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.
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
Exhibit A) Resting Bitch Face and an extremely rare selfie
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.