From Oranges to Apple – What Happened Christmas?

I’m not tryna be a Grinch or rain on anyone’s snowman here, God knows I love Christmas more than Buddy from Elf, but what happened the good old days of getting a stocking full of satsumas for Christmas? How and why has Christmas become so commercialised? Like I’m all for presents and all, don’t get me wrong, but I really do think that the focus on material possessions has gotten out of hand.

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Exhibit A

I just think Christmas isn’t about what it’s meant to be about anymore. I don’t mean Jesus being born all the religious stuff either (sorry ma), I mean family. I mean Mariah Carey. I mean sitting around table with 12 different bowls of food -around 6 of which are various forms of potatoes. I mean pulling crackers and huffing when you didn’t win ~because your opponent was DEFINITELY cheating and held the handle too far up~ and eyeing up their mini screwdrivers or money clip with envy. Not that you’d have used it anyway, but that was your crappy “prize” to bin and your embarrassingly bad punchline to read out.

Christmas to me is about spending the day with family. It’s about slaving away in the kitchen for hours for a meal which is vacced down in about 15 minutes; followed by slaving away in the kitchen for hours doing dishes for the 17 saucepans and 9 of each cutlery even though there were only 6 of you eating.

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We don’t have a dishwasher either. I cry.

I don’t know when it stopped being about this and started being a competition of who got the most stuff. Christmas has always been somewhat commericalised of course, with a massive focus on spending money and buying gifts, but I think that it’s really starting to get a bit ridiculous. 89% of shift workers said they’re afraid that they can’t afford Christmas. Like how is that even a thing? How can you not afford a holiday? No one says they can’t afford Halloween or Easter, so what the hell happened? What have we, as a society done to this holiday?

Christmas is meant to be about excitement and happiness, not fear, dread and panic. So many people spend money they don’t have on things they can’t afford, and for what? Payday loans and buying with credit aren’t the answer, or the solution. If you can’t afford these things right now, then how will you be able to afford them with the 879% interest on top of it?

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Christmas seems to have become a sort of competition among children of “whose parents love them more” and among parents of “who loves their children more”. Asking friends “what did you get?” not so much because they care, but to mentally compare it to what they got. I don’t know why or when it started getting like this, but I do think social media has a big part to play. Before, people didn’t see what you got for Christmas, but now, anyone can see it if it’s posted online. Which a lot of people seem to insist on doing. Even though no one asked to see what they got. But sure.

I honestly hate the whole saga of *opens presents* *arranges presents on couch* *takes photo* “Thanks mum and dad, you’re the best❤” *ignores parents the rest of the day and sits on their phone checking what everyone else got*. Posting all this on social media to me just seems like a way to make others feel jealous and bad about themselves.

Like, no harm, but no one cares what you got. You got a £500 phone? Okay cool. Ridiculous for something that will break if you even so much as give the screen a dirty look, but cool. You got £50 phone? Just as cool.

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People post photos of their presents and their makeup and outfits, and their Christmas dinners. Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram stories, everyone now plays a little “judge everyone’s Christmas dinner” game. Like WHY do you have Yorkshire puddings, catch yourself on. Dinner at 8pm? Really? Anyway, I see loads of posts about dinners and presents but hardly any of families.

Children are demanding, no question about it. They don’t understand the concept of money and expense because they never really have to worry about these things. So of course they’re going to write massive Christmas lists and ask for an abundance of stuff, because they think it’s free. Christmas for me changed a lot when I stopped believing in Santa, because I realised that there actually was a price attached to what I wanted.

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I don’t blame her, squirrels are CLASS

Parents feel enough pressure to make their children happy, without having to worry about spending an obscene amount of money on them for one day. “S/he wants it” or “it’ll make them happy”. And that’s concerning in itself. The only way you can make your child happy is to spend money on them? Ya know what makes people happy? Hugs. Hugs are FREE. Conversations are FREE. Support is FREE. The only things I really want that aren’t free are the 6 counties, but not even Santa can get me those.

But it’s not all the children’s fault, parents need to learn to set expectations and say no. You don’t have to buy your child everything they want, because that’s not realistic, or financially viable. I think that if children knew how much stress and pressure their parents were under to buy them things, they’d ask for less. Well, I hope they would. I’m not saying parents should tell their children they can’t have anything, I’m just saying they don’t have to have everything. If you buy one of your children a car for Christmas, then of course in a few years your other child is going to demand expect the same. Children ask for things based on what they normally get. If you spent £100 on presents one year, they wouldn’t expect £1000’s worth the next. So I think it’s important to set a reasonable limit on their presents.

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So yeah, there you go. You can now continue to support capitalism and commercialise the birth of a religious figurehead buy presents. Ho ho ho.

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How to Act: A Girl’s Guide

Well, here are we again. A sequel to my How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide. I’d say it’s due to popular demand, but really I just have a lot of built-up feelings on the matter. This ‘guide’ is about how girls should act and behave. After all, there’s no point looking the part if you can’t play it, right? So, grab your notebook and a pen, and get ready for some valuable little tips and lessons.

 

General Behaviour:

Bat your eyes at any opportunity. It keeps your eyes clear of dirt and makes you look endearing. Not too much though, you don’t want to look like you’re having a spasm or twitch.

Smile. At all times. If your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling hard enough. Imagine you’ve got string attached to the corners of your mouth which is being pulled. In serious or sadder situations, ‘smize’ (smile with your eyes), because you should always appear bright and lively.

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Don’t show extreme emotions. You must remain calm and collected at all times. If you get angry, you’ll be considered a ‘bitch’; if you’re crying, you’ll only make those around you uncomfortable. If you’re too happy or excited, you’ll be considered loud and “in your face”. In case of emergencies when you accidentally let your emotions get the better of you (rookie mistake), blame it on hormones. Or your period.

Act ditzy. Men think it’s cute, and you seem more fun. Not too ditzy though, or you’ll be called an ‘airhead’. If you happen to be blonde, brace yourself for some really great jokes coming your way. In the rare case that you are in fact smart, don’t let people know. It’s emasculating and belittling. Why would you want to lower others’ self esteem? Don’t correct others if they’re wrong, either – it’s embarrassing for them. Besides, nobody likes a ‘know-it-all’.

 

Speaking:

Don’t raise your voice. This is sort of a mute point because you’ll only speak when spoken to, so you’ll be given adequate time to respond. If you’re not given an opportunity to respond, then your input clearly isn’t wanted.

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Don’t question anything. It only undermines people, you wouldn’t want to do that now, would you? The only questions you should ask are: “What?”, “Can you help me?”, “What do you want for dinner?”and “How was work, honey?”

Always support your partner’s ideas. Tell him that remortgaging the house to invest in capital bonds is a great idea. Why would you want to make him sad? Besides, I hear “Brexit” is doing wonders for the economy, so it could be a great time to invest.

Laugh at your own expense. If you make a mistake (which you likely will, you are a woman after all), the best way to recover is to make a little joke blaming it on your gender. Some favourites which never fail are: “Well, that’s what happens when you let me out of the kitchen!”, “I should’ve stuck to making sandwiches!” or “Too busy thinking about shoes!” If you make a mistake at work, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re getting paid 18% less than your male colleagues, so less is expected of you anyway.

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Physical Behaviour:

Cross your legs. Always sit with your legs crossed. Don’t ask why, you just do. You get used to the knee pain.

Don’t open doors. Stand outside and wait until someone else comes along and opens it for you. Don’t you know that doors are heavy? You could snap your little elbows.

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Look at this smart gal patiently waiting to get into work

Don’t carry heavy items, wait for someone to help you. It’s not safe, and men feel more masculine when they have to help. Plus, you could end up breaking a nail, yikes.

Don’t drive. You’ll be a horrible driver. You can’t parallel park and you’ll only spend the whole time looking at yourself in that wee mirror. Plus, airbags will take all your lovely makeup clean off your face. Now, wouldn’t that be a shame?

-Sidenote: There’s an impressive amount of stock images there are of women doing this. These are just my faves. And the few without ‘Shutterstock’ plastered all over them.

Ignore unwanted physical contact. Don’t confront others, they might harm you. It’s better to keep your head down, say nothing and walk away. You could report it, but would you want to get someone in trouble over a bit of miscommunication?

 

Work:

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Bangin’ tune, dontcha think?

Earn less than your partner – do not become more professionally successful. This means not applying for promotions or jobs which require qualifications. Not that you should have any qualifications. Better yet, don’t get a job. The home won’t make itself after all.

Don’t ask for a pay rise. You would get paid more if you deserved it. The fact you’re even allowed to work is privilege, don’t be ungrateful.

Don’t go for promotions either. You’ll never be picked as your male colleagues are much more qualified and better suited. You’d only be wasting your employer’s and colleagues’ time. Just get a job where there are no career building opportunities, problem solved.

 

Home (where you belong):

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Keep the house clean and tidy. Well nobody likes mess, silly.

Be maternal. You should be able to stop a crying child within 3 seconds. You must of course want children, a career is no goal for any sane lady. Your body was made to procreate and give life. It would be sinful to waste this.

Make a continental breakfast every morning. Ensure you have croissants, fruit salad, pancakes and orange juice ready on the table. Your family will only ever ignore these and have a piece of toast on their way out, but isn’t it nice to have choice? It’s not like you have anything else to be at anyway.

 

Eating Out:

Choose your food carefully. If you order something fatty or calorific, people will pull faces and make comments like “I like a girl that can eat” which makes it seem like you shouldn’t be ordering it. But, if you order something healthy like a salad, people will pull faces and pass comments about how it’s “rabbit food”. You can’t win, really. It’s safer to stay at home. I’m sure you make a lovely roast, anyway.

Which reminds me, don’t order “the chips”. You may want chips, but if you order them, people will say things like “Oh, you’re having chips?” “Cheat day today then?” “How many syns is that?”, order something else, like the salad. And have a few of your companions chips. I’m sure they won’t mind.

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Oh. Maybe they will..

 

There you go, folks. Now you know how to act like a proper lady! These are basically some of the things that women spend their whole lives being told. Think I’m being dramatic? Well I don’t. Then again, I’ve grown up seeing these ‘rules’ everywhere, so I don’t really notice them anymore.

 

Has Social Media Made Us Anti-Social?

We’ve all heard older generations saying that nowadays, young people are anti-social and “nobody talks to each other anymore” or “they’re always on their phones”. True, we do use phones and the internet a lot more; especially for social media. But is social media really, well, ‘social’?

Yes, and no -agreeing to both means I can’t be wrong, right?

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People don’t talk to strangers on buses or trains as much as they used to. Yes, there’s the occasional chat about the weather or how bad the transport system is and how pointless the new Gliders are- they don’t even glide? They just roll slowly. Anyway, if I’m using my phone on public transport, I’m normally on social media, talking to people (how popular am I?!). So yes, I may not be speaking, but I’m still talking. If there’s no one I know beside me, then how much would I really be socialising otherwise?

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Here’s where I draw the line. There’s few things I hate more than when you’re out with someone and they just sit on their phone instead of talking to you. I personally think choosing virtual social interaction over personal social interaction is rude and antisocial, like am I not enough craic for you? Who could POSSIBLY be more entertaining and funny than me? Give me attention, damn. Unless you’re about to show me your new boo or a funny meme, put the phone away with you’re with me, cheers.

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Some people may choose to be ‘antisocial’ because they aren’t comfortable in social situations, or don’t have the confidence to speak to others, and so dodge social interaction instead. Sort of like the way you do everything you can to avoid phone calls, but with actual talking. Others may find themselves being accidentally ‘antisocial’ because although they’d like to make friends and socialise, they don’t really have the social skills or know how to or. Social media has enabled these people to talk and socialise without having to experience the personal interaction. It’s also meant that they don’t have to reply instantly, they can sit and think about what to say next if they find themselves unsure. They’re able to practise having conversations, so that they’re more comfortable when they do have face-to-face interactions. So I think social media is really good at helping improve some people’s social skills and enabling them to build relationships that they may never have had in the ‘real world’.

Although, this is only well and good if people take these skills and put them to use in the ‘real world’ to build personal relationships. But some people become reliant on online relationships and choose these over personal ones can then isolate themselves further, because they think “I have friends online, so I don’t need friends in person”. This leads to people becoming recluses, and so they don’t experience many human or social interactions. Which means that they’re more uncomfortable and awkward when they do have these interactions. So they avoid them. And this goes on and on and on.

Do you see why I said “Yes, and no” at the start now?

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What a lucky gal

Social media gives us access to people we’d otherwise never meet- admittedly, some we’d rather we didn’t (@ 90% of people on Tinder), but that’s not the point. People are less restricted to who or how many people they can talk to. I mean why would you want to deprive anyone of having the chance to talk to me? It just doesn’t seem fair that people should have to miss out on this.

A lot of relationships now start online. Be it reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, sliding in someone’s DMs on Instagram, or the gift that just keeps on giving that is online dating apps like Tinder. Brilliant. People are meeting and falling in love with people they wouldn’t have met in a bar, or sat beside on a plane (one day this will happen me, just wait and see) or in a department store when reaching for the exact same pair of gloves. So I watch a lot of romcoms? Sue me. Dare you.

So yeah, social media is actually pretty damn good in my opinion at meeting new people and potential baes, if of course you ignore all the weirdos and catfish and bad experiences. But sure, they just make for great stories, eh? Eh?

I couldn’t choose which photo was funnier so I had to include all 3. Stock photos are so tragic sometimes.

We can keep in touch with family and friends abroad or on holidays. My sister lived in Korea for a year (I will never forgive you, Aoife) and if it wasn’t for social media, my parents wouldn’t be able to make sure she didn’t end up like Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken, and I’d have no way of telling her what face masks to post me over. So many of my friends also ditched me to go to England for university (I’ll never forgive youse either), but that doesn’t mean that I’m not able to talk to them everyday and make them feel guilty for leaving me behind. You think moving countries is gonna get rid of me? Nice try. Buzz, buzz girl. Me again.

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So yes, people do seem to use phones more and speak less; but a lot of the time we’re on our phones talking to people, it’d be physically impossible (or unhandy) to be with them in person. I’m not exactly going to dander over to my friend’s house at 9am on a Sunday or at 11pm at night – that’d be a wee bit weird don’t you think?

Yes, there are phone calls, but once that call’s over, so is the interaction. I’d personally rather be able to talk to people throughout the day, than be limited to one certain time (I’m so clingy, damn). Not to mention trying to find a time when you and someone else are actually free at the same time; you can just quickly reply when you’ve a few minutes to spare. Basically, you’re able to fit your socialising into your schedule.

And yes, there are carrier pigeons, but I mean come on guys, animal rights? And they fly into a lot of windows. R.I.P Gary.

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I know not everyone’s the same, people use social media for different things. Some use it more than others. I use social media to talk to people when I’m not able to talk to them any other way, but I meet them in person whenever I can because I’m a social butterfly who needs constant attention and interaction. 🙂

So I think social media is social, and antisocial at the same time; depending on how, how much and when it’s used. I do think that society as a whole is becoming scarily dependent on technology (@ creepy Alexa), but sadly, I doubt this will change. So I’m using social media in a way that suits me and that I’m comfortable with. That’s the beauty of it. It’s so diverse that it can be used in so many different ways, so everyone can find what works for them. Yeah it’s changed how much we interact with each other, how and when. But is it necessarily a bad thing?

How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide

Well ladies, there is an abundance of beauty standards and ‘rules’ for us to follow. This means choosing what to wear and how to look can be really hard and pretty damn confusing. Luckily for you, I’ve made a wee guide of basic beauty do’s and don’t’s to help keep yourself right. You’re welcome.

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Me, before choosing to rewear one of my 3 staple outfits

Hair: Men like blondes, they’re more fun. But it’ll make you seem stupid and like a bimbo. Brunette? Eugh, how boring. Red head? They’re fiesty and fiery, but, well, that’d make you a “ginger”, yikes. Black? Hmm, emo. A bright colour? Well that’d just make you an attention seeker, wouldn’t it.

You shouldn’t have grey hair, it’ll show your age. If you do, dye it. But not noticeably. You don’t want to look like you’re in denial of your age. Your (not grey) hair should be long, because short hair is for boys. Duh. It should also be healthy and shiny. People should be able to see their reflections in it.

Makeup: Wear it at all times, but it shouldn’t look like you’re wearing makeup. You don’t want to look caked or tacky, do you? It should also be done perfectly. But don’t spend too long in front of the mirror; always looking at yourself makes you seem very self absorbed, you see.

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Nails: They should be perfectly manicured; preferably nude or French. Not red. You don’t want to look like a prostitute, do you? And don’t bite them either, honey; it’s a disgusting habit.

Lips: They should be large and full. If you have fine lips, you can get fillers. But it shouldn’t be noticeable, you don’t want to look like a blow up doll, do you? You can always overline them, but, only if no one will know it’s fake. People will judge you, you Kardashian wannabe.

Boobs: You should have large breasts. This has be natural of course, getting cosmetic surgery will only make you look like a page 3 girl. Who do you think you are, Pamela Anderson?

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Pamela Anderson, not you.

Note: If your boobs are too big, no matter what you wear, it’ll look like you’re trying to “get them out”. People will think it’s an invitation to stare at them and pass crude comments. If they’re too small, people will pass comments and call you things like “pancake tits”. Don’t stuff your bra, though. That’s seen as desperate.

Clothes: They should attract but not invite attention. It wouldn’t be fair to make a man think he can touch you if you don’t want him to. Why would you want to send him mixed signals?

You should wear revealing clothes that show off your body. But not too revealing, that’d make you a slut. Choose outfits carefully, don’t you know your clothes apparently determine whether or not you consent to having sex? You mighn’t realise it, but you could be “asking for it”.

Bras: You should wear bras which show off your assets, men love boobs, ya see. But don’t wear a push-up bra, that’s very misleading. Underwire bras are hella uncomfortable, but they give you a nicer shape. Besides, who doesn’t love getting searched at airport security? Beep.

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Underwear: Choose these carefully, too. Briefs are always a safe bet, but these are so-called “granny pants” and cause a VPL (visible pant line). You shouldn’t have a VPL, so thongs are suitable. Then again, wearing these apparently equals sexual consent, so don’t wear them if you don’t want to sleep with someone. Do you see why you have to choose carefully?

Note: Your underwear may end up being used as evidence in court, so make sure they’re pretty.

Shoes: Wear high heels, these make your bum look more pert and your legs longer, you know. But not too high, you’re not a stripper for God’s sake. And don’t even think about wearing trainers, catch yourself on. Wearing high heels may lead to foot problems such as bunions, but, well, beauty is pain.

Tan: You should have a nice glow so you don’t look sick or anaemic. But not too dark, you don’t want to look fake, of course. And nobody likes that smell. I don’t care what the label says, that’s not “coconut”.

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Handbag: Carry one at all times, your pockets are merely for decoration. This bag must hold all of the essentials that others may need: a tissue, paracetamol, tampons, mints etc. You also need enough room to carry your partner’s possessions too. You don’t want him to have carry these around needlessly, do you?

Wrinkles: You shouldn’t have any wrinkles. You don’t want to look old, do you? If you decide to get botox or dermal fillers (which is pretty vain of you, frankly), it shouldn’t be noticeable. You have to try to revert the natural aging process, but it shouldn’t look like it, silly. Yes, there are anti-wrinkle creams, but do you need to waste so much money on those weird potions? Eugh.

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Attractiveness: Be more attractive than your partner. People have to think he’s lucky to have you. Don’t go out with someone more attractive than you, you don’t want people thinking he could do better.

Physique: You should be physically fit, with a firm and toned body. But you shouldn’t be muscular, it’s manly and you don’t want people to think you’re on steroids. Men don’t like muscular women either, so put down the weights and pick up the dish cloth, love.

Over-all appearance: Your body is a temple vessel. You are a show piece, a display only. You must always look pristine, but don’t take longer than 20 minutes to get ready. Its not fair to leave people waiting for you. Dress for your audience. Think not what you want to wear, but they want you to wear.

Well, I lied (there’s a first time for everything). This wasn’t really a “guide” for girls, it was more a “this is all the crap we have to put up with on a daily basis” for men. In case you didn’t get that. It’s very hard to get the tone right for these things, you see. And, I have mastered the art of subtly and subliminal messaging, so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t notice the hints of sarcasm and passive-aggression laden throughout.

But yeah, I didn’t actually tell girls anything here. Because society already tells them these things every day. So next time you even THINK about complaining or asking us why we take so long to get ready, here’s your answer

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Cavemen Vs Robots – Who Would Win?

Now that, I would pay to see.

Sorry to disappoint but this isn’t a poll about some weird edition of “Robot Wars” or MMA fighting.  I’m simply asking if humans today are any smarter than our predecessors. Okay don’t pull that face at me, buster. Hear a gal out first, sheesh.

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You really can find anything on Google Images

We’ve all seen and heard comparisons of those considered less intelligent to cavemen. Humans today are considered to be smarter, more educated and superior in general to our ancestors. Yes, we do know things that they didn’t, like that the Earth isn’t flat (although the jury’s still out on that one, Youtube conspiracy theories are very convincing); and we’ve made massive advancements in regards to medicine and technology. But, could we build the Roman Colloseum? Or the pyramids?

Hmm, maybe. But could we do it without modern equipment or machinery? Yeah, thought not.

Our predessors knew how to do things. We know how to use technology to do things for us. Nowadays, people aren’t even bothering to stand up and turn off their lights, they need ‘Alexa’ to do it for them. Why do things yourself when you can have a creepy machine do it for you, while giving it access to control your electricity? How fun.

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Anyway, my point is, early humans and ‘cavemen’ were able to live self-sustainably. They found their own food, hunted animals, made their own clothes (not as nice as Missguided’s but they did the best they could) and built houses with their bare hands. They were able to do so much more with so much less. And they were able to survive without depending on technology and the internet.

They didn’t have Google *gasps* to figure out the answer to everything (or to tell them that headache might actually be sign that they’re dying), so they worked things out for themselves. Instead of Googling if a berry was poisonous, they just waited until someone else ate it and died, then added it to the “avoid” list; or gave it to their neighbours’ really annoying Dodo -or whatever they kept as pets, idk. They knew what they knew because they learned things. We know a lot of what we know because we’re told things. And because we learned from their mistakes. Shout out to the guy who wanted a pet shark.

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Nowadays, people laugh at the “stupidity” of our ancestors. Like how they thought ice cube lobotamies could cure depression or that babies didn’t feel pain. But how do we know they were wrong? Because we checked the internet? Got a machine to do it differently? Waited until someone’s baby cried when they dropped it and thought “Oh. Maybe it does feel things? Hmm, noted.” I admit, they weren’t the best examples to prove my case but to be fair remember when everyone thought the world was going to end in 2000? And then again -oh but FOR REAL this time- in 2012? I mean come on we even made a (terrible) film about it. Nobody’s perfect.

Now I’m not saying that those that came before us were smarter than us, I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re smarter than them. Maybe they didn’t know that pi was 3.14 and then a BAZILLION other numbers, but they didn’t need to. People used to learn and know the things that they needed to know, like “what berries are poisonous?”, “will that lion try to eat me if I pet it?”, “what happens if you stand in the fire?” – all valid questions, sort of. Modern humans just seem to know stuff purely for the sake of knowing it. I know so much irrelevant information that I’ll probably never use or get to say unless I’m at a pub quiz or in an uncomfortable silence on a date. Did you know a group of pandas is called an ’embarrassment’? I did. Why? I have NO IDEA.

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We do know a hell of a lot, and we are pretty ‘smart’, but I think earlier humans deserve a bit more credit. They discovered that other continents existed, knew the time without clocks and were able to preserve people who had died (a bit creepy in my opinion, but still, kudos to them). They discovered the most random things like how to procreate, give birth and then feed the child breastmilk. Like how did they even go about finding this stuff out? How did they even come about milking cows? Like they must have been really bored. And a bit weird.

Well, there you go. There’s some food for thought the next time you buy a bottle of milk. Or see a fire and choose not to stand in it. You can now return to your life of letting your creepy robot control your home. Tell the government I said hi.

 

The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Lingerie

Well if you want to see some Victoria’s Secret models in lingerie and heels, then my friend, you have come to the wrong place. Sorry. But, since you’re here, why not have a wee read and you never know, Gigi Hadid might actually feature.

This is pretty much a sequel to my “Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion” post, which was basically me complaining that I can’t buy clothes that fit. But this one’s exploring (not so) “inclusive” lingerie. I can tell you’re on the edge of your seat already.

You. Right now.

The reason I decided to write about this is because I see a lot of people online complaining that they can’t find bras to fit, and that retailers only offer “small” sizes and don’t cater for ‘curvy’ or ‘fuller’ women. I just want to point out that like with clothes, sizing often excludes smaller sizes just as much as larger ones.

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For those of you who may not know, bra cup sizes (the letter) start at AAA – yes, like the batteries. The next size up is AA – also batteries, followed by A- you get the idea. I’m telling you this because most retailers only offer from size A (or in many cases, B) and upwards.

As well as this, the bandwidth (basically the circumference of your back) starts well, at any size, depending how small the person’s frame is. This tends to be any size from 26 inches upwards. But, the sizes offered mostly start at 32 inches. This has lead to people either having to go to elsewhere and look harder for underwear, or buy the bigger size and just get on with it (tumbledrying works too at shrinking them though- you’re welcome).

For the record, I’m not saying that smaller sizes aren’t available, they’re just less readily available. This means that instead of buying a £2 t-shirt bra in Primark (when we still had one 😦 ), I have to go to M&S and pay £6 for one that isn’t as pretty. Basically it means people have to pay more and have less choice.

Although larger sizes are also harder to come by, meaning women have to go elsewhere for their size too; the difference is that there are several “inclusive” brands like Bravissimo, Curvissa and SimplyBe which cater specifically for those with fuller figures. Ah, the old “forget including various groups, only including one additional one makes us inclusive and not exclusive at all” thing again. *sigh*

Anyway, these brands are also more expensive, because the retailers know we’ll just fork out the money because we haven’t really got a choice. If there’s such a demand and so many needing to go to alternative retailers for these sizes, why don’t more brands start offering them? Why are they making it so hard for us to buy things? JUST LET ME SPEND MY MONEY.

Then again, why would you want to increase your customer base, sales and therefore profits? Pffft silly me.

Recently, there’s been a lot of praise and celebration at the launch of Rihanna’s lingerie line ‘SAVAGE X FENTY’ because it catered for a range of sizes and “real” women. It offers multiple shades as well, meaning that several skin tones can wear a ‘nude’ or ‘skin coloured’ bra which is actually, well, skin-coloured(!!) So women no longer have to all wear the one universal shade of beige that somebody decided was all we needed. Who knew such things were possible? But yes, Rihanna’s new line is great, it does cater for a lot more sizes than typical high street retailers, and it does represent women of all shapes and sizes – as long as you’re not below an A cup. Or smaller than a 32. Oh you are? Hmm. Never mind then.

This has led to people (rightly so) asking that other brands follow suit and also cater for “real women”. But that’s my issue. “Real women“. Basically, to be a real woman you have to have big boobs and a bum. Reinforcing the self doubt and unfeminity felt by women who don’t naturally have these assets have. They don’t need or deserve to be made to feel any less validated as a woman than their more curvy peers.

How is showing slim built models any worse than showing those with figures which are unachievable to some without getting cosmetic surgery? Most people can change their weight; but people can’t help it if they naturally have small breasts or bums (and don’t even THINK about telling me to squat, I’m warning you). How can you tell women -especially young, vulnerable girls- that they’re not real women? Do you know how dangerous that is?

Imagine how it must feel not be able to find underwear to fit, and then be told it’s because you’re not a “real woman”. Not to mention those with alternative gender identities such as trans or intersex, who may require smaller sizes too and already find it hard enough to conform to female beauty standards.

Every identifying female is a “real woman”. End of. Stop telling girls that their natural build, genetics or lifestyle choices make them any less of a woman.

Make small bra sizes available. Make large bra sizes available. Don’t tell women the reason they’re not catered for is because they’re not real women. Stop damaging our girls.

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There you go, happy?

The “F” Word

Bet that got your attention, eh?

Feminism.

What other word would I be talking about? Shame on you.

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Recently, I bought a book about feminism, and reading it made me realise how, for someone who considers themselves to be a ‘feminist’, there’s so much I actually don’t know about the history and topic itself. I then proceeded to buy 4 books on the subject because I wanted to learn a bit more (and I couldn’t choose between them). While reading it, I realised that there is no one type of ‘feminism’ – everyone has their own individual experience and views. It’s not “you’re either this type of feminist, or you’re not a feminist” – it’s the same way that no two people of the same religion have exactly the same religious views/opinions. It’s a very personal thing, and everyone has their own ways of being a feminist.

Yes, there’s the old “Oh so you’re a feminist but you want your dates to pay for your stuff? Doesn’t seem very equal to me.” Well, who doesn’t want free stuff? Pretty sure you’d rather not have to pay for your food either like.

And yes, I like having doors held open for me. I don’t care who holds the door, I just don’t want it hitting my face.

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But anyway, this is basically some of what feminism[s] mean to me.

It means not having to change my name when if I get married. Getting married (if anyone should be so lucky) doesn’t change me or who I am, it doesn’t make me any less “me” and any more my husband. To me, my name represents who I am and what me and my family have been through. If he doesn’t have to change his name, why should I? I’m still me, just with a ring on my finger. I know many people choose to take their partner’s names, and that’s perfectly fine, at the end of the day it’s a choice, and that’s enough for me.

It means identifying as ‘Ms’. On forms and accounts, I tick the ‘Ms’ box, because it’s nobody’s business whether I’m married or not – what difference does it make? What has my ~questionable~ relationship history or status got to do with anything? To me, if a man doesn’t have to state his marital status, then I sure as hell don’t.

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It means not having to choose between having a career or children. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t want to have to make a decision on which of the two is more important to me, I have a right to have both. Paternal leave to me means that both parents should have equal opportunities to be with their family, and be at work. I want my cake (preferably carrot), and I want to eat it to, please agus thank you.

It means being able to support myself and live independently, not needing a man to “look after me” *que Ne-Yo ‘Miss Independent’*. It means not having to rely on someone else to be able to apply for a mortgage or a bank loan, or have enough money to eat and live comfortably. I don’t want whether or not I live with someone, to decide whether or not I live.

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It means having an education and a career. I am so lucky to have grown up in a time and place where I had equal access to education as males. I know that so many others aren’t as lucky as I am, with millions of girls never setting foot in a school in their lives. I’m so lucky to have been presented with the opportunities I have been, which have enabled me to receive an education and go to university and work. I want the choice and option to choose my future.

It means having opinions and being able to express them. Whether or not views and opinions matter should be based on the merit of what is said, not who says it. Being listened to is a whole other story.

It means supporting other women. It means raising others up, even if it’s something as small as commenting ‘YASSSSS QUEEN’ on an Instagram photo, or telling that stranger in the nightclub toilets that her highlight is “poppin'”. It’s so important to support each other, instead of making everything a competition and tear each other down. Don’t insult your ex’s new girlfriend, feel sorry for the poor girl.

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It means believing in equal domestic responsibilities. Your gender shouldn’t define what you do around the house. All to often, females are subjected to the homemaker role- taking on the majority of cooking, cleaning and childcare responsibilities. I’m not saying that females shouldn’t do any of these, I’m saying that these roles should be shared. Take it in turns, do half each – I don’t think it should be ‘who does what’, but ‘who does what this time‘. Basically, make your own sandwich. And do the dishes after. Merci.

This is just a very brief summary of some of the views I have on the subject, and you may disagree with them, and that’s fine. These are MY opinions which I hold based off MY experiences. I’m not trying to make you share these views, just respect them and understand why I hold them.

Confessions of a Placement Student

Well, here I am, 5 months into my placement year, and I thought I’d share some home truths with you.

I never really knew what to expect out of doing a placement, I mean my brother did his at an IT company (he’s super smart) and didn’t really talk about his work (he’s also SUPER quiet). My sister on the other hand, went to Korea (the South, before you make a witty “the North? Ha ha” joke) for hers, so I somehow think her experience in Jeju is a tad different than mine in Belfast.

Which brings us here. I’m going to let you in on a few things I learnt when on my placement year. Disclaimer: The following may be experienced by other readers, and is not me saying that they are the case for everyone going/on a university placement. I.E – It could just be me and I’m doing it all wrong. But nonetheless, enjoy.

 

1. 11pm is LATE.

I’m in bed by 10:30pm most nights; partly because I’m knackered after working 9-5, and partly because I now know the importance of getting 8 hours sleep*. Plus the fact it takes me around an hour to get to sleep no matter what time I go to bed at- isn’t that a fun and not at all disruptive trait??

*I am determined to get this amount some day.

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2. Weeknight nights out – please don’t

Working at 9am the next day isn’t the same as a 9am lecture the next day. Save your nights out for the weekend, when you can properly enjoy it without checking the time and thinking “I have work in x hours”. I also wouldn’t advise doing a university student’s Fresher’s week, because you will in no way be “fresh”.

 

3. Coffee becomes less of a treat and more of a necessity

I need my daily coffee, not because of a caffeine boost (although it definitely does help), but because it’s important to start the day off with a little treat or “pick me up”. Don’t like coffee? Oh you will, all in good time my friend.

 

4. “I’ll start the gym” – You probably won’t.

I had so many plans to start the gym when I started working full-time, because “I’ll need something as a wee distraction” and because I don’t do half as much exercise as I used to. There aren’t very many ways to make sitting a desk an ‘active’ task. But well, who was I kidding really, the gym isn’t for me – when it comes to choosing between going to one or going for coffee with friends, it just so happen to lose the coin toss every time!!

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5. “After work drinks” – the only thing I drink after work is coffee.

“We should SO go for cocktails after work sometime!!” We all know where cocktails lead and it is NOT a pretty place. *See number 2.  After a day at work, I want to sit down and have a chat with my friends, in a comfy chair, and be home by 9pm. Call me a granny all you want, but I am a content granny.

 

6. You DO get used to it.

I worked in retail for years, and found I could work a 9:30am-6:30pm on my feet rushing around all day no problem; but sitting down for 8 hours at a desk somehow exhausted me? My friend who was working full-time before me had promised me “Don’t worry, you get used to it”. 2 months in I realised that either she was lying, or was coping better than I was. But behold, I am now a machine (sort of) and I promise, you do get used to the change of routine. You too, will become a machine.

 

7. Your employers know you’re a placement student.

I know that one really knocked you for six. The point is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you’re not expected to crack the code and master all aspects of your job within the first few months, let alone weeks. Don’t compare yourself  to the other people in your office who have been doing the job for years. Of course they’re going to be “better” than you, but Michael Jordan’s better at basketball than you too – sorry, I’m not trying to lower your self esteem, I’m simply saying you can’t compare yourself to professionals.

 

8. You’ll make (in my case, loads of) mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OKAY. If you don’t do something wrong, you won’t learn what you shouldn’t have done and what you should do differently next time. It’s not so much a mistake as a “how to” for next time. As Hannah Montana said “everybody makes mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect”, what more inspiration and motivation do you need? So, next time you make a mistake, have a wee Hannah Montana sing-song (in your head preferably) and you’ll definitely feel better.

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9. You will meet some of the most amazing people

Those memes on the internet about having work friends who know your whole life story are scarily accurate. You’ll have so many weird conversations and debates about food (we had a very heated one about whether it was candy apple or toffee apple), and you’ll find yourself weirdly invested in your colleague’s dinners. You really do lean on and support each other, as well as get all the scoop on their best friend’s pyscho-ex. Brilliant.

*It’s toffee apple. Not up for discussion.

 

10. You might not figure out what you want to do – but you might figure out what you don’t.

Even if you realise what you’re doing on placement isn’t what you want to do in life, that’s okay. You can rule it out, and you’ll still have learned so much; about the industry, yourself, and working full-time in general. I mean, would you rather do a job you don’t exactly love for a year and never have to do it again, or end up stuck in one after graduation for the foreseeable future? The job’s only for a year, not forever, so  b r e a t h e .

11. Prepare for pensions and National Insurance

I’ll never forget the horror of seeing some of my pay going into a “pension pot”, I remember thinking, “I’m only 20? And saving for a pension??” Well, it’s okay, I’m over it now. Plus I’ve a nice wee £80 cushion to fall back on, so I’m currently deciding between early retirement or buying a villa in Spain…

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Me celebrating my glorious £80

12. You will get excited about new work clothes

I used to go into Primark and think “Okay, why is there a whole floor of blouses and blazers? This would be so much better used for guddies.” Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as “too many” work clothes. Patterned blouses? Hated em. Blazers? Hated em too. But now, my friend, ain’t nothing I love more than a nice wee print blouse and some fitted trousers. So, you may laugh now, but soon you too will be BUZZIN to hit up the town and buy blazers, just you wait.

 

I had a lot more but didn’t want to bore anyone (might be too late though). I hope this list helps anyone on or going on a placement; you’ll either relate to some/all of these, or you’ll not experience them and then feel a lot better about yourself. Either way, you’re welcome.

If you have any questions/ queries or just want to talk about going on or preparing for a placement, please do get in touch! I’m more than happy to instil my pearls of wisdom and give advice and share my experience! I may not have many pearls, but I’d say I have at least 2.

The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion

Why do I (and many other women) only seem to buy clothes from the same 3-4 companies all the time? For me, it’s not so much a preference (or the fact that they’re a lot cheaper than Topshop), it’s because these are the few shops where I can actually buy clothes in MY size.

And so is the struggle of many people. “Ooh XXX have a sale- oh wait, they don’t do my size”. *goes on website…checks sizes…exits website and huffs*.

Now don’t get me wrong, it does have its perks- think of all the money I’ve saved because I can’t actually buy anything 🙂

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Over the past few years, there has been an “inclusive fashion” movement among retailers whereby they have extended their clothing size range beyond the traditional 8-14s, to cater for women of “all shapes and sizes”. Shops have gone from offering 4 or 5 sizes to 9+. So what’s the problem? Well, for one, the range only seems to extend to suit one body type.

While an increasing number of retailers now offer sizes over 16, very few cater below a 6. Now, to my delight, around 2 years ago Primark began producing clothes in a size 4 – but this was at least 5 years after they began producing sizes up to a 22.

Yes, there’s a whole debate and backlash about this;  some believe that offering smaller sizes promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and reinforces beauty standards, with others saying how one extreme is no better than another, and promoting larger sizes contributes to the normalisaion of obesity.

But this is not about that. Trust me, I did my A Level HE assignment on this topic and drafted and redrafted a literature review around FIFTEEN times so I am not even going into this *has flashbacks and shudders*.

I’m simply saying that yes, it’s obviously good that retailers are adapting to meet the needs of their customers, but why cater for one type over another? I just want a pair of jeans like, it shouldn’t be this hard.

It does lower your self esteem when you bring 7 items into a changing room and none fit or look nice, but that’s not just the case for larger sizes. Do you know how it feels to look like you’re wearing your mother’s clothes? Not good (no offence, ma – I think your clothes are lovely). It probably feels just as bad as looking like you accidentally tumble-dried your clothes and shrunk them.

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I welcome retailers extending their size range and catering for more than 5 sizes, I don’t think anyone should have to go a certain shop/s to be able to buy their size, or settle for clothes too big or too small for them. I’m just saying that retailers need to branch out a bit more. “Start doing a size 16, that’ll keep ’em happy”- well Mr Multi-National Retailer, on behalf of said “’em”, we are not happy.

Bringing in an additional 2/3 sizes doesn’t make you ‘inclusive’. Being inclusive means bringing in a variety of new sizes. Only extending your range to suit one body type actually makes you more exclusive than inclusive, just saying.

Don’t get me wrong, “inclusive” fashion is great – as long as you’re between a size 10-14 and are no shorter than 5 ft 3 or taller than 5 ft 7.

Now, some retailers have started offering a “petite” or “tall” range, thank God. But why?

If the average woman in Ireland, the UK, America, and most countries is around 5 ft 4, why are nearly all clothes made to suit people who are over 5 ft 6? And why are the models always 5 ft 7 – 5 ft 10? Surely it doesn’t make much sense to make clothes which only fit a a very small proportion of your customer base rather than the majority? But maybe I’m just being fussy, idk.

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And so is the beauty of online retailers – they offer plus size ranges, size 4s, maternity wear, petite and tall ranges *heavenly choir sings “ahhhh”*.

I personally prefer online shopping, but it’s not because I can buy clothes from the comfort of my bed while looking like a sight that is not fit for anyone except the postman to see (although I am determined to make dressing gowns a socially acceptable outerwear) Note: NOT a ‘house coat’. It’s because I can buy clothes.

People wonder why high street shopping is down year-on-year. Maybe we’ll go into your shop when your clothes don’t make us feel bad about ourselves and you actually do our size. And I’ll give you that gem of business advice for free.

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I was planning to write about the exclusivity of the bra industry but I guess I underestimated just how exclusive the fashion industry was- silly me. So to the (I’m assuming) joy of any male readers that haven’t given up or fallen asleep already, you are spared. And well done you for making it this far, you must either be interested in what I have to say on this topic, or you’re really bored.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to do some online retail therapy, because I can. And because Boohoo have 30% off coats -sorry, bank account.