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.

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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

 

 

Hot Feminist By Polly Vernon – Review

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Available from Amazon £10.49

So I’m back and bronzed from my Summer olibob in Hvar, Croatia, copious amounts of wine, great food and good times. I’d just like to note it is baltic, I am longing to dig out my black tights and jumpers now that Autumn has officially reared its ugly head. During my ten days of bliss I was accompanied by 7 friends and of course one of my Summer reads, this being Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon.

Polly Vernon is a columnist and style writer with a sharp tongue and sharp wit who rose to infamy with a controversial article on being thin….. and yes I am a curvy girl and no I don’t hate her. The book covers serious issues surrounding women’s rights but it’s an easy read in a sense that I felt I was sat in a living room with PV having a conversation about all the topics within the book.

Do I agree with every single thing she believes? No. For example, I don’t really appreciate cat calling or being called a chick, however one brilliant point PV makes is to pick your battles. As a feminist, your opinions and beliefs will always be questioned and argued by both women and men alike, I think the thing to remember is to know your argument and be prepared to debate when necessary and to not get riled up by the unnecessary.

I found myself regularly chuckling to the greatly described anecdotes (personal favourite is a 3 page description of the process of the leg shave), getting very involved in the various debates which take place between PV and her friends and inspired by her attitude. Don’t get me wrong, within the comical stories and remarks, there are also facts which will shock as well as a chapter on PV’s own experience of an attempted sexual assault which is deeply disturbing but empowering at the same time.

It is perfect for anyone who finds themself to be a feminist but doesn’t necessarily want to pick up a Virginia Woolf or Germaine Greer book, it’s well written, accessible and by the end had me feeling pretty good, pretty much like I would be pretty happy to share a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with Polly Vernon, well worth the read.

 

Career Girl Goals

Do you know just how differently men and women are paid?

When you’re in the office, ask your male counterpart what his salary is, firstly you’ll notice the sheer disdain that you dare break the boundary of work decorum, then if he answers you can do the math. Women have been entitled to equal pay since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, however there are still major issues 45 years on. The gender pay gap is still at 9.4% (Office for National Statistics, November 2014), which is actually an improvement of 0.6% compared to the previous year. David Cameron’s call this year to put more pressure on large firms to disclose their data is a welcome break as it is completely down to the companies ‘discretion’ as to how much they pay their staff.

Of course as a career girl myself I know I have to work harder and speak louder and be that ever bit more careful than my male colleagues. Is my blouse just slightly see through? Is my skirt too tight? If a woman gets promotion…… ‘Sleeping with boss ay?’ We’ve all heard it, there’s no denying. So reaching breaking those boundaries and reaching that career goal as women is more important than ever, whilst also having the added pressure of the size of your waist, marital status and the ticking clock within your ovaries. However, being the best at multi tasking, boy do women know how to do it.

For any woman you need goals in life, whatever those goals may be and here are some of my top career girls –

Annie MacManus (DJ)

I could start with Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie but I take my female role models a little differently. Born in Dublin and at 37 years old she has an ever growing empire, having started BBC Radio 1 in 2004 she has now recently taken over for Zane Lowe, making it 5 nights a week on (my opinion) the best radio station in the world. As well as this her AMP tour spans from Coachella to Glastonbury to Ibiza. All the while raising her young son with her partner, artist Toddla T. The curly hair, addictive personality and perfectly executed craft make her quite the lady.

Stella McCartney 

Famous surname or not she is one of the best designers, (first making her mark as the Creative Director for Chloé 1997) as well as being British she is a firm animal rights activist and refuses to use any fur or leather in her collections. A lifelong vegetarian and supporter of PETA, married with four children, an all round Wonder Woman.

Carol Jean Pentland (Mother to this lucky kid) 

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she left Steeler nation and worked travelling the world eventually meeting her future husband. They had 2 children in a picturesque house in Johannesburg, before settling in England. Even with the odd judgmental look from other mothers when picking up her kids from school, straight from work, in a pencil skirt, heels and blazer with shoulder pads you could only envy, she was successful in work and now academia earning herself a top degree with highly credited work. Not to shabby I’d say.

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Help A Sister Out

The UK top feminist icons were recently announced and Angelina Jolie has been crowned the number one spot. Actress and fellow UN Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who had recently launched her HeForShe gender equality campaign, ranked 2nd in the poll conducted by Fashion house Rose and Willard.

One positive message this poll shows is that gradually the image of a feminist is changing which can only be a good thing, I am a feminist and not ashamed to say it, I also shave my legs, don’t have a vendetta against the male species or refuse to wear a bra. Stereotypes are what make the term feminist have such negative connotations, why I believe some women are afraid to call themselves one, feminists are no longer bitter women writers but public figures, carrying themselves with grace and strength.

With Hillary Clinton hinting at a second attempt at the Presidency I must say I for one am excited, more so than one usually would be regarding politics. Could this generation see the first black president and the first female president? Madeleine Albright was appointed the first female secretary of state in 1997, paving the way for a string of women reaching one of the highest powers a person can hold. Hillary Clinton’s game changing speech in Bejing September 5th  1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women was unforgettable wearing nothing other than a pale pink suit and pearls. In my opinion strategically chosen, underneath the pastel exterior was a woman on a mission a tactic to mislead those who felt she shouldn’t have been there especially with the tension with China at the time. However, with the poignant words spoken we have to question what has been achieved since and a full 20 years on the amount of women at heads of state around the world is still just 14 out of 192.

Fashion and feminisim, feminism and fashion, polar opposites, contradicting things? Not in my opinion, like I said a feminist isn’t what some people perceive them to be. I am a wizz with the nail varnish brush and spend my free time reading Vogue, finding new blogs to follow etc….. But can also talk for hours about the state of women in society.

We have work to do in society, but we are getting there. What we need to focus on is the bigger picture, I recently watched a documentary on Hillary Clinton’s speech (BBC iPlayer), which I recommend, no easy watch I assure you but it will make you want to get off the sofa and do something.

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Madeleine Albright – First ever female US Secretary of State (Keynote speech at Celebrating Inspiration luncheon with the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, 2006)”

This quote has to be one of my favourite of all time, women who say ‘I’m not a girls girl’, ‘Women don’t tend to like me, I think it’s jealousy’, ‘I get along better with men’, all well and good but I don’t know where I would be without the support of the women in my life, so can’t imagine how these women do without and seem to openly admit that they do without. Help each other don’t hinder, I’ll openly admit you cannot help feeling jealous, especially when on a beach, getting ready for a night out, we all know the feeling of Why isn’t my skin like hers? Why aren’t my legs the same as hers? But for women to succeed to where we want to be whether it be a stay at home Mom that makes the best Sunday roast or the next VP of Google, we have to quite simply help a sister out.

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Choices, Choices

There is one thing in life which is unavoidable, making decisions. You wake up in the morning and it’s what do I wear today, in my case at the moment however this usually involves mastering the layered look (or trying to) as my office has sub zero temperatures; you decide what to have for breakfast and so on. It is these individual choices which are superficial you might say but there are other small choices which can often depict the person you are. You can choose to have an opinion, make your point heard, have an impact or you can keep your thoughts to yourself. Whichever you choose I think it is important for people, especially women to not be afraid of having their opinion heard and if you’re labelled opinionated, so be it. It’s hard to imagine waking up in the morning and having to choose your clothes for the day with strict guidelines in mind. I recently came across a video of an Iranian woman dancing on a train on the Tehran subway without her veil covering her face or head, breaking two laws. The video was posted on the website My Stealthy Freedom, a sharing page for women in protest against the strict regimes. An outlet for those who would like to be able to make a choice in life. I believe that feminism can often be misconstrued and unfortunately the sheer word ‘feminist’ is tainted, however it isn’t about women being better than men it is about gender equality, which works both ways. As a fashion enthusiast and a feminist I’m always thinking of the two things combined, a book next on my reading list does exactly this Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism, it covers exactly this explaining how wearing a 5 inch heel and a red lip doesn’t diminish your morals and doesn’t give anyone else a reason not to take you seriously. This post is in no way intended to preach, it’s simply stating that your choices make a difference and when you’re putting on your favourite jeans in the morning remember for a moment, that there were people in the past that fought to allow you to be able to wear trousers, go in to further education, earn your own money, the list goes on and on.

Life is about choices, just make them your own and no one else’s.

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Different

As I spent part of my weekend watching the splendor and genius of the one and only Pharrell Williams killing it at the O2 my love for him and all he stands for only grew. I organically found N*E*R*D at the tender age of about 13 or 14 and by organically I stumbled across them on MTV and from then on I was hooked. For any music lover you can often remember one piece of music, band or artist that turns you from a chart listener to a music enthusiast. From then on their albums were on repeat, their merchandise was on order and I was a complete fan, including being at the front row of one of their concerts in Brixton as a teenager and as you know I am short now, so you can imagine the size of me then and skill it took to be and stay at the front row!

Pharrell has always been in different whether it was through his Neptunes productions with his musical partner Chad or through N*E*R*D (with Chad and final third member Shay), however he now promotes this idea and aims it towards women. His incredible album Girl exudes this and no better than one of the hits from the album Marilyn Monroe in which he quotes ‘Different’ at the start of the track. Whilst at his concert he put so much emphasis on the strong female dancers he calls the Bae’s who are impressive in every way and continually said to the crowd ‘I want all the different girls to put their hands in the air’.

My gushing over Pharrell does have a point I assure you, being a feminist, slight tomboy and a subtle activist for racial equality and women’s and animal rights it’s important to hear such an influential person and not just a person but a man encouraging women to be different. If all your friends are listening to Rihanna and getting excited for the new series of Made In Chelsea (or worse TOWIE) and you would rather be listening to the new Defected Records podcast and watching documentaries about serial killers, well there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s different people that have made our world what it is today and it is those people who are making the word a better place day after day, take Malala Yousafzai, having been shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for being an activist for female education, she has now won the Nobel Peace Prize and is going on to do simply incredible things. She is an exceptional case but even a simple thing like going out your way to sign a petition against angora fur is making a difference and being different. I only hope there are more albums, books, films and people which help the younger generations see the beauty in being that little bit different.