Anti Bullying Week: My experiences and what I’ve learnt

It’s anti bullying this week so I thought it’d be an apt time to jump on the bandwagon as it were and discuss my experiences with bullying. I’ve been bullied on several different occasions and at times although I didn’t fully realise at the time I have engaged in bullying behaviour. I think a lot of the times this is something we are scared to admit about ourselves so instead will only talk about the real, horrible cases of bullying, rather than the day to day routine behaviour we saw (or even participated in) that we didn’t realise could have lasting effects as well.

Dodie’s bravery in talking about bullying in her latest book (my review for which can be found here), and how she had engaged in it too because she was afraid, and it was easier, helped to inspire me to speak up about this. The reason she gave of being afraid the conversation would turn to herself instead is really my reason as well. From what I can remember from my hazy memories, my bullying behaviour was joining in with nicknames and not thinking about the consequences. Behaviours I thought was teasing but added to the persona of a person, and didn’t let them define themselves on their own terms. If the people I did this to (I don’t think the list is long but it’s probably longer than I’d like to think) are reading this I’m sorry I went along with the crowd. Sure, I might have not been the loud voice egging people on, but that doesn’t mean I am not guilty. At the time I didn’t even realise but looking back now I know this behaviour matters.

I know how bullying makes you feel. Even the little comments can feel like a heart attack to your nerves. Usually when I’ve been bullied they picked up the easy part to latch on to, which is that I was chubbier than the other children in the age group. Or when I was a teenager and not the weight I was made to feel but because I never had the part where I could eat and nothing be there (not that there is anything wrong with that). I was made to feel like my body could never fit in. It was easy for them to latch on to my body because society told them everywhere it was not desirable. It was easy to latch on to because I knew this, and was insecure about it. I also wouldn’t fight back.

Now I’d like to think I wouldn’t let it not touch me but I’m not impenetrable. It still would. Then, they probably didn’t realise that their tiny comment was all I thought about every minute of the day. What it would be like when I was smaller. When was food, what I should eat (or not eat) to achieve this.

This is still not something I think will ever escape me, but it has dropped down my priority levels now so that my day is more than that. I’ve never made negative comments about people’s weight or appearance or tried to belittle them in that way, but the little bits of behaviour I was complicit in could have effected someone in the same way.

My message from this then is that you may think because you’re not a bully (or the stereotypical definition of one) that you’re behaviour is in fact not bullying type behaviour. Before, you dismiss something as teasing let yourself really think about whether they are in on the joke or not.

I forgave my bullies/ antagonists a long time ago. They just weren’t worth the effort. I think in the end they realised they had been as wrong about me as I’d been about them. Everyone just never bothered to get to know anyone, and just stuck to their labels.

Maybe it’s about time we throw those labels and preconceptions away. It’s hard and you have to be strong to resist the crowd (and when you’re going through your own insecurities that is damn near impossible). I used to get so wound up about the people who didn’t like me for seemingly no particular reason and wondered what was fundamentally wrong with me to make that so. Now, I know sometimes people just don’t click (though they didn’t need to ignore me though or make it obvious though- just saying) and you’ll never please everyone.

I don’t know what I would have done growing up if social media defined my life and my experiences as much as it does this generation growing up now (perfect Instagram photographs at every corner would have definitely sent me into a talespin) so anyone growing up with that as my upmost respect. Especially as words online cut as deep as any that come out of people’s mouths.

This anti-bullying week join me in reflecting over your past behaviour, and seeing how you can be better moving forward. Be the second thought that comes into your head, not the judgemental first one that you didn’t even consciously decide.

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Faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust: doing things that scare me

Image: A screen capture from Peter Pan/ Walt Disney 

The other week I did something I’ve never done before. I swapped an item with someone on the internet. In fact, we swapped a hat for a hat. My Lazy Oaf x Marie baseball cap for her Lazy Oaf Red Faux Fur Heart beret both of which are not easily able to find, and generally sold out everywhere on ine.

Now, first of all I want to say that I am in no way saying go send people you don’t know your items and that you can trust anyone. This was a risk. Don’t mistake that. A calculated risk yes because they showed me pictures of their item and had very good positive feedback on Depop. But it was a risk nonetheless. For both us.

I’m happy to say that in this case we were both people who genuinely wanted the other person to have an item I loved, and I have received the beret (really fast actually!) and their Marie baseball cap has made it’s way to its new owner!

Lazy Oaf April Beret

An awkward picture of me wearing the beret.

The point of this story is not that you should trust strangers, but that this was a risk for me. Something, that would usually result in lots of panicking, and worrying about posting the item before they did. Worry that for some reason the item wouldn’t get to them, or vice versa. And while I did still worry a little bit. It was a lot less than usual, which I have to count as a small victory.

When people say do things that scare you, so often people think you automatically have to go to massive gestures, like skydiving, but I think gradually building up to bigger, and bigger things that make you nervous is probably the best route. Sure, I do a lot of things that scare me daily, as even something as little as sending an email to a colleague, no matter the content, is something I pause about in my head a little. I think though having to do this daily has drilled the fear of emailing out of me a lot, which I’m grateful for.

Yes, I put myself out there a lot in a few aspects of my life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t agonise other it or worry about it each time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are like me and the things you think of before bed are usually your worries for the day, and if you’re someone that if something goes wrong you will agonise and obsess over it to the point that it feels like the end of the world, and you can never get out of this mess you’ve created, then I understand.

I don’t think this is something that will ever be fully out of my life. And getting rejected does suck (trust me I know). But every once in a while you’ll get a piece of good news. An article you wrote will get a like (that’s literally enough to make my day, ha, ha). Unfortunately, you have to fight through a lot of panic inducing moments to get those little points. So start small. Take a little risk. Distract yourself from it. See what happens. If it went well, great, try a slightly bigger one. If it goes bad, try to breathe. Try not to push everyone away. Easier said than done, I know I’m incredibly guilty of this. Sit down absorb yourself in something to calm down, and start over. Try again with something small.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the big risks in life. I genuinely cannot ever see myself skydiving for example, or riding one of those ridiculous, over the top rollercoasters (don’t even get me started how panicky rollercoasters make me) but maybe I’ll have the courage to tweet someone important an article I’ve written, and be unashamedly proud of my work.

Though I’m not going to lie I could use a little pixie dust every now and again.

🍂April🍂

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About Time: Bodyform’s new advert depicts ‘real blood’ instead of blue liquid

Main Image: A still from Bodyform’s Blood Normal advertisement.

Celebration is in the air as Bodyform has become the first company to depict realistic ‘period blood’ instead of the blue liquid that is typically featured on sanitary product advertisements. The blue liquid it was always assumed was shown instead of red liquid in a bid to disassociate viewers from the actual content of the advertisement (i.e. the reality of what periods are like) and because of a fear that showing red liquid to demonstrate blood would ‘gross out’ viewers.

Since the word ‘period’ instead of other common euphemisms such as, ‘that time of the month’, was not actually said on an sanitary product advertisement until an 1985 ‘Tampax’ advertisement featuring Courtney Cox; it’s not a shock that even in advertisements promoting sanitary products periods were still something taboo.

However, there has been a welcome shift in attitudes in recent years thanks to the tireless efforts of charities advocating for menstrual dignity, like the charity Binti, which aims to dispel the stigma’s surrounding menstruation across the world.

This has led to many period companies promoting advertisements focusing on blood more and more within the advertisements, such as Bodyform themselves before this new advertisement came out. In their video ‘Blood’, they show women bleeding from their knees, their face and their feet, but still didn’t depict this as being directly related to their period.

This new Bodyform campaign entitled #blood normal changes that and right from the opening shot we are shown a hand pouring a vial of red liquid onto a sanitary pad. Why then did Bodyform finally take the plunge from implying a focus on depicting the reality of periods to actually visibly breaking a massive advertising taboo?

Traci Baxter, Bodyform’s marketing manager, said: ‘We were so shocked by the results of our research that we publicly vowed to address the continued silence around periods.’

‘We know that the ‘period taboo’ is damaging. It means people are more likely to struggle with the effects of period poverty, whilst others struggle with their mental health and wellbeing.’

‘As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma, making it even easier for anyone to talk about periods, now and in the future.’

The advertisement in fact makes it it’s mission to tackle a number of stigmas surrounding menstruation to showing a man buying a sanitary product in a shop, to seeing a girl in a red swimsuit floating in a pool on an inflatable sanitary towel, to seeing someone bleeding in the shower implying that they’re on their period (it’s sad in itself that I’m still grateful that scene did not end in a full on Carrie showdown). The advertisement ends with the words: ‘Periods are normal. Showing them should be too’.

Something, which has been known to groups promoting period positivity for years. In fact, the campaign to have blue liquid dismissed from period advertising because of the way it perpetuates shame about menstruation has been a driving force for the charity Binti since their inception.

Something, which can be seen in their video ‘Blue Liquid Vs Blood #SmashShame’ in which they show young period expert Aaron showcasing red liquid on a sanitary towel, and proclaiming that we all know what the red liquid is and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed of it.

Founder and CEO of Binti International, Manjit K. Gill had this to say about the new Bodyform advertisement:

‘I am so excited that after campaigning for the past 2 years to eliminate blue water from advertising the absorbency of sanitary products that Bodyform has chosen to take the lead and stop.

When we met with their agency they commended us on our campaign and agreed it was time to make the change. We believe that effects of the sub conscious messaging that adverts have on young children really impact their belief patterns. The creative techniques perpetuate the secrecy and shame of not talking about menstruation and hiding it. It is a very normal bodily function and for years it has been kept a secret in fear of the viewers knowing that women bleed.

I have been in active discussions with all the leading brands in the market and am positive that we will move forward as an industry. I especially look forward to the day when all brands who are doing tremendous work educating those at puberty age also make a same change in their materials.’

Dodie ‘Secrets for the Mad’ Book Review (and Pop up shop)

I’ve got a secret for the mad
In a little bit of time it won’t hurt so bad
And I get that I don’t get it
But you will burn right now but then you won’t regret it

You’re not gonna believe a word I say
What’s the point in just drowning another day
And I get that I don’t get it
But the world will show you that you won’t regret it

Little things, all the stereotypes
They’re gonna help you get through this one night
And there will be a day
When you can say you’re okay and mean it

I promise you it’ll all make sense again
I promise you it’ll all make sense again

There’s nothing to do right now but try
There are a hundred people who will listen to you cry
And I get that they don’t get it
But they love you so much that you won’t regret it

You’re at the bottom, this is it
Just get through, you will be fixed
And you think, that I don’t get it
But I burned my way through and I don’t regret it

Little things, all the stereotypes
They’re gonna help you get through this one night
And there will be a day
When you can say you’re okay and mean it

I promise you it’ll all make sense again

– Dodie, Secrets for the Mad

November 2nd was a big book day for anyone who like me has a soft spot for British Youtubers, as not only was Dodie’s Secrets for the Mad: Confessions, Obsessions and Life Lessons released, but so was Noodlerella’s debut novel, Undercover Princess (The Rosewood Chronicles). This post however is focused on Secrets for the Mad, as I read that first.

The book is part memoir, part advice, all emotions. It charts the things Dodie has learnt while struggling with mental illness, and reflects on those parts of her life, and how she got through it. I picked up my copy from the Dodie Pop up show at the Youtube Creator Store in London (as far as I’m aware the pop up is running for about another 2 weeks), along with the ‘I Promise You It Will All Make Sense Again’ jumper. I had actually already preordered the book but when I saw that the copies at the pop up were signed (and came with a free poster, pin badge and zine I knew that was the way to go (so my ordered copy is going to have to be sent back because as much as I’d like to I don’t think I need two copies).

Dodie Pop Up

Dodie Pop Up 2

The staff at the shop were super nice, and asked if I had been to the live shows last week. Sadly, I had to reply I had not, because despite really wanting to go I had not been paid yet then and my wallet wouldn’t allow it. They also confirmed that the shop doesn’t have a phone (I had wanted to ring ahead before I made the trip just to make sure things were still in stock) and that the best way to get in contact with them was over Twitter (the Youtube Creator Store link above). I also mentioned how I was hoping they would have the You EP vinyl because I had missed out on the website and really wanted it to add to Martin and I’s growing collection (it’s ok because Martin’s an audiophile- it means we get away with being this hip) so hopefully fingers crossed they can make that happen (if you want to see it happen I recommend you tweet them like crazy!). Along with the Bobble Hat that Dodie sold on her tour, because let’s face the facts, it’s definitely wooly hat weather now.

They did however as I mentioned have the ‘I Promise It Will All Make Sense Again’ sweatshirt at the event, which I’ve basically living in because it’s super warm and toasty (really good quality too). They also had a couple of pieces that I remember from Dodie’s merchandise website including the ‘Is it Tho’ hat and the Dodie portrait white ringer top.

Dodie 3

There was also merchandise from other Youtubers there like Dan and Phil (I was very tempted to buy their plushies, and their merchandise looks so good in real life) and Zoella. Overall, it was a nice little shopping experience and the shop is only a minute away from St Pancreas/ Kings Cross.

The book itself I started to read the very night I got it, but I read the bulk of it on the train to meet my mother for the day, and it was the perfect train read. There is something about trains that make you reflect, and this is a book all about reflecting.

One of the main things I really loved about the book was the way Dodie used her lyrics and photographs, as ways to demonstrate and reflect on certain parts of her life. It made me think back to what I can remember well and not so well, and made me realise that some of my most vivid memories are when I went on a trip around Europe at the end of my first year of University. For a lot of people the trip would have been pretty tame, and boring, but it was one of the best times I’ve had in my life and made me remember how much I love travelling.

Dodie Images

Images in Secret for the Mad. 

It also made me think back to the memories I have from when I was younger. The ones I remember the best are as follows. I remember the toy car I used to love when I was little. It was a green Mercedes peddle car (the only time in my life that I will actually remember a car- I am notoriously bad at remembering what car I am in- never leave me alone in a car park). I remember that I used to love just peddling round and round in it, in my garden. Even as I started to get too big for it (in fact I can remember that part sometimes even more, which is weird for me as I have an habit of suppressing bad memories). The story I usually tell about the car is that I used to ‘drive’ it down my street, and knock on the doors of people down the street, asking for petrol. I was a bit too outgoing and didn’t really understand ‘stranger danger’ as a child (to chart my life you kind of say I went through extroverted, to introverted to somewhere in between).

My other prominent memories revolve around clothes/ costumes. I remember my gold shiny dress that I loved, and would wear to every special event. I remember my pink fluffy coat with matching handbag. My orange sun hat with a sunflower smack bang square in the middle. My La La from Teletubbies costume that I refused to take off, and was a symbol of my childhood obsession with transitioning into an actual teletubby, complete with teletubby toast (courtesy of a cutter) and teletubby custard (which was a disturbing shade of pink and essentially yoghurt for anyone not in the know). There was also my Blossom from Powerpuff Girls costume (though I wanted to be Bubbles). Considering the obsessive way I like to plan what I want to wear for a certain event (it never goes the way I planned); its unsurprising that I remember everything by outfits.

In Secrets for the Mad Dodie envies her childhood brain for being able to remember when she cannot. For me, it was just reassuring to hear that I am not the only one who forgets. I’m the sort of person who can remember the exact details of homework set but if you ask me to recall the last year of my life; you’d only hear fragments. After my dissertation I even managed to forget what it was about (it doesn’t help that I hardwired my brain from a young age to try my best to forget anything unpleasant).

Dodie Book

(Poster pictured below) 

Dodie, however, unlike me, suffers from Depersonalistation disorder (DPD, or dissociation, or derealisation (DR), she describes it like essentially feeling like you are drunk all the time, and are not quite attached to reality. She discusses in the book how she was able to eventually get treatment, but how it took years of fighting for people to take her seriously.

People with mental health issues should not have to fight for a doctor to take them seriously. The majority of people have a natural aversion to the doctor, even more so when you have something wrong that you can’t quite put your finger on, like your mental health. You should be listened to, never turned away (like Dodie is at one point in the book).

It’s sad to say that this is the truth. I know friends who have had bad experiences with therapy. Who just wanted to have someone to listen to them but found there was nowhere capable of being 100% there. I have always tried my best to listen, but I admit I struggle with knowing quite what to say, or how to be there. ‘I understand’ and ‘I’ll always listen’ never quite feels like enough.

Mental health can be hard to understand, especially if you’ve never struggled with it. That’s why in recent years so many people have tried to break the stigma surrounding it by talking about. In the end while it’s helped, people then talk about how they feel every Youtuber or blogger has now come out with a mental health issue. All I can say to that is so what is they have? And maybe there is something about the desire to share a bit of yourself online and to be heard that means that means there is something in your brain you just need to get out.

Secrets for the Mad Poster

Secrets for the Mad Poster 

I personally have talked about suffering with my mental health. Vaguely, and not in great detail. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where I can talk about it more. To be honest, I have had no official diagnosis, no definite clue. That is my own fault, as much as I talk and encourage my friends to get the help they need or go to therapy; I have yet to do myself.

Despite, oversharing on this blog, I don’t like talking about me. I don’t like being personal and honest. To be honest I’m scared (bizarrely enough) it’s all in my head, and I’m just too emotional or hyper sad.

Reading about other people’s experiences helps however. Especially when you know they understand, like Dodie because they have somehow managed to find that magical land where they can discuss how to talk if you feel like you’re suffering with mental health problems, without feeling like it is patronising.

Within Secrets for the Mad Dodie also discusses the other things she worries and obsesses over (I don’t know about you but I’ve always felt like I obsess over too many things, and it was refreshing to see someone not just cover one aspect of their lives but lay everything bare) from her bad skin, to issues surrounding body image (I was relieved to see this addressed, as so often I see famous people be they film stars, or Youtubers lose weight and then not talk about, as if they were always that way); sexuality (I love that Dodie is dispelling the myths surrounding bisexuality), and how sex education actually fails to talk to you about the stuff surrounding sex leading to damaging patterns and abusive relationships (and how that abusive is not always physical- and we shouldn’t keep letting bad things happen to the people we love because they’ve not been hit yet).

Dodie Book Signature

What the signed copy looks like. 

Another thing that I love that is stressed is the ‘Little but Important Things’, something I’ve tried to grasp onto recently. I may have had a bad week, or a horrible moment in my day (that I’ll obsess over and play over again and again in my head) but instead I try to focus on a moment I’ll have laughing with Martin, or a piece of good news, or a special moment with a friend.

Forever Idiots

This book reminded me and inspired me to keep on writing, whether it be here or in the novel that I promised myself I would write ever since I was little and first picked up a pen. Hopefully, I will have the courage to be just as confessional though I can’t help but make mine just a little bit more fantastical.

If I had to sum up Secrets for the Mad I would say that Dodie laid herself bare as much as she could without giving away her soul and I really respect that.

I feel like a six out of ten
I gotta get up early tomorrow again

What goes on behind the words?
Is there pity for the plain girl?

Can you see the panic inside?
I’m making you uneasy, aren’t I?

-Dodie 6/10

Also, on a slightly needy note let me know if you enjoyed this book review. I feel like awkwardly enough I’m actually terrible at reviewing things because I go on too many tangents so if you like/ hate my style let me know.

🍂April🍂

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How Kiki’s Delivery Service helped my mental health

Main Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

I am currently trying to pretend that Halloween is not over. Although, I am very much excited for the Christmas drinks at Costa; I can never fully get into the Christmas spirit until the December ‘I need to buy presents now’ panic hits in. Therefore, I thought it would be better to look back and reflect on my Halloween costume, and why I chose that particular costume, rather than get myself into a funk.

If you know me at least moderately well, you’ll know I like to dress up. While I have not done more than a smattering of cosplays (because I build the expectations I have for a costume up too high in my head); I love cosplay. I love dressing up and becoming a character. Recently, anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I have been making my way through the Studio Ghibli canon, and one film really stood out to me the most, and if you haven’t guessed it already that film was Kiki’s Delivery Service.

For those of you who don’t know Kiki’s Delivery Service is about a young witch who has come of age, and decides to leave home for a year (a witch tradition) to decide what magic/ what kind of witch she wants to be.

The film then is about growing up, and transforming from one stage of your life to another. What the film also talks about (which I’m not the only one to notice) is depression. During the film (spoiler alert) Kiki loses her magical powers and doesn’t understand why. No matter what she does things are just not working like they used to.

Kiki

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

She talks to her artist friend Ursula (who is totally cool and lives in a cottage in the woods that I would totally frequent minus the crows) who tells her that she went through the same thing with her art. One of the pieces of advice she gives is:

“Stop trying. Take long walks. Look at scenery. Doze off at noon. Don’t even think about flying. And then, pretty soon, you’ll be flying again.”

Which for me basically translates to take some time and look after you. Beating yourself up because you’ve lost inspiration or are going for a depressive episode is not going to help. All you can do is try to look after you.

Kiki and Ursula

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

The film also discusses friendship for those who struggle at. In the film Kiki laments:

“I think something’s wrong with me. I make friends, then suddenly I can’t bear to be with any of them. Seems like that other me, the cheerful and honest one, went away somewhere.”

Kiki Mardy

Image: Kiki’s Delivery Service/ Studio Ghibli 

I love, love my friends but very often I get myself into a rut and the cheerful me just doesn’t want to be anywhere near anyone. I’ve missed several events because of that (don’t even get me started on building up expectations for events) and so can truly relate.

So, you can see why Kiki definitely has a special place in my heart. I did however hesitate with the costume, because it was never made clear what ethnicity Kiki is. I think cosplaying a character if you are not the race of the character (i.e. if you are not a minority) should always be treated carefully and with respect. I personally don’t feel comfortable cosplaying a character of another ethnicity to me, usually because that character is a minority in film/ tv/ literature or whatever the medium is- it feels like I am taking the character away from someone.

In the end I decided to cosplay as Kiki because Kiki’s ethnicity was never absolutely defined. In Spirited Away for example the film is set in Japan, and the lead’s character’s name (Chihiro Ogino) and appearance is Japanese.

However, I think personally as long as you don’t try to match your skin tone to that character (i.e. blackface) I don’t have an issue. In an ideal world there would not be an issue at all but to ignore the aspect ethnicity plays in our society today would be wrong. I am not though a person of colour so really you shouldn’t be paying attention to what I say in this debate, but actually asking people affected.

Kiki, as a character though means a lot to me. Not only has she become someone I can relate to, but the film and its beauty inspired a new burst of creativity in me that I have not felt for so long. For that reason Kiki’s Delivery Service is always going to have a special place in my heart.

Kiki's Delivery Service

🍂April🍂

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The Comics I’m loving at the moment

So it’s been long time, no blog. I’m going to be honest getting used to all the changes in my life has really been making blogging feel difficult at the moment. Mainly, because I just can’t decide what I want to write about. Recently, instead of writing to de-stress I’ve being reading comics while snuggling up in my bed (and for the last day or two alternating that with watching Stranger Things Season 2). While a Season 2 Stranger Things review is definitely on the way because I’m obsessed (along with the Topshop colloboration- I need the Barb top in my life); I thought I’d do a little post about the comics I’ve being loving at the moment.

Especially as reconnecting with comics have meant that I’ve being going down memory lane a lot and reflecting back to when I was a teenager, and read comics the most. I read a few different things as a teenager, but I’ll be honest I never probably knew where to start. Everyone I knew who liked comics was REALLY into comics, and I always felt nervous starting from scratch. It didn’t help that back then seeing a girl in a comic book shop was still a commodity, especially where I lived (I can’t speak for other places).

This experience actually has kind of inspired me to start writing, and not a blog post but maybe, hopefully a novel (don’t hold me to this). It will be loosely based on things I’ve experienced but far away from me enough that it won’t feel too personal to share (at least that’s what I’m going for).

Enough about that though let’s get into the comics I’ve been loving at the moment. There’s not a lot (only 2) because I’m trying not to go to ‘ham’- honestly due to money. And I want to slowly figure out what I like and don’t like. Although I will always love Superheros; I wanted to explore something different, and at the minute I really just wanted to read stories with female protagonists (whether they’re good or bad)- maybe all the childhood nostalgia where I only had Buffy to cling to is getting to me a bit too much!

Snotgirl 

Image Comics

Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Artwork: Leslie Hung 

Snotgirl Comic

This was actually the first of the two series’ I mention that I picked up. I picked it up first of all because I loved the title. And secondly because I love the artwork so much.

For those not familiar with this series, Snotgirl looks at the Youtube/ fashion/ beauty blogger world, which I’ve been really into since I finally discovered it and basically just breaks it apart. But also doesn’t dismiss it completely. It’s more about what it’s like behind the photographs, behind the persona. And what’s it like when you don’t know the difference anymore.

Or as better explained by the official synopsis:

“Lottie Person is a glamorous fashion blogger living her best life—at least that’s what she wants you to think. The truth is, her friends are terrible people, her boyfriend traded her up for someone younger, her allergies are out of control, and she may or may not have killed somebody!”

Since I’ve been really struggling to be active online at the moment because I’d rather connect in the real world (and because I just really want to be in the countryside for some reason at the moment) this has been a thought provoking but still fun read for me.

The first volume for Snotgirl is already out and is £8.99 at both Waterstones and Amazon (it’s cheaper at Forbidden Planet however).

I’d also recommend you check out Seconds by the same author, which is closer to Scott Pilgrim (and has an amazing reference thrown in there) than Snotgirl, but the main character is a lot more relatable to me, just because I’m not glamorous (ha, ha) and they have red hair. It will though hit you right in the heart if you’re going through growing up stress at the minute however.

Paper Girls 

Image Comics 

Story: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang

Paper Girls 1

PaperGirls 2

So think about Stranger Things, then imagine the squad is all girls, and add in more of a futuristic, space travel inspired adventure and you have Paper Girls. Although this series reminds me once again that my childhood was totally not inspiring in comparison to most people’s; I truly recommend it. The sunset toned, bright but muted, 80s inspired retro artwork is to die for and I wish I could just see my whole life like it. It also has a lot of moments about growing up and expectations, which is hitting a bit too close to home for me at the moment.

The synopsis as usual explains it better than me:

“In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.”

The good things about this series as well is that there are three volumes to get through that have already published before you catch up with the current run, so you don’t have to worry about catching up too soon, and anxiously waiting for each issue (or if you’re like me that won’t matter because you read too fast anyway- the only thing stopping me if that I can’t afford to buy volume 3 at the moment).

The first volume is £8.99 at Waterstones (and the independent comic book shop Chaos City Comics that I bought it from- the staff are super friendly and this way I keep independents alive and get good recommendations). The second and third volume are £11.99.

You can buy the volumes cheaper on Amazon as well. I also just discovered that you can buy Book 1 (Issues 1-10) in a special cover edition, which I now want because I’m in love with the artwork (also available for preorder on Amazon). For this who don’t know volumes are usually one run of the comics, which is usually 5-6 issues (for Paper Girls its 5 issues), so volume 1 and 2, which I already own are issues 1-5, and 6-10 respectively, and volume 3, which I need would be issues 11-15.

At the moment issues 16, 17 and 18 have also been released in comic form. Book 1, which I just mentioned contains issues I already have but still want because I get too obsessive about things.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the perfect read for Halloween if you’re like me and want to spend Halloween in a Stranger Things (except you know I’ve already binged watched my way through Season 2) and Paper Girls Halloween 80s bubble.

🍂April🍂

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Little Viking Vintage: Interview

Little Viking Vintage for those of you unaware is a little treasure cove nestled in the heart of St Albans, full of vintage dreams. If you’re visiting the area, or indeed live in St Albans and have even a mild interest in fashion (especially vintage fashion) I suggest you check it out. I was lucky enough to interview the owner of the shop, Maria who discussed her collection, which I imagine is fashion heaven, as well as her adventures across the globe scouring for vintage fashion. Expect to come out of reading this interview feeling inspired, and wanting to go down to the pub in full on extravagant vintage attire. Because you know when you hear about someone’s life, and it feels like it’s you’re actually reading about a character’s life in a really cool novel; that’s what this interview will feel like to read.

Little Viking Vintage 2

That velvet top is calling my name… Photograph taken outside Little Viking Vintage. 

How did Little Viking Vintage start? 


It started out wanting to wear what nobody else had and creating an individual style. Back in the day when charity shops provided good hunting grounds for 1920-70 items it was easy to start a collection and I still have lots of these in my private collection. The first item I bought that is sort of the root of my passion (read evil) was a 1980s ball gown in black satin with puff skirt covered in rhinestones and I used to wear this just down to the pub with dm’s* and a biker jacket. Would love to show you a pic but unfortunately it is at my storage and out of reach. You just have to imagine full on 80’s!

Little Viking Vintage 3

Inside Little Viking Vintage.

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever come across?


Oh hard to choose!! It’s been so many but to narrow it down: In a Vintage boutique in New York I found this Museum quality 1930’s gown with ballerina pattern and probably paid way to much for it but it is in pristine condition and it has ballerinas, I love ballerina patterns! I am yet to wear it so for now hanging on my bedroom wall. The second item would probably be a 1920’s pongee tissue silk kimono robe that I rescued last year. I was at an appointment in London buying and this lady was just going to chuck it out as it needed a bit of tlc** so managed to grab it for just a £5! I have had it fixed and it is now hanging too on my bedroom wall. These pieces are the base for my vintage inspiration and keeps me motivated that you just never know what you are going to find next!

Ballerina dress

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

20s kimono

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

Do you have a favourite place in the world to look for vintage finds from?


It varies wildly, a few years ago I was going to NY a lot scouring markets and shops but lately I have started  going to the South of France as they have a different view on which vintage is desirable so manage to snap up a few bargains every time I go. As I am Swedish I also go to Stockholm a lot and if there is a local barn sale I’ll be the first one in!

What advice would you give for someone whose interested in vintage fashion and wants to start collecting?


Buy with your heart and don’t care what other people say! There are so many different eras and styles to explore! I hear a lot people saying, “but when would I wear it” when trying on in store, I say ‘Just Wear It,’ or just hang it on the wall and admire it like a piece of wearable art! Don’t spend too much money in the beginning but ‘work your way up’ until you have found where your heart lies.

Little Viking Vintage Store

I need that cardigan in my life! Photograph taken inside Little Viking Vintage. 

What’s your personal style like and how do you feel it reflects your stock?


My style changes between full on vintage to contemporary modern fashion. One day I will wear a 1930’s gown and the next a jumpsuit from Zara. I’m a firm believer in just wear what you want, anytime you want! As there are so many different styles and eras; the possibilities are endless! As my style changes so does the stock as you are automatically drawn to the stuff you like to wear and end up sourcing for the shop, at the moment it is all about Kimonos!

Little Viking Vintage 4

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

Where are you favourite places to look for vintage finds from in the UK?


I love hunting in Norwich and Brighton as there are lots of good vintage shops and emporiums. I try not to buy too much from stores as you pay retail prices but for one off’s it’s great! I mainly buy from markets and private sellers that i have connected with over the years.

If you could only keep 3 pieces from your collection, which would you keep?


My 1930’s Embroidered Japanese Kimono that I found a few years back but only just realised it’s true beauty and rarity. My beaten up old biker jacket would be the first thing I’d throw out of the window if there was a fire! It has taken me 20 years to wear it in and it is just perfect!! Thirdly probably my 1980’s quilted Chanel Bag in Gold Leather!

Gold Chanel Bag

Photograph provided by Little Viking Vintage. 

Do you have a favourite fashion era?


I just love the elegance and style of the 1930’s but am also an old punk at heart so anything Vivian Westwood did in the 70’s!

Have you ever sold a piece and then regretted it?


Always!! But you can’t run a business without being able to let go….

What’s your favourite season?


I don’t really have one, but a sunny Autumn day like the other day when you can still wear your summer dress but layering it with a cozy knit is always nice.

Little Viking Vintage

Inside Little Viking Vintage. 

What inspirations do you draw your style/ aesthetic from?

It normally starts by me finding a new item that I wouldn’t have looked at before and seeing it’s potential in a different light and then it just takes on a life of it’s own, adding similar pieces or matching it with something I have not done before. For example my recent passion is Kimonos and i love bringing them in to a wearable garment as a dress or jacket and introducing this to customers!

Do you have any style icons?

Everyone walking down the street! I love looking at what other people wear and how they create their style.

What is about vintage fashion that has you hooked?

You just never know what you are going to find next!!!!!!!!
* Dr Martens for those who aren’t down with the lingo just yet.
** Tender Lovin’ Care (ok you could probably write it without the ‘ but I can’t help but imagine it’s Elvis saying it)
🍂April🍂

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Feminist Reading Journey: Alice Walker ‘The Color Purple’

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

I don’t know what it’s like to be poor (sure, my family were not what I would have called ‘well off’ but we were far from poor); I don’t know what it’s like to be black; whether I’m ugly or not is subjective and my cooking skills can be pretty decent depending on my mood. But basically what I’m trying to say is my situation in life is quite far away from that of the main protagonist of Alice Walker’s infamous novel ‘The Color Purple’; however that is the reason I started this whole journey. To read and learn about experiences other than my own.

One of my favourite traits in a person is when they can be empathic to other people. When they can push past whether something ‘offends’ them and see why it might offend others. Something, which is still lost on a lot of people. As, for example a few weeks ago I saw three men dressed up as the Jamaican bob sled team from the film Cool Runnings complete with black face, pop up on my Facebook feed, and a lot of the comments I saw focused on how it was just a ‘laugh’ and people should get over it. They concentrated on how it didn’t offend them, so people it did offend must just be oversensitive. I think this is a good example of racism in Britain works, and why people do not point to it as much as racism in America. It’s less blatant except when something like this pops up, and people cannot understand why their behaviour would cause offence. See also this brilliant article on how golliwogs are viewed in Britain today for this in action. Now, don’t get me confused, I am FAR very from being qualified to be the voice of racism within Britain. Not least, because I live in a privileged position that means I’ve never been the victim of it.

If you’re wondering what my ‘privilege’ is, basically I’m white, and I’m petite in height (this is not generally viewed as something that connotes ‘privilege’ but I’ll explain my reasoning a bit more below). And yes that means I get asked for directions a lot, as generally, people don’t see me as a threat. I’ve noticed this in airports/ in passport control, as well, where even my significant other has been treated different to me (not horribly I might add though- this experience is nothing compared to what people of colour have to go through), despite being the same level of politeness as me. However, he’s tall and some people can find the intimidating. I know this because when they realised that he was with me their whole body language towards him changed dramatically. I can only imagine what people of Asian, or black, or any other person who doesn’t present as white has had to go through.

However, forgive my rant. On to the book. Though, my rant is important because it shows just how good this book is at making you think about the racism in society that surrounds you, even though this book was set in a different time period and place to me. Also, for those not aware here is the context of the book, which I am unashamedly taking from Wikipedia: “Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture”. The woman the novel specifically focuses on however is Celie, who is poor and uneducated and living in the American South, who begins the novel with a horrible home life, followed by a disastrous marriage.

So before I spoil too much of the plot let’s get onto the main things I love about the themes of this novel:

  • Female empowerment- Celie just doesn’t give up, no matter what life throws at her- she really rises like a phoenix out of the ashes (forgive my overdone metaphor).
  • Female friendships- it’s a little worrying that I still get happy about seeing positive female friendships in books and on the screen (though I’d like to point out this is not me referencing the film because I have yet to see it!).
  • Female sexuality- this book talks about female desire, which is important (obviously), and it has LGBTQ+ representation!!!

The Color Purple

Image: @aprilisthecruellestmonth/ Instagram 

So as you can see there is a heavy focus on the female within this novel, which is not entirely surprising as I’ve dubbed it as part of my feminist reading journey. However, in my research I saw that a lot of members of the black community were upset over the representation of black men as only being barbaric and as sexual predators. Though I believe this was mostly a criticism of the film (but I’m assuming by extension also the novel). However, a lot of people also said that it accurately depicted their experience, and the film was only supposed to tell one woman’s story, and not stand for black men and women everywhere.

Also, before I go on I would also like to take this moment to warn anyone who hasn’t read the book yet that it contains depictions of sexual violence (so if that makes you uncomfortable in any way shape or form I wouldn’t recommend this novel). It’s because of the sexual content of the novel and due to it’s depictions of ‘rough language’, and ‘homosexuality’ to name just a few concerns brought up (not forgetting the novel’s ‘negative image of black men’) that the book has been banned numerous times. I don’t know about you but if a book has been banned, I immediately want to read it more. Mainly, because the very idea of banning reading of any kind disturbs me to my core (knowledge is power after all).

The Color Purple The Kawaii Kollective

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Overall, this book is about someone who had no voice, and following their journey to them finding their voice. While they were helped to that realisation by the friendships in their life on their way; ultimately Celie finds her voice all on her own. And I challenge you to think of a more empowering message than that.

There are though instances where fighting back also just sees someone constantly beat down (which, I’m sure a lot of people can find symbolic meaning in both now and for some constantly throughout their lives). Sofia, is one such character who experiences this, and she reminds me of a lot of strong people I know. Who would never give up on what they believe in. Unless it’s stamped out of them. Instead, of taking the sorrow from this, I try to see it as an example of if you crush someone so much, even the strongest people will fall. So that is why we need to ensure this unequal system of power that allows people to succeed in this is destroyed in the first place (though I’m sure you’re all thinking, if only it was that simple- and I completely agree).

So there you have it, ‘The Color Purple’ was everything I expected it to be, and delighted me in other ways (I was genuinely shocked to see depictions of homosexuality in the book- as I’d never heard this mentioned about the book or film before- though I’m not sure if the film is as explicit). If you like being sucked into someone’s world and truly feel like you’re feeling a character’s life, this novel is for you.

If you want to know more about what I thought about particular passages, etc. please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, as I fear this blog post is not as extensive as it could be due to that I’m currently fighting back a cold.

🍂April🍂

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I’ve officially finished my Masters degree

Image: Pexels (A representation of a students life if they are way more hip than I was/ somehow have enough time to use a type writer, and like coffee). 

A short(ish) and slightly personal post ahead. This is just a warning so you know for what you’re getting yourself in for, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!!! Anyway, to the point. The other day, I got my dissertation results and I’m proud to say that my calculations come to the conclusion that I got a distinction overall for my Masters (I really hope this doesn’t come to haunt me lol and it turns out I worked it out wrong).

People who know me personally will know how much this meant to me, not least because I’m a perfectionist but also because I didn’t get the grade I wanted in my undergraduate degree. While blame can of course be blamed on me (and the demon that is procrastination- mostly fear of failing procrastination); a lot of the reason for my result was because of events in my third year of university that essentially meant I was feeling the lowest with my mental health I have ever felt in my life. Although, it has been hard; I’ve finally started to feel like there is a way out of that black hole (though I am by no means magically ‘better’) thanks to the support of my friends and Martin. And due to a whole lot of fighting on my own part. However, at that point in my life I’m not surprised now I didn’t get the result I wanted- I can barely even recognised myself in the person I was that year. I basically should have asked for help and said I was not coping. But I was too stubborn/ afraid to. So what I am saying is, if you’re struggling, ask for the help, confide in someone, I know it’s scary and feels more challenging than whatever you are going through, but it will help so much more in the long run. I honestly wish I had and should have done.

And for those like me who didn’t quite get what they wanted the first time round, I just wanted to let you know you can do it. And basically you’re going to go through a lot of things that suck, and make you feel like there is no way out. But there is, you can do it, and if you need someone to talk to message me. Alternatively, please check out the helplines just below.

Mind (mental health charity)

0300 123 3393

info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

https://www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (free support for anyone who needs it) 

116 123 (UK) (24/7 every day)

jo@samaritans.org

https://www.samaritans.org

I also want to say a big congratulations to Callie and a thank you for all your support. Ciara- you did amazing, I’m so proud even though you’re older than me lol but I’m definitely the middle aged one of the group. Mitchell- I know you’re going to do amazing. Holly, well done on your Masters, and 4 years putting up with me-we did it (again)!!!

There’s so many more people I could mention and want to but it would make this post far longer than it already is. But everyone else on my Masters course (you know who you are if you’re reading this- well done you’re all amazing).

I also want to say a longer big thank you to the long suffering individual that is Martin, thank you for actually attempting to read my dissertation- it was much appreciated. A big thank you to my mum too for always believing in me.

To anyone else reading, it’s never too late to change your path, whether it be job wise, grade wise, mental health wise. And don’t worry I’m going to stop pretending I’m a life coach now (though let’s face it you’d all buy my motivational DVD because it’d be hilarious).

🍂April🍂

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Reviewing Youtuber books: Emma Blackery ‘Feel Good 101’

For those of you who don’t know already, I’m still what I would describe as fairly new to Youtube. I remember my sisters when they were younger (and still today to a certain extent) enthusing over their favourite Youtubers, and they even went to Summer in the City (while my mum and I strolled around London doing touristy things). But, I just never really got into the Youtube phenomenon in the same way they did. I only went to Youtube to listen to music and watch music videos- I also had seen the occasional viral video from there (but still far less than anyone else). A year or so ago however I decided to actually start to check out some more channels, as Youtube was now everywhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure who I first subscribed to but I think one of the first Youtubers I watched was grav3yardgirl through a recommendation from a friend, along with Zoella (if you’re British you just cannot not watch Zoella or escape her- don’t worry Zoella lovers I’m not slating her).

It did not take long before I became completely obsessed. As not only is there some amazing content out there but Youtubers and the way fans interact with them is something I also find fascinating from an academic perspective. We also live in a place now where people’s careers can be Youtube, and consequently recently there has been more and more controversy about sponsorship, affiliate codes and how much Youtubers earn. At the same time revenue from videos has decreased, and videos are becoming monetised less and less (and disturbingly a lot of videos with LGBTQ+ also became restricted). It’s not surprising then that a lot of youtubers have also brought out their own collaborations or products not only as a source of extra revenue, but because it’s something their passionate about and because their supporters want it.

When brands saw these ranges go well, suddenly they were everywhere. But with popularity becomes controversy. Zoella’s debut novel may have been the bestselling debut novel ever, but it has been accused of affecting literacy levels, and more famously there was a massive controversy about the book being ghost written. Emma Blackery then in reaction to the outpour of Youtuber books initially hated the idea. However, with time she changed her mind, and felt that if those books made people happy, how could she get angry about that?

For those of you who don’t know Emma Blackery is a Youtuber and musician, who rose to fame initially for a series on her Youtube channel when she read out pieces from 50 shades of grey and critiqued the novel. Although, those videos eventually got taken down due to copyright claims; Blackery continued to make comedy videos and again went viral with her video ‘My Thoughts on Google +’. Recently, she released this book I’m about to talk about, and the artwork for her EP Magnetised was featured on Apple’s Keynote for the iPhone 8 and X.

However, let’s get onto the book. From the get go it’s obvious this book’s target audience is teenagers, which since that is generally considered to be the largest viewership group for Youtubers that’s hardly a shock. Plus, I picked it up in the teenage fiction section in Waterstones so if that doesn’t clue you in I don’t know what will.

Emma Blackery

Therefore, if you’re in your early twenties some of the advice and stories in this book, although they may help you reflect; are going to come a bit late for you. ‘The Brain Stuff’ section however is relevant whatever your age. We all need reminding sometimes to take better care of ourselves and look after our mental health- this book then is something that can be there when you’re feeling down and need that motivational reminder (without feeling like you’re being lectured to).

Also, for fans of Blackery there is no denying she wrote this book. It sounds and feels like she talks, which you’ll know if you’ve ever seen any of her videos. I can already predict how the audio book will sound in my head just from reading it. Prose wise this is not supposed to be something that is hard to follow, so it isn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The section ‘Sex Talk’ is another highlight, especially for teenagers considering how sexuality and consent (at least when I had sex education) were not talked about properly in schools. I also like the way in which she talked about being able to categorise her feelings with the label ‘squish’  (a crush but without sexual desire) helped. I know a lot of people argue now that sexuality labels have ‘gone too far’ and are ‘redundant’, but when you live in a society that is so quick to categorise and define you, not having that definition available for you, for many people makes them think there is something wrong with them. Yes, in an ideal world it wouldn’t matter, and it’s nice that you don’t see gender (I’m going to be honest I think there are very few people who think this way just because the effect from society is so strong), but does that mean you should slate on something that helps other people? No, surprisingly, it doesn’t.

I also appreciated how Blackery made sure not to leave anyone out from the sexuality spectrum, including those who are assexual. While there was no talk about questioning your gender (from what I can remember, apologises if there is); Blackery cannot be expected to talk about everything (though I will admit maybe she should have explicitly stated this). She made it clear she was just talking about her experiences, and what she knew (that’s why in the back of the book there is helplines for people more specialised in that subject area).

I have always as well felt like honest experiences help more than well meant, but often misleading advice. Although, in one way I wish I could have read this in my teenage years; there was some chapters such as ‘Sex Talk’ that would not have applied, as Emma’s problems came from problems with crushes, and that would have involved me actually becoming involved in that area of my life.

The ‘Education (and making the most of it)’ section of the book is going to be painful for anyone who has gone to university. I don’t mean this as a disservice to Blackery, I mean it in the sense that the job market nowadays is hard (see my post Post University Panic for more) though I do think some of Emma’s CV tips are well worth taking a look at.

Overall, the book is half memoir, half advice. A quick guide to help you along in your teenage years by someone who can actually remember them. Not to say that’s its not still useful if you’re past twenty. The mental health section is definitely a must read (and as I mentioned there are also helplines at the back of the book to help with a variety of different issues). The book shows that Emma cares about her fans, and wanted to write something they could appreciate but would also hopefully be useful for them. That is something I can definitely respect.

So will I be reading sections of this again? Definitely. Do I regret buying this Youtuber’s book? No. And I think if you take anything from this review those two statements are definitely a good start.

The book is available to purchase from Waterstones, and Amazon (and I’m sure a variety of other places but those two are my favourite book buying sites). You can also get a audiobook of the novel from Audible.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and my future reading plans at the moment include ‘Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons’ by the Youtube sensation Dodie Clark (due out the 2nd November) and ‘The Rosewood Chronicles: Undercover Princess’ by Connie Glynn aka Youtuber, and cosplayer, Noodlerella (also out the 2nd November).

Let me know if there are any other Youtuber books (or products!) that you’d like me to review. I’d love to also do a Youtuber music series to accompany this as well, so drop me a line if that’s something you’d find interesting.

🍂April🍂

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