen overnight but to quote one of these guilty supermarkets ‘Every little helps!’ 

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Photo Credit @truecostmovie Instagram

Standing Still

When was the last time you stood still for the sake of nothing other than being still in that moment?

I don’t mean standing whilst you wait for your City Mapper to load or for your friend to arrive, just being still for that reason and nothing else. I did this for the first time in adult memory just this week, I was walking along the river with nowhere to go, no where to be and only using my Imagephone for music, not checking Whatsapp, refreshing Instagram, reading my Facebook newsfeed or checking emails. As a 20 something, we are living some of the best years we will ever live but we also have the added pressures of anything from getting on the property ladder to (dare I say it) having children at a ‘suitable’ age. So we can often get lost in the hustle and bustle, I think it is only as we get older we can start to stop and look around at what is right in front of us and not what may or may not come.

I stood there looking at the water; the ripples as they glided through and seemingly moved in time with the particular song I was listening to (End of the Affair by Ben Howard if you were curious) and just thought about what I was seeing and didn’t think about whether my hair was doing what it should, what time it was, what I should have for dinner.

Since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a career woman, high flying, sharp suits, (crippling) heels and this is still my goal, even with bumps in the road that come along, and for any of you who know what I normally talk about here this post is a little bit of a different direction, a bit deeper shall we say, but it was one of those moments in time when you just think this is nice. Any stress you’re feeling, worries you may have, anger bellowing inside you, I recommend just taking that one moment, it could be a minute or ten and think about what makes up that moment, the colour of the sky, wind in the trees, whatever, but just take in that moment.