27 April 2013

"The Real Woman" and why chocolate should never be "bad"

I’ve never understood people that go on diets. I view diets in the same way I view really strict parents. It’s almost as if by being super restrictive you are tempting a massive rebellion… and I just don’t get it.  When people “fall off the wagon” and admit, rather embarrassed, that they have succumbed to Dominoes and a couple (read: A LOT) of chocolate, I am never surprised.

It’s not normal to only eat vegetables, fruit and the odd bit of protein.  You crave sugar and fatty stuff because god knows nothing tastes better than that first slice of pizza/first bite of a Double Decker when you’re absolutely starving. By making the former “off-limits” and “bad”, you are making it the most tempting, seductive thing in the entire world. Honestly, who actually believes in the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”?  Being skinny feels quite nice, I guess, but to compare being slim to things like Doritos and full-fat mayo (anything but full-fat mayo is a farce) and further, to imply that to be slim you can’t allow yourself fatty, carby treats, is utterly ridiculous.

And you know what else I really dislike? This whole culture of setting up curvy women as “real women”. In pushing the coveted hour-glass figure, culture is condemning those who are naturally slim or boy-shaped.  When magazines decide to stop labelling celebrities who have put on a couple of pounds as “fat” (which they aren’t), they describe these curves as representative of them being a woman. “Real women have curves”. Okay, great, brilliant, we are embracing curvy women, but what about the other end of the scale?  What about those who don’t have a sexy booty or boobs Kim Kardashian would be proud of, or a tiny waist and prominent hips? Are they not real woman now?  I’m sorry, but I thought we were moving forward here, but it seems as if we’re going too far the other way.  When will culture understand that the key to promoting body confidence isn’t to create an ideal that is often impossible for women to adhere to (without copious amounts of expensive surgery) but to promote the idea every woman is a real woman, regardless of shape?

This does not mean, however, that I’m saying women who are extremely unhealthy or obese should be idolised in the same way, but we’re all people here.  Maybe society should be pushing ways to eat a balanced diet without implicating this ridiculous “perfect body shape” idea and telling us that certain foods are “bad” and count as a splurge, saved for specific days.

I mean, if I’m having a bad week and I’m on a diet and I’m sick of drinking smoothies and boiled veg with some chicken breast, the last thing I need is to be told by my calendar that I can’t order takeaway because it’s not my “off day”. If I want take out, I’ll be damned if I can’t order take out.

Anyway, what am I trying to say? Firstly, that diets are near impossible because they make what is usually acceptable into something “bad” which then makes it super tempting. I’m saying: if you want to order that Dominoes, ORDER THE DOMINOES. Just don’t, y’know order it everyday.  Don’t deprive yourself of tasty things because life is too short. Just do some extra squats at the gym, or something.

Secondly, I’m sick of the ideal body stereotype. A boy-ish shape will never become an hourglass shape, neither will a pear-shape become top-heavy, or whatever. You need to embrace what you’ve got, and culture needs to stop putting certain figures on pedestals. It will only make different groups of people unhappy as they desperately attempt to become something their body cannot make them. Women should be able to take compliments, whether they are described as “slim” (not skinny – “skinny” is such a horrible word) or “curvy” and not question whether their shape is deemed attractive by society or not.

And on that note, I shall tuck in to my left-over Dominoes and yes, it’s going to taste AWESOME.

** After some Facebook comments that have called to attention Weightwatchers, which is a far healthier method of dieting, and the inclusion of "plus size" models in magazines a positive idea in promoting a body image that more women can aspire to, here is my
response:


"I think curvy models are great! I just don't like how magazines are pushing people to *be* curvy when for some people they can't.
I think the Weight Watchers point system is actually really good, but it can lead to people becoming obsessed with numbers and can take the joy out of food, to an extent but it's definitely a lot healthier than some diets out there.


"Maybe I should have made it more clear that eating HEALTHIER is better than "dieting" as such. I think you can still eat chocolate & carbs, just obviously not in excess, and I feel that diets make the mistake of telling people they CAN'T eat them, which makes it harder to stick to.
Often, sometimes people have a natural weight that they can't shift (if they are trying to lose weight) and on the other hand, other people find it difficult to put on weight. Often dieting doesn't work, and people shouldn't feel bad about that and accept their natural size without hating themselves.
Also I wasn't trying to say that inclusion of "plus size" models is leading to slim people disliking their weight. I just mean that a lot of the time they are plastering women like Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian who are EQUALLY are intimidating as say, Cara Delvingne, and it's just as bad for people's self-image.
I obviously didn't cover the subject extensively enough. And of course that's not to say diets are WRONG, but that they promote an unhealthy sense of restricting and control which is unhealthy and unhelpful

"I wasn't trying to say that slim people are oppressed. I was saying that by promoting "slim" one minute, "curvy" the next, etc etc, that different groups of women are made to feel unhappy with their shape. A lot of skinny, non-curvy woman can be made to feel unwomanly and unattractive when they are told "real women have curves" and it's not their fault, just as much/equally as people that aren't tiny feel insecure when they are told to be smaller. It can work both ways, but obviously there is more stigma if you're "bigger". Both are wrong."

Feel free to comment. This seems to be my most controversial blog post to date!
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18 April 2013

Destination: denim

Somehow, denim has become a massive trend over the last few months.
 
Maybe it's a 90s throwback (anyone else get irrationally upset after they heard that the rumour that the F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion was false?), or maybe - more likely - it's representative of the fashion world wanting to perfect the easy-breezy look that throwing on a denim jacket creates, just in time for summer... but I'm not Anna Wintour, so I can only ponder.
 
Anyway, the fact denim is now available for almost every clothing item (I haven't seen any denim underwear yet, but watch this space) means if you're not wearing at least one item of denim in your S/S 2013 outfits, you're just not on trend. Sorry.
 
Denim is super easy to style, can be dressed up OR dressed down, and the variation of denim effects (bleached, pale, dark, black, crochet, embroidered, go crazy) means that double denim is no longer offensive. Huzzah!
 
So as a tribute to the denim trend, for which I am whole-heartedly on board, here's my top denim pieces for the coming months.
 
1. Light wash Cassie Boyfriend Jeans - £35, River Island.
You can't go wrong with some slouchy boyfriend jeans... I think these could sway me away from the skinny jeans I've been squeezing into for the last 5 years!
 
 
 2. Denim Jacket - £24, h&m
Slouchy, simple, and a wardrobe staple. Easy on the purse strings, this jacket sells itself.

 
3. Lexie Denim Cross-Backed Pinafore - £60, Dahlia
I've had my eye on the Dahlia pinafore ever since it was photographed to sell the necklace the model wears, and now it's finally available for me to actually buy! *cue tears of joy*
 
 
 4. Mid Blue Denim Skater Skirt - £14.99, New Look
Skater skirts don't seem to be going out of fashion anytime soon if clothing sites are anything to go by (which I hope they are).
 
 
5. Mid Wash Floral Print Playsuit - £40, Miss Selfridge
I adore the bleach wallpaper effect on this playsuit. Throw in a peter pan collar and I'm SOLD. Too cute.
 
 
 6. MOTO Bleach High Waist Hotpants - £28, Topshop
These shorts combine a flattering high waist cut with summery bleached denim and a semi loose leg, and they don't look like they are going to show any bumcheek, which is always a good thing.

 
How rad is this cropped denim vest? Perfect for festivals.

 
 
8. Majlis Shirt - £25, Monki
Can't get enough of the colour-contrast denim on this shirt. As soon as I saw it I had to buy it, and I can see myself living in this during the summer months with the sleeves rolled up.

 


So what are you waiting for? Get excited for summer and jump on the denim bandwagon, or risk being left behind...
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3 April 2013

The dog days aren't over... and that's okay

So I've realised a few things in the last couple of weeks:

1. I have a tendancy to romanticise the past, which makes the present seem a lot worse than it actually is.

2. A healthy body is the first step to a healthy mind.

and possibly the most important thing...

3. To feel more confident, sometimes it's all about the little details.

The Easter holidays has, and will continue to mean for the duration, university work and paid work. At first this notion filled me with dread, but then I realised that I'm a complete sucker for organisation, and the holidays were the perfect opportunity to spring-clean my life and plan things to the last detail... which is a little bad sad, I'll admit, but that's just me.

So when I'm doing university work, I'm semi-content because it means I'm getting things done and a few hours closer to being FINISHED, and when I'm doing paid work, I welcome it as a chance to use my brain for practical means, not just focusing on the lovely topic of incest (which I've managed to base both my essays on, and I don't know what this says about my state of mind to be honest!)

Oh, and when I'm not doing work, I split my time between mindless TV - think New Girl, The Mindy Project, The Carrie Diaries and TOWIE - and the occasional outing to the gym. I'm determined to get there three times a week, even if it kills me.


Within this essay madness I've had my down moments, and moments where I feel like I can't be bothered anymore, and I put minimal effort into my appearance because hey, who am I trying to impress, the librarian? Somewhere along the way, I lost a bit of self-esteem, and started to wonder whether I could actually look NICE anymore.

You'll be happy to know I've found the answer, and sorry, but it IS shallow. I don't care.

My solution? Lipstick and some boot heels.

Even if your hair isn't styled, and you're wearing minimal make up, lipstick makes it look like you've made an effort (even if you haven't), and brightens up your complexion. I'm an absolute sucker for the bright pink lipstick I bought from Topshop about a month ago (it looked red on the website, but I'm glad for the mistake!) I wore it for my step-dad's birthday outing to The Shard, and it instantly made me look half decent, even though I was exhausted and stressed.

And boot heels... it shouldn't need any explanation, really. Heels automatically make me feel more grown up, make anyone's legs look longer and slimmer, and if you're wearing boot heels they're not nearly as painful as regular heels, and they are on the dressy side of casual - or casual side of dressy - without making it look like you've tried too hard.

The combo took all of about 5 minutes, and that's because to this day I still can't tie my shoe laces up very quickly, and I am rather challenged when it comes to applying lipstick. It would probably take most people less time than that.

Here are some pictures of my Easter weekend including my step-dad's birthday meal in Chinatown, The Shard and our Easter Sunday afternoon tea, although if you're following me on Twitter/have me as a friend on Facebook, you'll probably have seen them already:

 
 
 
 
 
Complete with a very strong G&T, courtesy of M&S
 
So I guess what's I'm trying to say is that even when you're feeling pretty darn unattractive, it's the little touches that can go a long way. Do something for yourself, indulge a little in the superficial, and let yourself be selfish. It feels good. And if it makes you look good, even better :)
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