Diary of a Sober Student

Ask someone why they don’t eat or drink anything that they don’t, and the answer “I don’t like it” is a valid one. But, for some reason, “I don’t really like it” or, “I don’t want to” is suddenly COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE and MUST be a lie when it comes to drink.

I’m not a big drinker at all. For a 22 year old, that isn’t really the norm. Especially a student. In final year. It’s not because of religious or medical reasons, it’s because:

  1. I can’t hack it.
  2. I can’t hack hangovers.
  3. I’m just as much of a GEG sober.
  4. I saw something horrible happen to one of my bestmates when she was too drunk to function.
  5. Because I  d o n ‘ t  w a n t  t o , o k a y ?  

But, I shouldn’t need a reason (let alone 5), should I?

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I wasn’t always like this. I used to drink a lot, like. In first year of uni, we went out a hell of a lot, and I think it just ruined it for myself. Going out like 3/4 nights a week, feeling like complete crap 3/4 days a week and not actually remembering what the hell even happened 3/4  nights a week just got a bit, well, meh.

Now, I hardly drink so I hardly drink. Because I don’t drink that often, when I do, I it hits me really hard (2-pints Murray makes her appearance) and I wake up feeling HORRIBLE no matter what I do. Eat dinner before you go out, drink about 10 litres of water, eat when you get home, take paracetamol and STILL feel like crap in the morning. And, you know what? It’s not worth it. It’s genuinely not. So, because I’m not RUSHING to make this a weekly feeling, I hardly drink. It’s a weird sobriety cycle.

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That’s Ms Sober Party Queen to you.

Some people think that not drinking makes you somehow “boring”. Because liver disease, regret, blackouts, hangovers and accidentally “WHOOPS I spent £80” is super exciting, of course. But, surely, you’re life is more boring if you need to be absolutely steamin to make it fun? I’m a geg and my life’s a geg, with or without Magners.

I do drink every now and then, but only when I want to and only when I feel like it. Not for the sake of it, like. I’ll go to nightclubs sober and I’ll dance sober and I’ll have an amazing time. Sober. Downside is, I have to be the ma of the group and look after the people who never seem to learn they CAN’T hack it, but at least it means that at least someone’s looking after them. Someone who isn’t creepy, drunk and predatory, that is.

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Me.

I get to go to out, dance, sing, actually remember all the words and NAIL that rap song, don’t have to worry about queuing for about an hour for a drink, having my drink spiked (been there, done that, not a fan I must say), spilling my drink or having it knocked out of my hand by that ONE PERSON WHO INSISTS ON WEARING A BACKPACK TO A CLUB. I don’t have to worry about creepy guys trying to take advantage of me (which is a really sad reality for girls) or waking up feeling like pure death.

So, why are you trying to convert me? What is wrong with any of the above? (Apart from the backpack bloon). Why wouldn’t I be happy? (Apart from the backpack bloon).

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Basically: stop peer pressuring people to wreck their livers if they don’t want to. Stop asking “why not?” when people say they’re not drinking. What if they’re pregnant or ill? It’s none of your business.  Stop judging people, buying them drinks, making them uncomfortable, calling them ‘boring’, or asking them if they’re drinking even when you know that they aren’t.

Rant over. Cheers.

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Celebrity Goss: What's the Obsession?

Okay so, this morning I went on Buzzfeed (the credible news source that it is), to see what all was going on in the world, and to see if I’d missed anything. But all I saw in the “News” section was celebrity goss and drama. I mean, it’s a lot lighter than all the absolute madness going on in the world at the minute, but like, “breaking news”? Really¿

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Basically.

But, the thing is, that is “news” to a lot of people. For some reason, people are obsessed with celebrity gossip. They know who’s going out with who, who cheated on who with who, who’s beefing with who. But like, what’s the point? Why do people care?

“Omg did you hear she’s pregnant?” No. And to be honest, I don’t really care. I don’t really need to know who’s married or divorced or expecting. I’d rather focus on my own mess of a life and people who actually know me and care about my mess of a life’s lives. But sure, called me old-fashioned !!

One of the stories was “this is why [celebrity who I can’t remember or don’t really know]  fans have been commenting snake emojis under [other celeb that I can’t remember or also don’t know]’s Instagram photos.

I FOUND IT. And I have heard of one of them. Go me.

And this happens all the time. Celebrity fans comment threats, insults, abuse, and the most severe form: emojis, under other celebrities’ photos on social media when there’s beef. I’m all for showing solidarity and having your friends’ backs, but like, friends’ backs.

One thing I hate (maybe the only thing, I’m not easily annoyed, as you know) is when girls insult, slabber about and threaten other girls on social media over some wee lad. Especially when the “girls” in question are like 30. And when the “wee lad” is Justin Bieber or someone from One Direction, or whoever else is like trending. Yes, I’m well aware that I sound like a middle-aged woman right now but my mind has gone BLANK and I literally can’t think of popular celebrities. Scundered.

Moving on.   

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Me right now

Point is (yeah, there is one), you wouldn’t want TeenQween2003 calling you fat, ugly or threatening to “hurt” you (even though she’s like a literal 12 year-old from Philadelphia and is never actually going to see you, let alone square up to you for a scrap)  under your selfie because unfollowed someone. Or started dating someone who GOD FORBID had an ex.

You (I hope) wouldn’t comment death threats under a stranger’s photo because they broke up their boyfriend and now he’s sad (😞).So why are people commenting death threats under a stranger’s photo because they broke up their boyfriend and now he’s sad (😞), just because both parties are famous? Like, why do you care? And why did you spell Queen with a ‘w’? WHY.

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Well, there you go. That answers my question.

I don’t know, I’ve just never really got the whole “spending time and money to stay in the loop of celebrities’ business” thing.  To be fair, I don’t follow celebs on Instagram or Twitter (still don’t have it oops) and I don’t watch celebrity shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians (I don’t even know if they still make it) or buy those weird £1 “OMG!” magazines.  So maybe that’s why I don’t get it. Or maybe I have enough of my own STRESS AND PROBLEMS to worry about to be so involved in strangers’?? Could be it, too.

I also don’t see how trolling people online is really making a difference. I doubt Justin Bieber’s (yes, that example again) gonna be like, “Omg, Caitlin from Crumlin just commented under my ex’s photo. Maybe I should slide in her DMs and ask her to marry me?!”

Like, what are people trying to achieve apart from having the their account blocked? How much better are they than whichever celeb “did something wrong” (usually didn’t invite someone to their birthday party or side-eyed their dress at an award show) when you’re commenting knife emojis under their photo?

Answer: Not much. And a lil bit sadder, too. And a LOT less rich. Please go outside. Find a hobbie. Befriend a cat. Anything. Please.

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Note: If there is someone with the username TeenQween2003, I apologise for using you as an example. I tried to think of a ridiculous teen-girl name so had ‘TeenQween99’ and then realised that you’d actually be 21 years old, got sad that I’m old and changed it. 😞

2019 Resolution Check

Well, seeing as everyone else seems to be reflecting on the past year, thought I may as well join in. I was going to write about the highs and lows of the year or do a wee recap of what all happened in 2019, but the whole year is pretty much a big blur and I don’t really think I could remember half of it if I tried. SO, I thought I’d do a wee throwback to the New Year resolutions I made in January, to see how well I did. Here goes:

1) Join the gym.

Off to a GREAT start, I see. Well, this definitely did NOT happen. But at least it means that I technically didn’t skip “leg day” once this whole year. Go me!

2) Be more positive.

Hmmm. I don’t actually know if I did this or not. I like to think that in general, I am a pretty positive person (my blood definitely is). But I can’t remember if I was less positive last year? The whole point of this was to see the “silver lining”, but last year was tougher for me, so I had more clouds to try to line. I don’t know, that one’s too hard. (Can you tell that I’m typing as I think?) But because the gym one was a disaster, I think I’ll just go ahead and say YES. Yes, I am more positive than I was last year. Tick tick.

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3) Make the most of final year

Okay, so I said about “lunch dates and lie-ins”. Okay so, 1) I think I went for lunch like once, BUT that’s because our timetable was hella weird. I did make the most of the Clements in Jordanstown, though. And I went for a lot of coffee dates this year, so I will give myself that. And 2) I am physically incapable of “lying in”, but naturally waking up at 8am is a lie-in compared to setting an alarm for 7:30am when you’re on placement, so I’ll give myself that one, too. God, I’m doing well.

4) Seize every opportunity

“Say yes to more things (that I want to do)”. I mean, I feel like yes, this definitely happened. Largely because I’m living in a student house and no longer on placement working full-time, so I actually CAN say “yes” more.

I also said “no” more to things I didn’t want to do. I made less excuses (and lies), because at the end of the day, not wanting to do things is a reason not to do them. “Just because your friends jumped off a cliff” and all that.

5) Travel more

Oui, completo. I went to Toulouse, Glasgow (if you know, you know), Valencia, Berlin, Meath (random I know), Mayo (also random), Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Had to look back on my Instagram because I couldn’t remember them all. Talk about #cultured.

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Me every 10 working days

6) Cut down on single use plastics

Done agus DONE. Thank God that everyone’s started panicking about the fact that boomers humans have wrecked the Earth and need to make changes ASAP to try to save it, because it’s meant that companies have made it a lot easier to reduce plastic use. I’ve got my steel straw, KeepCup, don’t use lunch bags or carrier bags, buy more loose foods AND didn’t use any plastic in my Christmas wrapping this year. I just cup up brown paper bags and then tied them with ribbon. Very rustic.

7) Think less

Ahem. To quote myself in January, “I just want to be more easy going and laid back about life in general.” HA. That didn’t happen*. I was gifted the “Calm the F*ck Down” book and bought “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” book this year, which says it all really. What was I thinking like. Bloon.

*In my DEFENCE, I am in final year and I am very triggered by dirty dishes left in the sink and unwashed for days 🙂

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8) Wear skirts casually

I DID THIS TWICE IN BERLIN. Tick tickkkkk.

9) Blog more

Hmm, depends. If I meant blog more as in, “do more blogging” than yeah, I did. If I meant, “blog MORE than last year”, then not really, because I did like the same amount as last year. But let’s go with the first one and say YES again. I’m on a roll, lads.

10) Be happppppppy

I feel like I’m in a good place at the minute and I’m happy ‘happppppppy’ with my life and my situation. I know I’m definitely happier than last year, and the start of the year for sure. I’m back at uni so I officially don’t have to be an adult for another 7 months (YEO), I’m living with 2 amazing people (not that they’ll read this and appreciate the compliment anyway), I’m doing a job I really like and I’m happy with how my blogging’s going. Aside from some hella questionable political decisions, the sheer stress of final year, the fact that coffee keeps getting dearer and there’s still no united Ireland, I’m pretty happy with how 2019 went.

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So, there you go. My new year’s resolution for 2020? Stop talking about going to the gym because I AM NEVER GOING TO GO.

The Rise of the Millennial

Millennials: we’re the generation of avocados, fancy coffee and brunch. We’re also the generation of being blamed for pretty much any issue in society. Lucky us!!!

There’s constantly reports and headlines online about how millennials are ruining the economy (oh, the IRONY) because we’re spending all of our money on frivolous things and going out. We’re not saving. We’re not ‘contributing to society’. We’re not buying houses or diamonds (even though there’s a 5000% mark up and it’s not the most ethical industry @blood diamonds). And we aren’t buying those fancy cloth hankies (yes, apparently we’re killing that industry too). Basically, we’re not “investing our money”.

But we are. We’re investing it in ourselves. We’re paying like £4,000-9,000 a year for a uni degree which we then spend decades paying off and can’t get a job with anyway. That’s an investment. We spend our money socialising, to keep strong emotional connections and improve our mental health. That’s an investment.  We’re paying a bomb for gym memberships, dance and yoga classes (which we never go to, but the option’s there) to keep ourselves physically healthy so we’re around for longer. That’s an investment. We spend our money on things that make us happy, to help us have a better quality of life. That’s an, you’ve guessed it, i n v e s t m e n t.

Apparently we’re not buying enough houses. And we all know the housing market is a GREAT one, it’s never collapsed and there definitely isn’t a housing crisis on at the minute anywhere. Sounds very secure and low-risk. And sure, why get a house if you don’t know where you’re going to live?

Thanks to there being like 0 jobs and a lil disaster called Brexit (THANKS for that, by the way), we have no idea where we’re going to settle. We can put our foot on a plane and travel around the world in search of a job or a nicer place to live; and having no houses, mortgages, families or commitments tying us down means there’s nothing really stopping us. Apart from VISAs and emigration laws of course, but you get the picture.

We aren’t saving our money, but what would we be saving for? Let’s be real here, the planet is literally dying and thanks to past generations completely murdering it, we have no idea how long it – and we, will be around for. Like my granda always said, “You can’t take it with you, there’s no point being the richest in the graveyard.” Wouldn’t you be raging if you spent your life saving and deliberately not buying things you wanted, and then the planet kicked the bucket before you’d a chance to spend it?

Let’s be optimists and say that we are going to be around for like 100 more years. Being realistic, the retirement age is probably going to be around 75 for us, so we’ve loads of time (in theory) to make more money. Is that £7 brunch really going to affect my financial situation so much that there is no chance in hell that I can earn it back in the future? That’s literally an hour’s wage, so unless I never work another hour in my life, I think I got this one covered.

Plus, a very important lil note. It’s our money. We earned it, and we spend it. We can do whatever we want with it, and it’s nobody’s business.

All the focus seems to be on millennials ‘destroying’ current industries, but what about the new ones we’re creating and supporting? Vegan products, those weird stick on handles for the back of your phone, Dragon Soop and succulents – how are they any less important than cloth hankies?? Other generations aren’t supporting these industries as much as us, so why is no one saying “baby boomers are trying to destroy the avocado industry”? We aren’t ‘ruining’ the economy, we’re simply changing it. Lifestyles have changed, needs have changed, money has changed – and the economy should reflect that.

Millennials:  we’re a “live in the moment” kind of generation – and we spend accordingly; because thanks to previous generations, we’ve no idea how many moments we’re going to have.

The “C” Word

Culture. Well, what other word would I be talking about? Tut TUT. Anyway, if you’ve been on social media recently (or Buzzfeed in particular), you can’t seem to scroll far without coming across the word. It seems that every time a song, music video, or fashion photography is released, it comes into play. All this talk of culture and appropriation got me thinking, what actually is culture? Well, let’s ask boy George, shall we?

What a man

Culture is: “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”

These “people” include races, religions, nationalities and ages – just because two people are from the same place, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have the same culture. A Parisien Islamic pensioner and Parisien Catholic teenager will obviously have cultural differences (duh).

So, culture includes what we do, think, eat, wear and how we act and behave. But where does it end? Is burning other nationalities’ flags “culture”? What about shooting people? Colonisation? Fast food? Not saying thanks to the bus driver? (Eugh, imagine) Is this “culture”?

How big do these “people, groups and societies” have to be for their behaviour to qualify as “culture”? Can any behaviour done by these groups by classified as culture?

A group of a certain race, religion, nationality and who support a certain soccer team shout sectarian and racist songs and abuse at matches (hypothetically of course, this would never happen). This is a group which share views and attitudes, and this is a social behaviour after all, so does that make it culture?

People seem all too quick to excuse a behaviour by saying it’s their culture. It eliminates their responsibility and shifts the blame. It’s not them choosing to act that way, it’s out of their control – it’s instilled in them, it’s how they were raised. Headers.

We need to stop using “culture” as a justification. Not only does this skew what people think is “okay”, it also undermines actual culture. If anything can be classified as a cultural behaviour, then it loses its definition. We lose the ability to distinguish and tell the difference between what we should deem unacceptable and acceptable.

As well as this, a group of people behaving a certain way and branding it “culture” creates a stigma and association attached the wider group they’re a part of. This results in stereotypes of nations, races and religions, having them branded and labeled as a whole. Spoiler alert: not all Irish people are alcoholics and drunks, despite what films repeatedly portray. Very badly, and usually with a Scottish accent, might I add (@ Gerard Butler- you brought our country shame).

Good.

Anyway, recently there seems to a rise in people defending and wanting to “protect” their culture. Even if said culture involves discrimination or abusive behaviour. So, why the desire now more than ever to retain it?

Well, we live in a world where cultures seem to be blending into one – shoutout to multinational corporations !! No matter where you are in the world, you can most likely eat the same things and buy the same brands. Globalisation means that sadly, small and local firms are being put out of business by the big dogs.

Don’t get me wrong, these companies allow us to pay less for products, order food despite not speaking the language, and make things more accessible. But what don’t they do? Pay tax, yes. But offer a sense of “home”. They offer it to visitors, but not natives of the country. Nothing screams ‘traditional’ like a Bershka or H&M. That’s the real reason I go on holiday.

Beautiful

You can go abroad, walk down the city’s main street, and feel like you’re home. Same shops, same language (shoutout to English speaking countries for apparently being the only ones not to learn another language !!) and thanks to global warming, the same weather. How FAB.

In a time where everything’s blurring to become more similar, of course it’s important to preserve traditions and culture (ones that don’t harm others, just to clarify). Things that make us unique, things you can’t get or do just anywhere. But first, we have to stop using it as a scapegoat for acting like eejits.

New Year, Slightly Improved Me

Well, it’s that time again. You know the one, where everyone decides that after 25 years, they’re going to change basically everything about themselves and how they live their lives? Not that I’m cynical or anything. I’m sure this really IS the year you’ll start yoga and veganism, Becky. Not that I can judge, I did spend £40 on a journal in the hopes that it’d fix my life.

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Anyway. To get in the spirit of things, here’s some of my new year resolutions. Now, why am I posting this a week into the year you ask? Well, good question dear sir. I’ve decided to post this now for a few reasons: 1) I haven’t actually had the time to write the past week so this is the first chance I’m getting, and 2) I wanted to try out some resolutions before publicly declaring what they were, so I could scrap the failed ones and pretend I never attempted them 🙂

I don’t expect these to magically transform my life and make it all ‘Ferris Beuler’s Day Off’ parade-scene-like, but maybe it’ll make it a wee bit better. Note: Before you think I’m not attempting much, I’m actually doing lil technique called ‘aim low and avoid disappoint’ that I’ve been perfecting for the past 21 years. See, there’s a difference between simple, and deceptively simple, my friend.

1) Join the gym.

HA, syke. Not gonna set myself up disappointment, am I?

1) Be more positive*.

Does what it says on the tin, really. I’m just going to try to ignore the big ugly clouds, and focus on the nice sparkly lining around it. Like a magpie. ‘Think like a magpie’, hmm, I like the sound of that actually.

*I can confirm that I did try this last week but had to admit defeat after life just pushed me a wee bit too far (cheers world). BUT I will definitely try to keep this up. Gonna keep thinkin’ like a magpie.

2) Make the most of final year

This doesn’t really come into effect until September, which buys me some time. Because I’m on placement, I now have a newfound appreciation for freedom university life. I miss lunch dates and lie ins learning and expanding my mind 🙂 and just having a good damn time. So in final year, I’m just going to ignore the fact that I have finals, a dissertation and £15,000 of debt, and focus on the positives and freedom I have before going back to working full-time. What could possibly go wrong?

Edit: I also need to make the most out of my final year of student discount. The uni fees have basically paid for themselves with the amount I’ve saved. Probably.
3) Seize every opportunity

Gonna carpe the ole’ diem. Basically say ‘yes’ to more (things that I want to do) and ask “why not?” rhetorically. I want to seize opportunities like England seized the 6 counties. All too many times we pass on things that we may never get the chance to do again. Got a friend living abroad? Go visit them. Cheap tickets? Buy ’em. 20% student discount? Fill your boots.
4) Travel more

Because I only had 2 weeks of summer before starting work, I didn’t really get a summer holiday, and haven’t had the same opportunities to go away that I did at uni. So I’m determined to get away every chance I can get. I miss plastering myself in Factor 50 suncream and spending all day searching for shade. I miss having to point at menus and say “I’m not from here” with pleaing eyes and GAA jerseys. I miss getting up at 4am for a 2pm flight and paying £2.80 for a cup of tea. Ah, those were the glory days.
5) Cut down on single use plastics

This is an important one. I want to become more environmentally aware and make more lifestyle changes and swaps to help the Earth. Thankfully, a lot of companies are starting to make changes like swapping to paper alternatives or removing plastic packaging which makes it easier for me to do so. Well what’s the point trying to improve your life if you don’t have a planet to live it on?
6) Think less

Oh how big headed of me. I am the modern day Einstein and I want to be more like the common man. Basically I want to stop overthinking and worrying about things. A simple life is a happy life, there’s no need to scrutinise and analyse every little thing. I just want to be more easy going and laid back about life in general. If it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, well it doesn’t. Build a bridge and get over it. Move on.

7) Wear skirts casually.

I’ve tried this one for the past 3 years and it has never once happened. I’m just going to let it go. Just stick to trousers, Niamh.

7) Blog more

Off to a great start as you can see. I do really enjoy blogging, but I admit when I’m really tired at the end of the day, I sometimes can’t bring myself to write. Last year I’d just type them up on my phone when I’d time to spare, and come up with ideas regularly so that I was never stuck for something to write. But life got in the way and I got out of the habit of it, so I’m going to pick it back up again.

8) Be happppppppy

I don’t care what I’m doing, who it’s with or where it is. As long as I’m happy doing it. This year, I want to be more happy and generally content with myself, my life and my situation, whatever that it. I have no idea where I’ll end up or what I’ll be doing, but I’m determined to just smile and enjoy the ride. If I’m going to have to get old and have wrinkles, they better be laughter lines and not frown ones.

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There ya go, nothing groundbreaking but I think they’re achievable enough anyway. Just don’t check up on me in December to see how I’m getting on with them. Thanks.

How Coffee Shops Saved My (Social) Life

This morning as I was on my way to get my daily coffee before work, my brother said something so outrageous that shocked me to my very core. “There’s too many coffee shops in Belfast.” It pains me to even type the words.

Once I had a chance to gather myself, I replied “Ammm, ain’t no such thing” (I’m very street like that).

He then went on to list some: Caffe Nero, Hotel Chocolat, Tim Horton’s, Bob & Bert’s, Pearl’s, Clements, Costa, Starbucks (all of which I’ve got loyalty cards for) as if that was too many?

It got me thinking, where would I be without all of these coffee shops? A lot better off financially yes. But also a LOT more tired, and a lot less social.

I’m a placement student, which means that my schedule doesn’t really sync up with any of my friends who are still at uni. They’re free during the day and out at night, I’m in work all day then in bed by 10pm most nights.

But there’s that glimmering, cappuccino coloured window between 5 and 7pm, after I’ve finished work and before they’ve to go home and start preing.

I mean, what can you do at 5pm? No one under the age of around 60 (no offence) has dinner that early, and going for “a drink” isn’t really an option.

Coffee. That’s what you do.

What do you do at 8am, when the shops are all still closed and you can’t exactly sit at your desk for an hour before work?

Coffee. That’s what you do.

After lectures and seminars to procrastinate actually doing uni work?

You guessed it- el caffe. (See how I’m mixing things up?)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love coffee. But for me its not about the drink; I go for coffee because I want to go somewhere nice and sit and catch up with my friends. Even those who hate coffee love going for coffee; there’s steamers, tea, weird flavoured lattes and those ridiculous drinks in Starbucks with a mountain of cream on top and another mountain of sugar inside.

I must admit, Belfast doesn’t have much when it comes to nightlife, everything sort of closes in the city centre at around 7pm (except the glorious night that is Thursday). But there’s always a light on in that Starbucks opposite Europa, or Tim Horton’s (yeah, we’ve got one of those now). Well, until 10pm when they close, but you know what I mean.

All of these coffee shops have actually really shaped my (and Belfast’s) social life.  They don’t just provide us with my daily dose of caffeine and free wifi (yay), they give us a place to sit with our friends and catch up on everything going on each other’s lives.

 

And it’s not just big multi-national chains, it’s wee small independent coffee shops and chains throughout the north of Ireland like Clements and Bob & Bert’s. I always try to go the local shops and give them a turn instead. If you think about, I’m basically a caffeine-fuelled modern-day Robin Hood.

I’m helping support the local high street -which God knows it needs all the help it can get after the Primark fire reduced footfall by 30%. And with amount of money I spend a week on a coffee, I’m probably single-handedly sustaining the local coffee industry.

Coffee shops are so important to Belfast. We need somewhere to sit have a good chat- and God knows we need caffeine. Coffee’s what we drink, it’s what we do, it’s who we are.

So, I’ll raise my skinny cappuccino and toast to the coffee shops of Belfast, “thank you”.

Gender Roles Are Changing – So Why Aren’t Ads?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but I’ve barely had a chance to get out of the kitchen to do so.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “here we go again, another feminist rant”. Well, before you roll your eyes (they’ll get stuck up there, you know), hear me out.

NM11

Who is the typical lead role in ads for cleaning products? Kitchen appliances? Childcare products? Yep, that’s right, a woman.

Why is that?

Studies have found that cleaning, housework and childcare duties are typically performed by females. So of course, companies are going to target that demographic; I mean, it would be silly to not target your primary users, right?

If we’re going to picture ourselves using products, the ads need to be relatable, and what other way is there than to be similar to the person using the advertised product?

NM14

 

But, it’s a cycle.

Products are aimed at women because women are the primary users of said products. But women are the primary users because they’re always the demographic shown using the products.

These products are aimed at women, so women buy them. So they continued to be aimed at women, who continue to buy them. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Women will see these ads and think “oh, that’s aimed at me, I should be using that”.

Men will see these ads and think “oh its aimed at women, it’s not relevant to me” and thus not pay attention. And vice versa for male-targeted advertising.

If it’s not aimed at you and it’s not for you, why would you go buy it? I don’t see ads for chainsaws and think “hmmm, must get me one of those.”

NM15

 

Ads don’t just sell products, they sell lifestyles and societal norms too. They create desire. To achieve the ‘desired’ lifestyle shown in the ad you should act how the actors are acting, use what they’re using, behave how they’re behaving. You should picture yourself as them.

It just so happens that the ‘desired’ lifestyle tends to consist of sexist and old-fashioned gender roles. Gender roles which reflect a sexist and old fashioned society.

But, things have changed are changing. More men are helping out around the house and with child care. Women are leaving the kitchen to go out to work and have careers. Men *gasps* make their own sandwiches.

Yes, our society does ~sadly~ tend to follow traditional gender roles – but maybe that’s because that’s all  we see? In a way, these ads reinforce the sexist and old-fashioned gender roles.

NM10

Surely if cleaning and childcare products were targeted at males, then more males would use them? If you show women using home decor products and gardening tools, maybe we’d use them more because we would be able to see ourselves using these products? (I mean I personally wouldn’t but that’s not the point)

My point is, ads should be changing to reflect the changing society that we live in. Not reflecting the society we did live in. Do they not use PESTLE? Please tell me I didn’t sit through 5 years of hearing about PESTLE analysis to find out companies don’t actually use it.

– Brief recap: PESTLE is a ‘fun’ way to remember the components of external market influences; Political, Economic, SOCIAL, Technological, Legal and Environmental. My GCSE Business Studies teacher would be so proud. Basically companies are meant to analyse what’s going on in the world around them and be aware of changes, like yano, women being allowed to work and not being forced to be housewives? Wee things like that.

Companies and advertisers need to respond to these societal changes. I mean, why limit yourself to 50% of the population? Targeting both sexes gives you access to a whole other demographic. Double the potential customers, double the potential sales, double the potential dolla.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we have come on a bit from the old days of women in aprons baking pies and cleaning while their husbands are busy at work or ignoring their children.

There have of course been ads with women doing DIY, men changing nappies (yes, you can do it too) and cleaning, and- dare I say it, women working. But the sad thing is, these ads aren’t the norm, they’re the rarity.

I think we need to see less distinct gender roles in advertising (and in general, for that matter). After all, how can you expect society to progress if you don’t show what it could and should be like? Equality. Make that the ‘desired’ lifestyle.

 

If you show multiple genders using the products, then multiple genders will buy and use them. Then you can target multiple genders who will continue to buy and use them.

Like I said, it’s a cycle. But I think advertisers need to start pedalling.